You decided to start a blog.
You’re either trying to figure out what a theme is (like at a party?) or you jumped right in the deep end and now know very well what a theme is – it’s the thing that’s making your post drop off the side of the page. Whyyy?
Look we’ve all been there.
There are any number of people telling you to jump before you’re 100% comfortable with your decision. You can also find plenty of posts telling you how to start a blog in less than 20 minutes.
And blogging is easy – it’s essentially just typing your thoughts or ideas into something like a word doc isn’t it?
You feel like you’re spinning your wheels and you’re not sure why or what direction you need to head in now.
Stop. Don’t head anywhere, just pause and take a deep breath.
If this sounds like you, then it’s likely you’ve missed a crucial first step.
You’ve missed that part where you needed to work out whether you have what it takes to be a blogger and whether starting a blog’s the right thing for YOU.
Let’s fix that now.
Let’s Go Back to the Beginning
If you wanted to start a blog today, here’s the sort of process you’d go through BEFORE committing to one.
What Are My Goals?
Do you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve?
We’re not talking about your blogging goals but your ultimate goals – the reason why you’re considering setting up a blog.
They may change as your lifestyle or circumstances do, so even if you do have some, make sure you review them regularly to ensure they’re still relevant.
How to Identify My Goals
Let’s get our goal identification game hat on.
You’ll find all the goodness from this post along with the templates you need in the VIP Bloggers Library (have a look at the bottom of the post for the link).
Think about what’s important to you.
Create categories around those things.
Some people prefer to build categories based on how they spend their time e.g. family, sports, career, money, socialising, holidays. Others prefer more holistic groupings – mind, soul, community etc. Try to keep your total number of categories to around 7-ish categories to make them easier to work with.
Develop your Goals
Now brainstorm goals specific to each category. These will keep you moving in the right direction.
Under ‘Family’ for instance you might have ‘spend more time with the kids’.
Prioritise the Results
Of all the categories and goals, which are more important? Identify the goals you value the highest.
Assess your priorities. Why have you rated them the way you did? Is there a common theme?
HOW Can I Achieve My Goals?
What’s the best way to achieve your goals? It’s time to create your action plan.
Write your Action Plan
Work through your goals and think about how you are going to reach them. If you have lots of goals don’t make this exercise more onerous than it has to be – just focus on your highest priorities.
If we were to look at a goal to increase the ro-mance with your significant other, your action plan might include scheduling a date night each month or watching a grown up movie after the kids are in bed (and by grown up I just meant there aren’t any talking animals involved).
When you’ve finished planning take a step back and tell me, where does the blog fit in?
Why did you want a blog originally? Do your reasons align with the goals you’ve subsequently identified as being important so you can live the life you want? Does it feed an area of your life that contributes to your sense of well-being or that of someone you love?
Are there Alternatives to Blogs?
Have you considered whether there’s an alternative to a blog that would better suit your objectives?
Here’s a random list of other online activities you may find value in researching:
- Article writing at a revenue sharing site
- Article writing for magazines, websites or anthologies
- Freelance writing
- Niche website
- Selling your own products e.g. calendars, e-books
- Selling your photographs
- Creating apps
- Selling websites
- Selling goods on an auction site
- Selling your ideas/product innovations to companies
This is a very modest list. Its sole purpose is to excite you to the idea that if you were contemplating blogging, perhaps there’s another venture you’d like even more.
- Beyond your Blog is a good start if you’re interested in article writing.
- Smart Passive Income has a pile of podcasts with people making money online in a variety of ways.
- ByRegina.com has some info for those of you who might be interest in freelancing.
I know I keep mentioning these guys – I’ll get some more faves and introduce you to other cool peeps I promise.
Do I Have What it Takes?
By now you’ll have identified your preferred way of achieving your vision. Blogging may still feature as one of the vehicles to get you to your goals.
Fantastic! But now the question turns to you – do YOU have what it takes to be a blogger?
A blog is a significant commitment. It takes time and effort that you might otherwise have spent washing, sleeping or watching tv.
You need to make sure you are ready to take it on.
What are your Blogging Goals?
Think about where you want your blog to be in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years and beyond.
These goals will underpin decisions you make about your blog – from the topics you write about to the frequency of posting and promotion.
But that’s not all, you also need to think about the wider implications of blogging.
Is your Family Ready for you to Start a Blog
Blogging is time consuming especially if you want your blog to be more than an online diary. There will be occasions when your blogging may encroach upon family time. Will your family be supportive of this new venture?
It may not be a family you need to consider but other responsibilities or even your leisure activities. When you are thinking of fitting another activity into your life, another may need to shift to accommodate the newcomer.
Life in the Public Eye
A weblog (blog) has a public readership – so what does that mean for you and your family?
Think about the information you’ll share and what you won’t to keep your family safe and allow them some privacy. What images might you use on the blog and social media accounts?
What are the implications of you sharing the details of your and their lives now and in the future? How will you manage any negative experiences?
Discuss it with your family and create your own safe-blogging rules.
Are you a Quick Learner?
Unless you have the headspace for some intense learning, venturing into blogging may need to be delayed.
There is a lot more to it than just writing. Some tasks can be outsourced but you will still need to learn enough to at least know the right questions to ask about setting up or changing your blog, how best to promote your posts and so on.
You need energy for researching, obtaining and applying new knowledge.
You Need Thick Skin
Blogging success takes time to achieve. There’ll be failures. There’ll be negative comments. There’ll be people who are better than you at everything (Odds are right? Unless you happen to be the best person in the entire world at everything?). That doesn’t mean you can’t be a superstar.
You need to prepare yourself for moments of despondency. Make sure they’re fleeting – you don’t need to cling to them honey.
Do you have a Good Eye?
Do you Have a Good Eye? Having an eye for good design pays off on your blog as well as your branding efforts. An attractive blog and appealing images draw readers in. Are you able to discern which elements when combined, create the visual impact you want?
Are you a Good Writer?
Your writing is the single most important thing on your blog. Formatting, design, topics, they’re all valuable but your writer’s voice calls to your readers. The way you infuse your writing with your personality is what will make you stand out amongst all the competing blogs.
Blogging is 10% writing and 90% promotion. Wait! I just made those figures up to illustrate a point. Writing is a very small part of what it takes to blog. Yes I know I’ve just told you writing is IT, but we’re talking about effort now.
Socialising, promoting and marketing will absolutely take more time than you anticipate. If you’re wanting to grow your audience or monetise your blog, social activities are necessary but they will consume you if you let them. Stay balanced my friend. Step back and remember blogging is only one part of your life.
The way you behave online impacts how people view your brand and your blog.
Think about what your values and long term goals are and how you can communicate in a way that aligns with both. Don’t stop being yourself but just be mindful of your public persona.
Blogging requires perseverance and determination. It takes grit to keep blogging week after week, month after month despite low engagement, low traffic, negative comments and the like.
You gots to have grit girls and boys.
You need to be able to assess whether the effort you’re putting into the blog is effective in creating the outcomes you want. Otherwise you won’t be able to tell when to shift your approach or even whether there’s value in spending cold hard cash on a blogging related item.
You’re gonna get intimate with a number of analytical tools I’m afraid.
Yes I Still Want to Start a Blog, Now What?
Blogging provides opportunities to grow personally and professionally. As with anything, if you want to excel at something you need to be prepared to put a hellava lotta work into getting good at it.
Many many bloggers quit blogging within their first year. Being unprepared for how much work is involved is often at the heart of their issue.
If you believe blogging contributes to your wider lifestyle goals and you’ve got what it takes to pull it off, then it’s time to start planning your blog.
Over the course of a series of posts I’ll tell you how to do just that.
I’m not going to leave you hanging now. If you subscribe you’ll get access to The Blogzilla’s VIP Bloggers Library. In it you’ll find a growing suite of tools, templates and guides to help you rock your blog including:
THE DELICIOUS “Is a Blog Right for Me?” WORKBOOK.
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