6 things you have to do before you start blogging
So, you’ve decided you want to start a blog. Perhaps you’re running a business and want to give content marketing a try. Or maybe you’re keen to write about your passion and share your thoughts with a growing audience.
Whatever your reason is for getting into blogging, there are certain steps you need to take before you begin writing articles.
By following our guide, your blogging career will start on the right foot.
1 – Decide what kind of blogging you want to do
In most cases, the best blogs are focused on one particular topic or theme.
For that reason the first step in your blogging preparation should be deciding exactly what you want to write about.
Now, you may think that you’re interested in lots of things and so you’ll write about lots of things, but there are a few reasons this is a bad idea.
The first is that if you’re writing about a wide range of topics, readers may struggle to understand exactly what your blog is about.
Secondly, it’s easier to establish yourself as an expert if you concentrate on one topic.
Thirdly, if you cover a selection of topics that aren’t closely related, you may struggle to find an audience. For example, the topics of exercise and nutrition are a natural match, but if you cover exercise and architecture then you may end up confusing readers who are interested in one subject, but not the other.
Finally, if you’re blogging for business, you need to make sure your blog is focused on a topic that is of interest to your potential customers. If you’re selling double glazing, you shouldn’t blog about your favourite sports team on your business website.
So pick a topic and stick to it no matter what.
Of course, that topic could end up being very broad – travel blogging, or writing about gaming will give you plenty of subjects to cover.
The only kind of blog that doesn’t require you to settle on a topic before you start writing is a personal blog – one where you write about yourself and the things that happen to you.
2 – Pick a name for your blog
If you’re blogging for business, or any other kind of organisation, then this decision is going to be easy – you don’t need to put much thought into coming up with a name like “123 Reg Blog”.
So just take the name of your organisation, add blog to the end and you’re done.
If you’re planning on a personal blog, things may seem just as simple. However, there is a slight complication.
We recommend that you avoid using free blogging services, and instead create a blog using a domain name you own (we’ll look at exactly why in the next section).
That means you’ll need to register a domain name, and so you may struggle to get your first choice.
It really is worth it though, and not just for the purposes of blogging – there are other reasons you should register a personal website, which you can read about here.
If you’re creating a blog based on a hobby or interest, your task is more complicated again.
Assuming you don’t want to use your own name as the name of the blog, you’ll have to come up with a name that’s short, memorable, is in some way associated with the topic you’re covering, and available to register as a domain name.
It might help to draw up a shortlist of potential names and then ask for the opinions of friends and family.
3 – Decide what kind of blogging platform you’ll use
We always recommend you avoid free blogging platforms and host your blog on a website that you own.
Why? Well, there are a few very good reasons.
1 – No nasty surprises
Imagine if you create a successful blog using a free blogging platform with thousands of posts and hundreds of visitors a day.
Then, suddenly, that free blogging platform shuts down. What would you do? You might have the chance to export all your posts and upload them to a new blogging platform, but even if you could, how would your readers know where to find you?
If you host your blog on a website you own, your blogging platform won’t suddenly disappear on you.
2 – It looks more professional
How many blogs do you regularly read that are hosted on a free blogging platform? There might be one or two out there, but most high-quality blogs avoid free sites.
This is especially important if you’re running a business blog – creating a blog on a free site doesn’t look trustworthy.
3 – You can profit from advertising
If your aim is to monitise your blog via advertising, then you’ll need your own website. Although you may see ads on free blogging sites, the money goes to the company that owns the platform, not the blogger.
But if you set up your own site, you’re free to run your own ads and keep the profits.
So, as you can see there are very good reasons for avoiding your free blogging sites.
But that still doesn’t answer the question about which blogging platform you should choose.
Well, there are plenty of options out there, but our recommendation is WordPress. It’s easy to set up, easy to use and highly flexible.
If you’re setting up a new, dedicated blog then your best choice is a WordPress hosting package, which comes with a free domain name.
For those wanting to add a blog to an existing website, WordPress can be installed on a sub-directory. As you might imagine, some technical knowledge is needed to do this so you may need to ask your web designer to do it for you.
4 – Set your blogging goals
What do you want to achieve through blogging? It’s a big question and the answer will depend on the type of blogging you intend to do.
However, it’s important to set some blogging goals before you start – that way you’ll have a clear idea of the direction you need to head in, and what success looks like.
Potential goals may be hitting a certain level of readership within a fix time frame (a good goal for non-business blogs), or generating a certain number of leads in a fixed period of time (best for business blogs).
Goal setting is a big topic, and you can read more about it in this post.
5 – Plan your blog content
Ok, now you’re ready to think about what kind of blog content you’ll be writing.
Any article idea you come up with need to be:
1 Relevant to the topic of your blog
2 Relevant to the audience you’re targeting.
At this stage, it’s a good idea to do plenty of research. Look at existing blogs that target a similar audience to your and see what kind of content works best. What subjects do they cover? What’s the writing style like? Is there anything you could improve on?
This kind of research will help you come up with ideas for your own posts.
It’s also important to draw up a blog calendar that keeps track of the articles you plan on writing and when they should be published – sticking to a schedule will help get you in the blogging habit and let readers know when they can expect a new post from you.
6 Create a blog promotion plan
Finally, you need to think about how you’re going to attract readers to your blog. Both now and in the future.
Just because you’re writing articles, that doesn’t mean people are going to read them. You need to actively promote each of your posts.
You can do this through social media, by contacting other bloggers in your niche and asking them to share your posts, by building an email list of readers, and a number of other methods.
As you might imagine, promoting your blog is a huge topic and one that we can’t fully cover here, but you can check out this excellent guide from Kissmetrics.
So there you have it – you should now have the knowledge you need to start blogger. As a next step, you should consider taking our free blog and content marketing course, which expands on many of the ideas we’ve looked at here.