So you’re thinking about starting a blog. We mean, why not, right? 35% of businesses blog at least once every month.
Blogging isn't new, we know. But it's still can be a useful way to get your expertise and your brand out to your audience, as well as draw users to your website and offerings. It gives you a way to continually update your website and think about your content, while allowing you to tell your story and show off your personality in creative ways.
But before you decide to trade in your pen and type your thoughts, make sure you understand what you’re committing to before your blogging dream turns into blogging dread.
The first question to ask yourself is simple.
Really think about what niche your blog will fill. After all, there are an estimated estimated 31 million bloggers in the US alone. Use the following questions to guide your answer:
- What makes you unique? You would be surprised to know the amount of bloggers that cannot clearly answer this question because they started a blog just to have a blog. Take the time to sit down and brainstorm your mission, and the goal of your blog. It's not that your blog has to do something that NO ONE ELSE has done before, but you should be confident that you are blogging for a purpose.
- Who is already blogging about it? Do a little Googling to see who else is blogging about your chosen topic, and check out how they’re doing it. Are they weaving together personal stories and recipes for healthy meals? Are they calling for political action and highlighting successful movements for others to be inspired by? Are they sharing practical tips and lessons? For example, we recently helped launch The Patient Advocate’s Chronicle, a place for those battling chronic illnesses to find practical information on health care and managing multiple conditions so they can lead fulfilling lives. When it comes to blogging about these topics, blogs are often very emotionally supportive, or informational, but not both. So what niche do you think the Patient Advocate’s Chronicle decided to carve?
- Can you commit? If you’re blogging for your business, your goal(s) may be to grow your audience, make some money, or both. Just make sure you have realistic expectations! While a blog is a great content marketing tool, it does not follow the “if you build it, they will come” rule. You need (or be ready to build) an established following over time on multiple channels to drive attention and traffic to your blog, whether it's an email list, social media following, a podcast, paid marketing, PR, and/or good old-fashioned networking to get those eyeballs to your blog. Also, just so we’re clear, if it’s money you’re after, get ready to be in it for the long haul. Sponsors and advertisers are most likely to engage with established blogs with large followings. But you can get there!
Starting a blog can take more than you might assume, since the best bloggers make it look effortless. But you can streamline your blogging process; it all boils down to consistency and planning.
- Plan that work. Be ready to make blogging part of your routine. Write down a few ideas for your blog content; now imagine making a list of 100 blog titles. Challenging, right? But to make your blog successful you’ll have to regularly come up with new topics week after week and month after month! Make sure you schedule time each week to brainstorm topics, write a few posts, and plan out how you will distribute that post to your audience. You could even batch process this part, and win some productivity points!
- Put your mouse on the post button. Before you post for first time, make sure you’re ready to keep posting, whether it’s every week, every month, or whatever schedule works best for you. There’s nothing more frustrating than a blog that slowly tapers off into blogging oblivion. Be consistent about your posting so your audience knows what to expect and when. And never, ever, EVER start a post with the phrase: "I haven't updated for a while..."
- Watch your tone. Readers, especially these days, can see straight through you if you're being overly promotional, sales-y, or fake. Bring your real self to the table and speak from the heart. It's not as easy as it sounds! This is why focusing on your mission and your purpose is so important; if you don't plan on being genuine and connecting with real people, blogging might not be for you.
Now that you’re ready to take on the Great Blogging Challenge, we'll follow up with what you need to set up your blog like a pro, craft the perfect post, and start to get noticed by the right people!