How to start your (world-changing) blog part 1: Think through this thing.
Why are you starting a blog?
What message do you want to get out there? What do you want to share with the world? You don’t have to know your exact subject right now (we’ll get to that later), but ask yourself why you want a blog: do you want to entertain people? Do you want to effect political change? Do you want to run a business, or do you want to have a personal blog that you post whenever you feel like it? Do you want it to be a collaboration with someone?
Where do you see this blog in five years? That’s probably the answer to why you’re starting it.
Who do you want to reach?
Who do you want your audience to be? Just your family and friends? Do you want to talk to college students, retiring professionals, golf players, scrabble enthusiasts? Have a general idea of who you want your audience to be, and it’ll help you write posts that draw your ideal audience. Oh, here’s a hint: when choosing an audience, make sure you’re a part of that group. If you’re a artist who’s never exercised a day in his life, please don’t try to write a blog for athletes.
Don’t write for “everyone”
I know at first this question of audience might seem strange. Assuming that you want to have a large audience, don’t you want to write for everyone? Not really. First of all, posts for “everyone” can be so homogenized that they really appeal to no one. Secondly, posts that try to be all things for all people don’t make raving fans, but if someone reads a post that hits them exactly where they are, then they are much more likely to become a passionate fan. I would rather have one raving fan of my work then 10 passive readers who really don’t care.
What do you want to write about?
To figure out what you want to write about, I want you to compile a really big list. 50-100 subjects is not too many. Write down everything you can think of, even if you can also think of all the reasons it won’t work: bad ideas often give way to better ideas, but you have to get them down on paper. Ask yourself these questions to get started:
+What do I love?
+How can I best help people?
+What am I good at?
+What isn’t being done (or isn’t being done well)?
+What do other people think I’m good at?
Try to write down at least 5 for each category, 10 is even better. Really scrape the bottom of the barrel, and you’ll find ideas that you didn’t know were there.
Narrow them down, and commit to one.
How do you narrow them down? Look at your list. Which ones really call to you? Pick a few that speak to you and do some googling. Is anyone else doing exactly what you want to do? If they are, that’s ok: you’ll still do it differently. Researching other blogs is helpful for clarifying what you want your blog to be.
The internet is littered with blogs that started out strong, lapsed into intermittent posting, and then died. If you don’t commit to posting regularly for a year (or even six months) without looking back, you don’t have a hope of keeping up your blog. Choose your update schedule, and stick to it, no matter what. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a post that’s perfect: just do it, every single time! Consistency is always first. Quality will come with consistency, but consistency won’t come with quality.
Take your topic and expand
Take your topic, and start jotting down ideas for posts. If your subject is knitting, here are some post ideas: knitting needle reviews, “how to” posts, amazing knitting pattern features, knitting tutorials, etc. Again, write down everything you think of, even if your initial reaction is “that’s stupid”. Write down the stupid ideas, too.
All right, now it’s time to pick your name! You can do a self-branded site (www.yourname.com), you can do a self explanatory name (www.howtoknithats.com), or you can make something up. A few tips when choosing a name:
1.Keep it short
Don’t title your site www.mywebsiteaboutknittingandlotsofotherstuff.com. The simpler the better.
2.Make it easy to spell and understand
www.sesquipedaliansunite.com is probably a bad idea. If you call your site www.whichassent.com (no, I don’t know why someone would name their site that), people will never be able to figure out if it’s www.witchassent.com or www.whichascent.com or www.wichasent.com or whatever. Make it easy on people who want to find your website.
3.Make it easy to say out loud
Think about it: to tell someone the domain www.1-or-two.net, You would have to say “www dot the numeral one, hyphen, “or”, hyphen, the word “two”, dot net. Remember, it’s “net” not “com”. Just think your name through!
You can break some of these rules, but try not to break them all.
I chose www.andhedrew.com to be my site because I really didn’t have the best idea of what I wanted the site to be, but I wanted it to be mine. I decided that my name, Andrew Miller, was a little too common to be effective, so I went with AndHeDrew. A little later I decided that I wanted to write about self-help, but I didn’t want to be associated with a lot of the fluff and schlock that’s out there claiming to be “self-help”, so Tough Love Self-Help was born.
I like to think it conveys the idea of having to get up and change yourself, instead of passively waiting for something else to change you.
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