This is the first in a week long series about blogging. It isn't really a "Hey, I'm a huge expert on blogging, so come do what I say" sort of thing, but more of a "Let me share my experiences and mistakes and lessons learned and then you can figure out what will work best for you and your blog" sort of thing.
There are a lot of sub topics to cover when we talk about starting a blog. If I tried to answer every question you could possibly have this post would be a mile and a half long. I'm pretty sure it would be faster for me to fly to all of your houses and put on a pot of coffee and coach you through the process (but unfortunately I don't offer that service!) So instead of trying to cover everything I am just going to list some of the things you need to consider before starting a blog and some helpful resources and links to aid you along the way.
9 Things to Consider Before Starting a Blog (or now, if you've already started it!)
1. What is your blog about? What is your mission statement? What sets you apart from the crowd? What unique angle or perspective can you bring to the topic?
Your niche can be flexible. Here I am on a homemaking blog blogging about blogging! You don't need to be entirely confined inside your blog's stated topic, but you do need to a have a short,simple answer to the question "what is your blog about?"
6 Tips For Finding Your Blog Niche at Independent Fashion Bloggers
If God Had a Blog…Finding Your Niche at Allume Blog
2. Find your voice.
How are you going to speak to your audience. Are you funny? Authoritative? Down to earth? Sarcastic? A little bit kooky? Listen to how you speak with your friends and find ways to translate that to the written word. This will take practice, you will get better at it as you go and your readers will come to expect a certain cadence and tone from your writing. Like Nester Smith of Nesting Place tends to write in these fabulous long run on sentences that convey her excitement and sometimes anxiety. By reading her words, you feel like you know her. How are your readers going to know you?
Finding Your Blog’s Unique Voice at ProBlogger
Guide To Finding Your Blogging Voice at David Risley.com
3. Decide what you want your blog to do for you. Is it a hobby? A part time job? A full time job?
You are going to approach blogging a lot differently if you hope it will put your husband through med school than if you want to share cute pictures of your kids with relatives across seas.
I've chosen to treat my blog as a part-time job. I don't feel like my life right now permits me much more commitment to it than that, and that's okay. And, in case you're curious, right now my blog pays me about as much as I would make working 25-30 hours a week outside of the home. Not too shabby considering I spend the vast majority of my time pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen.
I will talk more about how to make money with your blog later this week.
4. What blogging platform will you use? Blogger, Wordpress, typepad, or another?
I use Blogger, and I am very happy with it. The design features seem to work how I think and I find it very user friendly. And it's free...completely free. Many professional bloggers prefer Wordpress, and that's fine. When I first began my blog I was concerned about choosing Blogger because Wordpress is considered so standard, but I discovered that some of my favourite blogs are on Blogger and that made me more comfortable with my own personal preference.
I tried to find a link for you that would compare the two in an impartial way, but I couldn't find one. Everyone has an opinion! So explore your options and decide what works best for you.
5. Are you going to buy your own domain?
If you are completely new to blogging,you may not even understand the question. So let me explain. If you start a blog with Blogger, your web address will be YourBlog'sName.blogspot.com. If you start it with the free version of Wordpress it will be YourBlog'sName.wordpress.com. But you can purchase a domain from a site such as GoDaddy.com, and then your website's address could be www.YourBlog'sName.com Which looks more professional, is easier to remember,and doesn't cost very much at all.
6.Are you prepared to receive some negative comments. Honestly, I wasn't. It didn't even occur to me that people would have anything nasty to say to someone who blogs about taco seasoning and throw pillows. But they do. Blogging has given me thicker skin.
If you're blogging about your house, are you okay with people saying they hate aspects of the refuge you call home? If you're blogging about your life, can you handle it if someone says you're doing it wrong? If you're blogging about political issues, are you ready for a fierce, emotionally charged debate? If you're blogging about your struggles, your frustrations, your hurts or your health, are you prepared to shed some tears in front of your computer screen?
Please don't let this point dissuade you from starting a blog. But consider it. Pray about it. Prepare for it. I will be sharing a little bit later this week about dealing with negative comments, but at this point I just want you to be aware that they exist.
7.Your blog's name and design.
If you are anything like me you were doodling website layouts and brainstorming titles long before considering any of these other parts of blogging. And yes, your name and design are important. They set the tone of your blog, they tell people a lot before they've even read your first word.
Will you design your own blog? Or will you pay somebody to do it? I started with a simple Blogger template and tweaked my HTML until it looked something like I wanted it to. Don't get scared off by the word HTML, there are a multitude of tutorials out there for any design changes you may want to implement, and you don't have to remember a thing from your high school web design class in order to tweak your blog to your liking. But if that isn't a skill you're interested in learning, you can pay a designer or bribe a friend to do it for you.
8.Brainstorm some blog post topics. Make a list of topics you want to cover. Aim for fifty ideas. a hundred is better. Some of these ideas will never come to fruition, and that's okay. But there will be times when you have no idea what to blog about and your list will help.
How to Launch a Blog and Have Fresh Content for Weeks at ProBlogger
My Free Printable Blog Post Planner from me!
9. Just do it. Go start a blog on one of the free blogging platforms. Do it today. It doesn't have to be your forever blog....just get your feet wet and see what it's like. Name it "Susie's Practice blog" or "Testing, testing. One. Two. Three" and play with the options and settings and designs.
25 Blogging Tips for Newbies and Veterans at Jeff Goins Writer
ProBlogger’s Guide to your First Week of Blogging an Ebook at ProBlogger
21 Surefire Tips for a Successful Blog Launch at Aviva Directory
Whew! Day one was a doozy. I hope you're not feeling too overwhelmed! Tomorrow I will be talking about growing your readership, so stay tuned!
Edit: Here are the links to the rest of the series!