Lots of people have blogs, and lots more are starting them right now. If you want to be one of those people, there are a few things you should know before you get started. Don’t worry, they aren’t complicated, and it won’t take very long. but it may save you a lot of time and heartache later on. Besides, there’s a quote about time you might appreciate: If you don’t have the time to do it right, where will you find the time to do it over? With that in mind, here’s some advice for doing it right, the first time.
Find a Niche
Once upon a time starting a blog was more technically than creatively challenging. That time has passed. Now the blogosphere (what a terrible name) is filled to the brim (does a sphere have a brim?) with blogs on every topic and a good many that cover a wide variety of topics. While it is still possible to build a blog into something with a wide scope and the ability to be successful even while covering every available topic that is not the best way to start. A good way to get a foothold in the blog world (still a bad name) is to find a niche. There will be other blogs that cater to that topic, but with a niche topic you can focus down and become an expert in something.
As your blog establishes its credibility in that area, more people will visit to find out about your niche. It helps if your take on the topic is as unique as possible, although writing every post from the point of view of your dog might be too unique. Remember that a blog is not a newspaper and the articles are not going to be the same either. Blog posts are meant to be personal, your advice or commentary on a subject, not anonymous. Work to capture your writer’s voice to make your blog feel personal.
Pick a Good Name
Once you’ve decided on a niche, you need to pick a domain name that works in that niche. Some rules of thumb: make it easy to say, make it easy to spell, make it easy to remember. Beyond that the rules start to be contradictory. It should be a common or familiar word closely associated with the topic. Most of the common words associated are already used or overused, so don’t pick those. It should be unique and clever, but still easy to say, spell, and remember. It shouldn’t be too long, but short ones are more expensive and more often taken already. You definitely need the right name, so take as much time as it takes, but you really shouldn’t spend more than an hour or two at the most on choosing a name.
While you wanted it to have a strong association, names of companies have become well known despite having nothing to do with their business, and some have even become generic substitutes in common conversation. If all this confuses you, brainstorm for a half hour, cut the worst, polish up the best, and then choose one that works. The quality of your blog will be a bigger deciding factor in your success than your domain name is.
This may force you to rethink your niche. You need to be enthused about the topic you’ve chosen. Many people describe it as having a passion for the subject. But let’s be pragmatic about it for a moment. You will be writing several blog posts a week (your output may vary), every week, maybe for years if the blog is successful. If you view the idea of writing about the same subject 150 times a year with dread, you may have picked the wrong niche. There is a school of thought that if the blog is successful enough, you will become enthusiastic about it and that will be enough.
You can decide for yourself if you are the kind of person this will work for. It’s not exactly the same as working in a job you hate just to make money, but there is a bit of similarity. But you will need some way to stay pumped up about your blog. Make sure you’ve identified it before you go much further.
Have Realistic Expectations
There are some blogs that have taken off immediately, made their owners rich and famous and fulfilled all their dreams. There are some writers who have gotten rich selling their first novel. There are even people who have walked into a recruiting session for a sports team and performed well enough to become a professional immediately. The problem is there are millions upon millions of cases where that didn’t happen.
Even moderately successful blogs, which might be one in a thousand, don’t immediately change their owners’ lives and make all their dreams come true. Be realistic about what you expect to have happen. It’s much more likely you will slowly grow your blog over a few years than be an overnight success. Worse yet, it’s most likely your blog will fail and you won’t update it, but that’s just because so many people enter into blogging with false hopes. They quit the minute they don’t get the big win. Your chances are much better if you understand the obstacles and take them into account.
Prepare to Work
Finally, you need to understand that like all good things, blogging isn’t easy. You need to make some commitments, so many posts a week, that will be so long, and then you need to fulfill those. That will take some good, old fashioned work. And there won’t be anyone else to do that work except you in the beginning. So roll up your sleeves and work hard, because even though that doesn’t guarantee success, failure to work will promise failure.
That wasn’t so hard, was it? Simple and straightforward, and you can be blogging in no time. Pick a niche you are excited about, a name that fits, keep your feet on the ground, and put in the effort. That’s all it takes to start blogging on the right foot.