How To Start a Blog – The First Three Steps

Question mark turning into an exclamation point

I get asked this all the time “How Do I Start a blog?” The first question I ask back is “Do you Like to Write?” followed by “What Do you Want to Blog About?” Because that’s what blogging is, at it’s core, writing…writing about something you are passionate about.

Setting up a blog is not hard, but it does take a bit of learning…using blogging software, uploading photos etc. Again, it’s not hard, you don’t have to learn HTML code or anything like that, but you have to love writing about your topic enough to learn a few new things, like buying a domain name, setting up WordPress and learning how to use the software to write a post. Or you have to love it enough to hire someone to do the slightly geeky stuff for you and teach you how the WordPress blogging software works.

That may have sounded intimidating, but there are so many sites out there with free info on how to set up your WordPress blog on your own domain name, that it is really easy to learn. Really it is! Also, if you go with a WordPress-friendly website hosting company like Bluehost.com or Godaddy.com, they can walk you through the geeky process of getting your domain name, hosting account (this is where your blogging files live on the internet) and setting up your WordPress software.

The Real Answer to How To Start a Blog is That it Starts with your Idea

What topic are you interested enough in to be motivated enough to learn this new stuff. What topic fascinates you, resonates with you, do you spend your spare time exploring, or talking about at parties or networking events? That’s where starting a blog begins…with your idea. Topics that you want to connect with other people about are another starting place for a blog. Is there a “social good” cause you want to highlight, or a disease that has affected your family that you want to talk about, are you an artist who wants to get their work out there, or a busy stay at home mom who wants to connect with other moms, or are you a small business owner who wants to connect with your customers in a more meaningful way?

Focusing your Blogging Topic and Identifying your Audience are Steps Two and Three

There are two main schools of thought about blogging – find a niche topic and delve deeply into it, or find one aspect of a broader topic and explore that. For example if you love black labs, that might be a niche topic – where you blog about all aspects of this type of dog, collect stories and connect with owners and want to be owners. One aspect of a larger topic, if your black lab is a search and rescue dog, or you want to do that work, might be to blog about all things search and rescue dog, regardless of dog breed.

You want to select a topic that is deep enough that you can find an audience to connect with your words, but broad enough that won’t run out of things to write about in 6 months, and that will keep your interest over time. At the same time you don’t want your blog topic to be so broad that you and your readers lose interest. Find one that hits that sweet spot that will keep both you, and your audience coming back for more over time. 50% of blogs are abandoned within the first year. To make sure you are not a part of that statistic, it is worth spending a bit of time at the start, brainstorming your blogging idea.

How to Start a Blog – Refining your Topic Exercise:

  • Select a topic you are interested in
  • Brainstorm 5-15 aspect of that topic that you could write about
  • Pick three that a) appeal to you B) you think are large enough to write about over time
  • Step back and think about your potential readers. Who would want to read about these three topics? Really picture the type of people who would want to read each idea. Let this guide you to the first topic to try out.
    • Ignore the editor within who might want to snear, “no one would read your writing.” That’s just the resistance that many writers have to deal with rearing it’s ugly head. Laugh at it, make faces, give it no power and it will get bored and go away.
    • Refocus back on that ideal reader or group of readers…and that first topic idea. Balance their needs, interests and questions with the information you have, or that you will have fun researching and writing about.
  • Brainstorm 10 – 15 blog post ideas on that aspect of your topic that they would want to read about.
  • Select a second aspect of your topic and repeat the audience and blog post ideas exercise
  • Select a third topic and repeat again.

The topic that was easiest to finish, that got you excited, and where you could best imagine your ideal audience just might be your sweet spot of a blogging idea. You are on your way to starting a blog, The next step is choosing a domain name…but that’s fodder for another post.

Share

6 thoughts on “How To Start a Blog – The First Three Steps

  1. These are some great tips! Some of them, I’m going to have to write down. Thanks for sharing. I’m constantly getting asked why do you blog, how do you blog, when do you find the time? I’m going to have to refer them to this post. Thanks :)

    • Stacey, thanks for your note. That’s part of why I started this site, to help people understand blogging at it’s basic level. I just checked out your blog briefly, and I have to try your chocolate Cinnamon Snaps; they sound yummy. I’m going to add that post to my Pinterest desserts board.

  2. Thanks for the post. I’ve been blogging since May 27, 2012 so I’m a newbie. It’s a good idea to revisit the basics and your post is an excellent example. I’ve already saved the post so I can read it again, later. Today I’m launching my revamped website and my kindle novel The Mindstalker.

  3. Sheila,

    Thanks for your note as well. I love the look of your site (I love purple too). Good luck with your novel!

  4. Hi folks, I realized this post is kinda targeted toward creating a personal blog. but some of my readers over at WebSavvyPR.com are more small business owners. While some of the same tips and concepts apply here is a bit more info for starting a business blog…

    You still have to be motivated enough that you will stick with it. It is not a quick-fix to getting clients, but it is a way to help prospects find your info and think about hiring you…if they like what they see. So picking your topic is still crucial, maybe even more so because there are probably lots of other business-owners blogging on the same topic. But that’s okay, a basic WordPress blog on your own domain name can act as a small business website, and adding a blog just gives you more credibility. It’s a great home base on the web. Pick a topic that plays to your strengths.

    You still have to do your audience research, but you should already know that for your business. Who are your ideal customers, and who are your occasional clients. Pick a topic that relates to their interests and needs. a restaurant could blog about local events in their area, recipes, specially sourced products (farm t table etc.). A plumber might blog less frequently, but write about the problems and issues customers have – helping them understand the top 10 major plumbing repairs, when should you handle it yourself or what are the signs you need to call the plumber. For example, a real estate agent blogged about how to clean 2 feet of snow off the roof after two snow storms in a row dumped that on most roofs in the area (usual for south eastern PA). I thought that was such a useful tip that when a friend asked me about RE agents, I mentioned her. I said I hadn’t worked with her, but her info was good; it might be worth checking her out. You want to be a resource for your customers.

    Brainstorming the topics, subtopics and posts above still applies.

    Have fun blogging and feel free to ask questions here or on twitter – you can find me at @CathyWebSavvyPR

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *