STARTING A BLOG – 10 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF FIRST
Thinking of starting a blog in 2019? In this post, we will cover starting a blog and 10 questions that you need to ask yourself BEFORE you get started.
Starting a blog can be frustrating, rewarding, fun, and challenging. With that being said, there are hundreds of thousands of bloggers who pop up overnight. There are just as many who drop out, sell their blogs and move on.
There are countless posts on why you should start a blog, on how you can make thousands of dollars a month by starting a blog, how you can travel the world by becoming an influencer. So if you are feeling inspired to start a blog in 2019, here are 10 questions that you must ask yourself first:
1. WHY DO I WANT TO START A BLOG?
There’s no wrong reason for starting a blog: teach, share, be creative, explore writing, and even just for fun. Many people also blog to earn a profit. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it comes with a few disclaimers.
There is no such thing as “free stuff” – everything requires work. You may not be paying with money, but you are always paying with your time and efforts. Products require photos, writing, editing, social media, emails, and more. Travel events often require constant work from sunrise to sunset. Did you know that you STILL have to report the “FREE” stuff as income? Yeah, many don’t mention that. Nothing in the world is “FREE”. ESPECIALLY as a blogger.
Blogging Isn’t An Instant Cashflow – I’m sure you’ve seen at least 50 articles telling you that blogging is the way to get rich and stay home while you do it. “How I Made $20,000 my First 6 Months of Blogging!” Some people do. But they aren’t the norm. It doesn’t happen for everyone and, for others, it can take years.
I started blogging as a hobby six years ago literally just doing book reviews. I wasn’t in it to make any money just to share my love of reading. I took a break from my hobby then decided to start up again. I have been back at it for a good three years now. Am I making thousands of dollars a month? Nope. Am I traveling the world for free? Nope. It took me over a year to finally get noticed by networks and sponsors. They just don’t look for you.
You need to find a blogging motivation that can sustain you while you wait for everything else to fall into place.
2. WHAT WILL I BLOG ABOUT and WHY?
Now is the time to decide what your blog will be about. Parenting? Recipes? Crafts? Your dog? No matter the topic – just pick one before you start. “I’ll just write whatever” ensures you will take years to reach your goals, if at all. Ask yourself: What do I love? What are my hobbies? What am I knowledgeable about?
Do you need a blogging niche? Bloggers disagree about this topic all the time because there is no right or wrong answer. I’ll write more in depth about this in a later article, but for now: Is it a requirement for success? Absolutely not. Does a niche give you a better chance of becoming a trusted voice which results in more work and a dedicated audience? Yes.
3. HOW MUCH TIME DO I HAVE TO BLOG?
A typical blog post can take hours, while crafts or recipes can be an entire day from start to finish. To build your audience, you really should be posting at least three times per week. Add in building your social media networks and emails.
Consider how much free time you have available and how much of that free time will be dedicated to blogging. Will you only blog on the weekends? After the kids are in bed? Whenever you can? Do you need to set up a “do not disturb” schedule with your partner or spouse so that you can concentrate?
4. HOW MUCH MONEY CAN I INVEST?
Running a website is also a monetary investment. Setting up a professional website comes with several costs: domain, hosting, design, domain email, virtual assistant fees, program/software fees, etc.
Aren’t there free websites? Yes. A lot of people start a blog on a free website such as Blogger or WordPress.com. But, most of them eventually switch over to paid hosting due to several concerns such as increase in traffic, ownership, ad restriction, etc.
Much like your time investment, money is also a “get what you give” aspect. As with any business, you must eventually invest to earn. Planning a budget will help you see exactly what you have to work with and what your limitations are at each step.
5. WHERE WILL I WORK?
Where you work has a lot of impact on how well you work. Do you have a dedicated office space? Maybe you’ll work at the kitchen table, or on the couch. What happens when you have a deadline and the kids just won’t leave you alone? You don’t need a fancy office, but you do need a plan.
6. HOW MUCH DO I KNOW ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA & HOW MUCH AM I WILLING TO LEARN?
Social media has become crucial in blog success. If you’re unwilling to improve your skill in areas like Twitter and Facebook, you’re going to be passed up by people who are using those networks to their full potential.
This is one of the areas I wish I’d researched more when I first started. I think I could have saved myself a lot of time. I thought you just tweeted and posted and the rest took care of itself. Nope. It’s a science that requires planning and strategy. And, just when you think you know all the tricks, they change the rules.
Right now there is so much in the media about buying followers/instant likes/engagement. Is that a smart thing to do? It’s your business and if that is what you want to do, then go for it. You can go from 0 – 100k followers within a few months. However, there is something to think about. Many of the followers from these type of companies are from overseas.
You may be asking yourself why does it matter where my followers are from. Followers are followers right? Think about it from this perspective. If you owned a clothing company in the US and you wanted to reach Moms who are between the ages of 24 – 36 and have kids. Will you want to work with an influencer who says they live in the US, BUT 90% of their audience is Men, who are between 18 – 36 and live overseas?
PR firms will ask you things like where your audience is from or what is the age of your audience. They want to see if your brand audience is the demographic you are looking for. How will your audience relate to their product if they aren’t even in the demographic they want to begin with?
7. WHAT ARE MY DEADLINES?
Vague goals with no deadline = recipe for failure. Set specific times you will accomplish specific things. By (date) I will have 25 posts published. By (date) I will learn how to use Twitter analytics. Then work a little every day to reach them.
Setting deadlines is essential for motivation. Imagine two different marathons. One has a specific end. You know where it is and how far to get there. The other race has no designated finish line. You’re told to just keep running and you’ll get there eventually. Which one are you more likely to finish?
8. HOW PUBLIC DO I WANT MY LIFE TO BE?
If you’re starting a blog about family or parenting, this is extremely important to consider. Introducing your children to the internet can bring with it an entire host of new issues. How will you keep their privacy? Will you show their faces? Will you use their names or nicknames?
Even if you aren’t a parent blogger, there are still things to think about. Will you talk about where you live, your spouse, your day job, or your family? Will you use your real name? Will you have products and payments sent to your home, or do you need a P.O. Box?
Tip: Anonymous blogging is doable if you only want to earn money from site ads, but it’s not going to work if you want brand sponsors. When I was blogging as a hobby, I used a pseudo name. It was fine then, however, when you are wanting companies to work with you, you can’t use a pseudo.
9. HOW WELL DO I HANDLE STRESS?
- Strangers weighing in on everything from your life choices to what you named your kids
- Stalkers and harassers that have to be blocked
- Last minute deadlines
- Work changes and edits that must be done asap
- your site goes down minutes before a post is due
- etc etc etc
Consider how you will handle each of these problems before starting a blog. Chances are, you can’t avoid some of these situations – but at least they won’t take you by surprise.
10. DO I NEED MY OWN SITE?
Being a blogger no longer means you must have your own site. Maybe you love writing, but hate the idea of all the site maintenance. Perhaps you have great ideas, but you aren’t sure about the costs. There is an alternative: become a guest blogger or write on a blogging community site.
Guest Blogging: There are always bloggers with established websites looking for regular guest bloggers.
Blogging Community Site: There are also sites that allow you to make an account and post articles. Examples: SheSpeaks , SheKnows and EmpowHER
Pros: No site to maintain / Blog when you want / No Money Investment / Established traffic = eyes on your posts
Cons: Not all sites pay for articles
Some of the items that I have learned are crucial as a blogger to have and I recommend are:
I use Servously and they are amazing! Very little down time, quick response time, AND are always ready to answer any questions.
I do use my smart phone a lot, however, my Canon is a must for me. There are some bloggers out there who don’t invest in a good cameras and that’s fine. It’s your business, do what you think is best. BUT ask yourself this. If you are wanting to become a food blogger, are people going to be drawn to your photo that is dark, grainy and looks awful? Ask yourself this, are you inspired by those type of photos when you are looking for food recipes? There lies your answer.
Lighting is crucial! Like I said above, is anyone inspired by dark and grainy photos? Are you?
Are props a must? No they aren’t a must and I don’t use them all of the time. However, think about props this way. Brands want to be able to see themselves in your social media feeds as well as your site. If you pitch a brand and they go to your site, you want them to see you are a professional blogger right? You want to inspire people right? How inspiring are you when you just show their products thrown on a bedspread, on a dirty table, on a dirty floor? Ask yourself if YOU would be inspired by photos that show that.
If starting a blog in 2019 is on your agenda, I wish you much success!