Do you want to start a blog, but aren’t sure how to begin? I’ve created a little Beginner’s Guide for you!
Things have changed since I began blogging in 2005. People still blog as part of their larger website, or on a site that functions only as a blog using platforms like WordPress.com, WordPress. org, or SquareSpace. But now they also write (what I still consider to be blog posts) on platforms that aren’t linked to a domain they own like on LinkedIn, Medium, or Substack. The 6 steps below should get you started on whichever platform you decide to use.
Step 1: Know your “why”
Before you jump in, take a little time to reflect on why you want to start a blog. What goal(s) do you want to achieve? What would success look like to you?
It takes time and effort to keep a blog going on a consistent basis. Knowing your “why” helps you maintain focus, momentum, and motivation.
Possible reasons to start a blog include to:
• Create community
• Raise awareness
• Express yourself
• Establish a regular writing practice
• Build a platform for a book
• Sell a product, or service
Embrace your unique “why” and definition of success. Always keep it top of mind when making decisions about your blog.
Step 2: Get to know your content community
Spend a little time looking into who is already writing about similar topics. You are about to enter their community. It’s important to meet you neighbors! Choose a few that you’d like to be your blog “role models” and learn from them, (but don’t copy them!).
It might take a little searching, but I’m confident you can find at least three people who are writing about your topic and who you enjoy reading. Don’t limit yourself to Google when doing research. Also search for your topic as a word, or hashtag on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and / or Instagram.
Step 3: Get to know your readers
Now you know why you’re blogging. You’ve defined what success looks like to you. You’ve learned a little about the community you’ll be joining. Now it’s time to think about one of the most important parts—your readers!
I want you to get juicier in your reflections about your readers than just knowing their demographics (e.g. age, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, income, education, employment) although you should know some of that too.
Think about who your readers are. What are their dreams and passions? What challenges and worries keep them up at night? What need does your blog fulfill for them? Why will they keep coming back to read you again and again?
Make your ideal audience real. List three people (they have to be real, but you don’t have to know them) who symbolize your ideal readers. If you can find photos of them, put them up near where you will be writing.
Step 4: Generate topic ideas
The key to good topics are that they help you fulfill your “why” and your readers’ needs. Based on your answers to Step 1 and Step 3, brainstorm topics that would help you achieve your goals / fulfill your why and that would appeal to your ideal readers. Free write, list, or mind map at least 20 ideas for blog posts. Don’t edit yourself. No idea is a bad idea during the brainstorming process.
Possible blog post types to help you generate ideas
• 30-Day Challenge
• Answer readers’ questions
• Ask for suggestions from your readers
• Audio post
• Best of list
• Comment on current events
• Guest post
• Numbered list
• Opinion piece
• Personal story
• Photo post
• Repeating theme one day each week
• Reviews (e.g. books, films, music, products)
• Round-up of news about your field/issue/topic
• Video post
• Your news (e.g. events, press)
After you’ve finished brainstorming (not before!) go through your ideas and highlight 5-10 that you’re the most excited about.
See if you can organize your ideas into categories. It’s OK if you can’t, but give it a try.
Step 5: Create a content calendar
One of the best ways to build up your readership is to commit to posting regularly. Take some of your favorite ideas that you generated in Step 4 and put them into a content calendar for the next month, or so.
Tips to start a blog content calendar
• Decide how often you can commit to publishing.
• Decide what day(s) you want to publish.
• Take note of any special days that might affect your schedule and topics (e.g. holidays, events in your professional or personal life).
• Assign post topics to specific dates. You can put them into your regular calendar, or create a separate document. Google “blog calendar printable,” and “content calendar template” for ideas.
Step 6: Share your stuff!
After you’ve published a few blog posts, let people know about them. Tell your friends. Put a link in your email signature and in your social media profiles.
And every time you post, share it with your friends and followers on Facebook, Instagram, etc.
It’s not enough to write and hope that people will find you. Ya gotta tell people what you’re up to, especially in the beginning.
That should get you started!
There are lots of other things involved when you start a blog like knowing where to find royalty-free images, how to write great headlines, metrics, SEO, accessibility, and more, but you can dive into those after your first month, or so. The most important thing right now is for you to start writing!
If you’d like help with how to start a blog, let’s chat!