Starting a blog: what to do before writing your first post

I’ve been blogging for well over seven years now and have seen numerous blogs come and go in that time. Blogging has changed massively since I wrote my first post. Back in 2010, for example, I didn’t concern myself with SEO or images. It did me no harm, but it would now.

There’s much more to it nowadays and I think that’s why some haven’t lasted. After all, it’s a hobby for most of us and we only have a finite amount of time on top of other commitments such as work and family life.

I always think it’s a crying shame when people who write such engaging posts suddenly stop. I stopped for a couple of months in my first year but came back.

A few years later I had a stressful job that was making me miserable. It was at this point that I took the gamble of quitting said role to spend more time with my family while trying to make a living out of blogging.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that doing so saved me from getting ill. I often wonder how things would have played out had I abandoned this blog for good.

Lately, I’ve received a fair few emails asking for advice about starting blogs. Armed with one of my new year’s resolutions to branch out with my content, I’ve decided to start sharing the tips I’ve passed on to others.

I’m not saying that it’ll put an end to the problem of life getting in the way because it won’t. But I hope it might help focus your thoughts on what you want to get out of blogging and how to approach it accordingly.

This week, I’m starting at the very beginning with a few things you should consider before writing your first post.

What are you going to blog about?

The chances are that, as you’re reading this, you’re considering parent blogging. If not, there are loads of other subjects you could choose. Go for something that you’re never going to be short on material for or opinions about.

This could be an aspect of your life, a passion or even where you live. Blogs are often referred to as having evergreen content, so you’ll need a topic that will help keep it coming.

Think about a niche

Whatever you want to get out of blogging, you’ll need to stand out from the crowd. With this in mind, think about a niche or sub-category that you can make ‘your thing’. This can and will evolve as you rack up the posts, but it’s worth considering up front too.

It doesn’t have to dictate what you write about, but it will have a bearing on how you write. So, for example, I write about parenting and lifestyle topics from a work-life balance perspective.

Who will be reading your posts?

I always recommend that people should write for themselves first and others second. Why? Well you have to like what you write, otherwise why should you expect others to?

That said, think about who your likely audience is as it will inform the style and tone you develop. I write in a slightly different ‘voice’ to the one I speak in.

How much are you going to share?

This is particularly important for parent bloggers, but relevant to everyone. Are you going to use actual names or nicknames? Will you divulge where you live? Are you going to blog anonymously?

If I were to start over, I would probably dial down the details. This thought-provoking post by The DADventurer raises some important considerations.

What do you ultimately want to get out of it?

Actually, whether you’re starting a blog to write about what matters to you or to make money, the same advice applies. You have to enjoy what you’re doing in the first instance. Everything else will follow on from that.

One of the main reasons I manage to make a living out of blogging is that it’s still my hobby too. The enthusiasm is still there and it underpins everything.

This final point links to something I’ll discuss next time when I look at blogging platforms…

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