Hi, this is the first post in my Step by Step Guide for Starting a Blog Series!
Are you passionate about a subject or niche? So much so that you’d like to tell the world about that subject?
So you want to start a blog! Here’s what to do before starting a blog.
If you have a passion for a certain subject or niche. If you know more about that subject than the average person. You don’t need to be an expert! You just need to know enough to be able to write about it! To give value to other people who are also interested in the same subject. Even if it means doing more research on certain topics for your niche, but that’s fine, because you love that subject so much, research is fun. Right!
Blogging is also one of the best organic forms of Search Engine Optimisation, to drive traffic to your business site. Blog posts can be very informative. They can be about product reviews, how-tos, comparisons, business articles, knowledge and learning, anything you can think of that your target audience will be interested in.
So go for it! Start that blog you have always wanted but didn’t know how.
I can give you a few steps to help you get started on your road to Blogdom.
What To Do Before Starting A Blog
Choose a Niche
You already have the thing you are passionate about, but try to niche it down (sometimes that’s easier said than done). If you want to be a mummy blogger to join the thousands of other mummy bloggers in the big World Wide Web, try and put a different spin on it. If possible, make your blog be about your stories and your perspective. You could have a children’s certain age niche. Travelling with kids. You might have a large family with big age gaps. If you want to blog about makeup and fashion, try to find the right niche for you and your ideal reader.
Like I said research is fun – right? If you are not into doing research, you really need to start. Whichever subject or niche you choose, and no matter how much you know about your chosen subject, you still need to do some research before you set up your blog.
Check out your industry to discover what other bloggers are doing within the same niche. Look into the articles that are ahead in your subject’s online space. See who your competitors will be. Is their content getting lots of shares in social media? If so what type of content are they writing?
Tools to Help with Your Research –
There are a few tools and apps that can help you to find what is being shared in your niche. Put in your competitors or other bloggers URL in Buzzsumo. This is also a great tool to find out how a topic you want to write about compares. Semrush is another great tool to help research your topic and competitors and it also great for keyword research and analytics.
Speaking of keywords, that’s next on your research list. There are multiple apps out there for keyword research. Remember at this stage, you are only interested in searching for your niches common keywords to see which keywords are popular with your competition, this gives you more insight on how your competitors are working.
Another place to see what other bloggers in your field are up to is Pinterest. Check out what type of content is getting pinned and how popular those pins are.
Find out where other bloggers are getting their traffic from. Which social media platforms are getting results. Semrush is also great for discovering your competitor’s Search Engine Optimisation traffic.
Find Out What Works –
You are not out to copy your competitors in the field you have chosen. The aim of researching them is to find what type of content works and what doesn’t. To find things they haven’t done yet, so you can put your own spin on the subject, identify the gap by studying the market. Find out what your target audience wants to read about. You can do this by going to forums and see what people are asking for.
Research your target audience, find out who they are? What do they do? Where do they look for information online? Which social media platforms they are most likely haunting? What problems do they have that need solving? And what do they want to get out of reading your unique information?
Join Facebook Groups
Join Facebook groups in your industry. This is a great way to find the answers you are looking for and it’s also one of the best ways to network with like-minded people. Show up in those groups, add value to conversation threads or start interesting threads. Ask questions, run surveys to find what people want or need help with. Don’t self-promote in these groups, unless it is allowed (most good groups don’t allow it), also you don’t want to look too pushy or scammy.
After you set up your blog and start writing posts, you can put those posts in the appropriate threads. Most good Facebook groups have allotted times for promoting your posts and/or freebies. Make sure you share and comment on other people’s posts in the groups.
It might sound like a lot of work before you even start your blog, but it will be worth it in the long run.
Get a Domain Name
You have now decided on your niche that is all you, it’s time to come up with a title for your blog and purchase a Domain Name. Which can mean more research (sorry haha)! Once you come up with a name that is perfect for you and your niche, type it into Google to see if it is already taken. Google will come up with similar names to the one you are searching for, so check the list first. If this sounds like too much trouble, simply try putting your chosen title in where you want to purchase your domain, it will tell you what is available. But it’s probably a good idea to Google it to find if there are any that are too similar.
If you decide to go with your name as the title of your blog, that works too. Unless you have a very common name, the domain name is probably available (maybe).
You are most likely aware of the number of websites that you could purchase a domain name from. If you are unsure, Google the top ten Domain Name sites. Go with the cheapest, it doesn’t really matter. When it comes to importance, it is the web hosting site that counts.
You now have your subject and your Domain Name. It’s now time to work out where you want to build your website for blogging.
Again, there are many platforms out there. Drag and drop, such as Squarespace, Weebly and Wix. There are also platforms which are used for blogging – Blogger, WordPress.com (don’t get this confused with WordPress.org). These are all great for you if you are a beginner and need something easy to set up, and they do have their own hosting. Just be aware that they are not great with SEO and there are certain things you can’t do on them. Take for example WordPress.com is self-hosted, with a free plan, you can’t have many plugins (which allow certain functions on your site), you cannot advertise on your site (if you want to monetize your blog, you might want to be able to have Google Adsense).
If you want full control of your site and blog, you want it optimized for search engines, if you want to be able to have different functions later on and if you want to be able to monetize your blog with different options, WordPress.org is the only way to go.
WordPress.org is completely free, all you need is your domain name and web hosting. It’s completely customizable, you can install Google analytics on your site, which gives you important information on how your site is going. Free or premium plugins (which gives you many more options and functions) can be installed. You can advertise on your site. Have an online store to sell physical and digital products with payment options for your customers. I could go on and on.
If you take my advice and choose WordPress.org you will need to choose a web hosting company. Again (you guessed it), there are many to choose from. Some great and some not so great. You need to look at what the web hosting companies are offering.
Some things to consider when choosing a hosting plan:
- Domain privacy
- Backing up
- Security options
- Technical Support
- What limitations do they have on an account
- How many domain names are included
- Do they have temporary Id
- Do they have SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which is a must
- 1-click WordPress install
- Amount of space
- How fast
- Do they have email accounts
Some of the better Hosting Plans have one free domain name, which would save you money for a year and you don’t have to go to the trouble of transferring your domain name over to their hosting.
These are the Hosting companies I recommend and are also recommended by many web developers and designers: I primarily use Siteground.
See which one is right for you, considering all the above and your budget.
Let’s review what to do before starting a blog:
- Choose a Subject (remember to niche down)
- Do your research to find your target audience and what they want.
- Join Facebook Groups
- Choose a title and domain name.
- Get a Web Hosting account.
Stay tuned for the next post in this series – how to set up your blog website with WordPress.
(Disclosure – There are affiliate links on this post which means I get a small commission when the links are used at no extra cost to you. It helps my business grow, which means I can help your business grow. Go to the Affiliate Disclosure page for more info).