Where do I start?
I am passionate about so many things, where do I start?
I want to use my blog to help with branding my business, where do I start?
Since launching my blogging initiative the questions so far have had one common element, and that is, “Where do I start”?
The truth is, that question is pretty natural in the beginning and it actually crossed my mind a few thousand times before I started my own blog, so I definitely understand.
After 6 years of blogging I have learned to really dive into what it is that I really like to do. I knew after a confusing year one that I had to identify definitively the one thing I could talk about forever and never get tired.
When I really thought about it, that topic was hair, I was consumed by it, especially after 2008 when I had no choice but to figure out what in the world was coming out of my follicles and how to preserve them.
I also knew that even though I loved hair, I did not like writing about my hair all the time because I preferred to remain out of the spot light and absolutely loved sharing other women and their journeys. I also gave myself permission to still write about the other things I was passionate about but in a structured way.
Generally, we all are driven by different things and my passion will probably not be your passion because everybody is different. With that said blogging is still a pretty wild and crazy profession in a good way. There still isn’t any one way to do it but there are some commonalities you have to have to be successful overall and to START.
In this post I want to identify 5 things you need to do before starting your blog and these steps will ultimately tell you where you need to start.
By the way, you will need pen and paper for this one, because if you aren’t writing things down you are already starting on the wrong foot. With that said go get your toilet paper and a crayon and let’s go!
1. Figure out ‘the why’
Why do you want to start a blog? Is it because you want to make money? Do you have an established business and need more of an online presence? Or is it that you love to write and want to express yourself through your own website? Once you have figured out why you want to blog then figure out ‘the what’.
2. Decide what you want to blog about
This is where most of us get into trouble because we just cannot figure out what the best angle is to take on the blog. I will share the advice I recently gave to a young lady who contacted me about not being able to identify her passion.
I told her to figure out what she liked to write about the most and to figure out if she could teach that topic without batting an eye.
I also told her to think of her platform as one that will serve others and by serve I mean deliver something she thinks people would want to read.
A part of blogging is knowledge of human behavior and at the core of human behavior online is the fact that people go online to:
- Get a problem solved
- To be entertained
- Get inspired
- Get help with attaining their goals
Your job as a blogger is to ensure that whatever you are passionate about can deliver on any one, or some of those pillars of human behavior within your niche.
The days of just blogging just to blog and making money while doing it are over. You have to hone in on what you love and then find creative and innovative ways of delivering it to your readers in a way that will satisfy their needs.
At the end of the day, you want to be the go-to resource for whatever it is you choose to blog about. If you have a passion that cannot fulfill any of the above, scratch it off your list until you find the right topic that looks like what I have just described.
3. Choose a blogging platform
I have worked on three blogging platforms so far and WordPress is by far my favorite and the one I am most familiar with. Generally, it is the most popular platform for new bloggers and one that is widely used generally!
Picking a blogging platform requires some technical knowledge, so allow me to dial it back a bit at this point and explain two things.
There are two types of WordPress websites:
a. Self-hosted WordPress website, like this one generated from wordpress.org
b. hosted WordPress website generated from wordpress.com
The difference is where your website sits at the end of the day. When you self-host you actually go out and purchase server space and domain from a server company like Blue Host or GoDaddy and your website will look like this – www.yourwebsite.com (depending on the extension you decide on)
For the website hosted by WordPress your link will look something like this — www.yourwebsite.wordpress.com. I prefer to self-host and that is what I would recommend to anyone who wants to blog.
4. Find a host
If you decide to self-host then you need to find a hosting company with a suitable pricing package to fit your budget. There are quite a few hosting companies out there, two of which I have already mentioned.
Purchasing your domain and your hosting plan is pretty easy once you hit the hosting website but if you are having any trouble do not hesitate to talk with a representative that can walk you through the process.
5. Design your blog and then get to work
This part of the blog process is where the real work begins. Choosing a theme for your blog can get tedious because there are so many layouts to choose from. To be honest it is a great problem to have but it helps to have some predetermined details of what you want your blog to look like before attempting to choose a theme.
1. White backgrounds are the best, they are cleaner and they make your pictures and descriptions pop
2. If you are running a retail business and you want a blog attached, pick a theme that suits that preference
3. Do not be afraid to ask for direction from a developer
4. Do not be afraid to spend money on your business, purchase your domain, purchase your theme and if you want to invest in a developer for the hard parts do that.
- Be yourself 100% of the time especially if your blog is about you, your life and what you have to offer to the world. If you prefer a teaching platform like mine is, then you want to create content with the mindset of serving your community but still staying true to your voice.
- Make sure the name of your blog really encompasses what it is you are trying to convey and think about who you will be 10 years from now making sure that name can carry the test of time. Do not call your blog sassybrowndiva.com and then 10 years from now not be comfortable saying that name in a professional setting. If the blog is your business then use the name of that business.
- Grab all of your social media handles early and make sure they are all the same name even if you do not plan to use the platform. That includes YouTube!
- Write everything down – Make a to-do list of everything so that you can follow along and check things off as you accomplish them.
- Once you commit to this blogging thing you have to be consistent, I am not the girl that will tell you that you can just work on it once a week and be ok. Blogging is a lot of work, it’s a commitment especially if one of your goals is to make money. You will literally get what you put in it and you will need thick skin for the days you get less than what you expected.
The good news is if you keep at it you will absolutely love it and the opportunities you will receive are endless. If you are interested in this type of content and want to be added to my exclusive list of women interested in blogging, please send me an email with your questions or just expressing your interest. Email me at Emilycottontop@gmail.com and I will add you to my email list.