5 things to consider before starting your blog

5 Things to consider before you start a blog

5 things to consider before starting a blog

You know that feeling you get when you are watching a movie or a live play; that feeling of being swept up in the beauty of the production and you may think, “I want to do this?” That is how I felt the first time I found a humor parenting blog.

I had been up until three o’clock in the morning with a colicky baby and I was ready to cry when I found a hilarious website that celebrated imperfect parenting and it made me feel validated. That was when I knew I wanted to be a blogger. But I wasn’t sure where to start, so like most bloggers, I went through a lot of trial and error.

This week on Maine on the Blogs, we are going to talk about a few things you should consider before you start your first blog – or before you revamp your old one. Blogging successfully (however you define success) requires you to be at least a little bit organized, have strategies for dealing with commons pitfalls of blogging, and the ability to be flexible.

What genre of blogging do I want to try?

The best way to figure out what genre of blogging you should start with is to ask yourself, what is my passion? When you can identify what topic of interest you think you can produce material on then you’ll know what genre to place your blog idea in.

Whether you choose food or politics, documenting your life or documenting an event, it helps to seek out other blogs that are successful in the same topical area. You can check out how those authors use different writing and documenting strategies to keep their audiences engaged in their hard work. Having a few blogs that you read on a regular basis is a great way to help you develop what you want (and don’t want) to do with your own blog.

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Choosing a genre will also help you figure out your mode of communication within your blog. For some folks that can mean creating blogs that are essay/text heavy and for others it may mean video (vlogging) or photography and meme making. Whatever you choose, make sure that you are consistent.

How do I make time to blog?

One of the fastest ways to burn out on any creative adventure is to start out too strong and then fizzle early in the life of a project. Setting a pace for your publishing is a great way to ensure that you don’t experience blog burn out, and the way to do that is to create a set time for writing or content creation.

There is no need to treat your blog like a second job when you are first starting out. In fact, unless you really want to, you don’t even need to make blogging a daily practice. Setting up an editorial calendar – or deciding how many times a week or month you want to publish material and then deciding what that material is – will help you keep a pace.

When I first started blogging about parenting this what a typical monthly calendar looked like for me:

Week one: Bedtime routines

Week two: Parenting stress levels

Week three: Finding mom friends

Week four: Losing the baby weight

I did not always stick with the weekly ideas that I set up, but at least I had ideas swirling in my mind and time in advance to get posts ready for me to publish. Another trick that helped to keep an even pace so to prevent blog burnout was writing drafts in WordPress and then scheduling them in the future. Always having one post finished and ready to publish on its own took away the feeling of pressure to churn out work.

What do I do when I run out of blog post ideas?

Every artist and writer fears running out of ideas. But here is the thing, if you are constantly thinking about your blog, if you are constantly reading blogs you love, then the ideas will come. Idea generation takes practice; the more you do it the more robust your practice will become. When I first started blogging it was almost painful to come up with ideas. Now, as a parenting writer for several websites, I can sit down and write out more than 50 ideas in under an hour.

If you find yourself truly stuck then you can try using brainstorming writing prompts to help you out of your writers block, 10 great examples are:

  1. If you could interview anyone who would it be and what would you ask?
  2. What is the weirdest food you’ve ever tried?
  3. When was the last time you were truly scared?
  4. What was your biggest failure and how did you cope?
  5. What was your biggest achievement and how did that shape you?
  6. Are you an expert at anything?
  7. Describe the best gift you ever received.
  8. Have you ever changed your mind on an important topic?
  9. Have you ever volunteered?
  10. Have you ever lost something valuable?

How do I organize my blog?

Organizing a blog can only happen once you’ve identified your topic/genre. Once you have done this you can begin to think about how to set up your blog. It is best to start out as simple as possible with as few pages as possible. The absolute basics set up includes the following:

About Page

Make sure you have an excellent about page that describes who you are, what you blog about, and any notable facts or achievements that you feel best express who you are to your audience. You can find out more about how to compose a great About Page in this two part series.

Contact Page

Your contact page should never include your private information. Instead, make sure you have an email address and social media channels that readers can click on to get in touch with you with their comments and questions. You should be aware that lots of spam mail will come through whatever you put down on your contact page so choose your contact information carefully.

Home Page

The Home Page is not exactly the same thing as your blog roll. Home is where you can put an introduction to your site, link to other sites, and put great images that you think best reflect the tone of your blog.

Blog Roll

The blog roll is the page where your blog posts will automatically publish. This doesn’t require any real maintenance other than publishing your posts!

How flexible can I be with the topic I have chosen to blog about?

The most important key to success in anything you choose to do in life is the ability to adapt and be flexible. You may start out with a great idea for a blog and rush into it with the energy of a linebacker, but if your inspiration begins to shift gears and you find that you want to include different themes and ideas that are not exactly meshing with your original topic then you will hit a wall and maybe even want to quit. You can prevent this making sure you choose as broad a topic as possible so that you can include many sub topics that will allow you to be flexible and experiment with your passion.

Remember that blogging is not about perfection. You can make a million and two mistakes and still have a great blog with a loyal audience. By taking the time to consider these five questions you can narrow your blog focus enough to create that feeling of being swept up in a wonderful experience both for yourself as the author of your blog and also for your audience.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter where you can keep up with our weekly tips and tutorials! If you have a great blog idea then we want to hear about it! You can pitch us your blog idea here.

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Scary Mommy, Disney’s Babble, and Momtastic. Sarah runs a popular Facebook page, @Housewifeplus where readers laugh and share stories from the parenting trenches. She is a co-author in several books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine and National Public Radio.