Starting a blog can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it’s important to approach it with careful consideration and planning. This article will explore the top 7 things to consider before starting your blog. From selecting the right niche to optimising for SEO, I will provide valuable insights and actionable tips to help you build a successful blog that engages your audience and achieves your goals.
You start a blog, publish the post, share it with your friends, and it gains momentum. It gets a couple of thousand visits, a couple of hundred subscribers, and yet you still haven’t made enough to cover the $100 hosting bill. This is when you start to think, “Ok, how can I monetize this?”
You include affiliate offers, advertisements, and maybe even throw up an online store. Nobody opens. Nobody clicks. Nobody buys—your blog crumbles. But you did everything right, right? Yep, once you got started. You just didn’t lay a foundation beforehand. Here are seven foundational decisions to make before you write a single word for your blog.
Who Is Your Audience?
Knowing your audience is the first step to creating anything – whether it’s a blog, a business, or a deck. Who’s going to use (read) it, how are they going to use it, and why are they going to use it? Too many people start blogs based on a topic rather than for an audience. If you have a clearly defined audience, every post you write and the product you recommend will be relevant to them.
One way to nail down your audience is to create an avatar for your ideal reader. What is their gender? Age? Interests? Hobbies? Struggles? Dreams? Give your avatar a name. Every decision from here on should be based on this avatar. From what you sell to the typography (fonts) that you use will be based on this avatar.
What Is Your Objective?
Once you have your audience, you need to figure out what you want them to do.
What’s the point of your blog, and how does it help you build a business? Maybe it’s to:
- Build a list of engaged, loyal subscribers so you can have an eager list of buyers once you have something to sell.
- Position yourself as the ideal creative professional for their next project so you can have a steady stream of freelance clients.
- Establish yourself as a trusted authority in your field so you can book speaking engagements and consulting gigs.
Everything from the placement of your opt-in boxes to the scope of your content needs to be based on the primary objective of your blog.
Top 10 Sites in Your Niche?
Before you have direct access to your audience, the best way to learn about them is through other people who cater to them.
Find the top 10 blogs in your niche. Read their about pages. Subscribe to their newsletters. Interact using comments. Learn as much as possible about your audience and how they use the blog to cater to those people. Use this list as inspiration for everything from the content you create to the color of your navigation menu.
What Are the Primary Keywords For Your Niche?
Another reason to make a list of the top blogs in your niche is so you can see the keywords that they’re using to get traffic. Here are a couple of ways to do that:
- Meta Keywords– “View Source” on Homepage > Find <meta name=“keywords” content=“…”>. The keywords that they believe are important to rank for will be listed in content=“…”.
- SEMRush.com– SEMRush is a keyword research tool that’ll show you the keywords that send the most amount of traffic to any site you search.
Once you have a solid list of keywords, integrate them into everything from your metadata to every piece of marketing material that you create. Then plan on writing a blog post for each.
What Typography Are You Going to Use?
Rafal Tomal, the Lead Designer for Copyblogger Media, makes a case that choosing the typography should be the first step in the visual design process.
In that post, Rafal explains:
The reason why I start with the typography first is that I don’t want the layout to influence how the typography should look. Sometimes you may start designing the layout and then you realize that you can’t use big headings or you need smaller font sizes in some particular places.
I think the typography should influence the entire website style.
It’s like building the engine first and then the body of the car. The content is the engine of most websites.
When making typography decisions here are some general rules:
- Use a max of 2-3 fonts for your entire blog.One for your logo, one for your headlines, and one for everything else
- Use high-contrast colors.Black text on a white background is best. Dark grey on a light grey background is hard to read, especially on mobile screens.
- Use a baseline grid to establish line- Here’s a wonderful explanation of baseline grids and how to use one.
- Use web-safe fonts.Since Google released Google web fonts, we have access to over 500 new fonts that can be viewed in almost any browser.
Once again, design rules are set to be broken but only after you understand the reasons for these blog design rules.
What Color Scheme Are You Going to Use?
There’s a reason why most social networks are blue and luxury brands are silver and gold. Colours add context to the message that you’re trying to communicate.
Here’s a brilliant infographic on the psychology of colors.
Once you choose a primary colour, you must nail down a colour scheme. I use a combination of ColourLovers and Color Scheme Generator to choose and fine-tune color schemes for every site I build.
What Are You Going to Sell?
You can’t make money from your blog without selling something.
To make money with ads, you need to sell ad space. (Even with AdSense you need to convince Google that you’ve created a resource that’s valuable to their advertisers.)
To make money with affiliate marketing, you need to sell people the benefits of the product.
To make money with a product, you must have a product to sell.
The blog needs to be a part of your business strategy, not the other way around.
The Final Word
But what if I already started?
If you want to grow and monetize your blog, focus on the audience and how you can help them. Then gradually make changes to your strategy, content, and design. Once you have a well-defined audience – keeping in mind that you’re going to lose some through this process – sell something to them. If you provide a problem-solving offer to a niche audience, they will be happy to hear about it.
In conclusion, following these important factors can set yourself up for success when starting your blog. Remember to choose the right niche, identify your target audience, and set realistic goals. Additionally, focus on creating high-quality, valuable content, optimizing for SEO, and promoting your blog through various channels.
I encourage you to engage with this post by leaving comments, sharing it on social media, and connecting with me on our social media channels.