So you want to start a blog? I have to admit, it crossed my mind about a million times before I actually started mine, and I’m so glad that I finally did. Blogging has so many benefits. For me, it’s a creative outlet to share tips, recipes, strategies, and goals for growing personally and professionally. Blogging has also helped me build my self-confidence as a writer and as a creator of content.
When I was dreaming of starting a blog, I literally spent hours researching how to get started with blogging. If you’re new to blogging and need some advice on how to get started, I’m going to share 5 of the most helpful tips that helped me transition from research, research, research to actually planning my blog.
Figure out your “why” before the “how”
Along with all the benefits of blogging, of course there are challenges. Blogging takes a lot of time, energy, research, and dedication. Before you start a blog, be clear on WHY you want to start it – is it to share your expertise on a particular topic? To share your experience working towards a new venture? To teach how to do something? Knowing your WHY from the beginning will help you define your blog’s identity and reaffirm why the world needs your content.
Pick a Blog Niche
What do you want to share with the world? Are you a foodie, designer, photographer, or engineer? Are you obsessed with music? Take some time to decide what topic(s) you want to write about, then brainstorm at least 15 possible blog post titles for each topic. Ideas for blog posts should come to mind pretty quick or you might want to rethink what you’re excited to write about. If you want your blog to be longstanding, you want to have a nice variety of topics to discuss and write about readily available to you.
Decide on Your Target Audience
WHO are you going to write to? Take 30 minutes (not all day!) and visit blogs that write for the same target audience and see what their readers are commenting about, and what blog posts are getting the most attention. I have to admit, it can feel really hard to write for everyone. I actually started to write my blog posts with just one of my friends in mind as the reader because she is a perfect target reader that I want to subscribe to my blog.
It’s time. Before you dive head in with the logistics of starting your blog, write some posts! When you’re getting started, remember to write the kind of content that you’d want to read. Some helpful tips for doing this are:
- Write engaging blog post titles. Your blog post titles should tell your readers exactly what they’re going to get out of reading your blog. Recently I read a great Hubspot article on just this.
- Be authentic. Give your readers an insider’s perspective to you and your stories, challenges, helpful tips that have worked for you, etc.
- Visualize it! Use high-quality images to paint a picture of what your audience is reading. Here is a great list of websites that offer free images (many with no image attribution required).
Make an Editorial Calendar
You know that saying, “If you don’t plan, you plan to fail?” It’s not a saying for no reason. In essence, an editorial calendar is a plan, or roadmap for your blog. Using one will help you stay organized and on top of your blog’s content. I use a Google Doc template that I downloaded and customized for free from Jenny Blake. Within the template, the columns include the author (in case you have more than one contributor or ever want to have a guest blogger), category, blog post title, content type (list, story, how-to, etc.), draft done, scheduled, other communications (i.e. newsletter, giveaways), and other notes (i.e. number of comments, shares, downloads, etc.). I like having the entire calendar on one tab instead of having a single tab per month, but that’s just me! This post really helped me solidify my own editorial calendar. Here is a screenshot of my own editorial calendar template:
Editorial calendars can be created in many different formats, such as an Excel file, a WordPress plug-in, or a Google Doc. I personally like using a Google Docs spreadsheet because I can access it and edit it on the go, and it’s just altogether easy to navigate.
Okay, those are my top 5 tips to plan your first blog! Of course, there are a ton of tips out there to start planning a blog, but these 5 were the most instrumental for me in creating a blog that I want to withstand the test of time.