Motivation Needed For A New Blog

This article is entirely dedicated to motivation. It actually took me a fair while to get to this topic because I had to clear the ‘research’ element of starting a new blog first and I was determined to publish these articles in order. This piece is more useful for the novice, but as a mid-term blogger, you may also find this useful. I would hope that those veteran bloggers with established blogs wouldn’t need to know this information, but it never hurts to remind yourself.

In the series, this is step 3, by now you should know what your blog is about and what direction you plan to take it.

This is the crunch point of your decisions. Beyond this stage, if you choose to commit, you are going to commit resource and if you back out after this expenditure, you will lose that resource.

 

Motivation Needed For A New Blog

Commit or don'tThis series follows on from part 1: How and What to Plan When Starting a New Blog and part 2: The What Where How of Research Before Starting Your Blog.

This is stage 3 of starting a new blog. A more in-depth look at step 3  from the 7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January.

This step is intended to make you think about what blood, sweat and tears you are going to be pouring into your new blog (potentially). This is the penultimate point where you can back out, the next article will detail the final stage where you can commit.

 

What Resources Do You Commit?

#1 Time

Time should be self-explanatory. Your time is valuable. You will expend time performing all kinds of work on your blog and the elements that go to support that blog.

Your time is also a shared resource. There will be lots of other tasks in your day-to-day that will separate you from your blogging. If you have a day job or a shift job, you aren’t going to be effective with a river of time through the week. You have to be tactical when you put works together. Your weekend might be sacrosanct for relaxation but you may need to find time.

#2 Money

Money is something you will require in order to operate to make money. You can do this blogging without investment of money but the returns will be far less than you are hoping for, and will take longer to develop. This adage is true; “you have to spend money to make money”. You can start out blogging cheap but in order to realise real returns you have to be smart and invest. Free only goes so far to satisfy.

#3 Momentum

Momentum is the odd member on the list and it needs explanation. Momentum is tangible in a sense that if you are not working on one project, your resource in terms of effort will be directed elsewhere. Momentum is also a direction, it is pressing forwards with focus. You can only attribute that forward drive to a few projects at a time, everything else goes on the back burner. Momentum partners with time. Humans only take on so many challenges at a time. Momentum is a finite resource.

 

Looking At Motivation

Blogging is something you have to perform consistently. I know this from my own experience. It is also something I personally struggle with, and I know many other bloggers struggle with.

Those who can keep to the rhythm and improve with each post, are the kinds that eventually win big.

Blogging is a long game, not a short one.

It is most definitely 10 marathons rather than a sprint.

Motivation in general, is a huge subject, a Human scientific study that has spawned countless areas of intrigue. NLP is one such area, Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

Motivation is an area that many self-help books concentrate on, many people have opinion on, and many people are lacking at some point in their life.

Discipline engenders motivation but in order to activate discipline you need to begin.

 

Commitment For Your New Blog or Your Mid Term Blog

In my original article, 7 Steps to Take Before Starting a New Blog In January, I framed this step as Ask Yourself, Can you Commit? In that step I poised the work of keeping up a blog as running a campaign.

What you have to realise about a blog is that it is war. Not only is it a war, it is a series of wars.

You are in the trenches, fighting for audience attention. Your Campaign goal, depending on whether you are for profit or not, is to reach as many people as possible to drive the harder stage of engagement. The point at which you get back from the audience, by providing to them.

For that to happen and for you to win those wars, you must have grit.

Staying power. Determination. Belief. Call it what you will. You need it.

Commitment for blogging is time. You need time. You need uninterrupted time to lay down your posts, maintain the blog and keep it all going.

You can’t start well then leave it to run. Once the machine’s belts are turning, they never stop and they always need feeding.

 

Doing What You Love and Loving What You Do

Doing what you love helps with motivation. If you are writing on a subject that sits inside your happy zone, finding motivation to write about it on a regular basis is child’s play.

A lot of people, and I’ve been reminded of this fact in a previous article, don’t do what they love; they do what they think will make them a lot of money, fame or reward.

I wrote an article a few years ago which instantly had someone argue that they don’t do what they love.

Not doing what you love is not a bad thing.

95% of the world population are committed to tasks they don’t like doing on a regular basis, that remaining 5% will do something they don’t enjoy at one part or another in their life, even the staggeringly wealthy.

The important lesson is that if you have already invested time in an activity that means something, you owe it to keep on building that legacy.

 

The Passion Prerequisite

Those who really excel normally have something beyond passion for what they are familiar with.

You need passion to hold your writing ambition on course when what you planned goes wrong.

If you don’t really do what you love, you have to love what you do. Sounding circular?

Loving what you do means that despite what path you have chosen, you commit in the spirit of enjoying the process and capturing a growing passion as you come more to terms with improving what you are doing.

You are never going to truly love what you have committed to but you at least enjoy and look forward to the challenge.

Work is work. There is always some drudgery involved.

It is always more preferable to do something you love but in that vein, you may become sick of what you love if you find the grind starts to take a grip.

Turning a hobby into a job can kill your love of that hobby. This does happen so be mindful of this.

There is a balance to be struck.

 

A Tip From Pat Flynn

This tip has stuck with me for a long time, it is simple but awesome, and it works.

Give yourself 30 minutes and write as many titles to articles in your chosen niche as you can.

If you are really struggling for ideas. This niche is too narrow to start.

If you have hundreds of ideas, this niche is too broad.

A niche is a niche because you have set aside some of the broader expanse of your topic zone to laser target a specific area.

If you have barely anything to write about, that niche is too specific and will severely limit the audience you can attract.

On the other side of the double-edged sword, too many ideas can be indicative of a niche that is too broad.

It could also mean that you are just brimming with ideas and if that is the case, you are likely to do well.

This exercise is going to become one of many routines that you, as a blogger, are going to have to come to terms with.

 

Early Blogging Days

These will be the most fun and the most rough on you.

When you have written your first couple of articles you are buzzing when you are a blogging noob.

It’s exciting to push content out.

It is also exciting to see green shoots.

Starting from zero is a great time.

You don’t really know what to expect.

The trouble is that you, as a new blogger, are going to be receiving views that are not large or significant. (unless you have planned to perfection).

You are bound to look at somebody else’s stats to get a gauge of where you should be at, and feel rather small in comparison. Human nature.

 

Early Blogs Don’t Have ‘Traction’

Traction is what you get when you have a small force of regular readers who are the beginning of your tribe. This nucleus occurs not only on your blog but on social media connected with your blog and the mailing list.

It takes a lot of grit, effort and patience to gain traction.

It is not an overnight event.

Only the very rare blogger is 100% successful out of the gate and you should not concern yourself with that kind of individual, they are out of your league, or in some cases have cheated the system to start more positively than you. It doesn’t mean that you can’t catch them and even pass them by later on.

Run your race!

Being ultra-fresh in any niche means that you don’t have any implied value and it is going to take you a while to be seen.

There are tasks you can perform to improve this but your initial posts are not going to attract as much audience as later articles.

It’s a numbers law.

I have no good advice on this beyond being better forearmed. There is only so much you can hustle and brute force in the beginning. The only advice I have is that you need to be consistent and keep up the hunt. You need to be committed, any less and you are wasting your time.

You need to put posts behind you to gain momentum.

 

A Word On Mentorship

Having a mentor in the beginning is a brilliant situation to be in. Having your hand held through the early stage makes you less paranoid about how badly you are doing.

The truth is that everybody does badly in the beginning. It is not worth striving if it was easy. Audience pleasing and retention is hard, don’t be under any illusions otherwise.

I didn’t start with a mentor, I started blogging cold and my learning curve was steeper as a result of that.

I made a lot of newbie mistakes in the beginning. It is the normal process.

If you are provided a golden opportunity for a mentor, take it. Shortening that learning curve will mean a lot. You will be more satisfied with your accomplishments sooner.

 

Quality/Quantity Argument

Quality is always more valuable than quantity but you don’t always win a war with quality.

Often you can boost your traffic, numbers and authority by posting slightly less, more frequently than you intend to for your standard campaign.

In 2014 I posted almost every day for a month and overall engagement increased considerably during that time.

It is the older, more incumbent bloggers, who can relax their pace and drop a large bomb slightly less frequently. You can’t do that. You don’t yet have people waiting for you with bated breath.

Quantity can be replaced long-term by consistency but early doors, the more you float to get you noticed, the better.

 

Hustle

What you do regularly requires hustle.

It is a business situation even if you plan to run your blog not for profit.

You have to be in the mood to hunt down engagement with your content which means that you have to work on ways to bring your content to the right people.

If you are chasing the wrong outcome, your hustle is for naught.

 

The Question of Authority

What you are trying to gather in the first year of your blog is an overwhelming sense from a visitor, that you know what you are talking about.

The purpose of what you write is to provide your audience an answer to a question that has been troubling them.

What is ever so more important is that you have people returning for more, because they like the cut of your silk.

 

Hustle is More Than Just Writing

Hustle is finding your audience then making them engage, either through tailoring your content, or finding the exact person that benefits the most from what you have put together.

Hustle is not cornering someone and badgering them until they relent.

Hustle is;

  • Expending resources.
  • Not sitting back and hoping they’ll come.
  • Putting the next round in the chamber, or the next post in the pipeline.

 

Early Day Blogging is Failing

This is a point you will move past by applying patience. It is also a period where you have a good chance of learning from what you are doing wrong. Someone is either likely to tell you or you come to realise it isn’t working.

Some lessons come sooner than others, Some are harder learnt.

Failing is learning, and learning is more valuable.

Sometimes, as counter intuitive and as painful as it may seem, you have to fail more to start learning more. You have to put yourself in some uncomfortable situations to test if a solution is water tight or not.

 

Mid Term Blogging

This comes after you are a year into the process, you know how one year (not necessarily a calendar year from January to January) plays out.

You are getting some traction but not all that you hope.

People are starting to find you on the Internet through the search engine but not quite as many as you want.

You have expectations now. Ones that you didn’t have in quite such a grand scale as when you were a noob. These expectations have shape and scale. You know roughly what you are shooting for. You have number goals.

That expectation brings pressure. As a writer we always hope that with every piece we write, we gain a small bump each time. It doesn’t always work that way.

 

It Takes Time

Mid Term blogging can last for a long period of time, much longer than you would have thought.

There are some bloggers who take years to click into place with their strategy and find the magic engagers and influencers that catapult their name into the frame.

You have to stick with it to make that point and to validate your effort in the blog.

That, or you quit.

Mid Term Blogging is;

  • Quality
  • Engagement
  • Looking for gaps
  • Shoring up your library of responses

Mid Term Blogging involves;

  • Social media beast mode
  • Person to person communication in spades
  • Inventive methods and out of the box thinking

Mid Term Blogging can also become;

  • A different kind of drudge
  • An opportunity to rest on your laurels
  • Lack of freshness
  • Target fixation
  • Laziness

 

Motivational Challenge

As a mid-term motivational challenge it is easy to become complacent about increasing numbers. You have to remember that this is only achieved by continual effort.

Stepping off the gas can be hazardous for blogging at any time but especially before you have attained celebrity status.

Whilst you are still a potential nobody, you can quite easily sink back into oblivion, by not keeping up the pressure.

You have to constantly be thinking how you are going to chain things together and optimise the provisions you pass out to your audience and those you plan to become your audience.

 

Dangers of Mid Term Blogging

It is quite easy to get lost from your main purpose, your niche direction and your ultimate goals.

I’m going to explain some of the changes and challenges that will occur.

 

Your Writing Will Lose Some of It’s Softer Edges

Your rose-tinted ideas from early blogging are going to be swallowed by more cynical views.

If you ever read back some of your oldest works, from the beginning, you will see how your writing has changed.

You will construct articles differently, and be more mindful of constructs and means of presentation that now work, that didn’t before.

There will be a sharper edge to your works. Wham, Bam, Thankyou Ma’am.

Simply put, you will know how to please but don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t bear much resemblance to what you used to publish.

You will change;

  • Reducing the amount of flower in your descriptions.
  • Anecdotes, stories and imagery will increase.
  • Language might change for a wider world audience.

It is important to realise that some of these soft edges might be required to make you a unique voice in a crowded market. Try not to lose too much of you by becoming a robot.

 

Changing Tack

By following your audience you are not necessarily going to be charting the same direction as you had originally intended.

You may have forgotten what the point was to this steer and why you came this way.

Blogging is evolution. Even in the late game. Nothing stays the same, especially in a medium that is changing more rapidly than traditional writing.

In terms of motivation, you just need to keep the thread, wherever you are moving. Don’t think about the destination so much as the journey.

 

Clone Drone

It is very easy to become caught up in what the Jones’s are doing by looking at your competitors and trying to steal the wind out of their sales, or being a Johnny (or Janey) come lately.

This should be replaced by what you need to cover and what is important in your frame of the niche.

Don’t be a clone. Don’t be vanilla.

Serve your audience.

 

Comfortable But Vulnerable

You might feel comfortable that you’ve covered off a topic, but actually, the way you wrote it didn’t work for your audience and the wider audience.

Sometimes going back to represent your ideas in a more cognitive fashion is better than updating what you already have.

It may not need a repost as much as a completely new direction, one you haven’t considered yet.

 

Complacent Marketing Strategy

There is a great likelihood that you have become complacent with your marketing mix and the methods you use to hook interested readers without depending on the search engines.

The methods you employ will change subtly over time and you have to move with new trends.

Your audience aren’t a fixed point. They are not binary in their makeup, they aren’t yes and no. Sometimes they are maybe, not sure, stop asking me.

 

Attrition Management and Retention

You will have to manage attrition and move with the times.

Attrition will form in losing people who followed you for a long while but chose to abandon you (either through neglect or change of taste or situation).

You have to remove these people from your mailing lists before they start listing your email as spam.

Otherwise you have try to tempt them back somehow or try to capture the reason why they left and try to improve on that shortfall/oversight for future retention.

In the same way, your social media will have dropouts and on some platforms like Twitter, you will have to remove people to maintain the balance.

You have to be disciplined to do this, even if your attention has waned.

 

In Conclusion

Motivation is nothing without discipline.

As a blogger, one that may not see the recognition you hope for, the important point to keep in mind is that as long as you make the effort, you are not failing.

All bloggers, from all ends of the spectrum, have problems with motivation. It is human nature.

I’m sure there are the odd few days that bloggers like Pat Flynn and his ilk, can’t be bothered. They have the benefit of teams to fall back on and processes they have developed to get them past these feelings. These processes are ones you need to develop to be successful.

Guilt free holidays only come with precise tactics and strategies.

 

Next In The Series

The fourth step is the most important beyond Planning, Research and Motivation Assessment. In this step I will look at the notion of whether blogging is for you or not. You have to try it out and see if you like it, and I have tips on where you should go to try that.

 

Photo credits

All available via Pixabay.com, content is CC free but a pixabay link has been provided as a courtesy for an awesome service.

The What Where How of Research Before Starting Your Blog

I have a confession for you. Research might seem like the most boring thing you might get down to.

When you are looking to commit many hours, that you could otherwise spend on more joyous activities. The research you perform is key to determining the best way to roll the dice. Research is equally as important as planning.

If you go about research gently but progressively, you will find that it was a lot less intensive than you thought, and a lot more eye-opening.

The What Where How of Research Before Starting Your Blog

Dip your head in the books

Research is invaluable.

In essence you go away, collate informative data, and then arrange it logically into an action list. That’s what research is.

The information provided by Research provides you a direction, a steer, a path.

When you are thinking about getting your blog under way from scratch, or even from a long period of inactivity, you need some research.

This article follows step 1 of a series derived  from the “7 steps to starting a successful blog in January.”

Click here to get a taste of  the first step you should take (plan).

What Does Research Do?

There is no way to answer that concisely in a 20 word or less answer. Look at these points:

  • Informs you what your potential competitors are doing
  • Offers ideas on what you could try
  • Provides clues as to what really works and what really doesn’t*
  • Presents you an idea on how to layout your work
  • Identifies what language to use with your audience
  • Points to a profile of a typical member of your target audience
  • Alludes to gaps in the market
  • Outlines strategies you should avoid by cutting the corner on silly mistakes

*Blogger’s caveat: What works for one audience may not work for another, specifically yours.

If you didn’t already come to a conclusion on research, it is definitely an activity you should spend some time on. The more quality time you spend the better.

Research rocks. When you finally decide to start your project you will realise that you didn’t do enough of this and you will find that you had wished you had spent more time researching. Trust me.

What to Research?

Your Audience

This is difficult if you haven’t defined what your model audience member is. This article produced by my friend Ahmad Imran over at reasontouse.com, provides an idea as to the ideal group of target profiles Ahmad is aiming for, so a recommended read.

http://www.reasontouse.com/website/blog-audience-profiles/

Each blog’s audience is shaped by those who interact with the information, those who engage, those who get behind what you do. It takes time to encourage but you can shave a lot of that time by researching what triggers might work best for the kind of audience you are trying to attract. You might even have to change the idea of your perfect target audience because that individual might not be the kind of person you really want to attract.

 

What language works well?

Some audiences respond better to a certain type of conversation. If you start dropping the right phrases you will do better.

Blogging is textual, visual and can involve interactive elements. You will have to find the right mix.

Certain audiences respond when you use the right terminology.

One thing you can guarantee is that a conversational tone is the best way to get your audience member on board with what you are trying to convey.

 

How your audience absorbs the data?

Some audiences respond better to the addition of certain types of media. You can supplement and make your data easy to digest if you involve more graphical information. Certain charts will hit the sweet spot. Some infographics will do well.

This can vary greatly depending on the niche you plan to exploit.

As an example, if you run an extreme sports blog, your audience are going to respond well to pictures. It may be more prudent for you to include some galleries in your articles, rather than just one image.

 

Where does your audience hang out?

This helps you stop wasting time.

Fact; Social media is a time sink.

You will need to pinpoint the most effective method of finding your tribe as soon as possible because in the beginning of your blog, numbers will be minimal so you will need to find those individuals who make the effort to share your genius.

You are going to start at zero at some point and it is going to take you some time to generate traction.

 

Your Style

What makes you different?

Business-speak for this can be expressed as USP; your unique selling proposition. Every writer generates their own method of presentation which has a charm of its own. When in a crowded market you have to be a different voice.

Eventually you will generate products and services that may borrow from the dimension that you’ve charted in key depth. These unique elements are important visual representation of the kind of content that a visitor might expect.

All of the successful bloggers I have come across in my time blogging are there by having a key issue that they solve incredibly well. They are the master or mistress of that item, of that viewpoint, of that solution. Whilst the blogger might cover a wide range of items it is highly likely that they have one particular core specialty that marks them out.

What makes Pat Flynn at Smart Passive Income different?

I mention Pat Flynn a lot, if you haven’t read my past articles. We aren’t in a ‘bromance’, he doesn’t part own my company. He is inspiring, you can’t deny it. He has evidence that he has become a successful entrepreneur, in major part to blogging and other associated activities. Pat shares a lot of useful information that I can take action from and apply.

Pat is a shining example to me, and I have no difficulty saying that. I only have difficulty emulating his success, but find it reassuring that he continues to succeed. Being British, we Brits often have problems accepting those more successful than ourselves, it is a British trait, we snub or throw dung at those who show us up. With Pat, I feel differently, he gives a lot of information away and if you pay enough attention you can learn a lot.

These are the key areas where Pat is different.

  • His podcast without doubt is the one key area that draws a lot of attention to his blog.
  • He is the foremost specialist on using podcasts in his marketing strategy.
  • Podcasts are his thing. So much so that he has sold a podcast product that has been self-developed specifically for his platform. That is no small undertaking, no small investment.
  • What makes Pat different is Pat. He uses his personality and his own unique story as his USP.

 

What makes you valuable?

This is a surprisingly important question when you weigh everything up. You might be led to believe that you don’t matter all that much in the beginning but you will be surprised to learn how market leaders can sometimes home in on your good works by chance.

The truth is that depending on the given field of what you are researching, you have to determine factual content you can run with that provides enough fuel to the reader.

It is the meat in the sandwich question. If you have no meat in the sandwich, you have just two slices of bread. If you are vegetarian, is there any filler there?

You need your reader to leave your site feeling satisfied.

Your research should therefore try to determine that one thing that makes you valuable to a passer by.

 

What identifies you?

You might ask how this is different to “what makes you different” and in many cases you would be right to think there is no difference.

However, identification goes a bit further into the visual.

In this regard we are looking at brand awareness.

How are you going to stand out against all of the vanilla that is already out there?

A generic blog is white, very much a “denim” site. If you want to do better you have to work on colours and signals. Thinking about a method of making your data unique and memorable is time well spent.

 

What infrastructure to use?

Infrastructure for your blog is something that will start with a foundation.

Theme is important as it is the window for your audience and the heart of your machine for world domination. If you are not using a self hosted blog, the theme is already likely to be a choice out of your hands, there might be some customisation but otherwise you are bound to that particular framework.

New bloggers need time to learn, buying an expensive premium theme might not be the best way to go. Your fledgling audience won’t mind a more basic entrance as you find your feet. You can then roll out the red carpet when you have the goods to match the experience.

Alongside merely the theme, you will need traffic sources. In order to supply those, you are going to determine what best social media sites you want to use. The tip here is that you don’t use them all.

In fact, the fewer social media sites you use in the beginning, the better. There is always a danger of spreading yourself too thin. Social Media does take a fair while to get to a head of steam and you’ll find if you relent even for a second, people will leave you in droves. Get one area right and the rest will follow, social media has to be managed as a continuous campaign.

 

Where to Research From?

It is important to spread yourself broadly but focus your research on quality. The sources of your research are important in forming your ideas.

Here are a few sources but you may find more:

Other blogs

You should try and determine the top 10 in your sphere and see what works for all of them.

There are patterns you will be able to determine. For example:

Everybody has a mailing list signup box in the top 10. This would indicate that having mailing list subscribers is a good idea.

5 out of 10 sites use an advert box before you even get started reading the blog content. This might inform you of how lucrative the niche might be, or how resistant the community is to blatant advertising. You might be able to determine what product you might be able to float later on.

The emphasis here is not on ‘parroting’ a site but more on making the smart moves that competitors show you could work. You may find later, that your personal mix of audience, don’t get on so well with the attributes you include which may mean you have to revert to a different strategy. At least you’ve looked into what those options might be.

Other sites

Sometimes sites other than blogs will be inspiration. There are many sites that don’t have a blog element attached.

You should be able to garner what images work best at the very least. You might also be able to ascertain titles and layouts that work well for a larger audience.

Familiarity and ease of use are important for establishing interaction.

Books

Bestselling books can often provide an idea of a hot topic. They don’t even have to be bestsellers (but obviously bestsellers are likely to give you a better steer on what is big).

Questions for Incumbents (those already doing what you want to do, and doing it well)

Why not talk to some bloggers if you get the chance, see what is actually hot and what’s not.

It never hurts.

The worst that someone can do is not respond or say no.

By rule of thumb if you ask 20 people the same question, at least 1 of them will respond. It may be good to impart a time imperative in your request to facilitate a quicker response.

If you get no responses but feel that with a small fee you can pay for some information, this might be a good way to go.

 

How to Research?

There’s no specific way to research. You don’t have to start from a perceived beginning.

The best first step is to start. As mentioned above, it doesn’t matter where you start.

Research has no magic formula. You could try and develop a rigid plan for research but you may miss critical observations that could advise or inform.

I recommend you develop your own method if you need to do this research often. You will find that if you later commit to the blog, you’ll need to reinvent as your blog moves forwards. Research will always return to the fore as an important process.

Curation for content is the most common task.

Curation for research will give you a taste for the kind of work you will have to perform when curating articles for your audience.

 

When to Stop Researching

There will be a natural point where you have exhausted all the questions you needed answering. You will come across a few unanswered questions but when you feel that there is a shape to the answers you can follow the next step.

Setting a time limit for research is important. If you set yourself a month and work hard at it you should have covered enough bases. When you feel you’ve done enough, stop.

 

What happens if I get to the end of my research and don’t want to continue?

You can consider this outcome a success. It might determine that the idea you are trying to chase is already too mainstream, already tapped out. There are a lot of topics that have been covered so heavily that you may stand no chance of standing out, and that to pour your heart out would be a chronic waste of your time.

A lot of bloggers start out in a broader topic but work their way into a niche that they feel comfortable with. A niche market is more effective. You aren’t trying to capture the entire world, you can actually do a heck of a lot with 350 raving fans, and not worry about the thousands that don’t buy in to what you are providing.

You may have to return back to the planning stage.

 

What Next?

Now that you have completed planning and research we will move to motivation. The next step is the most important step in the blog. The make it/break it step.

Step 3 Commitment.

I look forward to bringing you this step soon but please be patient as this is a much more involved post.

 

Call to Action:

Do you have questions or tips? Let me know either in the comments below or through headboy@blogprefect.com

A social share is always appreciated.

 

How and What to Plan when Starting a New Blog

There are a number of reasons why planning comes first and in order to answer; How and What to Plan when Starting a New blog, we will need to explore a bit more about a plan.

In my article; 7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January, the Planning stage headed the list.

7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January

Why do you need a Plan?

  • The plan is the basis of your start point. If you don’t have a plan, where do you start?
  • A plan provides ideas on what to research. You will need to do a lot of research to understand how you can help your audience.
  • A plan puts a framework to the deployment of facilities you may need to include on your blog.
  • A plan can identify a priority to the order in which you instigate the information finding, creation and operation of your blog.

 

Problems with Plans

Plans can be linear if you don’t make them dynamic.

The problem with a linear plan is similar to how you might progress in a linear computer game. Linear games have one direction, they move from start to finish.

The limitations of a linear game are that they have no replay value. Once you have completed that linear game it won’t appeal to return to it so soon.

Blogs don’t run in a linear fashion, audiences don’t remain in a linear fashion.

Your Modus Operandi, your calling card, cannot remain the same forever. You have to evolve. Therefore your plan needs to evolve also.

 

Re-Plan the Plan

As I know all too well from working in a planning department, you have to; “Re-plan the plan.” Creating one plan that works is rarely feasible. The more complexity you work into a plan, the more external (uncontrollable) factors play into the success of your objectives.

A plan will always be imperfect because you never have the full amount of information you need to get everything right on the first pass.

The Plan’s aim is to generate some confidence in the fact that you know what you are letting yourself in for. It helps generate some expectation of the kind of commitment you will need to channel into making your end product worthy.

 

What to Plan for a Successful Blog Start?

You will definitely need an infrastructure plan if you plan nothing else.

Here is a list of the infrastructure I employ in BlogPrefect.com:

Core Elements

Domain – This is the blogprefect.com name, it is held by a registrar and is the way that both identifies my personal contact and allows my audience to search for me on the internet.

Hosting – This service provides me the architecture to provide this website. All the files including the database, code and images are stored on a server here. I’m currently with BlueHost but there are many other web hosts out there.

CMS (content management system) – This is the management control that I have to write articles and layout content on my website. I use self-hosted WordPress but there are other options. Determine which one fits you best!

Plugins – Whilst the theme you choose can cover a lot of the functions of the blog, there are some extra functions you will need to include that aren’t provided as standard with the theme. You will need plugins for extra functions such as security, caching and communication. Plugins incorporate speed overheads and also require you to spend time administering to their updates and settings along the way. There are a number of plugins you could need and so you may need a separate infrastructure list for these.

Theme – This is the user interface that everybody sees when they visit the blog. All themes are not created equal. Some work better than others depending on what you need them to do. My theme is Clicky, available at Theme Forest (Envato), it is a premium theme as it has certain features that aren’t provided with the selection of free themes WordPress provides. You have to decide on a tradeoff with a selection of theme. You can start with a free one and nobody will think less of you but you will reach the limitation of that free theme soon. Changing themes can provide challenge because the formatting of your posts may change and not always for the better. This is why it is best to decide on a theme you are going to keep for a while.

Email Elements

These are not essential to the core of your blog but they are essential for the marketing foundation of your blog.

Email List Provider – This provides me the ability to provide content to my subscribers and helps aid in generating direct traffic. I use Mailchimp.

Email Management System – This tool allows me to send and receive emails using my domain’s address. I use Fastmail but there are other options.

 

Notes about your infrastructure list:

You don’t need everything straight away. Your traffic is naturally low in the start so you can slowly introduce elements as you go along. You should think about the core elements you need and add the less essential elements later.

 

1st Question to ask

Have you identified what problems you seek to resolve for your audience?

This is something you can plan but you will more than likely need to review after some time researching.

 

Milestones

A corner-stone of planning activity are milestones. You may have heard of this term if you’ve put together a project. All it means is that you lay down a marker, a point by which you must have achieved something.

Exceedance

Planning has exceedance, the dictionary might not like the word but it exists. This means that should you not reach a goal by a certain point you have to push it out to the right, but analyse why. Some goals cannot be pushed because you will miss the ‘window of opportunity’ which leads to;

Critical Path

The Critical Path may be a list of elements you need to complete regardless of any superfluous goals. You often have “nice to do’s” and “must do’s”, when planning you have to prioritise the “must do’s”.

 

What Can I Apply this to?

  • Blog Posts
  • Marketing
  • Emails
  • Everything

You can literally plan everything. New logo, strategy for social media, return after time away, everything!

Remember

What’s Next?

I will be looking next at stage 2 of the  7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January, which looks at Research.

 

Image Credits

All images creditable to copyright free images acquired from Pixabay.

7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January

You could potentially be reading this article at any time of the year, even January itself. You might be holding off on getting things done because you want to get the blog just right. Blogging is popular and is netting people profit, notoriety and attention.

“It is not easy” will be a phrase you read a few times in this article. If it was easy it wouldn’t be an enriching challenge. Anyone can blog but not everyone can blog well enough to get their name in lights.

Launching a new blog in January is going to be a breeze right?

The ‘Hypercompetition Sea’

My favourite developed idea for the kind of competition you are up against in the blogging world is the Hypercompetition Sea.

Competition is one thing but when there are no barriers to entry, you enter this overwhelming ocean of competition. I neatly refer to this crushing crowd of voices shouting around you as the Hypercompetition sea.

If you haven’t been living under a rock you know that in Star Wars they have a hyperdrive; it’s not just a drive, it’s so much more!

Step 1 Plan First

Plan your empire!

  • Before you decide on anything, plan first.

I could leave this tip as one sentence because it is enough but you should plan if you are going to spend hard-earned cash on the infrastructure you are going to need to become successful.

I filled two A5 journals before I launched my blog. Without that creative thought it wouldn’t have started with the warmth that it did.

I asked myself a lot of questions. Tried to answer them as best as I could. When I felt confident I moved on.

Don’t go cold into anything. Yes you’ll learnt a lot but you’ll also have far more regrets which leads neatly to:

Step 2 Research

Dip your head in the books

Research is critical. Businesses perform extensive research before launching brands to ensure that they are hitting the right future buyer for their product. These businesses may have to adjust their product to cater better to what is available in the market.

A/ Know Your Market

A market differs slightly to your target audience in that you could be offering a product or service which even an un-engaged reader would be interested in. You have to know who the big players in your chosen niche are, and by observation, determine what works and what doesn’t.

You are not looking to copy but more to find the gaps that those big players leave. There is always an angle you can fill if you look hard enough. There is always a chunk you can tear off for yourself. It just takes time.

B/ Know Your Audience

Your audience is your raving fans. You need to know how to keep them engaged and returning. Audience retention is the core activity of your blog and it is not easy. In order to get yourself ready for the challenge ahead, you must have a target audience member in mind.

My friend Ahmad Imran over at Reasontouse.com goes into detail about Audience Profiles. I think that you can learn a lot from this. Click this link to open this insightful post in a new window.

Step 3 Ask Yourself Can you Commit?

Commit or don't

Whilst I’ve made every effort to streamline and make blogging easy for myself, it takes time.

You will be spending a lot of your time:

  • Developing content
  • Developing networks
  • Developing the brand
  • Developing your sell

Determining whether you are well placed to do that will depend on:

  • Your personal level of motivation
  • How resistant you are to feeling the crushing blow of defeat
  • How open you are to advice, no matter how painful
  • Your ability to battle it out when you just don’t feel in the mood
  • Planning ahead during the good times to avoid the crash in the bad

Even if you are a woman, you’ve got to have some balls. You need to have grit. You need to dig in.

Think of blogging as a campaign. Even an email marketing platform uses the word “campaign” to refer to your endless stream of articles. The important thing to note is that each post is a battle. You will lose some, more so in the early days, but eventually you’ll start winning the war.

You might think, why this step here? You won’t know how committed you are to a subject until you’ve explored it’s potential first.

Step 4 Try Out Some Free Blogging in a Different Subject

Try it out

It is tempting to diverge. Divergence is the one way to kill your blog in the long-term.

  • Focus is important.

The word ‘niche’ is banded around. You will hear it more and more as you develop your blog. A niche is your unique position within a field of discussion. As you laser target your blog, your niche will tighten to a razor-sharp focus because you will start to understand the unique areas that you can capitalise on where other bloggers can’t.

The trouble is, there are those topics you want to write about that aren’t beneficial to your audience as a whole. They may be your own personal passions but cannot be used as a good way to relate your audience to your content aim.

Therefore I suggest you start out blogging on a free platform and get into the habit of what you have to do to make a bigger splash, draw more engagement, and layout your thoughts.

Why Free?

The free platforms start out with a pre-made audience. Audience on your fresh blog that you plan to start may not reach the numbers you hope.

In order to be encouraged in your writing endeavours, and determine whether you can stick with it; I recommend you join WordPress or Medium.

These platforms come with a large amount of readers already so you can trial your style and tweak with basic elements of your writing without making investment. It is a way to make a name for yourself and to start enticing engagement.

Note: The free platform audience is not necessarily as amenable to your work as an audience you generate through your own efforts. You will find that on free platforms a lot of the audience are other bloggers. Rivals may not necessarily be the individuals that you will want to make that final sale to. This audience might be the kind that gives you access to visibility or looks to steal good ideas.

Here Comes the Decision

You are now committed.

The engine is about to be started.

Your driving gloves are on.

Your foot is poised on the accelerator pedal.

Step 5 Your Domain Name is Critical

Critical Domain Name

Always Chose .Com!

You have to make sure that the name you are after is free to use and that you aren’t going to infringe on copyrights before you go ahead and start using it.

My friend Eli Seekins over at LaunchYourDream.Com has a great guide about picking domain names. Click this link to open a new window for a great article.

A/ Register Your Name as Soon as You Have Decided

These names can be swallowed up quickly so if you see the perfect name is available, purchase it as soon as you can.

B/ .com or Something Else?

I would always recommend .com because with .com you reach the world. I would only recommend a localised URL if you are targeting a localised demographic. Depending on how diverse your blog intends to be, having the possibility to touch your site out to the world gives you opportunities.

  • A lot of people speak English that aren’t from America/UK/Canada/Australia/New Zealand/Africa/India
  • A lot of Ex-pats live in foreign countries

Step 6 Have Several Blog Posts Ready to Go

Ready to Rock!

Having a suite of posts ready saves you time out of the gate. If you can have at the minimum, 3 posts, this gives you the opportunity to make some key adjustments to your blog without being in a rush to produce content.

Being in a rush, especially if you are working in a full-time job, leads to bad quality and you want your first couple of posts to move people*. You need some good quality to lead you out of the gate.

*You want all your posts to move people but you have to take into account that occasionally you’ll produce sub-par content. Your first 3 posts need to have some substantial useful content. Think of it as the launching trajectory, you don’t want to fire into the ground.

Step 7 Start Making Friends

Friends make life easier

You can start making friends before you get going. If you are still working on the content you can start getting into the kinds of circles your content is likely to be reaching.

You can start to gauge what’s hot, what’s not and what’s meh.

It is possible to start your social media elements before your blog. I remember suggesting this before and one gentleman was so flabbergasted by this “outrageous” idea that they went into length about how wrong I was. The truth is you can put the cart before the horse for a little bit.

A conversation can often be just as valuable as a post.

Other Ideas to Consider

Determine Your Launch Month

January may not be your niche’s best time to start out of the gate. You can have just as good a start in June or July. I started BlogPrefect.com in mid June of 2013 and received a better start than Jackowrites.com which launched in December.

Doing your research should indicate when there are likely to be peaks in interest. Use this data to be strategic with your launch.

It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect in the Beginning

  • You are going to make derps, fails and brain farts.

Blogging is an evolutionary journey so you may eventually wipe the slate on that crappy image or rubbish sentence.

Own your mistake.

Learn from it.

Move on.

Take it All With Good Humour

You are the boss and you have enjoy what you are doing. Blogging is work, work can get dry sometimes. Try to inject fun in what you produce and put zest into your work.

At times you are going to have to be serious and lay ideas out as straight as you can. Where you are permitted to lighten the mood, go all in.

Try a Few Things That Experts Tell You Not to Do

Blogs are unique in that what works for one blog doesn’t necessarily work for another. As your audience builds, you’ll have a unique audience that likes your content a certain way. In order to determine what is working best you have to experiment.

  • It is important not to harbour pre-conceptions about what is expected of your blog.
  • You don’t know until you try.

The early days of blogging provide the best opportunity to make big experiments. As your blog starts to mature, you can upset your audience when you make big changes. Whilst you have a small audience you have few people to alienate.

Note: One proviso is that you don’t over experiment. As you can guess, it will become difficult for your audience to feel warm if the seas (your blog) are choppy. Limiting experiments to targeted areas is better.

Don’t Clone, Innovate!

It is very easy to make your blog/website like every other in the niche. You can have every decoration that your neighbour has on their tree. The problem is it won’t make you stand out as a different voice.

As a successful future blogger you need your own unique blend. Don’t keep up with the Jones’s. Push the fringes of your topic, you may then find the perfect sub-niche to dominate!

Buy Yourself a Decent Notepad or Journal

Keep a Journal so you Don't have to remember!

They say that handwriting is dead but I believe not. I swear by handwriting some notes every so often, whether it is progress, ideas, websites, words of encouragement or new experiments to try out. I even have award stickers to make the process fun. Yeah, I’m a big kid but this job is the one you can enjoy!

As you write, you realise where you were and where you’ve come to. Some ideas may not have had the best shape in the past but one little jog can provide you an idea for a post or something more.

A Kind Courtesy

Please share this post if you felt it was insightful and useful.

Feel very welcome to leave me a comment, especially if you feel there was more that I could have mentioned.

I lurk on Twitter and would love to hear from you.

 

Image Credits

Note: All images have been modified. All are covered under CC0 Public Domain from Pixabay. I have only attributed to pay a courtesy to Pixabay and the creators of these images.

Featured image by Unsplash via Pixabay

Drafting image by Pexels via Pixabay

Book Door image by Ninocare via Pixabay

Wet Ring image by Josemdelaa via Pixabay

Bald Eagle image by FlashBuddy via Pixabay

Domain image by EStudioWebDoce via Pixabay

Letters image by Andrys via Pixabay

Doggy pals image by Herney via Pixabay

Notepad image by DariuszSankowski via Pixabay