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3 Factors to Consider Before Starting a Blog – Maintaining Blogging Momentum

As I’ve pondered how to write about maintaining momentum (this is part 2 of a series) on a blog many of the suggestions that I have have boiled down to one thing – thinking ahead.

While I know many bloggers like to blog spontaneously and to go with the flow, I’ve found that planning a blog (both before you start it and in an ongoing way) can save a lot of heart ache later on.

Following are three of the issues you might like to consider ahead of time and before you start blogging that will help you later when it comes to maintaining momentum on your blog:

1. Topic breadth

Will the topic you’re considering starting a blog about be lend itself to being an ongoing project?

As I mentioned in my series introduction, there are two extremes when it comes to topic breadth that often lead to the death of a blog. The first is choosing a topic that is so broad that it becomes overwhelming and the second is choosing one that is so narrow that after just a few posts the blogger runs out of things to say.

One simple way to test whether a topic is wide enough is to search for news on it using tools like Google News or Topix.net. Look particularly for the frequency of news on the topic. This will give you an indication of whether there are stories breaking on the topic that you can bounce off on your blog.

Another test is to simply brainstorm what posts you could write on the topic. Simply put down on paper as long a list of post titles as you can as quickly as possible. If after 10 minutes you only have a handful of potential post ideas you might want to either widen your topic or find another one.

2. Energy Levels

Does the topic excite you? Are you motivated enough to write about it for the long term?

I made the mistake 12 or so months ago of starting a series of blogs on topics that I knew very little about and that I didn’t have sufficient interest in to sustain over the long haul.

While I did have some interest in the topics I was really kidding myself that I could write on the topics for long without slipping into a zombie like blogging state. In the last few months I finally ended these sub standard blogging efforts – they simply fizzled out due to a lack of interest.

Ask yourself what your passion and energy levels are for the topic you’re considering blogging about. Be brutally honest about this because as I found, we can sometimes fool ourselves into thinking we are interested in a topic when we are not.

Here are a few questions you might like to ask:

  • Can you honestly see yourself writing on the topic in 2 or more years time?
  • Is the topic one that you’re proud to be covering?
  • Do you want to be known as an expert on this topic?

I’m not saying that you can’t start blogs on topics that you don’t want to be known for or that you’re not interested in – but these questions will help you to work out what your motivations are which is an important step in the process of building a sustainable blog.

If you’re not interested in your topic your potential readers will sense this and the chances of success will fall.

Successful blogs are almost always long term efforts and most do not really begin to see significant ‘success’ for 12 or more months. They take a significant investment of time and energy and I guess all I’m saying is that it’s worth considering if the topic is something that you want to invest your life into for such a significant amount of time.

3. Time Audit

How much time do you have? Do you have time for this blog?

Different blogs will demand different levels of time from their blogger depending upon a combination of numerous factors:

• Topic – some topics are more dynamic than others in terms of how often they lend themselves to being updated, what type of posts they might stimulate and what potential traffic levels they might bring in (all factors that contribute to how much attention you’ll need to give the blog).

• Age of blog – I’ve noticed that my older blogs take more time to maintain. This happens for a number of reasons including the number of posts that people can leave comments on, the blog’s increasing Search Engine ranking, and an increasing profile etc. When you start a blog it might seem quick and easy to maintain but it will only become more involved and time consuming over time.

• Blogger’s Style – the style of blogging that you do obviously has an impact upon the time it takes to maintain. For example if you write a lot of longer original posts it takes significant time to write them. If you write in an engaging way that invites feedback the time needed to maintain comments sections increases.

Before you start a new blog do a time audit on your life. What spare time do you have currently? Is there any way you can free up more time for blogging? What upcoming life events do you have and how will these impact your spare time?

Doing a time audit is especially important if you’re considering starting multiple blogs at once. Many bloggers set themselves up for problems by simply starting to many blogs too quickly.

My recommendation is to start one blog at a time. Once you’ve set up a blog and have maintained it for a month or so do another time audit to assess whether you can realistically sustain another one. In this way you’ll only ever start as many blogs as you can maintain and you’ll give each new blog a real chance to survive rather than over stretching yourself and ending up doing multiple blogs poorly.

Tomorrow I’ll turn my attention to a number of ways a blogger can think ahead AFTER they’ve started a blog.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I am having a hard time with the time factor with my blog.
    I notice that working a full-time job – when I get home – I cannot find the energy to dedicate an hour or more to answering the advice on my site…

  2. I’ve found that in order for me to blog the most efficiently I have to set a schedule. I too work a full time job and then come home to blog at night. This is hard sometimes, and I’ve only been at it a month, but I employ a few strategies.

    1. Run series constantly. I like series because they give me something consistent to write about. Right now I’m running 21 Days to a Fitter You and it’s nice to know that I’ll be posting 1 time a day about fitness.
    2. Draw inspiration from the world around you. Darren did this really well in his recent post on Umbrella Salesmen. I try to look at everything around me and think , how does this relate to my topic?
    3. Set a schedule. I post 3 times a day on weekdays and 2 times a day on weekends. This is helping me to increase my content base and keep me on track. I often get in good writing moods so I schedule posts ahead of time so I don’t have to worry about them later. I use the task manager in Outlook XP to keep me on track.

    That’s what I do and it’s gotten me pretty good results so far. If you search for “living on your own” on msn, I’m #2. This without hardly any inbound links. :)

  3. Usually I won’t start a new blog unless I’ve at least 50 posts written (drafts). With that, I’d ponder over a month or two to see if I’m still enthusiastic about writing more (expand both horizontally or vertically manner) and if I’m willing to do more research on that topic. This appoarch may seem a little extreme for some, that’s because from my experience I’d set up new blog and abandoned it after 4 months or so. Though some posts got decent ranking in the SEs, but as time passes by my readership is like non-existence and gradually rankings drop. As Darren said it, “over stretching yourself and ending up doing multiple blogs poorly.”

    Darren, I’m not sure I can agree with you on this “To be known as an expert on that topic”. To coil myself as a guru. If I’d think of myself as one, my tone of writing may sound too authoritative to readers putting them so very off.

    As to the blogger style, I totally second that! If that topic (blog), I have no means in answering queries (either knowledgeable or time), I just turn the comments off and treat it like a regular static site. I’d think it’s better to have comments off rather than being unresponsive blogger.

  4. For those blogging full-time, what are your predictions on what will happen to the blogosphere community? Will it remain ‘hot’ in the coming years? Because not all remain hot. What happens if blogging falls….what I’m asking is, what’s life after blogging?


  5. Intelli,

    Blogging is as popular as it is because it is a medium for people to quickly and easily share information on the Internet. In order for it to “fall” there would need to be a new method for those same people to say what they want to say, but the same basic concept would still apply. That being said, I think blogging is here to stay for a while, although I expect technology improvements and other changes will always be changing the blogging landscape.

  6. IntellStore, I agree with Matt about why blogging has become popular and I don’t see it going away either. When it comes down to it a blog is really just a specialized website and I doubt any of us see websites going away. There are so many good reasons to blog that I think the only thing that would cause them disappear would be if something better came along.

    Nick I’m with you on the series. I wrote one not too long ago and I found it extremely helpful jusy knowing what I’d be writing about in advance. It gave me a direction that made it much easier to get started on each new post.

    I also do what I can when not writing to collect possible topics for new posts. I keep a growing list and anytime I come across something in my reading that might make an interesting topic I hold onto the article.

    Darren I did start my blog with a rather broad topic though I find myself generally writing on a more focused subset of topics within the overall broader topic. I’m also all for planning though I think in some ways diving right in can be ok. I know much of what I’ve learned about how better to blog could only have been learned by the act. As long as you’re willing to accept that you’ll make mistakes. Then again there’s no reason why you can’t just blog for awhile without actually publishing. You can still gain valuable experience as well as not having to expose some of those posts you wish could take back.

  7. You just gave me some more ideas for my “blogging life”.

    Yes, it’s rigth one shouldn’t start another blog before the previous is going smooth and get thicker with good posts.

    I will try to become an expert in my field, I think that having this goal from the beginning can help a lot to improve your blog.

    I was planning to start a website on Martial Arts, but instead, I think I will start a blog first (but not now, after at least 4 or 5 months), because my other blogs got to deliver first.

    Then after I will write that Martial blog, I will think about doing the website.

  8. “My recommendation is to start one blog at a time.”
    I really think that it is a million dollar advice. At first, you need a give a lot fo effort to establish a blog and when it gets good ranking in search engines and get good daily hits then you can start for another blog and do it. Yes, it is indeed a million dollar advice. It’s like having one kid versus having 3 kids. You can give all of your time and money and give the kid everything but when you have 3 kids your time and money both get divided.
    If you do not do any thing else and you can give 8-10 hours then even 4 blogs is not a problem to maintain. But if you have just 1-2 hours to spend then 1 blog is more than enough.

  9. “Does the topic excite you? Are you motivated enough to write about it for the long term?”

    Wow. This jumped right out of the post for me. Yeah, I was also involved with problogging for a while back. Most of the topics my “employer” gave me were pretty much waaay out of my league or interests. Eventually, my posts lost their qualities and I quit.

    I even blogged about this…


  10. Have you got something interesting to say? Recycling other people’s stuff has a fairly limted appeal.

  11. I find this to be very true. This is the difference in choosing a blog based on profit or your true interests. I find that in going only for profit you will not have the motivation or momentum to be successful.

  12. […] ProBlogger: 3 Factors to Consider Before Starting a Blog […]

  13. Its the proper blending of all the three factors which would help in maintaining the momentum of the blog of which time is the most important one. Right info for those who r ready to start a new blog.

  14. Thanks for the tips and advices Darren. And you comment posters. I’m going to work hard and make some dollars out of my blog.

  15. […] 3 Factors to Consider Before Starting a Blog – Maintaining Blogging Momentum […]

  16. I have three blogs ongoing right now and I find it surprisingly easy to integrate in my life. Easy, mostly because I am not married and do not have kids, so when I arrive at home (after working all day), it is fairly easy to spend at least a couple of hours online. Here’s what works for me:

    I post about every other day on my three blogs. But, I usually have determined in advance what I’m going to blog about. I listen to the radio all day, read the newspaper and talk with my friends. These outlets provide so many topics to write about, that I have lists of future blog topics. I’m usually on the internet every night or every other night. Even if I’m not writing, I’m reading and visiting some of my favorite blogs. It really helps to know what others are talking about and I occasionally link to really good, on topic items.

    Also, I’m very passionate about my blogging topic, so it’s easy enough for me to remain committed. I’ve had a website for a little over a year and I’ve been blogging for about three months, but I find that my blog traffic increases exponentially. All that linking and socializing really, really helps.

    I think Darren is right on point when he suggests that you audit your time. That will probably save you the most heartache in the end.

  17. Thanks for these, Darren. It affirmed some of the things that I’ve done since I’ve started problogging, such as starting (or joining, as the case may be) one blog at a time. I give myself at least one month to settle into a blogging routine. Though I can think of several topics I’d love to blog about, I don’t like to over-extend myself.

    Before I start a blog, I subscribe to Google Alerts to see how much news on the topic is available daily. This also gives me a chance to think about how I’ll tackle the topic, even without actually writing on it yet.

    The points about doing a time audit and evaluating passion for a blog topic are wise things to keep in mind. Thanks again!

  18. I wish I had gotten this advice three years ago when I began my blog. Now my blog is going in several directions. I haven’t got it in me to dedicate time and energy to maintaining several different blogs, however. Do you have any suggestions on how to develop consistency while also including variety on a blog?

    Thanks for this great blog of tips. I just found you today and I am so glad I did!

  19. Very good advice. It’s easy to find the blogs that don’t follow your advice; they’re the ones with no new posts this year.
    thebloggerclub.com: http://www.thebloggerclub.com
    theblogplace.net: http://www.theblogplace.net

  20. Maintaining momentum in blogging

    Darren Rowse, a leader in the how-to of blogging, has a series of posts this week on maintaining momentum in blogging He covers some of the reasons for burnout and provides the following detailed posts on maintaining the momentum. 3…

  21. […] The post in the link below was originally Written on May 16, 2006 by Darren Rowse :: 3 Factors to Consider Before Starting a Blog – Maintaining Blogging Momentum […]

  22. […] Perfect Blogger has started a series on the Questions to Ask Yourself before starting a blog. The first three are good ones. I’ve written some similar questions at 3 factors to consider before starting a blog and 23 Questions for Prospective Bloggers. […]

  23. […] 4. Patience, young grasshopper – Overnight successes are very rare in any field. One great point that Darren drives into the mind of the reader is that things take time. As he observes in this article, many blogs doesn´t have significant success for 12 months (or more). […]

  24. The blogsphere has grown so much in the past few years…
    I think that maintaining the ‘blogging momentum’ is quite right.
    You just gotta know how to do it.

  25. […] 3 Factors to Consider Before Starting a Blog – Maintaining Blogging Momentum […]

  26. Nice tips, thanks.

  27. factors to consider… can I really do this… Yes! Thanks for the evaluation questions. Luckily I can answer positively to all of them. I am excited to be writing about what I love and can see myself blogging on my blog for the rest of my life. As long as blogging is still around!!!

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