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5 Things to Think About Before You Start a Blog

Posted By Stacey Roberts 9th of February 2017 Start a Blog 52

5 Things to Think About Before You Start Your New Blog | Don't leave home without these tips from ProBlogger!

It’s time! You’ve had it in the back of your mind for a while now, but you’ve realised the hour is right to take the plunge, and you want to start a blog. Welcome! You’ve come to the right place.

If creating a blog is something you’ve been thinking about but you haven’t known where to start, then these are some basics you could keep in mind to ensure you create a blog not only you love, but your readers will too. A blog you won’t get sick of in six months’ time and abandon (which happens more than you think!), but something you can build and be proud of.

5 Things to Think About Before You Start Your New Blog

5 Things to Think About Before You Start Your New Blog | Don't leave home without these tips from ProBlogger!

1. Is this the topic I want to write about forever, or have I given myself some wiggle room?

If you changed your mind a year into blogging and wanted to go in a different direction, you wouldn’t be the first.

We can often start a blog for one reason and continue it for another. Where this gets difficult (without losing all your hard-earned readers and starting again) is where you’ve boxed yourself in so tight that you can’t branch out.

Now I’m not saying a slender niche is a particularly bad idea, if you’re passionate about it – Nerd Fitness has nailed the brief, as has Lotsa Fresh Air, just to name two. If you can see yourself still motivated and excited to write about your chosen topic five years from now, then you’re laughing. But if you’ve chosen a niche just because it’s a current trending topic and you think it will get you tons of traffic, you may find you can’t stand it 12 months in and you’ve got nowhere to go. And worse, the trend for that topic has passed!

There’s no reason why you can’t start out as a personal blog and write about all sorts of things until you hit up on your niche. There’s also no reason why you can’t transition from a particular topic to something different that you’ve touched on before. The thing is to keep your options open if you’re not sure, or really be sure before you start.

Has your idea got longevity? Or do you have a Plan B?

5 Things to Think About Before You Start Your New Blog | Don't leave home without these tips from ProBlogger!

2. The technical bits

No need to be frightened by this list, as simple as I’ve tried to keep it! You’ll often find that plenty of these things come with time and you can do them gradually. You might start out on the Blogger platform with no newsletter and eventually move onto a different platform with a simple email-capturing plugin. Baby steps!

It also goes hand in hand with just starting your blog rather than waiting until you’ve got all your ducks lined up. I’m a huge proponent of jumping in with both feet and figuring it out later. There’s a huge chance you won’t even start (or you’ll waste valuable time) waiting around until you’re 100% sure with every single aspect of your blog.

But it doesn’t hurt to have a think about these options, even if you end up putting them in the too-hard basket to deal with at a later date.

If you’d like step-by-step instructions for the technicalities of setting up a blog, Darren has written a fantastically comprehensive tutorial here: How to Start a Blog. You can also check out our Start a Blog portal for further newbie info.

  • Hosting: Which company will you go with? How much money do you have to spend? Will they take into account certain circumstances for your blog? Things like load time and dedicated servers are important, make sure you can find out all the information you think is relevant to you.
  • Platform: It’s no longer a fight to the death between WordPress and Blogger, there are plenty of other options in the mix these days too. Squarespace has a lovely, clean look, and Tumblr is easy to use, for example. Will you be selling your own product in the future, and therefore have to look at a platform that also has ecommerce ability? Or do you need to choose between WordPress.com or WordPress.org? The options are many, but it depends on what you want to get out of it. A simple online journal could work well on Blogger, or for more functionality and control, you could go self-hosted WordPress.
  • Domain: First, read 4 Things to Consider When Choosing your Domain name, as it has several very important components for you to think about. Will you get your own domain name? (I recommend it!), does anyone else have that domain or similar? Which company will you buy it through?
  • Design: Do you know how to design webpages, or are you going to buy a theme? Will you install it yourself or get someone else to? Will you leave it as standard, or make tweaks to it? Do you have enough white space, easy navigation, and a clear layout?
  • Email address: If you’re not getting an email address through your blog hosting, which platform will you use? Will it be your blog name? What if it is taken (like mine was)? Think thoroughly about what the alternatives could be rather than rushing into it, or you’ll be stuck with a not-so-great email address (like I was!) which is meant to be a professional representation of you.
  • Structure: How will your blog layout look? What kinds of posts will you be writing? Will you be doing mainly video? Are visuals your priority?
  • Plugins: What kind of functionality do you want your site to have? A recipe index? An Instagram widget? An email signup form? A spam filter? What comment system? Printable recipe cards? Easy SEO? The options are pretty unlimited, but a bad plugin can flood your site with errors, or worse – malware. Do your research and only use the plugins you really need and keep them updated.
  • Social Media Accounts: This almost goes without saying in this day and age, but think about which ones will be most useful for you, and secure your blog name on them (or whatever you want to be known as). You don’t have to use all of them regularly, but it’s best to have a presence on each, even if you just direct folks to the platforms you do use regularly. How will you display these on your site so your readers know where to find you?
  • Visuals: How wide will your pictures be? Will you need a slider? What about your blog profile picture? Are they optimised for the web so they don’t drag down your load speed?
  • Safety: How will you stop your site being accessed by hackers? What protection does your host offer?
  • Backups: What happens if your blog suddenly disappears? Gets hacked? Gets taken down by a rogue plugin? If you had to repopulate your entire site, where will you get the info to do that? Do your research on backups and backup plugins.
  • Spam filters: How will you cut down on the amount of bots trying to get backlinks to their sites? Will you use the general WordPress Jetpack or something else?
  • Email collection: If you’re going to build an email list, how will you capture readers’ emails? Will you be creating a newsletter? Where will you keep all your collected email addresses?

5 Things to Think About Before You Start Your New Blog | Don't leave home without these tips from ProBlogger!

3. Branding

If you haven’t already decided 100% about a blog name, now is the time! Some of us know exactly who and what we want to be, and others go through some more brainstorming to come up with the perfect title that sums up the blog’s ethos.

Take into account basic marketing tips:

  • Is the name easy to remember?
  • Does it roll off the tongue?
  • Is there something sufficiently different about it so that it stands out?
  • Does it make a good URL?
  • Are there keywords in it?
  • Can you see yourself being happy with this name in a year’s time? In five years’ time?

Do you have a particular logo or colour scheme in mind? Your blog’s header is the first thing people see, usually – are you settled on a graphic? Or will it be just text? Will you use this branding across your social media, or a profile picture of yourself?

Your branding is how you are represented visually, and while you can definitely change it in the future, you should have some idea of how you want to come across right now and what name/image will describe that for you.

5 Things to Think About Before You Start Your New Blog | Don't leave home without these tips from ProBlogger!

4. Where’s your community?

A blog isn’t really a blog without readers – you need people to visit your site and interact with it for your blog to be successful.

It’s very tempting to just start writing and hope people find your blog, but it’s always best to sit down and have a brainstorm about where those people might actually be so you can be there too!

Are you appealing more to a Pinterest or a LinkedIn crowd? Would your readers be in Facebook groups or in online forums? What is their demographic? What other blogs are in your niche where they might be reading (and you could read too, if you don’t already!)? Where would they go to find people like them?

It’s a really good idea to try and narrow down who you’re talking to and who would be interested in what you have to say. Darren often recommends creating a reader profile (or several!) to give you some structure when it comes to tone and topic content. Then find where your ideal reader hangs out and create a presence there.

Half the job of finding readers for your blog will be done if you know who you’re looking for and where they are. You can get all our handy tips and every article in the Finding Readers portal.

5 Things to Think About Before You Start Your New Blog | Don't leave home without these tips from ProBlogger!

5. What am I doing this for?

Knowing your why, or understanding what is motivating you to write your blog, is invaluable. The earlier you can figure this out, the better! Why have you started a blog? What is the purpose? Where do you want it to take you?

Dig down deep and see if you can come up with the overarching reason you’re cracked open a laptop and started to write for the world to see. Knowing your why can then impact the how (how you intend to create content and engage with readers) and the what (what that content is and how you intend to share it).

It also helps when you are trying to find the time to work on your blog. If you’re passionate about your blog and its topic, it’s easier to find the time in and around your work and family commitments. If you’re passionate about your blog, it’s easier to keep going when you feel as though nobody’s reading it yet. If you’re passionate about why you’re blogging, then it can help keep you on track when you’re working umpteen hours a week and earning zero dollars.

Knowing why you want to blog will help you create a blog not only you will love, but that others will immediately understand and be drawn to as well. There’s nothing so obvious as a soulless blog just there for the traffic! Understanding what you’re in this for will lead to a better end result.

Bonus Round one: spending money

There comes a time when if you want to make money from your blog, you have to spend money.

If you’re doing it as a hobby, that’s great! Don’t spend a cent if you don’t want to. But if you would spend money on a hobby anyway (my two weaknesses are books and beautiful pure-wool yarn), then go for it. If your blog doesn’t make a cent but it looks how you want it to and it makes you happy every day then that’s money well spent.

If you want to make money from your blog, you may find you’re forking out cash before your blog is bringing it in. It is worth having a beautiful theme, altered to suit your blog and its specifications. It’s worth it to pay for plugins that you think will make your blogging life easier. Then there’s paid social scheduling options, blogging courses, graphic designers, web gurus, hosting, SEO help – your blog will take as much money as you have to spend on it! And probably more.

It’s best now to work out a budget of how much you’re willing to spend, or you’ll find that you’ve got money coming out your ears and you’re still not where you want to be.

Bonus Round two: making money

It’s no longer a dirty word! There are millions of bloggers all over the world making an income from their blogs, whether large or small. If this is something you’re hoping to achieve with your blog (one of your “why”s perhaps?!), then take a look at our Make Money Blogging resource page and see what resonates with you, and check out our plentiful articles on the topic!

Starting a blog can be one of the most exciting endeavours, and often far more rewarding than we realise. I hope I haven’t overwhelmed anyone with my “before you start a blog” topics to think about, because as I said before, I’m of the school of thought that encourages people to just get started before they over-think themselves out of it! Start a blog and iron out the kinks later – but if you can start it with just a couple of these locked down, then you’re on the front foot.

If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them in the comments below. Happy blogging!

About Stacey Roberts
Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama, follow on Pinterest for fun and useful tips, peek behind the curtain on Instagramand Snapchat, listen to her 90s pop culture podcast, or be entertained on Facebook.
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Comments
  1. Hi, I’m just starting out on this adventure and have been reading a bit on Problogger over the past year. Your post is a great synopsis of what I’ve learned so far. Now to take your advice and jump in with both feet! Thanks for a needed push.

  2. Hello Stacey,

    Those are all valid points for a new writer to start a new blog. I went through a similar process when I decided to create a website of my own. I couldnt decide on a niche for my blog since I wanted to write about various topics. Hence the name DailyMorningCoffee :-) I do write about technology and how-to guides and wordpress and SEO, some articles are about life and philosophy too….so maybe I am facing a challenge to get specific audience for my blog. But as you have mentioned we need to also decide “Why I want to blog”. Maybe I want to blog because I want to portray my thoughts on a subject without actually caring if anyone reads or opines about it.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • It’s a great practice to remember why we do this, especially when they money and traffic isn’t rolling in by the billions. It can re-orient us!

    • Well said. Parvenu. Exactly how I feel. My blog is just my thoughts on various subjects. Right now pretty much only a few friends read it, but it’s great therapy for me to get the ideas out of my system and down on “paper.”

  3. Hey Stacey,

    Starting a blog need a little bit of knowledge. I encounter many people are desperate to share their experience through blogging.

    But the problem occurs when they get diverted from their path. The topic they want to write about, the keyword factor etc.

    Knowing about the technical aspects is required.

    ~Ravi

    • Yes I’ve seen that happen too. They read a lot of articles, or get a lot of advice, and lose faith in their original idea. They think they have to change in order to be successful – but that’s not always the way it works!

      • Well said by Stacey !!

        I am also naive blogger, as starting my jioanish.com – i was confused to choose keywords and some more to attract audience towards. But one thing, i am doing you can target one phrase keyword for post and work on that at starting stage. We should also focus on writing at starting phase of our blog site.

        Most important, we must deviate from our topic!!
        We gradually learn with time as pass away.

        • Well said by Stacey !!

          I am also naive blogger, as starting my jioanish.com – i was confused to choose keywords and some more to attract audience towards. But one thing, i am doing you can target one phrase keyword for post and work on that at starting stage. We should also focus on writing at starting phase of our blog site.

          Most important, we must not deviate from our topic!!
          We gradually learn with time as pass away.

  4. Hi, Stacey!

    I loved it. One of the reasons I liked this post is that you mentioned branding. I’m a personal branding enthusiast. My personal brand is predicated on the leverage that personal blog provided. So, it makes me happy when people talk about branding or personal brands, in general.

    The rest of the points are helpful as well. But ‘branding’ got my attention.

    Thanks for publishing this blog post!

  5. Hi Stacey,
    As always great post, things to consider for starting a new blog! I started my blogging journey on blogger, but self-hosted WordPress is best to start with! WordPress is always better than blogger. . .
    And talking about Personal Branding; there is no doubt it works great!
    thanks!

    -Ashvin

  6. Hi Stacey,
    I just started my blog a couple weeks ago and am only now getting around to reading how to do it; the ready, shoot, aim method of getting through life. Thanks for these tips. I see I did get a couple things right by dumb luck, but would have definitely benefited from reading this earlier.
    I will be spending some time around here trying to improve my aim before I hurt someone by shooting from the hip.

    Thanks a lot.

    Shane

  7. Thank you, Stacey, for this helpful post. I want to start my blog, and I was a bit confused that what should I do now. Your writing helps me understand the blogging. Thank you:)

  8. Very useful introduction to starting a blog. The only thing I would question / challenge is about needing to spend money to make money. Actually I don’t think you need to spend much at all. There are loads of free and professional wordpress themes. Almost all plugins you’ll ever need are free. You don’t need to purchase books or going on courses, as there is just so much content available for free (e.g. great sites like Pro Blogger!). I have been blogging for a couple of years and have started to make decent earnings and my only cost has been purchasing a domain name and website hosting, both of which are very cheap these days. So if you’re thinking of making money from your blog, don’t be put off by the idea you need to spend loads of money. You really don’t.

  9. Hi Stacey,

    Thanks for sharing such valuable information.

    I just started out with my blog and I’m having difficulty sticking to one topic for my blog. I know my ‘Why factor’ and I’m also motivated to keep posting what I’m currently posting ( that would be stories that will help us grow spiritually and those which focuses on solutions for root cause of most problems), but I easily get diverted and want to write blogs on latest topics or short termed topics which grab my attention. I end up wasting a lot of precious time in this.

    Could you help me by giving a suggestion, which will help me concentrate on my Story Blog and not run after other short termed ones? You have mentioned in article, that we should have our motif clear before starting, but how to avoid the distractions that pop up when you are already in middle of the topic of your choice?

  10. Hey Stacey,

    It’s a great post for creating a new blog. Actually, I’m a new Blogger and I love this post. You All the topics of this post are really good. I’m using WordPress for my site and I think it’s best for me. Your two topics are awesome on this post and it is the technical bits and the Branding point.

    Thank you for share this all thing before start a new Blog. I’m Also read your 4 things about selecting the Domain name. I’m sure you have nice information on there for choosing right Domain.

  11. Hi – unrelated to this post (but related to this blog): You have continuous scrolling. This means that I can briefly see the footer at the bottom of the page – including info/email sign up/etc – but not long enough to actually click on anything before more content loads.

    Everything I’ve been reading about blog design (I’m currently building my site) says that continuous scrolling is a big UX “no no.”

    Since you’re the blog pros, I’d love to hear your thought on this! Love your site and have recently started listening to your podcast.

    • Continuous scrolling on the homepage, yes – but not on each post page! The footer is easily accessed on those pages. We make email signup and other options available elsewhere on the site so they’re always accessible.

  12. These are great things to keep in mind when starting your blog. It can be hard to come up with topics from time to time and having a plan will help keep you focused and on track. The hard work pays off as there are obvious benefits to having a blog whether it be gaining traffic to your site, developing a following, or generating leads and nurturing them through the buyers journey with helpful content. Great post Stacy!

    ~Nick

  13. I wish I read this before starting my blog years ago. It’s already tough sticking to a niche, when there are so many others doing the same, but more importantly I should have been specific with my domain name from the start. Now I have juice split between my blog and the domain name I originally had since I had to redirect from a sub-domain I was using, instead of starting all over.

    ~Ronda

  14. Great tip in here before i start a blog on a new niche I make sure I pay a visit to Google trends and buzzsumo to see the new topics that get shared a lot. Another thing I dont miss is adding a good analytics tool like ga or gostats.

  15. These are some of the top notch points which can be used before starting a blog. When I was starting out in blogging, I made so many mistakes by choosing wrong hosting, bad themes & ugly design.

    I learned a lot from these mistakes. This post will be surely be helpful for newbie bloggers who are starting out.

    • Sometimes I think we’re more successful if we’ve made these mistakes ourselves and learned from them! But it sure doesn’t hurt to learn from others’ mistakes too. I hope I cut out some lost time for new bloggers with this post.

  16. Thanks so much Stacey. I am a new blogger and this is helpful for me. Unfortunately I found this article too lately. I have created my 1st blog since november 2016. But It’s Never Too Late to Learn New Things right?

  17. Hi Stacey,

    Really it’s a great post for every blogger. I love this post. All topics which you mentioned are really great. I will remember your 4 points while purchasing new domain.

    Thank you for share all these things.

  18. Hi Stacey,

    This was a fabulous round up. Well done.

    Knowing why is the difference maker for me. I blog mainly for fun. So don’t get tangled in outcomes like money and traffic and social shares and all vanity metrics. This allows my creative juices to flow and also helps me make friends with ease.

    Love the bonus point on spending money. Most crave a full time blogging career. Deep down at least. But most skip spending dough or scrimp at best. Not good. Because you won’t be taken seriously until you invest money in a branded, self-hosted, professional looking, fast blog hosted on a dependable server. Toss in a CDN and CloudFlare and you are talking. And spending cash.

    I dropped thousands of my blog because it is a business and brand first. Then a blog. I spend on it as I’d spend on offline ventures, stocking cyber shelves as I’d stock the physical shelves of a brick and mortar business.

    Making money through blogging is fun, freeing and fulfilling if you recall how money responds to your energy around the stuff. Get clear on allowing in money and those prospering ideas come a’knocking on your noggin.

    Ryan

  19. This is a very informative posts for people who are considering setting up their own blog but still have qualms on their chosen topic/s and have lots of questions about the technical side of blogging.

  20. thanks for the post Stacey, these tips are surely helpful for beginners.

  21. Hey Stacey,

    It is really very informative post and many things you have scattered for us to learn. This tips are absolutely very valuable for our business to achieve next level. In the past few years, blogging and content creation has changed quite significantly.

    There used to be a few good rules and best practices that most bloggers could follow and succeed. But things are not that simple anymore. Good nature of strategy play vital role to get momentum in online marketing of any niche business. Eventually, thanks for revealing a light on this topic.

    With best regards,

    Amar kumar

  22. solid tips! The most important by far is “branding”. Nerd Fitness has nailed the branding and it’s one of the reasons it’s one of the most popular blogs in the world.

  23. Thanks for sharing the information… Actually useful tips that we need to consider before starting any kind of blog. Keep posting… This post will be really helpful for the newbies.

  24. In last year, I have created 4 blogs and wasted a lot of money! I stopped them after a few month, because, I was not aware what I was not aware what I was doing, I was failing to write! I didn’t write even a post in a month! so, I was a great failure! By,.closing everything, I thought what should be done by me perfectly and started a new blog with new hope! And, yes, I am not dissatisfied with my new blog! I know what I should do, what I am doing now!

  25. Nice one Stacey. Seriously. I just disagree with audience equals blog success. Something I found out that Tim Ferriss also says, is “why do you need an audience, at all?”.

    Meaning?
    Well, if you can get conversions from a prospect who barely knows your blog and BECAUSE of the content you published, he buys from you, then to me that’s a win.

    Sometimes you don’t need an audience at all.
    Just conversions.

    PS: Nice work with that long-form content.
    PPS: Thanks to speed reading I was able to read 2 of your latest pieces fast.

    Take care.

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