So far in this series about blogging, I’ve covered why it’s such a good idea to start a blog, and my personal reasons for hogging this tiny little corner of the internet.
Let’s say you have ideas for your first few articles, but don’t know what to do next? You don’t know any bloggers personally and don’t have a technical bone in your body.
Don’t worry, you have me in your corner.
If you’ve read any of my personal development blogs (see the Wisdom tab on the home page), you’ll know that I’m a big fan of ‘just start’. The best way to figure out how to do something is to work it out as you go along, which is how I started blogging.
My first foray into the blogging world was a wordpress.com blog (different from wordpress.org – I’ll explain shortly). It was a series of restaurant reviews written by my (then) seven year old son. I set up the site and he dictated his reviews, which I published for him.
It was just a bit of lighthearted fun, but he was so excited to see his writing being viewed by subscribers all over the world.
The wordpress.com interface is easy to use. And if a seven year old and his luddite mum can do it, then you can do it, right?
Blogging platforms like wordpress.com, or blogger.com are a good place to start if you want to dip your toe in the water. Here you can start to figure out what subject(s) you’re going to focus on, what expertise you’re going to share and the people you want to reach. Establish your own personal tone of voice, then publish a few articles and see if people like your stuff.
Here’s a bit more information on all of that.
Find your niche
First find your niche. This means being really clear about your blog’s main topic and what you’re going to write about. So within the foodie community, there are bloggers whose niche is paleo, or sugar free. In the world of fashion, some will focus on high-end luxury, others will stick to the high street.
Your niche needs to relate to your passion and expertise. What are you famous for amongst your friends and family, or what do you love to do in your spare time? Perhaps you’re an expert in your field at work and want to start a blog where you can share that experience.
If you have no apparent focus, your blog will be confusing and readers will not return. But be warned: choose too narrow a focus and you’ll run out of material.
What’s your niche going to be?
Lifestyle Maven is a lifestyle blog which, although very broad in its subject matter, is very specific in terms of its audience, which leads me onto this:
Find your tribe
Start by defining your people. Who do you want to appeal to? This is key as it will lead to your writing being interesting and appropriate for your audience, which will have them coming back for more and lead to your tribe expanding.
If you’re unsure who you want to appeal to, you’re going to struggle.
Here’s an example:
Imagine you were asked to give a presentation about, err, let’s say family cooking. You do your research, source beautiful images of healthy, hearty casseroles and roast dinners for your Powerpoint slides, rehearse your speech so that it flows naturally and you sound knowledgeable and authentic.
And then you arrive on the big day and realise you’re at a conference for vegans. Yeah, you didn’t see that coming did you?
You can have the best content, but if you’re targeting the wrong tribe, your blog will be a stinker.
I decided right from the get-go that I wanted to appeal to an audience of women in their 40s and beyond and it’s pretty clear from my website that’s my target market. So all my writing is appropriate for this age group. And that’s my lifestyle niche (if you can call it that).
I would recommend thinking really clearly about who you want your number one fan to be. Create a fictional character who encapsulates everything about the person you want to target – age, gender, profession, demographic etc. And then write every article specifically for him/her.
This really focuses the mind and stops you veering from the path. If your writing doesn’t entertain your number one fan, or address a problem he or she might be facing – then it’s probably not worth publishing. Harsh, but true.
So you’ve figured out your why, your niche and your tribe. You’ve already started putting your writing out there on one of the blogging platforms. What now?
I would recommend you move onto a self-hosted website as soon as possible. The longer you stay on a hosted platform (wordpress.com or blogger.com), the harder it will be to move, as you’ll have a following you won’t want to lose.
Moving to a self-hosted site means you will have to pay for a domain name and for a company to provide web hosting. The benefit is that you now have total control over your content, can accept advertising and optimise your site in many ways that the hosting platforms don’t allow.
Bloggers with their own domain name and associated email address look more professional and are perceived to be in it for the longer term.
There are loads of web hosting companies that will help you set up your own website, or you can learn how to create your own site using a resource like Skillshare (which, by the way is an amazing learning tool for pretty much everything you can shake a stick at). but if you want something a bit more bespoke, and with some human interaction, then find yourself a good, reliable web designer.
My website uses web software by wordpress.org, which is the most popular website creator, with thousands of templates to choose from, and some incredible tools and widgets to turn your website into anything you can imagine.
You can learn so much through youtube videos and Skillshare courses. I found Pinterest and Facebook really helpful during my first few blogging months. Follow other bloggers and groups. Take advantage of any free courses on offer and attend events. You’ll be amazed how much you can absorb.
But if you’re stuck, you can pay other people to help you. Sites like peopleperhour.com and fiverr.co.uk are full of talented experts who can help, and as the names suggest, they won’t cost the earth.
Now you’re ready to start telling people about your awesome blog. But that’s a whole other chapter, which will follow soon.
It’s not too late to start blogging. There is space for everyone. But you do just need to start. There’s no point waiting for perfection, you’ll never get it. Websites evolve, they are works in progress, adapting to the world around them. So as you learn and grow, you can change it.
We Blog, You Blog
Remember that blogging mentoring group I was banging on about last time – We Blog, You Blog? Well, I’m still looking for a sponsor, but I will build it and they will come (Field of Dreams anyone, or is that reference just too old now?). Please sign up here to receive your invitation. You’re not alone.
Was this helpful? Are there specific questions you’d like me to answer in the next chapter in this blogging series? Let me know in the comments below, I always reply.
Much love, Vx
[Disclosure: some affiliate links used]