When I began my first blog three years ago (it was called The Amazing Mess and is now the Kids section of Motherhood on a Dime), I just kind of jumped in. I really had no idea what a blog was or why I would want to start one–except that I thought it would be fun to share some of the activities I was doing with my children and try a new hobby.
That was it. That’s why I started!
When I started Motherhood on a Dime in January of 2011, I was much more deliberate. However, there was still a learning curve, and I wish I had thought through a little more from the beginning. It would’ve saved me a ton of time and money!
In an effort to help those of you who are new, here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself before you begin a blog:
What is your purpose?
I believe everyone can blog and learn to do it well, but I think before you even begin, you should identify why you want to blog.
What is driving your desire to blog? What do you hope to accomplish? Is there an area of your life where you’ve become an expert and you can share that knowledge to help others? Do you just want a place to share your thoughts? Maybe you’re building a business and want to increase your visibility. Maybe you just want to share with your extended family what is going on with your kids. Take some time to jot down a few ideas.
I also recommend looking at your own life mission statement and evaluating how a blog fits into that.
For example, blogging has allowed me to communicate with a whole new audience. As an introvert, I don’t normally feel comfortable sharing all of my ideas in a group setting, but my blog is where I can confidently share activities I’ve done with the girls or recipes or great bargains I’m finding–without talking. 😉
Blogging also allows me the chance to impact people I may never meet. I can share extremely practical ideas and encouragement, and in a small way, I can help others. I love that!
Honestly, there are tons of reasons why you might want to start a blog–but only you can figure out your purpose in blogging!
What is Your Niche?
I think this piggybacks on the “What is your blogging mission?” question, but you definitely want to figure this out before you begin. I flailed around (and still have trouble narrowing it down), but if your goal is a successful blog, you need to narrow down your topic. Take a look at some of your favorite blogs. They generally write posts on one or two main topics (like food, homemaking, deals, photography, etc.). Some may narrow it down even more by writing about a specific branch in their general niche. For instance, I follow several Paleo blogs because I eat gluten-free and mostly dairy-free. Even though they are food blogs, I don’t really want to find recipes with vegetable oil and refined sugar on my Paleo blogs. I’m there for a purpose! Readers who visit your blog will be there for a purpose, too.
It is wise to really hone in on a topic you are passionate about and can envision yourself writing about for years.
Who is Your Audience?
Imagine the person you want to read your blog. Now, get a piece of paper and write down what they look like. Are you writing to women or men? What is the age range of your ideal reader? Do they have children? Are they married? Single? What do they care about? What would they be excited to read about?
Write a complete character sketch of your imaginary blog reader. Keep it handy so you can refer to it as you plan your blog posts. Yes, this is your blog and you should write it in your voice, but remember that you are also writing it for a purpose and for an audience.
What Will You Name Your Blog?
This is worth some real thought. What you name your blog becomes your “brand”. Do you really want to walk around being known as AnnoyingMom.com. “Hey, look! There’s Annoying Mom!” Sounds weird, I know, but it has happened to me. “Hey, look, it’s Motherhood on a Dime.” Freaked me out, too…
Also, you want to be very careful that you are picking a name that isn’t trademarked or in use already!
If you want some more ideas on naming your blog, be sure to check out my friend Amy’s post on How to Choose a Domain Name.
How Much Time Will You Spend Blogging?
Most people don’t realize it, but I spend hours each day blogging. This has evolved over the past few years, and I’ve become much better at managing everything–but it still takes quite a bit of time.
Depending on the kind of blog you are starting, you’ll need at least a few hours each week to spend writing posts, dealing with technical issues, learning how to become a better blogger, and promoting your blog. Again, look back at your life purpose and see if it’s worthwhile to you–and if it fits your priorities! Figure out if you actually have the time or if you are willing to make the time. If you want to do it well, it takes a commitment.
What Blogging Platform Will You Use?
The debate always rages: Blogger vs WordPress, WordPress.com vs WordPress.org, Squarespace vs WordPress. Just so you know, I’m a WordPress.org girl. I started on Blogger, had a few harrowing days when my blog was shut down, and decided I better own my own content. I always encourage bloggers to go with WordPress.org simply because I think it’s an excellent platform for blogging. I show you on this post how to easily get started blogging today with WordPress.
Finally, after you’ve asked yourself these questions, you are ready to do this:
Write A Blog Mission Statement.
I highly, highly, highly recommend writing your own blog mission statement and keeping it in front of you as you blog. There will be days you will be discouraged. There will be days when you wonder why you are doing this. There will be days when everything is going so well and you have an amazing opportunity, but you’re not sure whether you should take it. You can use the statement to evaluate whether or not it fits with your blog mission! You can also refer to the statement when you feel confused or like you’ve gone off-track.
Your blog mission statement will look much different, but here is an example:
Motherhood on a Dime exists to inspire moms with simple activities for kids,
home management helps, and ways to save money. I want to teach others
to live life well‐-to spend time and money wisely, to live simply, to give freely,
and to grow in a loving relationship with God.
Remember, too, your blog mission and purpose may change as time goes by. Life changes, what you thought was important becomes less so, or you may find you have a completely different audience than you planned. Simply reevaluate your blog questions and answers and rewrite your mission!
Most of all, don’t be discouraged and don’t be afraid. If you really want to blog and it fits with your purpose and priorities, you can do it!
If you’d like a more in-depth look at vision-casting, beginning your blog, and growing your blog, be sure to check out iBlog, an eBook written by 30 different bloggers (including a *small* article from me)! It will answer many of your questions much more in-depth than I can go on this blog!