How To Start A Blog That People Actually Want To Read
I have been blogging in some format for 10+ years now. Wow, that’s even wild to write. 10 years! And while the journey has definitely had it’s ups and downs along the way (just like many creative projects/outlets do), blogging continues to be my favorite creative outlet to come back to.
As I was planning out content for the month, I decided to take some of my blog posts back to the basics. Sometimes when I’m writing or speaking about the ins and outs of starting or running a creative business, I tend to forget that some people are at the very beginning of their journey. And, while I may think that everyone knows how to do some things - that is not the case at all.
If you’re starting or already have a creative business and you’re thinking about starting a blog, today’s post is for you. Or, maybe you’ve tried blogging in the past and you’re wondering how to keep it going and get people to your blog to read, comment and engage. This post is also for you.
Having a blog can be a really fun way to share stories, ideas, and processes with your audience. It is also a great way to show your expertise in a specific topic, too. When it comes to blogging, there really isn’t any limitations on what the content can be.
But today I want to share with you how to start a blog. We’ll discuss three big ideas that I want you to consider as you start mapping out your journey towards launch or starting back up your blog!
1| Your Why & The Purpose
When you’re starting a blog I think it’s a smart idea to understand your why and the purpose behind your blog. Having these foundational ideas in place will really start your blog off on the right foot and will set the tone for your blog moving forward. So, let’s talk about these a bit more.
Your Why: Why do you want to start a blog? Have you thought through this question? I want you to take a few moments and really consider why it is you’re wanting to start a blog. I ask this because I really hope the answer isn’t that someone told you to start one - because that will not be enough.
Blogging can be fun, exciting and inspirational! But, it also comes with a lot of work, strategy, promotion, technical knowledge, and a plan. And while I hope your blogging journey will be more filled with the former things rather than the latter, they both definitely exist along the way. And the not-so-fun parts can feel draining, stifling and annoying if you’re starting a blog simply because someone else told you to.
So, let’s go back to the question - why do you want to start a blog? Dig into this a bit.
The Purpose: What will be the main purpose of your blog? Will you just be sharing the behind the scenes of your business? Will it be filled with puppy photos and stories about you becoming a plant person? Are you going to talk about past client projects? Promote your events? Or maybe a mixture and combination of it all?
Knowing the purpose behind your blog is great because it gives a focal point for your overall vision of your content. This isn’t to say that your content can’t every change or veer off of this path should you choose later on. But, if you’re just getting started - think about what purpose you want this blog to serve.
For example, my blog is to share tips, advice, and encouragement around email marketing, social media and blogging for creative business owners and dreamers. And since I know that this is the purpose of my blog, when I sit down each week or month to plan or write content, I can come back to that purpose statement and decide what I want to write about next that fulfills it.
2| Content & Planning
After you’ve nailed down your why and the purpose behind your blog, the next best step is to start thinking about your content and your planning process. While blogs are fun to read, there is a lot of work that goes into writing and creating quality blog posts that I don’t think is talked about near enough in the creative business world.
Sure, you can absolutely write short posts that have lists of items you recommend or are filled with funny memes and pictures. But that’s not what’s going to keep readers coming back to your blog as a source of truth - unless you’re sharing the truth about the best memes on the internet.
What do you want to write about on a consistent basis? I recommend picking 3-5 topics you want to talk about regularly and stick to that for now. Choosing more than 5 topics may stretch you too thin and could lose the overall focus and purpose of the blog. Now, just because you’re choosing 5 topics doesn’t mean you can’t go crazy from there. For example, on this blog, I talk about email marketing, social media, and blogging. And under each of those, I can go in several different directions with my content.
With email marketing I can talk about what to write about in your emails, why you need an email list, freebies to give away to your audience, email marketing platforms that I recommend, do’s & don’t’s of email marketing…the list goes on. And the same goes for social media and for blogging topics.
One suggestion in figuring out the topics for your blog is to ask your audience. I love using this method to come up with new blog content because I’m creating solutions to the questions or problems that my audience has told me they have. This makes it so easy! But, if you’re just starting out and don’t have a big audience yet, do a quick google or Pinterest search on a topic you’re wanting to write about. You’ll be greeted with so many past blog posts from other creatives or questions that people are asking around that topic and that can give you a great jumping-off point for creating content for your own blog.
So, what are 3-5 topics you’d like to circle through for content?
Next up, I want to talk about planning your content. I know there are several different opinions in the creative business world about how to plan your content. Some recommend not planning at all and just writing what you feel in the moment and others say to plan months in advance.
My opinion? Choose the style that feels the best and that you can be the most consistent with.
I’ve tried writing how I feel in the moment and that doesn’t seem to work the best for me. While inspiration can be high at the moment - something can easily throw me off my seat and the inspiration can go away. When I plan my content, I can go into my content calendar and already have an idea of topics I want to address, maybe a rough outline of things I want to talk about and when I plan to publish the post.
Planning content can look different for everyone but at the minimum, figure out how often you want to post your blog content. I recommend at least twice a month, but the more the better as long as it’s good, quality content. Once you have your posting schedule solidified, get a notebook, use Asana as I do or even just a Google Doc and start jotting down content ideas under each of the topics you decided on above.
From here, rotate the posts so that you’re talking about one topic after another. For example, you’ll rarely see me have two blogging posts back to back. Usually, I’ll write about email marketing, then social media and then blogging and then go back to email marketing. It doesn’t always have to be in that order but that way I can make sure that I’m consistently hitting each main topic on my blog and not relying too heavily on one area or another.
3| Marketing Your Content
At this point you’ve gotten clear on why you want to start a blog and the purpose behind it, you’ve mapped out the different topics you want to talk about and how often you plan to publish your content. But, how do you plan to get readers to your blog? This is always the magic question that doesn’t have a crystal clear answer. But, there are two recommendations I have for you.
The first recommendation is to think about how you want to market the content that you write. You just spent a lot of time and hard work on writing thoughtful, useful and valuable content for your audience - it is just as equally important for you to think through how you want them to find it.
Now, I know your first idea is to go to social media and I think that is a great idea. But, let’s think through that a bit more. Firstly, everything isn’t for everybody - meaning you don’t have to be on every social media platform if you don’t want to be or if it doesn’t make sense for you, your brand or your audience.
For example, I do not have a Facebook page or group for this blog. And, sure, that could change In the future but as of today I don’t enjoy being on Facebook and I don’t believe that my core people hang out on Facebook often enough to make it worth my time and effort. But, I do believe my people hang out quite often on Pinterest and Instagram, so I spend the bulk of my marketing efforts on those social platforms.
Where are your core people hanging out online? Think through this before you go and create accounts on every social media platform and bog yourself down with being everywhere for everyone. I urge you to pick 1 or 2 social media platforms and really go all out with learning how to utilize them in a way that serves you and your audience.
And then lastly, the best way to get your content in front of your audience and readers is through being consistent. I know that this answer can be the most annoying when you’re just starting out but I promise you that your efforts will pay off if you stick with it. Being consistent not only with marketing your content through social media and your email list but also with posting regularly are major factors in growing an audience for your blog.
Your experience is probably very different with a blog that posts regularly and has recent posts available vs. a blog that is out of date and hasn’t been tended to in quite some time. With blogs that are frequently updated (even if that frequency is monthly), I will keep a mental note to go and check-in from time to time. But if I see that it’s been 6+ months since a post has been published, I often think that they’re no longer using their blog and so I don’t need to check back for updates.
Make sure that you’re being consistent with blogging and marketing your content. This is bound to look different for each person and business. If you know that you can only blog monthly - fantastic! Maybe put a quick note on your About page that tells your readers that you provide monthly content - so they know what to expect. And if you blog more frequently, that’s great too!
No matter what posting frequency you have, just remember that the main goal is to provide thought-provoking, engaging and valuable content to your readers. This is what people enjoy reading and how they will continue to come back to your site for information time and time again.
How is your blogging journey coming along? Were these ideas helpful for you? I’d love to know In the comments!