For quite some time, people always told me that I should start a blog. My friends and family said oh, you’re so creative and crafty. You should really start a blog! I tossed the idea back and forth, but between school and work, it just never seemed like a hobby worth pursuing.
In May of 2016, I took the plunge and started Be Simply It. I quickly researched how to set up a website, scrambled together ideas for posts, and threw together a blog that I was proud to at least show my parents. But the more that I looked into blogs and the world of blogging, the more that I realized I was completely unprepared to begin this journey.
After a few months of frantically publishing posts and attempting to maintain all my social media accounts, I finally had to step back and ask myself what the heck are you doing? What’s this blog supposed to be about anyway? I completely re-evaluated my blog and brand. Thinking of starting a blog? To save you months of wasted time, I want the three vital questions I wished I asked myself when I started blogging.
I also want to note that I am blogging with the hopes of (eventually) monetizing my blog. Therefore, I’m blogging with a business mindset. If you’re blogging as a hobby, these questions will still be useful for you. However, you might not need to apply them with as much rigor as someone wanting to develop a blog and a brand as a business. Enjoy!
ONE: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE KNOWN FOR?
When I first started blogging, I didn’t have a focus. I thought I could try to rock nicheless blogging and just go with the flow. Oh boy, I was wrong. For the first few months, I posted about anything and everything that came to mind. I posted recipes, workouts, budgeting basics, and more. Eventually, this process grew exhausting and quite fruitless. I wasn’t gaining any of the traction that I hoped to get.
I thought I would develop an interest in certain types of posts and start to stick with them. But instead, I was spreading myself too thin. No, I wasn’t discovering a calling by posting about a variety of topics. I was throwing a bunch of topics at the wall hoping that one would stick.
Before you begin blogging, decide on your area of expertise.
Many bloggers highly suggest you choose a narrow niche focus. But I want to take that one step further. I challenge you to identify an area in which you want to become a known expert. What do you want to be known for?
Keeping a narrow focus will make your blog content consistent and reliable. But even more important than that, you will build a reputation with your readers. You readers will know what type of content to expect from your blog and the level of expertise to expect from you as a blogger. This combination is especially potent because it will help you (a) maintain loyal readership from consistency and (b) attract new readers with your expertise.
So ask yourself, what do you want to be known for? If you’re a food blogger, do you want to be known for your incredible desserts? Affordable meals on a budget? Healthy and wholesome food? Narrow down your niche to an expertise. Once you have your focus, you can begin to find your purpose.
TWO: WHAT’S YOUR PURPOSE?
My first phase of blog posts didn’t have a purpose. I just wrote an assortment of posts about random topics and published them. Some people found my posts, but they didn’t spend long on each page. Between the absence of focus and lack of purpose in my posts, my blog was just a hot mess of words. I had no traction.
As for me, I got burnt out quickly and lacked a sense of direction when I hit a roadblock. Without an area of expertise, my creativity drifted and faded. And without purpose, I couldn’t drive home ideas with intention. Don’t let yourself get lost trying to do everything, because ultimately you’ll be doing nothing.
Before you beginning blogging, develop a mission statement to drive your blogging journey and your blog content.
Unless you’re a celebrity or well known on another social media account, people aren’t generally interested in just anything you post. Develop a mission statement to dedicate your blogging purpose. Then use each blog post as a building block to pave the road for this mission statement. Not only will this help you maintain focus (related to your area of expertise), but you will consistently provide useful and insightful content to your readers.
Your readers will come to your blog for a reason. Maybe they found your post on Pinterest, noticed your feed on Instagram, or heard of you by word of mouth. But once they reach your blog, it’s your job to provide them with (a) usefulness and (b) direction. Each individual post should have useful content that answers your readers’ questions and/or provides them with the information they need. How many times have you visited a website that didn’t actually answer the question the article posed? Don’t be that guy! Let each post provide for you readers and serve as building blocks in your overall mission. When put together, your posts form a mosaic of who you are and what your blog is all about.
THREE: HOW ARE YOU AND YOUR PURPOSE UNIQUE?
In my early days of blogging, I thought that referring to my readers as “friends” was merely enough to show friendliness and relatability. Looking back, it feels like an empty political speech. As long as I start with “my fellow Americans,” I felt connected to my audience. But did my audience feel connected to me?
You want your personality and spark to shine across your blog, brand, and social media platforms. But how can you do this? The first step is to consider ways that you and your purpose are unique. Think about how you would describe yourself, what type of people you connect with on an everyday basis, and how you can accentuate that in your brand and writing.
Before you begin blogging, identify ways that your uniqueness can help you connect with readers.
While you don’t need a definitive answer to this question, it’s important to consider throughout your blogging process. Find ways to let your personality show through your brand image, social media posts, and writing. Your uniqueness is the edge that sets you apart and connects you with your people and your tribe. Ultimately, it will provide the opening for you to develop relationships with your readers beyond just referring to them as “friends.”
These bloggers and business owners are some of my favorites to seek blogging advice and guidance. Not only do I trust them for their advice, but they perfectly employ everything we just discussed! Use them as a resource for instruction and by example!
Once you have considered these three questions, you will be able to
- Develop a reputation for a specific type of content
- Provide content that is useful and insightful to your readers
- Uniquely deliver this content in a way that connects with readers
Of course, blogging is a constant learning experience. There’s always more to learn and more to discover for yourself. But once you answer these three questions, you’ll have a sense of direction and purpose to build your blog and your business.
Already blogging but still can’t answer these? No worries! It’s never too late to re-evaluate your blog and your brand.