One thing I’ve learned is that no one feels comfortable when they first start blogging. That’s why I suggested in the previous blogging post (What is Blogging?) that you might want to get your feet wet slowly by creating a trial blog at one of the free, simple to use blogging sites such as blogger.com. My first two blogs began there and then died.
This is true of so many people who start blogging. They don’t know what to write about. They don’t know what to say or how to say it. They don’t have time to make regular posts. I’ll discuss what I’ve learned about how to prevent this meltdown in a later post. But before we get into all the bells and whistles or the technical aspects of building a blog that will draw traffic, let’s start with the basics.
Before starting your blog, you should consider what your goals are. If you want it to be a money making blog within itself, it will be set up differently than a blog that is meant to send traffic to your ecommerce sites.
Whether you already have a blog or are considering starting one, you’ll save yourself a lot of time if you consider some of the following:
Who is Your Target Audience
Think about who will be reading your blog. A tech-savvy reader is more likely to understand and use such things as RSS and Digg than a mom who is looking for favors for a kid’s party. If your readers are business owners or corporate execs in a hurry, they’ll skim through your post looking quickly for the meat of it. If your goal is to sell products, how do you reach the readers who are ready and willing to buy those products?
Your target market will determine the layout and graphics of your blog, your content and even your wrting style.
If you already have a blog, look at it and see if it is attracting the kind of audience you want? Is your audience clicking through to the products that you are trying to sell with your posts, if that is your intent? What image are you protraying and are you happy with it?
Plan Your Blog From the Very Beginning
Most of us started our first blogs by just launching it and hoping for the best. But I did it differently with this one and it has made a world of difference. I took the time to determine who I was trying to reach, why I wanted to reach them, and how I was going to set up the blog.
Some things that I considered were:
What was it going to be called? (Creative Entrepreneurs)
Who was my target audience? (Business owners in general and gift business owners in particular)
How frequently was I going to post? (At least three times per week and more often when possible)
What would be my writing style for this blog? (An informational style without being a know-it-all)
What topics would I cover? (Anything related to general business, gift business, and gift basket business)
What advertising would be allowed on the blog? (My own gift business websites plus other honest businesses that I felt comfortable recommending to my readers).
Would I write all the posts? (I decided to include posts from guest bloggers who had something to tell my readers that would be informative and useful. )
Think carefully about the name of your blog. Once you’ve established an audience, you don’t want to change that name. I had a blog that was a combination of business, personal, and information about my community in Flagstaff, Arizona. That blog was named “Flagstaff Woman”. I soon discovered that the name was too limiting as my market and audience was much larger than Flagstaff. And trying to combine a variety of information into one blog created a haphazard blog. I then made the decision to start all over again and used the same blog for Creative Entrepreneurs. I did this for a few months but something was still not quite right and kept bugging me. I decided that the domain name “Flagstaff Woman” just wasn’t right for that blog.
That is when I got serious about blogging. That original blog was set aside. I will go back to it later, wipe it clean, and create a Flagstaff related blog. But to begin anew, I selected a domain name (giftbusinessowners.com) that reflected my target audience, chose a template that included places for ads for my gift business websites and other products that I trusted enough to promote, and made a list of some of the topics I wanted to cover.
But that is now. And, unless you are already a successful blogger, you are at the stage I was at when I started my earlier blogs. If you’ve never blogged before, I suggest that you go to one of the free sites (blogger.com, wordpress.com, blogspot are several) and set up a blog for yourself. The process is easy. Don’t worry about choosing a fancy template. This is going to be your learning blog. I did this for two of my very early blogs and learned a lot about blogging and myself.
Make a list of things that you want to blog about and then separate them into categories. Blog categories are like chapters in a book. A reader can click on one of the categories and will see any posts that you’ve assigned to that category. Just as in your ecommerce website, categories make it easy for your readers to find what they’re looking for.
Then choose a category and start writing.
This is my second post in this blogging series. My plan is to take it slow and easy for those of you who are beginners. But most of you may already be accomplished bloggers. I’d like your comments on what you’d like to learn, how accomplished you are, and what you hope to accomplish with your blog.