Questions All Bloggers Need To Ask Part 3: Setting Sail
Testing The Waters and Where To Begin
A few weeks I wrote a post about Questions All Bloggers Need To Ask. and last week we learned How to Define our Niche. This week we are going to test the waters. If you would like a quick review of what we worked on to date please follow the links above and read parts 1 and 2 again. The rest of us will wait with our checklists, pencils and note paper while you catch up.
If you have ever asked me for an opinion or guidance on a subject you already know the way I speak geek is through a good metaphor. My idea on how to actually get your feet wet as a Blogger is not going to be any different. As a kid I watched this TV series every week called Gilligan’s Island. It was the ongoing tale of 7 very different people taking a scenic tour in a small boat. Well, a storm comes up and they become marooned on a supposed deserted island. They all need to use their talents and pitch in to survive and find a way back to civilization. Blogging is a bit like that crew of seven totally different people. Your choices, personality, and preparation are what will define your blog and then keep you going forward in the best direction. Try as hard as you will you won’t be able to survive alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
When you first learned to swim did you stand near the edge of the water? Slowly put in one toe, then lower yourself into the water until you were sufficiently wet enough to let go of the edge? Or did you dive in head first and surface screaming and exhilerated by the cold water?
Most new bloggers, whether they realize it or not, start out using Social Media to test the waters. It is a great way to put together an outline you feel comfortable with and to get some content written and published for when you actually launch your blog. You have nothing to lose this way and are gaining knowledge and experience every time you press publish. This is key to opening your site to give your followers more to read and learn about what you have to offer them from the first time they visit. And they already know you and your work!
When you decide your destination (niche) you will need to start your journey (blog) with your bags packed (about 15 good ideas) your itinerary (published posts), choosing your first stop on the trip (your blog platform) , and a sense of what the actual tools you are going to need to become successful. (How to develop your blog and live comfortably with the technology that dictates how you proceed.)
These are the questions that you answered to help you get to the point of choosing your blog platform:
2. What aspects do you want to control? Completely control? Own it all? Customize any part? This question is designed to help you understand what platform you want to use to build your Blog upon.
What is right for you? Blogger, Tumblr, Stumblepon? WordPress.com or WordPress.org? Or just continue publishing on Social Media?
Know the differences between these platform choices. Some are limiting as to writing what you want, owning your content, or if you can provide different tools to style your blog in a way that benefits your goals. Not all platforms are equal! Be informed.
5. Let’s talk finances. Earning: Do you have a budget in mind? Do you want to earn $$ selling? Teaching?
You will have expenses incurred running your blog. Do you want your blog to make money to help with those expenses? How much of an income do you expect to make and how long are you willing to wait to make that income?
6. Finances again. Spending: Are there costs involved as far as materials? Gadgets? Phone? Computer? Postage? Education? Conferences? Programs? Technology? Office supplies? Travel? Do you have a budget in mind?
Your choices at this point will cause you to spend some upfront money unless you are tech savy, have your own server and design aware. Themes, design costs, hosting, and your time are all aspects of blogging that need to be considered. You can always change your style and focus but at this point you are starting to invest your time, your money, and your efforts in building your readership.
9. How much time do you want to operate your blog? 3 months? Forever? Does it matter?
Don’t spend all your time and money unless you know the commitment you are making. Blogging looks easy! Just write down a few thoughts, throw up a bunch of ads and then watch the satisfaction and profits roll in! WRONG! You can easily become shipwrecked without a solid plan to stay on course and become adaptable. There are many storms that will arise and try to pull you in many directions. You will need a crew to help you stay afloat. Who you choose and when you use them will make all the difference in the world. Whether you build a community of like minded bloggers or utilize services to provide the technical aspects you yourself can’t or don’t want to deal with, you are going to need the talents of others to help carry you forward. Thankfully you thought ahead and are ready for what may come. Be comfortable with the sources of information you trust. You will get all sorts of “experts” advising you. Take advice for what it is worth. Use a mix of teaching sites, forums that include technical folks, and some friends. Beware of anyone telling you the “best” way to do things even if they appear successful. No blog, platform, host, plugin or theme will suit everyone. And remember Google, technology and SEO change very quickly. If I own a cadillac and tell you how a certain type of gas works best for me stop and think. If you are using a pogo stick you won’t be able to find the gas tank!
In the last part of this series we will talk about realizing the need to keep a balance between your life and your blog. In the meantime please sign up for my weekly newsletter to stay on top of what Marilyn’s Treats is up to and attend the Linkup Parties hosted so I can help you share your content and reach readers that may have not yet discovered just how awesome you are!
Until then Happy Blogging and feel free to leave comments below! I love to hear what you are thinking!
You can find Part 1-4 at the links below.