Now that the holiday season is over and we are all back to our boring daily lives, I’m sure many people out there are considering starting a blog in 2016.
In this post, I thought we’d overview some things to consider before starting a blog.
I’ve basically arranged this post into a series of questions that you should be able to answer before starting a blog.
Will you be able to write regularly?
Writing regularly is honestly the hardest thing about blogging.
Even if you are super passionate about your subject, there will come a day when you just can’t think of anything to say. Or, if you’re like me, you feel that you have a ton to say but can’t decide what particularly subject to start with or talk about on a given day.
Before getting a domain, hosting, and launching a blog, maybe try writing some blog posts for your future blog. Plan out what you want your base content (or cornerstone content) to be, and start writing it.
To get organic search traffic, these posts should really be at least 1,000 words long, and longer than that would be better. After writing five to ten of those type of blog posts, you should have an idea of what blogging everyday will be like, and you can then re-evaluate if you really want to run a blog. This also should help you to plan your blog and how you want your content organized.
After you know that you have ideas and are giving this blogging thing a go, I suggest that you plan out your future content. As you get ideas for posts, write them down. Come up with an order for the posts, as you probably don’t want your content to be about the same thing day after day. I find that as I come up with posts ideas, those ideas lead to other posts. For instance, I’ll write an article and then think, “it would be great if I could link to another article about this particular article point in depth.”
Are you picking a good niche?
This brings me to my next point, that of picking a good niche.
What is a niche? “A specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service.”
So basically, you are taking a market, then narrowing it down. Don’t do technology, which is one of the most difficult niches to break into. Instead, maybe do video games (again very difficult) or even focus on just one video game.
While your niche needs to be something specific, it shouldn’t be too specific. You will need to be able to reach an audience, and therefore that audience needs to exist. You also don’t want to be drowned out by picking too big of a niche. I would suggest going to Google Keyword Planner and just sticking in some searches for your topic and potential niches. This will help you to figure out if you are picking too broad or too narrow of a niche.
There are a plethora of articles online that give advice on picking a niche. Some good ones are:
- Finding Your Niche in 20 mins or Less, with 3 Simple Steps!
- How To Pick A Profitable Niche & Blog For A Living: 56 Experts Share Their Secrets
- How to Build a Niche Site That Brings in at Least $500/Month
- How to Research a Profitable Niche Market: Law of Attraction Case Study
How will you promote your content?
By picking a good niche and writing long, high quality articles regularly, you should eventually get organic traffic from search engines. However, you really need to do some promotion to get your initial traffic and to eventually gain backlinks and move up the SERPs (search engine results pages).
There are many ways to promote your content. These include paid advertising, social media, forums, comments, directories, guest posting, and more. For some more promotion ideas, check out my guide to bringing in web traffic in 2016. That post actually links to many other posts I’ve written on ways to bring in web traffic and promote your content.
Are there other bloggers you can network with?
One way you definitely will want to promote your content, and really your whole site, is by networking with other bloggers that write on similar topics to your own.
Why do so? Because they run websites that you want links from. You might be able to get some other help from them, such as guest posts, ideas for posts, advice, and more, but really the main thing is those links.
Those links are probably the biggest factor in getting traffic and appearing higher in search engines.
Now, not all links are created equal. You don’t want a link from a brand new site that is unrelated to your own and is spamming the web at large. You ideally want links from either huge, established sites like the New York Times, from .gov or .edu sites, and from any site that is related to your own and full of good content.
It is the sites that are related to yours that you of course want to network with, and those are probably the easiest sites to get links from.
My favorite method for getting links from those types of sites is the following:
- Make a list of blogs you want to get links from, possibly noting what their best content is with the intention of linking to it later.
- Write high quality content and pepper in links to those blogs on your list.
- Email those blogs and tell them that you linked to them, including a link to your content.
This method hopefully will result in some response emails if not some backlinks. From there, you can build up your relationships and possibly get backlinks in the future.
Will you be able to monetize your blog?
Most of use probably aren’t getting into blogging just for the enjoyment of writing. You want to get something out of it, whether that be leads, traffic you can sell something to or send through affiliate links, or just ad clicks.
Either way, I think you should at least start thinking about how you will monetize your blog even before you start it. Depending on your niche and site goals, you may structure your site and even your content to achieve those goals.
For instance, if your goal is to convert traffic into leads, you’ll want to have something (ie an email subscribe box or form) to convert traffic on every page. If your goal is to send people to a store, you should have links to the store prominent on every page. If you want readers to buy a product, have a widget or something advertising the product on every page.
About structuring and writing your content to achieve your goals, what I mean is that you should know who you want as readers, and write for them. For this site, I want readers that are either thinking about building a website or that need help with a website. Thus I write about those things. Readers searching for articles on starting a specific website might find my site.
If you will simply be using ads, you probably want as much traffic as possible. This could also effect your content strategy. To make money from ads, you really need traffic in the tens of thousands (assuming somewhere around $5-10 CPM). You might want to hire writers to compose shorter articles in bulk and spend big on growing your social media audience which you will then promote your content to rather than just writing long articles by yourself, as you really need to get to huge traffic numbers quickly.
No matter how you want to eventually monetize your site, you should plan it from the beginning. You don’t want to design a site that can’t show ads only to decide you want to show ads. I often see people that want to use affiliate links, but that really means they need to rewrite all of their content to put those links in.
Will you eventually be able to develop a product around your blog?
A final thing to consider before starting a blog is to ask yourself if you will be able to eventually develop a product around your blog.
While ads and affiliate programs are great, the payouts are pretty small. Ads are probably around $5-10 CPM (thats per 1,000) and affiliate links are typically not big (Amazon starts at 5.5%). A blog with a large, devoted audience can make a lot more money by developing their own product to sell to their specific, targeted audience.
Nutrition Secrets, a nutrition blog, recently started selling fish oil to their readers. You can find out more about that here. I also read just today how a new wine blog was able to sell 600 bottles of wine 45 days after launching. Many blogs simply write ebooks or create webinars to sell to their readers, which is probably easier than coming up with a physical product to sell.
Say you get your blog to 50,000 monthly visitors. If you are running ads, that might get you $500 from Google AdSense if you are at $10 CPM, which would be really, really good based on the terrible CPMs that seem to be out there currently. If you also have affiliate links, those probably convert to more profit. I’ve seen a few Amazon affiliate sites making $50 per 1,000 visitors, which for a 50k monthly visitor site, that would be $2,500 per month. That of course is a pretty decent profit that is likely sustainable for the long term. I do suggest looking into being an affiliate although, please note, you shouldn’t expect that large of a payout per thousand visitors right away.
However, even better would be developing your own product. Say you write an ebook that you sell for $20 a pop. You only need to sell 126 of them to your 50k monthly visitors to make more money off that book than you do from affiliate links. If you are promoting that book for a month or more before releasing it, and you widely promote it at launch, there is no reason you should sell hundreds of copies of that ebook.
I hope that this post gave all of you out there that are considering starting a blog some things to think about. Best of luck, and let me know if you need any help.