It’s tempting to create a website and start blogging immediately. But that’s also a sure way to doom your blog from the very start.
Before you decide to take the leap, there are several important things you need to do before you start building your new blog.
In this post, I will tell you exactly what to consider, do, and research, so you have a great start to your blogging journey.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a great foundation for your new blog.
DISCLOSURE: This blog post contains affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase through one of my links, I’ll receive a commission at no additional cost to you. If you want more information, here is my affiliate disclosure.
12 THINGS YOU NEED TO DO BEFORE YOU START BUILDING YOUR NEW BLOG
1. FIND YOUR WHY
Before you start working on your blog, you need to establish why exactly you want to start one in the first place.
Everyone’s reasons are different. Some people start blogs because they want to make living doing something they love. Some people start blogs because they want to establish themselves as experts in their fields. Other people start blogs because they want to share their expertise.
Find a strong why. It’s what’s going to keep you accountable during the most difficult times.
2. PICK A NICHE
The very first thing you do before you start a blog is picking a niche.
How do you pick a niche?
Look into your interests and areas of expertise.
Don’t be scared of the word “expertise”. You don’t have to be an expert to start a blog. But you should be blogging about something you are already familiar with.
At the same time, it has to interest you. It might take a while before you see a substantial amount of traffic coming to your blog, so you need to be able to stick with it.
RECOMMENDED READING: How to Find the Right Niche for Your Blog
3. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
This is an important step you can’t skip.
Your target audience is your ideal readers. Your blog and its success are dependent on your audience.
For that reason, your readers should be your main priority.
Every single thing you do on your blog has to be done with your audience in mind. The content, the branding, the products, or services you’ll be offering.
A great exercise to identify your target audience is to create your ideal reader persona profile. An avatar, if you will.
- How old are they?
- What is their gender?
- Where do they live?
- Why are they interested in this subject?
- What are their desires?
- What do they struggle with?
- What are their biggest pain points?
- Are they beginners or are they advanced?
- Where can you find them?
You have to go and find those people.
What I like to do is to join relevant Facebook groups and pay attention to the questions people are asking. You can also check out the questions people are asking in the comments sections of relevant videos on YouTube. Or you can go to sites such as Quora or Reddit.
You can use those queries as ideas for your content and paid products and services.
RECOMMENDED READING: How to Define a Target Audience For Your Blog
4. RESEARCH YOUR COMPETITION
You need to research your competition before you start doing anything else.
The easiest way to do that is to Google your niche a see what websites are coming up in the first ten results. Look at the type of content they are publishing, what kind of audience they are attracting, and what you can do differently.
From there, you can identify your unique selling point.
Your unique selling point is what differentiates you from your competition. That can be your own unique twist on the niche, a specific demographic you’re targeting, or a unique solution you’re providing.
You don’t want to copy your competition; your blog should have a unique take on the niche.
RECOMMENDED READING: How to Research Your Blog Competitors
5. PICK A NAME
The name of your blog is also going to be your domain. Ideally, your name should indicate what your blog is about, what it stands for, or what your main message is. but that’s not a rule.
If you’re trying to build your personal brand with your blog, you can simply go with your name.
That being said, I believe that the name of your blog is not that important. Your readers are going to be more interested in the content of your blog rather than its name.
There are a few criteria for your blog name you should keep in mind when picking a name for your blog:
- Easy to remember
- Easy to spell
- Easy to pronounce
EXTRA TIP: Have a few different ideas when selecting your blog name. Be prepared that your name might already be taken.
RECOMMENDED READING: How to Choose a Blog Name You Won’t Regret
6. RESEARCH WEB HOSTS AND BLOGGING PLATFORMS
Before you proceed to create your blog, you need to research web hosts and blogging platforms.
I’ll recommend this guide from hostingadvice.com on how to choose a web host.
What’s the best place to start a blog?
In my opinion, SiteGround with WordPress.org. That’s how I run Blogology.
SiteGround is an affordable web hosting service. SiteGround is fast, offers a free SSL certificate to every domain, and has an excellent 24/7 customer support service. You can choose from three different plans. The cheapest one costs $3.95 per month for the first year, upon renewal $11.95.
WordPress.org is a content management system that’s free to use for everyone. It’s beginner-friendly, which makes it the most popular CMS out there. SiteGround supports WordPress, and the installation is very easy.
I go through each step of the WordPress installation in my How to Start a Blog guide.
7. PLAN YOUR WEBSITE
When planning the website, you’ll take into account the content, layout, and structure of the blog.
First things first, I want you to write at least fifty blog post ideas (ideally without looking them up) and sort them into categories. For the best user experience, you shouldn’t create more than ten categories.
Then you should also consider the layout of your website.
Most blogs have a header, where the logo and tagline are. At the very top, you can also add the main navigation bar with your most important pages such as About or Contact.
At the very bottom of the website is a footer, where legal pages and sitemap are located.
Between those two is the main content area where your blog posts are going to be displayed.
On either side of the content area, you can add a sidebar. That’s where you can link to your most important articles, display your archives or author profile, or add social media icons.
#7.3 Website structure
The structure of a website is made of links.
You can check out HubSpot’s topic clusters strategy, where you’re linking together articles based on a topic.
Each topic cluster has a pillar page. That’s a long article that addresses a broad topic as a whole with all details.
Linking to the pillar page, and “supporting” it, is the cluster content. Those are shorter blog posts about a specific area of the broad topic.
Think about what the most important articles of your niche are, and the related content that’s going to support it.
RECOMMENDED READING: How to Plan Your Blog
8. BRAND YOUR BLOG
Branding is mainly the aesthetic side of your blog.
It’s how you are going to appeal to your visitors when they land on your website. This includes the colors and fonts you use, the logo, your writing style, and tone.
All of the mentioned above should be created with your target audience in mind as that’s most likely the very first impression they are going to get from your blog. If your target audience is predominantly men, your branding most likely won’t be pink.
Think about how you’re going to appeal to your target audience.
- Which colors are you going to use?
- What is going to be your tagline?
- Are you going to be a virtual friend to them, or are you going to write your content from an authoritative perspective?
- What is the logo going to look like?
The branding you’re using on your website should be used on all your content. That includes graphics and social media posts.
The branding of your blog is what’s going to help you stand out from your competition.
9. PLAN YOUR CONTENT STRATEGY
The content is how you’re going to appeal to your target audience. For that reason, you have to plan your content strategy carefully.
Before you publish your first blog post, you should consider:
- How often are you going to post?
- What kind of content are you going to post?
- Which blog posts are going to be published first?
- What kind of content are you going to be sending your email subscribers?
- What kind of content is going to be posting on your social channels and how often?
- How will your content be different from your competition?
- How will the type of content you’re going to be producing appeal to your target audience?
- Ideally, you should plan your content at least one month in advance.
10. PLAN YOUR PROMOTIONAL STRATEGY
How are you going to reach your target audience?
This comes down to where your target audience spends their time online.
- Is it social media?
- If so, which channels?
- Or are they asking questions in online forums or similar websites such as Reddit or Quora?
Two important things you shouldn’t skip, when it comes to your promotional strategy, are SEO and email marketing.
It’s important you implement SEO into your blog promotion strategy, as it can eventually help you drive massive traffic to your blog from search engines. If done right, of course.
SEO is complicated, it keeps changing, and there’s a lot that goes into it. It’s a lot of trial and error, but you can’t skip it.
What is email marketing?
Email marketing is basically building your email list.
It’s not necessarily a way to reach a new audience, but more so to turn your visitors into returning readers and potential buyers of your products or services.
You can start building your email list with a provider such as ConvertKit. Building your email list is about the offer. What your subscribers are going to get in return for giving you their email address.
You can offer a freebie, the so-called lead magnet. This is a digital product that offers value to your target audience by providing a solution to one of their problems.
You can also create a newsletter that adds value regularly. A great example of this is Amy Lynn Andrews’ Useletter.
Or you can combine both.
What I recommend doing when you’re starting out, is to implement SEO, email marketing, and a social channel you think your target audience uses the most.
11. PLAN HOW YOU’RE GOING TO MONETIZE YOUR BLOG
How are you going to make money with your blog?
The easiest ways to implement from the beginning are display ads and affiliate marketing.
What are display ads?
Display ads are shown on your website. Every time someone clicks on one of them, you get paid. How much depends on the provider.
The most popular provider among beginner bloggers is Google AdSense. They don’t have any entry requirements, so anyone can join the program.
You include a tracked link in your blog post and every time someone purchases through that link, you receive a commission.
You can start by assessing the tools you are using that are related to your niche. You can then look up the name of the product + “affiliate program”.
To plan a bit down the road, you should also consider how you are going to monetize your blog later on.
Do you want to start selling digital products such as ebooks, online courses, stock photography, templates, etc?
- Do you want to start a paid membership site?
- Do you want to offer consulting services?
- Do you want to start selling physical products?
- Or all of them?
At this point, you don’t have to know exactly what your product or service is going to be. If you do, that’s great, but remember that the product or service should be something your audience needs the most.
12. DEFINE YOUR GOALS
Before you launch your blog, you should write down your goals.
- Where is your blog going to be in 6 months?
- One year?
- Five years down the road?
- How many monthly visits would you like to attract?
- How much income would you like to generate then?
- How many email subscribers would you like to have by then?
- When do you want to release your product or service?
- Do you want to turn your blog into a multi-author blog?
- Do you want to start a community around your blog?
Write down where you see your blog down the road and how are you going to achieve those goals. If you don’t have a strategy, then those goals remain dreams.
There are quite a few things you need to do before you start building your new blog.
You can’t skip any of them, as all of them contribute to the success of your blog, and you don’t want to doom your blog before you launch it.