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8 Critical Things to do Before Starting a Blog

Note: Like every smart blogger, I use affiliate marketing, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read the full disclosure for more information.

So you want to start a blog?
 
Great!
 
Blogging can be a great source of quality traffic, leads and sales for your business. It allows you to build your authority and reach an audience worldwide interested in what you have to offer.
 
But, you can’t just start a blog today and have a hugely successful blog tomorrow.
 
And that’s why…
 

In this post, I will be covering the 8 things to do BEFORE starting a blog so you can get started right!

1. Why start a blog in the first place?

Before you do anything else you need to get clear on why you’re going to start your blog.
 
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
– Biblical Proverb
 
Blogging is going to require hard work to get things going. If your vision for what you want isn’t big enough, you will most likely give up and quit long before you get the results you want from it.
 
What’s your why?
 
Do you want to become an authority in your niche?
Is it to make money?
Support your business?
To share what you’re most passionate about?
Just for fun?
 
Whatever the reason is, you need to know what you want and the deeper reason why you want it.
 
Maybe you want to begin a blog to make some extra cash.
 
That’s the surface level why, but I want you to dig deeper. Perhaps you want the extra moolah because your kids will be going to college in a few years and you want to be able to pay their tuition.
 
See the difference?
 
The deeper and more meaningful your motives are, the better the chances you’re gonna stick with your blog. 
 
Dig so deep into your why that people will ask you if you’re rolling with Adele.

2. Know what blogging platform you will use

Before you get started with blogging you need to know what platform you will be using.
 
There are some sites out there that allow you to start a blog for free.
 
For example:
  • Medium
  • WordPress
  • Wix
Additionally, there are some paid platforms, or you can get a domain plus web hosting to create your blog.
 
Which type is best for you will depend on why you want to blog.
 
As a rule of thumb:
 
If you’re starting a blog wanting to make money, stay away from the free platforms like the ones mentioned above. If your blog is a hobby or you are just trying to get your feet wet, a free platform might be for you.
 
These free blogging platforms have their limitations, which is why I would not recommend them if you’re serious about blogging.
 
The first big limitation is the flexibility you have.
 
Compared to your own blog, platforms like WordPress and Blogger are quite inflexible. 
 
The second part about the flexibility is if and how you can monetize your blog. WordPress for example places its own ads on your blog. If you want to make money yourself, you have to pay monthly to upgrade your account…
 
Finally, and perhaps most importantly:
 
With these platforms, you do not own your blog! Your blog belongs to the platform you have chosen. You’re leaving your blog in someone else’s hands and could potentially get all your hard work deleted.
 
On the plus side:
 
The thing these platforms do fairly well is to make things easy. Most of the “technical” stuff is taken out of the equation, so you can focus on writing. That’s why it could be the right choice for a hobby blog.
 

Self Hosted Blog

Self-hosted blogs give you the most control over your new website. You own your blog (not the platform you blog on), so nobody can take it away (as long as you pay your hosting). 
 
This would be my recommendation in most cases.
 
To get started you need to get
  • A domain name
  • Hosting
I would recommend Namecheap for the domain name.
 
For hosting, I would recommend WPX Hosting for the best performance. SiteGround is a great option for good hosting on a budget.

These are the companies I use myself. Customer service is really good, so if you run into any issues they’ll be able to guide you through no problem!

It will take a bit more effort to set up your own self-hosted WordPress blog this way, but the tradeoff is well worth it. This guide will teach you everything you need to start, grow and monetize a blog from scratch.

3. Do your research

Unless you’re just blogging for the fun of it, you probably have some goals that you want to achieve with your blog.
 
The question is:
 
Is there even a market for what you want to blog about? If nobody is looking for the kind of information you would like to write about, you will have a real hard time growing and reaching your blogging goals!
 
That’s where research comes into play!
 
I would like you to think about some of the questions people may have about your topic. What kind of problems is someone interested in your topic having? And what would someone type into a search engine looking for help?
 
Got some ideas?
 
Go into the Google Keyword Planner to see how many people are actually searching for those keywords. This way you’ll find out if there’s any demand before you start! For most topics, this won’t be an issue.
 
If nobody seems to be searching for your desired topic, you may want to go a bit broader or explore other topics. 
 
The next thing to consider is the competition.
 
Of course, some niches will be harder to get any traction in than others. My own niche in teaching blogging and marketing has brutal competition.  
 
Depending on your experience and personality, a hyper-competitive niche may or may not be for you. Personally, I love the game! If you’re worried about the competition you may want to niche down a bit further.
 

4. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

Don’t jump in unprepared! Before you start a blog, make sure you have a basic plan of action that you can follow.
 

The plan for your blog should contain a few key elements:

  • What types of content to create
  • How often to publish
  • How will you stand out from competitors?
  • Promotional plan
Types of content: Will you be using video, articles, podcasts, etc.? Is it in-depth how-to guides, short stories, quick tips, or something else?
 
Publishing Schedule: This does not mean you have to post every Thursday at 7:39 PM. But, you do need to publish content regularly so the people that follow you get new information. 
 
Of course, it will depend on the types of content.
 
Writing a 3000 word in-depth guide will take more time than a short story. Your publishing frequency should reflect that. It makes no sense publishing daily if you know the quality will suck because of it.
 
Remember Quality > Quantity
 
Standing out: What is it that makes your content different from other bloggers? Why would people read yours? Try to find holes in what others are doing and fill that gap.
 
Maybe your X-factor is being extremely practical, making hard topics easy to understand, having a fun writing style, or even just you as a person. You can finetune this as you go, but it’s good to think about it before you start.
 
Promotion: Okay, so you published your first few articles which means you’re gonna see a flood of people coming to your blog, right
 
Well…. Nope. 
 
I see plenty of people in the communities who have been blogging but don’t promote their content. And then get confused about why they don’t have a lot of traffic…
 

The truth is you need to promote your content to get people to your content. Plan ahead, find the promotional platforms that work best for your audience and figure out how to reach them on those platforms.

Ready to get started the right way?

I’ve created a free course where I teach you everything you should know to start, grow and monetize your blog successfully! It will teach you everything you need to know.

Sign up here.

5. Legally Protect Yourself!

This is a crucial step, that I don’t see many people talk about.

In the last couple of years, privacy policies all around the world have gotten stricter. Partially because of the scandals with big companies like Facebook and Google. However, as a blogger, you also need to adhere to these laws, or you can get in serious trouble!

Fines for violations can cost thousands of dollars!

So, how do you legally protect your blog?

At the minimum you need these 3 legal pages:

  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Disclaimers
Just know that having these legal pages on your blog is NOT optional! And you don’t have them, you’re opening yourself up to potential lawsuits and other legal issues.
So, how do you get the right legal pages?
  • If you’re a lawyer and confident in your abilities, write them yourself.
  • Consult with a lawyer, which works well, but can get really expensive.
  • You can get templated documents from a lawyer.

I’d recommend the 3rd option. It’s what I did for my own blog. The ones that I got was this legal bundle right here from Amira of ASelfGuru, and would highly recommend them. The smallest bundle will likely be enough when you’re just starting out.

It’s a small cost compared to a potential fine or lawsuit!

6. Be ready to build your list from day 1

There are many ways to get blog traffic:
 
There’s Facebook, Twitter, other social media, links from other blogs, search engines, YouTube and the list goes on and on.
 
But there’s one you can’t afford to miss out on:
 
Your own email list!
 
With this, you’ll have access to an audience on demand.
 
When you publish a new blog post you can shoot a quick email to your list and get them to read your content.
 
On top of that, these are the best kind of visitors. After all, they have visited before and liked your stuff enough to opt in. They’ll be more likely to engage with your content and share it than a first time visitor.
 
So, what do you need to get started?
 
The first thing you’re gonna need is an autoresponder, which is the tool you’ll be using to collect email addresses and send out the emails.
 
I would recommend you check out ConvertKit as it offers some pretty awesome features!
 
Next:
 

You need something to entice people to join your list. We usually refer to this as a lead magnet.

Take problem your audience has and provide them with solution that quickly fixes it. For the delivery, could create a report, video, audio, worksheet, checklist, etc.
 
And you’re giving that thing away for free. People just have to enter their name and email to get it.
 
If you have a great lead magnet, way more people will join your list compared to having something generic like “Join our mailing list!” or “Get notified of new blog posts!”.
 
And then:
 
Once again, you’ve got to get people to see your lead magnet offers.
 

Have one in your sidebar, mention it in your blog posts where applicable, have a form below your article, etc.

Note: Want to become an email marketing master? Sign up for my free 7-day email course!

7. Get the core branding in place

As you may have noticed, I’m the kind of person who likes to go in prepared. While I’m in favor of moving forward fast, I do go by the old adage:
 
“If you’re going to do something, you better do it right!”
 
Think about your blog name if you haven’t already.
 

Your domain name will be your blog’s name.

If possible try to get yourblogname.com or yourname.com (if going for a personal brand). A .com domain is the trusted standard for websites, other domain extensions just aren’t as good.

 
You should try to avoid extremely long and hard to remember names. 
 
What else makes a brand?
 
A brand is mostly about the feelings it conveys to the readers. Your content will be a large part of this, but more things to consider are your color schemes, a logo, and the general design of your blog.
 
“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!”
 

A lot of people will make up their minds about you and your brand in the first few seconds of them coming to your blog. They may or may not even start reading your content before they leave your site again.

So your blog needs to look good.

If you haven’t already, get an awesome theme.
Make sure that your blog’s theme looks good, both on mobile and on desktop and that it makes you content shine! Astra is one of the themes a lot of bloggers use, and you can check out My Theme Shop or the Thrive Theme Builder (which I use personally).

Make sure people have a great time on your blog.

I regularly come across sites that make reading difficult. Sites with tons of popups, sites with huge walls of text or sites that just look plain ugly! They may have the information that I need, but there’s no way I’m staying there to find out!

 

Before launching, make sure you have a blog that looks good.
 

If you need a logo or header image done, you can have someone on Fiverr create them, or use something like Canva or Snappa to create them yourself.

If you have a higher budget, you can look into something like Kimp is a great service for unlimited graphics on a monthly basis. You’ll never have to bother creating your own images again!

8. Start writing your blog posts!

Yes, this is still the post on what to do before you start a blog.
 
Guess what your blog looks like when you create it?
 
It’ll be a freaking ghost town like in those wild west movies (Once Upon a Time in the West anyone?) with the tumbleweeds rolling around through the streets.
 
There’s nothing there yet!
 
Imagine a visitor finding your very first blog post through a post you made on Twitter. They read it, perhaps even share it if you’re lucky and then click on home to look for something else that they can read….
 
Only to find zilch, nothing, nada…
 
Imagine how that would make them feel and think about you!
Instead, I recommend launching your blog with multiple articles. This way, people have more content to check out after reading that one article.

I want to hear from you!

Have you started your first blog yet?
 
If so what has been the one thing you wish you knew earlier?
 
New to blogging or wanting to get started? This guide will teach you everything you need to know!
 
What’s your biggest hurdle/concern against getting started?
 
Leave your thoughts and insights below!
 
And if you got value from this blog post, then please share it using the social media buttons on the left.
 
Cheers, to your blogging success!
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