So You Want to Start a Blog …

Starting a blog may be easy, but keeping it going is where most bloggers tend to struggle.


Who among us hasn’t started like six or seven blogs in their lifetime only to let each and every one atrophy into a depleted echo chamber of loneliness after the first few posts didn’t go viral?


So how do you start a blog that will keep you, and your readers, interested and engaged? Read on below to find out.


Pick a Niche You Actually Care About


Blogging is all about niches and authenticity. Readers visit blogs in order to get specific, detailed information about whatever they are geeking out over. The catch is that these readers generally only want to consume content created by like-minded people. While the technology isn’t there, somehow readers can smell insincerity through the web.


Simply put, if you’re not actually engaged in the topic your writing about, or you’re just re-blogging what has already been written elsewhere, your audience will catch on, then move on. But, if you’re creating original content that is informative and creates value for readers, you’re much more likely to get a subscriber, follower, or bookmark, out of it.


For example, this blog you’re reading right now is focused on writing blogs. Readers can expect that by following this blog, they will be sure to get tips on how to keep their own blogs going, or other writing tips, from a writer who has published thousands of blog posts and has studied the craft of writing for decades. For a blogger, or any other type of online content creator, learning how to improve your writing is indeed valuable.


Deciding on your niche might take some work and some soul searching. The next section provides some advice on figuring it out for yourself.


Considerations for Choosing Your Niche


The most important aspect of choosing your blog’s focus is you. Since the blog will depend on you creating content for it, and you likely won’t have a boss or editor throwing assignments at you, if you don’t like the subject-matter, you’re going to suffer.


Again, for instance, this blog: Writing is a passion of mine. There is just something personally satisfying about seeing words on a page come together to form meaning, and like the big writing nerd that I am, when meanings muddle or phrases beg to be written, I smile. Simply put, writing about writing is my penultimate-geek-pleasure.


However, notice that my niche is not exclusive to people who are like me (that just take sheer delight in how words and meaning can be funny). In fact, anyone who wants to learn to be a better writer, or blogger, can find value in the content being created here.


Following closely behind what you find interesting enough to sustain a blog, the other big, very important, consideration you must ponder is value. What are you providing for your readers? Information, entertainment, education, advice, laughs? At the end of the day, if you are not consistently providing value to your readers, you shouldn’t expect to sustain their interest.


Putting Value on the Blog


You’ve surely heard the saying: “If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.” It’s a pretty new saying, but it’s been true for as long as there’s been no free lunch. It’s the same saying.


For bloggers and online content creators, those readers, viewers, and subscribers, are the product. On most platforms, advertising is what monetizes a blog or website. Advertisers pay more money for sites that have more targeted audiences and more views. This means you have to acquire products to sell, and since nothing is free, that means you have to give value to acquire your products, aka your readers and subscribers. Fortunately, if you’ve selected a niche you enjoy, providing that value amounts to creating good, high-quality content, which will probably be enjoyable to do and rewarding for yourself as well.


While this may seem like a distant issue to consider, if you aren’t providing value from the outset, you’re not likely to keep those first readers.


Read Your Competition


Thanks to how great the internet is, someone has probably already done and written about what you want to write about. Don’t worry, that’s not a problem. The internet is a big place and there’s plenty of room for everyone to write and publish, and if the demand is there, then the internet can sort it all out. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore these other bloggers or websites. In fact, you should become avid followers, especially if those sites are doing well. Learn as much as you can from what your competition (or peers) are doing right (or wrong).


Another good reason why you should keep up with your competition is simply to make sure that you keep up-to-date with what’s going on in your niche.


Always Engage Your Readers


Lastly, it’s always a good idea to engage your readers at the end of every blog post, beyond just the friendly reminder to subscribe or sign up for a newsletter (hint, hint). Providing links away from your site to source material, related content, or anything else you might think is relevant, may feel counter-intuitive, but it helps build your credibility, both from readers and from search engines.


If you have any comments or requests for future topics about blogging, feel free to contact me.