Content creation is an effective growth and communication channel for entrepreneurs – one not reserved to a specific discipline or objective. Starting a blog is one of the most accessible (and effective) ways to share content.
If you are starting a business, a blog is a great way to build an audience of potential customers.
Small businesses use starting a blog to increase local SEO for popular search terms in their city. Professional consultants can use a blog to grow their brand name to improve their credibility. Freelancers can use a blog to showcase their capabilities and attract more clients.
Regardless of your profession or reason for wanting to start a blog, here are the main considerations to make before writing your first post.
Have a goal for your blog
To create a successful blog, you must have a goal by which you measure it.
If you’re a freelancer, the objective of your blog might be to serve as a portfolio of your services.
If you operate a business, the objective of your blog might be to drive more targeted eyes to your website.
The goal of your blog is important and should direct the design of your blog, the topics you write about, and the messaging throughout. For instance, if your blog’s goal is to increase sales, you may want to add call-to-actions (CTAs) in your articles and optimize your layout to feature your products and services.
Blogging for the sake of blogging is a waste of time and resources. Before you start a blog, have a goal in mind for why you want to start blogging.
Decide on the topics before starting a blog
If your blog has no theme or direction, it’ll be difficult for you to hold the audience’s attention. Therefore, you need to consider the topics you want to cover on the blog. There’s no need to get too granular at the onset, as there is no way to predict what topics you’ll blog about two years from now.
Rather, create a general style guide and theme for your blog that outlines the categories and sections you anticipate publishing. For most businesses, look at your service areas and use those pain points to form the topics.
Defining your topics before you start also gives you a framework to brainstorm a list of article ideas, so you never have to start with a blank page.
If you’re contemplating starting a blog as a source of side income, think about verticals within which you have expertise or industries that interest you.
One of the main issues with blogging is that people struggle to keep up with it. Because frequent posting is a staple of a successful blog, you’ll want to cover topics that you understand and won’t get tired of writing about.
Before starting a blog, take time to outline the topics you intend to cover. Think about how you will make time for writing and find some writing tools to keep you on track.
Choose the best blog platform
One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make before starting a blog is where you want your blog to live and the interface you’ll blog within. This decision will impact several of the other considerations below, so take your time to dive into the pros and cons of the different blog platforms.
Some of the most popular blog platforms include:
WordPress is hands down the most popular blogging platform. There are more than 82 million blogs using WordPress. This platform has two options for entrepreneurs looking to start a blog.
The first option is creating a subdomain that exists within the WordPress blog directory. An example would be hacktheentrepreneur.wordpress.com.
The second option is to install the WordPress CMS onto your own domain. The main reasons to consider WordPress as your blogging platform are its flexibility and the plethora of available themes and plugins.
However, there is a bit of a learning curve for people who are not used to the interface.
Using a managed hosting service makes it easier to create a website with WordPress and start a blog on your own domain with all the essentials (like SEO features and security) done for you.
If managing your own domain, hosting, and WordPress is a bit more than you want to take on, there is an easier option — using a website builder like Squarespace.
If you choose website building service, you won’t need to learn too much on the technical side of things. In fact, it’s pretty easy to set up. Just start a free trial and play around with the templates to find a design you like.
Medium is a relatively new blogging platform that launched in 2012. It was built simply to provide a place for anyone to share opinions and insight. In addition to being free for users, it’s minimalistic design makes it easy for anyone to create and start a blog in minutes.
However, while its simplicity is great for novice bloggers, you cannot customize your blog or monetize your traffic.
Before you start a blog, you need to decide which blog platform you want to use and whether you want to create a subdomain on that platform or integrate it into your own domain.
Pick a domain and web hosting
Should you purchase a domain instead of using a subdomain on a blog platform?
In short, yes. You don’t want to build your house on someone else property, and you don’t want to build your blog on a platform you don’t own or control.
I recently interviewed Erik Bergman, an entrepreneur who purchased Great.com for $900,000, about this exact topic.
Erik believes that the domain is more than just a web address for people to find your blog or business. It’s a marketing asset that plays an integral role in building a brand. Erik intends to create a business that donates 100% of its profit to charity, which he says is a “great” initiative that deserved a “great” domain name.
Many entrepreneurs decide to use their own domain when starting a blog –
HackTheEntrepreneur.com for example. If you decide to start your blog on your own domain, you’ll need to find the perfect domain name. Typically, the perfect domain name is something that relates to your blog’s focus and one that you can build a brand around.
For instance, if you plan to use your blog as a portfolio for your services, you might find a domain that has your name in it or relates to your services or niche. Your domain can be a way to set expectations before people visit your blog and can help you further develop your brand identity.
After deciding on the perfect domain name, you’ll also need to find a web hosting service provider to store your website files and display your blog on the internet.
Before you start a blog, find the perfect domain and web hosting provider.
I recommend and use Siteground WordPress Hosting — their servers are blazingly fast and they have stellar support.
Design your blog
Your blog’s design should reflect your brand’s identity, while also touching on a few key components such as having a fast load speed, easy navigation, optimized for all devices, and friendly user experience.
There is no perfect design for a blog – but, there can be a perfect design for your blog. It’s important to remember a lot of the considerations mentioned above when mapping out the design, such as:
Your blog’s objective
If your goal in starting a blog is to increase sales, you will want to add conversion touch points in the layout. Whether that includes popups, conversion forms, or other sales-oriented design elements, your design should clearly communicate what action you want the user to take while on your blog.
Your blogging platform
The blog platform you pick will have a massive effect on the design of your blog. If you build a website within the framework of a blog platform like Medium or Tumblr, you will have very little control over your design.
However, if you go with WordPress you can have complete control of the layout. In fact, WordPress has millions of themes and plugins that can be used together to design almost any conceivable layout.
Your blog’s audience
The user is arguably the most important variable to consider when designing your blog. If a user has a poor experience on your blog, it’s unlikely that person will ever return. Therefore, think about who you want to visit your blog and make sure the design aligns with that user and their expectations.
Before you start a blog, carefully consider the main elements that need to be incorporated into your blog’s design.
No better time than now to start a blog
The benefits of starting a blog cannot be overstated. As an entrepreneur, small business owner, someone considering a side hustle, a blog can be a way for you to grow your personal brand, generate new clients, and improve your writing.
If you’re planning to start a blog, remember — think about why you want a blog, what you want to cover on your blog, where you intend to blog, and how you want your blog to look.
Keeping those basic considerations in mind will help you launch a successful blog in no time.