Starting to write a blog is becoming increasing popular. A lot of people have the misconception that it is an easy way to make a fast buck. Unfortunately it requires more effort than first meets the eye. The internet is teaming with articles/ebooks/seminars/videos which comprehensively explain how to start a blog – from choosing your audience to a domain name, to customising a wordpress template; from guest posting to monetising your blog – then there is this thing called S.E.O?! … But where do you start?
This is the first in a series of short articles which outline my experience to date and some learnings that I have had. I will write the articles as simply as possible without using jargon and acronyms where possible!
I will share how I have made money and how my traffic has grown.
While these posts specifically target those interested in starting to write a blog who from the UK, that is not to say that these posts won’t be relevant to the everyone else! Part 1 of the article focuses on the things you should think about before even logging onto a computer. Let’s start with the basics:
Choose Your Genre
First things first – what are you going to write about? This is a thee key question that you should ask yourself before you even begin. This is not a decision that should be made overnight. When I first started savvyscot.com , it took me a long time to decide on a genre. I always loved talking about money and I always look for a bargain. Thinking of topics came easy to me on money related ideas, so it was a given. Equally, there are lots of other things that make me tick that I could talk about, but I soon realised the importance of sticking to a Genre.
Take a notepad and write out the things that interest you. Not a metaphorical notepad – a real notepad! If you want to start a blog, you have to start with ideas. Hobbies, Passions, Experiences, Work-related. Make an exhaustive list that describes your life. Then, go through the list and look for a pattern, look for a Genre that connects the largest number of these things together. You really need to consider if you can write endless topics and answer endless questions on this subject.
Secondly, if you are starting a blog with the sole reason to make money, now is the time to consider your market. Personal finance is a pretty good platform for sponsored posts and targeted advertising, others are not. That said, you can be creative and think of ‘outsie the box’ ideas for Monetizing – but more of that later. Also, take it from me now that it is not easy to make money. You should have an underlying love of your subject
Choose Your Audience
If you are going to start a personal finance blog, consider your target audience. You may be writing from the UK, but are you starting a blog aimed at just the UK? If you are planning to target the rest of the world, consider converting money amounts into US dollars – most people can grasp this easier. For an example, check out my post on The Thailand Wedding Part 2 – The Finances. Still taking personal finance as a subject example, there are many other questions that you should ask yourself; Is your target audience:
- Young or Old?
- Male or Female?
- In College / Not in College
- In debt?
While you don’t have to choose ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for each item, your blog can’t appeal to everyone. You have to have a target audience.
Choose Your Topics
OK Great, you now have a target audience. I am hoping that you have not chosen a knitting blog aimed at 10-12 year old boys who are from north west Scotland; because quite honestly you are screwed! Be specific, just not too specific!
When it comes to choosing topics, you need to keep them relevant. At least mostly relevant. This is something that I am still finding hard to learn. When you begin writing, it is always an easy option to write about what you had for lunch or what TV show you like – but does this match the decisions you first made when you first started your blog?
You should always try to plan ahead, but don’t put too many ideas into one post. Take this post for example. It would be easy for me to start talking about things in the articles that will follow this one. What I am saying is don’t use all your ideas in your first few posts – chances are hardly anyone will be reading them at this stage anyway!
You are well on your way to starting a blog
If you have mastered the Genre, Audience and Topics you are off to a great start. If mastered is a slight over statement, don’t worry too much – you can define these further as you go.
- Genre is the biggest decision of them all. Take time on this one and brainstorm your ideas
- Be Specific, but not too specific when choosing an audience – targeted but not isolated is good
- Make sure your content is relevant and on topic – and keep it that way
To be continued..
The inspiration for this article is two-fold. Given that the UK blogging scene is relatively quiet in comparison to the rest of the world. I found it quite challenging when first starting a blog. It took a long time to sift through endless articles and simplify the advice of seasoned professionals. While I am no expert, SavvyScot.com has started to grow significantly over the last few months and is starting to make some decent money. Secondly, my good friend Jeremy over at Modest Money has recently been publishing some more advanced articles which I like to think of as a Blogging Masterclass, which has inspired me to publish a similar – yet more high level – series of articles targeting people wanting to start a blog in the UK.
Modest Money says
Thanks for the mention. Starting a blog is a lot more work than people anticipate. They think it’s just a matter of putting up a blog and writing regularly. That’s only true for a personal blog though. If you want to make money you have to be a lot more thorough. I admit I didn’t put a lot of thought into my target audience. I guess it would be males in their 20s-30s, but I try not to limit myself to just that.
Modest Money recently posted..Advanced Keyword Strategy For Your Blog
Steve Martin says
Great tips Scot. Look forward to reading part 2
I didn’t think so much thought was required. I need to think things through properly!
Stay tuned for part 2…
Drew @ Objective Wealth says
I enjoy these realistic, down-to-earth types of blogging guides. It’s no wonder the failure rate is so high. Looking forward to the rest of the series Scot, especially the monetisation! 😉
Drew @ Objective Wealth recently posted..Provident Pointers #2: Smarter Holiday Money
Ethan's Money says
Great advice, and an enjoyable post.
I have to admit that I’ve been much less rigorous than you in my approach. In the comments above, Modest Money refers to people who think it’s just about putting up a blog and posting regularly. That would be a fair description of my initial approach! Little did I know …
In my partial defence, as a total newbie, its sometimes best to ‘learn on the job’ and just get stuck in. Better to make a few mistakes and learn from them rather than sit there procrastinating and never quite get round to starting the perfect blog.
However, I’d definitely recommend clarity about target audience and genre. Much better than my approach.
Looking forward to Part 2!