What You Need to Know Before You Start a Blog

… one that has impacted every day of my life since.

I decided to start this blog.

I read a statistic recently that said over 2 million new blogs are posted online every single day. That’s a lot of blogs.

Unfortunately, most of them will never be read.

And that means that too many business owners are putting too much effort into something that is a total waste of their precious time.

Ouch.

But I don’t blame them. It’s easy to underestimate what it takes to produce an effective blog.

I’ve maintained a weekly blog for over four years. At first, the only readers I had were a few close friends, my mom, and maybe my dog. (Well, she would have read it if she could.)

Today, readers hail from Alaska to Africa, and from New York to the Netherlands. I’ve had clients tell me their decision to hire me began when they saw my commitment to showing up for them week after week.

And I have a real appreciation for what it takes to make this work.

Do you have a blog? If not, do you feel pressured to start one? Well – don’t. Blogging is just one tool among many, and it’s not right for everyone.

Here’s what it really takes to start, sustain, and benefit from a blog.

1. COMMITMENT

Writing a blog is like entering a long term committed relationship. If you’re not serious about making it work, it won’t take long for things to fall apart.

That means committing to a publication schedule, and having your content ready to go on time, every time. That means writing on holidays, at the beach, or at 4 a.m. if you must to meet your deadline, whether you feel like it or not.

2. TIME

Writing well takes time.

Perhaps you can knock out 500 words in the blink of an eye. I can’t. I’m an obsessive writer, and I have to write a little every day. If I try to write a post in one sitting, it takes me all day.

Be sure you’re ready to devote the time it takes to write well.

3. ORGANIZATION

To produce a regular blog (without losing your mind), you’ll need systems.

I have systems in place that help me track ideas, create outlines, find pictures, set up social media, and communicate with my team. I could not function without them.

4. ATTENTION TO DETAIL

There are many things that impact the professionalism of your piece, and the way you’re perceived by your readers. A post full of misspelled words, typos, sloppy grammar and broken links won’t impress anyone.

When I first started this blog, I had a good friend (and one of my first clients) who served as an informal copy editor. Every week, she’d email me as soon as it went out, telling me about the link that didn’t work or the typo in the 4th paragraph. That happened a lot back then – and I was immensely grateful for her keen eye!

5. STRATEGY

Among the most common mistakes I see are entrepreneurs who have a blog ‘because they’re supposed to’, with no strategy behind it. Can you answer these 2 questions?

“How will this blog help promote my business and serve my ideal clients?”

“How will this blog fit with and connect to my overall marketing strategy?”

If you’re not sure, don’t start a blog.

6. CONSISTENCY

If you’re only going to write when you feel like it, your readers will forget who you are and ignore, or delete, your articles.

You must publish on a consistent schedule, whatever it is. I recommend posting at least every two weeks, though once a week is ideal.

7. TECHNOLOGY

Once your article is written, you have to get it published and distributed. Do you have a place to publish it? Do you have a way to upload and format the content? Do you have a way to send it out to your list?

8. TEAM

Do you have the time, or technical skills, to publish the blog yourself? If not, do you have team members who can handle that for you? Even if you do have that help, I encourage you to learn how to do it yourself, at least at a basic level.

9. CONFIDENCE

Publishing original content that you create means putting yourself out there for the world to see. It’s a digital version of getting up on stage, and for many folks – that’s a little scary.

So before you do, make sure you’re ready. Don’t take it personally when someone unsubscribes. (People do that for many different reasons.) DO promote yourself and your business, while serving your readers.

10. CLARITY

More than anything, take time to think this through, and get really, really clear about why you want to create a blog at all. As I said, this is a long term relationship.

Blogging takes all of this and more. Done well, it can make a huge difference for your business. (It certainly has for mine.)

Just make sure it’s right for you. :)


Photo Credit: John Loo on Flickr

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