The 5 W’S You Need to Ask Yourself Before You Start | “So You Wanna Start a Blog?” Series

September 17, 2015

I am so excited to finally dive into this series that I’ve been thinking and praying about for MONTHS. One of the most common emails and questions I get, BY FAR, is “I want to start a blog. Can you help me?” or SOMETHING along those lines… “Can you take a look at my blog?” or “I need help with starting my blog.”

I honestly get 10-12 emails a week from readers asking similar questions about blogging…聽I absolutely LOVE getting these emails, but if I’m being honest, it can be hard to write everyone back and answer the same questions over and over again. (Just keepin’ it real!) I really do LOVE helping people get started – and I don’t know why it took me so long to just get my act together and write this series. But, here we are.

I am, by no means, an expert. There are people out there who are FAR MORE knowledgable about blogging than me. In fact, there are bloggers who blog ONLY about… blogging. Crazy, right? I have been blogging for basically a decade at this point, four of those years essentially blogging full time, and so I’ve got a lot of experience under my belt in this crazy online world. So, that’s where I’m coming from. I hope that at least sets the tone! 馃檪

Blogging is FUN! (That’s why I do it for a living!) And so, it’s only natural that other people would want to do it, too! 聽So, I pray,聽in advance, that this series is helpful to those of you who are thinking about starting a blog, who are new to blogging, or maybe have been blogging for a little while, but you want to think outside of the box a little and maybe up or change your blogging game.

Today’s post is the intro, if you will, and the foundation you’re going to need before you even get STARTED and pick that blog name and domain URL. It’s SO important that I would be doing a disservice to you if I didn’t start with this…

Here are the FIVE questions (the five W’s) you NEED to ask yourself BEFORE you start your blog!

1. Why?

This is, by far, the most important question you MUST ask yourself before starting a blog:聽WHY聽do you want to start a blog?聽WHY聽do you want to blog?

If it’s because you want to make money and get free stuff, let me be perfectly honest with you… don’t blog. If you set out to make money blogging, you will quickly find that it’s a whole lot harder than you think and you’ll give up before you even really get started.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been blogging for nearly a decade and I didn’t start making money doing it until about four years ago. I didn’t start making money that could be considered full-time income until last year. And, that is with blogging 5-7 days a week consistently.

Sure, you could get lucky and you could have some post or posts go viral and you could suddenly be making an income. However, that happens to about 0.00000011% of the bloggers out there. There are MILLIONS of blogs on the internet. Millions. Wrap your head around that. MILLIONS.

I’m not trying to discourage you, I’m just trying to be honest and real with you. If you want blogging to be your JOB, then you have to treat it like one. It’s not easy. It takes work. A lot of work. But, if it’s something you truly and passionately want to do, then go for it. Just don’t think that you’re going to suddenly be raking in the money when you start your blog.

Now, if聽the answer to your聽WHY聽is because you have something you want to share with the world, or you want to get creative, or you want to inspire others, or you just love to write or take pictures… then GO FOR IT. You have to have a passion and a purpose behind your why. Otherwise, you’ll just come off like a slimy salesperson and your readers will smell it right away and be turned off.

Discover your WHY. Then decide if you want to start a blog.

2. What?

The next question you need to ask yourself is:聽WHAT聽is my blog going to be about?

Do you want to have a fashion blog? Beauty blog? Travel blog? Parenting blog? Lifestyle blog? Food blog? Writing blog? Health / wellness blog? Photography blog? What’s the topic? Now, you don’t have to marry yourself to one topic.

Look at me, for example. I write about fashion, beauty, parenting, health and wellness, fitness, food, etc. I write about a lot of different things. This is why I put myself in the lifestyle category. HOWEVER, all of those things have a common thread and a common purpose. The聽WHAT聽behind my blog is the purpose of sharing inspiring content for women (and yes, some men, too!). And it’s all centered around MY personal brand.

I’m a former comedian (as many of you know) and my joy and passion comes from bringing joy and inspiration to others. When I started this blog, it actually started out as a comedy blog. Then it was a marketing blog. Now it’s lifestyle. It has evolved over the years as I have evolved… and I’m comfortable with that!

At the base of it all, when people come to my blog, I want them to leave feeling inspired and creative. Or maybe they left a post having learned something or wanting to try something new. All of these things have a positive and uplifting undertone. I want people to be able to “escape” for just a few minutes when they come to my blog. That’s MY what.

You have to decide what your WHAT is.

3. Who?

Next, decide聽WHO聽is your target reader?聽WHO聽is your target demographic? My target demographic is, primarily women between the ages of 25 and 45. Obviously I have more specific demographics in there that I realize I connect with… but I try to keep this a little more general.

Now, do I have readers outside of that demographic? Absolutely! And I LOVE that I have readers outside of that target demographic.

The purpose of deciding WHO your blog is geared towards is really a framework for your content. I’m not going to suddenly write a post that is only geared towards men, ages 45 and up. That would be jarring to my readers.

So, when I decide what I’m going to write about, I ask myself if women in my target age demographic would connect with it. If the answer is yes, then I keep going! I hope that makes sense!

4. When?

If you’ve gotten this far in the question asking and you still want to blog, then awesome! The next question you need to ask yourself is:聽WHEN聽am I going to blog? And what I mean by WHEN is: how often?聽Consistency聽is key in blogging… and I’ll get more detailed with that in a later post, but you need to start thinking NOW about a blogging schedule.

If you want to start off by blogging 1 day a week, awesome. Pick a day and stick with it. 3 days a week? Great, pick Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and stick with it. If you want to venture out and blog 5 days a week, way to go! But decide now.

Years ago I committed to blogging five days a week and with an exception here or there, I’ve committed to that. I have聽readers that email me if I DON’T post Monday through Friday asking if everything is okay! I LOVE that. Your readers will come to learn your blogging schedule and that builds loyalty!

So, be thinking about it now!

5. Where?

The final question you need to ask yourself BEFORE starting a blog (and we’ll get into more details about this later, too) is:聽WHERE聽do you want to blog? And by聽where,聽I mean, what blog hosting service do you want to use?

Do you want to use Blogger (free), WordPress.com (free), self-hosted WordPress.org (not free), Squarespace (in my opinion is blech), Wix (don’t even think about it), etc.

If you want my humble opinion up front – if you want to be a serious blogger and do this for real, make the investment and go with self-hosted WordPress.org. That’s what I use and I love it. And, that’s what a MAJORITY of bloggers use.

Now, are there VERY successful bloggers who still use free Blogger? Yes, of course. However, those bloggers are few and far between.

Almost EVERYONE I know eventually makes the switch from a free blogging host to self-hosted WordPress.org. Seriously. So, save yourself the headache down the road and just start out on WordPress. You will thank me later.

Again, I will go into more details about the differences between these services in a later post, but the important part is to be thinking about it NOW.

So there you have it! You made it through the most important questions you’ll ask yourself before starting a blog!

What do you think? Did any of the questions surprise you? Any questions you’d add to the list? I’d love to hear your feedback!