What do I need to know before I start a blog?

Ever heard the phrase ‘content is king’? It’s a writer’s key motto, because without good content no one is going to stay on your website. However, a web designer might say ‘traffic is king,’ because without an audience being driven to your website, the blogs are a waste of time. Technically, they’re both right. Content and Traffic are the key objectives for any blog and there’s a whole list of things you should consider before you start, and you need to consider these objectives.

Target Audience
‘Who are you talking to?’ This might sound really obvious, but it’s the most important question to ask yourself, and your answer needs to be specific. Why? Because if you try to talk to everyone/please everyone, you’ll get nowhere really fast.

Things to consider are; age, gender, and economic background of your audience. What are their interests? What industry do they work in? Are they low, mid, or high-level employees, employers or self-employed? Are they established in their field, or are they new? Do they need hand holding, or are they independent?

Why do these factors matter? They all impact the language and syntax used within your blog, they determine whether you can or can’t use industry relevant jargon. They let you know where you’re going to find your audience. (E.g. You’re more likely to find people aged 20+ on Twitter and Instagram, but 40+ on Facebook and Linked In). It’ll let you know how much you have in common with your audience. They will help you build a bridge between yourself and your audience.

Purpose of your Blog
The main purpose of your blog might well be ‘to earn money’ but people earn money from a myriad of blogs in a myriad of ways. You need to decide early on what kind of blog yours is going to be. What is its key purpose?

Are you looking to entertain your audience? Are you going to include witty ‘behind the scenes’ content, giveaways, updates, and diary-entry style story times?
Or are you looking to inform your audience? Redistribute industry relevant information but with your own spin on it? Are you going to break down key vocabulary for them?

One style of writing is not better than the other. You may not want your clients to know the inner workings of your mind. You may find it helps bring you more clients. There is a spectrum between the two, and blogs are generally informal and shorter than essays (which you could also share on your website, but I wouldn’t recommend it). But understanding what you hope to gain from your blog is really important.

Call to Action
Although this is usually found at the end of the blog, I wanted to include it directly after the purpose section because the two go hand in hand. Before you write your blog, you need to think about what you want your audience to do once they’ve finished it. Do you want them to book an appointment? Buy a product? Answer a question? Ask a question? Share, like, comment? Etc. Your audience knows and understands you need something from them. That you’re putting this content out for a reason.

(I’m putting this content out so you can understand blogs better, and then maybe you’ll take me up on my offer of helping you write some).
And there’s no harm in having that call to action clear in your post. Take a moment whilst you’re considering who your audience is, to decide a very specific action you need from them.

How often can you realistically post?
I have clients who ask for a new blog every day of the week, but it’s just not realistic for my workload, especially as I write so many of the blogs a month in advance so the client has them to schedule and share before they’re needed. (Rather than scrambling for content on the day it’s supposed to be posted!) If you know that you’re not able to commit to blogging on a regular basis, that’s fine. You don’t have to, so long as your posting schedule is consistent. If you were to write one post a month, but that post as 900 words instead of 300, you could share small sections of it on your social media (recycling your content) and still drive new traffic.

Where will you share your posts and draw traffic?
Social Media platforms thrive on competition. They need to increase their usership to grow, and that is not your problem.

If you don’t like using a certain social media platform – don’t use it. Another phrase I hear from my clients (more often than I’d like) is ‘I know I should use ____, but I don’t really want to.’ Please don’t use a platform you’re unfamiliar with. Test it out as a social user first and if you like the format of it, then implement it in your business. But there is no point downloading Instagram if all your content is going to be written. And there’s no point adding your business to Twitter if you’re not prepared to cultivate an audience and engage with a lot of people all at once.

Once you’ve decided where you’re going to share and which social media platforms you want to use, then you can create a schedule for how often you’re going to post and what kind of content you want to share. It links back to the previous comments about target audience and purpose of your blog, and it will help you determine which content is going to work best for you.

Have you done an SEO audit?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and your web designer can help you determine which words and key phrases you should capitalise on, so that when you use them in your content it can be as authentic as possible. Once those phrases become part of your daily vocabulary, your traffic will increase, and your audience will stay.

Are there other blogs you like the look of, which yours could emulate?
Do your research. What blogs are your competitors sharing? Are there local businesses that do the same thing, and if so, where can you find them online? You’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, and as I said in last week’s post, blogs have existed for 25 years. There will be hundreds of thousands of blogs out there looking to do what you’re doing. Use that information and decide what you want your blog to look like, learn from those who are nailing it, and determine why blogs that you don’t like don’t work.

Does your website have the capacity for an email list?
Having an email list is vital for bloggers who want people to tap into their content on a regular basis. By feeding your blogs into their emails, you’re increasing the chances of driving traffic and maintaining your audience because they’re being reminded automatically, rather than seeking out your content when they remember.

This is also important when considering the content you’re feeding into their email address. If you’re sharing the same blog multiple times, people will switch off. But shorter form content which people can action regularly (newsletters, promotions etc) will increase traffic to your website and make it more likely they’ll respond to your call to action.

So, as you can see, there’s a lot to think about before you start writing your blog, and it’s not something you should disregard if you want your website to continue gaining interest. On Friday I’ll be looking at what your first blog post should look like, and I’ll be sharing a worksheet to help you answer the questions posed here in this blog.

If you’d like a copy of that worksheet before then, drop me an email at hannah@silvertonguecreative.co.uk.

See you on Friday!

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