Most people at some time or other consider making a blog. Either they have a topic they are passionate about, want to make money, or need to promote a business, service or themselves. It is actually an easy question to answer. Just check these basic criteria against your topic or blog idea. Trust me, it is better to think about this now and not two years and thousands of hours or work down the road, when you have nothing to show for it.
Oddly enough, this is all advice I wish I would have had before starting this blog.
How can you provide value to your readers? Just picking a topic and writing about it is a horrible way to start a blog and will end up in failure. If you have a topic you are considering, think about the issues surrounding people involved with this topic. You have to be able to really help your readers. Just writing like Wikipedia and giving a basic overview of the subject isn’t enough to build a following and to get someone to care about you or what you have to say.
Blogging is about building a flock of devoted followers. You can’t do that without providing something of value.
Ways of providing value:
- Help your readers solve their problems - This is the one you want to focus on. Best chance of success.
- Provide timely news and updates on the topic - Some niches need content curation but if someone is already doing it don’t bother.
- Provide entertainment value - People need to be entertained but this is the worst money/traffic you can get. Best to stay away.
Don’t make a blog about cool cars. Make a blog about learning to work on your own car, or how to appraise used cars. Curation isn’t very valuable but being helpful is. Providing value is where the money is.
How much time do you realistically have to spend on this venture? Are you OK with writing two hours a day for an entire year without making more than $1000. Because honestly, most blogs don’t even make that in their first year. I’ll get into money below, but for now, consider how much time you have available and are willing to spend writing.
Your time is worth a lot. Make sure you are dedicated enough to stick this out, even if the first 8-12 months are slow.
Who the hell are you? Seriously, why should anyone listen to you or what you have to say? If you are a fat person wanting to start a fitness blog, you better lose the weight and get ripped, or your advice can’t really be taken seriously. You can’t have a blog about making money online if you aren’t making any yourself. You get the idea. Lead by example.
Just because you are interesting in a topic and want to be a certain way doesn’t mean you should be teaching other people about that subject. You need to be someone important in the field and if you aren’t yet, you better have a plan to become someone big, and do it fast.
Money, Money and Money
If you think that Adsense is a primary monetization method for your blog, you are wrong. Advertising is the absolute worst method of monetizing a blog. Of the people making a living on their blog, few if any do it from ads alone. Not that bloggers don’t make money from ads, but the vast, vast majority of their revenue comes from affiliate sales, or even better, sales of their own products.
You need to figure out what it is you can sell before you start your blog. Find some products your readers really would want to buy and be an affiliate for them. Later when you get more successful you can create those products of your own.
If people are not buying a product in your niche or a service you want to sell, then don’t bother making a blog. Advertising alone isn’t enough.
Go back to the earlier step of providing value. Take that list of problems your readers are dealing with and Google them all. See how many exact match pages show up. That is your competition. Read the first or first couple articles on page one of Google. Can you provide better value than those articles? If the answer is no, you should not start the blog. If you will be providing a similar level of quality, you may want to dig deeper and find a smaller part of the niche with less competition.
If people already have the topic covered well, you have to: 1) find a new spin 2) find a separate, less contested niche 3) be able to provide more value than the people already in the niche. If you can’t do any of those three things you won’t be successful.
If you do your searches and no blogs come up on the first page, you may have no or low competition. But that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Open up the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, and see how much exact match traffic there is coming in for your proposed keywords. If you were to dominate the niche, is there enough traffic there to make a profit? I personally wouldn’t start a blog that I couldn’t get at least 350 unique visitors a day.
That is pretty much it. If you event take a couple hours to look this over and determine if you can make a dent with your blog, you will be miles ahead of most bloggers just starting off.