So, you want to start a blog? Awesome! Before you buy that domain name or that hosting package, you have some important questions you need to answer first.
I want to share with you my 9-point start a blog checklist, but I will admit up front that this is a different checklist than you were probably expecting. Most bloggers jump right into the technical aspects of “how to” set up their blog without first getting clear on their unique contribution, audience scope, and income model.
Before you start that blog, there are nine questions you must wrestle with first. Let’s get started.
Q1. What’s my unique ability?
Maybe you’ve never asked yourself this question before. Yet, it’s essential you understand where you show up best. What are your core gifts? What do others say you are naturally great at? What are you doing when you are most fully alive?
Answering these questions will become your blog’s unique selling proposition. The more you lean into who you are, the more you will stand out from the competition.
Q2. What can I best help with?
Your blog is not really about you. Having a unique gift is one thing, but making your unique gift useful is another. You need to attach your giftedness to a cause, passion, or mission others care about.
Not just that, but you need to pursue a blog niche that you care about. Choose a topic you enjoy learning about and have some expertise in. You don’t have to be an expert, but you should be a leading learner: someone committed to constant and never-ending improvement on the topic.
Q3. Who do I most want to serve?
If your blog doesn’t have an audience to serve, then you are just journaling. You must connect your gifts and passions to an audience to be successful. Your blog is all about them. Every word you write and every blog post you publish is your unique contribution to serving a specific group of people.
The good news is you don’t have to attract a crowd, you just need to attract a tribe. According to Kevin Kelly, in his viral 2008 blog post, you only need 1000 true fans to be successful. Go find that 1000-member tribe who is just waiting for a leader to emerge. Give them a voice, offer them hope, and lead them to reach their full potential.
Q4. Is this a topic or niche that I’m passionate about?
Passion is the fuel that ignites your mission. Passion is what most bloggers live on way before the audience and income shows up. Passion is the deep well you draw from while you are blogging in complete obscurity.
By the way, we all start in complete obscurity. Every blogger or influencer you admire once worked in the absence of an audience. They decided to publish that next post even though the previous five posts rendered zero comments. They continued to build their business even though no one else paid any attention. What gets you through obscurity is your passion.
Q5. Are there other blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels on this topic?
Before you start that blog, you need to find evidence that the audience you want to serve is consuming content. Do you want to blog? Find life on other blogs on your topic. Do you want to podcast? Are there any decent number of reviews of other podcasts in your niche? Before you start that YouTube Channel, go verify people are subscribing to other channels in your niche. This exercise doesn’t take long, but it can save you many wasted hours up front.
Q6. Is this topic just a fad or is it evergreen?
Don’t pursue a niche just because everyone seems to be talking about it. There’s a good chance it could be here today, but gone tomorrow.
Instead, we want to pursue a niche that was just as popular five years ago as it is today. Successful bloggers serve steady niches. Use tools like Google Trends, Google Search, and even keyword research software to discover the trends.
Q7. Does the audience I want to serve have worthy goals?
Does your audience have worthy goals to pursue? Do these goals affect their thinking, planning, and even pocketbook? Do their goals solve a real problem or satisfy a desire in their life? Are they searching for tools, programs, and offerings that can help them reach their goals? These are all important questions you should answer before you start that blog.
Q8. Is there evidence of enthusiasts?
As an aspiring influencer, you want to partner with a group of enthusiasts. Do they like to talk about this topic often? Is there a decent amount of conversation happening in Facebook groups? Are there Linkedin Groups on this topic?
Measuring enthusiasm can be somewhat objective. The goal here is to look for life, excitement, desire, and passion. One simple indicator is if they give themselves an egoic label. Do they have a label they use to describe their passion? A good example is an AFOL (Adult Fan of Lego). A true AFOL embraces the term and even uses it to describe themselves to others.
Q9. Is there any proof of others making money on this topic?
While I left this question for the end of the blog starter checklist, it certainly should not be the last thing on your mind. If you desire to one day make blogging your full-time job, then you need to find proof that your niche could sustain you financially.
The best way to do this is to look for other influencers in your niche (competitors) that show proof they are earning money. Contrary to what you might think, this is a positive sign and not a negative one. They have already gone ahead of you to prove that people are willing to spend money.
Like I said at the beginning, this 9-point start a blog checklist is unlike any you’ve probably seen. Yet, these are the essential questions you must answer before you start a blog. Spending just a bit more time researching your niche ahead of time can make all the difference in the world. You’ll be ahead of those who set up their blog first and then try to find an audience for it.