The common phrase goes something like:
The first step is the most difficult.
You’ve probably heard it. Thousands of times.
And it really is true in many instances. It’s usually accompanied by a big dream. We look at a big time end goal and the reality of what it will take to achieve that goal hits us. We’re pushed back and afraid of that work and patience.
So we never take the first step.
I think blogging is that way for some.
For many I think it’s easy to write a first post. No big deal. Just spill out your thoughts on the computer. The tricky part is keeping it going. That’s where you see thousands, maybe millions of blogs that have a handful of posts and then nothing.
Here are the steps to starting your first post so you’re most likely to continue.
Because blogging is a difficult task. It’s a long-term task. But if you’re willing to follow through the rewards are great. Just like anything worth doing in life.
What To Write About
This often comes in disguise. The reason many people start blogs, personal or business, is that they have an idea for the first post. Or the first handful of posts.
That’s where the spark is. The little nugget that turns into a dream that you’re going to be a popular and successful blogger with lots of readers.
This is a great feeling. I love it. I love seeing it.
But it’s also dangerous.
Not every idea comes as easy as the firs. And that first idea might not be an indication of the kind of posts you’ll have to write in the future.
Usually the first post is something you’re experiencing. Or it’s something you care about. Something you know about. That you would want to read.
Totally fine. Some of the time.
The truth is that consistent and successful blogging often seems boring to people that have a dream to blog. The most successful posts I see are often how-to posts. Not very cool on the surface.
The topic may also not be that interesting to the intended audience.
I see it a lot in the design and photography world. Designers write blog posts that other designers might like, but business owners wouldn’t really care about.
Photographers will write about how to take photos. About their equipment. Photographer-type things that other photographers will get nerdy about, but nothing a parent would really care about. They want to know how to dress their kids. Or how to convince their husband to agree to family photos.
You want to write about the questions your target audience is asking. Provide the best answer you can. Keep it simple. There’s not a set number of how-to posts or things like that, but it should be the main focus. Then sprinkle in things for yourself. Personal stories. Off the wall things. Those work well too.
But mostly stick to Q&A.
How To Design Your Blog
Just wrote a few things on this topic.
Your main focus should be on keeping it simple. The content (the post) is the main focus. No popups. No annoying or inappropriate calls to action. Plain and simple.
But something that fits with your brands style. Colors. Things like that. Something that starts letting a reader know who your brand is.
Often I’ll just tell a business to use the basic WordPress theme to start. Those themes put the focus entirely on the content, which is how it should be.
Then after a year or two you can get something a little more custom. Still simple, but a little more custom and akin to your brand.
How To Ideate Ongoing Titles
Major sticking point here when it comes to blogging.
Nothing is more difficult in the blogging world than sitting down to write a post without having an idea. 99 times out of 100 you’ll come away with no finished post and lots of time wasted.
So I recommend separating the ideating from the research and writing.
Let’s say you’re writing one post a week. A great place to start.
Sit down once every two months and fill out your next two months of titles. Look for the questions your customers are asking. Then fill out the calendar.
That’s it. Now when you sit down to write you have the title and you’re off and running.
Include a few notes as well. Just a sentence or two or a couple bullets to make sure you remember the context.
Research, Writing & Editing
Stats are great for blog posts.
When it comes to the blogging I do here on GBW I have a few sources of stats on business, blogging, marketing and a few other things. Gallup has quite a few stats. Pew is another great resource.
Google Scholar is a great resource.
Let’s say you’re writing about pets. Here are some great studies on pets from just this past year.
Here are some on artificial intelligence.
You can get everything.
That is how you can do some research. I also like to see what’s already out there about the topic. I’ll look for gaps. I’ll look for what’s already been written and look to build on it. If there is a really great idea I’ll link to it within my new post.
Then I just let the post flow. Basic intro then the meat of the post and then a quick wrap-up in a conclusion.
Definitely break it up with headings. People love headings. They can scan, read, go back and all kinds of things.
I don’t do much editing. You’ll notice errors in my writing. I just think you get better at it the more you do it. But some people need to do editing or if you don’t like it and your posts have lots of errors then you’ll need to have someone to read through and make corrections.
I also like not getting too crazy with the format. How-to, lists, etc. They work. You can mix in a few crazy things once in awhile. You never know what will be the next thing to work, but for the most part stick with what you see the most and what works for the most successful blogs.
How To Schedule
A lot of people their posts as soon as they’re done writing.
That can probably work just fine.
It might just be me and a few others like me, but that drives me nuts. I like consistency. I like knowing what to expect. Especially when to expect something new.
So let’s go back to before and say you’re writing weekly posts.
Pick a day. It doesn’t really matter what day. That’s your publish day. Now schedule time each week to write. Not the same day. Maybe five days earlier or if you do want to publish and write on Monday each week then plan on writing seven days before the publish date.
Get into this habit and you’ll be more consistent with your publishing and more importantly you won’t miss weeks, which can be a very slippery slope.
Wanting to crate your first blog post is great! It really is. If you have an idea or two then definitely run with them and write it out.
But let’s also focus on the longer term. If you have thoughts of a successful blog with lots of traffic and engagement it’ll take a different kind of outlook from the first post.
Use the tips found here to help you write that first post (and beyond). They’ll definitely help.