If you want to become a blogger, there’s a lot to do. Before you get buried in To-Do lists, here’s a check list of five things that you need to consider and research before you even choose a blogging platform.

I would advise you to read this whole post before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. This is because some of the steps overlap and involve each other. Reading the whole post will  help you to recognize this so that the information you gather will overlap too.

Blogging is huge. And it’s only getting bigger. Take a look at our infographic to see what’s already out there – but don’t be put off. There’s always room for one more.

Which is your favourite?

 Please feel free to use this infographic on your website or blog.

The code is at the end of the post.

So – Let’s Get Started…

1. Full Time, Part Time or Side Hustle?

Time...How much time do you have to devote to your Blog?

A Side Hustle is a way of making money while you’re getting ready to give up the ‘day job’ and go full time as a Blogger.

The same amount of work will be involved in getting started no matter how much time you have to spare.

Obviously, the more time you have to spare, the faster you will get going.

2. Choose Your Subject and Find Your USP

There are actually two for the price of one here – what are you going to blog about and what is your USP?

I Want to Blog About…

Take some time to decide what to blog about. The Interwebz is littered with dead blogs *sigh* started by enthusiastic people who thought they had what it takes…and then ran out of steam.

If you’re in it for the long haul, you need to choose a subject that has a lot of mileage and preferably one that you are passionate about.

He's kind of a big deal...The divine Neil Patel has this sage advice:

Do something you are passionate about because it won’t feel like work.

This way you will work harder and longer.”

It’s not unusual for someone to start a blog and then find that the subject they chose has already been done to death.

Avoid this by doing your homework before you commit yourself.

My USP is…

Your USP is your Unique Selling Point – or…what makes you different from the rest?

Your USP is often difficult to pin down. Why will your blog shine brightest in the firmament of blog galaxies? Do you hold a particular qualification that makes you an expert?

Being an authority on a subject will gain you a loyal audience and good ratings from Google. Even if you have no qualification but you know your subject inside out, that can be your USP.

Take a look at our slide show on finding your USP.

3. Research Your Target Audience

Who are you writing for? Who will be reading your Blog?

5 Steps to Defining your Target Audience

I’m assuming that you will ultimately be selling some type of product or service. If you’re going to be a full time blogger, then your minimum aim is to bring in enough money to support yourself.

To maximize your sales, you need to know who your product or service is aimed at.

Step 1. Visualize your Audience / Potential Customers

Know your audienceThe easiest way to do this is to ask yourself questions about the people who will be out there reading your blog.

Are they predominantly male or female or evenly spread?

Are they married? Do they have a family?

Or are they young, single career minded people?

What is their dearest wish in life?

What obstacles might be standing in their way of achieving their wish?

Step 2.  Which of Those Problems Can you Solve for Them…and How? 

Once you have a clearer idea of your audience and their dreams and goals, you can begin to work on how to help them to get there. Start to identify what is standing in the way of their success and decide how you can best help them to break through those barriers.

Step 3. Problems Don’t Just Take a Financial Toll

Help!If someone has a dream or a problem, then it may be costing them. Bear in mind that this cost is not always financial. It may be costing them emotionally – and causing stress and low self esteem.

Go back to your list of potential problems and next to each one, make a note of the cost of that problem. This will give you a better idea of how to identify, create and move forward with your solutions.

If you are able to show that the cost (financial or emotional) of not getting rid of the problems is higher than the cost (again, financial or emotional) of living with them – then your case becomes stronger and easier to sell as a product or service.

Step 4. Look at your Business

This brings us back to your all-important USP.

When you’re contemplating your audience, you must keep in mind that you should be able to offer them something that sets you apart from others.

It is almost impossible to be Unique these days but you may be able to offer personal experience which would certainly put you in a strong position to help others.

There may be a gap in the market that you are perfectly poised to fill. How do you find that gap?

Research.

Step 5. Research Your Competitors

In order to offer something fresh and new, you need to know what is already available to your target audience. Let’s take a look at how to find out what you’re up against.

4. How to Research Your Competitors

Google Them

If only it was this easy...Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and use Google.

Make a simple list of highly relevant keywords describing your product or service and look at the top three sites for each keyword.

This will quickly find your main competitors.

Set up Google Alerts

Set up Google Alerts for useful information to put on your own website. While you’re there, set up alerts for your competitors to keep an eye on what they are doing. Doing this will give you an almost immediate heads up if they run any offers or similar, so that you can respond accordingly.

Also…

Google Trends is very useful. As its’ name suggests, Google Trends shows you the trend for any topic you wish to search for. You can search single keywords or longer phrases, search by country, within a time frame and by category. Be prepared to spend at least two hours there.

It is also useful for checking out your original idea as Google Trends will show you if the area you have chosen is growing or declining in popularity.

Become a Customer

woman on laptopOnce you have found the websites of your nearest competitors, take a very careful tour of their site.

It can help to set up an Excel Spreadsheet so that you can keep track of what is where. You may think that you’ll remember but after looking at half a dozen sites, you won’t – trust me.

Sign up for the newsletter from each site. Analyse (and log on your spreadsheet) what you like, or don’t like about them.

Looking and analysing will also help you to start visualizing how you would like your own site to look.

5. Check Out Their Social Media

A solid social media presence is now essential if you’re going to make any kind of splash in the giant Interwebz pool.

Interacting with website visitors / potential customers is a very important part of Social Media and of having an online business of any kind.

Go through the social media offered by your competitors and again, analyse and log your thoughts.

You may find that your competitors aren’t as active as they should be on Social Media and this is an area where you can gain some ground.

Hopefully, this has given you some things to think about. Spending time on these five will give you a better idea of what you should offer your audience and how to get started.

Check out our post on how to choose your blogging platform.

anja 2I was contacted by the lovely Anja from FirstSiteGuide.com

Anja and her buddies have a wonderful site that’s full of helpful info and a wonderful free, in depth guide on blogging.

Go and check it out and tell them I said Hi :)

Mary Collings About Mary Collings
I've been a freelance writer for ten years. You name it - I've probably written it. I love working from home and I want to help you so that you can love it too. Hook up with me on Social Media and let's enjoy the journey together.

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