Welcome to part one of my new series on starting a blog, both aimed a people new to blogging and perhaps as a handy refresher to those who are currently writing a blog but who want to start a new blog up. The posts won’t necessarily be daily, but they will be regular as we explore each stage of starting a blog.
Part 1: What to blog about
Often what should be the most simplest of things can often be the hardest as well, and choosing what to blog about can be really easy for some people, and really difficult for others. Take The Blog Herald as an example, I’d been reading blogs for 2 years before I launched The Blog Herald, and I knew from the first time I read a blog that I wanted to write one, but I couldn’t figure out on what, so eventually one day in 2002 it dawned on my that I liked blogs so much I’d write a blog about blogging…but we’ll leave the rest of that story for another day, but it does prove a point, sometimes knowing what to write about doesn’t come easily.
Personal vs Topical
There are essentially two sorts of blogs, one is a personal diary-style of blog that is written in the first person and relates to happenings in your immediate physical world and other thoughts and bits and pieces on things. For my why of thinking this is often the hardest style of blog to write, particularly if you are over the Age of 25. Teens seemingly have little of no inhibitions in relation to this style of writing, but for me it was something I wasn’t comfortable in doing. People who are naturally extroverts will be more comfortable than people who are more introverted.
A topical blog on another hand is a blog that may include opinions, but is focused on a particular subject (or topic). Political blogs where amongst the earliest of this style of blog, but the range of topics now covered go beyond anything I’d care to try and articulate in this post. There is literally a blog for every topic now, but some topics are better catered to than others.
Finding a niche
Marketing yourself under a personal blog to the blogosphere is a lot more difficult than writing a niche topic blog, because unless you are particularly well known, or have exceptional writing skills (and even this isn’t a guarantee), its going to be a lot more harder to gain attention in the blogosphere as opposed to a topical blog.
Before I go on though, I should mention there is a variation to the personal blog rule, and that’s writing under a pseudonym, or with a catchy blog name for your personal blog. Marketing is the key, and names like Dooce are more interesting as compared to say Heather Armstrong (no offence of course Heather), catchier, shorter, easy to remember….easier to market.
For the first time blogger though, unless you are extremely confident, I’d recommend starting with a topical blog. Even if it eventually ends up on the blog graveyard later on, its much better to develop your blogging skills on a topic as opposed to writing about yourself as an individual. Naturally the topic would reflect one of your interests as well, perhaps its a hobby, or a sport you play or watch…something along those lines. General rule of thumb: the more niche the better.
Google your topic area once you’ve settled on something and see what others are writing about it. Use the keyword(s) and search with “blog” on the end as well, and browse. Take hours if necessary. You’ll figure out pretty quickly whether
1. The topic has a high number of blogs or low number
2. Whether, in your opinion, there is room for your blog, in particular if you have a different point of view from others
These don’t have to prevent your starting a blog in that area, but its important to know your market, and you can also gain inspiration from other blogs.