Once you really start getting into the practice of blogging, you start to see blog and post ideas for everything. With the rise in popularity of niche blogs, this is only getting truer. Particularly if you have a fairly good number of specialized interests, it can be extremely difficult to determine which interests would make better blogs or which interest would be better suited for your writing.
Questions to Ask Yourself
After the brainstorming period, you should have a whole bunch of ideas that may excite or intrigue you in different ways. Now is the time to refine the list of ideas through a series of questions. These questions are designed to signify whether the topic is right for you:
- How often do I think about this topic or idea a day? If you’re thinking about dedicating a whole blog to one topic, you must think about the topic multiple times a day at least. If you only think about it once or twice a week, you should probably cross it off your list for now.
- How many ideas or subtopics can I generate from this original topic? This answer can get somewhat tricky depending on what type of blog you have in mind. For instance, some blog themes are defined by form, rather than a particular topic (like an interview blog, photoblog, or satire blog), so they inherently allow tons of subtopics. However, other niche blogs are harder to branch from and expand. You want to have a lot of different ideas and subtopics to associate with your blog so you aren’t pigeonholed into one type of blog with little variation or flexibility.
- How familiar am I with this topic? This is one of the most difficult and important questions to ask yourself. You obviously want to be extremely knowledgeable in whatever topic you blog about so you can provide unique and valuable content that attracts loyal readers. Granted, you can always write a narrative blog about your explorations in a new field, but there has to be a significant reason why your perspective into this new field is insightful (perhaps you find surprising parallels in a seemingly unrelated field?).
- Who will read my blog? This is important to consider for a number of reasons. For marketing purposes, you need to consider who your readers are and cater content to their sensibilities and desires. For your own pleasure in blogging though, you must also consider whether you will enjoy corresponding with your prospective audiences.
- Why and to what extent do I actually care about this? This is fundamentally the most important question to consider and will probably make or break your blog. I know that it’s extremely tempting to blog about topics that seem easy to monetize, but if you don’t care about the topic for any other reason, it will show to your readers.
I’m going to skip a few steps here. Normally after brainstorming and then refining your list, you take your most promising ideas (top three, at most, works best for me) from your brainstorm and outline them in great detail. The questions above will definitely help this process, but it is also good to go through possible post ideas, design ideas, marketing strategies, and monetization strategies. For now, we’re going to say that we’ve done all of that and decided on which blog we want to write.
Now is the time to start writing posts. I would actually write your original few posts before starting design or writing any of the accessory pages (about me, etc.) because if you are struggling to write your first few posts, you should consider choosing a different topic. I recommend writing ten full posts at least before publishing. After writing your content, pick or create a design for your blog, but don’t publish anything yet.
Before publishing your blog, you should use this opportunity to put your new blog against a test audience. If you have a blog hosted on WordPress, then WordPress allows you create a blog that is “private” and therefore only available to people you give a unique link. If you are self-hosting a WordPress blog, then you will want to use a WordPress plugin (I recommend Absolute Privacy) which allows you to let others in through registration and passwords.
Who do you want as your test audience? I always think it’s a good idea to have some experienced bloggers (with a related topic to your new blog) take a look around and give you comments. Another good opportunity would be readers of any of your current blogs (particularly if they are somewhat related). Of course, those with strong backgrounds in your topic would also be extremely valuable. I would definitely try to limit it to people you know and trust because it would definitely be counter-intuitive to have a bunch of trolls ripping apart your posts before they’re even published. So shoot for fewer rather than more people, and invite them to be critical.
Evaluating the Test
This part is fairly self-explanatory. If you have a positive response, take away the privacy plugin, and start publishing your posts one at a time! If you receive some very thoughtful critiques, perhaps you should make some adjustments to your content or the angle you present it. If responses are overwhelmingly negative, you may want to hold off publishing or consider rewriting from a different perspective or highly altered topic. Then again, sometimes a plethora of negative responses on a blog can be a good thing; it might mean that your topics are controversial or provocative. You just have to be sure that people will actually want to read them.
This is a guest post by Alvina Lopez who is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com.