How to start a Blog: Lesson One

There are a ton of resources out there for anyone who wants to start a blog.  Some are paid, some are free, in any case, you get what you pay for.  I am not interested in competing with any of those folks with a paid course, hell, I’ve probably purchased it and gotten great information from them.  I’m not going to regurgitate what some guru is telling you about how and why you need a blog, they’re probably right.  What I am going to show you is how to begin when you don’t have a clue.

There are practical steps and there are thinking steps.  We’re going to start with the thinking steps first.  I know it’s more fun to start with the doing, but that won’t get you closer to your goals, so let’s being with the thinking.

  • Why do you want a blog?
    • Is it an online diary of sorts?
    • Do you have a burning need to share your life?
    • Did you hear that there is money to be made with a blog?
    • Do you have a product you want to share?
    • How about a solution to someone else’s problem?

^^^that last one – that’s the one you want to focus on!  Write a blog because you can solve a problem.

What does that mean, exactly? When someone searches online, they often type a question in to Google, or Siri, or Alexa – whoever their favorite Avatar is, they say, OK Google, find me the best restaurant near me, or Alexa, Alexa, ALEXA, (my music was too loud) why is the flag at half-mast today?, or Siri, tell me the actor’s name in Roadhouse.  I suppose those are all problems to be solved, it is at least information we want.  If no one wrote about them, we couldn’t find the answers.  So, we could solve those kinds of problems, or maybe we can go bigger?

How about, how do I format page numbers in Word? What are prime numbers? How do I start a blog? How do I do the Crow Pose? What kind of items do hotel guests expect?  How do I fit a pdf in to Illustrator? You get the picture, these are all problems someone has that need to be solved, if we don’t write about it, someone else will.

So starting a blog begins with your Why.  Many people attribute that to your underlying Why – but I’ve discovered that no matter how you couch your underlying Why – it all comes down to one thing.  I do what I do to have more freedom to do what I want to do. Whether that is time with your family, time to travel, ability to quit your job, call it what you want, it still is to have more Freedom.

But, I digress, we’re back to How can I solve a problem someone has?

First, determine the problem you have the solution for
Second, write about it.  That’s your blog.

Now that you know the problem, it’s time to decide who you are going to solve it for.  No, the answer is not Everybody.  Because everybody doesn’t share your problem and everybody can’t relate to your solution.  But some can.  Before you can have an audience of everybody, you need to have an audience of one.

Yep, just one person, one person you can solve the problem for.  Who is that?  Who are you talking to when you write? Can you picture them?  Is it someone you know?  Sometimes it’s easier to pick someone we know and pretend we’re talking to them.  Be sure it’s someone you like to talk to because the two of you are going to spend a lot of time together.  Maybe not in the same room, but they will be in your head constantly – they are the one with the problem you can solve, they will bring that problem back to you over and over again.  Your job is to keep offering them solutions, once you fix the first problem, there will be more to follow.  Name your audience if you need to, keep them always at the forefront, it will help you.

Write a description of that person, find a picture that represents them, wouldn’t it be fun to keep a random framed photo on your desk to remind you who you’re talking to?  It’s like writing a letter to your best friend, it keeps you honest and authentic.  It keeps you in your voice.

Our next step is to name our blog.  Don’t get too hung up here, this requires a brainstorming session.  If you can, go to lunch with your favorite people and ask for help.  Tell them as much as you want to about your project, and then start writing down ideas.  You are not going to Google names to see if they are available.  Right now, you are just going to put them on paper, or in your phone.  Here’s some things you should know about brainstorming:

  • all ideas matter
  • don’t discount an idea immediately, just write it down
  • never tell a fellow brainstormer that one of their ideas is dumb, just write it down
  • talk about the qualities of your audience
  • don’t get hung up on format, long form ideas work too
  • set a timer for ten minutes and challenge the group to 25 ideas in 10 minutes
  • be sure someone is responsible for being the scribe
  • laugh a little, this is fun

I love brainstorming, it helps if everyone has been fed, keeps the creative juices flowing.  When your ten minutes are up, go back through the ideas and see if anyone loves them, look for iterations of your original ideas.

Then sleep on it.  This is a big decision, don’t rush it.

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