It seems like everyone is doing it. Perhaps you’ve been wondering if you should too.
No, I’m not talking about drugs, yoga, or buying a fidget spinner. I’m talking about starting a blog.
Blogging can be a great way to express yourself creatively, help other people, and even generate an income. But, there’s also a dirty secret most bloggers will never tell you.
95% — that’s an estimate of how many blogs are currently lying dormant according to one research study.
Some of the causes are unavoidable. A layoff, a move, a new baby, a tragedy, or simply a busy season of life can force your blogging ambitions to the back burner.
But many of the reasons bloggers quit are preventable with the right prep work.
Here are 4 steps you should take BEFORE starting a new blog to decide if it’s something you really want to do — and to reduce your odds of giving up later.
1. Figure out the mission of your blog and write an “about” page.
If you don’t know what your blog is about, you’re going to struggle to think of posts to write and your blog will likely slip into dormancy.
Plus, without a mission you care about, you’re also likely to run out of motivation and throw in the towel.
So even though this first step is hard, don’t skip it.
When I started my first blog, it took me three hours to write an “about” page. The reason?
Turns out, I didn’t know what the blog was about.
Taking the time to get that clarity helped my stay consistent in my effort and my messaging — and it all starts with a mission statement.
Here’s a template you can use to identify your blog’s mission statement:
I’m writing to help this kind of person get this kind of outcome by sharing this kind of content.
"I’m writing to help New England Patriots fans stay up to date on their favorite team by sharing injury reports, trade rumors, and post-game analysis."
"I’m writing to help new moms feel less overwhelmed by sharing tips for parenting infants, stories of other moms succeeding, and words of encouragement that validate how these women are feeling and remind them they have what it takes."
2. Choose a blog name that’s easy to stick with.
Since interests change over time, don’t lock yourself down with an uber specific domain name unless you’re positive it’s a good long-term fit.
Otherwise, you’ll have to start from scratch with a new website if you shift topics, and that extra work can be enough to retire your blogging goals.
For example, Bryan Harris founded videofruit.com to teach entrepreneurs how to create great video content. Fast forward a few years and he’s now focused on teaching online marketers how to increase the size of their email lists.
Since videofruit is a quirky and somewhat ambiguous name, Bryan was able to stick with it, and everything worked out fine. But other domain names are more restrictive, and if you think your focus might change in the future, keeping your URL a little more general can be a smart idea.
One thing that won’t change? Your name. Which is why many bloggers use it for their domain name.
3. Decide when and how often you will post.
If you want your blog to grow and persist, you can’t only post when you feel inspired to write. That’s simply not how professionals operate.
You have to share consistently to keep your readers (and yourself) from forgetting about your blog entirely.
The key to doing something consistently? Make it a habit. And according to MIT researchers, habits begin with a cue.
For example, I formed my writing habit around the cue of my wife taking a shower. Odd, but it works. At night, when my wife showers before bed, I get out my laptop and write.
This strategy of attaching an activity to a cue is called implementation intention, and it has been proven to increase your chances of incorporating new behaviors into your life.
So figure out a time when you will write. Select the day (or days) of the week when you will post.
Then, stick to your plan.
4. List out the first 10 posts you plan to write.
Sometimes we confuse caring deeply about a topic for having a lot to say, but they aren’t the same thing. And for the purpose of blogging consistently, having a lot to say is more important.
For this reason, a great final test to prevent your blog from quickly fizzling out is to brainstorm the first 10 posts you plan to write.
Start by revisiting the mission statement you created in Step 1.
For example, when I started my blog, my mission statement was…
"I’m writing to help creative people achieve their biggest goals by sharing stories of other people succeeding and posts about how to strengthen your mindset."
With this mission in mind, I wrote a post about how to be more optimistic, an article about how to replace limiting beliefs, and a post with quotes about self doubt and how to overcome it.
Note that you don’t need a complete understanding of what you’re going to write in each post — just a general idea.
So take the time to think of 10 ideas. Even if they’re unrefined, having these posts planned out will give you a roadmap to follow as you form a new blogging habit.
And if you can’t think of 10 post ideas? Reconsider whether this is the right mission for your blog.
Getting the fundamentals right can protect you from problems later.
My goal in this post is not to discourage you from blogging. On the contrary, I want to help you blog better. And choosing the right mission, the right name, and the right routine are intelligent steps to prime yourself for consistency and follow through.
If, as you complete these thought exercises, you realize the blog you envisioned might not be a smart choice, don’t panic. Just go back to Step 1, craft a new mission, and work through the steps again.