How Do I Know IF I Should Start Blogging?

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

There's tons of articles around that talk about how to start a blog and some touch on the whys and what not, but as I was thinking about this post, I knew I wanted to come from a different perspective.

So in this article, I'm not going to go into how to start a blog, but rather should you be blogging at all? I'm going to share the nitty gritty of what it's like to be a blogger from my point of view. I've been doing this for many years and I've learned a lot from my experience so I want to share it with you.

The first thing I would ask you is, why do you want to blog? Motive and purpose are key to why we make any decision in life. Some people have failed in their career as a blogger, because they got started for the wrong reasons. For example, I've heard these reasons: "I want to make quick money online and I heard blogging is a way to do that", "I really enjoy writing and I thought I could blog for a career". 

Nothing is wrong with wanting to blog, even as a full-time career, but let me warn you...you WON'T make quick money doing it AND you can't start a career in blogging if you have no money set aside to live on nor monies to invest. Now that said, if none of these examples applies to you, that's fine, we'll talk about blogging for personal reasons and/or as a hobby later in this post.

So, What Does It Take to be a Successful Blogger?

  • Patience and time. These two traits go hand in hand. It can take years to build a readership and so consistent writing is key. Being patient comes in, because there will be times when you might wonder why you're doing it at all when you put in the time to write a post and weeks go by without any comments. And, this is why the motive and purpose is so important. In my case, I went through this, and still do at times, and I always go back to why I'm blogging in the first place which is: "I have something to say", "something to share", and "something to sell."
  • Unique content creation. When preparing to write posts for this blog, I do a lot of praying, soul searching, and reading comments I get. I also do a LOT of research into what topics I believe my readers would be interested in for the industry I'm in. It's not enough to write about what's on my mind if I have no direction for how to gain the interest of viewers and after all; that's what blogging is about - building readership. So writing from your heart is key and not taking an article you read and changing a line here and there. Your blog will be in competition with thousands of others so you have to make yours stand out from the rest.
  • Good photography. Visual is in and it's so important to have good photos of blog posts. And I suggest taking your own photos if possible which might mean investing in good camera equipment. Read my Guest Blogger Week Post here where I interviewed my husband, Ken McDougal who is a professional nature photographer. Before he started specializing in nature and scenic, he worked for more than 20 years in commercial photography so he has a lot of knowledge about composition and lighting. If you are not able to get a good camera, you can also purchase stock photos which is what I do a lot. My reason is, I don't have as much time because I work full-time and can only blog part time so buying stock photos is a great option. Another good tip is looking through public domain photos, however, I caution you to do your homework and ensure that you have permission to use free photos. And if you're not sure of the copyright for a photo, write the photographer and ask permission. They might not mind so long as you give them credit for the picture, but it's always good to air on the side of caution and not break any laws.
  • Money. The amount of money needed will depend and vary on the type of blog you want to do. For me, my investments come in the form of: stock photography, domain renewal, monthly web hosting, and product supplies since I crochet and knit to sell online. Now, I cut down on my expenses by moving my blog from WordPress to Blogger and you can read why I did that here. However, if you decide to blog using WordPress, then you may have to spend monies on a good theme and/or plugins that will add more features to your blog where needed. Saving money to put into a separate fund is a good idea and maintaining an Excel spreadsheet to keep up with where the monies are being spent, ex., advertising, hosting, supplies, etc.
  • Time and Commitment. This is an ongoing trait that every blogger must possess if we want to have success. Writing a post involves several steps: (a) researching the topic; (b) finding or taking the right images; (c) writing the post; and (d) publishing it over social medias. Read my Guest Blogger Week post where I interviewed Jo Kent, author of "What's On My Heart Today".
  • Marketing/Advertising. I spend just as much time on advertising my posts as I do writing them. The days of just doing SEO on blogs are over. There are viewers that will only find out about a blog by using social and some only use Facebook or Instagram. Some may focus on Twitter while others prefer Pinterest. Whichever social networks you use, you'll need to decide which ones you will focus on and then you'll want to do some automation, like IFTTT, for your posts so that you won't have to manually publish posts to several social outlets. Also, publishing isn't enough, engaging with followers through comments and answering messages timely is also essential in building readership and repeat customers.
  • Believe in what you're doing. This is very important, because you may not get a whole lot of fan fair from friends or family. They might even think you're crazy for wanting to pursue blogging as a career. I've heard it said many times, "And...you can really make money doing that?". It's hard to believe, but it's not impossible. It just takes a lot of work, discipline, and commitment. You may even have to go it alone for awhile until the proof is in the pudding meaning you begin to build a following, sell some products, or even partner with sponsors. The bottom line is, if you don't believe in the value of your content, chances are no one else will either.
Breaking Down my Motive and Purpose for Blogging

For me, I knew I wanted to be a full-time blogger many years ago when I first started my food blog. My purpose then was a little different, but it stuck in my heart and I knew I wanted to share my mother's recipes that I had recorded since I was 12 years old. That experience brought me much joy as I met many wonderful people that I'm still friends with today. However, one of the main differences with that blog and where I am today is that I'm doing it now as my career and not just for personal reasons. The selling part is producing crochet, knitting items, as well as affiliate marketing of products that I use and recommend.

The sharing part of my motive comes from the many years I have been a business owner working from home. I started in January 1999 and I've learned a lot of lessons, some good, some not so good. Part of my blogging is to share my knowledge with others who are in their own businesses and need a little push or encouragement or for anyone seeking to become self-employed.

The saying part is my faith in Jesus Christ which is the most important thing to me. My life has changed so much since I became a born-again Christian. And, I take my Lord into my business and everyday life. I want to share my relationship with Jesus to hopefully brings others to Him and encourage other Christians to strengthen their walk with Jesus as well as my own. These posts called, "Growing Up in Grace" are derived from my previous blog of the same name that I moved to kimmcdougal.com.

Are You Discouraging me to Start a Blog?

Certainly NOT! I welcome anyone to follow what they enjoy doing for a living. I have spent many years in jobs I disliked and life is too short to be in a job that's unfulfilling. As I said, I just want to put some reality and truth into blogging so that if you decide to do it, you won't be taken off guard as to the amount of work it takes to make it successful. I learned a lot of this the hard way and I can't tell you how many times when I'm researching a topic, I come across so many abandoned blogs. It's possible that other extenuating circumstances happened that caused the author to stop blogging, however, in many cases it's because:

  • The author had a hard time coming up with new content
  • Blog taking too long to build a readership
  • Too much time was needed
  • Couldn't invest money to keep the blog running
  • Needed to work outside the home
I highly recommend considering these points and if you still have that longing and feeling to create your own content + you've done your homework, then I say go for it! 

Blogging for Personal Reasons or Hobby

If you're wanting to start a blog and earning money is NOT your objective, of course your experience will be of a different nature. However, some of the same traits will still apply:

  • Time and commitment
  • Good photography/images
  • Writing unique content
  • Marketing/Advertising
  • Patience
Blogging is a great way to stay busy if you're retired or looking to do some volunteer work. Building readership for you is still very essential, because you want your content to reach and engage visitors. Definitely, I recommend starting out knowing and even writing down your purpose for starting the blog, the kind of content you intend to share, and how you will advertise it.

With any career or hobby, there's pros and cons. In my case, blogging has more pros than cons and the feeling it leaves me, whether or not I get a single comment (of course I want comments), is a sense of achievement, personal satisfaction, and indeed fulfilling than any job I've ever had and that's how I knew that blogging is the perfect career for me. 

If you've come this far, thanks for reading! And, if you'are a regular blogger, tell me how you knew it was what you wanted to do!

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