As is the way with these types of posts, I started writing this article hoping to try and fit it all into one, and soon realized that it just wasn’t going to happen. In reality, this post could have probably been 10x the length it is right now.
What follows is part 1, and part 2 will probably be posted sometime over the next few days. These are my 10 questions to ask yourself (in no particular order) before you start a blog (business or personal).
10. How much time can you devote to blogging?
The minute you announce you’re going to start a blog (either personal or business-based), everyone (whether they tell you, or not) will expect you to fail i.e. that you’ll do it for a few months, not receive the “results” you’re looking for/get bored, and pack it all in.
My advice is that if you don’t plan on updating at least twice a week, don’t even bother thinking about starting a blog! You’re just setting yourself up for failure. The obvious exception to this rule is with personal blogs, where you’re not really too bothered about anything other than it serving as a simple journal of your day-to-day “travels through life”.
I’m personally not the quickest at putting together a blog post. An average wine review will usually take upwards of 2 hours to write (including photography, HTML, links, research, fact checking etc.), and even after that, I’ll revisit it after it’s posted and still find mistakes/areas for improvement.
Food for thought…
9. How many contributors are you planning on working with?
When you announced to your friends, co-workers, family and pets that you decided you were REALLY passionate about starting a blog; did any of them offer to contribute to the content?
If they did, I’m going to advise you that it’s in your best interests to politely decline the help of any third party. My reason for saying this is simple. If you really have a passion for this, you’re only going to be disappointed when the quality/promptness of their efforts doesn’t match your own.
If this is a collaborative business blog, there isn’t too much you’re going to be able to do about it.
Just know that you’ll no doubt run into problems. I guarantee it.
8. Do you plan on making money from blogging?
If so, how? Also, how quickly do you want/need the actual results to be? Is paying your mortgage based on the success of your blog?
If money is your main motivation for starting a blog, it’s certainly not unachievable, but don’t expect immediate results. Blogs are really crappy ways to earn a living, especially if you’re looking for short-term gain.
On the other hand, once you get your blog established, you’ll no doubt receive offers to generate income via methods that you didn’t expect…just be prepared to potentially change-up your blog “business model” to suit accordingly.
7. How is your writing ability, and also your HTML skills?
It’s not the end of the world if you can’t write, but you should be at least half-decent (depending on how you want to define “half-decent”). I’m not a professional writer, and I’ve never claimed to be. If anything, I write as though I’m talking to you in person. It does go without saying that if you’re completely god-awful at writing, maybe a blog that’s heavy on videos might be a more suitable medium.
On the subject of HTML, if you don’t know “code” don’t worry, most blog platforms are reasonably “plug-and-play” in nature, but be prepared to learn (at least the basics). For what it’s worth, I use WordPress but I started on Blogger. Blogger is great for simple personal blogs, but if you’re more serious about it, WordPress is the way forward.
6. How thick is your skin?
Back in 2009 when my website was still in its infancy, I received these lovely comments within a few months on a few of my first posts:
“One word on this article: bogus. And please, until you learn something about wine, the economy, consumer habits, or wine trends, STOP POSTING.”
“Just want to know who the misguided, misinformed indididuals (sic) are writing this site. You really need to learn something about winemaking before embarrassing yourselves by printing fantasies couched as facts. It’s a problem in the age of the internet….You’re not alone…but you need to at least try to find out what’s really happening.”
– Jeff Morgan; Winemaker; Covenant Wines; Napa Valley
I should probably point out these were on two separate posts, and both criticizing extremely reputable sources from which I took my information/facts.
The point I’m going to make here is that not everyone will like what you’re doing, and even make you question your own integrity.You need to ask yourself, if you received comments like the above, would it make you want to quit?
Luckily, comments like this are few and far between, but if you’re planning on blogging about fairly controversial topics, you need to expect some negative feedback, and have the ability to handle them gracefully.