The unconventional way to start a new blog
I think most bloggers recommend a flawed approach to starting a new blog. Here’s a new way to get started that I think will save you time (and definitely money) in the long run.
But first, a bit of backstory. When I started my podcast (Figuring It Out), I spent foreverrrrr setting up a website. I wanted to put a professional foot forward, plus I read all these snazzy articles about how SEO would help my podcast reach an audience. I didn't know much, but I knew a website and great domain were musts.
But here’s the thing. Yes, websites are important. And yes, SEO is real. But SEO doesn’t matter if you have a blank website with zero podcasts to share.
How to start a blog (normal advice)
A lot of bloggers - no surprise - talk about how to start a blog, complete with how-to guides. It makes sense for them to share what worked for them, and how you can follow their advice to launch with similar success.
But after reading through dozens of posts called "How to start a blog," I realized that most follow a very similar formula:
Choose a topic
Buy a domain
Set up your website
...what?! Does anyone else feel like we really skipped to the finish line here?
If I follow these posts' guidelines, I spend at best 2.5 seconds on topic selection before moving onto the main event: buying a domain. (Ok, maybe some do allow a whopping 10 minutes to stew on your topic. Worse yet, some jump right past this step and assume you know what you're doing.)
And I get it. Buying a domain is fun and cheap, so you get an immediate adrenaline hit. You did a thing! You bought something and you're IN!
Plus to be brutally honest, I'm pretty sure most bloggers are all affiliate for Bluehost, so their main goal is to get you to sign up through their link. (*No shame in the affiliate game. But my beef here is that I don't personally believe that "how to start a blog" and "how to set up your website" are the same topic.)
Ulterior (but well meaning) motives aside, this method has you jumping to buy a domain...for what? Think about it. You buy a domain, and THEN you start thinking about the types of posts you want to write?
Maybe it's just me, but that all seems a little backwards.
The underrated, free way to start a blog
The biggest thing that the domain-first approach misses is the chance for you to try out the most critical part of blogging.
ACTUAL BLOG POST WRITING.
Allow me to present the radical what-I-wish-I'd-done method to start a blog if you're brand new (or want to establish a more intentional niche):
1. Choose your topic. (Don't buy a domain yet.)
2. Brainstorm 15 blog post ideas for your topic. (Don't buy a domain yet.)
3. Write 3 full blog posts. (Don't buy a domain yet.)
Here's what I'm getting at. Before you start a blog, I want you to try writing actual blog posts in your niche to see if you enjoy writing. You can use any writing tool like Microsoft Word, Evernote, Google Docs, or hey, even a written notebook :)
I also want you to validate your idea a bit by seeing if you can come up with 10-15 ideas. (Blogging isn't an overnight fix, and consistency is the key to growing a successful blog. So if you can't think of at least 10 blog post ideas, you may want to reconsider something about your concept.)
Once you have those first three posts, not only do I think you're ready for a domain name, but I think you might also feel more confident in your domain name because you've validated your interest in your blog topic. You'll also have starter content to work with when you do find your domain and start setting up your site.
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