Before You Start A Blog Read This!

Before You Start A Blog Read This!

This post may contain affiliate links.  You can read my disclosure policy here.

Starting a blog can be overwhelming, especially when you already work full time, are a parent to small children and have a to-do list that never seems to end.  To make matters worse there is almost too much information on the internet about how to start a blog.

Where do I start?  Who should I trust?  How do I prevent myself from becoming overwhelmed with information?

And most importantly, how do I even find the time to start a blog when my schedule is already crazy busy?

The thing about blogging is that it is a marathon, NOT a sprint. It is also not a get rich fast (or maybe ever) scheme.   It is a TON of work.  So, if you are not considering it as a long term project then quite frankly I would strongly consider whether you want to start a blog in the first place.

But you are still reading this so I’m going to assume you really do want to start a blog .  And I’m so glad.  Because I love blogging and I love talking about blogging even more!

laptop computer for a blogger

Here are a 5 important things to consider BEFORE starting a blog:

1.  Find your niche

For me, this one was easy.  I am very passionate about two things:  nursing and motherhood.  (And, well, my husband & other loved ones too, but for the sake of having a blog, you need to find YOUR specific niche that you can passionately write about).

Someone once told me this:  “Before you start a blog you must find your niche.  Then, take your niche and niche it down even more.”  In essence, you need to get really super specific.

For example, if I just called myself a “nurse blogger” that doesn’t say very much about who I am or what my niche is about (except, of course, that I am one of 2.2 million other nurses in the US).  It also doesn’t tell you anything about how I might be able to add any value to a reader.  It’s just too vague.

Instead I am a “nurse mom lifestyle blogger who helps other nurses take better care of themselves with an emphasis on self-care.”  I like to think of myself as a nurse advocate.  That sounds a little better, doesn’t it?

It seems counter-intuitive that niche-ing down helps bloggers perform better but it really does.  It increases your engagement with a very specific group and you have the opportunity to be an expert in a small area.  You just can’t be everything to everyone, and you can’t be an expert at everything.

2.  What will your name be?

Many bloggers want their name to reflect their niche.  I’ll use myself as an example again:  my blog name is Mother Nurse Love and my niche is nurse moms and self love.  Pretty self explanatory.

But it doesn’t have to be that way if you don’t want it to.  Your name can be anything you want it to be (although it might be a little more interesting if you are able to have a little story behind it!).

It is, however, important to put a lot of consideration into your name for the following reasons:

  • Your blog name is going to be with you for a long time.  You will be known for it.
  • It is difficult (but not impossible) to change it later on down the line.
  • Bloggers generally use their blog names for their social media handles as well.  Again, this just makes it harder for you to re-brand in the future (so start with the right name!)

Just make sure your name is not offensive or is sending a message that does not reflect you well.

(In the book The Nurses Guide To Blogging, co-author Kati Klieber, talks about how when she first started out her blogging name was Nurse Eye Roll.  While many RN’s can relate to Nurse Eye Roll as a funny title, when she started getting more popular in the blogging world she became concerned that her blog name was sending the wrong message to brands and followers.  She ultimately had to do a complete re-brand and changed her name to FreshRN.  She is now more popular than ever the nurse blogging community, but I’m sure it was a huge pain in the butt at the time.)

A word of advice:  I strongly suggest that you figure out what your blog name will be BEFORE setting up a WordPress blog with Bluehost.

3.  What is your end goal with your blog?

Do you want a hobby blog?  Or are you trying to start a side hustle/business?  You don’t have to make this decision right away, but it’s something to keep in mind, especially if you are planning on growing an email list and monetizing your blog at some point.

First things first though.  You need to starting writing blog posts.  A lot of them.  And they need to be good.

By now you have probably heard the phrase “content is king.”  Well, frankly, it is.  And if your end goal is to have a growing, thriving blog, then your writing and your voice need to be honed in nicely.

After you have a functioning website up and running then it might be a good time to start expanding your reach.

If your end goal is lots of website traffic you need to start with Pinterest AND focus on Search Engine Optimization

Pinterest will get you page views faster – but great SEO will rank you higher in Google searches and is great for the long haul.  Right now I focus on both to grow my website traffic.

You may not know this, but Pinterest is NOT a social media platform.  Its a visual search engine.  It has changed tremendously over the last year and continues to have algorithm updates almost weekly (or so it seems!)  Mastering Pinterest takes a lot of work and if you want more traffic sooner then you need to invest in a course.

Here is a great resource for you understand and better utilize Pinterest:  a blogger colleague of mine, Megan Johnson, created Pinterest Ninja to help people increase their blog pages views by the thousands.  I did the course when I was on maternity leave and have been able to increase my page views from 0 to 500-1000/day within a few months. Seriously, read some of her reviews.

Know this- if your goal IS to monetize your blog you will need to invest in a few courses to help move you forward.  Otherwise, blogging is a lonely, frustrating island.)

4.  How much time will you be able to dedicate?

Most adults have a full time job and/or kids that they need to manage before they can put work time into blogging.  So as much as we intend to dive right into writing 7 posts a week, for many of us that is just not realistic.

I am a mother of 2 very small children, a nurse working 12 hour shifts, a wife and a homemaker.  So, like most other working women bloggers, I’m super freaking busy 99% of the time.  However, through practicing hyper-vigilant time management and forgoing a little shut eye at night I am managing to squeeze 5-10 hours into my blog every week.  And I am still able to produce some decent and valuable content on a fairly consistent basis.

Eventually, my children with be in school and at that time I will be able to dedicate more time to content creation and website management.  But for now I am still making an impact and earning a little money every day.

Try making a tentative blogging schedule for yourself and stick to it.  Like I mentioned before, blogging is a marathon, not a sprint and it takes time to grow.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or trying to sell you something.

5.  Are you OK with being vulnerable?

When I first started blogging it took me a week to write my first posts.  The reason it took me so long was that I kept going back and censoring my post from its original content.  Mostly I was afraid of offending someone.  I kept thinking “what if they leave a negative comment on my site?

It took me a few months to stop being so hard on myself.  After all, this is my blog, I own it, and therefore I am allowed to talk about whatever I want.  If someone has something negative to say, so what?  Besides, aren’t I trying to start a dialog for nurse moms?

(A blogging collage once shared some encouraging words:  she said “you’ll know when your really doing well with your blog when you get a nasty comment on your site.  That’s when the trolls start to find you.”  Wise words.)

Vulnerability can be powerful for a new blogger.  Once you decide that you are going to be authentic with your writing you actually gain momentum with your messaging.  You allow your writing to be more creative and natural.  It’s an inspired feeling and your readers will appreciate getting to know you better.

(A few final thoughts to mention before hitting publish:  Are you hurting anyone or belittling a person or community?  Words are powerful so use them to create positivity and to help find solutions to problems.  Create value.  Spread the love.)

Here are a few more posts you may be interested in reading!

Recommended blogging courses and resources for new bloggers:

You need to know by now – if your goal IS to monetize your blog you must invest in a few courses to help move you forward.  Otherwise, blogging is a lonely, frustrating island.

  • Nurse Blogging 101: Healthcare Media Academy –  If you are a nurse or other healthcare blogger, I highly recommend starting with this one.  Creators Brittany Wilson and Kati Kleber are both published, award-winning authors who are also considered the Godmothers in nurse blogging.  They are especially great because they go into more detail about patient privacy concerns and other considerations that healthcare bloggers need to be aware of.
  • Pinterest Ninja:  If you want to understand how Pinterest can grow blog traffic you need this Pinterest Ninja Course.  A blogger colleague of mine, Megan Johnson, created Pinterest Ninja to help people increase their blog pages views by the thousands.  I did the course when I was on maternity leave and I was able to increase my blog traffic exponentially in just over one month.    Seriously, read some of her reviews.  Her course is invaluable.
Recommended Blogging Resources For New Bloggers

Recommended Blogging Resources For New Bloggers

This post contains affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.

Blogging can be overwhelming and confusing for a novice blogger.  After all, with hundreds of thousands of blogs already swirling among the internet, how is a new blogger supposed to stand out?

When I was just starting out as a new blogger I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  I searched the internet for information for months.  Then, I became overwhelmed because there is almost too much information.  Who is a new blogger supposed to trust?

Now that I have an established blog up and running I am often asked for recommendations on different tools, training,  and other resources  available for new bloggers. And I am always asked what tools I use to run my blogs.

These conversations encouraged me to put together a list of recommended blogging resources that have been instrumental in my success as a new blogger (I will add to this list as I continue to try new things!)

WordPress

Admittedly, I did not use WordPress when I was first starting my own blog.

Instead, I started with Squarespace (which is both easy to use and pretty, but not as good with SEO and has no plugin options).  After I realized how many limitations I had I finally switched over to WordPress.  It was a huge pain in the rear, it caused me a lot of unnecessary stress and I lost time I will never get back.

Here are a few reasons why WordPress is the way to go:

  • Its beginner friendly:  you do NOT need coding knowledge to create perfectly functioning website
  • WordPress themes and plugins give you almost unlimited flexibility:  Once you are more advanced with WordPress you are able to customize every aspect of your site as you see fit (or you can be like me and pay someone else to do it, the point being that you CAN customize your site more in the future).
  • WordPress helps you rank higher in search engines:  If your goal is high traffic to your site, then WordPress is the gold standard platform you need to be using.  Not only is WordPress already well-optimized for search engines, but there is an amazing plugin called Yoast SEO that helps me make sure my SEO is on point.
  • Support is available whenever you need it:  There is a WordPress support forum and a ton of online tutorials and courses

(Read more about how to set up a WordPress website on Bluehost here)

Bluehost

A blog host is the company that provides the space on its servers and equipment to store your blog.  There are free options out there but I would not use them for the following reasons:

  • Free blogs appear less professional
  • You would have to have the “blogger” or “wordpress” in your domain name.
  • Your have less control over your blog when you use free hosting.  CSS functions and theme selections are limited, and you have little control over expanding your websites capabilities.
  • Free platforms often limit advertising options, which makes it harder to make money if the future if you plan to monetize your blog.

I recommend Bluehost for several reasons:

  • Customer service is excellent.
  • Good pricing-  you can start your blog for as low as $3.95 a month.   Bluehost is the is one of the top web hosting companies available and for $3.95 a month, its a good deal.
  • Free domain
  • 24/7 support
  • 30 day money back guarantee

(Read more about how to set up a WordPress website on Bluehost here)

Yoast SEO WordPress plugin

Search Engine Optimization is a very important tool that helps bloggers rank higher on google and other search engines and helps readers find you on the internet.

Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin helps bloggers optimize for keywords, keyphrases and synonyms, and related keywords.  When optimized correctly, it makes your website more visible to people looking for your specific content.  You goal, if you want to be a successful blogger, is to rank #1 in search engine results.  Yoast SEO Plugin can help you get that spot.

How it works:    You can enter the keyword or keyphrase you’d like your post or page to rank for in the search results. Yoast SEO Plugin then runs a check on your content to check whether you’re using the keywords often enough – but not too often – and in the right spots.

(I love this plugin so much that I pay annually for the premium version)

Recommended blogging resources for new bloggers

Editorial Calendar (EPIC Blog)

I am almost completely paperless, except for my editorial calendar (which I use as a hard copy for pretty much everything that goes into my blog).  You can find editorial calendars online, but I have found that by using my hard copy of EPIC blog and my scheduler on WordPress that I stay super organized.  I always manage to stay on top of deadlines.

At some point I would love to create my own editorial calendar for bloggers.  Until then, my EPIC blog editorial calendar is super helpful!

Keyword Planner

If you ever want to rank in a google search you must research your keywords.  Otherwise, how do you know if anyone is actually searching for the keywords you are trying to rank for?

Keyword Planner is actually a FREE Google Ads tool for advertisers.  However, it also makes a great tool for bloggers to find the keywords that people type into Google.

Pinterest

Did you know that Pinterest is a search engine, NOT a social media platform? (Its actually more like Google then it is Instagram, Facebook or Twitter!).

Pinterest has been so helpful for my blog growth.  In fact, many bloggers I know are making a lot (if not most) of their income from pinning on Pinterest.

Pinterest group boards are great for generating more traction to your blog (a group board is a community board where other pinners can pin and, if popular, can give your pins more exposure).

Keep in mind that SEO is the ultimate goal for blog growth, but Pinterest can help you gain website traffic in the short-term.

Check out my Pinterest board at www.pinterest.com/mothernurselove and if you are a nurse blogger please join my Nurse Bloggers Group Board!

Pinterest Ninja

Pinterest has changed tremendously over the last year and seems have algorithm updates almost weekly.   Mastering Pinterest takes a lot of work and if you want more traffic sooner then you want to invest in a course.

If you want to understand how Pinterest can grow blog traffic you need the Pinterest Ninja Course.

A blogger colleague of mine, Megan Johnson, created Pinterest Ninja to help people increase their blog pages views by the thousands.  I did the course when I was on maternity leave and I was able to increase my blog traffic from 0-1000/day in just over one month.    Seriously, read some of her reviews.  Her course is invaluable.

(You need to know by now – if your goal IS to monetize your blog you must invest in a few courses to help move you forward.  Otherwise, blogging is a lonely, frustrating island.)

Tailwind

If you are a blogger chances are you are super busy and don’t have time for pinning on Pinterest.  With Tailwind, you won’t have to find time daily to post Pins.   Sit down once a week (or month) and let Tailwind post for you – at the best times every day.

In addition, Pinterest analytics can tell you which content is resonating with pinners. So you can make more of the kind people are interacting with, and make improvements to the ones that aren’t.

Tailwind does all this:

  • Schedules your posts
  • Posts at the best times for engagement
  • Discovers related content you can share
  • Connects you with pinners to share content in Tribes (I love Tailwind Tribes- it is a premium feature that gives you additional reach with Tribes boards)
  • Amplifies your reach
  • And you can measure your results in analytics!

Tailwind saves me valuable time so I can spend more time on other important tasks, like content creation.

PicMonkey

PicMonkey allows me to make amazing graphic designs for my blog and Pinterest account.  I also use it for making blog post headers, watermarks, Instagram photos, my logo, and so many other things I need a graphic design for.

With PicMonkey I can make my graphic designs easily:

  • I pick a pre-sized canvas or customizable template
  • I can add fonts, graphics, logos, and textures.
  • My designs are auto-saved to the PicMonkey hub for later.

Check out my Pinterest board at www.pinterest.com/mothernurselove to see how much I have been able to design with PicMonkey.

Click this link to sign-up for a free PicMonkey trial today!

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a marketing automation platform that helps me share email and ad campaigns with my email list.   It took me a while to start my email list and I regret not starting my email list sooner!

Mailchimp is ideal for beginners who want to grow their lists and create campaigns because it is FREE until you have up to 2,000 total subscribers (at that point you have to pick a paid plan).

Amazon affiliates

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways people can make money online.   It is a strategy that bloggers can use to earn a commission by promoting other people’s products.  For example, if I find a product or service I like, I can promote it to my readers and earn a small commission for the referral.

I really think that Amazon affiliates is the easiest platform for new bloggers to start using affiliate marketing.  Its the biggest affiliate program out there and you can find almost anything on Amazon.   (Read more about why Amazon is a great affiliate for new bloggers).

Trello

Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, you can look at everything you are working on and where you are in the process.

I am almost entirely paper-free (except for my EPIC blog editorial calendar).  Trello makes it very easy for me to keep ALL my to do lists organized, right from my phone or computer.  Best of all, if you start working with a Virtual Assistant or another blogger on a progect you can easily add contributors to your Trello account.

Unsplash

Need free stock photos?   Unsplash is a website dedicated to sharing royalty-free stock photography from over 100,000 contributing photographers.  I use Unsplash photos frequently for my Pinterest graphics and blog header photos.

As a brand new blogger you don’t need to be spending any money on stock photography.  However, as your blog grows you are going to want to look into paying a few dollars for your images (eventually you start to recognize the free photos from the stock photos because everyone else is using them too).

Upwork & Firver

Upwork and Frver are global freelancing platforms where you can hire people online who can help you grow your blog.   You can find a freelancer to do pretty much anything you want them to for your blog for a fee.

I just hired my first freelancer through Upwork recently and I was very happy with the affordable assistance I received with a few technical issues I was having on my blog.  It saved me hours!

Courses

As with any new business, you will need to invest a little money so you can learn the ropes from people who actually know what they are talking about.

Here are two blogging experts that I can, in good faith, recommend. (If you don’t believe me, look at their recommendations.  They are amazing!).

  • Building A Framework:  By Abby Lawson-  This was the first blogging course I ever took and it pretty much covers everything you need to know about setting up a blog from scratch.   It is easy to follow and highly actionable.
  • Nurse Blogging 101: Healthcare Media Academy –  If you are a nurse or other healthcare blogger, I highly recommend starting with this one.  Creators Brittany Wilson and Kati Kleber are both published, award-winning authors who are also considered the Godmothers in nurse blogging.  They are especially great because they go into more detail about patient privacy concerns and other considerations that healthcare bloggers need to be aware of.

I will keep adding to this list as I find additional recommended resources for new bloggers.  Good luck blogging and let me know if you have any questions!

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