3 Things to do BEFORE launching your own (personal) blog

It's been almost 4 years since I jumped into the blogosphere now and, although I cannot for sure be considered a great blogger, given the amount of time I spent with a blog and reading about blogs, I have gained a certain amount of experience on blogging.

Most importantly, even if very discontinuously, my blog survived for several years.

Which is not what happens with most blogs. During my blogging career, several people has asked me how to start a blog and, alas, I have witnessed several blogs, even very good one, rise and die (or at least go into deep coma) in a more or less very short time.

This is mainly due to two concurrent reasons: lack of readers and lack of involvement from the author (i. e. lack of new posts). In order to reduce the possibility of new blogs prematurely passing away, I have written this short list of things to do before launching your new blog, with an eye to personal blogs, which are rarely covered by the countless articles and guides to blogging you can find on the internet.

1) Prepare at least 10-15 posts. One of the most common reason of death for young blogs is the sudden interruption of post flows. Blogging is a time consuming activity, so get ready for it. We all have seen this: you start filled with enthusiasm, you write a lot, maybe for a week or so and then, your old life as a non-blogger kicks in and you leave your blog for a while. And the more time you spend without writing, the less you write. Then nobody comes to read your blog, because there's not much to read. And the blog dies. My advice is: have at least one month worth of posts ready before you start publishing. Many people suggest that, at least for the first month, you should post something everyday. I have never been able to do that, but when I post regularly for a while, I see a steady rise in readers, so I now try to publish every 2-3 days or so. The 10-15 posts, then are a good buffer of written material that covers a whole month.

2) Find your niche. This is possibly the most abused piece of advice you get on blogs about blogging. The problem is that it doesn't work for your personal blog: in your personal blog you will want to talk about whatever interests you, and that's probably more than one topic. But here's the twist: in your personal blog you can create actually a niche by intersecting several macrotopics you are talking about. What you really have to do is select a few topics that you will be talking about more often than not. How you do it? First you guess, by just scanning your interests and thinking about those you have more to talk about. And select 3-5 of them (or even less, if you are able to). If you are actually preparing your buffer of posts as I suggested before, you will actually easily find out what are the real topics you can easily write about. Try to stick to them as the main theme of your blog. You can always change them and write about something else whenever you feel to, but if you have a few main topics, your blog will be much better defined, you will have more post ideas (yes, sometimes limiting yourself can actually be a good thing), and you will have much clearer ideas about how to promote your blog, if you ever feel the need to.

3) Find out potential readers. As I said before, there's a million and one blog posts about "finding a niche" for your blog, but this doesn't apply well to personal blogs. So how can you "find your customers" if you are not really marketing anything? When you are preparing to launch your blog, you want to think about your followers on facebook, twitter, the people in your circles on Google+ and, most importantly, the blogs you frequent. Be active on your social networks in the days preceding the launch of your blog and when you have published your first few posts, ask directly and politely to the people you know if they want to read your blog. And if you can think of someone you know who could be interested in something you've just written, "advertise" your post directly. People usually tend to comply to simple requests from their friends, so you might well exploit this fact. Remember that your first readers will be the one that keep you writing, so this step is quite important. Notice that if you have followed the preceding steps, you will find much easier to find more blogs related to your blog-to-be, more people to follow on twitter or to circle on google+ and so on.


So you still want to launch your blog?
Welcome to the club, do your homework and good luck.

Stay tuned,

M
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