Hello friends! I've recently discovered that quite a few of you have dreams and plans to start your very own blog. THAT IS SO COOL!!!!! I have a few people who have asked for tips with getting started, so I decided to write this post. While I definitely don't claim to be an expert, I have learned a lot since I first started dabbling in the blogosphere five years ago. My hope is that by sharing my honest experiences and actionable advice, I'll be able to save you from making some of the mistakes that I made! So, if you are considering getting into blogging, this post is for you!
If you are researching how to start a blog, one of the first things you'll start running into is the concept of a blog "niche" . The word niche simply means the place or position of something. In the blogging world, the word niche means the topic (or topics) that you have decided to dedicate your blog to. Some common blog niches are fashion, motherhood, beauty, design, DIY, etc.
When blogs first started popping up around a decade ago, many popular blogs had very narrowly defined niches that focused solely on one topic. Remember the movie, Julie & Julia with Amy Adams and Meryl Streep? That movie was based off of the real life Julie Powell's blog, titled "The Julie/Julia Project" where she chronicled her attempt to cook her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
There continue to be many blogs that use this format, focusing one particular topic or chronicling a self-imposed "challenge". While these blogs are great, I find that they are not the best fit for me. Not only can coming up with a big idea to center their blog around can be quite a challenge. (What can you do that hasn't already been done before? Not much) but thinking longterm, what happens to your blog when you complete that challenge and the project is over? What happens if you get burnt out on writing about the same topic week after week? Will you choose another project/topic change your blog name and completely redesign your website? Personally, I think that choosing just one niche feels very 2-dimensional.
Does this sound like you?
Well good news, because there is another option. And it's a philosophy that I see more and more bloggers adopting.
It's not just about sharing what you are doing. It's about sharing who you are.
The bloggers that I admire the most are bloggers who share their true selves. They have developed a strong lifestyle concept for their blog and brand, but they don't try to fit themselves into any type of box or category. They take the things they care about the most, the hobbies they've had for years and the things that they would be doing whether they were blogging about it or not and share them in a way that is authentic and representative of them as a full person. One great example is Janssen from Everyday Reading, a former librarian who writes about her favorite books, her tried and true recipes and her life as a mother to three (adorable!) little girls.
So how do you create a cohesive lifestyle blog without choosing just one niche topic to write about? Well, you could do it the way I did and change your mind, blog name, and hosting site every couple of years, or you can skip all that and follow these three steps:
1. Inventory your interests and hobbies.
Write them down, every single one! Write down new hobbies that you've picked up, but pay special attention to the activities and projects that have proved to be more than just a passing fancy. Think back to when you were 8 years old. What were you doing then that you are still doing today?
2. Look for commonalities and narrow it down to 2-3 overarching categories.
Start grouping the items on your list together into categories. Maybe scrapbooking and crocheting scarves could become "crafting" or tasting wine and going to food truck festivals could be boiled down to "food & drink". (that one's for you, Kiley!) Or maybe the common thread is that all of your favorite activities are done outdoors! Once everything on your list has been assigned to a category, then try to narrow it down to just 2-3 categories that you want to build your blog around. If you are having trouble keeping it to just 2 or 3, see if any of your remaining categories can be combined into one super category!
3. How can you tie those three things together?
Now here's the part that takes a little more thought. How do these seemingly disparate things relate? What is your underlying motivation that keeps you coming back to these 2-3 ideas?
For example, my 3 topics are Interior Design, DIY and (now!) Blogging. Interior Design and Do-it-yourself projects have some level of cohesion especially when we are talking about DIY projects for the home, but blogging could seem like it's just thrown in there because I myself, have a blog. But to me, the concept of DIY is the thing that binds it all together. These last couple of years have been very transformative for me, and something I've become very passionate about is figuring out exactly what my "dream life" looks like and living it. Starting NOW! I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but my mission as an interior designer and blogger is show my readers that no matter where you live or what your budget is, you deserve a home that is soothing to the mind, body and soul. That's a beautiful idea, isn't it? The thing is, no one is going to just drop that on your lap. You have to be active in CREATING the home of your dreams by starting where you are. That's where the DIY aspect comes into play.
While more people are starting blogs now than ever before, blogging is still a young industry. For a long time it seemed like there weren't any established bloggers out there who were sharing their secrets to success. There are some great bloggers out there who have changed that, like Lauren from Elle & Company and Regina from ByRegina.com.
I want to be an open book for you guys. I may not have it all figured out when it comes to blogging, but the things that I do know, I want to share with you. Not so I can tell you to do exactly what I did (please DON'T do exactly what I did!), but so I can provide you with another set of tools as your carve your own path in the blogging world. So you can do-it-yourself!
If you have any questions, and I mean ANYTHING about this post or about blogging in general, please comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I promise to respond. If you have been dreaming about starting your own blog, I would love to help in any way that I can!