Many of my readers are other bloggers and/or aspiring bloggers. This is part of a series I am writing to help encourage others who want to get started, or those who want to improve on what they are already doing. This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.
My last post was about more of the technical side: domains, hosting and content management systems. I use and highly recommend BlueHost for my domains and hosting, but you can read more about that here.
Today I want to talk more about content. Specifically choosing a name, theme, tone and content for your blog.
1. Decide on a Name/Theme
When you are deciding on a blog name, message, theme, etc. it can be discouraging at first. It seems like all the good ideas are taken. So let me clear something up for you: There are no unique ideas. Just about everything you can think of to say has already been said in one way or another. So try not to stress too much over that. Do try to stay away from names that are trademarked or copyrighted already.
Try to find something descriptive that describes the set of topics you want to write about. As I was setting up my blog, I opened a blank document and began to type out post ideas. I just brainstormed and wrote down as many topics as I could think of.
When I went back and looked at the list, I tried to spot a common thread. For me, my message really seemed to be peace, contentment, health and well-being for mothers. For the moms I know, so many struggle with a lot of the same worries, stresses, negative emotions and practical issues.
After searching for domain availability, which is an exercise in patience, I finally settled on The Happy Mommy Project.
I still have doubts about my site name. Like asking myself...Isn’t life about so much more than being “happy?” Of course it is.
Also, after I bought my domain name I heard a group of other bloggers talking about how they hated the word “mommy” and hate being referred to as “mommy bloggers.” This caused me a bit of worry. I had no idea that word may turn people off. As with so many other things, I decided to just let it go. That brings me to my next point.
2. Don’t Try to Appeal to Everybody
You cannot please everybody all of the time. So I have stuck with my site name, and it has served me well thus far, despite my reservations and doubts.
My advice to others would be this: Do your best when deciding on your site name, but don’t stress TOO much about it. Definitely don’t let it hinder you from getting started. You can always re-brand later.
The same is true for your content. Not everybody is going to like what you have to say. That’s okay. You want to hone in on a specific group of people.
Are there people who think my site is lame? Certainly. I am okay with that. Heck, sometimes I even think some of my stuff is lame. 🙂
3. Be Unique and Valuable
In the business world there is a quality referred to as unique selling proposition. This just means that in order to get people to give you their time (or money), you need to have something unique and valuable to offer them.
So how do I be unique and valuable when all the good ideas are taken? Answer: Put yourself into your blog.
You are the unique selling proposition. Even if you are not “selling” anything monetary, you still must get people to know, like and trust you before they give you their time. Never forget that time is currency too. If busy people are going to give you time and attention, it has got to be worth it to them.
I would suggest that people need to visually see your face when they come to your home page. Give them a brief introduction and your name. Think about if someone approaches you in real life. You smile and introduce yourself. I would also suggest that you have an “about me” page, linked someplace from your home page where people can read the more detailed introduction. Give people tidbits that will help get to know you.
Put yourself into your content as well. People want to connect with people. They love reading personal stories, opinions and thoughts of others. So include some of that in your content. In particular, I would say that sharing your struggles is most compelling. People relate to struggle. Being open, transparent and humble will serve you very well.
4. Give, give, and give some more.
Above all, make it your mission to provide as much real value to your readers as possible. And don’t expect anything in return. This is a bit of a paradox. The more you behave this way, the more your readers will know, like and trust you. And you will see more success.
If you are just getting started, it will feel like you are publishing into a vacuum for a while. But stay the course with providing great content, all while taking specific steps to grow your audience. You want to be reader-focused. Stay in tuned with your readers, and give them what they want. This is so important!
The magic happens where your skills, expertise and passions intersect with what a specific audience demands. So focus on those areas. If you are not sure what they are yet, start writing anyway. You can use data to figure out what people like as you go: page views and number of comments, for example.
5. Be Authentic
I would emphasize that you be true to yourself. Don’t ever try to be something that you are not just to try and get people to like you.
A personal example: I desperately wish I was funny. I have my moments, but “funny” is not something that I am naturally.
So many of the blogs I love are written by authors with amazing senses of humor (I’m looking at you, Jen Hatmaker). I am envious, but I know that funny just doesn’t come through in my writing. It’s just not me.
So I do not try and be funny. I think my appeal to an audience is more so helpful, thoughtful and informative. And a little bit nerdy. So I just go with that. Also unique to me is that I am equal parts left-brained and right-brained, so my content is going to show it with a range of posts. Some posts are going to be analytical and facts-based, while some posts are more intuitive and emotions-based.
Figure out what your strength is, and go with that. Don’t ever try to change yourself to “fit in” with the cool kids. This is true in life, and in internet world.
I am going to close with some wisdom brought to you by Sesame Street. My son has been watching Sesame Street videos on YouTube. This is one of my favorite episodes – The Good Birds Club. It relates to number 5 above. And you can watch it with your kiddos. So adorable, with a great message!