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Are you interested in starting a blog? Welcome! You are at the perfect place to start blogging, without bogging down in the overwhelming details. My paternal ancestors arrived in America from the bogs of Ireland. During my 20’s, I was fortunate to travel to Ireland and those bogs can be quite a struggle for the unprepared.
Whether you are just having fun or looking for serious profits, I’m here to help you find “more blogging and less bogging”, as your begin your blogging journey and start your adventure into this crazy-fun process of blogging.
Before starting on the technical side of blogging, spend some time thinking about your ideal niche.
Think about the goals for your blog site…but more importantly think about the topics that you want to blog about, the community that you want to be a part of, and what will make this topic interesting to you for the long haul. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint.
Take your time. This brainstorming session is fundamental to ensuring that you do not “lock in” to your first idea. Let your brain play with all of the possibilities. This may well be the most difficult phase of planning a successful blog (or any other business model).
The Search for YOUR Passion, Strengths, and Purpose
There are many studies and books about how to find your passion, strengths, and purpose. As you begin to understand your unique capabilities and insights and then layer on the traditional business philosophies of market research, needs analysis, and business model design, your blogging concept will become an online reality.
Here are some resources to help with your brainstorming session.
If you are not already familiar, TED Talks are quick educational and inspirational talks and videos offered by the TED Organization, a non-profit. The acronym stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design.
Our first TED Talk is Seth Godin- How to get your ideas to spread
I chose this one because I am very familiar with it and every time I watch it, I think. I’m also a little impressed with the purple cow, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Being different. Getting noticed. These are effective tools for any business and especially for blogging.
Here’s another TED Talk. In this Malcolm Gladwell presentation, there are lessons on perseverance and finding happiness through spaghetti sauce using data and constant analysis of the ever present information sources.
Malcom Gladwell: Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce
*This post contains affiliate links.
Two of my favorite feel-good movies for thinking of possibilities in life are UP and Pursuit of Happyness. Such videos, whether on TED talks or on the big screen, help me to realize that today is just a beginning and the future has so much to offer.
What do you think? Leave a comment to share your favorite inspirational books and videos.
Embracing the Blogging Struggle
Are you struggling with this brainstorming exercise? Good! That means your brain is really engaged in the process and amazing things are developing.
Let’s work through my brainstorming examples…
When I think of my passionate interests, I have dozens of hobby passions but only a handful that I would be comfortable writing about for the next 10 years as a part-time side gig.
Business Start-Ups/ Financial planning/business plan writing
Direct Sales programs / MLM
Etsy – Creating and managing an Etsy-based business
Flea Market and Estate Sale flipping (finding bargain, fix-ups and flipping)
Help people solve complicated life problems
After brainstorming some topics, the next step is to begin narrowing the field of possibilities. For me, when passions overlap, I mark those as real winners.
I have enjoyed crocheting for most of my life. I crochet gifts for friends and family members. I help people learn how to crochet in classes and one-on-one. I attend crocheting conferences and connect with several communities of crocheting groups. I sell crocheted items on Etsy. I sell photos of yarn and crocheting activities on various stock photography websites. For these many reasons, crocheting counts as an enduring passion for me.
I have worked in large corporations for most of my career. As a licensed CPA, I am a self-proclaimed expert in using Microsoft Excel and have a passion for using spreadsheets to organize my finances, my blog posts, my yarn stash, well, you get the idea. I enjoy using spreadsheets to help people solve problems, such as organizing records for taxes, creating colorful printables to organize weekly household tasks, graphing out a crochet project, or (oh, so boring) keeping track of the money I earn from my many side gigs. In my spare time, I study how to use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets more effectively and even how to become an Excel artist.
So, I consider using spreadsheets as a tool for life productivity as another passionate interest.
Throughout my life, I have always kept a side gig (aka side hustle) in addition to a fulfilling corporate career. These fun jobs add a little jingle to my pocket and feed my solopreneur spirit. Here’s the run-down of some side hustles through the years – cash register operator, college algebra tutor, accounting tutor, small business consultant, selling crocheted items, flipping antiques, refinishing furniture for resell, sewing, upholstery, mystery shopping, survey panel participant, writing and editing, monogramming, and direct sales programs. The specific activities seem to come and go as my moods change over time but the “art of the side hustle” is a constant in my life. I’m keeping this one as a key passion.
Hint: I always start with brainstorming my enduring interests first when starting a new blog. For me, the other two elements (Strengths and Profitable Need) become a filter for refining my thoughts.
What are your strengths? What aspects of your life give you confidence? It’s not always easy to define your own strengths, so here’s another helpful resource. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath is a book and program for understanding what makes you tick. I’ve recommended this book to co-workers, team members, and even to random acquaintances in airports. It’s that powerful, really. (My Amazon page tells me that I purchased the book on March 2, 2008 – it’s been a guide for me for so many years.)
For StrengthsFinder, you must buy a new book, which includes an exclusive one-time access code. This code unlocks an online survey which in turn reveals your personal strengths. Your test results are necessary to map into the text of the book for the analysis of your individual strengths.
Finding my connections
Going deeper, the StrengthsFinder 2.0 program identified that I am a “Learner”. I love to learn new things. I’m energized by the process of learning, regardless of the topic. Another theme revealed in StrengthsFinder is that I am at my best when surrounded by Connectedness. Being part of a community is important to my life. In many ways, this is fulfilled by my travel writing and blogging activities.
Similarly, I recently took a fun online quiz for fashion styles at Carol Tuttle’s Dressing Your Truth website. As a Type Three Woman, I discovered some key traits that are important as “filters” to my passions.
Some Type Three keywords revealed confirmation of traits that I have embraced through the years – there were no surprises here – just confirmations of my personality – Determined, Tenacious, and Practical. And some contextual traits of the Type 3 Woman.
- I have the ability to manage many tasks at once
- I am entrepreneurial and love figuring things out on my own.
- I am big-hearted and care deeply about people and causes
All of these traits and perspectives are valid as an overlay in the search for blogging topics. Finding yourself and understanding yourself are critical to your blogging journey and your life journey.
How are you doing so far? Getting good ideas? Here’s the real test for a money-making blog. Define your purpose and how that purpose will translate into profits. Some blogs are purely for hobby interests, and that’s fine. If you want to hobby-blog, just skip this step. Find your strengths and passions and move forward with launching your site.
For the specific steps in starting a blog, see my recent blog post For Beginners: How to Start Your First Amazing Blog.
However, if you are looking to create a passive income stream with a blog, this step is critical. Is there a market for what you are selling? Are you attempting to sell blocks of ice inside the Arctic Circle? Are you pitching heaters in the Sahara Desert? Think about the ideal customer for your site, program, or product.
Think about that person again.
I recommend at least a week of time to muddle through passions, strengths, and purpose. The analysis and thoughts of this week will reveal your target market. Keep a journal or small notebook handy to jot down your thoughts, fears, revelations, and roadmap ideas.
When you are ready to move forward, we’ll explore how to focus on that ideal customer and expand to a target market or target audience.
Understanding Your Blogging Target Market
While passionate interests and strengths are elements that only you can define for yourself, this third element can become scientific to some degree. Put on your inner geek hat and let’s go do some research.
Go to your favorite browser (Google, Bing, GoodSearch, etc.) and type in your proposed niche. A list of search results will appear but look for something like this “About 286,000,000 results” at the top of the search results page. My search was on the keyword “knitting” and this is good information. There is a huge market of people interested in knitting. (A search for the keyword “golf” returned 1,250,000,000 results, a much larger interest group.)
On the flip side when I searched for “cast iron cooking outdoors” the Google search revealed “About 1,020,000 results”.
Both of these results are positive. They reveal that there IS a market for these topics and there is active competition for providing information to the readers.
You’ve come a long way in this lesson. With the brainstorming of ideas and some first-pass refinement, you are well on your way to the ideal blog topic. Keep searching and refining your topics. In the next lesson, we’ll move into geek-mode with some statistics and testing to validate your ideas.
- Noun: a comfortable or suitable position in life or employment. “he is now a partner at a leading law firm and feels he has found his niche”
- Adjective: denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population. “other companies in this space had to adapt to being niche players”