Blogging for beginners: choosing a topic and a name for a blog

There’s been a great response to Caroline O’Doherty’s blogging project.

Caroline asked me for recommendations for sources of information to help her kickstart a blog. We agreed that it would make a great topic for a series of blog posts.

It turns out that it’s a topic that lots of people are keen to explore. It has been wonderful to hear from people via Twitter that also want to start blogging, and others offering Caroline help and support.

Here’s the first lesson of blogging. The internet enables you to find, connect and engage with people around topics of interest. If you’re willing to make the effort and create and share content they’ll find you.

In our first post Caroline shared her motivation for blogging, namely to use it as a creative outlet, to figure out its value as a form of communication, and to advise organisations how to do it.

Inspiration and building a network

Caroline’s next job was to identify five to ten blogs that she reads regularly.

Our web browsing habits have changed in the last few years. Whereas we typically used an app called a RSS browser to navigate content we’re now more likely to discover content via our app subscriptions or social networks.

Here’s Caroline’s selection, in her own words.

The Guardian’s Scottish Independence Blog – purely for the topic. I’m Scottish but living in North East England, I’m trying to decipher what Scottish Independence means for me. It’s very complicated. I’m none the wiser.

JustGiving – a brilliant source for innovative ideas relevant to the charity sector.

The Golf Blog – I’m a bit golf obsessed. I have tickets for the Ryder Cup this year and this blog keeps me up to date with everything golf around the world.

What Olivia Did – Everything is just so pretty. It’s a simple magazine style blog where I can get a quick fashion/lifestyle fix. I always read blogs before I make a beauty product purchase, nothing is left to chance anymore. As an aside, I find the whole beauty/fashion blogger/vlogger phenomenon fascinating.

There are many bloggers and Youtubers who are still in their teens and have more subscribers than national radio stations have listeners – I still find that mad. I’m not hugely loyal to this kind of blog, I seem to want quantity over quality.

Adverblog – a round up of creative ideas for the digital/marketing/advertising world. It’s punchy, doesn’t over analyse and it’s full of innovative content from lots of different contributors. Unfortunately I find the layout and design a bit disappointing.

The Style Files – I love looking at ideas for the home and this blog is nicely done, its very image led, as I suppose a design-led blog should be! Pinterest is great for this sort of thing, but Style Files is a good source of inspiration that’s curated well.

It’s an eclectic mix that covers local topics from politics to fundraising, and sport to style, not forgetting marketing and brand communication. It’s also clear from the selection that visual communication is important to Caroline.

The selection of blogs provides a great and varied source of inspiration. It also provides a good basis for building a network through backlinks and comments.

Choosing a topic

Caroline’s next task is to focus on what she wants to blog about. It’s important that she’s passionate about the topic otherwise she’s struggle to maintain her own interest let along others.

My hunch is that rather than picking a single topic or issue Caroline should consider focusing on her own demographic or local region. This would enable her to give her perspective on numerous subjects.

What’s in a name

We also need to decide on a domain name and what to call the blog. Will the blog be the ‘Caroline O’Doherty blog’ or it will have another name aligned to the content?

The choice depends entirely on your motivation and how you want content to be discovered.

The former is an excellent means of building a professional reputation and is the route to take if you want to use a blog as a portfolio to promote your skills and services. Building content on a website aligned to your name is a great way to be found via search.

The second option aligns the author firmly with a topic through association in which case I’d suggest using Google Keyword Planner as a guide to the words that people use to discover content on the web.

There’s a third option if neither of these choices is important if you want to signpost people to content physically or via social forms of media. In this case follow your personal inspiration.

Once Caroline has fixed on a topic and name we’ll look at how you start to building a blog. If you fancy giving us a hand please let us know – particularly if you live in the north east.

Photo by klytemestra via Flickr with thanks.

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Professional advisor for agencies and communication teams, Wadds Inc. Author: #brandvandals, Exploring PR and Management Communication. #PRstack, Share This, and others. Visiting Professor, Newcastle University.

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