cute kids pattern by lenlis, on FlickrSo the $1MBP is on and I’ve got to figure out what on earth my new blog will be about. Time to stop tossing ideas around and finally pick one. Thank goodness for Think Traffic’s post earlier this week specifically geared towards figuring this out: How to Choose the Perfect Topic for Your Next Blog! I apologize for the longevity of this post, but this was really a thought exercise and I just had to get it all out there. If you’re in the same boat as me, this might be helpful!

1) Write down your goals for the blog you’re starting.

So what exactly do I hope to achieve by starting this blog?

Well, to be honest, I hope to create an outlet for myself to be creative and really explore my creativity unbound.

I also would like for it to be my main source of income so that I can stay at home with my new little sprout and have the freedom to travel when and where I please for however long I choose. I don’t need to make a lot of money, just enough to live life comfortably and not worry where my next paycheck is going to come from.

I would also like to continue connecting with the many connections I have made through blogging and meeting new people.

Also write down any sub-goals or criteria that your topic must have in order to meet your goals.

What are you looking for in a topic in order to meet your goals?

Ok, this is a little tough, but I think that like I said earlier, I really want to be able to express myself creatively. I know I am a creative person, I have just felt stifled by jobs and clients and my own idea of perfectionism that I haven’t been able to truly let go.

I want my topic to not cost me a lot of money up front.

And I also want to be able to offer something useful to people (sometimes free, sometimes not free). Something they appreciate and want more of.

2) Make a list of topics that you have a) experience in, b) an interest in and c) think you could be good at writing about.

  1. Cute Web, Graphic and WordPress Design
  2. Nursery Design/New Mommy Site – this is definitely something I am learning right now, but I don’t know anything about interior design and there is SOO much GREAT competition, it scares me
  3. Travel – although not so sure I’d be good at writing about it
  4. Eco-tourism – though I’m not so sure I have much experience with this yet
  5. Zero-Waste Living – don’t have a lot of experience yet, but definitely have an interest in becoming more conscious of the way I live my life
  6. Natural Fertility
  7. Making a Difference – I don’t have a whole lot of experience with this, but I did have a project a while back that I started and never finished

3) Review your list of topics against your goals and criteria. Eliminate those which don’t match.

  1. Cute Web, Graphic and WordPress Design
    a. Creativity: check
    b. Make a living: check
    c. Connect with people: check
    d. Not cost much money up front: check
    e. Offers something useful: check
  2. Nursery Design/New Mommy Site
    a. Creativity: check
    b. Make a living: probably
    c. Connect with people: check
    d. Not cost much money up front: check
    e. Offers something useful: check
  3. Travel – allows me to be creative as far as traveling, photography and blog design
    a. Creativity: check (as far as traveling, photography and blog design are concerned)
    b. Make a living: check
    c. Connect with people: check
    d. Not cost much money up front: hmmm not too sure about that
    e. Offers something useful: check
  4. Eco-tourism
    a. Creativity: maybe
    b. Make a living: maybe
    c. Connect with people: check
    d. Not cost much money up front: not sure, may have to travel and check out other places, take photos, do reviews…
    e. Offers something useful: check
  5. Zero-Waste Living
    a. Creativity: maybe
    b. Make a living: maybe
    c. Connect with people: check
    d. Not cost much money up front: check
    e. Offers something useful: check
  6. Natural Fertility
    a. Creativity: not really
    b. Make a living: could sell natural products
    c. Connect with people: check
    d. Not cost much money up front: not sure
    e. Offers something useful: check
  7. Making a Difference
    a. Creativity: I believe so
    b. Make a living: probably not
    c. Connect with people: check
    d. Not cost much money up front: check
    e. Offers something useful: check

4) Make a short list of 3 to 10 of your favorites from the remaining list.

So based on the results above, it looks like there really are only two winners: Cute Web, Graphic and WordPress Design and Nursery Design/New Mommy Site. So this is how I made a decision between the two to try and narrow my focus down.

  1. I made a list of all the things I would love to write about/do on my blog and then I really thought about which of these could realistically be grouped together and this is what I came up with:
    1. Group A
      • Freebie and custom, headers, logos, graphic/scrapbook elements and blog, Twitter and Facebook backgrounds
      • WordPress set up and hosting
      • Custom theme design
      • CSS tips for non-techies
      • WordPress, theme and plug in tips for newbies
      • Mood boards/color schemes for websites
    2. Group B
      • Nursery design inspiration, mood/color boards
      • Nursery feng shui
      • Product reviews, recommendations for new moms
      • Green/organic baby tips
      • Shower invitations, birth announcement designs (freebie printables and custom designs) that match nursery designs I profile
      • Share beautiful products, designs, photos I find on the web as inspiration for nursery or shower designs
      • Custom maternity books
  2. When I looked at the two groups, it was pretty clear which road I should take. As much as it pained me to let go of Group B, I decided it was for the best for these reasons:
    • I have more experience with web than print and interior design.
    • Since I plan on only having one child, I thought I might get bored with baby stuff by the time my kid turned like 5.
    • I think I am fine with making my own maternity book just for myself. Maybe one day if I need something else to do, I might market this as something entirely different, on a whole different site.

Now I can be really creative and find a niche in this market that allows me to find the clients I enjoy designing for! Ok so now on to the rest of the questions to determine if this is really the topic I should choose….

What are the possible ways for me to make money off of this blog?

  • Consulting? Yes, as a freelance custom designer.
  • Sell products? Hmm…I could sell design templates and graphics and custom maternity/baby books. As far as other people’s products (affiliate sales), I could sell web hosting for new WordPress sites and other designer’s print products.
  • E-books? Sure I guess I could create an ebook on how to start a blog for newbies or on something else I learn along the way…not sure yet on this one, but I’m sure something will come to mind as I begin writing.
  • Advertising? Yes as long as I have traffic coming to my site, I could sell ad spots in my sidebar.

It’s also important for the topic to solve a problem or fulfill a need. How will my blog do that?

I plan to offer articles and templates on customizing WordPress blogs aimed at people that have no tech knowledge or background. Tons of people are still getting into this blogging thing so they will definitely be needing this information.

What makes a blog successful? Does my blog have these components?

  • A solid topic choice. Yes I believe so, what do you guys think?
  • Great branding and design. Well I am pretty sure I got this one covered 😉
  • The right mindset. Hmm not sure what he means by this, but thinking about my topic makes me happy…
  • Differentiations (unique selling proposition). This is where I usually get stuck. Sooooo many people are doing this in some form: cute designs, freelance web, WordPress customization….. How do I make MINE different? Still working on this!
  • Outstanding content (epic shit). I think my outstanding content will be the free content (templates, etc) I offer.
  • An effective promotion strategy. Uh… hoping Think Traffic will fill us in on this later….
  • Longevity. I don’t see why this wouldn’t last. I guess something else could take on WordPress, but even though WordPress is clearly THE best blogging platform out there and there are still millions of people on Blogger, I am not too worried. Plus, I could always learn something new if it came out.

Other questions Think Traffic asks:

Why should someone read my blog vs. the 100s of other blogs out there on this topic (or related topics?

How would my blog be different?

I plan to have my work geared more toward mommy-bloggers, crafters, artists, etc. Although there are other designers that focus on cutesy/girly designs, none of them seem to help newbies or non-techies do things on their own. I think that this is where my differentiation, my epic content will be.

Am I capable of writing outstanding content on this topic?

Could my content be better than 90% of blogs that exist on related topics?

I sure hope so. I think that most of my content will be sharing freebies like page templates, design ideas, etc. If I really allow myself to let go and get creative, I know I can create stuff that people will like. 🙂

Am I excited enough about this topic to write about it multiple times every week for a year, even if I don’t draw a large audience?

Yeah I believe so. I’ve been waiting for something like this for a long time. Something where I can be my own client and something that allows me to learn new concepts of design and get better and more confident at what I do.

Can you write about this topic (or create video or whatever) in a way that is different and better than what has already been done?

Damn, he’s really hammering this point home. I get it, I get it! I will still keep a personal edge to my writing and be open, respond to every comment, question, etc. I plan to make personal connections with other women that want to get started with blogging about their lives, businesses, etc.

Your goal is progress, not perfection.

Ok that makes me feel a little better. I think I know where to start, and I think that the more I work on my progress, the more I will figure out which direction I need to head towards.

I guess my biggest concern now is that my topic IS very similar to what Corbett and Caleb will be doing on their own project: blog/website design. But of course I am pretty sure they won’t be talking about “cute designs” for blogs. 😉

And I have to agree with some of the comments on their announcement post that they have a “leg-up” on starting a blog in this niche. While most of us are starting an audience from scratch, they are basically leveraging the audience they already have with Think Traffic. I think that takes away a lot from what we could potentially learn from this experiment.

On the other hand, I do see that it’s a saturated niche and it will be interesting to see how they differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack, which is something I am obviously struggling with. And not only that, but because our topics are similar, there is probably a lot I can learn from this.

Chris Guillebeau at AONC just happened to post this the other day which I think is a great little article that will help me as well: The Instant Consultant.

Wrap Up

So it’s settled. My blog will be my venue for sharing cute design elements, color schemes, giving away design features that I create (such as blog headers, backgrounds, elements), and offering services for custom template, header, and logo design. All my designs will have a cutesy/girly element to them.

I also plan to talk about why self-hosted WordPress sites are better than others and offer helpful hints to non-techies about how to get set up with a new blog, apply themes and even how to customize themes. I might even throw in some simple Photoshop tutorials. I’ll probably talk about helpful plug-ins as well. All of this information will be geared towards women bloggers (mommy-bloggers, Etsy shopkeepers, women-owned businesses, digital scrappers, etc) and that is how I plan to differentiate myself.

Is there anything that comes to mind that I haven’t thought through? I’d love your input!

Tags: ,

11 Responses

  1. Patty on 17 Sep 2011

    Congratulations, Marianne! You’re going to be an amazing mom.

    I love your new blog idea and wanted to add a potential product idea to the mix. What if you made and sold themed “Graphic Packs” aimed at your target market. (I’m thinking small icon-type graphics, such as “click here” and “buy now” and “arrow” type of buttons, although I’m sure you could come up with other “pack” ideas.)

    You could have a standard set of icons designed around different themes: baby, flowers, mom stuff, girl power, etc.

    I’m sure new bloggers would love to have a pack of easy-to-insert graphics to give their blogs a bit of color and cuteness.

    As an add-on product, you could even have an option to purchase a specific Graphic Pack customized to compliment your blog’s color scheme – or a custom Graphic Pack of some sort.

    Other ideas that compliment this plan:

    * Offer a mini Graphic Pack as a subcriber sign-up incentive
    * Create Graphic-Pack-of-the-Month product releases with holiday themes (you’ll always be releasing a new product!)

    I’m looking forward to watching your new blog come to life!

    • marianney on 11 Oct 2011

      I LOVE this idea Patty!! Thanks so much for the contribution, I am definitely adding it to my list of offerings. 🙂

  2. Kalyan on 21 Sep 2011


    I like the way this post is presented. I am absolutely looking forward for your cutesy blog design stuffs, I am sure there’ll be plenty to learn from it, though I do not belong to mummy segment.

    Well I think as a whole I can see you target niche market has huge potential. I am sure you better know that. What interest me is how this is going to get progress. Can’t wait to see the stages.

    Subscribing you right now 🙂

    • marianney on 11 Oct 2011

      Thanks Kaylan! I appreciate your thoughts and thanks for subscribing.

      Sorry it took me this long to reply to everyone, I have just returned from 2 weeks vacation for my wedding and honeymoon. Time to get a move on!

  3. Jo@simplybeingmum on 29 Sep 2011

    Just wanted to pop by and wish you the very best of luck. I hope the pregnancy is going well! So very pleased for you 🙂
    Good luck with the new site, I for one will be keeping up to date as I need all the help I can get on the tech side 🙂
    Take care – Jo x

    • marianney on 11 Oct 2011

      Hi Jo! Thanks for stopping by again and your well wishes 🙂 I’m sorry I haven’t been by in a while, just trying to get my life in order and had to put blogging/following to the side for a few months. But i can’t wait to get back into the swing of things and catch up!

      Hope I can help you out with your techy stuff!

  4. Zubyre Parvez on 11 Oct 2011

    Hello, you make it seem so easy! This is the kind of positive mindset we all should have. Blogging amasses alot of people. I want to try to network too using again. Normally, I have the same people behind what I do, because they tend to practice the same tai chi of Falun Gong as I do – but I want to branch out to other groups. I started my blog after seeing the write their articles, thinking I could add some ideas to this area. So I started my minimalist blog. Good luck with the blog! And for mine too! Zub

    • marianney on 11 Oct 2011

      Zubyre, that’s awesome that you started your own after being inspired by other minimal blogs. Thanks for your comments about the positive mindset. Sometimes it’s not so easy to keep one, but I think that’s they only way to succeed in life, so we have to keep working at it.

      Much luck to you as well!

    • marianney on 11 Oct 2011

      Oh yes and btw, it’s definitely NOT easy 😉 but you just have to work through the steps!

  5. ana {bluebirdkisses} on 17 Oct 2011

    Hi Marianne! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog earlier, now I can follow your lovely new blog too! I can’t wait to see some of your new topics, they sound really lovely and definitely helpful to me…especially since I’m self-hosting and designed my own blog 🙂

    • marianney on 07 Nov 2011

      Hi Ana! I can’t believe i didn’t see your comment until now. I hope I can be of help to you in the future! I will definitely let you know when the new site launches, though it is set now to launch at the end of January. (we’ll see though what happens with the little one on the way!)
      Your blog is absolutely beautiful btw, did you design it yourself?