I don’t know about you, but I love taking action.
As soon as I decide to do something, I’m all in!
I want to jump right in and get going, full steam ahead.
When I was younger, this used to drive my dad nuts. He is an Engineer and has always been super methodical about everything.
Slow down Angie! (<-my nickname)
You should really take some time to think about it.
My answer was always the same.
I know, I know.
But I rarely did, because I was always in too much of a hurry.
I didn’t want to be thinking, I wanted to be doing.
One of the things I quickly learned when I became an entrepreneur is that action without thought often leads to regret. And the bigger the decision you rush into, the bigger the regret if you get it wrong.
On some level, I think that most of us know this.
But we get carried away in the excitement of something new.
And starting a blog is definitely exciting!
There is so much that needs to be done.
You need to choose a topic…
Decide on a name…
Come up with a killer brand…
Build your blog…
Start creating content…
Set up your email list…
Drive traffic to your blog…
Sell some products…
It’s an endless to-do list.
But have you noticed?
There’s something missing.
Something even more important than everything that’s on that to-do list so far.
It comes BEFORE everything I listed above. And it sets the foundation for it.
Yet, it’s so simple, that most bloggers and online entrepreneurs completely overlook it.
What is it?
It’s the “thinking” part my dad used to warn me about.
In this, case it’s the 3 questions you need to ask yourself before starting a blog.
Questions that EVERY blogger and online entrepreneur should be asking themselves. BEFORE starting a blog.
And if you haven’t asked yourself these questions, then you really need to STOP everything else and go through them. Before you do anything else.
The 3 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself BEFORE Starting A Blog
Before I tell you what the questions are, I need you to make me a promise.
And if you’ve already peeked at the questions, this promise is especially important.
What’s the promise?
It’s a promise that you’ll keep reading.
All the way to the end of this post.
Because I already know the first thought that will pop into your head once you see the questions…
I already know that.
But you know what?
I’ll be you anything, you really don’t.
Or at least, you haven’t given the questions as much attention as they deserve.
How can I be so sure?
Let’s just say that I speak from experience. And it was experience that cost me a lot over the years. It cost me in time, money and heartache.
Which is why I want to do everything I can to save you from the same mistakes I made.
So let’s start with the first question.
Why Do You Want A Blog?
Whatever you do, please don’t tell me that it’s just to share your ideas or make money.
Because that’s not a good enough answer. In fact, it’s just the beginning of what your answer should be.
Building a blog and an online business is HARD work.
If you’ve been blogging any length of time, then you’ve probably already experienced this.
And if you’re just getting started, prepare yourself for this.
Blogging takes a lot of time and a lot of energy.
You have to put up with a lot of crap. Sometimes from others. But mostly from yourself.
You know, that little voice inside your head that says:
This is taking forever…
I am never going to get anywhere with my blog…
Everything that can go wrong is going wrong…
I am pouring my heart and soul into my blog, yet I feel like no one is listening and no one cares…
Is there really any point in continuing on?
It’s easy enough to ignore those thoughts when you’re first getting started. And you’re still excited.
But when you’re 6 months or more into your journey…you’ve seen little progress… and those thoughts are pounding you daily?
THAT is when you need to have a powerful “why.” Because it’s only a powerful “why” that’s going to get you through it.
What A Real “Why” Looks Like
The best “why” is one that you have an emotional connection with.
In other words, it triggers a powerful feeling inside of you.
Your “why” should fire you up inside.
It’s something you think about a lot, and could talk about for hours.
Ultimately, it’s what keeps you going…no matter what.
Why is “Finding Your Why” So Important?
“Finding your why” is important for three main reasons.
The first reason is that it gives you direction.
Have you ever been involved in the “dinner dance”? You decide to get together with friends or a significant other for dinner but no one knows where they want to go?
Where do you want to go? I don’t know…where do YOU want to go?
You waste a bunch of time on the back and forth. Then end up in a place that no one ends up being happy with.
Or you just get frustrated and end up eating at home.
When we have no clue where we’re going we either end up somewhere we don’t like, or we never end up getting started on our journey in the first place.
The second reason “finding your why” is important is because it fuels your motivation. Especially when the going gets tough.
It’s a lot easier to give up on things that we don’t have an emotional connection to.
The third reason it’s important to “find your why” is that it will help you find your tribe.
When you are passionate about something, it shines through everything that you do.
Your tribe – people who share your vision and values – will sense that passion. And will be attracted to it.
How Do You Find Your “Why”?
Most people already have a “why.”
I’ll bet that there’s a good chance that YOU already have your “why.”
You just may not realize it. Especially if you’ve never thought about it in those words before.
Really, it’s just a matter of uncovering it.
In order to “find your why,” you have to think of it as a mining expedition.
Where is most treasure found? In plain sight or buried underground?
It’s pretty obvious isn’t it? Otherwise, we wouldn’t have mines (and we wouldn’t have oil wells either).
Treasure is typically found underground. And it takes an effort to get to it.
So let’s apply that principle here.
I’m going to walk you through an exercise that will help you figure out your “why.” Then I’m going to share an example of what it looks like in practice, from my own life.
Step 1. Start by asking yourself why you want a blog.
Write down whatever comes to mind.
At this point, your answers will be very surface level. In fact, they very well may be things like: I want to share my thoughts. I want to help people. And/or I want to make money.
Step 2. Take your first thought and ask yourself “why?” again
Write that down.
Step 3. Whatever you wrote in step 2, ask yourself “why?”
Keep asking yourself why, until there are no more answers.
Step 4. Do this for each of your questions
Until you’ve run out of answers to the question “why?”
An Example of “Finding Your Why”
Now let me give you a personal example so you can see what this actually looks like.
One of my “first pass” reasons for starting a blog is because I want to make money.
A follow-up question would then be asking, why do you want to make money (why #2)?
Well, I want to make money to improve my family’s life.
My next question for myself would then be, why do I think having more money will improve my family’s life (why #3)?
To that, I have several answers.
My first is that more money will allow us to provide more opportunities for our children.
It’s expensive to have 5 children. There are a lot of things that we would like to do with our kids, and for our kids, that we just can’t afford to do because we have so many children.
My second answer is that if I can make more money, my husband won’t have to work as hard to provide for our family.
Why is it important to me that my husband not have to work so hard (why #4)?
Right now my husband has an incredibly demanding job. He works late nights and travels the equivalent of 4-6 months of the year. Because of that, he misses out on so many things in the kid’s lives. I never feel like I have enough time with him. And he is under an incredible amount of pressure.
Ultimately, I am terrified of the effect the pressure has on his health. I don’t want to lose him over something as ultimately insignificant as money.
As important as everything else is, one of the real emotional connections for me is my concern for my husband’s health. And the quality of life of our family.
And as you can see, I had to go four levels deep before I got to the heart of my “why.”
I’m not sure if you noticed, but with each level, the answer got more and more detailed. And it had a deeper emotional connection.
So I have walked you through how to find your “why.” I’ve given you an example to show you what finding your “why” looks like in practice. Now it’s your turn.
I want to encourage you to keep going with the exercise even after you uncover your first real “why.” Because chances are, you have more than one.
And the more reasons you have, the more powerful your “why” will become.
How Knowing Your “Why” Will Help You
To put it simply, “finding your why” is what is going to keep you moving, no matter how tough things get.
It’s what kept me going just a few weeks ago when I finally published my blog.
I had put 6 months and about 700 hours into this blog.
And I was so excited to be able to finally show it to the world.
Only the minute it went live the problems started.
It was all tech issues. Things I had not experienced before in all my years of blogging and blog building. I had no idea what to do. It was so bad in fact, I found myself wondering whether I was going to have to start all over and re-build my blog from scratch.
The first thought that went through my head was “I can’t do it again.”
I was completely exhausted and emotionally drained.
I didn’t know what I needed to do to fix my blog. Or if I even could fix my blog.
I can’t even begin to tell you how tempted I was to give up.
After spending a few hours crying I remembered WHY I wanted a blog in the first place.
So I dried my tears and set about trying to figure things out.
Which I did. And once I got down to it, it wasn’t that complicated. But I was so upset at the time I couldn’t see that.
Had I not had a powerful “why” to get me moving again, I might not have even bothered trying to fix it.
And that’s why a powerful “why” is so important.
When you feel like giving up…it’s your “why” that’s going to keep you going.
What Do You Want To Get Out Of Your Blog?
So we’ve gone through the first question to ask yourself before starting a blog.
Once you know the answer – WHY you want a blog – it’s time to get specific.
In other words, you want to bring your “why” to life.
In order to do this, you need to ask yourself a few questions.
Ask yourself WHAT Your “Why” Looks Like
For example, if your “why” has to do with making money, ask yourself WHAT that looks like. How much you want to earn? And by when do you want to earn it?
If your “why” is that you are looking for more flexibility in your life, then ask yourself, WHAT that looks like.
Is it being able to work a certain number of hours? Does it mean you can choose to work when you want to work? Is it having the freedom to work where you want to work?
If you want to love what you are doing, WHAT does that mean to you? Does that mean you want to be passionate about what you are doing? Do you only want to work with certain kinds of people? Or do certain kinds of work?
Is it time freedom you are looking for? If yes, WHAT does that mean? That you only want to work a certain number of hours a day? Or a week? Or certain times a day?
Get as detailed as you possibly can. And make sure those details are tangible. In other words, something that you can measure.
That way, you’ll actually have milestones and benchmarks to track.
Ask Yourself WHAT You Value
Part of your “what” is also thinking about what’s important to you in your life.
And what you are not willing to give up for the sake of your blog and business.
For me, my family is incredibly important to me.
Yes, I have big dreams for my blog and online business.
Yes, I have a powerful “why” behind my dreams.
BUT, I am not willing to sacrifice my family for it.
What that means is that I have to be very mindful of how I am building my blog and business.
I know that it takes hard work and time to build a business.
What I don’t want is that time to come at the expense of my family.
I don’t want my kids to NEVER see me because I’m too busy building my blog and biz.
Ask Yourself WHAT You Are Willing To Give Up
There’s no two ways about it. If you want to build a successful blog and online business, you need to put time into it.
That time has to come from somewhere.
You’ve already identified what you’re NOT willing to give up.
However, in order to make your dreams happen, you ARE going to have to give something up.
What will it be?
What are you willing to give up?
This decision is just as important as the one that came before.
If you don’t decide ahead of time what’s gonna give, then nothing will.
Most of us don’t have “free time” floating around. We have to make the time.
If we don’t make a conscious decision to make the time, it just won’t happen. And neither will your blogging dreams.
Why Knowing The Answer To These 3 “What” Questions Is So Important
When you know what you want your “why” to look like…
In other words: what you want, what you value and what you are willing to give up – you’ll be able to make better decisions.
Building a blog and online business is all about choices. If you don’t know the answer to the above questions, you won’t be able to make good choices.
The Danger Of Not Knowing The Answer to The 3 “What” Questions
I’ve talked about how important it is to know your “why” and your “what.”
And in theory, I’m sure it sounds reasonable. But as humans, it’s hard for us to truly understand how important something is until it impacts us directly.
Which is why I want to share a personal story. One that really illustrates the danger of not knowing the answer to these questions.
It happened a few years ago.
Now let me start by saying that one of the reasons I love being a blogger and online entrepreneur, is that it gives me the flexibility I need with my schedule.
With 5 kids and my 98-year-old grandpa to look after, my schedule is far from predictable.
One week I may be able to squeeze 20-25 hours of work time into my week. But then the next week, finding 5-10 hours to work is a challenge.
Because of that, I have to be very careful about what I take on, and how I choose to take it on.
I still remember the year I launched a Beta course. It was a new course idea I was testing. I decided to follow the advice of some big, well-known, well-respected online marketers.
The advice was to pre-sell my course BEFORE the content was created. And then create the content as the course progressed.
It sounded like a great idea. You create content real-time, so it allows you to course-correct. In other words, make changes to your content to meet your student’s needs.
Now in principle, it’s awesome.
But in practice? Let’s just say it’s not for someone with a life and schedule like mine.
There is a lot of work involved in creating content for a course. Not to mention a lot of responsibility. Your students are depending on you.
You have to get your content out every single week, regardless of what’s going on in your life.
For me, it was a hellish experience.
On weeks where I had a lot of time, it was great.
But on weeks where I didn’t, it was incredibly stressful. My husband and kids barely saw me.
And then, halfway into my course, my 46-year-old brother-in-law died unexpectedly.
I was able to ask my students for a week’s grace. But I didn’t feel right asking for more than that. They had paid for content, and I felt it was my responsibility to make sure they got it.
I did manage to get through the course. And I did manage to keep to the timetable.
But I had to sacrifice things that were important to me. I felt like I had let myself down. Even worse, I felt like I had let my husband and my kids down. All because my work kept me from being there for them the way I should have been.
Let me tell you, it was one of the worst experiences of my life.
It was then I realized how important it is to be in tune not only with your “why,” but your “what” as well.
Had I been in tune with my “why” and my “what” I would have known that for me, that kind of a course model wouldn’t work.
The right decision would have been to have had the course completed before I launched it. Or at the very least, had half the content created, so that I had some breathing room.
Now that I am in tune with both my “why” and my “what,” I run all my decisions for my blog and biz, through those filters.
So that’s 2 down.
What’s the third question to ask yourself before starting a blog?
How Do You Want Your Blog To Change Your Life?
Now that you know your “why” and your “what” it’s time to bring them together and make it really personal.
Do you remember daydreaming when you were a kid?
You wouldn’t just think about what you wanted to be when you grew up. You actually imagined what it would be like.
Your mind would paint pictures of what your future looked like. And it would seem so real that you could get lost in your daydream for hours.
As adults, we struggle with daydreaming because our rational mind always seems to kick in and spoil the party.
Yeah, that would be nice, but it’s not realistic. So let’s think about something else. Like our to-do list!
Well, it’s time to kick your rational mind to the curb. Let your imagination loose. And let the little kid in you dream again.
The best way to do this is to create a story of what your life will look like when you’ve hit your “why.”
Grab your laptop. Or a journal. Imagine yourself a year or two from now. You’ve made your “why” happen.
What does your life look like? How about a typical day? How do you feel about your life? What are your thoughts?
Write it down.
As you write out your story, write it as though you were already living it. As though it was already true.
And take your time.
Make sure you fill in the little details.
What does it feel like to wake up in the morning and linger in bed for a minute? What are you feeling as you are thinking about your life? About the day ahead?
The more detailed your story, the more real it will become in your mind.
Once you’ve finished, read it.
Every. Single. Day.
This story will cement in your mind and in your heart both your “why” and your “what.”
It’s what will keep you going no matter how frustrating, overwhelming, or discouraging things get.
If you’re interested in reading more about how envisioning our success helps us get there, check out this article.
I’ve always wondered why it is that as adults we have such a hard time dreaming.
Sure we wish for things. But then we usually brush those wishes aside and move on with our day.
Rarely do we take the time to daydream. Unless it’s on our way out the corner store door with a lottery ticket in hand.
Somehow it’s so much easier to dream about things that we don’t think will ever happen.
But it when it comes to things that we COULD make happen, we don’t allow ourselves to dream about it.
We shut those dreams down. Tell ourselves it’s not realistic.
Or that we shouldn’t get our hopes up, because we don’t want to be disappointed.
What we don’t realize is that:
While our dreams start in our heart and soul – it’s our mind that makes it happen. Or not.
Your mind sets the stage for your dreams. And it can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
So start by giving your heart a voice.
Why do you want a blog? What do you want to get out of your blog?
And then ask yourself how will your blog change your life? This will give your mind a picture to hold onto.
The more you tell your story to yourself, the more real it will become in your mind.
Read through this post again.
Really think about the questions I laid out. Questions that I want you to ask yourself BEFORE starting a blog
And if you have a blog, but haven’t yet gone through these questions?
Then stop now and go through them.
Actually DO the exercises.
Write your story in the present tense, and then print it out (if it’s on your computer).
Once you’ve done that, read it to yourself. Out loud. Every day.
And remember this. As you go through these exercises, don’t be afraid to let yourself dream big.
Your only limit to your dreams is yourself and your imagination.
And if you really want to make sure you’re making, or have made the right decision with your blog, check out my post Should I Start A Blog?