One of the first places that people went in the newspaper was the advice column that Ann Landers wrote regularly. She would take questions that were submitted by readers and give thought-out answers to their concerns. What made Ann Landers unique was the fact that she was almost always non-judgmental. She simply provided information, experience, and perspective in a tightly controlled package so everyone could come to their own conclusions.
That’s the kind of perspective you’ve got to provide others if you want to know how to start an advice blog. You have to remember that this kind of blog isn’t about you. It’s about the readers who want to get your perspective on whatever issues are bothering them. If you can make the attitude of your blog about the reader on a consistent basis, then you’ll have conquered the largest hurdle that you’ll face.
1. Ask family and friends for questions you can answer when you’re first starting out.
The problem with starting a brand new advice blog is that you don’t have any questions to answer. This means you won’t have any new content to offer and blog posts that beg for questions generally aren’t going to get you anything meaningful that you can use. Ask people you trust for some questions that you can answer right away so that readers can get a glimpse of your wisdom right away.
2. Think structure.
Your blog is going to be difficult to read if your advice isn’t structured in a user-friendly way. Take full advantage of the “jump,” or the “read more” command that most blogging platforms offer. Use the question as the basis of the blog post and then let people click on the questions that they’d like to see how you answered. This will keep your layout pretty clean and inviting to the average visitor and let them pick and choose the answers they want to see.
3. Make yourself stand out.
Many advice bloggers stand out by offering the most ridiculous, out of this world advice that no one would be able to follow in a million years. That certainly attracts a certain audience demographic, but that’s not generally what the average advice blogger wants to have. They want to genuinely help people. This means to stand out, you must be able to show that you can consistently offer common sense advice. The more consistency you can build up over time, then the better you’re going to stand out from the rest of white noise on the internet today.
4. Do you already have something to offer?
You might already have a bit of a reputation that you can build upon. If so, then be sure to use your name as part of your blogging experience. If you’re starting from scratch, then it is fine to create a moniker that can help you establish a unique identity. “As Uncle Mike” can be just as effective as “Ask Ann Landers” IF you are putting in the time to offer relevant, helpful advice.
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5. You must realize that there is accountability in giving people advice.
If someone follows your advice to the letter and they get hurt doing it, then there’s a good chance that your blog will become the target of a lawsuit. Whenever you give advice, you’re accountable for the words that are being said. That’s why it is important to have a rock-solid disclaimer associated with your website. You may wish to consult with legal help to make sure your disclaimer will protect you in case someone does something stupid because of something your wrote.
6. Take people through each process step by step.
How you structure your content is especially important today. People don’t typically read long paragraphs, compound sentences, and anything that has to do with a semi-colon. Keep everything short, simple, and to the point. When you can do this, you’ll create a dynamic impact with your words.
7. Stay true to your niche.
The best advice always comes from first-hand experience. Ann Landers might have seemed like a generalized advice column, but if you look at the history of what was published, it generally reflected how to handle difficult relationship circumstances. That was her niche. You’ve got to discover your niche. Every subject can benefit from expert advice, so think about what you’re passionate about and make that the focus of your advice blog.
8. Structure criticism very carefully.
Most advice is going to encourage people to seek out a middle road. There are times, however, when people asking for advice are clearly in the wrong. “Is it ok to not feed my child for 3 straight days?” Even when something seems to be clearly wrong, it may not be. What if the child is not eating for 72 hours because of religious fasting? Criticism is fine to levy, but be gentle with it. Give yourself a back door by offering alternatives where some might see this situation as being fine. Offer options, put a clear line in the sand that you won’t cross, and you’ll develop respect from your readers.
9. Make your content easy to share.
Word of mouth about your awesome advice is going to spread far and wide when people can easily share it with their friends. For this reason, it is important to make your site friendly to social networking and bookmarking. Facebook and Twitter are generally assumed to be included, but don’t forget about Pinterest or Google Plus. Bookmarking on StumbleUpon can also be highly beneficial for an advice blog.
The goal of any blog is to answer questions and share expertise. You don’t have to right “epic” content 100% of the time, but you do need to compose meaningful content that can give people specific instructions to change their circumstances. When you follow these tips, then you’ll know how to start an advice blog that really can help to change lives.