I live in the Indianapolis area and have a 10 year old autistic son. For a few years, I have been toying with the idea to start a blog or website that helps other families. I want to share my stories (good and bad) as well as let people know different resources, events, help find babysitter for special needs, give reviews and restaurants and shops and what not for special needs and have blogs from special needs teachers and professionals. I’m just wondering if this really is a good idea and do you think it’s possible? -Danielle
Yes, I think there is definitely a market for this!
As I thought through your question, I wanted to answer it in more of a broad manner — because I think there are many people like you who have a blog idea or topic they see there’s a need for a blog about and are wondering what they should do with the idea.
So here are two questions I encourage you to ask yourself:
1. Do you have a passion for this topic?
Now, it’s clear to me that this is a topic you know well–this is very real part of your every day life. It’s something that you’ve researched and learned a lot about.
However, knowledge is different than passion.
For instance, my 6-year-old has fairly severe asthma and has severe indoor and outdoor allergies. The asthma showed up when he was 18-months old and has been something that has resulted in many sleepless nights, many scary experiences, much fatigue, many prayers, tremendous amounts of research, and countless hours in doctor’s offices.
People often come to me with questions on asthma and pediatric allergies because they know it’s something that’s been a daily part of my life since the time Silas was little. I can share our experiences with different kinds of natural remedies, I can point you in the direction of good doctors, I can discuss medications and steroids and nebulizers and inhalers and the pros and cons and risks involved with each.
I’m happy to help people with the knowledge I’ve gleaned from walking through this journey with a child with severe asthma. I’m so grateful that we’ve found some different treatments that are allowing him to have relief from constant major episodes and relapses. I’m so thankful that the changes we’ve made in his life and our lives to remove as many triggers as possible and to be very proactive when he starts flaring up have resulted in him being healthier and sleeping through the night on a fairly consistent basis (instead of being up multiple times — or much of the night — because of coughing and inability to breathe well).
But I don’t have a passion for the topic of asthma. Talking about it and researching it is not something that gets me excited. I have no desire to write about it or blog about it or speak on it. And if I saw that there was a huge need for a blog or book on the topic, I wouldn’t be the one to write the book or start the blog.
Why? Because I’d burn out very quickly.
I share all of this to encourage you to step back and really consider: Is your blog idea something you are fiercely passionate about? Does talking about it light a fire under your belly? Do your friends see you as the go-to person for the topic?
Could you talk about this topic for hours and hours without getting tired? Could you write 5,000 posts on the topic? Could you get excited about getting up and writing about this topic every single day for years to come?
2. Do you have time to devote to blogging?
Blogging successfully requires a big commitment of time. It will take time and effort to set up the blog, to learn basic HTML, to get the hang of how to upload links and pictures, and how to format your posts. You’ll probably also want to learn how to use social media well, how to set up an email newsletter, how to design graphics, and maybe even how to update your header or sidebar.
It requires commitment to continue to blog and answer emails. To continue to find fresh content and perspective. To deal with site issues that come up. To learn new skills and adapt as the market changes.
Step back and really consider if your schedule would allow for this commitment. Would blogging be a blessing or a burden to your family? Would it drag you down, frustrate you, make you feel stressed and guilty, or take over your life in a negative way?
You don’t have to blog regularly. There is no rule book, after all, and you are the boss. However, if you want to be successful as a blogger, you have to put some priority on blogging.
Posts don’t just write themselves. Pictures don’t just take and crop themselves. And social media doesn’t just post automatically.
You have to make that happen — and it’s a LOT more work than most people realize. It can also be a LOT more frustrating than it might seem like at face value. If you’re like me and you’re not naturally a techie person, you are going to have a steep learning curve ahead of you.
Minor tweaks might end up turning into major headaches. Simple changes might make you want to pull your hair out. And almost everything to do with blogging typically takes longer than you think it will.
The most successful bloggers and those who stick with it for the long-haul are those who go into blogging treating it like a business or real job: something that you have to show up for daily or at least multiple times per week.
Do you have the space in your calendar to make regular blogging happen? Do you have the desire to learn the skills necessary to successfully set up and run a blog? Do you love new challenges and experimentation?
Did You Answer “Yes” To Both Questions?
If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, then I think you should definitely strongly consider moving ahead with the blog idea. There is a lot of potential for this idea and a lot of need for encouragement in this area.
I think you could consider expanding beyond your local area — maybe even making your blog a resource for those nationwide or even worldwide, with a special emphasis on your local area?
And if you do start your blog, I will be cheering you on all the way!
For more helpful ideas, read my post on How to Make Money Blogging.
What advice & thoughts do the rest of you have for Danielle? I’d love for you to chime in in the comments!
I appreciated your answers to this reader’s question, Crystal. While I didn’t pursue blogging for the same reason she did, I was still able to get some encouragement from your answer. One thing I would say to this reader is: don’t get discouraged right away if blogging doesn’t just explode in popularity for you. It takes time and consistency. I’ve been blogging for 2 1/2 years and am just starting to gain some traction. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but don’t give up! People need to hear what you have to say, so keep at it. You’ll get there!
Thank you to everyone giving me advice and things to think about. I think I will plan it out on paper (I’m a planner type) and then see what I can come up with. Thank you all again.
Lyn heffernan says
autismbyhand.com is an excellent blog on raising an autistic child who is now almost a teenager. That might be helpful to Danielle.
My autistic son is 19 and on his way to college in the fall. His life has been a learning experience for me. I’ve read some of the comments on the time required to maintain a blog. Please consider how much time that will take from your son. My guess is you are in a comfortable routine with his behaviors and feel like you have some time. I found with my son that things changed. In 6th grade I pulled him out of school and started homeschooling (the school system did not know what they were doing, but put on a good front for years). Preparing him for life in a “normal” world, takes a lot of time.
I don’t want to discourage you from this, but encourage you to focus on what you are truly trying to accomplish with this blog. Start small and see where it goes. If you want a money maker, it could come as a cost to your son.
That is a wonderful assessment and something I really do need to think about. You are absolutely correct in the fact that we are in a routine and its about to change again with school starting up.
By the way I’m so excited to hear about your son heading to college. That is something I really want for my son and something we are working towards.
That is really good advice. We definitely have a routine and I would not want to mess with that. I will have to find a way to make it work with our schedule. I’m hoping this becomes more of a community blog with ideas and suggestions from others. I do not take it as discouragement, but more as a prepare for this idea. I do think starting small is the answer too.
By the way, its wonderful to hear about your son going to college. I would love that for my son and its something we are working towards.
I am interested in the topic for sure. Please let me know if you are planning to start one, I would like to join. I work in health care.
If you start a blog you should do guests… even guests who don’t necessarily have websites (since many of us don’t have regular blogs due to time). I am student teaching in the fall in an inclusive classroom.
Not only is the parent perspective good, but also perspectives from teachers or special ed teachers. Teachers class kids are “their kids” and I know there are a lot of rules we have to follow that parents may not understand. But I also know parents are a great resource since they know their kids best.
I had that very idea. I want the perspective of special needs teachers and even regular teachers. I think that would provide great inside to parents and others. I would love to have other parents blog as well, since the saying goes “when you have met one autistic person you have met one autistic person”. Meaning they are all different. I know this would be a HUGE time commitment which is why I haven’t jumped at it yet. Thanks for your comments.
I’ll add one more voice that confirms the fact that blogging takes way more time than you would think, especially if you will have a steep learning curve.
But, if you are passionate about your content, as Crystal mentioned, here are a few things that I’ve found helpful:
1. Take a long-term view. Every baby step counts, and it may take months or even years to build a blog to the place you now envision.
2. Develop your presence in the blogger community. With millions of blogs out there, finding and being encouragement with/for other bloggers is priceless.
3. Don’t let the numbers rule! This is hard, but really important. It is deflating to pour your heart into a post and have very little traffic or interaction. Be patient, promote, and keep going.
4. Invest most in your “tribe”. Search Engine or referred traffic is nice, but those readers on your mailing list are “your people”. They identify/appreciate/are interested in what you’re posting. Talk to them as friends in your newsletter, encourage them to contact you, and be prompt in replying. Look for ways to be a blessing to them as a unique group. (I occasionally do a subscriber-only giveaway only through the newsletter).
I hope this helps. I think every blogger would agree that what a reader sees is just the tip of the iceberg. But if you’re passionate and committed, you can do it!
Crystal Paine says
SUCH wisdom and great advice in this comment. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your wisdom!
I loved this question! I recently started a blog and wrestled with this very same issue (I’m in Indiana, too–in the West Lafayette area)! My family has multiple food allergies…which is an obvious niche for blogging, but there were lots of other things I thought I could blog about, too. I had a hard time even knowing if I would be passionate enough on the food allergy subject (or any of the other subjects) because I tend to be interested in LOTS of things! [Same reason I had a hard time picking a major in college…I loved almost every subject I took in school.]
I decided to pursue the food allergy topic because I knew I could create a great resource for our family and friends now, even if I found that I might not want to pursue it long term. I felt like I needed to get some practical experience in blogging to really understand what was involved, so I stopped agonizing over it & went for it. In my research, I found that a lot of successful bloggers have played around with a couple different blogs before finding the subject material that worked for them, anyway.
Also, I was encouraged to jump into blogging when Crystal posted a deal link to a blogging class through Blogelina (which included free web hosting for 1 year). 🙂 I figured that I should take a chance and pursue it, or I might never do it.
I do agree that there is a lot more to blogging than meets the eye, but I feel like I’ve learned so much about the virtual world, even in the super short amount of time I’ve been doing this! For me, the time spent is worth it. Honestly, I’m still working out a schedule to find time for my blog. Even if I don’t pursue blogging long term, though, I feel like many of the skills that are needed for blogging (networking, writing & communicating, understanding and using social media, using graphics, and all the techie stuff) would be beneficial even for a traditional “brick and mortar” job down the road, if that makes sense.
Crystal Paine says
I LOVE this! Thanks for taking the time to share!
I just started a blog on July 1. I am quickly learning how much work it is! I am a teacher so I have some time this summer to blog. I don’t think I will keep it up when I go back though!
Instead of a blog, maybe you could think of it as a more static website? Put some resources down so others can have access to them.
I agree with both of your points wholeheartedly. I think the part I didn’t realize until diving in is how much time you spend promoting your name and your brand. Learning about how all the different media channels work and then figuring out the new social media outlets that are popping up. I love the writing part, if all I had to do was write, blogging would be so natural for me. The social media and content learning is not natural for me, so this is what takes a lot of my time.
Completely agree! I love the writing part of blogging, but the others are a challenge for me. I am fairy technically challenged, so it has been a steep learning curve. Because I am excited about my topic and love the relationships I’ve built through the blog, though, I know that it is worth it.
How old are your kids? I just hired my oldest (14) to be my social media VA 😉
This is wonderful advice. I started a blog at the beginning of this year, so is my 7th month blogging (I’m still rather new to this writing format). It’s true: pretty much everything takes longer than I think it will. Learning everything I need to know has been a very steep learning curve for me. My passion for what I write about — approaching every area of your life with thought and presence — is what keeps me coming back each day.
There are many free blogging platforms out there. Perhaps you can give it a try and see if you enjoy it before taking on something bigger?
Crystal Paine says
Great advice! Thank you for sharing!
I am often surprised about how much time I spend blogging. It seems like writing the posts are just a 1/4th of the time I spend on my blog. I think a great way to make sure it doesn’t take all of your time is by starting a blog with a couple of people.
It is a lot of work!! But can be so rewarding when you learn something new or figure out way to accomplish what you want to do to your blog. Also, sharing and feedback-plus being part of a larger community-can be so helpful. I’d say give it a try-maybe it would be almost therapeutic and help your family!
Ellen Russell says
Great advice! One thing that really helped me was write up a lot of posts and take pictures for projects before I even started my blog. It showed me that yes, this was something I really was passionate about, and have me a nice buffer once I actually got the blog going. Good luck Danielle!
Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life says
Definitely more time involved than I ever anticipated! And yes, the techie frustrations sometimes do make me want to pull my hair out. 😉
Mrs. LC@LooseChangeLiving says
Starting a blog does take an enormous amount of time – way more than I thought it would. Maybe you could get together with a group of people that could jointly develop the blog.
Angie Marcum says
Crystal I loved this post in regards to one of your readers questions. I love the insight on whether she should start the blog or not. Very true answers. I am also from Indiana, about 15 minutes east of Greenfield and I also have an Autistic son, high functioning Autism on the spectrum, who just turned 16. I also blog and I do have Autism on my site, but I do not blog a lot on the subject, but I do blog about other topics I have a passion for including family, frugal living, faithful living, coupons, green living, recipes, Disney, travel, blogging tips, and some local Indiana events and posts. I love to blog, but it is a lot of work like Crystal stated in her post. I also work outside the home beside blogging. I hope this helps you on making the decision to blog or not.