Thinking of starting a blog? Here’s everything you need to know to get started and create a platform that is just for you (and your like-minded followers).
The blogosphere has never been more popular. With around 7 million blog posts every single day, it’s natural that many people find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of posts on display. But this should not be the case. In fact, starting a blog is a wonderful way to grow your brand, your business, or just to find a mouthpiece for your innermost thoughts and feelings. Starting a blog covers a variety of components, not just the blogging itself. Here, we will ensure you get started on the right foot, from simple tips and tricks to generating ideas, here is everything you need to know.
Decide What You Want to Write About
Before you get yourself set up with a website, you’ve got to decide what you really want to communicate to the world. There are a number of things you need to consider, these include the following:
- Your passions.
- Writing about what you don’t see on the blogosphere.
- Teaching your knowledge.
- Providing solutions to a number of problems.
One or some of these components can guide you towards a blog that satisfies your inherent needs.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they start a blog is going for the money first. Monetising a blog is something that we will cover later on, and is certainly something we should aspire to, but you’ve got to write according to the things you believe in first.
The old adage when it comes to writing is you should write about what you know. When you look at your blog, either as a business opportunity to fill a gap in the market or it’s your digital mouthpiece, you should strive to write according to what you believe in. This is not just to keep your passions afloat, but will translate to an authenticity that will help as you turn your blog from a simple platform to something that is scalable.
Think About the Name of Your Blog
There are many ways to come up with a blog name. You can use your own name, look at something that matches up with your competitors, or you could even use a blog name generator, but some people might tell you that the name doesn’t necessarily matter, however, you’ve got to think in terms of your abilities to market your blog.
Branding is going to be a very important tool in how you promote yourself based on your personality, your website layout, and the things that you talk about. 77% of marketers say that proper branding is essential to growth, and while it may require a lot of work upfront, choosing a blog name can cover a number of the following components:
- A focus keyword, especially if you are optimising your articles for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). If you have a very specific subject for your blog, you can research the appropriate keywords, which can get you started in ranking higher up the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
- Playing with words, such as puns, alliteration, acronyms, abbreviations, or a portmanteau, which is the combination of two words to form a whole new word.
- A name that is similar, yet different, from your competitors, which is especially important if you are running a blog within a specific subject matter.
A good blog name should be distinctive from other blog names out in the market, but should be related to the service you are selling, and needs to be memorable enough to stand out. You might think that it’s better for you to get any random name so you can set up your hosting and platform, but if you need to change your name further down the line having acquired a reputation, you could lose a lot of branding opportunities such as the logo, the website, and, potentially, the content. What’s in a name? Actually, a lot.
Choose Your Hosting
Web hosting is the foundational part of any website. For those who know nothing about hosting, your web host is a place where you can store the website’s files and data. A web host is a provider that offers the facilities for you to create and maintain a website. It’s important to remember that not all hosts are created equal, and when you choose your hosting, there are a number of essential criteria that you will need to consider, including some of the following:
- Knowing your website’s needs, for example, if you are building a photography website, you will need to prioritise storage as photos take up a lot of data and need to load on your website quickly.
- Server reliability, which will encompass “uptime” guarantees, which is the percentage of time your website is online and available without any issues.
- Understanding the host’s primary features, which can make a big difference in terms of building and maintaining your website.
- The available add-on products, which are additional extras that can make a big difference to the reliability of your website, for example, an SSL certificate, which provides an encrypted connection and can add extra security to your site.
Pick Your Platform
In addition to choosing your hosting, the right platform is just as important. There are a variety of blogging platforms out there, including WordPress, Tumblr, HubSpot CMS, and Wix. When it comes to choosing the best blogging platform, in a similar way to choosing hosting, the right provider will help you in many ways.
Choosing the right platform for blogging will depend on the level of support you need from the platform, but you also need to consider some of the following:
- The types of themes they have on offer.
- If there are additional plugins, for example, polls or social media.
- Is it easy to create your blog, for example, with a drag-and-drop editor tool and allows third-party embedding?
- Does it integrate well with other products and plugins?
Take Time to Come Up With Topics That Connect
If you are starting a blog, naturally, you’ve got to come up with blog topics. There will be a number of components at play here, for example, the type of blog you set up in the first place. But if you are struggling to come up with topics, there are a number of ways that you can do this, not just for the sake of your blog, but for Search Engine Optimisation.
Ultimately, if you want your blog to rank high on Google, you need to be capturing the zeitgeist of what people are looking for. Here are some tactics that can help:
Pick the Right Blog Categories
The notion of sparking ideas can be just about understanding the “clusters” of categories you want to focus on in your blog. For example, if you want to focus on how you’re feeling, the topic of mental health itself can span a variety of subcategories, such as mental health conditions, but there are also aspects that chime with the modern reader, such as limiting social media, self-care, techniques to improve your health, and so forth.
Looking at the Competition
It’s important that we don’t copy our competitors, but looking at what similar bloggers are writing about can help us to come up with different topics that plug the gaps. If you see a blog post that’s not answering an inherent need within your demographic(s), you can conduct a bit of competitive research to build upon what they’ve already done.
Reviewing Your Current Content
If you’ve already come up with ideas for blogs but you feel you are now running dry, post-brainstorm, you can dig deeper into different clusters of ideas. Ultimately, you don’t need to just focus on something like “starting a blog” as a blog post, this blog post in question covers a variety of topics that all can be blogs in their own right. When in doubt, you should dig further.
Conducting Keyword Research to Find Topics
Keyword research can provide insight into what people want to learn about. If there are topics missing online, this is where you can swoop in and benefit the reader.
Consider Yourself a Brand
If you’ve got to the point where you are slowly but surely developing a name for yourself, you’ve got to give consideration to how you can brand yourself. Branding yourself as a blogger should be a very organic journey, especially if you find you are writing about specific content and you are naturally developing your brand voice through your content. But there are a few additional things to consider when it comes to branding yourself:
It’s important to engage with other bloggers so you can gain credibility in your specific niche. This also allows people to guest blog on your blog, and this will further bolster your SEO credibility.
Collaborating With a Blogger
Following on naturally from the previous point, when you collaborate with other bloggers, you will strengthen your brand, especially if you align yourself with other well-established bloggers in their niche.
Check Your Brand Doesn’t Already Exist!
If you want to solidify a specific look, especially if you are using custom website builder tools, you need to set aside some time to do your own branding research. Look at the things like colours, fonts, images, and if there are already similar bloggers out there. It’s important to conduct this path of due diligence, especially as many people use WordPress to blog, meaning that there are hundreds of blogs that look and feel the same, but this is where finding your voice is so important.
Publish Content Regularly
If you’ve generated a lot of ideas for content and topics that speak to your audience but are also authentic to who you are, therefore correlating with your brand, you must get into the habit of publishing fresh content on a regular basis to improve your search engine ranking.
When you start to consider yourself as a brand, it’s not a one-size-fits-all practice when hitting the “publish” button. The answer to how much you should post will depend on your goals. For example, if you are blogging about in-depth topics, your frequency may not matter because long-form posts will provide a lot of value to your readers.
However, some may wish to work faster and churn out lots of content, in which case, a daily blog will be the answer. But if you are also working to increase your traffic, publishing more means more opportunities for search engines to find your website.
Track Your Stats
Traffic is the name of the game, and this is critical to ensuring that you are providing content that is, first and foremost, engaging. There are a variety of website analytics tools such as Google Analytics you can take advantage of, but why do we use statistics? The very simple answer is to make sure that we are going in the right direction.
It’s important to get into the habit of tracking your stats on a regular basis, and you need to be looking for the following key metrics:
- Users, who is an individual person that visits your website, also known as a visitor.
- Page views, which is the number of pages viewed by visitors.
- Sources, which refers to where the traffic came from in the first place, for example, if they found you via a post on Facebook.
- Sessions, which is a visit to the website and everything a visitor has done while on the site, for example, if they went to a blog post, then went to your About Us page, etc.
Consider Ways to Monetise Your Blog
There will be a time when you may consider monetising your blog. There are a number of profitable ways to do this, including the following:
- Selling eBooks.
- Creating and selling online courses.
- Using display advertising.
- Selling products via your website.
- Starting a podcast.
- Accepting donations.
Monetising your blog should be an organic solution when you see a solid increase in traffic and a growing email list.
Stick It Out!
Finally, it’s important to remember that if you are looking to start a blog, it’s not going to magically capture the zeitgeist overnight. It is said that more than 80% of bloggers quit and abandon their blogs within 12 months of starting. This is why you should start from the very beginning, and recognise that starting a blog is always about the right reason at the outset. A number of reasons people go wrong include the following:
- Picking the wrong niche.
- Expecting success overnight.
- Too much competition.
- Lack of engagement with followers.
- Slow traffic.
The reality is that if you want to start a blog, passion has to be the initial ingredient. Starting a blog can be an incredibly rewarding endeavour, as long as you do it with the right tools at the outset.