Deciding to start a blog doesn’t mean that you have to be a great writer (although it does help). You just need to share a unique perspective on the world and know about a particular topic to stand out from the crowd. A blog is a good way to share your views and understanding of the world.
If you’re passionate about something and want to share some information, insight and ideas, then a blog is a great tool to connect with an audience. A blog can be a website in itself, or a page of a website; either way, it is a free tool to engage with readers and promote a business, product or viewpoint.
Blogging can increase website traffic, especially when fresh content is uploaded regularly. If you’re interested in creating a platform to drive traffic and build an audience, then here are some steps to follow when starting a blog.
Decide on an overall topic
Firstly, you need to decide what you want your blog to be about. Choose one general topic that will give your articles focus and purpose. Ideally, you should know a lot about this topic so that you can write the posts easily and with a fundamental understanding of the topic.
Whether you want to write about marketing tips, fashion, photography or science – know what you’re talking about and establish yourself as an expert in that field. Not only will this make your articles more trustworthy, but you’ll be better than most of the competition right away.
Bear in mind, the more unique your topic, the more likely you are to stand out and appear higher in search engine results. Try to produce unique content that no other website has, and quality always beats quantity – so make sure your articles are fact-checked and well-written.
Decide on a catchy name
Your blog is your brand and you don’t want it to be bland. Come up with a catchy name that readers are likely to remember. Perhaps it’s easiest to think of what tone you’d like to take with your articles before deciding on a name.
If you want to write light-hearted articles, a quirky name will lend itself to the blog. If you’d like to create informative, serious articles, it’s probably best to stick to a straightforward name. The name should be an introduction to the blog, so readers know what to expect immediately.
If you’re struggling to choose a name, think of a few and whittle them down to your favourite three. Then, get some input from family and friends and see which one is the general favourite. You’ll also want a domain name that is the same as your blog name, so check the availability of web addresses before deciding on a final name.
Decide on a platform
If you already have a website, then make your blog a new page on the site. This way you can keep your existing domain name and have the blog as an extension of your website, generating traffic and driving up the search engine rankings.
If you want your blog to be its own website, then choose the best platform for your needs. Hosts such as WordPress, Wix and Squarespace all offer themes and templates that are easy to set up. Choose a theme that suits your blog and decide on the best payment options for your needs.
Some hosts offer free stock images and videos as part of their package, so consider these factors too. A blog always needs good visual content to make it more striking and appealing. Also see what extra perks each host can offer, such as email subscriptions, social media sharing and visible comment boxes.
You chosen platform should also offer good mobile-friendly versions and templates. Most people use smartphones nowadays to access the internet, so having a template or website that displays correctly on a phone screen is very important.
Customising your blog
When customising your theme, consider using fonts that reflect the nature of your blog – just as the blog name does. Playful typefaces work well for fun blogs, plain fonts work best for serious blogs. Whatever typefaces you use, keep your body text font simple and readable. Choose a maximum of three fonts for your blog; one for the title, one for the headlines and one for the body text.
Similarly, choose a colour scheme that lends itself to your blog. Like fonts, stick to three colours – preferably pastels or toned-down colours that aren’t too bright or harsh on the eye. This colour scheme should be carried throughout the blog.
Not all blogs need a logo, but it’s always fun to create one. If you can create one yourself or are willing to pay someone to design it for you, go ahead. If not, it’s not the end of the world. Writing posts should be your first priority, after all.
Your theme needs to offer a good user experience. It needs to be easy to navigate and intuitive to use. Think about setting up extra pages or menu items on your blog (besides ‘Home’, ‘About’ and ‘Contact’). Perhaps you could set up a ‘Tutorials’ page or a ‘Trending’ menu item.
Include a search bar on your blog so that users can easily find what they’re looking for. Don’t forget to link your logo to your homepage – many users know that clicking on a website logo is the easiest way to navigate back to the homepage. Also, include your email address and location in the footer of each page for your readers’ convenience.
Start writing your blog posts
Once you’re happy with the general look and feel of your blog, it’s time to start populating it with content. Firstly, create an introductory post describing the purpose of the blog and a little bit about yourself. Ask the readers what sort of content they expect to see in future, have them answer in the comments section and internalise their responses.
Next, decide how often you want to post and try to stick to a schedule. Whether you want to upload content once a month, once a week or every day, you need to stick to the deadlines to maximise your search engine rankings. Uploading on a weekly basis is the most reasonable option.
Create a spreadsheet that outlines the content you wish to write, when it is to be uploaded and what sources you will consult when writing. This will become your editorial content calendar. Also, include links to images and videos that you want to embed in the articles.
Write with the web in mind
When writing each article, think about search engine optimisation (SEO) and your website rankings. First and foremost, your content needs to be unique and of high-quality. Write from the heart, edit, fact-check, re-edit and then upload. Re-read it once it’s online just to be sure everything looks good.
Choose three or four keywords for each article and make sure that they are relevant to the topic. These keywords should appear naturally in various places throughout the article, such in the main headline, the subheadings, intro, body, conclusion, as well as the URL and the meta description. Remember to include these keywords as tags when uploading the article.
Keywords are what you use to target the correct audience and to rank higher in specific searches. They should be directly related to your article and blog. The best way to find relevant keywords is to use Google AdWords and its Keyword Planner – you type in a keyword and it gives you a list of suggested related words that people often use to search.
Visual content is also good for SEO. Include two or three images or videos with each article. Try not to use bad stock images – websites such as Pixabay and Pexels offer good stock photos. Ideally, you’ll want to upload your own photos if you can.
With each photo, include a caption and title containing the keywords. Also, insert an alt tag (or alt text) – this is a short description of the image that search engines use to categorise it and display it in the image search results.
It is also good practice to link to your other blog posts within the body text of an article. Internal linking keeps traffic on your website and creates a nice network map for Google of what content is on your site.
Include good calls-to-action at the end of your articles. These phrases entice the reader to do something specific, such as leave a comment or subscribe to your mailing list. You can use calls-to-action to get people to follow you on social media or share your content if they find it valuable.
Post and promote your content
Once your articles are written, edited, packed with SEO keywords and uploaded, you can now begin promoting your content on social media. It’s no use writing great articles if no one will find them and read them.
There are a few ways to give your content a nudge – promotion through subscription, social media and email marketing. Give your readers the choice to subscribe to your content, follow your social media channels and sign up to receive emails whenever new content goes live.
Once you’ve established a solid audience, they’ll begin to share your content on your behalf if they find it valuable. It is important to keep track of your post-performance so you can see where you are winning, and where you can improve.
Keep a spreadsheet of performance stats and track your follower engagement. Some blog hosts provide analytics tools for tracking your blog performance, otherwise, you can use Google Analytics to do so. Also record the number of likes, comments and shares that each post receives and determine at what time and day your posts do best.
You need to stay on top of your game and stick to your deadlines in order to manage a successful blog. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the process! If you wish to partner with someone who knows how to apply the best practices to achieve your online goals, don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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