How to start a blog? Follow our ultimate guide
Blogs are a great way to establish your online identity and offer a natural platform for your content. However, there are a few key things you need to consider before making a start. Here we break down the steps you can’t miss and what you need to cover before clicking publish.
What is a blog and how can you benefit from it?
Simply put, a blog is a series of articles and content called posts. The default display for most blogs is usually a scroll down list, with the most recent posts prioritised. To make content a bit more user-friendly, it is also common for posts to be tagged as particular categories or by specific search terms.
Most importantly, a blog can be based around any topic, whether you want to create content on your favourite cafés, your holidays or posts on what shopping you’ve done this month. The key thing to remember is that you should regularly post on your blog. Whilst websites are usually more fixed in terms of content, the main attraction of blogs is that they are up to date and consistently updated.
Why should you give yourself a content platform and start blogging? Here are the three main benefits:
- Make connections and network: You will make significant connections and gain recognition in your field. By refining your blogging and researching your topics well, you can become known as an expert in your field. This will increase your value as an affiliate to seller or merchants if you wish to pursue affiliate marketing later on.
- Creating a knowledge hub: Blogging is creating information for a public space, and a great way to share expertise. Not only can you connect with people who are interested in the same things as you are, but you can trade knowledge on these topics. Comment sections can be a valuable source of discussions and allow for real conversation around your posts.
- Earn a passive income: Making money from home is a significant reason to pursue blogging. Popular bloggers can make a surprising amount of money, and if you are writing about a topic you love, it can seem like an easy income. However, there is a lot of work that goes into producing top-notch content. Still, the idea of earning an income for just a few hours a week creating content is a top reason people blog.
If you would like to start a blog, with the potential to earn money from it, all you need is an interest or specialist subject to attract an audience to your site. A topic you’re naturally interested in will help you find the motivation to post regular, engaging content.
Why is blogging still popular in 2019?
Blogging is essentially a way to share your interest or passion with a wider audience. In 2019, blogging still provides an opportunity to connect with like-minded people on shared passions for topics. As blogging has grown, so has the range of subjects that are covered. You can always write about classic topics like travel or fashion, but you can also write about comic books or Korean beauty products if those are more your interests. As long as you are writing about what you care about, your audience will identify with your passion and stay engaged with you.
Blogging is also popular in 2019 due to its use as an affiliate marketing platform. With a ready-made audience who trust their opinions, bloggers are now able to make an income from their product recommendations. By simply joining an affiliate network, bloggers have the chance to link particular items and receive a commission from the product seller/merchant – all by just having their audience click through on blog-based links.
The downside to starting your own blog
There are a few things would-be bloggers should pay attention to so they avoid common blogging pitfalls. Blogging can be a bigger commitment than it may seem even though you’re writing about something you love. Here are a few things you need to consider before embarking on your blogging journey:
- Technical issues: You don’t have to be a programming whiz kid to get your own blog off the ground, but it is important that you understand a few basics. Plugins, SEO considerations and even paid links can be tricky to set up if you are completely new to setting up your own site. While working with a content management system like WordPress will alleviate some of that stress, making small mistakes can be very frustrating and sometimes even costly.
- Feedback: Producing content for a public audience can be incredibly rewarding. Having people relate to your ideas or opinions can be validating and often provides a great confidence-boost to budding bloggers. However, there is always the chance that someone will disagree with your work and feel the need to let you know – and not always in the friendliest of terms. Although this can be a big downside to blogging, negative opinions or feedback don’t make up the norm. Remember to keep things in perspective.
- Loss of time: Blogging often takes a lot of time. Research, writing and editing – it all adds up. If you’re taking SEO into consideration, then even more time is necessary, as you will need to produce longer, more comprehensive texts in order to perform well in organic search results. Additionally, it also takes time in the long run to build an audience and generate income.
Although these are things you need to keep in mind when starting a blog, don’t quit. The potential rewards of running a successful blog far outweigh these concerns. Now you can jump into preparing to start your blog with a fully prepared and more informed mindset.
Blogging for beginners
If you have considered both the pros and cons of starting a blog and are still ready to make a start, then you need to read through our step by step guide to setting your blog up.
How do you set-up a blog?
Setting up your blog can be broken down into five key steps:
1. Name your blog
Before you go anywhere, you’ll need to settle on a name for your blog. If you are worried that your top idea is already taken, most domain hosts will let you know what sites are already registered. Additionally, they will often give you similar alternatives that are still free to choose.
Your blog’s name will be the first thing your audience comes to know you by, so finding something relevant and recognisable is vital. Perhaps write up a list with some keywords related to your blog topic, and create a few different variations on catchy phrases.
2. Get online
A big factor in how your blog will be perceived is the hosting service you choose. Yes, you can always choose a free platform, but if you’re looking to make an income from your blog, it may be worth investing in something a little more reliable.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a web host for your blog:
3. Design your blog
Once you have got the basics of choosing a name and web host out of the way, it’s time to get to the real nitty gritty of designing your blog. Most blogging platforms actually have a simplified backend, so don’t worry about things getting too technical.
It’s likely that you’ll be working with a CMS (Content Management System) to set up your posts, create formatting, and to edit your content. Most CMS platforms (like WordPress) are extremely user-friendly, so you won’t need specialist knowledge just to ensure your blog looks the way you want it to look.
WordPress is a popular choice due to its simplicity and the range of plugins or customisations available. Over 60% of all blogs are run on WordPress, including huge sites like Forbes and TechCrunch.
Whichever CMS you choose, make sure you consider design and layout carefully. You may think your content is more important but the visual impact of your site also affects site traffic. A study from Google and the University of Basel found that users judge a website on aesthetic beauty and assumed functionality within 1/50th of a second. First impressions count!
4. Start creating your content
Once you have your name and site designed, you will probably have a good idea of where you want to begin with your content. However, as with everything, a solid strategy will help save you time and also make sure your posts follow a cohesive path.
An editorial calendar is essentially an outline of which posts you’ll cover and on what date. This will allow you to plan key topics and tangential discussions, as well as let you productively organise your research. So how do you come up with the topics for your calendar?
Brainstorming is basic but effective. Jot down as many ideas or terms related to your blog topic as you can. Think of some questions you’ve had about the topic, because if you have wondered about something, it is likely your potential audience has, too. There are even keyword research tools available like Twinword Ideas to help you add to your word cloud. After you have come up with some strong ideas, organise them by setting up a spreadsheet. Here you can list your ideas and rank them by:
- How well they fit your blog topic
- How much demand there is from your readers
- How much potential blog traffic would be created
It’s also worth checking out other bloggers in your space and discovering which of their posts have the most engagement or have been shared. Remember, blogging is about working within a network so the work of others is often a great, accessible resource for inspiration.
5. Start promoting and earning money
Your blog has pretty much taken shape by this point – you have both the design and content prepared. The last thing to think about is your audience and how they will find you.
Promoting your content can be time consuming but it is definitely worth it once you start seeing increased site numbers. Additionally, if you are also aiming to start affiliate marketing, your web traffic needs to be healthy, otherwise you will not see much in the way of returns on affiliate links.
The general rule is to spend at least twice as long promoting your content as you did creating it. Here are a few avenues through which you can promote your blog:
- Social media: Aside from sharing with your existing network of friends and family, don’t hesitate to promote your blog on relevant pages. For example, if you are writing about fashion or design, comment on a magazine’s Facebook posts with a link to your own page.
- Interview people in your network: A great way to gain an audience is by aligning yourself with more established names. If you have a connection with someone in the blogging world that has an existing audience, you will generate both content and promotion for your own page.
- Network with fellow bloggers: Engaging with other bloggers via comments and social media is a great way to make a name for yourself in a particular field of interest. If you have a positive dynamic, more popular bloggers may give you a shout out or mention in their own content.
- Set up a mailing list: If you have worked so hard to find an audience, it makes sense to work to retain them. Ensure your audience feels connected to you and continues to visit your blog by reaching out regularly with engaging content, .
The last point is probably the most important. Regularly contacting your audience is a great way to keep them engaged and interested in your ongoing content. Set up a signup form in your posts, and you will accumulate email addresses quickly and easily. Once you have these subscribers, you can manage your newsletters with free services like MailChimp.
Updating your audience when have new content drives traffic up and ensures your readers won’t miss any of your work.
Blogging tips to get you started quickly
Your blog is set up, and you’re ready to click publish on your first post. But wait! Before you go live, here are three quick tips to help you get started on the right note:
1. Keep your content strong
It’s one thing to write about what you love but another to write about it effectively. To make sure your content is as good as it should be, take advantage of resources online like SEO-writing guides and tools like Yoast. This is a free plugin that helps you ensure your content is Google-friendly and ready to rank organically in searches.
2. Keep your content honest
Building a loyal audience is a key factor to ongoing success with blogs and returning readers are consistently high drivers of site traffic. Additionally, audience loyalty is a strength if you decide to branch out into affiliate marketing as they will trust your recommendations and drive your sales with any affiliate partners you work with. For that reason, it is important to maintain a level of honesty in your work.
3. Keep your content focused
Along with an editorial calendar, dedicate a fixed amount of time per week to your blog. As a starter blog, it is important to establish yourself with consistent and high-quality content. Building an audience will be vital to your blog’s ongoing success, so make sure you’re working with this in mind. By setting some time aside, you are less likely to rush your posts. You will also be better able to keep your target audience in mind when producing content.
Although there are a number of things to consider before diving in head first, starting a blog is a great way to establish yourself online. By creating your own unique space, you will connect with an audience and network of people who share your interests or hobbies.
Additionally, if you are successful enough in building your audience, you can strive to make an income from your blog. Concepts such as affiliate marketing are a great way to monetise your hard work and content creation.
Discover more interesting articles:
- Guide To Better Backlinks
- How To Use The Google Search Console
- Part 03: Why Start Blogging
- Part 05: Skills a Blogger Should Have
- Part 09: Buying And Setting Up Hosting
- Part 17: Content Plan – Adding Images, Videos, Widgets and Links
- Part 19: Typical Failures before Starting a Website
- Part 21: Setting up Google Analytics & Google Search Console
- How To Use Statistics And Metrics To Improve Your Blog
- Absolute Beginners: Important Jargon
- Absolute Beginners: Important Jargon
- Sourcing Products For Review
- Understand And Influence Key Metrics
- The Rules Of Blogging – Dos And Don’ts
- Valuable Data In Google Analytics
- The skills bloggers need
- Tips For Creating Your Own Images
- Unlock Your Site’s Potential
- How To Handle Online Criticism
- Why Write New Content