How To Start A Blog
So you want to start a blog? (This guide first written back in 2012 has been updated in 2017 for you!) That might be for fun, to share you ideas or for monetization purposes. Often the question is how do I start a blog or how do I get started blogging? You want to know how to write a blog but you sometimes feel uninspired. You can start by figuring out which topics you are the most passionate about and which of those topics are the most popular among readers of blogs. Here are a few common blog topics that most bloggers base their blogs on:
- How-to articles
- Personal finance / Money
- Dating and marriage
- Home improvement
- Product reviews
- Gift ideas
You don’t have to limit yourself to just these ideas, however. There might be certain niches that you are an expert in. For example, if you are a college professor who teaches 19th century feminist literature and culture, you can direct your blog towards academics who teach and are interested in women’s history. Or you might decide to write on a subtopic of one of the listed categories in a unique way. The ideas are endless; you just need to get creative and think about what interests you the most.
Without the right blogging platform, you will struggle with the design and maintenance of your blogs. WordPress is a common and well-liked blogging platform, and here are some reasons why.
Wordpress offers a ton of beautiful design themes, and the plugins allow for inclusion of videos and photo galleries on your blog. WordPress is also free and it is easy to use. The security is top notch, and you can have numerous blogs operating on one platform. As for blogging platforms in general, look for one that best suits your blog’s audience. For example, for younger readers Tumblr or Typepad might be a good choice for you. Also consider other factors such as flexibility, technical support, ability to advertise on your blogs, and pricing for extra features.
Paid Hosting or Free Blogging Service?
If you are serious about starting blogging as a money-making tool or for business promotion, self-hosting is a great choice for you. With a self-hosted blog that includes your own domain name, you’ll have to pay a fee each month but generally the cost is not too high. With a free service, you can still customize your blog but you won’t own the domain.
Many first time bloggers start with a free blog service like WordPress, Blogpost or Blogger, if things go well you can always upgrade to a paid service when you are comfortable with that idea.
Designing Your Blog
When you design your blog, you don’t want too much visual clutter on it because it distracts readers from the content on the blog. On the other hand, you don’t want a boring theme that does not reflect your personality. Make use of images while designing your blog as this appeals to readers a lot. Stay away from excessive banner ads and use bold color schemes. Classy font styles are also neat to use in the blog’s design.
We recommend that you include a mailing list as part of your blog. Your email list and regular subscribers are important to the blog’s success because they enjoy reading your posts and other content and they may want to share your content. If your readers like what you write, they might subscribe. This gives you a greater following and it makes things easier when you seek out guest bloggers or look for products to review on your blog. To get started with this process, download email marketing software to your computer. Then add your blog to the software database. Once this step is complete, you would give the list a name.
It’s not as confusing as it sounds, here’s a simple explainer video to get you started. In the example it uses WordPress and a free email marketing software called Mailchimp. This is just one example of many that are out there.
Writing A Blog And Domain Names
When you are starting your first blog, you will need a catchy yet still relevant domain name for it. Avoid generic-sounding domain names but instead look for a domain name that best suits the purpose and main topic of your blog. For example, if your blog is dealing with vintage fashion, you might use the domain name Evolution of Fashion. The name should be memorable to potential readers.
Choose something that is fun, relevant and easy to remember. If you are creating a free hosted bog, the name is still important even if looks something like blogger it might be something like – http://digbysblog.blogspot.co.uk/ but as you can see, this super popular blog is called Hullabaloo.
One you have the blog ready you can add pages inside it, one of the most important pages is the “About Me” page. Since you want to build a personal relationship with your readers, you want to create a detailed About Me page on your blog. The information should include things to connect with your readers and help them feel they know you. Some good things to include are:
- Highlights about your life (be real!)
- What led you to start the blog (why?)
- How your blog will inform and help readers with specific examples (why they want to read it)
- Your contact information (it again makes the blog more personal)
- Clear photo of yourself (again, this ensures the blog is personalised)
When you have these details on your blog, it lets the reader know more about you and why you put the blog together. They will also start to see you as an expert in the topic you blog about. At some point you might receive questions from readers on various subjects and those questions could be your next blog topics.
How To Start Blog Writing – Look for Inspiration from Unusual Places
Sometimes bloggers fall into a writing rut and they run out of ideas for their blogs. When this happens it is a good idea to seek inspiration for content from unusual places. If you are going to a candymaking class with your husband, you can use that experience to write a post that deals with old school candy recipes you remember from childhood. Or if your toddler enjoys jazz music, you can write about the effects of various styles of music on kids.
Write about what interests you and you’ll be surprised how much of this resonates with your readers. Blogging isn’t really a question of right or wrong, it should be fun and allow you to enjoy being creative.
Don’t keep that amazing blog to yourself. Now that it is up and running, it’s time to make an entrance through marketing if one of the reasons you’ve invested time in starting and writing your blog is to monetize it. Start by telling loved ones and friends about your blog. They are an easy first audience and ask them to share links of your blog posts to others, you’ll get more readers this way. Here are some additional ways to promote your blog:
- Go beyond Facebook and Twitter. Post links and information about your blog to other social media outlets such as Tumblr, Quora and Mashable. If you write for Hubpages or other content sites, include your blog post links there.
- You can also promote your blog posts on Slideshare. Give a preview of your post using the slides then link back to the original material.
- Post your material to your connections on LinkedIn. This is especially a good idea if you have a career-based or small business-based blog.
- Send emails to other bloggers you enjoy reading and who write about topics similar to yours. Mention how you like their content and post links to your blog.
- Create video versions of certain blog posts and upload them to Youtube
With these ideas, you can market your blog and generate more subscribers. Another idea would be to attend an industry-specific bloggers conference and network with others like yourself. Make sure your blog is mobile-friendly and conference attendants can read through your blog on their devices. Most of them are!
Blogging Monetization Options
In order for successful monetization of your blog to happen, you will need to heavily promote it and have a steady stream of readers and subscribers. Once this is in place, you can seek out ways to earn income from it. But even if you do not have a huge following, you can monetize your blog. One way to do this is through affiliate marketing. You sign up with an online affiliate marketing site and then you choose certain products that best suit the nature of your blog.
You can then place ads for these products on your blog, and if customers buy items, you get a share of the affiliate company’s profits. This is one of the simplest way to get an income from your blog and it feels good to when you recommend products that will help your readers.
Another option would be the pay per play method. Audio advertisements can be placed on your blog, the payment for this tends to be quite good, usually around the $5 mark but as the reader will not be able to cut the ad off it can annoy some visitors and since not all visitors will want to sit through audio ads, there is a chance that some visitors might not visit your blog again.
Product reviews work well for blog monetization. You can write a few product reviews then choose affiliate ads for the ones you review on the site. If customers buy the products that were reviewed, you can earn a decent profit.Many bloggers do this and partner with big sites like Amazon.com so there is a guarantee of quality products for your readers.
For those who write ebooks and maintain a blog, it would be a great idea to sell ebooks on your blog. When you do this you keep all of your earnings and you gradually earn a nice income. Include primarily ebooks that pertain to your blog’s main topic and certain posts. Some bloggers even put together all their top posts and turn that into a downloadable ebook.
If you maintain your blog frequently and keep it updated with new material, consider offering paid membership for special section of your blog. The members only section might include online courses, access to archived blogs from the previous year, audio interviews you’ve done with industry experts or tickets to conferences where you will be a guest speaker.
Explore New Topics for Your Blog Regularly
As a regular blogger you will need to explore new topics all the time to keep the blog interesting. You can create multiple blogs that would each be focused on a different niche topic. Some seasoned bloggers plan their topics months ahead of time by creating a calendar. This is helpful and it reduces the stress of coming up with fresh material one week at a time. Sometimes you can educate yourself on topics you wouldn’t normally write about as a way to challenge yourself and generate more interest in your blog.
A blog is not JUST about writing, some things to remember are:
Use Exciting Images
Your blog will look drab without beautiful and high quality images. This is especially true if you have a blog that deals with food, fashion, travel, weddings, and music. Practice taking pictures and take photography courses to enhance your expertise in this area. Readers are drawn the most to blogs with images.
Stay Engaged With Your Target Audience
This means you will have to research your target audience regularly and find out what their interests and values are. It helps you write better content and your blog’s focus will be more consistent. For example, if your target audience is stay at home moms who operate home based businesses, your content would focus on the things they care about the most. It also helps to seek advice from other bloggers with similar target audiences.
Optimize the Blog
This is essential to boosting traffic because the majority of it will come by way of search engines. Research a variety of keywords that are relevant to your blog topic then find out which ones are the most searched for by users. Write those words down and then use them naturally in your posts. You should also categorize and tag your posts in order for the blog to get more traffic on search engines. Other ways to optimize include using credible references, linking to reputable sites and making the blog mobile friendly.
Stick to a Consistent Schedule
Some beginner bloggers try to post numerous amounts of content every few days but this becomes overwhelming for them. It is best to develop a consistent schedule. This allows you to have the time to plan your next few posts. Generally bloggers post content once or twice a week
It’s Okay to Delegate
At some point it might become difficult to manage your blog alone. You can hire other people to write posts, handle errors or do promotions for the blog through social media. This will come in handy during times when you need to take a break.
Infuse Your Blog With Your Individuality
You don’t want to copy your favorite bloggers when starting your own blog. Incorporate your individuality into your content as this draws more readers. If you are someone who uses sarcastic humor in your writing, include it in your posts. Or if you write with a quirky yet still serious tone, let it show in your work. Write as if you were talking with a close friend. There is no need to be overly formal unless it is an in-depth piece on a serious topic such as terrorism.
In conclusion, creating a free blog allows you to share your passion with the world and you can even make extra money in the process. It takes patience, time and hard work to build a successful blog but in the end you will be rewarded with increased readership and personal satisfaction.