In this article:
- How does a blog actually work?
- So why should someone blog?
- Selecting a blog topic
- Selecting Your Market, Niche, Audience
- Choosing a blog name
- Setting yourself goals and objectives
- Purchasing webhosting and a domain name
- Wiring your content
- Promoting your blog and yourself
- Build a relationship with other bloggers
- Where to from now?
If you are reading this, chances are that you want to improve your blog or start one from scratch. If you do, you have come to the right place. This article will teach you everything you need to know to get started blogging and to make it a success. It covers a very basic, but complete overview on how to get started blogging the right way. So let’s get into it shall we?
How does a blog actually work?
The very first thing that you need to know before you begin blogging is to understand what is a blog and how does a blog actually work.
The word “blog” is actually short for “weblog” or “web log” and it is essentially a website that consists of many entries of text, audio, or video called posts or entries that appear in a reverse chronological order. What makes blogs different to a website is that a website usually has structure for all its pages where as a blog mainly consists of a limited number of pages and can contain thousands of individual posts. Depending on the type of blog you have, these entries will usually be similar in type, size or format. Unlike websites, readers can comment on the blogs posts which provides interactivity between the blogger and the reader. Blog posts are assigned to categories and each post can have a number of tags that can be used to easily find content relating to a particular topic.
A few terms to become familiar with are:
- Blogging: The act of writing a post for a blog
- Blogger: The person who writes a post on a blog. “A blogger blogs”, or a “blogger is blogging”
- Blogosphere: The online community of blogs, bloggers, readers and commenter’s
Blogging started in the late 1990’s as can be thought of basically an online diary where individuals post information about their life stories, opinions on a number of topics. As blogs evolved, interactive features where developed to allow a two way communication conversation between the readers and bloggers. As time continues, there are over 100 million blogs today in the blogosphere.
So why should someone blog?
- It allows you to express your thoughts and feelings
- You can build a name for yourself online
- You can connect with your friends, family, and co-workers
- You can share your knowledge with the world
- It can help with your resume and land yourself a job
- You can work from home
- You can work the hours you want
- It only takes a few hours a day or a week and can be considered as a hobby
- You create a voice for yourself
- It is a great way to make money on the side
- You help people without even knowing it
- You establish yourself as an expert in your niche
- You make a difference to the world
- You can protest against issues your believe strongly in
- You stay knowledgeably on a particular topic
- It kills boredom by giving you something to do in your spare time
- It is fun and exciting
- It is rewarding
- It allows you to be creative
- You can create a great resource of knowledge for yourself
- You know what you were doing in your past posts
- It can be private if you want it to be
- You own everything you write
- It is a great way to learn and explore the full benefits of the internet
- It is a great way to meet new people online that are passionate in the same topic areas you are in
- It’s flexible – there is no right way to do it
- It allows you to market or promote something
- You can promote your business
Selecting A Blog Topic
Now that you know the basics of what a blog is and how it works, the first step is to decide on when creating a blog is to think about the topic that you want to blog about. You have to think carefully about this as it will stick with you for the life of the blog. You need to pick a topic that you:
- Know extremely well
- Are passionate about the topic
- Won’t get bored of it in the future
- Can talk about with other people
Not only do you have to choose a topic that you are interested in, you need to pick a topic that has an audience reading about it.
Selecting Your Market, Niche, Audience
Selecting your market, niche and audience is also one of the most important things to consider when starting a new blog. For example, you need to conduct your own research to answer the following questions:
- How popular is this topic?
- What competition does this topic have?
- How many people are interested in this topic?
- Is the topic growing in size or shrinking?
- Will this topic be around in years to come?
- Can you produce enough content to keep your audience engaged?
- Is there money in this topic? (If you’re looking to make some money out of this blog)
If you want a blog that has a large number of readers, you need to ensure that the above dot-points are in your favour.
Choosing a blog name
When you choose a name for your blog, there are a few things that you need to take into consideration:
- It will describe what your blog is about
- If it’s hard to remember, no one will remember to visit
- If people can’t type it, no one can visit it
- People are lazy and can’t spell, so don’t have 50+ characters
- The domain name must be available
- Your name determines your professionalism
- You can’t change it – your stuck with it for life
So how do you think of a good blog name?
- Make it stand out
- Have your main keyword in your blog name
- Find a balance between too general and too targeted
- Make up a word that doesn’t mean anything in particular. Eg Google
- Combined two words together
- Keep the name as short as possible
- Choose a name that is easy to pronounce
- Use prefixes
- Use an acronym
- Asks your friends to spell, and say your blog name to ensure they say and spell it correctly
- Make the name concise, unique, memorable, easy to spell, readable, and relevant
- Use words only – don’t use special characters or numbers
- Don’t use easily misspelt words (piece/peice)
- Don’t used words that are spelt differently in different countries (favourite/favorite, colour/color)
So what are some suggestions of coming up with a good blog name?
- When registering a domain name, try and use .com
- Make your blog name related to your domain
- Use a name that is search a lot, but not many results appear
Set Yourself Goals and Objectives of What You Want To Archive
Once you know what your Blog is going to be about, write down your goals and plan your blog. Planning is the key for success. “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail”
Setting your goals and objectives are the first thing any blogger should do, that is why it is Challenge #1 of our 7 Day Blogging Challenge. When you set your goals and objectives, remember to follow the SMART Criteria. That is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-oriented. If you want further information about this, it is suggestion that you subscribe and get your free copy of Create A Successful Blog 7 Day Blogging Challenge.
Choose Your Blogging Platform
Next is to choose what platform you will run your blog with. The most common ones are WordPress and Blogger. But there are heaps more out there such as LiveJournal, Joomla, and Drupal.
If you are planning on creating a successful blog for yourself, it is highly recommended that you use WordPress. If you want to use a free hosted solution, visit http://www.wordpress.com, but it is highly recommended that you purchase webhosting and install a self-hosted version of WordPress that you can download from http://www.wordpress.org.
Finding a Reliable Web Host
The key to a success website, is to always be online. If your site is down for 5 minutes, you can lose a lot of potential visitors to your site. Therefore, you have to spend the money to go with a reliable web hosting company. HostGator is an affordable, and reliable web hosting company with a large number of happy customers.
Purchase a Domain Name
Now that you have got your own webhosting account, and know the name of your blog, it is now time to purchase a domain name (that’s if you want to purchase one). They cost about $10 per year and gives your Blog a sense of professionalism instead of using a subdomain of your hosting provider. There are also a number of benefits of having a domain name. These includes:
- It also allows you to move your Blog to a different server without losing all your hard work in promoting it.
- You have one name for readers to access no matter what platform you use
- You can have firstname.lastname@example.org instead of using a free Hotmail/Gmail email address
Writing Your Content
The most important factor of having a successful blog is the content that your blog contains. Not only must you have unique content, you must also engage the readers attention. Below are a few idea’s on how you can achieve that.
Use Catchy and Interesting Titles
Titles are the most important part of getting a reader to click on your link and read your post. You may find that readers will only read posts if the title catches their eye. If they don’t think the title is interesting, they will just skip all your hard work writing the actual post. So you need to spend at least 10 minutes if not more, working on the posts title. If you have a title that explains exactly what the post is about, the reader will click it and read it. For example, if you are writing a review about a new laptop, a bad title that people will not read will be “Look what I just purchased”. Unless people have an interest in your life and what you purchased, no one will read it. However, if your title is “Review of the Median Akoya E1210 Netbook”, people who are looking at netbooks will most likely read it. In terms of having people find your blog post, you need to figure out what key search terms people are searching for. Use sites like Google Trends and Google Keywords to find that information out.
Update Your Blog Constantly
A successful Blog needs to be updated daily. One post every second day is the bare minimum. Anything less you will not build up a readership. Also, don’t publish 10 posts in one day otherwise you will give your readers information overload. So make sure you use the schedule feature in your blogging platform. This allows you to write 10 posts in one day, and allows you to publish them over a period of time. It will also keep your readers coming back to check if anything’s new if they no you publish new content frequently. Make sure you also have a publication schedule and make sure that you follow it. Also, the more posts you have, the more entry points you have into your blog.
Write Unique and Compelling Content
Content will make or break your Blog. Your content needs to be unique, originally, compelling and interest your readers. If readers like your post, they will submit it to websites such as Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon which will give you a lot of traffic to your Blog, especially if it has been made popular.
Don’t Write Low Impact Posts
Unless you’re a famous celebrity, people don’t want to read about what you did for the day, or what you had for breakfast. These posts are worthless to the readers, and will be mostly skipped. By writing these posts, it will tend to make people unsubscribe from your blog as they are not receiving useful information as they intended.
Make Your Posts Useful
People don’t want to read things that aren’t useful to them, so try not to write too many off-topic posts. Make sure you write posts that users will gain something out of it and is in the main theme and topic of your blog. Write something for them to say to themselves, “Hey, that’s interesting – I am going to subscribe”.
Create A Complete Guide
If you are writing a ‘How To’ post, don’t write a quick guide for it. Explain each step in detail, and use a lot of images to support your instructions. You have to pretend that your readers do not know anything about the topic. Depending on the guide you are writing, break it down into pages (as this can improve your bounce rate) and use Chapters. For example, have a look at the Complete Wave Guide written by Gina Trapani and Adam Pash from Lifehacker. Although this guide is big enough to be an eBook, you still get the general idea. Another good example for how you should write guides is Instructables. Take particular note about how many pages you have to click to read the whole instruction, and how the steps are broken down.
Write A Post Series
Writing a post series is a good marketing tactic for your blog to get your readers coming back. However, make sure you stick to a regular schedule and post once a day so readers don’t leave because they are sick of wasting their time because nothing new is on your blog.
Think About Controversial Topics
Being controversial in your posts may hurt your reputation, so be very careful as to what you say. To have an impact on your readers about controversial topics, don’t lead on to strong about the topic. Present the topic a different way, or in a way that people haven’t noticed it like.
Be Short And To The Point
Posts don’t always have to be long. Short, and to the point is another way readers can be impacted by your post. If you have a brilliant idea or a thought, if written in the right way, it can go viral. Long posts can often have the reader drift off, especially if it is boring for them or they already read quite a lot on the internet.
If your readers remember your post, you have achieved your goal of impacting your readers. If you think back through your life, you won’t remember every single thing that you have done, but you will remember certain parts of your past. This could be your favourite Christmas when you were a child, or something terrifying. What ever it was, it impacted you and you will remember it for the rest of your life.
You have to try and do the same with your writing. You might want to do something bold and courageous that all your readers would remember. If you are producing a video, you may want to include something in the background, just like in this video. Many people would remember this video for a long time if they have watched it.
List Excellent Resources
If you list excellent resources that your readers are interested it, it will save them hours and hours searching for the content on the internet. By creating lists of items, these posts can be a very useful to all your readers, as all the information is a few clicks away.
Write About New Idea’s
Saying the same thing over and over in different ways will make your readers get bored. So post something new or extreme to keep your readers interested. Look how much publicity the Apple iPad received as that was a new idea; a never seen before device.
Take New Angles
If you struggling to come up with new idea’s, try and take a previous idea’s, but add a new angle to it. Take blogging for example. Posts were often very long and short posts just didn’t quite fit in. Then Twitter came along and the microblogging took off. Microblogging is a new angle of conventional blogging.
Another example could be that you’re covering the topic of the iPad. Most blogs would write a review on it, but by brave and write about why it sucks, or why the iPad is a larger version of the iPhone.
Write Fewer, More Detailed Posts
Very large blogs can publish 10 or more posts per day, but if you are the only one blogging on your website, you may find it will be hard to write this many posts. You then might want to write fewer, but more detailed posts once a day, rather then publish 3 smaller posts.
Write More, Less Detailed Posts
The same can be said the other way. Shorter posts, to the point, and lots of them, can entice your readers. You just have to find an equal balance that you like writing and your readers like reading.
What type of content should you write on your blog?
You may think that content is just content. Well in fact, this is not the case. There are many different forms of content that a blog can have. For example, your blog can be made up of video, music, images, or text. However, there are different types of content that give a different final result and do different things with your readers.
Content that will get readers to your blog
To have a successful blog you need readers to come to your blog. So you need to create content that readers are able to find and be useful to them. This content is usually a once-off thing, and would most probably do really well on social media websites such as Digg and StumbleUpon. The action of getting readers to your blog is called link baiting.
It’s mere impossible to create this sort of content everyday, but once you have it, it will increase your readers dramatically, and you’ll see your majority of search hits going that that page.
An example of content that will get readers to your blog may be an InfoGraph, or something that a lot of people find very useful and want to share it around.
Content that will get readers coming back
The second type of content is content that will get your readers to come back to your blog. This should be you main focus point. Therefore, you must write content that your blogs audience is looking for, and most importantly, have a consistent publication schedule.
You should create this sort of content everyday on your blog as this content entices readers to return. It doesn’t have to be anything special, but your regular readers will always come back and read it if they enjoy it.
Content to make you money
Thirdly, you may want to make money somehow. So this sort of content may be a paid review, a sponsored post, or a product that you highly endorse and get affiliate sales for. It is important that you use this sort of content sparingly as you don’t want to lose readers as you are spamming them with products to often.
Content used for promotion
Content that is used for promotion is content that you write that promotes your blog. For example, it could be a blog post that outlines the rules of a competition you are having.
The main aim of writing this sort of content is to get your readers to spread your name and brand around and to increase your blog subscriber count.
Content to spread around on social media
This sort of content should be created to become viral on social media websites. The aim of the content is to be popular on websites such as Digg. By creating viral content, you will be receiving a lot of new visitors to your blog which hopefully, your content can entice them to stay and return.
Content to promote your content
The final type of content is content that promotes your existing content. For example, if you have written a lot of posts about a similar topic, you may wish to create a post that links to each of those items. It’s also a great way to bring your older content back to life.
Promote Your Blog and Yourself
Building up your traffic
Building up your traffic is the hardest stage in creating a successful blog. It requires a lot of work by you and it takes a long time. But once you have the momentum going, it pays off. There are many ways to build up your blog traffic. These includes paid and free advertisement, search engine optimisation, viral marketing, submitting your feeds to news aggregation services, word-of-mouth and writing articles for other websites who link back to yours. Once your traffic is on a steady rise, you’re going in a good direction to have a successful Blog.
How To Promote Your Blog
The following are a number of ways you can promote your blog.
- Guest posting
- Commenting on other blogs
- Submit your Blog into web directors
- Promote in forums and emails
- Word of mouth
- Trade links
- Use ping sites
- Leave trackbacks
- Add your blog to email and forum signatures
- Promote your blog offline
Build A Relationship With Readers and Bloggers
Don’t just write articles, publish them and leave it at that. Make sure you communicate and interact with your readers. Respond to all their comments, make them feel welcome for visiting your blog, and if they ask you a question, try to answer it in much detail as you can. If you want to know more about how to build a relationship with other bloggers, it is highly recommended that you complete the 7 Day Blogging Challenge as it will teach you how to build relationships with other bloggers.
Once you have a steady reader base, it is a good idea to get input from them. Ask what they like and don’t like about your Blog. Ask for suggestions and what they would like to see in the future. They will give you great idea’s, and they will even get more visitors to your Blog.
Where To From Now?
Now that you have the basic knowledge to get started blogging, you can now setup your very own blog.
Remember the steps to take:
- Select a topic that you want to blog about
- Determine whether that topic has readers
- Choose your blog name
- Set yourself goals and objectives
- Choose your blogging platform
- Purchase a domain name
- Purchase a webhosting account
- Setup your blog and customise it
- Start writing and publishing your content
- Promote your blog and yourself
- Build a relationship with other bloggers and readers
- Keep blogging and watch your blog and yourself become successful.
Need More Help?
If you need more help on creating a successful blog, join our Online Courses to learn how to do all the above steps the right way.