Bloggers are slowly dominating the online world, with many gaining celeb status instantaneously. Take Huda Kattan for example, she managed to build an empire around her social media status, after starting to blog in 2010. It only makes sense that you want in too, but how do you begin? With so many ideas floating around it’s difficult to focus and actually become a successful blogger.
Don’t fret, with this easy to follow guide for beginners you’ll be an internet sensation in no time:
1. Find Your Niche
Before you even put pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, you need to identify what you want to blog about and who it is you want to be.
- Passion: Blog about something you enjoy; if you aren’t excited in the topic, you’re readers certainly won’t be. Don’t try and delve into too many different interests, unless it’s a personal blog on your life. You want your audience to know why they are coming to your site.
- Purpose: What’s the purpose for your blog? Do you have great information that you want to share with the world? Have strong opinions on a certain subject? You also need to decide what you want to get out of blogging.
- Niche: it’s vital that you discover what your niche is before you begin. You need to become an expert in a targeted area and think of what you bring to the table; it has to be something unique that other blogs may not offer.
- Personality: To really make yourself heard, you need to inject your personality into your posts. You must decide how you want to come across and what writing style you should have. If it’s a lifestyle blog, make it personal and engaging. Your readers will visit because they like you as a person.
- Audience: Deciding who your target audience is so important. You obviously can’t cater to all groups of people, so identify who your ideal reader is by thinking about these questions: What’s their age? Gender? Location? Profession? Interests? It’s essential to narrow this down so you can track down potential customers.
2. Choose Your Domain Name
Once you have your blog name idea, you’ll need to choose a domain extension (the name/ URL of your site). “A .com domain extension is the most preferred, but .net or .org work as well. It is also important to note that for the purposes of a blog domain you cannot have any spaces between words. So ‘Blogging with Scott’ becomes bloggingwithscott.com”. There are a number of website where you can purchase your domain, a few include; godaddy and namecheap. If the site name you want is unavailable, try using words like ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’ to differentiate.
3. Select Your Hosting Site
Now you’ve purchased the address; you’re ready to build a home.
Option 1: Self-Hosted
To set up your self-hosted blog you’ll need to find the tools that work for you. Many upcoming bloggers use sites like bluehost, iPage and siteground to build their platform. You then simply choose the “one-click installation” of Wordpress and use the drag and drop options to begin building your site.
Option 2: Free Hosting
It’s important to note that many bloggers opt for free hosting sites like wordpress.com, wix.com or blogger.com. The difference here is that you don’t own your site, it’s hosted on someone else’s web property and they can delete it if they choose to. Your URL will also appear as “bloggingwithscott.wordpress.com” if you opt for the free alternative.
Whether you want to create your blog on a self-hosted site or a free alternative is down to you. You must decide on whether it’s a hobby or if you want to turn your passion into a business. If it’s the latter, a self-hosted blog is best option as you can monazite your content.
4. Customize Your Blog
Here’s the fun part; this is where you get to change the design your blog and be super creative. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and other platforms offer thousands of themes to choose from, or you can even pay to get a custom one built. When you’re choosing your design, it’s vital to select something that it’s user-friendly and easy to navigate. You should also spend time researching what similar blogs are like and try to create something that’s different to wow your readers.
Top tip: to ensure your site is mobile friendly; you can use this test to see how it will appear. It’s also vital to select a theme with good ratings and a fast load time; you don’t want your readers waiting for the page to load – do you? You can use this speed checker to test the waters before you go viral.
Once you’ve got a web-host and a great theme, it’s time to get your plugins in order. Keep the amount of plugins or add-ons you use to a minimum. Each plugin you add will most likely make your site slower and will also put the safety of your site at risk if they are poorly coded, which in turn will probably make you lose users.
The plus side is that they can make your blog even more powerful by adding interactive features, creating shortcuts, and integrating your blog with third-party services. Here is a list of plug-ins that you can choose to have on your site:
- Akismet: to prevent your comments section being overwhelmed by spam content (other anti-spam plugins are available, like WP-SpamShield).
- Jetpack: which is developed by the WordPress team, and adds lots of useful features, such as visitor statistics.
- WordFence: a security plugin that protects your WordPress blog against hacking and malware.
- Yoast: which makes it really easy to optimise your blog for search engines.
- Audio player: to play interviews and podcasts.
- Broken link checker: to remove and fix broken links.
- Contact form 7: for users to contact you.
- Google XML sitemaps: to create nice and simple sitemaps for Google to crawl.
- Popular posts: to help people find your best content.
- Sharebar: so readers can share your content on social media.
- WP smush.it: to reduce image file sizes and make your site load faster.
- WP super cache: another plugin that helps your site load faster.
Top tip: ensure you keep your plug-ins up-to-date to reduce security threats.
6. Create Unique Content
Creating compelling content will set you apart from your competitors and give you a fighting chance of gaining valuable traffic to your blog. But where do you begin? You need to have a good strategy in place and follow the same steps each time you turn your thoughts into writing.
- Create a plan: You might want to write about something specific, that, quite frankly no one else cares about. But you have to identify a searchable topic for your blog. Do a search to see what other blogs have done, and to make sure you don’t cover the same topic in the same way. Make a list of what you want to include, how you want to structure your posts and use this as a guideline.
- SEO and Keywords: It’s important to attract an organic audience from Search Engines. Even if you plan on getting traffic from other sources, keywords ensure your content is targeting the correct audience.
- Writing style: Use the same style throughout the entire blog. If it’s a business blog, you’ll need to have a professional tone and manner. If it’s more focused on sport and fashion, you can be more colloquial and friendly.
- Hire Content Writers: It’s understandable that you can’t manage everything on your own, especially if you have a full-time job. This is where help can really come in hand. You might have good ideas but won’t know how to execute them correctly. A freelance writer can help you with this. An added benefit is that you’ll get new flavour on your site and a larger following.
7. Promote Your Blog
Now you’ve got an up and running blog, it’s time to start getting your name out there and building your personal brand. But how do you do this? There are a number of marketing trends that you can tap into to promote your blog.
- Social Media Marketing – using social media platforms to promote your product and engage with your audience.
- Email Marketing – helps you build subscribers and connect with your readers.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) - the process of optimizing your content so that a search engine likes to show it as a top result for searches for a certain keyword.
- Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC) - Pay-Per-Click allows customers to see your ads first, it can generate fast traffic based on interests, keywords, locations and even device usage.
- Influencer Marketing - involves the hiring of a celebrity or a well-known blogger to sell or promote your product or brand.
Some people make a living from blogging. To do this, you need to create a simple business plan. It’s a good idea to think about what monetisation model would work for your blog and niche. Planning from the beginning will help in the long run.
After reading this step-by-step guide, you should have a clear structure on where to begin and how to set up your very first blog (exciting!). Blogging can not only open doors for career prospects, but it can help you grow as a person and give you the voice you’ve been struggling to find. Good luck with your new blog!
If you have any other questions or tips you want to add to help fellow bloggers, join in on the conversation below….