How to Start a Successful Blog? – [Full Beginner’s Guide]
If you have a flair for writing and have a topic or an area of expertise you’re really passionate about, maybe it’s time to create your very own blog. You don’t have to be shy about it. Everyone has some thoughts they want to share with the rest of the world and now, you can do it while getting a good pay as well. So today, we’re going to talk about how you can create a successful blog. It takes time and a lot of work to get to where you want to be with your blog, but you’ll definitely get there if you keep improving your writing skills. You don’t have to be a tech-savvy person to have a functioning website with awesome content on it, even I myself don’t know how to code. Yet you can still be a full-fledged blogger that creates content which people come back to over and over again.
In this article, we’re going to tell you about the initial steps of launching a blog and the strategies that will drive its long term success. As a blogger, your main job will be to write thoughtful and engaging content, so we’ll focus more on content creation.
Initial Steps of Starting and Running a Successful Blog
Starting a blog isn’t rocket science. In fact, it has been made into one of the simplest processes one can do on the internet. Thanks to the numerous content management systems available, one can start their blog with a few clicks. But of course, you won’t have the exact blog you want with the wave of a magic wand. There is a lot of customization work to be done, which requires some coding. I know I said you don’t have to code, and once your blog is set, you really don’t. But at the start, it’s best if you have someone who you can reach out to and who knows how to code.
Starting a Blog
- Find a topic you enjoy and know something about.
- Find out who your target audience will be.
- Sign up for a hosting plan – I recommend BlueHost for WordPress.
- Choose a CMS.
- Select a theme that fits your blog’s topic.
- Modify the theme.
- Write awesome compelling content.
- Marketing Your Content and Gathering Readers
1. Finding Your Topic and Niche
This is the hardest and easiest steps in the process. You don’t even have to touch a computer to figure this one out. You only have to know yourself and why you’re looking to start a blog. If you want to market products, services or a company, then you already have your topic figured out. But if you just want to write about something that excites you, than do your own thing by all means.
The most successful blogs focus down on a certain view about a certain topic, while adding a bit of personal flair and opinions. Not to mention that they also give the reader some kind of unique value that would otherwise be hard for them to find.
It’s also important to keep in mind that you would like to make some cash with it as well. So look at ways you could tie your topic of interest together with some product or service you could promote or sell. It shouldn’t be just about the money, but you got to make a living too.
Keep in mind that while writing about something you love is the main goal, it’s also important that others have an interest in that topic as well. So, make a compromise between what you want and what your potential readers will want. You can do a throughout research on that by doing keyword research. For that, try out Google Adwords Keywords Panner, MOZ’s Keyword Explorer and Google Trends. These three will help you get a solid idea of what people are searching for, what kind of questions they have and what trending topics there are. MOZ’s keyword explorer will also show you what content pieces have already been written and how heavy your competition is.
2. Finding Your Target Audience
Defining the people or group of people you’re going to write for is crucial for your success. The people you’re writing for will define the way you write for them. The easiest way to establish your target audience, is by establishing a few target personas. Think about what kind of questions these people have, what are their goals, challenges and speak to them. You want to find those people that fulfill a certain need with your content. These are some of the main things that could define a person’s interests:
- Monthly Salary
- Sexual Orientation
- Marital Status
- Favorite Movies
The list goes on and on. Grab anything that you could use to define a person’s interests and target those. This will later drive your marketing efforts as well and will help you establish where you should market your content and find new readers.
3. Signing Up For a Hosting Plan
Now, free hosting or self-hosting might seem reasonable, because why wouldn’t you save money if you could. But it really isn’t. There are plenty of problems with both options, but the main one is that they’re unreliable. You want your blog to be completely reliable and to run on high speed, no matter how many people are using it. For that, you’ll have to have a quality web hosting service. So I recommend going with a commercial one. Though it requires you to pay a monthly or a yearly fee, it will be the foundation of your entire blog.
You still have to choose the right one though, because you want to get the best out of the least amount of money. So to avoid any rip-offs or dissatisfaction, go with a reliable hosting company like HostGator or InMotion. Both of them perform really well in the two most important areas, speed and uptime. They also have reasonable prices. A hosting plan for your blog will cost about $3 to $5. With either of these hosting providers, you can ensure that your blog wild be stable and incredibly fast all the way.
Speed is incredibly important for various reasons. The most obvious one is, that it establishes the basis of a high-quality user experience. The second one is that if a webpage takes more than 2s to load, the user will just click away, because nobody has that kind of patience anymore. So, a slow website is a big no-no, both from a user perspective and from an SEO perspective as well.
4. Choosing a Platform For Your Blog (a CMS)
I’m going to go with the most obvious choice right off the bat. That’s WordPress. If you don’t have a very specific reason to choose any other, than go with WordPress by all means. About every 4th website on the internet is built with it and it makes uploading blog posts a walk in the park.
It also has about a 100,000 themes from which you can choose from. Most of them are mobile friendly, so, you’ll have an awesome design after a bit of browsing. It really is the number one platform for bloggers and various other types of websites as well. So if you don’t have much web-development experience to start with, WordPress is your best option.
5. Choosing a Theme That Fits Your Blog
I think it’s fairly obvious why this is important. If you write about your outdoor adventures, you’ll want to have a theme that supports it. Pictures of trees and various landscapes and a nice woody design will help your visitors know what your blog is about at first glance. If you’re writing about health, get a theme for that. There are a lot of themes that were made for specific businesses, industries or hobbies, so you won’t have a hard time finding one. I highly recommend the Divi Theme, which is in my opinion the ultimate theme you need. It is developed by ElegantThemes, and has some amazing features that can be implemented to any website.
6. Modifying Your Chosen Theme
You can just choose a theme, add it to your blog in a few clicks and start using it as it is, but you can also customize it according to your needs. You can try and customize it yourself with the help of tutorials and various guides. Most premium themes have well-written documentation that will also help you. But you can just hire a developer to make the modifications you want. Either way, you’ll come out pretty cheap.
7. Write Awesome and Compelling Content
If you have your blog set up and all you have to do is add posts, this is where the real fun begins. The quality of your writing and the content of your pages will play the largest role in driving your blog’s success. So, let’s see how you can create the most thoughtful and engaging content for your audience. The main thing here is to add high-quality content to your blog on a regular basis and that’s what will gather your audience. Here are a couple of tips and strategies to make the most out of your blog’s content.
Write Powerful Headlines
Your headlines are the first thing that anyone sees from your post and it will be often the only thing they see. It’s your first impression, and users will judge your post based on it. It should be one of your top priorities to make it as compelling as possible. A good strategy to do it is to come up with about 25 headlines for a post. I know that sounds like a major headache, but after the 20th, you’ll see that some great ones come up that you wouldn’t even think of without pushing yourself this far. You should also use a tool on them, called the Headline Analyzer. It’s a great software that will tell you how powerful your headline is and give you some suggestions as well. You can also use the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer which also helps in predicting how successful a particular headline would be.
Also, use an effective featured Image that says a lot about what your post is about or is at least very provocative. Making click baits isn’t the nicest things you can do, but it sure is effective.
Always Spellcheck and Edit Your Post
You want your post to be as neat and as professionally written as possible, and you can’t have that with bad grammar and formatting. Which is why I choose to do the following.
Use Grammarly To Detect Writing Errors – Grammarly is currently the best plugin and software on the internet, for checking spelling errors. It only takes a click to check and correct a spelling mistake, which makes things infinitely easy. It also notices poorly structured sentences which is very useful. The core feature is free to use, so I suggest you download it right away.
Use a Readability Tester – A readability tester will look through your text and determine how easy it is to read and determine the level it’s written at. You can use the one on WebPageFX.
Write In An Active Voice – Passive voice gets people bored really quickly. It works like an attention repellant, and you want to get as much attention from people as humanly possible. Which is why I recommend writing in an active voice. By this I mean that it’s really important how you structure your sentences. Here’s a pretty throughout explanation to what active and passive voice is . Here’s a pretty good video explaining the same thing. If you have already written a post and there is plenty of sentences that are written in passive voice, than change them to active as soon as you notice them.
Pay Attention To SEO
If you follow my advice and use WordPress for your blog, than you’ll have to download a pretty useful plugin called the Yoast SEO plugin. It has just about everything you need to get the on-page SEO of your posts right. It will examine your text and tell you if there’s something you have to correct or change, which makes the process a whole lot easier. But other than that, here are a few SEO rules you should keep in mind.
Use Your Keywords Properly
Keywords are what Google uses to find content according to user’s search. The keyword you focus on should be embedded into your post and into its page in all the right places. Here are all the places you should include your keywords in.
The Headline (H1) – Your headline is the first thing both potential readers and search engines see. So, it’s only logical that your posts main keyword or keywords should be included. Place your keywords into the first 65 characters of your title. It’s even better if you make it into your headline’s first 3 words.
The First Paragraph of Your Text – The first paragraph or the introductory phase of your post, should have your focus keyword in it at least once. This is critical, because the same applies here as in the headline. Readers and search engine crawlers will use it to get their first impression of your post.
The Meta Description – The meta description’s role is to give the reader and the search engine a short summary of what a particular page contains. So, give a short description of your post in a 2 or 3 sentences. Make it as compelling and as thought provoking as possible and be sure to include at least one of your main keywords.
Post URL (slug) – Google will look at your post’s URL too and search it for valuable information. Be sure to have well-written URL’s like domain.com/best-post-for-you. Be sure that it doesn’t include words like “the”, or any other stop word.
Image Alt-text and Title – Google can’t analyze images, it can only rely on text. So you’ll do the crawlers a favor by giving them a title of what a particular picture is about. The alt-text will only be read by robots, while the image title will be visible for your readers as well.
Read Plenty of MOZ’s Content
MOZ is one of the leaders in search engine optimization. They have published plenty of outstanding guides that will help you understand most of what search engine optimization is about and even how it applies to your blog. I recommend that you should check them out. You can also learn a lot from the way they write, structure and create their content, because there’s a lot to learn from it.
8. Marketing Your Content and Gathering New Readers
Putting some work into your blog’s SEO, will help you gain more organic search engine traffic. But there’s a lot more you can do to increase the number of readers your blog has. There are a number of ways you can market your blog and show it off to your potential readers. The main goal here, is to get your content in front of eyes that have a genuine interest in it. Here are a few simple ways to do it:
Market your content on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Stumble upon. Maybe even put Reddit into the mix as well. Get into groups that are built upon the topic you’re writing about and use the chance to share some of your content with them. Post images and to Pinterest and Instagram and let people know what you have to share with them.
To make your job easier in managing multiple social media platforms, you can use Buffer. It’s an awesome free tool that lets you schedule your posts and be a lot more flexible in how you show off your content on social media.
You should also show off your blog’s content in other blog’s comment sections. That’s probably the best place to get it in front of people who have an interest in hearing what you have to say. Just be sure to use a proper language in your comments and make sure that it doesn’t seem spammy.
You can make your job a whole lot easier by using an app called Tiberr. It will help you with showing off your content in all the right places by locating the blogs you can target. Finding your target audience has never been easier!
There you have it! If you follow at least a few of the tips we’ve given here, you’ll build a pretty successful blog. Of course, there are plenty of moving parts and you’ll have to put plenty of hard work into it. But it will definitely pay off if you targeted a good topic and you keep posting consistently.
Don’t forget that you’ll have to make money with it somehow too. So, be sure to check out one of our other posts on how you can make money with your blog!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading through this article and that we helped you to learn something new!