What No One Tells You About Starting a Blog
Nowadays it seems everyone wants to start a blog. But how does one get started? When I first began blogging I had so many questions and didn’t know where to even begin. For example which software to use (I have always used WordPress and love it) or how to track your users. I’ve written a few of the tips I have found useful over the years, and hope you also do.
Pick the right topic
Your blog should inspire you, motivate you and be something that you are excited to write about. Whatever that may be for you, find it and don’t second guess it. If the subject ends up not being the right one then there is nothing wrong with a lesson learned.
As some of you may know, this is not my first blog:
A few years back I took a stab at creating a personal style blog. Don’t get me wrong, it was a valuable experience in which I learned a lot, however I quickly realized the fashion blogging world was not for me. I had a camera, but no photographer (which was difficult considering I was attempting to be the main character). Plus I looked pretty goofy doing it (I had no idea what I was doing) I realized I like to take pictures more of others than I like having pictures taken of myself.
For example this young man:
At that time I had picked the topic of my blog because it sounded cool, not because it was especially interesting to me. The actual making of the blog (the layout design, setting up the web hosting and the SEO behind it) was more interesting to me than the creation of each post. If at any point in your blogging journey you find that you may not be writing about the right thing, don’t be afraid to switch gears.
Don’t do it for the money
Money is nice. Everyone dreams of becoming the next Huffington Post or Sartorialist. But if you focus your blog around pleasing readers, and creating click-bate material people will sense your ingenuity faster than your ads or affiliate links can make much money. The online user is not stupid, in fact, they are more well informed than they ever have been. If you create rich, useful, interesting content it will be rewarded and communities will start to grow naturally around your blog. Don’t jump right away to monetizing your blog, but first focus on creating a quality website that is worthy of being read. Ads and promotions can come later once you have created a user-base.
Then there’s another important issue to address. Let’s say you create outstanding content or talk about topics that really matter in the world. Yet you still fill your titles and links with click-bate annoying, overly-dramatic wording. Lately I have observed this trend becoming more and more popular. Yet, the reaction from users is not as supportive. In the near future I see things changing for the better. I see competitors pouncing on this as an opportunity to offer readers real, intellectual material. Or at least I hope the online blogging world will become less dull and enlarge its vocabulary.
Make sure you have the time
Writing a blog post seems so easy, anyone could whip one up real quick, could’t they?
If you are completely new to blogging, this may be your perception. Depending on the topic, blog posts can take anywhere from hours to days or even weeks to perfect and finish. Not only must one write, but one must research, edit and not to mention add pictures, which is a completely different obstacle in and of itself.
But why does this matter? Because writing in your blog regularly is extremely important in order to maintain your readership. People do not want to wait around for your next post, they want it to already be there the next time they access your site. Why? Because they can easily read another blog.
Get the right hosting-don’t waste money
Today there are endless web hosting companies attempting to offer you the fastest servers, the best support and the easiest set up. This may all seem extremely important for you in the beginning. Who would want their website to be down when they write that one post that goes viral? But frankly most websites will not have that viral post until they actually get the hang of blogging in the first place. When choosing hosting, pick one with low prices. Splurging is absolutely not necessary. I would recommend researching not just the big names like GoDaddy but other small ones such as Arvixe which is what this site uses. I can’t emphasize enough, in the beginning pick something low-cost and if the time comes where you need more bandwidth you can always upgrade!
Use Google Analytics
Google Analytics is my favorite Google tool. Of course Google offers many useful tools which I wrote about in a recent post that you can read about here. Google Analytics is free and all you have to do is copy and post a short piece of code into the “header” or “footer” portion of your blogs theme code (found in Editor on WordPress). There are many instructional videos and tutorials available online to help you do this.
But what’s great about Google Analytics is that it allows you to see so much information about who is looking at your blog. Not only do you see how many individual users have accessed it, but if they are new or returning users, what country they live in, how they gained access to your website (extremely important for understanding which channels are most useful for attracting readers). The list goes on. Even if you do not focus on growing your readership it is still pretty cool to find out most of your readers come from Brazil or a tiny town in Indonesia (why I love the internet).
Create your social media presence
This one is for those who want to grow their audience. Of course, there is no better place to start than within your own network. Facebook continuously has been seen as the top contributors to directing traffic to websites. Do not simply advertise your blog on your personal Facebook page, but also create a Facebook page for your blog! Twitter and Google+ are also vital in creating an online presence. Not only does this offer the potential to give your blog the possibility to spread by word of mouth (or word of click), but it simultaneously betters your search engine optimization as well. Basically if you want to be at the top of Google or Bing’s search results it is nearly impossible to not incorporate social media into your daily blogging.
When it comes to the design of your blog, social buttons should always be present as well. Don’t make it hard for a reader to share your content, because believe me then they probably won’t. And as always, be genuine.
Talk about it to your friends
The first level of spreading the word is your social circle. Not only is this important for growing your user-base but also it can help inspiration! Friends may offer you a different perspective and this could be important if you have ever been stuck thinking of a topic.
Jot down ideas actively
Be active about your writing. If an idea pops in your head, write it down. Maybe start carrying a small notebook around or simply put it in your phone. I can’t even tell you how many times I forgot what I wanted to write about because of failing to do this.
SEO is important if you want to get noticed
The main goal in SEO is to be consistent. Don’t expect to get to the top of search results without even writing about what your title says you do. SEO must be something you constantly look after, are you writing descriptive alt tags for images? Do all your links connect well throughout your blog? Are you using meta descriptions? To dig deeper into SEO take a look at a post I recently wrote about it.
You actually have to know how to write
Last but not least, please write in a grammatically correct fashion! If you don’t do anything at all, do this. Check spelling, read your post at least once through before hitting the publish button and when in doubt about punctuation Google it! In the modern world we live in today, there are no excuses; there is so much information out there and it is extremely easy to access.
What are some tips you have learned along your blogging journey? Are you new to blogging and still have questions?