How to Start and Launch Your Own Blog
Blogging has changed considerably since it’s inception in the late 1980’s and today blogs are everywhere. If you read any blogs you already know they are a powerful tool in creating and sharing content. A blog can also be a tool for making money, creating community and selling products online.
The truth is that getting started as a blogger is pretty simple, but not necessarily easy. There are a lot of factors when starting a blog.
In this article we’ll share:
- Why You Need to Start a Blog
- How to Choose a Niche (Target Audience) for Your Blog
- The Best Way to Set Up Your Blog
- How to Come Up with Endless Blog Ideas
- How to Write Engaging Blog Posts
WHY START A BLOG?
A successful blog will take time and commitment, but it can be extremely rewarding and profitable. If you’re willing to put in a little work, you might gain more out of a blog than you expect. Here are a few of the reasons why you may want to consider starting a blog.
1. Make Money
Many people make money from their blog – whether that’s directly or indirectly. How much money your blog brings in will depend on how much traffic your site gets, how you monetize that traffic and how you connect with your audience.
Effective networking, an established following, and high-quality content are other factors to how much money you will make blogging. Some people earn thousands per month from a single blog, and a number of successful bloggers have made blogging their full-time career.
if you don’t make money blogging right away – don’t give up! In most cases it takes time.
Some of the ways to make money with a blog, or to monetize a blog include:
- advertising space on your blog
- sell your own products and services on your blog
- promote other people’s products (affiliate marketing)
- build an email list, which you can then use for marketing
- start a membership site or membership portal
So as you can see there are lots of ways to make money blogging.
2. Establish Authority
A high-quality blog is an excellent way to establish yourself as an expert with authority in your field. This is especially important if you run a business or are a professional looking for more clients. To be considered a high-quality blog you want to provide useful content that speaks to your niche market. What is a niche market? Simple said, a niche is the group of people you choose to focus on and provide content to – we’ll dive deeper into niches later in this article. Or click here if you want to jump ahead to How to Choose a Niche for Your Blog
A blog helps to give your name more recognition. In turn, the increased recognition can help you gain more customers and connections because you are a trusted authority. This is why it’s vitally important to put out quality content. Your content is like your online reputation. Tarnish it, or lead people astray, and you may not get a second chance.
3. Develop Valuable Skills
Blogging can also help you to develop valuable skills. The first (and most obvious) is writing. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a great writer, blogging can help you to build your writing skills. The more you blog, the more you’ll find yourself able to organize your thoughts and develop an engaging story.
Writing a blog will also help you to become a better communicator in general, expressing yourself more effectively in both the written and spoken word.
You’ll also likely find yourself becoming more organized and observant in everyday life. All of these skills are valuable.
4. Enjoy the Journey
Blogging can be something rewarding simply in the very fact that it is fun. If you enjoy what you are doing then why stop? If you love writing then keep going.
Apart from the time you put into it, there is really no risk to starting a blog. With blogging platforms such as WordPress, you can start a blog for super cheap and quickly too. This means that even if your blog doesn’t end up making money, you haven’t really lost anything.
HOW TO CHOOSE A NICHE FOR YOUR BLOG
So, what is a niche? A niche encompasses both the subject of your blog and the target audience who will be reading it.
Choosing the right niche will help make writing your blog both enjoyable and profitable.
How do you choose a niche for your blog? Well, there’s no one formula for finding the perfect niche, but the following guidelines will help you to pick a strong niche that suits you.
1. Pick a Subject You Care About
Let’s face it, if you’re going to be writing about this topic at least make it something you enjoy! To have a successful blog you’re going to want to be writing at least once a week if not more for a long time.
Don’t choose a topic simply because it can make you money or your THINK it can make you money. Choose a topic that you truly love and could talk about for hours on end, even if you weren’t getting paid to do so.
If you’re not passionate about your topic, it will show in your writing. Admittedly, we all have days we don’t like to write. But if you’re writing on a topic you really don’t have passion for then it will show in your writing – and your writing will no doubt become stale and unenthusiastic.
Choosing a niche your passionate about will naturally radiate your enthusiasm, interest and excitement in the topic. Ideas will come to you easier and you’ll connect with your audience so much more.
Choosing a niche you’re passionate about will also help to motivate you and keep you writing in the long term.
2. Choose a Profitable Niche
While you don’t want to choose a niche just because it can make you money,.. it is important to make sure there is some viability of income potential. Choose a niche where people will actually spend money and that interests people.
One way you can figure this out is by using a keyword analysis tool, such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner or Copyblogger’s Keyword Research. Try entering in keywords related to your subject and see how many searches people are doing for those terms. You want to choose something that’s getting at least a few hundred monthly searches to ensure that some traffic comes to your site.
Another way to determine if your niche is profitable is to determine your amount of advertisers. In order to effectively monetize your blog, you’ll need to find advertisers who want to reach your target audience. Off of the top of your head, can you think of at least 3 companies who might be interested in advertising on posts about your niche topic? If not, you might not have much potential for advertising revenue, and you might need to come up with a different niche.
3. Choose a Niche of the Right Size
One of the trickiest things about choosing a niche for your blog is picking something that’s the right size. If you choose something too general, you risk being lost in a sea of search results. If you choose something too specific, your target audience may be too small.
When you’re coming up with an idea, try creating a list of variants of the same niches, ranging from the most general to the most specific. Then you’ll want to pick something around the middle. Niches such as “Travel” and “Business Marketing” are likely too broad. You’ll be competing with thousands of other websites with the same keywords, and you’ll miss out on readers who are looking for something more specific. “Budget Backpacking” and “Marketing for Landscaping Businesses” are more specific but still have significant target audiences.
With a more specific niche, you’ll have less competition and are more likely to draw in readers who are looking for more targeted information. Just be careful not to go too narrow, as you’ll potentially be writing hundreds of posts on this topic.
Remember that you can tweak your niche a bit as you build your blog. If you start with too wide of a focus, you can decide to make it more specific and write posts within a smaller area of interest. Conversely, if you realize your niche is too small, you can add a variety of posts to broaden your subject. This is easiest to do if you choose a niche to start with that has a bit of flexibility for expansion or contraction.
If you do your research and choose something that you’re passionate about, your niche is likely to help make your blog successful.
SET UP YOUR BLOG
When you want to start a blog, one of the first things you’ll need to decide is where you want to host it. While there are many great editors out there these days, we still suggest WordPress. 50-60% is WordPress’ share of the global CMS market – making it the most popular CMS of them all once again according to CodeinWP.
If you plan to take your blog seriously, WordPress is probably the best option for you. It grants you far more control and possibilities for customization. When you’re trying to make money from your blog, this can help a lot. You will also own all of your own content, without concern that your site might be closed by Google outside of your control. For these reasons, WordPress is usually the choice of experienced and professional bloggers.
The Pros of WordPress
Here are some of the most basic advantages of using WordPress to create your blog.
Ownership: Because a WordPress blog is self-hosted on your own website, you own and have complete control of your blog.
Flexibility: WordPress comes with a plethora of options, some of which you have to pay for, but many of which are free. There are thousands of themes to choose from, so you can give your blog any look you want. There are also thousands of plugins available, enabling you to add extra features to your site in any configuration you want. In addition, you can set up whatever kinds of ads and monetization you want.
Stable future: WordPress is actually an open source system, meaning that a whole community of users and developers control it. WordPress is also the most popular content management system. Its popularity and widespread use means that it will definitely be sticking around for a long time.
The Cons of WordPress
Cost: Unlike other smaller services, a self-hosted WordPress site is not free, although it is not very expensive. First, you’ll need to purchase a domain name (what you’ll use for your url), which usually doesn’t cost much more than $10. You then need to choose somewhere to host your site. You’ll pay for hosting monthly or yearly, and depending on how much storage space and traffic you expect to need, hosting usually costs between $3 and $20 a month.
We recommend SiteGround for hosting. You can host multiple sites for the price of one. The customer service is unbeatable and the process is simple.
Harder Set-Up: Because you have so many more options, setting up a WordPress blog is a little harder than with other providers such as Weebly, Wix or SquareSpace, although it’s still relatively straightforward. As with any blog setup you’ll need to take some time to choose your domain name, set up hosting, and construct your pages. Templates and plugins can make this fairly easy, however, even for the less technical of us.
More maintenance work: On WordPress, you are responsible for backing up your site, security, and maintenance. With the help of some plugins and a little tweaking you can make your blog pretty secure, providing that you update your site regularly. If you want more information on WordPress security then just Google ‘Wordpress security’ and you should be able to find plenty of helpful information.
How to Install WordPress with Siteground
In this section we are going to guide you through the relatively simple process of setting up a WordPress blog.
First of all, you’ll require a web hosting account and a domain name for your blog. Again, we recommend SiteGround for this process so that is the company we are focusing on in this blog post but you can use other providers.
SiteGround has lots of great tutorials for setting up and starting your blog. So we’re not going to go into that in detail in this post. Here is a link for an article on how to install WordPress with SiteGround.
HOW TO COME UP WITH BLOG IDEAS
You’ve probably heard the saying “content is king” and it is definitely true when it comes to blogging. If you want to have a successful blog then you need to have good content.
When you’re first starting a blog it’s easy to write. In fact, if you’re starting your blog right now then your brain is probably overflowing with ideas (and if not then you may want to double-check that you are indeed passionate about your blog niche). Even though you have a ton of ideas now, the day will come when the well of ideas seemingly dries up. You may face a day when you feel as though you have run out of ideas. Let’s prevent that from ever happening!
If you use these next few steps consistently, you will potentially never run out of blog ideas.
1. Keep a Running List
One of the best ways to make sure that you don’t run out of ideas is to keep a list going. Often, you may think of an idea while reading something else, in the middle of a conversation, or while you’re out on a walk. Don’t let that idea get away! Write it down, and regularly record all your ideas in one place (a journal, a Google Doc, a spreadsheet, whatever works for you). That way, you’ll have a go-to source of ideas. If you ever need to come up with a blog post quickly, you’ll be prepared.
2. Read, Read, Read
Reading other content is one of the best ways to come up with your own ideas. That doesn’t mean to simply copy someone else’s topic (although you might want to write on the same topic if you have your own information to add to it). Reading an article might inspire you with an idea about a related topic, or you might come up with an intriguing question that leads to a blog post. The more you read, the more informed you’ll be, and the more information you’re processing, the more likely you are to come up with interesting and knowledgeable blog posts.
3. Look for Questions
Often, lingering questions produce some of the best ideas for posts. Are friends and family asking you similar questions about your industry in
conversation? Write a blog post to answer them. Has someone left a question in the comments on one of your posts? It’s probably a great idea for a new post. Is there something you’ve always wondered about your subject? You guessed it – write a blog post about it. You can find questions in a lot of places. Try searching through FAQ pages related to your area of interest. Read other blogs and see if people in the comments have questions, or if other bloggers are leaving anything unanswered. Questions mean that there’s a need for information, and you can fill that need.
4. Update an Old Post
Look back through your blog. Do you have any popular posts that you could add to? Maybe you posted about a news item, and there have been more recent developments. Maybe you made a post offering advice and strategies, and you have some new ideas to add in. It’s perfectly acceptable to add an update as a new post. If you think you’ll continue to have updates, you can even make it a series. A series is also a great way to add some consistency to your blog.
5. When in Doubt, Ask
Sometimes you can let ideas come to you. This is particularly true if you have a decent amount of readers or followers on social media. If you’re stuck for ideas, try reaching out to your followers with a tweet or Facebook post asking what they want to know about. You might come up with some great ideas, and you’re guaranteed to have at least one interested reader.
HOW TO WRITE ENGAGING BLOG POSTS
Good grammar and a strong command of language will make your blog posts easy to read, but the trick to drawing readers in is to make them engaging.
An engaging blog post is one that your reader connects with and wants to keep reading. Really engaging writing makes readers come back to your blog and share your content. This can make the difference between a small blog with a handful of readers to an immensely successful blog that’s continually attracting more followers. Writing engaging posts, therefore, should be one of your top goals.
1. Add Some Soul
When you’re writing a lot of blog posts, it can be all too easy to slip into writing bland, emotionless content. But why are you going to waste your time writing posts that you don’t care about, and that your writers inevitably won’t care about either? A great blog post has some soul. When you can, write about something that you really care about, and work in your own unique voice, even if you fear it makes you sound less professional. You want your blog to sound like it’s coming from a real flesh-and-blood person, not a computer.
When you have something to say, don’t shy away from expressing your opinion. If you’re arguing something controversial, you may get some negative responses, but sparking a reaction is proof that you’ve written something engaging. Put yourself into your blog posts, and you can expect your readers to give something of themselves in return.
2. Use Emotions
Writing engaging posts has a lot to do with engaging readers’ emotions. Emotions, more than facts and statistics, will help a reader to remember a post. When you’re writing, think about what emotions you might play on in relation to your topic: excitement, happiness, hope, ambition, fear? Connect to these emotions and use emotion words to help your content engage with your readers.
3. Be a Storyteller
When you think about all the things you’ve read, which are the ones you remember? They’re probably stories. One of the easier ways to include emotions and engage with the reader is to tell stories in your blog posts. Everyone loves a good narrative. Stories make your content easy to follow and help your readers to picture themselves in a particular situation. You can tell a story about your own personal experience, relate someone else’s story, or ask your readers to imagine themselves in a particular situation.
If you find you have a dry paragraph, adding in a short story is a great way to quickly make it more engaging. Try working your facts and statistics into stories to make them relatable. Think about it: you’ve probably been more moved by the story of a single cancer victim than you have by the many statistics about cancer. Use the same principle in your writing: use stories to move your readers.
4. Keep Things Short
Writing a blog isn’t the same as writing a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Your goal should be to make it as easy to read as possible. This means keeping things short and simple. Your sentences should be short and avoid any overly complex vocabulary. If you have a sentence that goes over two lines, that’s a good sign it’s too long. Short sentences are easier to absorb and are likely to keep your audience reading. The same principle holds true for your paragraphs. Long, chunky paragraphs look intimidating on the page and can turn a visitor away from reading your blog post. Instead, break your writing up into short, easily digestible paragraphs. You can use headings and sub-headings to help break things up. These tricks will make your content easy to read and help to keep readers engaged.
GENERATING TRAFFIC TO YOUR BLOG
Every blog needs a constant flow of daily visitors. After all, there is no point in having a great blog if nobody ever reads it!
As your blog becomes established then you should find that you don’t need to spend so much time on generating traffic to it. If you can establish your blog as a constantly updated source of great information then people will keep coming back to your blog time and time again. You’ll establish a loyal readership and the word will start to spread within your niche.
It takes time and effort to get your blog into this position, though. No matter how good your blog is, you need to “get the word out there” and put your blog in front of the world.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your blog so that it ranks better in search engine results. If you can rank highly for keywords that are related to your niche then there is the potential for a lot of people to come across your blog.
Although SEO is a complex subject that incorporates many different techniques and strategies, the main thing to think about is posting great content that also includes relevant keywords that are related to your niche. Considering targeting one main keyword per blog post.
It is also worth looking at the ‘All In One SEO Pack’ plugin that is available for Wordpress. This plugin automatically optimizes your blog for SEO, as well as allowing you to fine tune and optimize your blog further still.
One of the best ways of driving traffic to your blog is to find other blogs in your niche and then leave comments on their posts. Readers of these blogs will see your comments and be quite likely to check out your blog.
It is worth noting that this strategy only works if you leave valuable comments. Visiting fifty related blogs and leaving comments such as “Great post, I really enjoyed it” is NOT a good strategy to take. Instead you should take the time to read the post and leave a comment that shows people your knowledge of the subject. Leave your own personal thoughts. Add your own opinion. Show people that you have something to offer and that they should come across and read your blog too.
Following on from blog commenting, forum posting works in a similar way. By participating in forums in your niche you can put your blog in front of your target audience. People come across your posts and then go to check out your blog using your forum signature link.
The focus here should again be on making valuable posts and showing people that you are an expert in your field. By regularly posting you can start to build relationships with these people and turn them into regular readers of your blog.
Advertise On Other Blogs
If you’re prepared to spend some money then a good option can be to advertise on other blogs. Alternatively you could agree a joint venture deal with the other blog owner – for example an adswap, where you advertise their site on your blog and they return the favor.
Tell Your Existing Customers
If you already have existing customers and contacts who might be interested in reading your blog then make sure that you let them know about it. You could include your blog URL on your business cards, for example, or at the bottom of every email you send.
Social media can be a fantastic source of traffic, although that’s a whole book in itself! If you have a Facebook page, Twitter account, Google+ page etc, then share every new blog post with your followers. A tool such as Hootsuite can be very helpful in helping you to manage your social media accounts.
As we have discussed, blogging can be hugely fun AND profitable. It can be a great way of making money online in itself, as well as providing a fantastic platform to help you promote your other products or services. You can also use your blog to establish yourself as an authority source in your niche, which can really help you to spread your message and ultimately enable you to make more money in your business.
What are the secrets to success?
Content is at the heart of any blog, so that’s a good place to begin. It is absolutely imperative to make regular posts that your target audience will enjoy. It is important to ensure that your posts contain useful information, whilst also being fun to read – and you definitely shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the latter. People also read blogs for entertainment, and you would be amazed at the difference that injecting a bit of humor into your posts can make.
In addition, it is important to remember that you can’t just build your blog and ‘hope they will come.’ It is absolutely essential to spread the word about your blog to as many people as possible, so it’s definitely worth spending some time to give serious thought about how you are going to promote your blog and make it known to people in your niche.
I hope that you enjoyed this report and that you found it useful. The best thing to do now is to just get started. Blogging definitely DOES have a learning curve, however it’s really not that scary and you’ll learn as you go.