Blogging is basically sharing information with personal experience. Blogging began as a way of curating an online weblog on the internet. Online entrepreneurs subsequently harnessed the marketing potential of blogging catapulting the art to the popularity it enjoys today. Blogs are often confused with websites since most businesses use both of the platforms to market their brand. Blogs are updated frequently like food blogs which feature new recipes. A website on the other hand generally has static information that is updated on occasion. There are many distinctions within the blogging realm ranging from food, lifestyle, travel, pets, outdoor adventure, fashion, and entertainment.
Benefits of Blogging
For an individual, blogging can be an essential tool to advance their passions and express themselves. Blogging will also enable you to connect and network with like-minded people and ultimately build a community. Blogging has progressed from being a hobby to a money-generating venture. Most successful blogs have advertisements situated in the sidebars. Depending on the agreement with the company whose ads you present on your blog, you can earn income from clicks and sales. You can also use your blog to promote digital products like e-books, apps, plugins, presets, music, memberships, and online courses.
Blogging is perhaps even more critical for businesses. Static websites do not do much to attract new clients to your business. Blogs are updated frequently, and you can give people solutions and establish yourself as a market leader. Search engines gravitate to new and exciting content, and a well-written blog will improve the visibility of your business on the internet. Basically, your business’s fresh content will feed the index of search engines like Google and Bing. Blog posting also boosts your brand awareness. People spend incredible amounts of time online, and you can leverage this to expand your brand’s presence.
Choosing a Blogging Platform
Starting a blog presents a lot of decisions to make. As a beginner, you are probably out for a platform that is easy to use and which will encourage an easy set up of your blog. Most novices do not have a lot if any, coding skills and they will rely on a platform that is beginner-friendly. You will also need to consider your future intentions for your blog so that you do not choose an avenue that you will outgrow. Some of the most common platforms include WordPress, Medium, Weebly, Joomla, Blogger, Wix, and Drupal.
30% of the websites in the world prefer to use WordPress for blogging which is an impressive market share. As a new user, you will require a lot of support, which is why the WordPress Support forum was established. Since a lot of bloggers are on the platform, a quick search on the engine will reflect the answers to your queries. Professional bloggers love the different themes offered on the platform, which are either free or charged. Even better are the thousands of plugins available to WordPress users used for security, translation, analytics, and SEO.
WordPress ranks as more SEO friendly than other blogging avenues. You want a blog that is as visible as possible, and you can even employ the use of plugins to boost this presence further. Most ad networks including Google AdSense have unveiled dedicated plugins for blogs on WordPress which makes it easy to monetize your blog. To start, you can sign up free and start sharing content. As you become seasoned, however, you should upgrade to a self-hosted blog.
Finding a Niche for your Blog
Niches are not born equal: some are more popular than others, and others make more money. Most people get caught up in the blogging idea and abandon the venture after a while because they lacked passion. Picking an interest that is close to you is a crucial part of the blogging experience. You do not even have to be an expert in the topic but pick a niche that excites you. You can first jot down several ideas that interest you and choose the one which appeals to you the most.
You can subsequently conduct market research to evaluate the potential market for your idea. Google Trends is a powerful tool to gather insight about the audience as well as the competition in the niche. The platform will typically illustrate a graph for your topic of choice, and you can evaluate if the interest has been increasing, reducing, or if it stable.
The next step is to run your niche on Google. Examine the number of search results that appear. You want to avoid broad targets and too much competition. At the bottom of the results page, there are other related search terms which can be alternatives to an idea with too much competition, especially from established authority websites. You can use the AdWords Keyword Planner for the analysis of these terms. This tool will display the number of searches every month as well as the level of competition.
Your niche should also have the potential for monetization. To test this, you can check if any brands are advertising for your target keywords. You should also look for affiliate offers in the niche on forums like Amazon.
Some of the top niches include personal finance, health, food, fitness, fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and personal development. People generally want solutions for different problems, and they also want to better themselves in various aspects.
Setting up a Word Press Blog
WordPress is free, which is good news, but which means that you will do the hosting by yourself and you will also need to get a domain name. A domain name is your blog’s address on the internet while web hosting is basically where your website lives.
1. Domain and Hosting
HostGator is well renowned in the blogging world for its reliability and its large number of servers. It is mostly recognized as a shared hosting provider, and it will dedicate VPS options to host your blog to scale. Some of its features include an excellent control panel, unlimited disk space, and free website templates. The platform is also known for its flexibility as you can add many add-ons for security and privacy.
You can register a domain name when setting up a hosting account or get the name without purchasing hosting. The former option is the easiest of the two options. The initial step is to check the availability of your domain name. HostGator has a search panel where you can do this search. Your domain should be short and easy to remember. Even more important is that it should not include trademarked phrases or words. Having multiple domain names is important as you can get frustrated if your top picks are not available. The most popular extensions are .com, .net. and .org. Dotcom is the most popular although you may have to compromise for another extension if your domain name is taken.
HostGator offers different hosting packages with the starter being the basic plan at $3.96. If you upgrade to the baby package at $6.36 per month, you will get an unlimited hosting package.
2. Installing WordPress
After you get an account on HostGator, you can proceed to install WordPress on the platform.
The initial step will have you locate the QuickInstall option on your HostGator cPanel. The blog software category will have a WordPress option which you need to select. You can then install the domain name that you will use for your blog. You can install WordPress at the root of the directory or even under a subdomain. The installation will take several minutes after which you will receive all the information you require to access your website.
The next decision will involve themes. There are hundreds of these available on WordPress, and it can get overwhelming for a beginner. Your WordPress admin dashboard will have the Appearance feature where you can change your themes. Even better, is that you can filter them according to colors, layout, features, and niche. You can review the functionality of various themes until you get to a conclusion. Commercial theme providers offer other premium WordPress themes not available on the venue. These custom themes can be uploaded just as easily. Have the purchased theme downloaded as a .zip file. On the Themes area on your dashboard, navigate to upload themes and install the file.
Write Stunning Content
There are millions of blogs online today. It is not hard to imagine the overwhelming content that internet-users get bombarded with on a daily basis. Every blogger is vying for the same attention that you need for your site. So how do you stand out? Stunning content, in practice, is the driving force for blog traffic.
Creating content is an art, and you can use the following guide to write attention-grabbing articles.
- Headlines – Headlines need to be catchy, and they should trigger curiosity or make a promise. We have already established that readers have a lot of content at their disposal. You thus need to give them a reason to click on your post. This tactic is commonly used by fitness blogs where there is a promise to lose a certain number of pounds in a given period. Numbered headlines are also effective as they detail information in easily consumable steps.
- Reader-based content. Now that you have the attention of a reader, you should make their time worthwhile by directly addressing their concerns and aspirations. Readers flock to the most popular blogs because they offer some solutions to better different aspects of their life including health and finance.
- Consistency – Fresh content is loved by search engines and audiences in equal measure. Readers will be bored quickly is they lack new content on your blog.
- Images and Videos – Images are another lure for readers, and they can be photos, infographics, graphics, illustrations, tables, and screenshots. Visually appealing content has the ability to generate an emotional connection with your audience. Blog posts with relevant images rank well with search engines. Images make it easier for audiences to understand complex information. Video is another field to explore when curating content. You can use videos to make video tutorials as well as create vlog summaries. Blogs commonly have an “About Us” page, and you can leverage on the benefits of video to illustrate your passion or your brand. You can additionally embed YouTube videos on your site.
Another strategy to make your blog stand out is to reflect the current social, economic, political, atmosphere to make it relevant. One blog that leverages on this tactic is the UK-based
Miss Thrifty. Frugal living has gained a lot of buzz recently, mainly due to the state of the global economy. This finance blog focuses on spending and living well. The blog’s audience is made of young mums who could use money-saving tips.
Advertise Your Blog
Now that your blog is packed with interesting and fresh content, it is time to promote your brand. Social media presents the most impactful promotional platform. Link your blog to popular social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
When you add a new blog post, your audience on social media will view it on your pages and will use links to head over to your site. Social media is a whole realm altogether as sites like Instagram insist on the use of hashtags regarding different topics. On Facebook, you can run ads which accommodate different budgets.
You can promote content on YouTube which ranks as the most used avenue for video-sharing. Videos are a great way of expressing your brand, and they can be exciting and creative. Keep the videos short and base them on your niche. Include a link to your blog post such that your views increase with your blog traffic.
There are various services you can enlist to schedule your post in the different social media platforms. You can also establish a presence in relevant communities on social media. Facebook groups, for example,are numerous and unique and you can join one that is catered for your niche and start interacting with the members.
Another avenue for promotion is an email newsletter. You can build a mail list organically and update your audience on new posts. You should further encourage your readers to forward the emails to their friends.
Creating and maintaining is not as glamorous as it is poised to be. It needs a lot of behind-the-scenes efforts and patience. The rewards are the best part about blogging, as you get to craft your digital footprint and boost your company’s client base. After you choose your niche and set up your blog, the next challenge will be to create attractive content regularly. Social media tools are crucial when it comes to promoting your site.