So you want to start a blog? Fortunately there are a lot of resources out there designed to help you do just that. From your hosting provider to the blog platform you choose, there are tutorials everywhere. There are also some great lists of the best bloggers to follow to learn more about blogging, including well-known marketers like Neil Patel, Michael Arrington, and Rand Fishkin. The problem is, like anything else, there is also a lot of misinformation out there too. How do you sort out the good from the bad?
Well fortunately, it is all about the same factors that will determine if your blog is an influencer in your field. Here are some simple ways to vet your sources:
- Where do they rank in Google? The object of Google is to show you the best information on the topic you are searching for. Is it a perfect system? Not really, but you should not have to search beyond the first couple of pages of Google to find the answers you are looking for.
- Do other bloggers use them? Bloggers will often give you recommendations if you ask. As a new blogger, use them as a resource.
- Do their posts have comments, likes, and shares? Look at their social media and see what their engagement looks like.
Once you have established the information you have is from a reputable source, compare it to the information you have obtained from other blogs. Is it similar in tone and content? Does it have some of the same advice? While everyone has a different perspective on the same topics, the core principles of blogging are essentially the same.
Learning About Setting Up Your Blog
The reason you set up your blog will have a lot to do with how you set it up. In other words, if you are just creating a blog for friends and family, a free site might work perfectly for you. However, if you are looking to start a business after you retire, a website and blog are essential, and you will need to take a more businesslike approach.
There are many sources, but some of the best are listed below:
- Shopify has a great blog, especially if you are setting up an eCommerce site.
- Don’t let the name WPBeginner fool you; the blog has topics from the basics to advanced techniques with WordPress.
- BloggingBasics101 also has some great tips on getting started and maintaining your blog.
- Blogging Wizard is another great source for information on setting up and running a blog.
What is it that all of these guides have in common? They will list some simple things that you need to do before getting started. A short list includes:
- Selecting a Domain Name: You will need a name that is relevant, simple to say, spell, and discover, and unique enough not to get confused with other website names.
- Selecting a Host: You will need to host your website somewhere, and while you can often do this where you got your domain name, that is not always the right choice.
- Designing Your Site: Whether you go with a free template or pay for a premium one, there are customizations you can make to your site to get the design you are looking for..
Once you have done these things, you will be ready to start blogging.
Deciding the Subject of Your Blog
What will you write about? That is a good question, and one that many individuals and businesses alike ask. The keys are to determine what your customers will be interested in, if you are running a business, or what your readers will be interested in if you are blogging about a particular topic. Here are some ideas to figure out what to write about on your blog:
- Look at your social media followers. Who are they, and what do they do? Where do they hang out on the web, and what posts and blogs do they share already? What are their likes on Facebook and their favorites on Twitter? This is called social listening.
- Look at other blogs in your niche. What are they writing about? What are their most engaging posts? You can determine these things by manually looking at their site or using online tools like those offered by Moz, SEMRush, or Ahrefs.
- Do Google searches. Search for ideas you would like to read about and see what comes up on Google. Take a different angle or approach than what is already out there.
Remember, a part of blogging is sharing your views and your voice with readers. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel and do something totally different. Your opinion and writing style will make your blog unique.
Discovering and Exploring SEO
Let’s say you choose the topic of gardening because your eCommerce site sells gardening supplies online and you want to reach an audience of gardeners. A quick Google search will show you that there are a lot of garden blogs out there and they already cover a range of topics. To be discovered in that sea of blogs, you will have to do something to stand out.
One of the most important things you can do is learn about SEO and the technical aspects of running a blog and website. This will help you rank well for the terms you want to on search engine results pages (SERPs). Where do you go to learn about those things?
- The Moz blog, specifically Whiteboard Fridays. These posts will walk you through the basics of SEO to more advanced techniques.
- QuickSprout with Neil Patel, mentioned above, is another great source. Neil has a lot of great advice on SEO,and how to rank well and get good engagement on your posts.
- Search Engine Journal: This news source keeps up with the latest on SEO, as there is always something to learn, but it often covers some basics, making it the right place to start too.
- Search Engine Land: This is another great SEO site, and many industry leaders post tips there that are applicable to nearly anyone.
Learning to Make Your Blog Work for You
How do you make money blogging? There are actually a number of ways. If you are a business, your site is probably geared towards conversions. What this means is that you want readers to take certain actions, from subscribing to your newsletter to buying your product or subscribing to your services.
If you are not that kind of business, there are a few ways to use your blog to make money. All of them involve some setup and work on your part, but they will all pay off in the long run.
- Selling Ad Space: From running native ads like those offered by Google AdSense or Amazon to selling banners and other ad spots on your site, you can often get paid everytime someone clicks on the links you have placed there.
- Affiliate Marketing: This is when you have a unique link you place on your site, and you get paid everytime someone buys a product using your link. There are places that gather these affiliate links, and by joining networks like ShareASale and FlexOffers you get access to a multitude of products and services.
- SEO Posts: Once your blog is established enough and has a good domain authority, other sites will want you to link to them. Companies or agencies will often pay you for those links — usually a set fee for a sponsored post or adding a link on your site.
- Selling Your Own Stuff: Even if you do not have an eCommerce store or an Etsy platform, you can write books and sell them, or even sell merchandise with your site logo. This is also a great way to market to new audiences.
Depending on how large of an audience you have, your blog can either make you the kind of money that pays for your blogging expenses, or it can be a way for you to make a living. You may even want to take a college course or two on online marketing and social media literacy if you don’t already have a marketing background.
This is by far not a comprehensive list. Depending on your business, there are resources geared specifically for your industry. You can also look at ways to become a more productive blogger, and even methods for accepting guest posts from influencers and others in your niche.
If you’re an aspiring blogger, don’t worry. You can make it, and there are many educational resources you can use to ensure your success. From setting up your blog to how to make money, someone out there has the answers that you need.