Do you want to start a blog but don’t know how or where to start? Are you feeling overwhelmed because of the all the free (and sometimes conflicting) information on the internet?
This easy & step by step beginners guide to start blogging has been created specifically to help you get started with your blogging journey.
In this guide you will learn about following things related to blogging:
2. Domain name.
3. Web Hosting.
4. Blogging Platform.
10. Email Marketing.
11. Google Analytics.
12. Common Mistakes Made By Bloggers.
As you can see we are going to cover a lot of ground. By the time you finish reading this blogging for beginners guide , you will have gained valuable knowledge on how to start off your blogging journey the correct way.
Before we jump into the guide let’s find out:
What is a Blog?
A blog is an online journal or a diary that’s run, regularly updated, maintained by a either one or many people.
Why Do You Need A Blog?
There are many reasons why you can have a blog. Some of these include:
1. Expressing one’s opinion.
2. Promotion of a either a service or a product to get more buyers for it.
3. Spread & share information on certain topics.
4. If you already have a website then you can use a blog to bring more traffic to it.
5. Helps in creating a brand and an authoritative image of either an individual or an organization.
Alright. Now that is done with, let’s dive into the main information you are looking for.
Ready? Let’s go.
1. Choose The Right Niche- Success Depends On It:
Selecting the right niche is the most important thing you must do even before you start to a blog.
Gone are the days when one could simply start a blog, write about random or various topics and get ranked in search engine.
Google is now focusing on blogs that offer quality content that answers its users’ search engine queries. This is where having a niche blog matters.
But now you might be wondering what is a niche?
To put it in simple words, it is a sub-segment (or a sub-section) of a bigger marketing audience.
Don’t worry if you did not understand the above simplification. The example below will give you a better and clear idea about a niche.
Example of Niche:
Imagine you are a fitness trainer for working professionals. You want to attract more fitness enthusiasts who are doing 9-5 jobs, from your city, to your training program.
In the example above, fitness training is a very broad category as a lot of different categories can come under it.
But by deciding to train only those who have a job, you are catering to a specific set of targeted audience (or customers in this case). That is a niche.
The key to being a successful blogger is to blog about things at which you are really good at or an expert or you are genuinely passionate about. If you do that, you will never get bored blogging.
Benefits of niche blog:
1. You will write about only those things that you are passionate about.
2. Less competition.
3. Opportunity to be unique.
4. Making money is comparatively easy.
5. Loyal followers.
6. A tightly knit group of people who share same interest as you.
2. Get A Relevant Domain Name:
Now that you have decided on your niche, it is time to choose a proper name for your blog.
A domain name is nothing but the internet address of your blog. But that shouldn’t mean that you will choose some random name.
No. A big no in fact.
The name you choose for your blog should reflect what it is all about. It should not be something that confuses the visitor to your site.
Let’s go back to the example of fitness trainer as mentioned earlier in this post.
The fitness training program which you are offering is for working professionals, so ideally your blog name should indicate that.
Something like “fitnessforpros” or “stayfitpros” will make the visitors relate more with your blog rather than a name like “fitness9-5” which could end up confusing them.
Tips to choose a domain name:
1. Keep it short.
2. Be creative. A unique name will make your blog stand out.
3. Don’t use number or special characters like hyphen as it looks unprofessional.
4. Avoid using brand names as you might get sued for copyright violation.
5. Use keywords. But avoid using exact keywords as domain name as Google does not like such domain names.
6. Check if domain name is also available on social media too. It will help you create a consistent presence online.
3. Choose the right web hosting service- It can make or break your blog:
Now that you have decided your niche and chosen your domain name, we move to another critical aspect that is web hosting.
Choosing the right hosting services is very important as it could affect your blog in long run.
There are two options to choose from:
1. Free hosting:
Free web hosting sounds enticing but is not at all recommended.
Here’s why you should avoid free web hosting:
1. Looks unprofessional:
The domain name of free web hosting is generally “yoursitename.xyz.com”. Such type of domain names gives an unprofessional feel to your visitors.
It leaves a poor impression on the mind of your site visitors and makes them feel that you do not take your blog seriously.
2. You could lose your blog in a moment:
Imagine one fine day you wake and find your blog has vanished into thin air. Scary thought isn’t it?
The above scenario has a very high possibility of happening and could well end up wasting all your months or even years of hard work.
3. You will never be the owner of your own blog:
Generally, the free hosting service provider owns your blog which you are running on their servers. They can decide to remove or delete your blog just because your blog did not fit in its updated terms and conditions or even violated their Terms of Service which you might not have been even aware of.
4. Limited functionality and features:
Another drawback is the lack of flexibility when it comes to features or design of your blog. You will have to make do with whatever features/functions you are offered.
When it comes to free web hosting, customizations or using third party tools is mostly out of question.
5. Money making opportunities are limited or non-existent:
There are no free lunches in the world and same goes for web hosting. When you are using a free hosting then it is not completely free.
You will have to give up on some benefits in exchange for using the free platform; one of which is making money. You will have make way for advertisements chosen by your web host. Most of them don’t even allow advertising of any kind.
6. Lack of technical support:
If your blog runs into some technical issues then you are all on your own. Even if there is a forum, it is possible that the web host will give preference to paid customers rather than a free user.
The above mentioned reasons are why using a free hosting service is not a good choice at all.
2. Self-hosting (paid hosting services):
If you are really serious about blogging, using a paid web hosting is the right choice.
Here’s why you should choose paid web hosting:
1. Total Control of Blog:
Unlike free hosting, a self-hosting gives you total control over your blog.
2. No limitations:
You can choose from multiple features, functionalities and customization options made available by the web host.
3. Boosts professional image:
When your blog has a professional domain name along with good theme it enhances its image. It tells your visitors that you mean business and are serious about your blog which will leave a good impression on their minds.
Self-hosting is very affordable and the number of options available are mind boggling. Given the huge number of companies competing for your attention, you are certainly spoilt for choices.
Many web hosting services offer money back guarantee with their plans. So if you are not happy or impressed by the service provider then you can choose another one. It is a win-win situation for you as a blogger.
Unlike the free hosting, paid subscription offers you all the freedom in the world to choose whatever way you want to make money from your blog.
6. Technical support:
You will be valued for being a paid customer and will be offered help support in various ways (email, chat, phone).
4. Choose Your Blogging Platform:
Although there are various blogging platforms to choose from for the bloggers. The most popular ones are WordPress, Blogspot and Tumblr.
Among these three, WordPress is hands down the most popular platform for bloggers around the world. It is easy to use and easier to learn. In fact, it powers a huge 25% of all websites on the internet as per torquemag.
It has two options: WordPress.com (free) and WordPress.org (paid).
As you must have read earlier in the post about advantages of paid hosting service, it is recommended that you go with WordPress.org.
There are other options out there namely Blogger, Tumblr and Squarespace. If you are interested in seeing how these four compare against each other then you must check out this post by folks at creative market.
5. Choose A Good Theme-It Will Be Your Blog’s Identity:
If you have chosen WordPress as your blogging platform then you are spoilt for choices. There are thousands of themes (free and paid) that you can choose from.
It is advisable to get a paid theme for your blog.
Why? Because a free theme comes with limitations such as:
1. Limited or no technical support.
2. Limited or no customization.
3. No updates
4. No guarantee of security or privacy (if something goes wrong then you are on your own).
5. It is not unique (since it is free, lots of people will use it for their blogs)
Features that you should look for while considering a WordPress theme are:
1. Responsive (it means mobile and desktop friendly).
2. SEO friendly
3. Lightweight (ensures fast loading speed which google loves)
4. Social Media sharing capability.
5. Offers security and privacy features.
6. Focus On Blog Design- It Matters To Your Visitors:
One of the major reasons why even the best blog could fail to impress the reader is the poor choice of theme (badly designed theme) that could result in bad user experience of the blog.
Have a look at the image below of a website.
Do you really think a visitor will actually feel like browsing through the website even if it has awesome information?
I think you know the answer.
Now have a look at another design.
The site design is easy on the eyes and makes it easy to browse for the site visitor.
This is the reason why good design matters a lot.
Bad design will make your visitors run away faster than you can say one, two, three while good design could keep them glued to your blog.
If you are looking for more tips for blog design, then check out this post
7. Learn SEO To Get Search Engine Love:
If you want to run a blog then you should know at least basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It cannot be put in a more simple way.
What’s the point of having a blog if no one can find out that it even exists? SEO helps your blog getting noticed by search engines and more importantly by your target audience.
There are two types of SEO:
1. On-Page: It deals with optimizing your blog post so that it becomes search engine friendly and ranks higher in search results.
2. Off Page: It refers to activities that are done to enhance the ranking of a blog in search results. These activities are usually done off the blog and not on the blog itself.
Activities such as getting backlinks to your blog through various marketing techniques such as social bookmarking, links from other websites are some of the off page techniques that are quite popular.
8. Write Quality Content- It Is Your Blog’s Best Friend:
When it comes to content, quality wins against quantity. There are exceptions if your every blog post is quality. For mere mortals like us, quality should be the top priority.
So why this fascination with quality?
Because Google is done with poor content. It now wants to show only that content that is relevant and useful to the searcher’s query. Besides, long form content ( in-depth posts) perform really well.
But wait. What is poor content?
Glad you asked.
Poor (or weak) content are those posts or articles that do not offer information that a reader can find useful and valuable.
Some of the traits of poor content are:
1. It has thin content (articles which have word count around (500-600).
2. Does not offer solution or answer to reader’s question and is a vaguely written piece.
3. Poorly formatted.
There are millions of blog posts that are posted every day; each of them competing for reader’s attention. Sadly, very few of them stand out due to quality content.
The best way to get noticed in the crowded online space is to write content that is so good that the reader finds it not only useful, practical, but is also compelled to share it too.
So how to write quality blog posts?
1. Focus on one topic/angle per post.
2. Offer useful, actionable information to reader.
3. Write as detailed as possible about the topic so that the readers walks away with a feeling of having found information they were looking for.
4. Use images, if possible even videos and even a combination of both.
5. Avoid using technical words as much as possible. Explain in simple language as much as possible.
6. It has its own tone or voice and style which creates a unique identity and helps your blog posts stand out even more.
9. Promote Your Content To Attract Right Audience:
Most people think that once they hit the “Publish” button, the job is done. They cannot be more wrong than that. Publishing your blog post is just half the work.
If you are serious about getting your content in front of as many people as possible then you must promote it.
Promoting one’s content is time consuming but it is worth doing.
Below are some of the ways you can promote your blog post:
1. Send email to your subscribers.
2. Share it on your blog’s social media accounts.
3. If you are on Twitter then use relevant hashtag to get more attention to your content. Join Facebook groups and share your post.
4. Post in online communities and forums related to your niche.
5. If you have linked to someone else’s blog post then let them know. You can reach out to them through email. At least you can tag them when you share your blog post link on social media.
6. If your blog post is getting decent traffic then you can use the option of paid promotion to maximize it reach.
10. Use Email Marketing To Grow Your Blog:
Subscribers are the lifeline of a blog. So you better make sure that you have a list of subscribers to whom you can cater to with your content.
The easiest way is through email marketing. Learn at least the basics as it will help you to capture emails of visitors to your website and convert them into your subscribers.
There are lot of email marketing software out there in the market with plenty of options to choose from according to your budget and requirements.
Some of the popular ones are Mailchimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, GetResponse.
Benefits of Email Marketing:
1. Personalizes your communication. Adds a personal touch.
2. Establishes communication with subscribers.
3. Builds credibility.
4. Creates a brand.
5. Helps in understand target audience better.
6. Effective channel for lead generation and sales.
11. Google Analytics- Understand Your Blog Visitors Better:
When you are running a blog (or even a website) it is important that you should know your site visitors well.
To take your blog to next level, it is important to know how those visitors found your blog, which queries they used to land on your blog etc.
Google analytics helps you in doing exactly that and much more; that too for free.
I highly recommend you to watch the video below to learn how to setup google analytics for your WordPress blog.
Benefits of Google Analytics:
1. Free and easy to use.
2. Track visitors in real time.
3. Easy to integrate with other tools.
4. Data collection is automated and hence reporting is easy.
5. Data visualization feature gives better insight into visitors (such as interests, behavior, demographics, online channels through which they landed on your blog etc.)
Google has its own comprehensive set of Analytics tutorials for beginners which are highly recommended.
12. Common Blogging Mistakes You Should Avoid:
1. Preferring Search Engine over your audience:
This is one of the common traps that bloggers fall for. They are trying to rank their blog post in search results rather than writing for their target audience.
You have got to remember one thing. Stop worrying about Google so much. If your audience loves your content, Google will know.
If your content is not helpful to your audience then no matter how much you optimize it, Google will not prefer it over other posts.
Simple as that.
2. Not using authentic sources:
Quoting genuine source of information will add trustworthiness to your blog post. Your readers will appreciate it when you use such sources.
Don’t forget to link back to those sources which you have used in your post.
3. Trying to copy someone else:
No one likes a copycat. There are lots of bloggers out there who are trying to get attention to their blog but very few of them stand out.
Why? Because they are trying to be just like someone who is successful.
If you really want to make your blog stand out from the crowd then let it have a personality of its own. Develop your own style or voice that is unique to your blog. It takes time but is definitely worth it and more importantly, your audience will love you for that uniqueness.
4. Ignoring simplicity. Preferring complication.
When you write a blog post, you must write in a language that is simple and easy to understand. Don’t make it difficult for your readers.
Avoid using technical terms in your blog posts, until and unless you are writing a thesis or a technical paper or for an audience that already knows those technical terms (example B2B blogging)
5. Not engaging with audience:
Blogging is a two way communication. Make your blog readers a part of your blog. Interact with them by replying to their comments or feedback they give after reading your posts. It is one of the best ways to show them that their opinion matters.
6. Not building relationship with other bloggers.
When you become a blogger, you become a part of an awesome community. There are lots of other bloggers out there who are happy to help you in your blogging journey or someone who needs your help.
Go out there and interact with other bloggers. You will have a sense of belonging to a unique & awesome community.
7. Giving Up:
Blogging success takes time, effort and perseverance. It cannot be achieved overnight. It can be sometimes stressful too and that’s what causes most bloggers to quit.
You need patience, perseverance and lot of effort to succeed when it comes to blogging. It is not impossible but it will take time.
Give yourself a pat on the back if you have made through this far. By reading this beginner’s guide to start blogging, you have just equipped yourself with knowledge that will prove invaluable in not only starting a blog but also throughout your journey as a blogger.