Creating a successful blog is not as easy as it may seem. While many people think that bloggers are simply lifestyle gurus who write a few posts a week, there’s actually a lot of work going on behind the scenes. Running a successful blog requires a lot of patience and big creative commitment. You also have to be willing to learn. The world of digital media is constantly changing as different trends come and go.
There are millions of blogs on the web today. As a new blogger, all of that competition can be overwhelming. Where do you start and how do you stand out? Truth is, there’s no step-by-step guide to being successful. Blogging is like a methodical art form. In addition to doing all of the technical stuff your audience doesn’t see, you have to continually pump out compelling content that your readers love.
If you’re just getting your blog started, we have you covered. Here’s a collection of tips that you can use to hone your craft, attract an audience, make the most out your digital space, and get your voice heard in the blogosphere.
Getting Started With Your Blog
Choose the Right Platform
Before you write a single word, you need to get your site up and running. This is a relatively easy process thanks to the many blogging platforms available. The most popular, WordPress, is a great place to start. The WordPress platform is used by millions of bloggers and even large corporations because of its versatility.
You can sign up for an account on WordPress.com and start building your blog in minutes. The platform is also versatile. It runs on open-source software. So, there are thousands of great plug-ins and scripts to make your site truly unique.
Once you have decided what platform you want to use, you’ll need to choose a reliable hosting service. The host is where your site and all of its data is stored. Not all hosts are made the same, so it’s important to do your research and find one that meets the needs of your blog.
Many hosting providers have plans that are specifically catered to bloggers and WordPress sites ( WordPress Hosting ). They’re often scalable as well, making it easy to upgrade your service as your traffic grows. When you’re selecting a host for your blog, keep things like data storage, bandwidth limitation, and the size of the server network in mind to ensure that your blog runs smoothly at all times.
Bluehost is ideal for new bloggers. They’re a great all round web host with excellent uptime levels (99.99%), phenomenal customer support and fast instant load times.
Create a Beautiful Website
Have you ever tried to browse a site that was poorly designed? It can be a nightmare! These days, Internet users prefer clean designs that are easy to navigate. It’s important to take some extra time coming up with the perfect design for your blog. Not only will the design affect how your audience checks out your content, but it can also play a role in how your overall brand is perceived.
If you’re a web design newbie, there are a ton of resources out there to help you out. Professional design firms can create a site for you. Alternatively, you can take advantage of one of the many WordPress themes that are available. During the design phase, get some third-party opinions. Ask friends to take a look. This gives you the opportunity to gauge its usability and aesthetic appeal.
Don’t Be Afraid of Mobile Optimization
A lot of people view blogs on their smartphones and tablets. Mobile optimization is important if you want to be successful. While it may sound daunting at first, creating a mobile-friendly site isn’t that difficult. In fact, many blogging platforms automatically do all of the work for you.
If not, you can easily implement plug-ins to get the job done. To ensure that everything is working properly, try visiting your blog on the go. Does everything appear clean and organized? Do all of the buttons and links work? Put yourself in your readers’ shoes and make sure that accessing your blog on a mobile device is just as easy and pleasant as it is on a computer.
Take Advantage of Plug-Ins
Plug-ins can add a brand-new layer to your site. In the early days of the Internet before plug-ins became so readily available, blogs were simple sites that only contained photos and copy. Today, you can add a ton of functionality. There are plug-ins for pretty much anything.
You can use software to get into contact with your readers, to plan out your posts, create a discussion forum, and so much more. There are also options to help your site run smoothly. For example, you can get a plug-in to filter out spam comment posts, detect malware, and more.
Establish a Backup System
One of the biggest mistakes that new bloggers make is not backing up their content. While your site may be hosted on a remote server, that doesn’t mean it’s completely protected. Storage drives become damaged, files get lost, and malware attacks can corrupt your files.
To prevent losing all of that hard work, you need to have a backup plan. Many hosting providers offer backup services to ensure that your files stay safe. Alternatively, you can use your own software or plug-ins. You should be making backups of your site on a regular basis so that you can easily restore it should anything bad happen.
Invest in Good Equipment and Services
At some point in your blogging journey, you’re going to want to upgrade your gear. When you’re first starting out, it’s alright to use consumer equipment. However, as you become more successful, having professional items can make all the difference.
A powerful computer that can handle your workload is the most important. After that, consider investing in a high-end camera for your photography. If you create graphic art, why not do your work on an artist’s tablet with feature-rich software? Something as simple as upgrading a piece of gear can translate into a more positive workflow and better-looking site. If blogging ever becomes your full-time job, you’ll be thankful you made those investments.
Create a Mission Statement
Before you write your first blog post, it’s beneficial to have a general idea of where you want to take your site. Creating a mission statement isn’t an absolute necessity, but it can make a huge difference in keeping your content on brand. Companies utilize these statements to determine how they operate. The same can be done with your blog.
Your blog should have a general theme that you can stick to. That doesn’t mean that you have to only write about one specific topic. A mission statement should act more like a roadmap that inspires your creativity and guides you in the right direction. Figure out the type of content you want to produce, the brand you want to establish, and how you want to run your site. Once you have that figured out, you can keep those principles in mind to create a cohesive blog that delivers what your target audience wants.
Find Your Voice
After you have set up your own blog, it’s time to start creating! Blogging is all about creating a persona that people want to follow. One of the biggest parts of that is finding your voice.
Voice refers to the way you write and how you convey your thoughts. Do you want to come off as a professional or would you rather be more personable? Do you like to communicate with dry wit or do you want to invoke an emotional response from your readers? These are all questions that you should be asking yourself.
Don’t overcomplicate things while you figure out what you want your blog’s voice to be. In most cases, this will all come out in your writing. Start writing a post and make note of its style. You can jot down a few adjectives that best describe your personal voice and go from there. Once you have found your voice, stick with it!
Ask any seasoned Internet entrepreneur and they’ll tell you that the key to success is consistency. A great blog is one that has plenty of content for readers to digest. It can be discouraging in the early stages before you start attracting a significant base. Don’t let that stop you from writing.
Just because your posts are not getting seen now doesn’t mean that they’ll never get seen. Write as if you had a large audience and continue to produce content on a regular basis.
Write Content That You Want to Read
One great tip for creating blog content is to write for yourself. Write about the things you love and express your own ideas. Writing about topics you’re passionate about is always better than feigning interest. Internet users can easily tell if you actually care about the topic at hand or not.
Ultimately, the goal of any blog is to attract like-minded visitors. So, approach your writing as if you were on the other side of the screen. See how pertinent your content is and how it can benefit people like you.
Show Off Your Personality
Writing blog posts isn’t just about selling an idea or opinion, it’s about selling a personality. While readers may initially visit your site to read your content, they’ll stay because they want to hear more from you. That’s what’s so great about personal blogs. It’s a real person creating content for the masses.
Don’t try to be anyone else but yourself. There’s no need to try and impress people with big words or ideas that you don’t actually believe in. Tell personal stories and take inspiration from your real life. Readers are more likely to connect with you on a personal level if you aren’t trying to hide your true self behind some fancy words.
Stay True to Your Convictions
When you feel strongly about your opinions and beliefs, people take notice. It’s important that you stay true to your convictions at all times. That means being bold and taking risks. There are way too many bloggers and companies out there that like to sit on the fence. Usually, this comes off as artificial.
As we mentioned earlier, blogs are all about making a personal connection and establishing a level of trust. If you say something in one post only to contradict yourself in another, you’re not going to captivate your audience. Believe in the things that you write and use your platform to inspire others.
Keep Things Evergreen
Evergreen content refers to blog posts that are timeless. A great blog is one that can be viewed many years from now. While you can still write about current events, try to compose the post so that it remains relevant. One tip is to look at your blog as a resource.
If you choose to write a post about a certain event or news topic, give your opinions and provide information that people will be interested in later. For example, you could talk about why the event happened, where it occurred, and how the world reacted to it. Avoid writing posts that are simply regurgitated news stories that people can easily find on the web.
Make Your Blog Easy to Read
During your creative writing session, take a moment to see how the words look from a visual standpoint. Not everyone is going to read each and every word you type out. Some people prefer to scan blogs and go directly to the information that’s relevant to their needs. If you have a large block of text, readers will often avoid your post.
Separate your text into smaller blocks. Utilize headings, subheadings, and different styles to break things up a bit. Bullet points, lists, and plenty of blank space are welcome as well.
Finding a way to stand out is a common problem among first-time bloggers. When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to subconsciously model your content after other bloggers you look up to. Unfortunately, doing so will not help you get noticed.
To be a success, you need to find your own unique niche. Figure out what it is that you have to offer readers. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Instead, create your own path and new content that people want to read.
Integrate Photos and Graphics
Humans are visual creatures. People are naturally attracted to things that look good, so why not implement beautiful visual elements into your blog? The right photos and graphics can make your site really stand out. Many popular bloggers implement their photographs into their theme. They stick to one style to create a cohesive site.
If you’re not ready to snap your own photos, don’t fret. You can use stock images that pertain to the blog topic. When you’re planning your post layout, keep things harmonious. Avoid filling your page with a ton of visual elements. Not only does it make your blog look busy, but it could affect load times. Instead, try to use a couple of high-resolution photos tastefully.
Sticking With It
Create a Writing Schedule
Advanced bloggers typically post new content on a set schedule. Coming up with new content to publish takes time and may get more difficult the more popular your blog gets. It’s not uncommon for bloggers to experience writer’s block. By having a posting schedule, you can stay consistent while giving yourself time to breathe.
You can use your off days to get inspired and come up with ideas for new posts. Schedules also do wonders in terms of organization. Constantly pushing out content can be stressful, especially if you’re publishing posts as you come up with them. Create a manageable editorial calendar that you can stick to. If you have a list of post ideas, save them. This can help you avoid having long periods of time without any new material. Remember: consistency is key.
Improve Your Writing
As a writer, you should be constantly seeking new ways to improve your skills. You don’t have to have a literary degree to make great articles. There are a plethora of ways to improve your grammar, vocabulary, and overall writing style.
Take advantage of these tools when you have some free time. Try to complete writing exercises and slowly implement the new skills you learn in your posts. As you get better, you’ll find new ways to craft compelling articles that stand out among a sea of basic blogs.
It’s never easy to read hateful comments about someone who doesn’t like your work. Unfortunately, as a blogger, it’s something that you’re just going to have to get used to. It’s important that you refrain from retaliating or “feeding the trolls.” Doing so will only harm your reputation.
All great artists and writers have to deal with critics. If you’re receiving negative comments, it probably means that you’re doing something right. Take what they say with a grain of salt. If it’s constructive criticism, use that feedback to improve your work.
Quality content inspires others. Whether your posts are about serious emotional topics or you’re simply providing a dessert recipe, your words should inspire your readers to take action. The only way that you can create that type of content is to stay inspired yourself.
There are many sources to gain inspiration from. You can browse the web and read other blogs or take a walk in your local park for some fresh air. Some of the best bloggers are capable of pulling inspiration from anything. Get creative and use the things around you to get ideas that you can implement in your blog.
Attracting an Audience
Produce Value-Driven Content
One of the most important blogging tips is to make your articles useful. The Internet is filled with random content already. To get noticed, your blog should provide value to your target audience. Make a point and back it up with evidence.
Value-driven content can help attract your audience a couple of different ways. The first is through search engine optimization. Search engines tend to index meaningful text higher than fluff pieces. The second way it helps your blog grow is through references. If your content can be cited by other blogs, you increase your chances of getting seen by a much wider audience of readers.
Utilize SEO Techniques
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the cornerstone of digital marketing. Most Internet users find new websites by using search engines. SEO techniques can help your site appear higher up on search engine results pages for relevant queries.
There’s a lot that goes into proper SEO. However, the easiest way to optimize your blog is to insert keywords naturally into your content. You can do some keyword research to see what types of words are used to search for a particular topic. Then, all you have to do is insert those words into your article.
For proper optimization, keywords should be used seamlessly. Stuffing as many words into your article as possible can have the opposite effect of what you’re after. Plus, it’s a huge turn-off for many readers.
Invest in Content Marketing
There are many other digital marketing techniques beyond SEO. Creating blog traffic can be a full-time job all on its own. That’s why many seasoned bloggers choose to get professional assistance from marketing firms.
These firms can optimize your site for you. They’ll also be able to create targeted ads, make bids for Google pay per click ads, and make paid social media ads.
Make Eye-Catching Headlines
Headlines and titles are the first things your readers will see when they visit a blog post. So, it needs to be exciting and attention-grabbing. Even if you have great content, boring old titles aren’t going to get people to stay on your site.
Titles should be powerful and invoke an emotional response from anyone who sees it. You can use unique words and fun literary tricks to make your title distinct. Alternatively, you can pose a question that compels people to read your blog for an answer. The possibilities are endless.
End Posts with a Call to Action
To complement your catchy headline, every post you make needs to end with a call to action. Don’t leave your readers feeling unsatisfied or bored. Encourage them to do something or perform a certain action. Your call to action can be as simple as telling them to make a recipe or think about an idea.
You can also use the call to action to increase overall engagement. Pose a question and tell your audience to leave a comment. Urge them to purchase a product or follow you on Twitter. Whatever you choose to do, anything is better than just leaving your article to trail off into nothing. An inspiring call to action will make readers want to come back for more content.
Give Readers a Reason to Share
There’s no quicker way to gain an audience than to go viral. Give your readers a reason to want to share your blog post. The best way to do this is to create content that’s fun, exciting, and memorable. Some bloggers also like to provide incentives. For example, you can throw a giveaway contest for those that tweet out a link to your blog.
Google analytics can be both a blessing and a curse. During the early stages of your blog, it’s recommended that you don’t pay much attention to them. It’s easy to become obsessed with page views and visitor data. However, focusing solely on analytics when you first start out your blog is useless.
It’s not until you start gaining significant traffic that you can use Google Analytics to your advantage. They provide some in-depth information about your audience. You can view traffic infographics, see where your visitors are coming from, and examine trends. All of this data can be used to optimize your blog for even more growth.
Network with Other Bloggers
If there’s a good blog that you read regularly, try reaching out to the owner. Like any other industry, there’s a lot to gain with networking. Forming relationships with other writers is a good way to gain insight into the blogging world while honing your craft. Don’t be afraid to comment on other blog posts or send emails to those you look up to.
With all that being said, it’s important that you stay professional. You shouldn’t be reaching out to other bloggers for exposure alone. Not only will it be painfully obvious to them what you’re trying to do, but you’ll quickly gain a negative reputation. You don’t want to burn your bridges.
Provide Links to Older Posts
As you continue to make new posts on your blog, link out to older ones. Not every visitors is going to spend all day sifting through your archives to see what you’ve written. So, why not encourage them to take a look? You can easily implement a couple of links to previous high-quality works for increased exposure.
Engaging Your Readers
Create an “About Me” Page
For many bloggers, the “About Me” page is the one that gets the most traffic. This is because readers want to know who is creating the content they are reading. This is especially true if you’re creating great articles filled with useful information. Many readers will turn to this page to see who you are, what you’re all about, and what type of qualifications you have.
Take some extra time to make your “About Me” page as good as possible. Talk about your self and let your audience know who you are. If you’re comfortable putting your picture up, do that as well. It’s always nice to put a face to the words.
Implement Social Sharing Buttons
Social media buttons are a must-have for any good blog. These buttons make it easy for people to share your blog post in a matter of seconds. If they’re already logged into their account, the plug-in behind the buttons will craft the post and publish it onto their social media page instantly.
Most people aren’t going to do the work to create the post themselves. Having the buttons at the end of your articles makes it quick and easy.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Social networks have taken over the way people communicate and share digital media. Facebook alone has over a billion active users. When you factor in sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, there’s a wealth of opportunity to get seen and engage your audience.
Everyone from political figures to celebrities use social media to connect with people from all over the world in a more personal manner. As a blogger, you can do the same. Invite your readers to follow you on all of your accounts. When you post new content, create a social media post to let them know. With the many sharing functions, you can even integrate your blog posts into your social network profiles for increased exposure.
Understand What Your Readers Want
Communicating with your audience over social media can also be an efficient way to learn more about what they want. While you can’t please everyone, you can certainly do your part to keep readers engaged. Active communication will ensure that you’re always in-tune with the needs of your readers. You can then keep the good content flowing.
Invite Guest Posters
Having a guest post every once in a while is a nice treat for readers. If you have a good relationship with other bloggers, you can ask them to write about a certain topic for a fresh new perspective. Many bloggers will exchange posts to increase exposure among their respective audiences.
Some writers even invite their visitors to get in on the action. This type of engagement offers a more personal connection and some unique insight into who you’re creating content for.
Establish an Email List
If you want to reach out to your audience directly, consider establishing an email list. You can use available plug-ins to insert an email subscription form directly on your blog. There are a number of ways to use emails effectively.
Weekly newsletters are a great way to get email subscribers to come back to your blog. Sending a weekly email with previews about the posts you have made will encourage people to take a look. If you’re selling products or services, you can do some email marketing. It’s important to give your readers options when it comes to email signups. Make sure that they can choose to opt-in or not. The last thing you want to do is drive people away by sending too many messages.
Conduct Surveys and Ask Questions
Mix things up on your blog by posting surveys and questions. Not only do they encourage more discussion, but the results of your surveys can be used as inspiration for your next great piece.
No good blog is complete without a comments sections. WordPress has many plug-ins to make the comments section as personal as you want. Readers can use a unique username to reply to questions you pose, provide feedback, and participate in forum discussion.
People like to express their opinions and be heard. An open comments section promotes communication and gives you the opportunity to talk to your audience directly.
Monetizing Your Blog
Use Ads Wisely
Designating parts of your blog for ad space is one of the most popular ways to earn an income from your writing. Advertising programs, such as Google Adsense, will pay to display relevant banner ads. While it may be tempting to flood your site with ads to make money, it’s important that you exercise caution.
Ads can affect a site’s performance. Not only that, but readers typically don’t respond well to ad-heavy sites. You don’t want to alienate your audience, so use ads sparingly and in a way that’s not obtrusive to the browsing experience.
Consider Affiliate Marketing
One of the most lucrative ways to monetize your blog is with affiliate marketing. Advertisers and affiliate programs pay bloggers to recommend products or services to their readers. They provide affiliate links with embedded tracking codes that you can integrate into your article. When one of your readers clicks on one of these links and makes a purchase, you get a commission for your efforts.
Again, it’s important to use affiliate marketing wisely. Internet users are savvier than ever. They can see right through an obvious marketing ploy. If your blog suddenly turns into one large advertisement, readers will start to turn away. To be successful, you need to pair affiliate marketing techniques with high-quality content that serves a purpose to your readers.
Download our Affiliate Marketing ebook to find out more about affiliate marketing.
If you decide to sell a product or partake in affiliate marketing, the best thing you can do is be honest. Trust plays a big role in the success of a blog. It takes time to gain credibility. However, it can be lost in an instant. It’s important to be upfront and never intentionally mislead your readers for the sake of income.
Offer Things That Relate to Your Audience
Flourishing affiliate marketing blogs have one thing in common. They all recommend products and services that their readers actually care about. Think about the needs of your audience and choose which products you recommend carefully. Then, create an informative post that lets them know why they can benefit from making a purchase.
Explore All Avenues
There are many ways to earn income from your blog and make money online. You don’t have to settle for Google AdSense or affiliate marketing. Explore different avenues to see which one works for you and your readers. Some other money-making options include selling products, making sponsored posts, and much more.
Don’t Overdo It
When it comes to monetization, the biggest blogging tip we can give you is to not overdo it. While it’s great to produce passive income, you don’t want to run the risk of driving your audience away. At the end of the day, people visit blogs for the content. Remember your mission statement and voice. Don’t let the income possibilities overshadow the original purpose of your blog because that’s why they are there in the first place.
Blogging can be a very rewarding experience. While it takes time and a lot of hard work to get to the point where you have an audience that’s ready to listen, it’s all worth it. Follow these tips to increase your chances of getting noticed. With some dedication and good luck, you can develop a loyal fan base and continue to create great content that they love. So what are you waiting for? Get started!
Featured image credit: Photo by Nicole Honeywill