So, you want to start a blog? That’s great! But there are so many questions that you have to ask yourself before you start, like what do you want to do? What will your content be about? What do you want to get out of your blog, and the list goes on…
The best way to start is by choosing a niche – something that interests you, something that you can write a lot about or something that you will always have content on. To do this, you might find it helpful to search around a few sites (such as WordPress, Squarespace and Wix) to get an idea of what’s already around, inspire you, motivate you and to really get your creative juices flowing.
For example, we’ve chosen ‘Providing Assistance and Knowledge around Money, Finance and Business’ as our niche, in which we’re passionate about, there is always going to be something to write about, and we’re dedicated to bridging the gap between those in the know with those that want to be in the know.
So what’s next?
Once you’ve chosen your niche…
You’ll need to form some topics.
(Confused about the difference between a niche and a topic?
Let’s put it this way – your niche is your broad topic, and now you have to break down that broad topic into smaller, more in-depth topics)
This is done to define your blog and help to separate the different genres within your niche from each other. This can be done in many ways; and is generally determined by the type of blog that you choose – what your niche is.
For example, your niche is about plants. When you think about it, there are millions of types of plants in the world, so you have the job of breaking down your niche into topics (and it’s completely up to you how in-depth you go).
Here’s how we would break down the ‘Plants’ niche:
From there you can go into the water-dwelling, land-dwelling;
And then you can go further in-depth, but we won’t go any further there…
So, as you can see, there are so many topics that you can choose, that can then be broken down even further so you’ll always have something the write about.
The next part of your start-up:
The set-up is ensuring that your content is always relevant, valued and evergreen.
(Evergreen content, is content that is always relevant such as ‘how to build a box’)
By saying this, we mean that what you write about should always be current news and information… because honestly – no one likes searching for something in 2018 and getting an article from 2007.
Current information is the most important thing to keep on your blog, it’s imperative that what you provide to your readers is current and engaging.
For example; if you’re teaching someone how to paint a wall – it’s going to be the same process for 50 years (which is evergreen content), however, if you’re giving information and teaching someone how to invest in the stock market, it’s always changing from day-to-day, month-to-month let alone year-to-year.
Choosing your platform and domain name is one of the most important, most fundamental parts of the beginning of your blog.
HELP! What do I choose!?
In our opinion, choosing your platform is basically an eenie-meenie-miney-moe choice between the three better forms of blog base – WordPress (which is what we use), Squarespace and Wix, however, we’re sure that there are others out there that are just as good. The best way to make your choice is by doing your own research into each of the sites and finding which one works best for you/which one you find to be the most user-friendly.
Here’s a simple breakdown of each of the above sites:
-Has 4 different levels of subscription; Free, Personal ($4), Premium ($8), and Business ($25).
– Free: includes the general perks of a blog page, with a custom domain, dozens of themes, basic customization and 3GB storage.
– Personal: includes the above as well as 6GB storage and the ability to remove WordPress.com advertising.
– Premium: inclusive of the above, as well as the increased storage, customization, and unlimited premium themes, and on top of that, the ability to monetize your site and have VideoPress support.
– Business: inclusive all of the above, as well as SEO tools, Google analytics, the ability to upload your own theme, install plug-ins and more.
This platform only has two different levels of subscription; personal ($16) and Business ($25).
– Personal: gives you the general things that you need to have a successful blog, including unlimited storage, pages and galleries etc. and website metrics, custom domain name security and 24/7 support.
Business: this is inclusive of the above, as well as 10 more add-on features such as a fully integrated E-Commerce, item selling and donation receival capability, complete customization and more
This platform has 5 subscription types, however, only 4 are worth subscribing to begin a blog – Connect Domain ($4.50), Combo ($8.50), Unlimited ($12.50), eCommerce ($16.50) and VIP ($24.50).
Connect Domain: Connect your domain and get 500MB storage and 1GB bandwidth.
Combo: 2GB storage, 3GB bandwidth, connect domain, free domain, removal of Wix ads, customization and $75 of ad vouchers.
Unlimited: inclusive of all of the above, (but unlimited bandwidth, 10GB storage), Form Builder app (worth $48) and Site Booster app (worth $60).
eCommerce: inclusive of all of the above (20GB storage) and an online store
VIP: inclusive of all of the above, plus 10 email campaigns a month and professional site review.
You may also find that it’s also a good idea to check out which platforms are the most popular, so you know which ones to target if you’re not going to be keeping a blog with each of the sites.
Ultimately, the key to choosing your platform is honestly based on your personal preference; and having the ability to work with what you’ve chosen.
Alternately, it’s extremely important for you to choose wisely when you’re selecting your domain name – this is what’s going to stay with you for the duration of your blogging life. If you choose poorly, you’re going to either regret it as much as you regret your 10-year- old self’s email address, or you’re going to have to pay some $$ to get it changed…
Choosing the right domain name for you can be difficult, especially if you haven’t defined exactly what your blog is going to be focused on (that’s why it’s so important to settle on a niche), however, if you know what you’re leaning towards doing, then it will be a much simpler task.
Our first tip it to explore domain names before you even consider naming your blog/webpage. This is purely so that you don’t get your sights set on a specific name only to find out that the domain name isn’t available (meaning you have to pay big bucks if they owner of the domain name is willing to sell it, or crush your hopes and dreams of being able to have that certain name).
The next, most blatantly obvious tip that we can give you is to select a domain name that is the same as your page name – it goes without saying. If someone is thinking of your website, they’re going to search the name of your site, rather than the domain name, therefore the best thing to do is to name both your page and domain the same thing, to increase the traffic to your site.
Think of it this way, what if Facebook’s site name was Facebook, but its domain was
unicornslive.com? Chances are if you search for the beloved social media site, it would be tougher to find unless you remember and type in unicornslive.com every time… so it just makes sense to name the both of them the same.
The only other tips that you really need to know about your domain name is to try to get a .com ending for your site and try to keep it simple – try not to have a hyphenated name, an extremely long name, or a difficult name to remember.
Stay tuned for our next post in this series!
So, now that you’ve got your niche, your topics, your platform and your domain name, the next phase to the creation of your successful blog is going to be focused around the content of your blog.
The first thing that you have to do before launching your website is to thoroughly plan your content.
By doing this, you’re enabling yourself to get the best start that you can – if you don’t plan, you’ll get behind in your posts, and before you know it, you’ll have reduced the quality of your content and in turn, decrease the amount of traffic that you’ll get because of poor planned and filled articles, and that’s not what we want.
The best way to do this, we’ve found, is to get a great big whiteboard and write everything on it, do a huge brainstorm and take progressive photos. The reason we like this method so much is that it’s as crazy as your brain wants it to be, you can rub stuff out without it being super messy, and it’s super-effective to jot down anything that you think about 10 minutes after you think you’ve finished. Don’t get me wrong, however – there are so many ways that you can plan – write it down in a book, type it on a laptop, an iPad… anything you want, anywhere you want, and anytime you want.
It’s your baby to grow and evolve, therefore you do it how you want to.
Remember, your content is why you’re building your website.
Take pride in it, give it your time, give it your patience and give it your love – you’ll soon see your blog prosper from it.
The next thing that you have to do is to determine what you’re going to have as your important pages. You’ve got your topics sorted, and now that you have your content, you have to divide each of your topics and your content into different sections or headings.
To do this, we found the easiest way was to divide our content into three specific brackets, and from there, down into age brackets for one section in particular. We decided that it was easiest to have these three sections along with a home page, about page, and contact page (which are all vital in your blog).
You’ve got to provide your readers with a background to your page, a snapshot of your dreams, goals and aspirations, and most certainly where you’ve come from and why you’ve started your blog. On top of that, you’ve got to give them someplace to contact you, whether it be for people to reach out to you for help, for guidance, or to possibly team up with you for a post or two, having that information on your site is vital for your growth.
Your home page is also an important aspect of your blog – it’s the first thing that people will see when they enter into your website – it has to be eye-catching and engaging from the start. If it’s not, most people will just use that back button and get right back out of your site.
Making your blog easy to manoeuvre around will be the ultimate success.
So What Now?
Okay, sweet, so you’ve got most of the background information/behind the scenes stuff down and ready to go, now it’s time to focus yourself on the aesthetics of your blog – because honestly, who likes looking at a boring, simple webpage?
The first thing to do is to choose a design that’s fitting to your page. This can be done by scrolling through the never-ending choices that you’re given, or you can create your own (heads up – some websites may charge you for this).
To have a successful blog, it’s important to have an engaging, relevant design so that it’s not confusing for readers when they enter your site. For example – if you have 15 different tabs to choose from to find information, it’s going to be a huge turn-off for those that want a quick, simple answer, or just the ability to find something specific on your page to start with…
Basically, what we’re getting at is that your design has to make sense, and be negate-able for absolutely anyone (that’s why we’ve chosen three information headings with a home, about and contact page – we’re sure that you’re able to find information with that setup, right? (let us know if you can’t!).
Now we need to look at the overall appearance of your site. You want to make your page as aesthetically pleasing to the eye as you can so that it will draw your traffic in. Make it relevant to your content, from your colour scheme to the font of your writing…
Think about it like this; imagine if we had a pink and purple background with flowers, and butterflies, and pretty scrolls plastered over our Investercon blog.
How confusing would that be for you and the rest of our viewers? You’re coming to us for business, finance and other technical advice, and you’re greeted with a heading in scrawled handwriting.
Your logo is the last thing that you have to create, whether you choose a ready-made generic one, do it yourself or get a graphic designer to create one for you, it’s important to have one so that you can stand out from the crowd. Having a logo is crucial to your blog, because from there, you can use it for any other branches that you choose to grow – whether that be Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest or any other platform of your choosing.
Having one unified logo is one of the best ways to keep traffic flowing through your platforms, because all they have to do it check for it to make sure that they’re in the right place.
If you’re able to get all of these done and you’re certainly on the right track to having a great little blog to start you off… And remember, most of these things aren’t permanent, you can make little tweaks and changes as you go to make your blog perfect!
This part of the instalment is about learning from your mistakes. There is no better way to learn than from your own failures. Not only does it make you a stronger person, but it increases your knowledge, skills, and mental strength to carry on.
There are so many forms of mistakes that I can talk about, however, they’ll all be focussed on your blog – for obvious reasons.
- Niche/Topic/Evergreen Content.
Looking back on our Part 1, we stressed the importance to choose your niche extremely wisely, as well as your topics and continually having ‘evergreen content’… This is all still very true, but you need to know that there is certainly no shame in the failure of getting off the ground with your subject of interest – there is always room for improvement and most certainly, change.
Nothing on your blog is set in stone, and it would be foolish of anyone to think that it is. Knowing that although you’ve tried your best to launch your subject and accepting that it didn’t work out the way you planned is the first step to getting better. As we said before, nothing is set in stone, so you’re able to alter and change little things to make your site more trafficked whether that be a change in your niche or your topics. As for your content, it is always best to keep it simple, but always current, sometimes all you have to do is edit a few words in a post to keep if ticking over, or you may even be able to republish it with an updated section to increase its content.
To put it bluntly, you will never get this right from the get-go. Between our last post and this post, you may have noticed that our blog isn’t the same (we made mention in the previous post to the pages that we had – yeah, well, we changed them!). We’re constantly picking up little things that can be done better, things that can be changed. We do a lot of analysing of analytics and statistics for our social media’s to learn where we went wrong and where we can fix things to increase engagement and visitation.
Touching on the first paragraph again; remember that there is no right and wrong, there is nothing set in stone and things can always be changed and modified to suit you. The key to your success through failure is to own it – make your mistakes work for you, make your blog unique.
Design and appearance are two of the easiest things to change, so if you think it’s just not working for you anymore, absolutely don’t be afraid to change it!
This is where it gets tricky – SEO is super hard to understand, and takes the right portals to get it going and get it right. However, once you understand it, you’ll be at the top of your game.
Don’t be afraid to play around with it, ask questions, watch YouTube videos etc. to get a grasp and learn all you need to. Find your relevant, keywords and you’ll be on top.
Mistakes in SEO are guaranteed, just be prepared to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and jump straight back into it.
There’s no better way to learn than from trial and error, from making mistakes and persisting until it’s perfect.
To finish this series with, we’re going to complete a bit of an overview/conclusion of the 6 parts that we’ve explored…
To start with…
Niche and topics:
-These have to be succinct and well thought out, there is no point in starting something that you don’t know anything about, or you’re only half-heartedly into.
-Choose a passion, something that you’re going to want to learn more about, something that you’ll go out of your way to find more information to feed to your readers.
-Make sure that your topics are also always relevant to your niche, and that they are coordinated will together so that there are no overlaps
-Keep your information and content up to date, valued and evergreen (fresh and new) is vital to the engagement of your audience and to keep them interested and coming back.
-These two parts are two of the more permanent things that you’ll do for your blog.
-Once you’ve chosen your platform you’re basically stuck there with your blog unless you can be bothered making a whole new one with a different platform, so choose wisely.
-Make your domain name and the name of your blog the same. It’s sensible, easy, and saves confusion for your readers and will evidently increase your traffic.
-Make your name legible and easy to remember. Don’t choose something crazy like radfabtoula.com when you have the choice of anything, the aim is to get traffic to your blog, don’t make it hard for people to find you.
-It’s ideal to get your blog in a .com form
-So this is something that will take some nutting out, to determine exactly what the content is that you are going to be focussing on throughout your posts, and the focus tabs you want to have on your blog, but its worth.
-You want to make your website as easy to navigate as you can, so make sure that you have relevant tabs to your content as well as descriptive, to the point tab names so that your audience doesn’t have to find their own way around your site, it’s just there in front of them.
-The design of your page is critical to your success throughout your blogging time if you have the wrong design you’re likely to lose traffic. If it’s hard to navigate (one of the biggest factors), is harsh on the eyes, or doesn’t match your content are just three reasons why the design is so important.
-Your aim is to engage those who come to your site, so draw them in with a simple, delicate appearance with expressive text if that’s the content you have (such as a nature blog) or simple colour palette, with plain text for something like a business blog.
-Having a logo is the best way for viewers to recognise who you are and can pick you out of a crowd.
The best form of traffic increaser. Once you’ve studied your analytics and determined your keywords and what your audience is searching for; you can update your previous posts, as well as writing your future posts around those specific words which will increase your likelihood of getting on that front page of results on Google
-Mistakes are the pathway to success, make them, learn from them, and then earn from them.
The most important thing to keep in the back of your mind is that most things can be changed, edited or tweaked, so don’t freak out when you’re not going as well as you think – there are plenty of ways to get up and going again!