Someone once told me that to blog is to create, connect and inspire humankind on various levels. It still holds true today. Whether you do it recreationally or professionally, blogging is a highly effective medium for spreading powerful ideas, and for making a little money on the side as well.
A good majority of businesses are implementing this strategy already. Sprout Social predicts the average ROI from content-based marketing to exceed the $300 billion mark by 2019! What does it tell you? That you must build a standing of your own in the world of blogging if you are to generate more profits in the coming years.
However, blogging does not come easily to everyone. It has certain technical ins and outs, which take years to master. If you are new to the art of blogging and need a roadmap to success, then read the following pointers that will serve as your guide in the coming year. These are not the ‘be and the end all’ kind of tips, but actual practical information which has been tried and tested by blogging experts worldwide. Check them out below.
Setting up the Website Basics
Let us come down to the elementary steps of starting a blog. These include:
- Name and Domain—Decide and distinguish the niche in which you will be working. Check out the competition and locate the gap. Plan your aims and prepare your goals. Brainstorm a number of unique yet catchy names for your blog. Select the one that you think has enough potential to pull the audience from the search-engine-result-page onto your platform.
- Hosting—Establish your blog’s domain with an affordable blog hosting service, like Bluehost. If you wish to self-host on a strong CMS (Content Management System) platform, then WordPress is the way to go, on which 60% of all blogs usually run. Moreover, it is free and has a 1-click installation feature. Other options are Wix, Medium, Blogger and Squarespace etc.
- Design—Looks matter, especially when it comes to establishing a blog’s popularity. People always judge a book by its cover. So, make the visual layout of your site super-attractive. Hire a professional designer from 99Desings or in case you are self-hosting, get an eye-catching theme template that is responsive and easy, like OptimizePress or the premium one, Genesis Framework etc.
- Essential Pages–People need to know who you are, why should they listen to you and how can they get in touch with you. For this purpose, it is wise to create essential pages on your website besides the one that displays the content. Tell your story through a personalized, yet to-the-point, ‘About’ page. Show your blog authority in an ‘Achievements’ section. Help the readers with a ‘Resource Page’. Enable them to communicate with you via a ‘Contact’ page etc.
- Optimization—Last but not least, make your blog look good for the search engine so it can rank higher and render you more visible in the users’ eyes. How can you do that? By adding plugins, like Yoast SEO (optimizes blog posts), Sumo (measures social shares), MonsterInsights (Google Analytics), and MaxCDN (reduces image size to make the blog load faster) etc. In addition, by running mobile-friendliness tests, along with other SEO audits on your Spectrum internet connection (Check: Lighthouse extension for Chrome).
Planning and Managing the Content
Once the foundation of your blog is laid, it is time to pour the concrete, which, in this case, is the content. Remember, this is the main bulk of your blog—it can either make or break your standing. So, always strategize when it comes to formulating the content. The following points will show you how.
- Audience Persona—Do your research around the niche and see who your ideal reader would be. Addressing a specific audience instead of a disinterested general pool in your content would help your blog stay on a unidirectional path to success. Conduct a demographic/psychographic/seasonal survey to get a better idea.
- Format—Select the form of content you will be tackling. It can be anything from plain text to podcasts. Be creative and use the format that best represents your voice.
- Post Plan—Brainstorm topics for your blog posts. Use credible keyword research tools like Ahrefs or Moz to optimize your content. Get inspiration for new subjects that people are talking about by going on Google Trends. Combine your ideas together in the form of a spreadsheet editorial calendar to stay one step ahead of the game and prioritize them accordingly. Publish your content regularly so readers can know what to expect.
- Post Design—Construct a proper layout for each content piece. It means writing attractive headlines, a personalized introduction, easy-to-follow points, and a subtle CTA at the end. Engage readers by adding multimedia. It is a foundational strategy. Some of the best (and free) photography resources include Unsplash, Canva, Visme, and Death to Stock etc. Other than this, you can experiment with other formats such as short videos, interactive infographics, and GIFs etc.
- Managing Tools—Content management, curation, and organization is super important when it comes to blogging effectively. Some tools that can help you are Google Docs, Trello and Airtable etc.
If content production is 20% of the job, then the rest of the 80% goes to content distribution and promotion. Some of the best techniques to drive and retain traffic on your blog are:
- Social Sharing—Create profiles on different social media platforms and build a user base. Share your newly published content regularly on these social networking channels, like Facebook (best for curated content and videos), Instagram (best for stories, polls, quotes and high-res photos), Twitter (best for news and links), LinkedIn (best for professional content), Pinterest (ideal for infographics) and Reddit (best for commenting) etc. Add social sharing buttons to the blog, so readers can easily share your content on their own profiles. Give shout-outs to various influencers and get recognition in return. Use a social media management system like Buffer’ or ‘Hootsuite’ to automate social sharing for your blog.
- Email Campaigning–Come up with a creative newsletter and start collecting emails from your readers. Utilize tools like OptinMonster (builds an email list via exit-intent pop-ups and custom splash screens) and ConvertKit (manages subscribers and delivers content upgrades/special discount offers/promotions to them) etc.
- Forum Marketing and Guest Posting—Join popular forums and online groups, like Quora, and gain traffic from there. Build your SEO-friendly links by networking and guest posting for high-authority sites. In conclusion, there are many other ways for building and promoting your blog, but for now, these pointers will suffice. Get on the road to success by implementing these in the coming year.