The Beginner’s Guide to Successful Blogging 2016
Information has become one of the most powerful decision making tools in the world. With accurate, credible and accessible information, you can be able to take advantage of opportunities, grow your knowledge base and understand underlying factors behind major news items.
As opposed to days past where the sources of information were few, the 21st century has some of the most advanced sources of information including the internet. Blogs have become synonymous with breaking news, undercover stories and hard-to-obtain information.
A blog is a shortened form of the phrase web log which is simply defined as a diary, digital magazine or an internet space where articles, news items and other pieces of information are arranged in a chronological order with the newer posts appearing first and the older posts appearing at the bottom.
A blog brings together text, videos, images and links which redirect readers to other relevant pages on the internet. Blog readers have an option to leave comments and directly communicate with the author. As a matter of fact, the success of a blog is measured by the level of engagement between the reader and the owner of the blog.
According to Darren Rowse, one of the prominent and earliest known bloggers, a blog refers to a type of website arranged in a chronological order with the recent entry appearing at the top of the main page while the subsequent entries appear at the bottom. Blogging has made a tremendous impact on communication all over the world because of the specificity of the news items and other information they carry.
The Steps Covered in the article
This is a comprehensive guide that will take you through the art of blogging so that you can master it and enjoy immense success. In it, you will learn the baby steps on how to start a blog, how to maintain the blog so that it does not lose its relevance and how to grow it to reach a wider and deeper audience.
If you have been wondering how bloggers manage to attract a crowd without losing steam, this guide will show you the techniques on how to succeed and be a force to reckon with. You will learn how to pick a niche, choose a blogging platform, select a relevant domain, as well as a hosting plan that supports your needs. You will also learn firsthand how to add content to your blog, optimize it for search engines and promote it so that you can attract the relevant traffic.
Depending on your motive for starting a blog, this guide will take you through the different blog styles, meeting your readers’ expectations and monetizing your blog.
Joining the Blogging Community
Blogging is an interesting field that connects you to the outer world through the internet. As you join the blogging community, you will find other bloggers in the same niche as you are or in different niches.
The beauty with blogging is, you always find something new and inspiring to write on, read or share thereby further deepening your connections with your audience or fellow bloggers.
A blogging community is all about finding and connecting with other bloggers. Inasmuch as bloggers are everywhere on the internet, there are a number of ways you can use to connect with them and establish a relationship. Some of these ways include:
Joining a Link Up – This is where a blogger invites others to link up posts on a certain theme or topical area so as to encourage as many people as possible to visit the blogger’s site.
It is a great asset for beginner bloggers. Some of the link up communities includes PoCoLo, Country Kids, Wordless Wednesday, Me and Mine and many others.
Facebook Groups – Facebook is a social community that brings together lots of people including bloggers. Here the bloggers are classified according to the niche in which they blog making it easier to connect. To get started, use the search bar to find out existing blogging communities.
Twitter – This is a micro-blogging site that brings together lots of bloggers. You can either search for a particular community such as parenting and business or use the hashtag to align your search to a specific stream.
Blogging Events – Attending a blogging event such as a conference, networking event or a boot camp can help you meet other bloggers and learn lots of things from one another.
The Steps to Launch a Successful Blog
In order to set up a successful blog, there are a number of things that you need to bear in mind. Below is a brief discussion on each of these factors that will power your blogs into success.
Pick a Comprehensive Niche – As the saying goes, “It never goes wrong, it starts wrong.” The foundation of a successful blog is picking a niche that you are passionate and interested in. before you settle for a given niche, brainstorm your idea by making a list of your hobbies, interests and accomplishments. This will give you a sense of direction. Also, examine the potential niche size, competition and potential monetization.
Choose a Blogging Platform – Determining your blog management tool or platform is one of the most important decisions you will have to make as a blogger. There are different types of platforms including free blogging platforms, freemium platforms (they have a trial period after which you pay) and self-hosted platforms. The best platform is WordPress because it has a free version that allows you to blog and grow your audience.
Choose a Domain – The domain is the address of your blog. Anyone searching for your blog can either type your domain or use keywords if your blog is optimized for search engines. You have an option of buying a new domain or go for an old one. The good thing with an old domain is it has the trust of search engines and can easily rank in prime positions in search engine results pages.
A new domain however can help you establish your own footprint and authority on the web. When choosing a domain name, brainstorm on at least five phrases or keywords that describe your blogging niche, pick a unique name that is easy to pronounce and type. A shorter domain name that is brandable is a plus to your blog. Avoid numbers, hyphens and domain names which are trademarks.
Get Hosting Plan – Blog hosting refers to the space where your blog will be housed on the internet. There are lots of hosting plans that come with added features such as search engine optimization tools, webmail, access to the control panel, and enough space to upload as many files as possible. Look out for a plan that doesn’t cost as much and offers you enough space.
Customize and Design Your Blog – Your blog is more or less like your house which needs interior designing and housekeeping. Depending on the niche you are blogging in, you will have to choose the appropriate theme and colors to make your blog as attractive as possible. There are free plugins you can integrate to enhance the functionality and customization of your blog.
Content Management – The organization of the content on your site including the text, images and videos will determine its attractiveness. Well organized content should include a mixture of the three forms of content for interaction. Some of your audience may prefer one form of content to another hence having all will be advantageous to your blog. Be careful not to duplicate content and whenever you are using images from another source, you must cite the source to avoid penalties.
Make It SEO Friendly – Search engine optimization is important for your blog because search engine spiders crawl the web to look for optimized blogs so as to rank them on their search engine result pages. To make your blog is search engine friendly, you need to do a number of things including defining your meta tags, title tags, developing unique content and using internal links to enhance crawlability. You should also link to other credible sites and obtain links from them as well pointing back to your site.
Promote the Blog – Having a well done blog is one thing and making your target audience find it is another. There are different ways of promoting a blog and amongst them include directory submission, guest posting and blogging, link building, forum posting, paid listing among other avenues.
Most Popular Blog Styles and Types
There are various blog styles and blog types that you can choose to focus on. The best bet is to settle for styles and types that are popular because in doing so, you will be putting your blog in the limelight and visible to your target audience. Among the popular blog styles include:
Personal Blogs – These are blogs where the bloggers share their personal opinions and thoughts on areas such as art, poetry and photography among other creative ideas. Most personal bloggers want to have fun and make a statement to their audience.
Business Blogs – Businesses targeting specific or general audiences may out up a blog to amplify their voice and deepen their outreach. Business blogs are not only useful to large businesses but also small ones that seek to publish information for their customers or stakeholders.
Topical/Niche Blogs – These are blogs whose focus is on a particular niche or area of interest. There are lots of niche blogs on the web targeting high traffic topical areas such as gardening, health, sport, fashion, education and pets among others. For instance, if you are a travel enthusiast or a collector of antique items, you may consider starting up a blog on these areas so as to share with your followers.
Media Type Blogs – Depending on the type of content that you put on these blogs, you could be classified in a number of ways. For instance, if you enjoy blogging using video content, then you will be known as a vlogger. On the other hand, if you specialize in curating content from other blogs or websites then your blog will be known as a linklog. Other types of media blogs include art blogs and photo blogs.
Reverse Blogs – These are special types of blogs where the content is reader generated. Members of the public supply content instead of it being generated by the blog owner. Behind a reverse blog is a team of moderators who go through the posts so as to prevent unpleasant interactions as well as promote certain posts or topics to enhance interactivity.
In addition to these blog types, there are others such as community blogs, podcast blogs, device-type blogs, live webcam blogs, non-profit blogs among others.
Benefits of Blogging on a Perfect Niche
There are many reasons why people blog. There are those who blog as part of their passion while others blogs so that they can pass important information to their audience as well as network. As cited above, one of the most important stages in blogging is choosing a niche that you can easily fit in and bring value to your audience.
Getting a perfect niche will make it easy for you to build a loyal following around your blog and amplify your voice. Below are some of the benefits that will accrue to you as a result of setting up your blog in a perfect niche.
Better Thinking and Writing – Blogging on specific topical areas will make you a better thinker because your mind will be harnessed and your total concentration will be on that particular niche. The more you spend time researching on a certain niche, the more you master the content and organize your thought process. As your mind pushes you into creating extraordinary pieces of content for your blog; your thinking, your writing and your research skills will also improve.
Establishes You As an Authority – Niche blogging helps you establish yourself as an expert. Each one of us has some expertise and interests that we would like to share with others. Niche blogging not only gives you the opportunity to share but also to establish your content and brand. Readers are looking for a blogger who is able to produce great content that has a unique point of view. Such content is usually shared widely hence widening your blogging net. With a little bit of effort, you can easily become an authority in your area of focus.
Enhances Your Self-Confidence and Personality – The reason why blogging is popular is that it gets your juices flowing and enhances your creativity. The more the content you produce, the more the details you cover and this gives your followers confidence in you as well as enhancing your own self-belief.
The New York Times documented that 81% of Americans believe they have books inside them to share with the rest of the world. When blogging; you are in essence writing a book, one piece at a time. You need to keep an open mind and enjoy the confidence in your abilities.
Enhances Your Network and Creates Fun
Building a base of followers and fans is only possible if you concentrate on a niche instead of blogging on anything that crosses your mind. As you continually write on the niche, your ability to encourage, inspire and help your followers make a difference in their individual lives grows.
Your blogging journey will also link you up with similar minded bloggers hence growing your network. For instance, if you love cooking, you will find friends who also enjoy cooking hence making the blogging activity fun.
Boosts the Monetization of Your Blog
Even if you did not initially start your blog with the aim of making money, sticking to a particular niche makes it easier for you to monetize your blog. Blogging on general topics does not attract qualified leads thus making it difficult to monetize such a blog.
A niche blog allows you to place targeted ads which in turn bring affiliate commissions. The more you promote products of renowned and established retailers, the more the chances that you will make a good sum of money from your blog.
How to Meet Readers’ Expectations
The greatest challenge to any blogger especially a beginner is the decision on the type of content to create. Remember blogging is not only about you but also about the audience you are targeting. Understanding what your audience wants to read or see is important in content development. You should develop a unique perspective different from that of your competitors because uniformity does not set you apart in any niche.
You must internalize the fact that your readers visit your blog for information. Their desire to learn more and stay current on a number of topics must be met by your blog if they are to value it. Featuring some of the news which does not appear in mainstream media channels is what makes blogs unique. Give your readers as much information as possible.
Apart from information, your readers are also looking for solutions to their problems. The problems vary depending on the niche and individual. Some readers may be looking for health advice, fitness, marketing solutions or technical things. Always look at what you can add to your blog that can be of help to your readers.
Ensure that you also entertain your readers because it is not always about work but rather connecting, sharing and having fun. Create your own brand of humor that befits your audience.
How to Earn From Your Blog
Your blog is not only a platform where you share information, educate and entertain but also an excellent premise to make money. There are several ways you can monetize your blog to enable you earn a decent income. At the beginning, you might not have much traffic but as soon as you start filling up your blog with relevant content, traffic will naturally flow and this is when your monetization strategies will yield tangible results.
Affiliate Marketing – This is where you use your blog to promote other people’s products and in return receive a small commission. This is considered one of the easiest and passive ways of monetizing your blog. Ensure you put a disclaimer every time you promote an affiliate product that you are but only an affiliate. This helps in building trust and confidence with your audience.
Google AdSense – If your blog has about 10 to 15 posts, you can comfortably apply for Google AdSense. Basically, Google AdSense is a marketing and promotional system that places ads onto the Google network and gives blog owners (publishers) an opportunity to earn income by publishing ads through banners, images, links and videos onto their websites.
Selling Ad Space – Depending on the dynamics of your niche, you can sell ad space to advertisers the moment you get a certain level of traffic volume. You can either manage your ads manually or use certain platforms that help you to sell and manage ads through their platform with just a snippet of code which you insert on your website.
Sponsored Reviews – Instead of selling ad space, you can be paid to write a review on a particular product or service on your blog. Choose products that capture the interests of your audience and earn money creating great review content. Beware of Google guidelines so that you are not penalized.
Other monetization opportunities include selling your own products on the blog and syndicating content. When your blog matures up, you also have another opportunity to sell it off at a profit.
This guide has outlined everything that you require to start a successful blog right from setup to monetization. However, it must be pointed out that the success of your blog will depend on your depth of research, the type of content you generate and the time you dedicate in fine tuning the design and appearance of your blog.
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