INTRODUCTION ON HOW TO START A SUCCESSFUL BLOG:
How to start a Successful blog: You may be wondering: Should I start a blog? Or even where do I start a blog? Or thinking where is the best blogging platform to start a blog on? Is it WordPress or Blogger or SquareSpace or Tumblr or Medium? Etc.
It is all so confusing for a new blogger who is just getting to grips with everything or even a seasoned blogger that has just decided to monetize his or her blog or get serious about making money from blogging.
I have been blogging on and off since 2009 and I think I know a thing or two about blogging. The write up below is based on personal experiences as well as personal research to answer my personal blogging questions. So, I hope you find them helpful in your blogging journey.
This post will be in two parts: first I will show you what you need to set up a blog and secondly, will show you tips to make it a successful blog.
PART 1A: SETTING UP A BLOG AND WHY DO YOU WANT A BLOG?
Where is the best place to start a blog? It depends on what you want to do. I will be straightforward with you. This falls under two categories which are blogging for fun and blogging for money
Blogging for fun
If you just want to blog for fun, share the website with a few friends, family and associates and not intending to make any money from blogging, then I would say simply go for the freely available blogging websites (blogging platforms).
Then, you can just pay for a website name you choose (this is called domain name in IT world) for it and have that website name connected to the free blog. And you will be fine. It will be seriously free in effect if you want or will simply cost you the domain name cost every year.) But if you really want it totally free, then just stick to the website name the free blog owner gives you (also called a subdomain).
For more info about what a domain name is, or what a blogging platform is or what a subdomain is, I will cover those definitions in a later post or you can just check an online dictionary in the meantime. Examples of free blogging websites, Blogger, Medium, WordPress.com, Tumblr, Wix, Weebly etc. and many more.
Having said the above, there are people who make some money from using free websites mentioned above. Some make the money by selling physical products, having links to digital products set up on other websites for sale, traffic generated revenue, affiliate marketing etc.
However, the main issue with free blogging platforms is that you can’t change the format of the blog how you like, you may not be able to advertise as you wish, also the blogging platform owner may choose to close the platform down anytime and there is nothing you can do amongst so many other things!
Some blogging platforms have been around for a long while and seem like they are going no where soon but they can still shut down anytime and there goes all your effort even if you back up and save all your content all the time.
A good blogging platform that I can say you can at least customise to an extent is Blogger aka Blogspot. The reason being that it is owned by Google and it allows you to run Google Adsense on it as soon as you have some traffic getting directed towards your blog. Google Adsense program is a way to make some money from the traffic you send to your blog.
The only problem is that Blogger blogs do not do well in the search engines but if you can send direct traffic/readers that are not from free organic search engine to it, you can earn some money from Google Adsense program. The more traffic i.e people visit your website, the more you can make.
Blogging for money
Now, this is a different kettle of fish altogether. There needs to be a determination for this to happen and that’s another topic entirely. Back to the matter. In order to really make serious income or money from your blog, you need a blogging platform that allows you to do that. Even better is a blogging platform that allows you to customize it as much as you want or do almost anything you want with it.
The most popular of this blogging platform is a WordPress.org blog and it’s free. There are other open-source (free) blogging platforms that allow for full customisation too but finding tools that are easily compatible with them to make your customising easy is relatively hard or cumbersome to implement. So the most recommended fully customizable blogging platform is WordPress.org blog. So, I will focus on this in this write up.
Most people or blog owners out there will say it is easy to set up a blog within 5 minutes and in 5 easy steps. I kind of agree with that in a way but not totally.
Why? Because what you set up in 5 minutes is actually paying for the website host or website builder AND a blank slate to get started with.
You will not have a completely set up website in 5 minutes! Lol. So let’s be real here. I am speaking from the perspective of someone who is quite good with computer and understands most IT jargon.
This is like building a house from scratch.
Let me give an analogy: If you want to build your own personally designed house from scratch, you need to buy your own land, you need to organize for contractors, such as electricians, builders, painters, architect, carpenters etc. Then there is the legal aspect of registering with the local council, land registry etc. So you get the picture. You do everything yourself or you employ a caretaker to do everything for you.
Basic things you need: (using the analogy above)
1. You need where to host your blog. i.e web hosting company. (this is like the land to build your house)
2. You need the downloadable blog platform itself from WordPress.org blog. This can be done via majority of the popular hosting company such as Bluehost etc.
3. You need a theme for your blog. This can be freely available ones provided by WordPress.org or you can buy from WordPress theme sellers such as Themeforest etc. Based on the analogy above, this is like the design you give to the house you are building. You get the architect to put your ideas together and design a blueprint for how you want your house to look. So a WordPress theme allows you design how you want your WordPress blog to look.
4. You need to register and pay for a domain name. This is also called a website address. e.g. www.mygreenshoes.com. This is what people will type into the internet browser to find or search your blog. Based on the analogy above, this is like getting your house address from the local council. It’s registered and recognised.
are many companies you can buy your domain name from. Most popular
ones are Godaddy.com,
etc. Even some hosting company give you the opportunity to register
one or more domain names for free for a year e.g. Bluehost
registration on some of their hosting packages. Domain
is registered for and renewable every year.
5. You need money to pay for the blog hosting, WordPress theme and domain name is you buy a fancy one you want to customize.
I will have a post on how to start a blog with zero initial capital and zero readers and zero budget in the future. For this post, I will assume you have some money to start with.
So far resources needed are:
1. Web Host e.g. Bluehost, Hostigator, Namecheap etc
2. Independent blog platform i.e. WordPress.org
3. Blog theme. Free or premium. You can buy premium themes from places like themeforest.com etc.
4. Domain name. You can get from various websites such as Godaddy, Namecheap, 123-reg, etc even Google as well
You can get all of the above sorted out by setting up your blog through a web host such as Bluehost. I will have a post on how to easily set up a WordPress blog on Bluehost in the future. It will take about 5-10 minutes to set up. In the meantime, click here for a step by step tutorial
It’s one of the most popular web host as the moment. It’s also used by more than 2 million websites. It’s even highly recommended by WordPress. There must be a good reason for this.
Set Up A WordPress.org Blog
PART 2: HOW TO MAKE YOUR BLOG SUCCESSFUL (TIPS)
Now that we’ve sorted out the basics which is the main foundation of your blog and how to create one, then we can move on to how to make it successful.
1. Choose A Good Name For Your Website.
You need to have a name people can remember easily. It’s most likely that the short and sweet name is already taken by someone else so you will need to get creative. Using your own name for a blog may not be so appropriate for what your blog is about. For example, I want to start a blog about current industry news in agriculture, I can’t just name it Adam McKenzie Agriculture News.
That’s why we need to get creative and find nice memorable names for our blogs. Also, there is so much competition in the cyberworld that it’s very easy for a blog to get lost in the sea and ocean of websites. A good website name also helps with SEO strategies and branding. So yeah, this tip is really crucial to success to a large extent.
2. Create Content Aka Write About Things And Topics People Are Looking For To Add Value To Their Life.
This is a tricky one in many aspects because you have to write what people are looking for but you also have to be kind of passionate about the topic so that the interest in writing about it is sustained in the long run.
Good content is also what the search engines are looking for and will reward you well by sending traffic to your blog as you create more content, implement basic on-page SEO, increase website speed etc. I have a post in the future about basic SEO for blog.
3. Write Longer Posts Than Most Other Bloggers Do.
This means you simply write more in-depth posts or article without the padding up with words. Your readers will love this because they get so much value from your insight and tend to trust you. So if you recommend products they are more likely to check it out. It’s just how human relationships work. Google also loves this because they can sell more advertising to businesses who are looking for engaged audiences and Google in turn makes more money etc. So yes, Google and other search engines prefer longer posts/articles. Plus everyone is happy.
4. Deliberately Let People Know About Your Website Aka Paid Or Unpaid Advertising.
This goes without saying of course. A lot of times website owners think that once they have a fantastic write-up on their website, visitors will automatically come. Well, I will like to say, it doesn’t work like that. It’s for example, expecting your friends to visit you at your home when they don’t know your address. Yes, sometimes search engines may find you themselves, but even for that to happen you need to index your website with them, meaning they even need to know that your website exists…lol.
Examples of unpaid advertising are social media advertising such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat etc, then there is guest posting on other blogs, there is also word of mouth advertising where you tell people about your blog verbally, who then tell other people. There is also networking whether physically or online. I must say some network groups may charge you to be part of them.
Examples of paid advertising includes Google advertising, Bing advertising, Local radio, TV, sponsorships, paid advertising on social media platforms etc. You can search online for more examples.
Having said the above, how effective your advertising will be depends on the type of niche you blog in and what’s effective for that niche. What I mean is that if your potential blog readers are always on Facebook, it’s best to at least concentrate the majority of advertising efforts there I think. There is a lot more to advertising strategies than this post can cover. I hope to pull together some resource links in the near future.
You can download the entire post here
5. Start A Subscription For A Regular Newsletter For Your Blog Visitors.
A lot of bloggers keep on talking about how important it is to have your own email list. The reason being that email is not going anywhere soon despite all these advanced social media progress plus all these blogging platforms can vanish into thin air but very unlikely your email list will. It’s like the real estate of the blogging world! Lol. You can collect use email marketing providers such as Aweber and GetResponse
When you send new updates to your email readers, provided the email content you sent is good, they are more likely to be engaged with your blog and this in turn builds trust. It’s easier to introduce products and services to them that will help solve their problems.
6. Get New Email Subscribers By Adding Content Upgrade To Your Blog.
This can be done by simply having a simple pdf of a really good and quick topic you believe your new users will find helpful. This good topic can be a distilled version of your most read post or a checklist or a top ten list of something etc. If you are just starting your blog you can create this PDF specially for this purpose. The content just have to be useful to attract subscribers.
7. Use Social Media To Connect With And Engage With Your Readers.
Nowadays, it’s almost seen as a taboo when a blogger is not on almost all the major social media platforms. I personally believe there’s only so much one person can do when it comes to social media. I find it extremely difficult managing all of them. I currently stick to just one of them namely Pinterest. The rest are just so overwhelming for me to keep up with.
You should also have the share buttons visible on your blog so that your readers can easily share with friends and family. This will also indirectly bring in more visitors.
8. Set Up A Start Here Page.
I have personally experienced when the search engine or referral site just dumps you to the home page of a website when you are actually looking for something a bit more specific on that blog or website. It’s very annoying. That’s why a start here page may be of help to readers. It helps to at least direct somewhere in the multitude of blog posts. The start here page can actually replace your about me page if it makes sense to do so.
Your start here page can include any or more of the following: an introduction to who you are, what your blog is about, links to your most popular posts on your blog, links to products and services you offer, sign up form for your regular newsletter, contact details etc. In short, you can customize this page to your heart’s desire and taste.
9. Free Bonus For Your New Email Subscribers.
This one single act of giving free bonus encourages engagement especially when it’s a very useful bonus like for example, like 7 days to a new you with 5 minutes daily cardio exercises. Who doesn’t want that fabulous fit body quickly? Lol. I will be working on a new bonus for this website called, 10 easy steps to fully set up your brand new website/blog in 10 days flat.
10. Add Quality Plug-Ins To Your Blog.
Add PlugIns that will add value to your website especially the ones that will help make your blog load faster. Google search engine loves blogs that load quickly.
Examples of PlugIns you can install are as follows:
Askimet: Helps to filter spam comments on blog
W3 Total Cache: Helps a blog load very quickly and reduce stress on hosting website.
WP Forms Lite: contact form for your readers with added spam filter.
11. Back Up Your Blog/Website.
I can’t even begin to stress this enough. I say it again, back up your website. It’s your property and hours of work we are talking about here. Your blog is not immune to crashing for whatever reason. It ranks as high as a natural disaster. Lool…I am joking but it’s serious.
Have copies of your posts separate as well on USB sticks or cloud based storage such as Google Drive, Dropbox etc.
I know it sounds stressful but that’s what successful bloggers do. This way they are able get back up and running by simply restoring to their last back up.
You can have easily have a back up system in place by simply installing a back up Plugin if you are using WordPress for your blog. Search for a popular and regularly updated back up Plugin. Another alternative is that your web hosting provider has a back software in the cPanel area. For example, I use Namecheap as my web hosting provider and they provide a back up software in the cPanel area that lets me choose how many times a day or a week or how frequently I would like to back up my blog. If you are unsure about how to go about this you can email the support people from your web hosting provider. I am sure they will be happy to help.
12. Make Your Blog Smart Phone Friendly.
The majority of people nowadays use their mobile devices on the go. However, the most used as it relates to us bloggers is the mobile phone usage. Most people use their mobile phones to look for solutions to problems via Google, read up on ideas etc. If this is the case, then it makes sense to make sure that your blog is seriously mobile phone friendly. The way to go about this is to have a responsive website/blog theme. In case you don’t know what this means, it simply means that the design structure of your blog is able to adapt to any type of device it is viewed on. For example, when I open this blog on a desktop it reads well and looks good. If I also open it on my mobile phone it simply changes it size to fit my screen without me having to scroll off screen to see the whole content or having to constantly zoom in and out to read text. What a relief and a joy to read from such a website. This is the same way your readers feel when they visit your blog, the readability matters a lot and can help a website to be successful in terms of having more subscribers, return visits etc.
You can download the entire post here
13. Secure Your Website.
Website hacking is real. It can happen to any blog as long as it is live on the internet-sphere. I once had a website about 9 years ago and was so enthusiastic about it. But then I got a new job and had to leave the website for a while.
By the time I was ready to come back it was bugged, hacked into plus the host provider couldn’t explain why the website was not live. It was just a mess. I just let the subscription run and that was the end of that project. So sad as it was my baby project and first foray into building websites with WordPress. So I would say secure your website especially if its a WordPress based blog or website. It is up to you to do this.
If you search for plug-ins on WordPress you will find a few good ones that can be used to secure your website. Another thing that bothers websites a lot is spam messages being sent or spam comments. It is so annoying. You can install a Google Captcha on your website by signing up via a Google account it is quite easy to do. Maybe I will write up post on that in the future or link you online to another resource or you can just search on Google.
For users of WordPress, you can use Askimet plug in it is actually the most recommended. So the ball is in your court. For those that are using website builders such as SquareSpace, WordPress.com etc. security is usually done by them.
14. Affiliate Marketing For Extra Income.
The most popular way new bloggers usually try to make money from their blog/website is by adding Google Adsense code to their blog so that they either make money by the volume of visitors that view advertising by Google or number of clicks on adverts.
The second most popular way is by affiliate marketing. A simple definition of affiliate marketing is when you suggest a product or service to your readers which you feel or know they will benefit from. It is always good to know about the product well even if you haven’t used it before.
You as a blogger will sign up for merchants (product owners) who will give you a link to put on your website for your readers to click on which will in turn get tracked and you get paid the percentage of sales or leads agreed. It is easy to make money this way if done right and by that I mean also having a highly engaged audience/readers.
You are of course not restricted to using your affiliate links only on your blog but can use on your YouTube videos, Facebook page and Twitter pages etc. depending on the merchant restrictions. One of the most popular affiliate merchant for new bloggers is Amazon Affiliate Program. This is because they accept almost everyone with a blog and everyone knows Amazon kind of. So this brings me to the point that popular products tend to do well with affiliate marketing as people know about them already.
15. Write An E-Book.
This is another way to make your blog successful in terms of monetisation. E-books often represent value. You can either make your e-book free or paid for. Most bloggers use free e-books as a way to get more readers of their blog to sign up for their email lists. Why? Because you can build a relationship with your readers and eventually be able to suggest products you think they will be interested in when the time comes in the future.
Another way to make money via free e-books is by including affiliate links in them. The more people read your e-books the more chances there are for people to click on your suggested affiliate links. For some bloggers this might actually be a better approach to making money from their blog.
As for the paid e-books they are usually more in form of tutorials or aimed at teaching those who purchase it. For example how to start and maintain a bookkeeping business in Michigan. Having said that this full information can also be given away for free. It all depends on the bloggers aims and objectives.
So yes, e-books can make you a lot of money if you have the right audience.
16. Be Yourself.
People like authenticity, people who are real. People who can accept their failures as well as their successes. In short, people who are human. I understand that this personal connection may not be possible in some blog niches but the least we can do as bloggers is to write like we are talking to a friend. We normally talk in first person, so if you write like so, it’s like your readers feel like you are next to them.
You can also put a nice short bio and just be friendly. Who doesn’t like a friendly and genuine disposition? Lol.
You can download the entire post here
17. Keep Searching For New Avenues To Share Your Blog With The World.
Never rely on only one source of free advertising such as Google or Pinterest for getting traffic to your website. It can dry up over night and you may not recover. Recently, for whatever reasons best known to Pinterest my blog was labelled a spam site and views went from almost 300 click through a day to 0 or 1 click on a good day. My mistake. I cant even pin from the blog. It’s also restricted as well. All round mess. I would say. So if you are spending so much on getting your blog in shape, you might as well diversify your reach. Please, please, this is really important.
18. Check Out Similar Bloggers Who Are Successful In Your Niche To Get Ideas Of What You Can Do Too.
This is actually a good source of inspiration. I find it therapeutic because it assures me I am not alone. You will also get lots of ideas on what you can do or what sou can actually improve upon to make your blog better. It is not advisable to plagiarise its not good for your blog or the blog your are copying word for word. Google actually penalises the blogs in the long run through algorithm changes. Reference sources you use from other peoples blogs and give credit.
19. Keep The Website Clean.
I personally do not like cluttered blogs. I get confused as to where to read or start from. The more colors and overly highlighted texts, the faster I leave the website or blog. I would say avoid clutter. Keep it simple and minimal. Keep the font heights readable and text style legible. Why? Because most internet users will view your blog via a mobile device!
Many other blogging tips >>>>>
20. Prioritize The Most Important Things On Your Blog So As To Avoid Procrastination.
21. Update Your Most Popular Blog Post Regularly By Explaining It More
22. Write Many Blog Posts On The Same Topic.
23. Write Good Headlines That Readers Will Actually Like.
24. You Don’t Actually Have To Write A New Post Every Week.
25. Use Nice Images To Make The Post Much More Attractive To The Readers
26. Make Your Post Easy To Read. Break It Up Into Smaller Paragraphs And Use Nice Readable Fonts
27. Use Surveys To Get To Know Your Readers More By Asking For What They Would Like You To Do
28. Add A FAQ To Your Blog
29. Be Flexible To Spending A Bit More To Grow Your Blog
30. Plan Ahead. It Saves Time In The Long Run
31. Be Patient And Learn In The Process.
32. Choose One Or Two Goals For Your Blog For A Year And Pursue It.
33. Write Like You Are Writing To A Friend
34. Renew Your Motivation With How Best It Works For You
35. Proofreading Your Post Is So Crucial. But Sometimes Mistakes Still Happen. Lol. Use Grammarly
36. Check Important Critical Aspects Of Your Blog. Eg Email Sign-Up Form, Links Etc.
Start a blog in 10 -15 minutes on Bluehost
Make some money with Online Survey with YouGov
Book your next affordable holiday with Booking.com
You can download the entire post here