We know bloggers, we work with them on a daily basis . They’re great. Having a successful blog has gradually become a reality within the internet age we live, as we approach 2020, becoming a blogger is no-longer a naive dream, but an absolute reality for passionate individuals from around the world. Next we explore some of the ingredients necessary to becoming a world-class blogger. Ready? Let’s begin.
Whether it’s integrated into your main website or set up as a standalone site, blogs are a great way of engaging with an audience and adding value to your online profile. But with such a saturated market, how can you ensure your blog is a success?
Here are some top tips, delivered from industry experts, that can help you when you’re setting up your blog…
Establish your brand identity
The first step of setting up a blog is figuring out what you want it to be called. Once you have a name you’ll need to buy the domain (the web address) and it’s a good idea to make sure all of these match up. After all, it wouldn’t make sense to call your blog one thing but have the web address as something completely different.
Be careful, don’t go for something spammy sounding. What’s more, finding the perfect domain / brand won’t be easy, but do spend a little time on this, go for a .com if possible, or your local domain extension, such as .co.uk. It’s neat, makes sense, and easily identified by search engines and viewers alike. You should consider your audience, is it local or international? For example, a travel blog aimed at the west midlands of England would be perfectly suited to a .co.uk domain, where as a blog about fashion would be ideal for either (depending on your ideal marketing audience – Local or Word Wide).
Creating a strong brand identity is essential if you want people to keep coming back to your blog. As well as a good, relevant name and domain you’ll also need a logo. Having a logo will allow return visitors to automatically recognise your blog. Most web browsers also feature the sites logo in the tab pane so a strong logo will allow your page to be easily found amongst multiple tabs.
We recommend NameSilo for domain registrations; a .com is less than $10 a year, privacy is included for free and renewals remain statically low. Whilst GoDaddy is a popular choice, you’ll be stung with renewal fees, so don’t be tempted with great introductory offers (of which there are many), paying $30 a year on wards for renewals with privacy is a bad deal. If you’re after a .co.uk domain, check out TSO Host.
Choose a blogging platform
Most bloggers opt WordPress as there preferred blogging platform; it’s free, secure, easy-to-use and feature-rich. Most hosts allow a 1-click install, allowing you to get started quickly without any fuss. Thus, we recommend you use WordPress. Next you’ll need hosting (see if they have a 1-click WordPress install, it will be useful for newcomers).
A website that loads slow wont just frustrate its readers, but major search engines will also take note, resulting in a poorer presence online. Selecting a reliable web-host can be problematic, so it is important to do your research. Some web hosts make bold promises, yet many are simply over-selling, covering themselves via a hidden but lengthy TOS. One example would be the terminology of Unlimited Bandwidth, from where you’ll unwittingly find hidden in the TOS a usage cap under a fair usage policy.
Here are some important features to research when it comes to a web-host:
- Backups (Type, consistency and reliability)
- Bandwidth / webspace (Check TOS)
- Reliability (Read reviews)
- Data-center locations (Some are better than others)
- Security (Anti-DDOS technology / firewalls)
- Longevity (Good host today, bad host tomorrow)
- Features (You might want on-the-fly blog installs of WordPress, many offer such, so ensure it’s on the feature list)
Make sure your blog is secure
If you want your blog to be a success then it needs to be safe too. The last thing you want is for you or your readers to fall victim of hacking and viruses all because your blog isn’t secure. HTTPS is the sign that your blog is safe and secure and whilst no website is ever fully immune to hacking, this is a pretty good way of protecting your blog as best you can.
If a website URL starts with HTTPS it has a host of benefits including protecting users data and stopping third parties from accessing your server. A secure site will also benefit your SEO as Google aren’t about to start ranking websites that offer a risk to the user. Hosting your website on HTTPS is therefore an absolute no-brainer.
Creating social media accounts for your blog is a great way to get more traffic to your site. First and foremost they help to prove that there’s a real person behind the scenes and that it’s not simply the work of a high-tech robot.
Allowing your readers the chance to learn more about the person behind the blog via social media channels will help to keep them engaged. If they feel like they know a little about you, they’re much more likely to convert into a return reader.
Social media channels such as Instagram and Twitter are also a great way of promoting your blog to a wider audience. By sharing recent blog posts or snippets of content with a ‘read more’ link, you are actively directing people straight to your site. You can also post similar and relevant content that is more ‘short form’ and not necessarily worthy of a full blog post on your social media, giving people an idea of what they can expect from your main site.
Write content that people actually want to read
Content is most definitely king in the blogging world, and no matter how much coding, designing and social media promoting you do, if your content isn’t good enough then your blog will never be a success. Once you’ve figured out your niche you need to start planning your blog posts. Do some keyword research to figure out what search terms people are using in your niche. After all, whatever people are searching for is what they want to read!
It’s also wise to keep on top of blogging trends and adapting your content to what your audience wants. While long form content is still read in droves, listicle style articles and pieces that can be absorbed quickly are becoming ever more popular, especially for those who are reading on the go.
Optimise your site for mobile users
It’s all very well having an amazing desktop site that offers the ultimate user experience but these days, more and more people are using their mobile phones and tablets to absorb content online.
Whilst you need to make sure your content is mobile friendly, like we mentioned above, you also need to make sure your website as a whole is too. Think about what it will look like on a mobile device and ensure there aren’t too many pop ups or extra windows that are likely to make it frustrating to navigate.
Allow commenting for reader engagement
Having a comments section on your blog posts is a great way to allow your readers to engage with your posts and to create a community online. If people are reading your posts it suggests that they’re interested in the topic field and they may want to join in the conversation.
A comment section is also a great way to gain feedback on your posts and, providing you have a clear data policy, also an effective way of collecting information on your audience.
Be careful though, blog comments are often a magnet for bots and spammers, thus you should monitor them and use a secure commenting platform, such as DISQUZ.
Optimise your posts for SEO
Ensuring your posts are optimised for SEO purposes is a key way you can get them to rank in Google search results. Think about what search terms you would want and expect a specific blog post to rank for and then ensure that the content you write is rich in these keywords (don’t go overboard though, your content still needs to natural, truly influenced by your passions). Yoast is a great plugin if you’re using WordPress.
Think about the user journey
Last but by no means least, you need to make sure you’re always thinking about your user journey. How will your audience navigate around your blog? What pages do you want to direct them to? If someone lands on your blog and it looks a mess, is too text heavy and there is no clear direction of where to go next, the likelihood is they’ll click right back off it.
Make sure you blog looks and feels fresh and clear, ensure your thumbnails have images, use images to break up chunks of text and make sure your hyperlinks stand out from the page, offering users a clear pathway to follow when they land on your blog.
There are many avenues when it comes to monetising a blog, it is also a necessary ingredient for blog owners. Some bloggers may not aim to earn from their blog; they might simply enjoy to write about their passion. However, others will want to turn their passions into a comfortable income, and more. To do so, you need to develop a strategy. Here’s a few ideas:
- Product Reviews (where you receive products to review and keep).
- Article Features (payments for brand features)
- Brand Mentions (payments for brand mentions)
- Affiliates (commission)
Re-invest; Grow your Blog
You’ll probably feel like an entrepreneur at this point, since you’ll be considering the scalability of your blog; where can you take it next?
Keyword: ROI; Return on Investment.
You’re ready to spend, take some risks, but how can you do so by seeing a profit? This must be key to your plan. Here’s a few ideas:
- Increase social media presence. (more exposure, more readers, more opportunities)
- Increase presence using blogger outreach. (better search exposure, deepened brand authority, more traffic, better opportunities).
- Improve your content and reach. (make your content better, it will increase the likelihood of having loyal fans).
Your contact form is the one page you need to pay plenty of attention to, why? Because it is where opportunities will arise. If a sponsor notices your blog and wishes to get in contact, they’ll be doing so through your contact page. It’s easy to add a [short code] and leave it, however, this is how and why so many contact pages break (an update to a WordPress blog or plugin, etc.) – making it impossible for you to be contacted. Thus, keep an eye on your contact page, test it once a month to check it is working properly, also be sure to include a captcha to prevent bots from spamming you.
There’s no sure fire way to making sure your blog is a success but by producing high quality content that fits your niche and following the above tips, you should be well on your way.