A lot of readers ask me how I got started on this blog. How did I find an audience, and turn it into a success? Well, there’s a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes, and a little trial and error! Starting a blog is a wonderful thing, and it has allowed me to help others along the way. That’s the driving force behind this blog, and one of the main reasons it connects with people. I can highly recommend starting a blog yourself. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and feelings out. It’s quite cathartic in a way. However, it’s no walk in the park.
I’ve put together this complete and detailed guide to getting started. I’ll take you through the mechanics of setting things up (don’t worry – it’s easier than you think). Then I’ll show you how to write great content, and promote it across social media. Setting up and writing is easy. It’s finding an audience that is the tricky part, so I’ll help you navigate those murky waters. Last of all, I’ll give you a little advice on how to monetize your blog, and generate a little earnings. If you’ve always wanted to set yourself up as a blogger, keep reading and I’ll show you the secrets!
Choose your topic
I’ve met a lot of my fellow bloggers on this inspiring journey. And one thing we all agree on is that finding a niche topic is essential. The jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none blogs don’t get very far in this world. People are looking for specific and detailed information. So, choose a niche, and stick to it. It’s also easier to come up with content ideas when you have a clear focus. Here on my blog, I’m dedicated to help moms make the most of their life. Others might focus on sports, gaming, or fashion. Give your blog a goal and direction from the beginning.
Choose a domain name
Your domain name is the address that links to your website. In other words, www.your-business.com. First of all, you’ll have to decide on a unique and descriptive address. There are a lot of websites out there, and many of the good ones are already taken! You want to keep it relatively short, catchy, and memorable. Once you’ve settled on your decision, head to a domain registration site like GoDaddy or 1-2-3-Reg to see if it’s available. It’s usually pretty cheap (less than $10) to buy the domain name for a year.
Next up, you need your web hosting. You can usually buy this at the same time as your domain name. Plus, it’s easier to get it all in one bundle. If you’re making a weird face at your computer screen and mouthing ‘what’s web hosting?’ I’ll tell you. Web hosting is essentially renting a corner of the internet. Web hosting companies are like landlords. They rent you their internet land, and you can build your website there for a certain time. For now, the cheapest option is more than enough to get started. As you grow, you might want to upgrade your size and speed of host.
Now that you’ve got your foundations sorted, it’s time to build the site! Now, there are lots of options out there for you. Most bloggers I know use WordPress. It’s the industry-standard website builder. (There are also others, like Wix, Tumblr, and Drupal). WordPress, however, is straightforward, simple, and easy for newbies. You’ll simply choose a template, and make tweaks by dragging and dropping boxes. You can input content and blogs just like you would on Microsoft Word.
Choosing your design
WordPress allows you choose a simple design from hundreds of free templates. You can choose to pay a little extra for a premium template, but it’s worth starting out with a free one. You can pick from various layouts, colour schemes, and ideas. Choose your favourite, and it will instantly snap onto your website. Now, you can make subtle changes to the layout and colours. Again, don’t worry – you don’t need to know any pesky code. Choose a style and color scheme that matches your topic, and makes people feel at home. Finally, make sure it’s simple and easy to navigate.
Create a schedule of content
Congratulations, you’ve now got a website up and running! Now you just need some content to fill it. Effective blogging means sticking to a schedule, and posting regularly. Your readers appreciate regular content, and it’s good for search engines (more on that soon). Try to stick to a realistic routine. Try committing to two blogs a week, and see how you get on. Try to vary it between written articles, videos, and photos. Keep it interesting, and start to develop a unique tone of voice.
Promoting on Facebook
Like I said, building the site and writing content is the easy part. Getting anyone to see it is tricky. Facebook is my most effective way to drive traffic to the blog, and it’s the first place you should start. Begin by creating a blog ‘page’, and inviting all your friends to follow it. They’ll now receive your updates when you post. Start sharing your content, and encouraging people to share it. Social media is tricky, but help is at hand! Discover more at Simplilearn, and hone your Facebook skills. Over time, you’ll see your followers increase, and they’ll begin to share your content.
Promoting on Twitter
Like Facebook, Twitter is a great way to engage people, and share your updates. Twitter is a little easier to build a following, but it doesn’t drive as much traffic. Swings and roundabouts! Start by following lots of people in your niche topic. For example, if you want to start a mom-blog like mine, start following all the big mom-bloggers. Then follow their most active followers. Soon enough, interested people will start following you back. You can post more often on Twitter, which makes it great for promoting your content.
If you really want to build a big audience, guest blogging is one of your best options. Guest blogging simply means writing a post for free on another blogger’s site. It’s a great idea for all sorts of reasons. Number one, you make a great contact in the blogger’s network. Number two, you can send new readers back to your site, and get your name out there. Number three, it’s great for search engines, as you get a link back to your site. Start reaching out to similar blogs in your niche, and pitch a great idea for a guest blog. Most of us are a friendly bunch, and we’re always open to new ideas!
SEO (or search engine optimization) is a tricky business, but it’s crucial if you want to stand out. Essentially, SEO is all about getting your blog ranked high on Google. It all starts by choosing keywords. Put them all over your website and in your content. Remember I told you to find a niche? This is one of the reasons why. If you’ve got a niche topic, it’s easy to find good keywords. If you’re writing about fashion, put the words ‘fashion’, ‘clothes’, ‘skirts’ etc into your titles and content. It helps Google find you. Next, try to secure links back to your website from other bloggers. Google sees this as a sign of authority.
It’s always good to know how your website is doing. How many visitors are you getting every month. How long are they staying, and where did they come from? You can find out all this information and more by using Google Analytics. It’s a simple toolkit that measures and monitors all the activity on your website. It’s great for finding out if your audience is growing. It’s easy to see what content is popular, and understanding how people found your blog. You can use this information to your advantage, and improve your blog.
A lot of people ask me how blogs make money, and it’s a valid question. The truth is that blogs are not as lucrative as they once were. There are more of us out there, and that means less money to share! The basic way to monetize your site is through advertizing. Using Google AdSense, you can sign up to start placing adverts on your website. As you can see, I have some along the top of my site, and down the side. These are pretty common, and easy to set up.
You can also use ‘affiliate sales’ to make some cash. That means recommending someone else’s products, and taking a commission. Amazon is the best place to start here; they have a fantastic affiliate scheme. You make money every time someone clicks an affiliate link and buys a product from Amazon. Another option is accepting sponsored or paid blog posts to promote a product.
Lastly, you can get entrepreneurial, and use your blog as a platform to sell something yourself. Could you start an online shop or offer your services to others?
Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy it! Starting a blog is a wonderful idea, and I highly recommend it. Best of luck, and please leave a comment if you have any more questions or for even more information check out First Site Guide.