Everyone and their dog has a blog at the moment, and it’s kind of cool. So many different niches, a lot of conversations and so much content is keeping the internet ticking over. And, blogging is great therapy too – so the benefits are enormous before you even get into the cash, brands and how to look as professional as possible.
When it comes to starting a blog, or maybe even changing the direction of yours, there are a couple of things that you should think about before you start. A ‘good’ blog has a lot of good content. A great blog has well thought out material, with a personal voice and tone, beautiful images, and looks cohesive across all of their social media too.
Niche is something that comes up fairly often in the blogging world. Unsurprisingly you get more traffic if you are catering to a specific audience. Answering questions that people often search are one of the ways to ensure that you have organic traffic coming through to your site fairly often, but more on that later.
There are a few platforms that come up most often when it comes to launching a blog. WordPress and Blogger are two of the most popular, and both of them have perks. You can do more on, but there are many very profitable bloggers on blogger. You could also check out Wix, Squarespace and or use your host’s inbuilt website builder. The choice is really up to you, just make sure you know what functionalities you want before committing to something.
This one can be a little tricky. Many people pool towards the same hosts, just because others are with them or they have a great deal on for new accounts. But, you would be wise to do a little bit of research and read the small print in the contract too. If you have accidentally locked yourself into a 12-month contract, and your host has really low uptime, that is going to cause many headaches. A couple you can check out are:
But take a look at the uptime for each of these before putting your cash in their pocket.
Once you have decided your host, and what you are going to be using for your blog, it is time to think about what it is going to look like.
The user experience matters a lot. You ideally want people to navigate around your blog pretty quickly. They should have a clear idea of what it is you do from the minute they land on your blog.
Although it might sound a little basic, a clean white background works really well. It makes your photographs and words the center of attention without too much fuss. Keeping your font clear and of good size is essential.
It is up to you what you want to see in terms of widgets but think about them in terms of revenue. Every widget should be working for your long term gain. If it doesn’t serve you or your readers than think about why you even need it.
Full-width images whenever possible are a must, it makes the blog look much sleeker and professional.
Without a doubt, you are going to end up deep in the plug-in pages. There is literally a plug-in for everything. Here are a few that it is generally recommended that you begin with (WordPress in this case):
- Yoast SEO – this will help you appear in searched and make sure that you are checking all the boxes for search engine optimisation
- JetPack – has a lot of functionality, from making your photos load faster to providing an easy way to share your posts and encourage people to surf more pages too.
- Google XML Sitemaps – does what it says on the tin, creates a sitemap that you can submit in your google webmaster dashboard
- W3 Total Cache – the faster your website loads, the more people are going to see it. No one really wants to wait three seconds for a recipe post to load. This does all the heavy lifting.
- WP Smush – All blogs are pretty heavy on images, it pays to get something to ‘smush’ the size to something easier to load. Speed matters.
- Wordfence – Protecting what you have built.
- MailChimp – Your email list is your ticket to keeping traffic coming in, hook this up and write some sweet newsletters
- AddThis / ShareThis – Personal choice here, this simply allows people to share your content on their social media channels.
Parenting, food, music, business, travel… you get the idea. There is a niche for everything. You might decide to ditch those labels and go for lifestyle, giving you the freedom to share whatever you like (but that might be at the expense of traffic). Pick whatever you love and use that as your niche.
What you say matters. The images, the tone, the readability – all of it. And great content isn’t always the one that took 6 years to write. Sometimes it is the 15-minute‘ word vomit’ post.
Having a rough idea of when important holidays happen like:
- Wedding season
Will mean that you can have posts lined up ready. Because unsurprisingly people are searching for those things in the weeks leading up to them. Plan and complete your content early.
Reviews and Money
Many people who start a blog are looking to start either supplementing their income or leave full-time work in favour of being a blogger. You are free to accept review items and money in exchange for content, but when doing so, you should clearly label that it is an advertisement.
This lets your readers know that the content has either been supplied by another party or that you are showing them a product you have been paid to talk about.
If you aren’t all that comfortable with having your address on anything, then you might like to opt to have an address with yourvirtualofficelondon.co.uk. Brands and PRs can send your items there and they can be forwarded on.
Your social media will be a powerful tool for you. As soon as you have written a post, there are a few things that you should look to do.
- Tweet the post, and tag any relevant parties
- Share it on facebook and make sure that you have marked it as a brand partnership if any part of it has been paid for or the item was in exchange for a review.
- Pin the images from the blog post, and put them on a relevant post.
- Add the blog post into something like Buffer, Social Oomph, MissingLettr or another scheduling platform and see that it is running a few times at least over the next few months. If it is seasonal, then remember not to have something like ‘Christmas Bauble Making’ in the height of summer.
- Linkies are great places that you can add your blog too, and read new blogs and leave some comments. There is a lot to be said for being social in the blogosphere.
There will be some investments that you are going to be making so you should be aware of them before you get into it.
- Hosting – Monthly payment
- Domain name – Yearly renewal
- Theme – some are free, some aren’t
- Social scheduling – most have free options, and they are great, but you might want more functionality
- Photo editing – Lightroom, Photoshop, Canva, Picmonkey. They can help you create gorgeous graphics and turn your photos into something a little bit special.
- Time – it isn’t going to happen overnight. You’re going to put a lot of time and effort into establishing yourself as someone brands want to work with.
A few notes. Like most things running a blog is better if you have an idea of where you want to go and what you want to do with it. That said most blogs were started merely as a space to let off steam, write and share memories. Mostly the content where you are yourself will be why brands want to work with you.
Looking for Opportunities?
Once you are on a few SEO & PR lists, you will circulate to others without even knowing. PRs tend to take their contacts with them when they move, which is excellent for you – it means you never know what will crop up.
You should never feel sorry for turning down an opportunity that either doesn’t fit your life, or that isn’t going to be worth the money in terms of time.
Here are a few places that you can check out for opportunities –
- Bloggers Required
- Blog Dash
- Bloggers Connect
- Media Works
- Get Blogged
- Guest Bloggers Wanted
- Joe Blogs
- Fat Joe
- Review Directory
- Talented Talkers
It is also worth checking out #bloggerswanted #bloggersrequired and #prrequest. And, finding facebook groups to join.
You can make your own work by putting a call out on Response Source or Gorkana.
Blogging can be a lot of fun, and you can earn a living, have some fantastic experiences and learn a lot of skills as long as you are willing to put in a little effort and some time.
** This is a collaborative post **