The Basics of Launching a Successful Blog
Launching your own blog can seem daunting, but it’s much easier than it looks. You don’t have to be a technological wizard, nor a design guru. New blogs are created every day by people who come from different backgrounds, and you can be one of them. However, starting a successful blog takes time, patience and planning. You’ll have to build a solid brand identity and a smart content strategy which will ultimately help you attract an audience. To help get you started, we have put together a simple step-by-step guide to launching a successful blog.
1. Take a look at what you stand for: build your brand
Okay, so you want to launch your own blog. Now what? You need start by outlining your brand and grasping your voice. To do so you will need to figure out what will be your blog’s personality, its tone of voice, who it will be targeting, how will it be translated visually, its stance on certain issues, and what is its ultimate objective (Here are a few questions to get you going.)
Once you understand your brand, you can figure out what you actually want to write about. The possibilities are endless. You can choose any topic you are passionate about, or are an expert in. The moment you have a firm grasp on your brand, you’ll be able to filter and list the things you want to talk about. In turn, this will allow you to know what you stand for, and where you are headed.
Keep in mind that with each piece of content you post, your goal is to create value. In order to do so, always think of content that will be useful to your readers. This can include reviews, news updates, longform articles, or any format you are comfortable with.
That being said, before getting started you should also pinpoint who you are blogging for. A useful way to figure out who is your target audience is by putting together persona profiles. Listing the attributes of your audience, including likes, dislikes and general online behavior, and where they spend their time on the web, will help you determine what to write about and how to write it.
2. Time to get technical: build your blog
Now that you know who your audience is and how to talk to them, it’s time to build your blog. To do so, start by choosing your CMS (Content Managing System). There are different CMS’ you can opt for, the most popular being WordPress. Others include Squarespace, Drupal and Joomla!. Most CMS’ provide users with a number of themes and layouts, some of which are even free. WordPress for one offers a slew of themes at no extra cost.
These themes will outline your blog’s design in just a few clicks. Each theme has its own layout and look. Make sure to start off with a simple theme that reflects your brand, and complements the content you plan on posting. This will allow you to build a seamless universe that is easy to navigate through.
The next step is registering your domain name, which you can simply do through GoDaddy. Try avoiding generic names, as they will have more trouble standing out online, when it comes to organic traffic (if you want to know more about the Search Engine Optimization basics for blogs click here). Finally, subscribe to a hosting service, which will allow you to take your blog from offline to online. Services include: Bluehost, or SiteGround. Hosting plans vary according to the number of monthly website visits you receive. So as you are new to the blogging sphere, start off with a basic plan, which you can eventually upgrade as your traffic increases.
3. Start posting & sharing content: build your audience
So your blog is now online, you can now start posting content, and growing your audience.
There are a couple of ways you can do the latter. The first is to post regularly and focus on generating organic traffic. The more timely you post valuable content, the higher your standing will be in search rankings. Additionally, sharing timely content will allow you to retain readers. As they get used to the consistent flow of your articles, visitors will be more likely to come back to your website. A useful way to maintain a posting schedule, is to keep an editorial calendar, which will allow you to plan ahead. Just keep in mind, you do not have to be overly ambitious in your posting frequency: just choose one that works for you, and stick to it.
A second way to attract readers is to revert back to your persona profiles, and ask yourself, “Where are my targeted readers spending their time online, and how can I grab their attention?” From there, you can determine through which outlets to engage them in, and focus on generating paid traffic. Once you have pinpointed which social media outlet or outlets to use, it’s time to create your social media profiles, and develop a social media strategy. With that being said, both organic and paid traffic are essential to helping you build a following, so make sure to nurture them both.
4. Analyze and Adapt: build on your successes
On a final note, a blog is always a work in progress. As such, it is always important to constantly look at your numbers and pivot accordingly. A useful tool to install is Google Analytics, which keeps track of your blog’s traffic activity. Installing this tool is simple, but it all depends on which CMS you’re using.
When referring to analytics, take a look at your most successful pieces of content, the number of users you are attracting, and where you are attracting them from, as well as the time spent on your website and your bounce rate. These will allow you to understand what’s working and what’s not, which is necessary for running a successful blog. For example, if your bounce rate is too high, you might want to work on improving your UX and linking your different articles together in a clear way. Alternatively, if a significant amount of your traffic is paid, then you should focus on improving your search engine ranking. If certain pieces of content are performing miles better than others, then this should give you an idea of what type of content you should be creating more of.
It is important to keep in mind that this all takes time. You’ll need to revert back to your numbers every couple of months in order to start picking up on general patterns. This will allow you to understand what you should continue, stop, or start doing to make your blog successful.
We’ve just layed out the building blocks for launching your own successful blog. It takes time and patience. However, with a solid base, you’ll be able to easily build momentum. Once you have a loyal reader base, you’ll be able to start generating income. To find out more on different ways you can generate income from blogging, check out this article.