Believe it or not, blogging has been around for more than 20 years, with an estimated 170,000 blogs created every day. So with those numbers, the question to ask is ‘should I start a blog?’ And the answer is yes! Companies are constantly looking at new ways in which they can interact with their customers and grow their audience and blogging does just that.
Businesses that blog at least 20 times per month, generate 5 times more traffic than those that blog fewer than 4 times per month. It really is an ideal marketing tool and I’m going to talk you through the process of making sure your blog is successful.
How To Start A Blog
If you are a business and would like to start a blog, hopefully you either have one attached to your current website or can get one added if needs be. If you are an individual or a business without a website, first thing we need to discuss is a domain name.
1. A domain name will be the address at where your blog will sit e.g. socialcorey.com takes you through to my website. Business domain names ideally should be along the same lines as the business name itself, individuals have a bit more wiggle room. It’ll be a lot easier for people to find your blog if the domain is catchy, so try to make it memorable and don’t over complicate it. I use 1&1 for my domains, they have a wide selection with no hidden fees.
2. After you’ve sorted your domain name, we need to look at where your website will be hosted. This is where you website files will sit. There are numerous hosting providers out there, but as mentioned above, I use 1&1 for hosting as well and they offer everything you need, again with no hidden fees. Try to find a provider that offers unlimited bandwidth (the amount of traffic allowed to your site) and free email accounts. That way you can create an info/name/hello@yourdomainname to make your emails looks more professional.
3. Next item we need to sort is what type of blogging software you’re going to use. There are numerous platforms out there, but by far the most popular, and best for that reason, is WordPress. WordPress is extremely user-friendly, is easily customisable, has search engine friendly URLs and keeping the best till last, is completely free!
You will need to install the WordPress files manually, unless your hosting provider can provide support for this, where you can find a step-by-step guide on how to do so here.
4. Learn! Learn everything there is to know about your software. For your blog to be successful, you will need to drive as much traffic to it as possible. If you’ve decided to use WordPress, great, there are not too many advanced features meaning you’ll be a blogging ninja in no time.
There are umpteen tutorials online which will guide you through the dashboard, changing your blog settings, updating files etc. Dedicate some time and you’ll definitely see the benefits.
5. Now that you have your domain sorted, hosting set up and have installed your blogging software, you need to make it look pretty. In WordPress, you can do this by installing a theme. This will give your site its ‘look and feel’ and should follow your businesses branding.
WordPress offer free themes that you can install, but I would suggest spending a little money and investing in a professional one to make sure it’s looking as slick as possible. A simple search on Google will bring up lists of WordPress themes, but from personal experience, I would suggest using ThemeForest. The designers of each theme are easily contactable and you are notified of any updates that may need installing.
The 3 P’s
6. For people to be able to navigate around your blog, you’re going to have to create a few pages. Now there are the standard pages you should include; Home, About, Contact, but you should also consider what other pages you would like. Are you going to blog about different subjects? If so, create different pages for different categories. Would you like to offer your services on your blog? If so, create a page titled ‘Services’ and detail the different services you can offer potential clients.
One thing to consider when creating separate pages is to think about the layout. The content on each page should flow naturally and should contain information relevant to the pages’ title. Different themes offer different page layouts, so try experimenting to see what works best with your content.
7. Creating a post in WordPress is exactly the same as creating a page. Your posts will be the articles that run on your blog and the hardest part about maintaining any successful blog is to create stimulating content that keeps your readers engaged. Your best bet is to create articles around certain categories that you feel comfortable talking about.
Again, your post layouts should change depending on its content. Try adding in some images, videos or maybe even a sound clip to change things up.
8. The final P is plugins. These are similar to apps on your phone, they add further functionality and help to easily add new features to your blog. Similar to installing a theme, you do the same for plugins.
Plugins can be great to help integrate email sign up forms, install analytics and link your social media accounts. Spend some time researching ones that are suitable for you to really help give your blog a kick start.
What Should I Do Next?
9. Now that your blog is up and running, how are you going to drive people to it? The fastest and easiest way is to use your social media accounts. Promote your new blog and articles on all your social media channels and don’t be afraid to post about the same article more than once.
Learn the best times to post articles on each of your platforms and you’ll see a higher engagement rate for each of your posts. This will also help to build your social media following which in turn means greater click through rates.
10. Keep at it! Successful blogging is all about building an audience and that isn’t going to happen overnight. Initially look at posting one article a week and once you’re confident about creating more content, look at twice, maybe even 3 times a week.
Struggling to find things to talk about? How about a guest blogger. It helps widen your audience whilst keeping your blog full of fresh content.
Stats* for the nerds:
- Blog articles with images get 94% more views *
- Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website *
- 23% of total Internet usage time is devoted to social networks or blogs *
- Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than small businesses that do not blog *