Starting your own blog can be exciting and daunting at the same time. When you decide to begin this blogging journey, you think there can’t be that much to figure out. It’s essentially just writing posts and publishing them, right? No, and it can be a steep learning curve figuring out all the facets you need to know to run a successful blog. Although this blog is still fairly new at the time of this posting, I have actually been blogging on and off for about four years. I have learned a few things along the way and have compiled a list of useful blogging tips for beginners to help you build a great foundation for success. For more in-depth tutorials and articles on blogging and social media, visit my Blogging page.
Start With The Right Platform
If you are brand spanking new to the idea of starting a blog, then you probably haven’t even decided on a platform yet. This decision is super easy. You want to go with WordPress.ORG.
Please don’t get WordPress.ORG confused with WordPress.COM because they are not the same. WordPress.COM is an all-inclusive free platform which is great if you are on a super tight budget and launching a hobby blog but not if you plan to make a living from your blog. When you choose a free platform, you don’t own your blog. That means your blog can be deleted by the platform at any time for any reason and you can’t do anything about it. It is also much easier to monetize your blog when you own your site.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform. That means the WordPress platform itself is free but you are in charge of finding a reputable company to host it for you. Essentially, you are renting a space on the internet for your blog. Doing it this way ensures that you own your content and allows you to monetize your site as you see fit.
I use Siteground for my hosting and I love them. You get a free SSL certificate when you sign up. An SSL certificate (secure sockets layer) creates a secure connection between a client and the server over which to send information. If you collect any sort of information from your readers such as name, email or credit card information, you need to have this certification. You’ll know if a website is secure if it has the little green closed padlock in the address bar. Having this certification not only protects your readers but it also boosts your sites SEO. Get your hosting started for as little as $3.95/month + your free SSL Certificate.
Research, Research, Research
Take the time to research all the the different blogosphere terminology and tools. Take a few courses and read a few eBooks on blogging, social media, or marketing. Make lists of ideas for future posts or interesting advice you find. I love Google Drive for this. I have so many spreadsheets and docs full of lists, ideas, and tips from my research.
Once you have the basics down though, Start Your Blog!
It is easy to fall down the rabbit hole of research because there are so many different points of view and as mentioned above, so many aspects of a successful blog that must be considered. This can make a person feel like they still don’t know enough to be successful. Here’s the thing, you will never know it all. Blogging is an ever evolving craft and the technologies involved are always updating and improving. Becoming a blogger is knowing that you will forever be a student of your craft. That’s okay. Even the most successful bloggers are still having to learn and stay up to date on new information. Just get going or you might never start.
Content Is Important
Content is king. It is the bread and butter and the whole point of your site. It is the most important thing that you should be considering daily.
I was doing this freestyle thing before where I published posts sporadically based on when I finished writing it instead of a scheduled time frame. I tend to be a procrastinator and easily distracted so I could inevitably put writing off for weeks. This did not serve me well. This is where time management comes in, but you will read more about that later. Read How Often Should You Blog – The Answer Might Surprise You for more information on how often you should be posting to your blog.
Readers will only read your content and keep coming back if they are getting something out of it and if they trust your advice and content. Your posts should aim to make them smarter or more knowledgeable by teaching them something, make them laugh, inspire them to do something, and so on. The point is to draw them in. The quality and consistent publishing of your posts should be priority number one. The other stuff is secondary.
Time Management Is Essential
I personally have a challenge here, as mentioned above. I like to plan endlessly but while I’m busy doing all this planning, I don’t get any actual writing accomplished. Sometimes I get so caught up in the process of running a blog, that I don’t actually write the blog! Inevitably I get tired or run out of time to work. In the end, my actual goal doesn’t get accomplished because I was distracted by other non-essential things. I lost sight of the main focus. Actual posts.
The key here is to put systems into place that work for you. I am a big fan of time blocking and lists. The time blocking schedule I use is in a spreadsheet. I got it from Tonia over at Solopreneur Diaries. It tells me exactly what I should be working on in 15 minute increments. Because this schedule is made up ahead of time, I don’t have to scramble or worry that I will forget to do something. I know I have already scheduled a block of time for it. I make sure I leave open spaces in each day just in case something unexpected comes up. I like using this method because it shows me my week at a glance and as I accomplish things, I can strike them through digitally. When the week starts over, I un-strike everything and start fresh. Very satisfying.
I keep a note pad in front of me for random thoughts or ideas. This helps me get it down and out of my head so that I can get back on task. I go back to the notebook during my scheduled free time to work it into my schedule if need be.
How To Stay Organized
- Don’t leave post writing until the last possible moment. Try to have posts written and scheduled at least a week ahead of time. Try to maintain or exceed that time frame to give yourself some breathing room for the times that life inevitably happens. If you can get yourself scheduled a couple months ahead, that would be even better. I’m not even at that point myself yet because I still have a day job outside of my blog so no pressure. It’s just something to eventually aim for.
- Come up with a tasking schedule that works for you, whether that be a planner, spreadsheet schedule, or a printed out list. Figure out what resonates and keeps you on task and motivated. Stick with it.
Keep It Clean
Don’t clog your blog. You want to streamline it and make it easy to navigate. There is nothing worse than having great content but your reader can’t figure out how to navigate through all of the confusing nonsense on your page to find it. Keep all the ads and widgets to a minimum. Use consistent colors that aren’t too jarring throughout your design. The goal is to make it readable and as organized as possible so people will keep clicking through your posts.
Another reason you want a cleanly navigated site is for SEO purposes. Google bots need to be able to follow your navigation sequences to determine if you have quality content people might want to see. Clean navigation is key to “impressing” the bots.
Network To Make The Blog Work
Social Networking. It’s what gets your blog out in the open and hopefully shared. Of course you work on SEO hoping to gain organic traffic from google but that takes a while. Social platforms are where you will find a more immediate influx of traffic. The other upside of gaining readers from social platforms is that if they like you and your content, they are likely to share your posts, pins, tweets, updates, etc with their friends or followers.
I recommend joining just a couple social networking sites in the beginning. Get them set up with the same profile picture and your blog information. Then make sure to update the social links on your blog. You will find that Pinterest will be the powerhouse when it comes to bringing in the most traffic to your blog. Be sure Pinterest is one of the first platforms you tackle. Read my post How To Find A Pinterest Group Board And Why You Should Join to get a better understanding of how this platform can explode your blog traffic.
Once you are comfortable with the first couple social sites, research and try another one. At this point, you may want to look into a few social media schedulers. I have a great list to get you started in my post The Ultimate Blogging Resource Guide To Running Your Blog Successfully.
While toiling away on your blog, you will come across many blogs that you admire or find fascinating. Comment on their posts. Try to contribute to the discussion. You may make a new blogging friend from this which might lead to guest posting or other lucrative partnerships.
Facebook groups are also amazing for networking. The amount of inside information and support you can find in Facebook blogging groups is invaluable!
What are you struggling with as you start your blog?