Ready to take your personal or business brand to the next level? You need to start a blog! Lucky for you, Supersede Media has a lot of experience in this area and we’re about to drop some seriously handy advice. So, get your notepad at the ready, because here comes part 1 of our Starting a Blog from Scratch series. Enjoy!
Blogs have been around since the mid-’90s (soon after the internet entered people’s homes) and remain one of the most popular forms of online content to this day. A successful blog can increase traffic to your site, establish your authority in a particular field and help to build your brand identity. It’s also just a great place to share your thoughts and feelings with the world!
Whether you want to launch a blog to supplement your existing website, or create a blog that will be the main attraction for your brand, you can achieve lift off by completing a few fairly simple steps. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Find your niche
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Let’s get one thing straight: the internet is not short of blogs. For yours to have any chance of making a mark, then, you need to get off to the right start. It is absolutely key that you establish what your niche is early on. In other words, what are you going to write about, and from what specific perspective?
A great place to start with this decision is to think about what it is that you bring to the table. Successful blogs tend to either offer solutions to a problem, or provide fresh insights on a particular topic. If you just rush into things and go with whatever you like the idea of writing about, you run the risk of creating the blog equivalent of screaming into the abyss. Instead, think about how your perspective and experience (and maybe your product or service) can add value to existing conversations.
What’s already out there?
Finding your niche is a little easier once you have a clear idea of what the blog landscape in your area of interest already looks like. Yep—it’s time to do a kind of informal competitor analysis! Start with a basic Google search and see who or what is already doing well in the rankings for your subject area. It’s also a good idea to test any potential blog names (if you’re not currently tied to one) to make sure they’re not already taken.
As we’ve said, the internet is chock-a-block with blogs, so it’s likely that there will already be some existing sites that are similar to your vision. Don’t let this put you off! It’s possible to find your place in the mix whilst avoiding stepping on anyone’s toes. Focus on your unique selling point and keep this in mind when making any blog-related decisions.
Step 2: Personalisation and platform
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Once you’ve landed on your niche, the concept of the blog is already beginning to find form. Next up you should think about branding and how you want it to look. Start with a name and let the ideas flow from there—we’re talking theme, font(s), colours and graphics. You could even have some fun creating your own logo (warning: you can lose many hours to this task)!
While branding is an important aspect of your blog, don’t waste too much time personalising it to perfection. These details can be tweaked along the way. Plus, your blog is likely to go through many iterations before you settle on something you’re completely happy with. That’s what’s great about websites—you have the freedom to switch up the look here and there as you see fit. This keeps everything fresh and ensures that the blog evolves with your brand.
Pick a host
You also need to decide where your blog is going to live. Will you go it alone and set up your own site from scratch, or make use of an existing CMS platform for blogging, like WordPress or Blogger? This might sound a little obvious, but only go with the former if you are a certified tech whiz! Otherwise, you may end up spending a lot more time on finickity coding than crafting high-quality blog posts. You also, of course, have the option of setting up your own website but outsourcing the bulk of the work to a professional web developer.
For those new to the blogging world, it can be really handy to have an established, user-friendly content management system behind you. Sites like WordPress provide a range of themes to choose from, but also give you the option of having a lot of control over the look and features. Have a shop around and see what you like—most will offer some kind of blog package for free.
Here are a few to check out:
Step 3: Your first post
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It might seem like we’re going from zero to a hundred here, but sometimes it’s good to dive in so you really get a feel for what blogging is all about. After all, you don’t find out what works and what doesn’t work by sitting on the sidelines waiting!
As soon as your site is set up, it’s time to plan and write your first post. This doesn’t have to be anything meaty or heavily researched. In fact, it can be best to start with a brief introductory post about the blog and what it’s all about. Then again, you might want to set this information aside for a separate page (more on this later) and instead get right into a proper blog post.
Don’t forget SEO
While your blog’s voice should be authentic and true to the brand, you still need to adopt SEO tactics if you want it to be a success. These kind of considerations need to be taken into account when posts are still at the planning stage. As soon as you have a specific topic in mind, do a bit of keyword research. Tools like the Moz keyword explorer and AnswerThePublic will help you decide which words and phrases to target to reach your intended audience.
Here’s a brief and basic SEO checklist that you can run through when producing a blog post:
- Target keyword(s)
- Carefully chosen headers
- Meta description
- Optimised images with alt attributes
- Categories and tags
- Internal and external links
Step 4: Additional pages
If your situation means that starting a blog requires you to set up an entire website (as opposed to a new page on an existing site), you can flesh it out with a few other pages. Top of the list should be a contact page. This is where you can list details like the phone number, social media profiles and address you can be reached at (be it a business location, an email or both). If you have a separate business website that’s linked to the blog, be sure to include this too!
Other pages you might want to add to your blog include an about page, where you provide a bit of background on why you started the blog and what you hope people gain from it. Through this you can reveal more about the person(s) behind the blog, which is a great way to humanise it and further encourages people to connect with your posts.
Step 5: Editing and publishing
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While we’re pretty gung ho about you getting a first blog post written, that doesn’t mean you should post it as soon as it’s done. Before anything is published on your site it should go through some kind of editing process. Everything needs to be checked over at least once before it’s made public. The blog represents you and/or your product or service, so if something you publish is littered with content mistakes, it doesn’t reflect well on the brand.
Once you settle on an editing system, apply it to everything that is written for the blog. Ideally, all work would be checked over by someone who isn’t the author. A new set of eyes is much more likely to spot something that you don’t. If you really are a one-man band, though, leave at least a few hours (and optimally a full day) between draft completion and editing. A fresh head is required for this job!
Establish a realistic publishing schedule
Consistency is key when it comes to publishing blog content. Whether you leave a few hours or a few days between posts, try to stick to a steady schedule. The most important thing is that you are realistic about what you can produce in a set timeframe. Don’t be too ambitious in the early days, as you may set audience expectations too high and traffic may end up trickling off when new blog posts become few and far between.
It’s also good to remember that you have the flexibility to change the publishing schedule as you get into the swing of things. Start with a basic plan and set some achievable goals. The whole process will also be a lot easier if you’re able to plan content ahead of time, rather than rushing to meet deadlines you later wish you hadn’t set!
There’s a lot more that goes into building up a following for your blog and you’ll find out all about it in part 2 of our series. It’s heading your way soon, so keep an eye on the Supersede Media blog!