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If you have an online business or even a brick-and-mortar venture, you can use a blog as a marketing tool for a better reach of your current and potential customers. On a similar note, a blog can serve as your online business on an idea that you might not consider as a plausible one at first.
I honestly don’t remember anymore how i discovered all the blogs that I now follow. I guess, I just loved the idea of doing something you love such as writing and earning from it even while staying at home. Seeing all those bloggers build content like it’s nothing, made me remember that writing has always been a part of my life.
I used to write poems. I wrote regularly on my diary/journal and I wrote handwritten letters to my friends (yes, we had to use the postal services back then). I was even part of a school newspaper but was able to pen one article only because I had to transfer. Sometimes, I wonder why I didn’t pursue it anymore after I successfully transferred. Better late than never though so here goes…
What is blogging
Blogging is the manner of expressing your ideas through a blog about a niche or topic that you have firsthand experience in or something that you would like to explore which could also help others along the way. A blog, which is the short version of weblog, is simply a website containing a combination of written content, images, videos, books, courses, webinars and other types of content. There are all sorts of blogs on almost any topic you can think of.
Misconceptions about blogging can oftentimes make you doubt if this is right for you or not. Here are my take on some of them:
Money comes easy in blogging.
Blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Many of us, that are caught with the blogging bug, assume that we can earn hefty money overnight just by slapping our site with ads and affiliate links. On the contrary, ROI takes a while so persistence is key. Many bloggers will tell you that it took a lot of time, effort and money before they were able to reap the monetary benefits of their blogging ventures.
You have to have a high number of followers before you’re able to monetize your blog.
On the opposite side of the spectrum on blog monetization misconception is that you need hundreds or even thousands of subscribers before you can start earning from your blog. Experienced bloggers will tell you that it is better to have a handful of loyal followers who will grab at every opportunity to avail of your products or services than to have hundreds of subscribers who do not convert positively when it’s time to offer them your goodies.
You have to be an expert of your niche to succeed in blogging.
At the start, you don’t have to be an authority in your chosen niche though it pays to have more experience than the average reader. Just like any other major endeavor, blogging is a journey with its own ups and downs, twists and turns. If you work at it hard enough, you’ll come out of it as one with enough knowledge and experience that can be considered as an expert.
No one is interested in what you have to say or write.
Remember that every well-known personality, whether online or not, started from 0 subscribers. It is only with persistence that they’ve gained their huge followings. No one is famous from the start.
How do you get started with blogging
There are quite a few things that you need to go through to build your blog. I’ve grouped those steps in the following phases: exploration, planning, design, build and test, Go-Live.
Phase 1 Exploration
The exploration phase is where you decide on your reason for blogging. That is, why you would want to start a blog in the first place.
- Research! Look at a couple of blogs on a niche that you’re interested in and see if it’s something that you can see yourself doing on a daily basis for a long time.
- Bloggers usually have a section on blogging so start there to get an idea of the nitty-gritty.
- Read through some of their posts and pay attention as well to the images or videos, if any, to get a feel of the way they organize their content.
Phase 2 Planning
Once you have decided that you want to pursue blogging, you should then hone in on your blogging niche, blog categories and target audience.
- Specify the characteristics of your target audience
- List down topics that you have a lot of experience in or something that you would like to discover more of
- Identify your niche from the list that you’ve come up with then niche down 1-2 more levels to ensure that you don’t have a way too broad topic
- Identify 2-3 related categories to your main topic which can serve as your blog’s menu later on
Phase 3 Design
Design is when you draw up the different elements of your blog such as your blog’s domain name, theme, menu categories, optin forms.
Blog Host and Name
- Decide on the hosting service company by doing some research. Look at reviews from other bloggers to get an idea of the players then decide from there.
- Think of your blog’s name in relation to your niche and write down a few of them or directly test each one of them in the domain name search of the hosting company you’ve chosen.
Blog Platform and Theme
- Look into available blog platforms such as WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Wix, Weebly or Blogger then choose the one that you prefer the most. If you were to ask me though, I would strongly recommend WordPress.org, which is the self-hosted version if you’re in it for the long haul.
- If you chose WordPress, next is the blog theme and there are numerous free ones that you can choose from if you don’t want to spend on the paid ones such as Elegant Themes at the start.
Phase 4 Build
Build is the time when you configure or set up each of your blog’s elements then test them afterwards.
- Purchase hosting services for your blog through SiteGround, Bluehost, GoDaddy, and a few others
- Purchase your blog’s domain name or what is regularly referred to as the website name such as huffingtonpost.com
- Install a blogging platform such as WordPress from wordpress.org which is a self-hosted platform where you’ll have full control of your blog’s content and marketing
- Navigate through the WordPress dashboard and test out Gutenberg which is the default editor
Themes and Plugins
- For beginners, I suggest to stick to free blog themes to get a feel of the blog look that you want. Choose one that appeals to you the most then install and activate it.
- Install a few essential plugins which are complementary software that will optimize your website’s functionalities
Pages and Posts
- Check the common pages of other blogs which are usually on the header or footer sections such as their About, Contact and Resources pages then create your own version of them.
- Look into the legal pages of established blogs such as Disclaimer, Privacy, Terms and Conditions then do some research on legal document generators and include them in your blog.
- Create your first 2-3 posts including a beginner’s guide to your niche such as this one, a review of a component of your blog such as your hosting company or theme and a rundown of some of your favorite blogs.
- Add an image or two on each of your blog posts to add a visual effect to your content.
- Consider adding an optin form by going through the list of plugins if it didn’t go with your theme. The optin form will enable you to capture the email addresses of your readers.
Phase 5 Go-Live Preparation
Preparing for your blog launch involves deciding on the strategy or strategies that you’re going to use to promote your new blog. There are a few ways you can utilize depending on what you’re comfortable to do at first:
A landing page is simply a web page containing information on what your objective is for the moment. Although there are several reasons why you would want to utilize a landing page, we’re going to stick with your blog launch this time. You can use it to capture email addresses of your site visitors who you can later on regularly send your newsletters to.
Through an email sequence, which is a series of emails that you send to your email list, you can slowly introduce what your blog is all about. Once a reader signs up to your blog, you can then thank that person for signing up to give you the opportunity to share information, stories and whatnot about your niche.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – These social mediums are some of the easiest means to encourage your family and friends to visit your blog and share it to their network of people.
Networking or interacting with other bloggers is also another way of officially launching your blog. You can leverage their followers to announce your blog to the world.
Phase 6 Go-Live!
This is it! Go-Live is the day that you launch your blog for the world to see. All those early mornings and late nights working on your blog posts, pin images, printables, ebooks, email sequences and social media posts will now come into fruition.
Just like in any pursuit, it pays to follow a few rules that will pull you through the tough times.
Perseverance is key.
Be patient in building enough content specially at the start
Never stop learning.
Continuously learn new things in the different aspects of blogging
Believe in yourself.
Believe that you will be able to pull through in your blog’s content creation, marketing, growth and product sales
Write from the heart.
Pour out your heart in every blog post because your readers will feel your authenticity if you do so
Always aim for value.
Provide valuable content that your readers can learn from and not just a mishmash of words
At this point, you probably have a lot of questions just like any beginner. I gathered a few common blogging questions and answered them as best as I can. Hope these help:
What if I don’t know what to blog about?
Other bloggers would say that you’ll eventually find your voice or what you’d like to share with the world when you continuously create content despite challenges such as figuring out blog post ideas. As they say, just start. I believe that so I’m open to veering to another direction if it comes to that point though I’ve somewhat identified the topics that I’ll initially focus on for this blog.
How do I start building a blog?
Whether you have any experience in building a website or not, you’ll be able to initially design and regularly maintain your blog when you focus on one aspect of it at a time. It’s not going be easy but it’ll be worth it if you just stick with it. You will not run out of guides from numerous bloggers. If you’re interested, I’ve created a step-by-step process in starting your blog with my preferred applications/tools.
What is the best blogging platform and theme?
Although there are several available blogging platforms to choose from, WordPress is used by tens of millions of businesses worldwide so it’s safe to assume that it’s top of the line.
As for the website theme, there were essentially 2 main theme generators/platforms that I reviewed when I started and I decided that the Divi Theme by Elegant Themes was more suitable for me. If you’re not into coding, then you’ll love Divi. I’ve also used Elementor for 1 of my sites and I love it. At this point though, I’m using the default editor of WordPress, Gutenberg.
How long should a blog post be?
It’s not always easy to churn out words when you’re just starting so it may seem easier to aim to fill out 1 letter size page only, which is about 500 words, and you can consider that as 1 blog post already. For your posts to have enough meat for the reader to chew on though, it would usually have about 800 to 1,000 words or even more.
How often should I publish new content?
At the start, it’s definitely acceptable to release 1 blog post every 2 to 3 weeks but you’ll have to keep at it. You’ll have to establish a consistent schedule so that your readers will know when to expect new content from you. This is how you increase your chance of getting subscribers which can be your customers later on.
How do I earn from blogging?
There are numerous ways to earn from blogging but it’ll depend on your current blogging phase. Initially, you can allow ads on your site. Then you’ll probably focus on affiliate marketing, which is what you do when you endorse products that are related to your niche. After a while, you can try out creating your own products whether they be online or physical products.
Blogging is a journey and, as with any journey, you will experience challenges of all sorts before you reach your destination. The key is to start with what you know and have at the moment and move forward from there. If you keep at it, you’ll get there even before you realize it. So, what are you going to blog about?