How to start a blog. A beginner’s guide for 2016
You’re no doubt reading this because you’ve had an epiphany to start a blog and become a pro. That, and the fact that there are more than 152 million blogs on the internet, and not one of them are yours. Blogging can be a lot of fun, and often quite addictive once you get the hang of it, but since half the battle is getting started we have put together an easily digestible list of bloggy fodder to scratch that journalistic itch.
“Starting a blog can often feel overwhelming, but our advice is to just give it a crack and keep going. The more you write, the easier it gets and the easier it gets, the better you’ll become.”
A new blog is created somewhere in the world every half a second. Think about that for a moment. In order for your goal, which is to enlighten and educate your readers, to evolve, you’ll need to start with a basic understanding of what is going out there and how. Why do so many of us work so hard to compete for a slot on the global stage and how can we control that success? We live in a digital era, an information age where knowledge is power. People go online to look for information that will provide the solution to their problems. What you choose to provide and how you provide it will dictate your level of readership. Your goal may simply be to share your passions, promote a hobby, or to attract new customers to your business, but the process is the same; what you post and how you post it will determine the audience that supports your efforts.
Do your best to be you. Be unique with your work. Your readers want to hear what you’ve got to say not what they’ve already read elsewhere – keep it original to build your credibility and audience. Your language pattern may not be evident to begin with, but with time and practice it will appear and your readers will grow to love your style and ‘voice’. It’s worth remembering too that a successful blogger has taken time to hone their skill, perfecting their style and selecting topics that come from experience.
Writing from the heart is powerful, but targeting an audience is a great way to define your content and boost your readership. Take a wee bit of time just to research and familiarise yourself with the ‘niche’ that interests them as well as you, as this makes you more relatable. You could also try narrowing your topic, as this will reduce your competition and boost your credibility as the ‘go-to-expert’.
Hook ‘em in
You want your readers to stick around like fluff to a lollipop. So create an engaging introduction about the flavour of your content in the first sentence. This should do a primo job of showing off what the rest of your hard work looks like. Get this bit perfected and you’re onto a flying start. Add in a good chunk of the yummy SEO fodder throughout your introduction, as you’ll need this to sift your blog straight to the top of the search pile. We’ll come back to that in a moment.
Educate, don’t sell
Take a moment to think about what you’d like to read. If it smacks of advertising, you’re gonna move on right? Don’t use your blog as a vehicle to push sales through the door. A little ‘self-tooting’ once in awhile is fine, but keep it light and don’t over pitch. Try adding value to your content by using your blog to provide answers to familiar questions or simply satisfying your reader’s needs. Ditch the sales sh-piel and leave that job for your website!
Use Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Ultimately, you want to push your content out to reach as many people as you can possibly imagine, right? Going through an SEO checklist will be vital to the success of your blog. Basically, SEO aids the stuff that goes on behind the scenes once you’ve published your post. Google requires a certain amount of key information about your post to determine your site’s authority. Often referred to as ‘spiders’, Google crawls your site for indicators to determine its value and relevance. If your blog contains a rich amount of SEO, it’ll be easy to find. Here are some guidelines to consider when making your blog SEO friendly:
- ALT TEXT: Make sure your images have an alt text (or alt tag) – Google uses alt text to determine the context of that image. Alt text should be 5-8 words long and confirm what the image’s purpose is. It should contain your most relevant word.
- ANCHOR LINKS: Include internal links within the post to other pages on the web. Ideally the link should go from a phrase in your blog post that is specific to the page being linked to. Spot the anchor link! (link to a blog on anchor links)
- TAGS: These are specific words that will help define and categorise your content; for example; your blog could be about travel, but you already have heaps of travel articles.This particular one, however, is specific to jet-skiing in New Zealand. So you’d use ‘Travel, New Zealand, Jet-skiing’, etc. Be careful not to duplicate tags, as each tag is an alternative pathway to that article.
- METADATA: The Meta Data description is often shown as the black under the title in a search result. For this to work it has to contain the keyword that was searched for.
- SEO TITLE: Generally the default for this is the same as the main title. Try and make the keyword for the SEO title and blog title itself both start at the beginning.
- FOCUS KEYWORDS: Pick the main keyword or keyphrase that your post is about
SEO can feel a little over your head to start with. But you’ll soon get the hang of it. It’s as essential to your blog as an epirb is to a sailor. You just wouldn’t go without it. But fear not, if you get stuck, there are heaps of articles on SEO, jam packed with everything you need to know.
So there you have it. Now you can comfortably put your newfound knowledge to practice. In a coffee shop somewhere, with a trim flat white and a raspberry friand on the side. Oh, and don’t be afraid to get creative! Writing is subjective after all, and of all the billions of people there are on this planet, there has to be someone out there dying to read what you write about next!