So, you decided to start a blog? Well done. In the world of internet marketing, content is still the king and blogging is among the top strategies for generating website traffic.
In addition, according to statistics, blogging is the top content marketing priority for 53% of internet marketers.
However, starting and running a blog is not a bed of roses, at least not in the beginning. As a matter of fact, there are quite a few things you need to know before even starting a blog.
To start off on the right foot, take a look at the proven tips for starting and running a successful blog.
Get the technical stuff right
Supposing that you already know what you want to blog about, there are three quite technical but crucial steps that you need to take before working on your content strategy:
- choosing the domain name
- picking the hosting for your blog
- building your website
As you probably know, the domain name is what you type into the address/URL bar and in the case of this website, the domain name is successfulblogging.com.
To find a domain name that is catchy and relevant to your industry, you need to brainstorm names and come up with a list. Then, narrow down your choices and pick the one that best suits your blog.
Another way to come up with a name for your blog is to use a domain name generator. This way, you will generate several different names and choose the one that you like best—and all this in a matter of minutes.
The next important thing on your list is to get a reliable hosting service for your blog. In a word, your hosting is the foundation of your website and that is precisely why you must make no compromises when buying a hosting plan.
Take into account the speed, SSL certificate, cost, backups, customer service, and most importantly, the security of your hosting service.
Pro tip: Before actually getting a hosting plan, try to read as much information about it and make sure to read a hosting review.
Building your website
This is one of the things that can make or break your blog. Considering the fact that user experience is becoming more and more important, you need to create a website that is user-oriented and engaging.
This means that it needs to be well structured to allow easy navigation but also visually appealing in order to attract and keep your visitors engaged. If you are building a website in WordPress, pick one of the premium blogging themes to make the website design process a breeze.
Understand your audience
Once you are all done with the basics, you can move on to more strategic steps that will help you create valuable content for your readers.
Since blogging is all about helping your readers, you need to understand them first in order to create content that helps them solve their day-to-day issues.
There are several ways to learn about your audience and their pain points:
- Conduct live interviews with people in your potential readership zone.
- Research your audience on social media platforms and forums to find out what really bothers them.
- Study the competition in your industry to see the content they publish, how they engage with customers, and always try to be better than them.
When defining your target customers, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are their demographics? You need to know their age, gender, education level, etc.
- What are their psychographic characteristics—attitudes, beliefs, and so on?
Knowing all this information will play a major role in approaching your audience the right way and providing answers to their questions.
Optimize your blog for search engines
You can have the best content in the world but if nobody finds it, you may as well not publish it at all. Luckily, the power of SEO is so immense that you must always use it and never underestimate it.
By targeting the right keywords and regularly optimizing your posts for search engines, you will improve the visibility of your posts.
Here are a few strategies for practicing effective SEO:
- Keyword research
By using different techniques and tools for finding keywords relevant to your blog topic, you will come up with quite a few target keywords, some of which may even inspire you to write completely unique articles.
- Keyword incorporation
Now that you have a list of relevant keywords, it is time to incorporate them into your posts. In addition, you should try to include your focus keyword in your post title, headings and subheadings, introductory sentence and closing paragraph, as well as in the title tags and meta descriptions.
However, never engage in keyword stuffing as this can both irritate your readers and get your blog penalized by Google.
- Image optimization
Google is incredibly smart but it still can’t read images. That is why you need to optimize the images that you upload within your posts by including keywords in the alternate text that describes the image.
Create a guest blogging strategy
Guest blogging should be a crucial part of your content marketing strategy. That is why you need to incorporate guest blogging into your content strategy as soon as possible.
But why is guest blogging so important?
Because it increases brand awareness and builds trust and credibility for your blog. When authority websites link to your post, your blog is perceived as highly relevant to your industry. This helps readers to see you as an authority and search engines to recognize your content as valuable and thus rank it higher.
How do you start guest blogging? By taking the following steps:
- Determine the goals of your blogging campaign.
- Find websites that accept guest posts.
- Form a connection with the website owner before pitching them a post suggestion. Alternatively, you can outreach with a cold email template.
- When your topic gets approved, write a great guest post and wait for their reply.
Guest blog outreaching is not that difficult, but it requires experience and personalization. Therefore, prepare for getting rejected quite a few times before you find the strategy that works in your particular industry.
Similar to SEO, social media promotion is a great way to increase the visibility of your blog posts. Social media platforms are the place where you can interact with many people and help them solve their problems by referring them to your blog posts.
Here are some of the best practices for promoting your blog on social media:
- Choose the best social network for promoting your blog.
Identify your target reader and determine what social network they prefer. While Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest may work for a B2C audience, LinkedIn is the go-to platform for your B2B readers.
- Automate content sharing.
Social media marketing can be rather time consuming. However, you can get around this obstacle by using tools for automatic content posting on social media like WordPress Sharing, Buffer, and so on.
- Repost your content.
Give your old articles new life by re-posting them on social media and getting more traffic to your website.
- Include social media buttons within your posts.
If a reader likes your article so much that they want to share it with their connections, you need to allow them to do so. Therefore, put social media sharing buttons on your blog but focus only on a few of them. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will do the job for most blogs.
Bonus tip—post regularly
The biggest challenge of running a blog is to publish posts consistently. That is why you need to create a posting schedule and stick to it.
This will let your readers know that you are always there to help them. In addition, it will maintain and even increase your blog ranking on search engines, so if you lack intrinsic motivation to post regularly, that will surely motivate you to keep up with your posting schedule.
David Schneider is the co-founder and CEO of Ninja Outreach, an all-in-one Influencer prospecting, outreach, and CRM software for marketers. Ninja Outreach also offers expert, Done-For-You outreach services for those who want to outsource their influencer marketing campaigns to professionals. (Update – Dave no longer runs these websites, but can be found at lesschurn.io and daveschneider.me).