In this article you will learn:
- How to choose your preferred blog platform
- How to choose web hosting and a domain name for your blog
- How to design your blog
- How to add plugins
- How to add a contact page and an about page
- How to produce valuable content
- How to build traffic
- How to create matching social media sites
- How to monetise your blog
- How to get started with analytics
Why you should create a blog and join the blogging community
Starting a blog can be fun and rewarding, and there are a wealth of benefits that can stem from producing your own blog. Your blog will show up on search engines so that more people, including potential followers and business partners, will be directed to your blog. The blog you create might help other people. No matter how niche or esoteric the topic is that you choose to blog about, someone might find it an invaluable resource.
How to choose your preferred blog platform
There are a number of different platforms to choose from when creating your own blog. The most popular blogging platform in the world is WordPress, which will be the main blogging platform referenced in this article, but other platforms exist including Wix, Blogger, and Tumblr to name a few.
WordPress is a great place to start as a blogger, since you can begin with the free options and then invest money and personalise the site in the future if you wish to. There are no set up costs for WordPress, and it’s super easy to use. You don’t need any design or HTML experience, and there are thousands of free themes and plugins to choose from. WordPress is very search engine friendly, and once you feel more comfortable with the platform you can expand your site’s functionality and make the appearance look far more professional. Overall, this platform is the ideal for anyone wishing to start a blog. It’s user-friendly, and due to its popularity, there is a considerable amount of help available online for any experience level.
Blogger is another platform option for your blog and it’s also free. Blogger is owned by Google, so bloggers using it will have access to AdSense and Google Analytics. However, this platform is not as adaptable as WordPress, and so would probably be more suitable for hobby bloggers who don’t want to invest any money. This platform is suitable for beginner bloggers, as it is very easy to use. Through using this platform you can place AdSense ads, and access HTML code for customization options. Bear in mind that there is less storage space than WordPress, fewer themes, and you can’t self-host on this platform which makes you reliant on its current offerings. You will also have .blogspot in the title of your web address and subsequent links.
Tumblr is a further option to consider for your great new blog. It’s also free, easy to use, and is an amalgamation of social media and blogging. This is more suitable for micro-blogging short content, so would not be suitable for bloggers interested in creating long-form content. This is a great option for bloggers who like reblogging posts. There is unlimited storage, about 1000 themes to choose from, and HTML and CSS access for customization. But, backing up your content and importing content from other blogs is difficult, it’s difficult to monetize, and there are limited plugin options.
Alternatively, WIX is another platform option. This is ideal for businesses due to its e-commerce functions, and building the site is easy. It has unlimited bandwidth, ad integration, domain registration options, up to 20GB storage, and hundreds of templates. However, with this option there are limited customization options, it’s more expensive than a self-hosted WordPress blog, and its e-commerce tools aren’t very advanced.
How to choose web hosting and a domain name for your blog
WordPress hosts the site’s content for free on their servers, however, you can upgrade to a self-hosted blog at any time. Hosting with a third party can be slightly more technical, but most hosts offer a decent amount of technical support to go with their hosting packages. Here’s what to consider when choosing a host:
- If the host can handle your website and the amount of traffic it requires.
- Make sure the host is suitable for your website – this could be a simple WordPress blog or include more complicated website building if you’re more advanced. Make sure the host can handle this.
- If you’re using WordPress, you should check to see if you can install it through the host.
- What’s included – for example, how much will it cost if you need to transfer to another host? How easy is it to upgrade? Is an SSL included for free? How many domains are included in your hosting package?
- What the costs are – how much does it cost for sign-up and renewal?
- Support – this is very important. The host you choose should have a great support team. How long will it take to get someone on the phone, or reply via email? How helpful are the support team? If there’s live help this can also be very useful.
Choosing a domain name is a fun part of starting your blog. This may be the business you already use, or something that you already thought of. However, if you aren’t sure of what to choose, here are some easy tips:
- Make it easy to type
- Keep it short
- Use keywords if you can
- Choose something memorable
- Avoid numbers and hyphens
Find a domainWhich domain is right for me?
How to design your blog
The design of your blog is essential, as it should align well with your blog’s purpose and brand.
Some blogs have plenty of free options for design templates, which you can preview and install. This is a good place to start if you’re new to blogging. Some of the free templates available on WordPress are perfectly acceptable and functional for hobby bloggers, and can present your content to a good standard. You can have some creative control over the free templates too, as you can change fonts, colours and make some visual amendments. However, these features are limited with the free options.
You can also purchase templates online with a one-time payment if you want to get a more high-end, professional look. When you choose your template to buy online, you can see what the options are for customising the visual elements. These tend to provide more tools for you to make the template your own, so it’s worth seeing what you get when you choose a template if you plan to take this route. Before you buy or install some templates, they allow you to preview the changes you want to make, so make use of this by playing around with fonts, colours, and other elements.
Whatever you choose needs to be visually attractive, but also functional. You may want to make a note of what you need practically from your design, for example more galleries for image-based content, more options that support long read articles, a homepage that features lots of articles like a magazine. Whatever your blog is about should point to the kind of content you’ll need.
How to add plugins
You may only need a few plugins on your blog, but you can also choose to add lots more if you want to. Some of the most important blogging plugins are analytics, this will allow you to get some insights into your audience and their behaviours regarding viewing your site. You can also see which of your posts were the most effective, and this will help you to make amendments and improve your future content.
Sharing for social media is paramount for your blog, so you will want to use some plugins for this purpose. You might choose to use Twitter, Facebook, and any others you feel will be useful. This will enable your viewers to easily share your posts, which is not only a great way to increase reach, but a great way to increase traffic. People love to share valuable and interesting content, so social media plugins help to make this as easy as possible for them to pass content on.
Plugins take seconds to install, and you can move these around to different locations on your blog. Be sure to move them to a prominent, visible place for your readers to be able to easily find them, to maximise your chances of getting your content shared. WordPress has plenty of information available about getting started with plugins for beginners, so check those out if you need to, and play around with the myriad of plugin options available to you.
How to add a contact page and an about page
These should exist on every blog no matter your topic or business. There should be a contact page with all relevant contact details including your business address, your phone contact details, email address or contact submission form, and a location map if necessary. Contact forms can easily be created in WordPress if you prefer not to show an email address.
An about page is also fundamental to any blog, as this is the place where you can explain the blog. You might want to add information such as why the site exists, why you felt compelled to start the blog or business, who it’s aimed at, what value it adds, and if applicable where the office location is. You may want to offer a personal introduction in this if it’s your project or business, with a little background about you such as your name, your education and previous employment, or anything else that your audience might want to know regarding how you got to this point. A photo of yourself can be great for making a more personal about page. You could add a bit about what the future of the blog or business looks like in terms of goals, or you could save that for a separate page that might have a more in-depth business plan. If it’s a hobby blog then that may not be relevant, but you may still have ambitions for the blog that could be fun to share.
How to produce valuable content
Compelling content should go without saying, but in order to have a successful blog, you must be able to create interesting, regular content. This will impact traffic, the size and regularity of your readership, and the amount that your content gets shared. There are so many blogs out there, its easy to have yours get lost in a sea of existing blogs. So, if you’re looking for a way to grow and evolve effectively online, your blog must have the edge of valuable content. It’s no use posting regular content if that content is meaningless, as it will simply have no impact.
This is where knowing your audience comes into play, but further than this, it’s about what sets your content apart from what’s already available. If you’re truly passionate about your area of interest, you’ll be constantly looking at what’s already out there, so that you can become knowledgeable and potentially innovative. If that level of interest and commitment isn’t there, it will be hard for you to come up with fresh ideas for content.
You might start by surveying and subscribing to competitor’s blogs, perusing respected publications, and reading the best books on offer in that subject area. Additionally, consider how many resources there are on the internet that you can utilise to become a proficient content creator. These could include websites, webinars, and online courses, and can be free or paid-for. You may even think of unique ways to get inspiration such as reaching out to notable industry figures. If you want to have a more collaborative blog, you can even reach out to specific individuals and ask them to write for your blog. These might be known influencers, and will be a great way to expand your reach and gain a strong reputation in the field. If you want to share, you also need to be willing to learn, not only a few times but continuously. This willingness will typically stem from your ardour, and will ensure that your blog content remains a high-standard consistently. If you think you might need help being disciplined, create a content posting schedule to make creating and posting habitual.
How to build traffic
Once you’ve got content on your blog, you will probably want to try and gain momentum by increasing your traffic. This simply means getting visitors to your site, and is quite easy to do. Marketing and SEO are covered well on this site, so feel free to check out more of our articles about these topics in more depth. What you will need to know to begin with is how to use SEO, and how to effectively promote and share your blog. Your blog posts will have some easy to use tools that enable you to add tags, metadata, and more to enable your blog to be found easily on a search engine. Be sure to make your blog titles easily searchable too, and there are lots of ways you can find out about the strength of titles and keywords online to help you. Your title should clearly express what the article is about, but also be search engine friendly.
Once you have some great content, you can also repurpose this content into a variety of formats. A blog post, for example, might have a related podcast, video, or e-book. Be sure to make each medium’s content unique in some way, so that you’re not using the exact same content across the board. It should be interesting enough for your audience to want to check out the related output methods, so that one can lead to another.
You can also use tools like online advertising to promote your blog, such as Facebook ads or Google AdWords. You can set your budget and time frame for these, so as to make your campaigns personalised.
How to create matching social media sites
When you’ve sorted your main blog, it is highly recommended to create matching social media sites with the same name. You can add social media links to your blog so that your readers can click onto your social profiles and follow you there. You can choose the placement of these social icons, and this presence will help to build a cohesive brand. You can also share every post you create to the social accounts, and you can share posts more than once over time as your social media following grows. Your social media followers can then click through to your blog, and your blog subscribers can click through and follow your other accounts.
You may find that your audience is split into those who prefer getting your updates through the blog, and those that prefer clicking through on social media, and this is fine. Having social accounts ultimately creates more traffic to your blog. Remember to rename your posts for social media when you share them, as the post information that you share will also need to be checked for optimal searchability and relevance. Each social media site will have different rules about preferential terminology, so it’s worth checking your post text for sharing on your social media accounts by doing a search online about what works best on those platforms.
The most popular social media sites for bloggers to use are:
How to monetise your blog
Monetising your blog can be done a variety of ways. Here are some of the most popular methods for monetising:
- Affiliate marketing. This option is useful for those who do not have their own products to sell, and it involves having a blog with content that is aligned to the affiliate products you choose to show.
- Advertising. You can negotiate terms with some advertisers for display ads to get a much better result than standard PPC ads.
- Email marketing. This can be used to display your products and services along with those of your affiliates. To be successful with this option, you will first need a strong email list.
- E-books. You can develop e-books that are aligned with your blog content, and promote them through your blog.
- Courses. See if you can create a course that is better than what is currently available, and this could be a good passive income source.
- Digital products. These could be videos, PDF’s, or downloadable guides, and can all be sold through your blog.
How to get started with analytics
Using analytics is a fantastic way to measure your results, and see how your content is performing. Your blog should have a way of installing Google Analytics, so check out how you can install this for your particular blog. There is a wealth of information available online about using Google Analytics, but in order to keep it simple, some of the most important data you’ll probably be interested in is that of your audience, acquisition, and behaviour.
In the Audience section of Google Analytics, you’ll find lots of useful insights. Sessions essentially means overall traffic to your site, whereas Users means the number of people who visited your site at least once. The difference between Sessions and Users is the amount of return visits, and return visits are a great sign for bloggers as this means your audience is more engaged.
Going into this further is audience behaviour. The Page Views and Page Settings allow you to see how many pages your audience is browsing. You can also find Session Duration, which will tell you how much time your audience is spending on each page. If they are staying on your page for a while, this is very good as it means you are probably attracting readers who find your content relevant. Further to this, you can see your Bounce Rate, which will show you the percentage of users who left your site without engaging with it. If you have a high Bounce Rate, this could mean that you’re not showing the right information or using the right keywords. You can find out more about who your audience is by looking at the audience demographic info, and you can find your readers’ ages and where they are from under Audience Demographic and Audience Geo.
Once you’ve navigated the basics of your audience data, you can also consider acquisition. This means the source that brought the readers to your blog. Organic Search means the number of people that found you via a search on a search engine, Email is insights from your newsletter, Social is stats coming from your social media, and Paid Search is data from ads – if you use them. Other is for when Google couldn’t categorise into other sections.
Finally, another major consideration is behaviour. This can show you which part of your website is most successful, and understanding the most successful pages can help you as a blogger to finesse your SEO and put more effort into certain areas of your blog. The Behaviours section shows you your traffic by each page in order of most to least.
Overall, using Google Analytics as a blogger will provide you with oodles of information to help you improve your blog. If you have social media sites, these can also give you access to more analytics for your related social accounts. Twitter has an analytics section which can allow you to see the stats from each post you create, audiences, and engagements. Likewise, Facebook has an insights section that performs a similar function. Using these will give you ample data to help you to make discerning choices when sharing your blog content.
Blogging can help you reach an audience of amazing people, as well as having fun. Now you should have a starting point to create an effective and interesting blog.
If you have more questions you may find the answers in our blogging category, or you can use the hashtag #asktheukdomain to ask your blogging question on any social media platform and we’ll answer in a video.