The internet consists of over 600 million blogs. Why? The answer is simple - everyone wants a presence on Google's vast search engine result page. And blogs are most effective for achieving that. But what exactly is a blog?
A blog is an online journal where a writer or group of writers share their thoughts on individual subjects. Yes, it is a platform for gaining and sharing information. Today, blogging has become an essential part of the online community. As a reader, it's how you get information from the net. And as a brand, you need it to attract visitors and establish a solid online presence. So, how do you start a blog? This article provides the answer to that question.
Reasons for starting a blog: the pros and cons
Before we delve into our guide on starting a blog, you need to understand the main purpose of blogging. As seen above, blogging helps brands to establish a solid online presence. But this is just one of the many reasons why you need to have an active blog up and running. Here are other reasons for starting a blog.
1.) Attract and engage visitors
It is common knowledge that without a website, you are invisible on the net. The same can be applied to blogs. It is the most effective way of reaching a large number of people on the net. As a user yourself, you no doubt visit blogs to gain information. And only after reading a site's blog post, you may decide to visit their webpage. Yes, when it comes to attracting an audience, blogs are more efficient than websites.
In addition to attracting visitors, blogging also keeps them engaged. How? Webpages are static, meaning they are rarely updated. You can visit a webpage today and find no changes made if you visit again in the next couple of months. On the other hand, blogs are constantly updated. Depending on the blogger's schedule, a blog may get a new post added to it monthly, weekly, or even daily. And by so doing, people will have a reason to visit your site. What's more, if you have high-quality content posted, your readers will get engaged and keep coming back for more.
2.) Boosts your SERP ranking
SEO matters a lot in the online community. As a brand, you no doubt know the rewards of ranking first on Google's result pages. To achieve that, many firms have adapted to many SEO strategies. But here's the secret - without a blog, you cannot fully improve your SEO. After all, SEO is all about driving traffic to your site. And as seen above, blogging is the most effective way to attract and engage visitors.
When that happens, you are increasing your traffic. And the higher your traffic, the higher your SERP ranking. Yes, it's that simple!
3.) Allows you to convert traffic to prospects
SEO is an essential road you must take to get traffic. However, as a firm, your end goal is to get people to purchase your goods and services. Not to worry, blogging also helps you do this. With highly engaging content, you can be able to convert your traffic into prospective clients.
Does that sound far-fetched? Of course not. Just imagine this scenario - you are on a hunt for a photographer to cover your wedding ceremony. And in doing so, you stumbled across a photographer's blog post. You get engaged in their article and go further to check out their pictures. The pictures suit your taste. In this case, you are most likely to fill out their contact form, and next time, you may even recommend them to a friend.
This scenario all results from the photographer's blog posts. Yes, believe it or not, blogging has the power to advertise your services to readers. So with the right content, you can easily monetize your blog.
4.) Blogging is easy but tasking and time-intensive
A major reason why many have refused to expand their business through blogging is that they believe it's very tasking. True, it will take a considerable amount of effort and time to get your blog to where you want it to be. However, starting up a blog is not as hard as it sounds. Furthermore, you can always hire professionals to be in charge of your blog. They will see to it that your blog is active and is generating traffic as it should be.
That said, if you choose to run your blog yourself, you'll find it educating. And what is more, you'll be able to save some extra bucks. So back to the question - how do you start a blog? Below is a guide that is sure to help you as a beginner, get your blog up and running.
How to start a blog from scratch
As we have seen, blogging can help boost your site's SERP ranking, thereby promoting brand awareness. As a firm, you can't afford to miss any opportunity to move up Google's SERP ranking. So, here is a guide to help you start your blog from scratch.
STEP ONE: PLANNING
A common mistake made by some is that they fail to lay down a plan for their blog before they start designing. And so, they've found their whole blogging process to be a failure. Hence, planning remains the first step to take when starting up your blog. In this step, you have to decide on the following:
Your blog's main theme. What is your blog going to be about? Every blog out there is centered around a particular subject. And so, you have to choose the primary niche for your blog. When doing so, you need to keep in mind your preferences. What do you like writing about? Do you have little interest in the topic? If so, your blog may eventually become boring. To avoid this, choose a theme that you are comfortable with. As a brand, you no doubt have to centralize your blog around your business. If you into fashion designing, your blog should show that. Leave the food-related topics to caterers and bartenders.
Keyword research. Your blog is the best way to improve your on-page SEO. And to do this, you need to ensure you are ranking for keywords. So, it is necessary to start making keyword research even before your blog is formed.
Your target audience. Who is your target audience? What is their age group? What are their preferences? Knowing these will help you develop topics that appeal to them.
Your competitors. While you keep your target audience in mind, do not forget your competitors. Even though you choose a rare topic, truth is, there will always be competitors. Someone else out there must have written about a similar topic. But rather than getting discouraged, you should use this to your advantage. Study your competitors' keywords, study their blogs, and use the knowledge you gain to surpass them.
With the above in mind, it is time to move on to the second step of your blog development - selecting a domain name.
STEP TWO: YOUR DOMAIN NAME
This step is still a part of the planning process. Remember, your domain name is how people will remember you. It is what they will type into Google's search bar to get to you. For brands that are starting a blog, they do not need a separate domain name. However, since we are talking about starting a blog from scratch, you need to have a name that perfectly suits your niche.
So, how do you choose a domain name? There is no trick to it. You just have to start brainstorming ideas. Take your time and pen down any idea that comes to mind. When doing this, keep in mind that your name should be short, simple, and easy to memorize. Also, choose a domain name that is easy to spell and pronounce. When you have decided, it is time to check if that name is available as a domain. If not, you have to go with your second choice till you find an available one.
Once you do, it is time to purchase the name. Not to worry, the price of a domain name ranges from $9-15 per annum, depending on several factors like your domain registrar. Once you've purchased your chosen domain name, it is time to move on to the next step. You may check this post on how to buy a domain.
STEP THREE: WEB HOSTING PROVIDER
While your domain is your site's URL address, web hosting is where your site lives. Therefore, you need to choose a hosting provider to start up your blog. There are several hosting providers out there. Conduct adequate research and choose the hosting company you think is right for you.
When doing so, note their reviews and pricing. Some providers offer a free domain name as part of their package plans. For example, Hostinger, a popular web hosting provider offers shared hosting for $1.99 monthly and $3.99 per month along with a free domain name.
Of course, there are other web hosting providers that are as affordable as Hostinger like Namecheap, Siteground, and Bluehost with each having juicy packages to get you started. So carefully consider your options when choosing. Once you do, the next step is to select your blogging platform.
STEP FOUR: GET STARTED WITH WORDPRESS
Like hosting providers, there are tons of blogging platforms in the webspace. Such as Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, Joomla etc. However, we’d focus on WordPress here. With over sixty million users, WordPress is considered one of, if not the best there is. Even as a beginner, you may have already heard of WordPress. And you realize how important it is for a blog. So, without any delay, you need to begin using this platform.
What about cost? Don't worry, WordPress is free and easy to use. And it offers tons of plugins (all free) that will help you customize your blog to your needs. All you need to do is install it and upload it to your hosting provider. Note that some hosting providers will automatically set up WordPress for you with a few clicks. Some of these hosting services include Bluehost, Siteground, Namecheap, and Hostinger.
Once you've got WordPress up and running, you need to familiarize yourself with it. After all, this is where you will be doing most of the work on your blog. Rest assured, WordPress is beginner-friendly. You don't need any advanced skillset to be able to use it.
STEP FIVE: DESIGN YOUR BLOG
It is finally time to start designing your blog. And to aid this, WordPress offers lots of themes. All you have to do is select one of your choice and install it.
To do so, log in to the admin area of WordPress.
Afterward, hover to themes under appearance and click add new.
If you have a theme in mind, you can manually search for it. If you don't, you can use the search filter or search by subjects or layouts. Yes, WordPress offers a variety of options to get you what you're looking for.
Have you decided on a theme? If so, click the install icon that appears and activate it. Next, it is time to customize your theme.
To do this, click the customize icon that appears on the active theme.
Afterward, go to 'site identity' in the options that appear on the sidebar.
In this option, you can add a tagline, logo, and change your blog title.
Done? If so, tap 'save and publish.'
Designing a blog can be tasking. However, WordPress makes it look like a child's play. With WordPress, you can even add other plugins to help you customize your blog even more. When talking about plugins, Yoast SEO is a vital one as it helps users optimize their blogs. And this leads to the sixth step.
Going through the design process yourself may not be your thing, especially when you are not tech savvy or you don’t have the needed time and resources to do so. If that is the case, you can simply get professional help to design your blog for you. Thankfully, several freelancing sites provide access to seasoned professionals who can get your blog running in not time.
STEP SIX: OPTIMIZE YOUR BLOG
As seen above, blogging is essential for SEO. Hence, you have to optimize your blog in order to rank high on SERPs. This poses a challenge to many users out there. But you do not need to worry. After all, WordPress has plugins aimed at optimizing a site. And Yoast is one such plugin.
To access Yoast's settings, go to the new SEO menu. To begin optimizing your blog, tap 'your info' from the dashboard. Here, you have to confirm your site name and identify yourself either as a person or as a company. From here onwards, all you have to do is follow the prompts. You can be confident that Yoast will let you know if anything is wrong with your optimization. If so, take the suggestions given and save your changes - it's as easy as that!
STEP SEVEN: DEVELOP HIGH-QUALITY CONTENTS
You are through with optimizing your blog. So what's next? The final step is to start developing content. Here, you have to put into practice everything from your planning stage. Your themes, your keyword research, target audience, and competitors. Use all the information you have to create engaging content.
Note that you have to optimize each of your posts. Don't worry, the Yoast SEO plugin is here to help you. It provides feedback on a post and tells you what is wrong. Follow its suggestions and you are a step closer to your goal. Do not forget to create a posting schedule. As we've seen, it is important to keep readers engaged. So, ensure you regularly publish new posts.
Here's a fact - most high-ranking pages on Google are all blogs. Yes, web pages alone cannot rank you high enough on Google's competitive SERP. And in the years to come, it will get more competitive as more brands are developing a blog of their own. So, to stay in the competition, you have to start up a blog now if you don't already have one. The steps mentioned in this article will help you design a well-optimized blog. If you cannot afford the time needed to setup a blog for yourself, you can easily opt for professional services. The most important thing is to get started to reap its rewarding benefits. You can check this post on how to rank your blog.