Starting a Blog: The BEST Guide to set your Blog up for Success!
Starting a Blog: The BEST Guide to set your Blog up for Success!
Your blog is one of the only 2 things you own online (along with your list of customers & prospects). Your blog is where you build your brand! And by 'brand' I mean YOU.
YOU ARE THE BRAND!
Creating a blog gives you a hub to add value to your target market, build a brand, and build an audience. This is Attraction Marketing in motion… giving people what they want, provide value, create content, build trust & relationships, and PROFIT!
Here we cover everything from search engine optimisation, copywriting, using your blog to generate leads, and creating irresistible content for your target market.
It’s time we build your brand with your blog... it is the #1 FASTEST way to become the Leader and the Authority in YOUR Niche.
Thinking about starting a blog? Great! You may be looking for a technical tutorial on how to buy hosting and a domain and get your blog setup. I'm going to touch on these steps briefly, but setting up a blog has become extremely easy these days. Especially when compared to even just a few years ago.
Many hosting providers offer a 'one-click setup' to get a WordPress blog up and running.
If you've been trying to "get your name out there," publishing content on your website, and doing all the things "they" have told you to do... but you're still not getting the kind of attention, respect, and income you desire... then you need to read on!
What I really want to cover here though are the 3 biggest mistakes that new (or even experienced) bloggers make when starting a blog. If you make these three mistakes during this startup process, it's all for nothing. These go way beyond tips on starting a blog, these are flat out necessities. The technical side of it has become the easy part. THIS is where the magic happens.
I want to not only discuss these 3 mistakes here but also give you a roadmap on how to avoid them altogether. This will make your blog stand out from the masses and give your readers the best experience possible. More importantly, give them reasons to keep coming back.
First let's take a look at the technical steps of actually how to start a blog, getting it setup, and creating your home on the web.
The 5 Quick Steps of Starting a Blog
I'm going to break this down in to 5 simple steps that you can complete in probably 20 minutes. That way we can get to the important stuff. This is the technical side of starting a blog.
- Choose a Blogging Platform
- Choose Your Hosting
- Choose Your Domain Name
- Install WordPress
- Themes, Plugins, Design & Writing
1. Choose a Blogging Platform
This one is easy. In my opinion you don't really have a choice here. You are going to want to use WordPress when starting a blog, and you want to host it yourself. (Easier than you may think.) What is the difference between hosting it yourself and letting WordPress host it for you?
Let me clear this up. If you go to wordpress.com right now, you can create a blog for free and have it hosted at WordPress. The issue with this is that it SEVERELY limits you on what you can do. It limits which plugins you can use, which themes, and if you want to start getting to a professional level with them, you will either start paying for more advanced features through them or host your blog yourself.
Now, if you go to wordpress.org right now, you will see a button that says 'download WordPress.' Basically - in the old days, you would download WordPress and have to go through a bunch of technical steps to get it running on your own so that you have complete freedom. These days it can be done in one click without downloading anything. This is what we mean by a 'self-hosted blog.'
So, step 1 here is easy - you want a self-hosted WordPress blog. Let's figure out how to do that.
2. Choose a Hosting Provider
A hosting service provides you with server space to host our blog. It's basically your blogs home, and as with any home, you get what you pay for.
There are a ton of choices when it comes to choosing a hosting provider. There are some super cheap options, some very expensive options and some options who specialise in hosting WordPress sites & blogs (if you are starting a blog with wordpress.)
Below are some suggestions for where to start a blog and your best hosting options. The first 3 typically provide 'shared hosting' services, meaning your blog will be sharing a server with many other sites. This is fine for beginner blogs and some small businesses that don't expect a lot of traffic.
If you plan on relying on your blog for business, you probably won't want to go for the cheapest option. Or you may want to look into a 'managed hosting' service like the last one we talk about here.
NOTE: All of these options provide one-click installs of the WordPress platform and are great for beginners. Keep in mind if you go for the cheapest plan, as you progress and build your blog, you will most likely need to upgrade your hosting with these companies or move elsewhere. All of them have professional level options.
The 3 most common mistakes people make when starting a blog:
Look, starting a blog is a crucial part of any business, especially when you are practising Attraction Marketing. It gives you a hub, or a home base to add value to your target market, build a brand, and build an audience.
While there are a ton of tutorials out on how to physically get a blog up and running, the topics covered here are largely overlooked as a whole, which causes all sorts for issues in the long run.
You see, because it has gotten so easy to set up a blog and start writing, MOST people don't put any thought in to WHY they are blogging, or WHO they are blogging for! THIS is where this information will be priceless for you. This is what to know before starting a blog!
These are the 3 most common mistakes people make when starting a blog:
- Not Defining Your Target Market
- Not Figuring Out Your Site Structure
- Not Doing Basic Keyword Research
Defining Your Target Market
If I were to breakdown this process in to it's simplest form, it would be this: Figure out who you want to server, and then figure out how you can serve them. Once you do this, everything else falls in line. Before you begin any type of content creation, marketing, or monetisation strategy, you have to know who you are talking to!
If you come from a place of service to your community & target market, then every piece of content you create will naturally be created out of a need to help that community. Your content will be created in order to solve your target market's biggest challenges, concerns and problems.
A lot of people getting started don't define their target market at all, and when you visit the blog of this type of person, you will notice instantly. Blog posts are all over the place, covering a range of topics that don't relate to one another and clearly were not created based on a need to help a specific group of people.
Let's say you decide that your target market is people who love camping, and you want to be able to help them get the best gear for cheap, find the best camp sites, travel the country and experience the lifestyle of a 'digital nomad,' and you are able to monetise this business through affiliate marketing. Now let's imagine that you get a member of this target market to visit your blog, and the very first article they see is about why your local steakhouse serves the best ribeye. Hmm... do you think that reader is going to stick around when they came to your site for camping tips? Probably not. Do you think they'll ever come back?
This is probably an extreme example, but you'd be surprised... and this is what we want to avoid. In order to avoid this, you need to become very clear about who your target market is. The first step in figuring this out is to answer the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you stand for?
- Who do you serve?
- How can you serve them?
The first two questions up there are extremely important. You need to figure out what you are passionate about. What's life all about for you? What do you like to talk about? What are your values? What's important to you? If you don't base your blog around something you are passionate about, you will lose interest quickly.
Once you pinpoint who your target market is, then it's time to figure out what their biggest challenges, concerns, and problems are. What do they REALLY want?
There are some great resources that you can tap in to to start diving in to your target market's biggest questions and concerts. You want to do some research here and make sure that you KNOW this information, and you are not just assuming you know it. Here are some great options:
- Social Media - Use Facebook and Twitter and look at hashtags that may be associated with your market. What are they talking about? What words are they using? What questions are they using? Are there any Facebook groups based around your target market that you can join?
- Reddit - Reddit is an online community that provides 'sub-reddits' or small communities of specific interests. There is a sub-reddit for pretty much every topic. Find your relevant community on there and join the discussion!
- Question & Answer sites - Question and answer sites like Quora, or Yahoo Answers can give you great insite in to the actual questions your target market it asking when searching in Google (or any search engine) - Find out from their mouths (or fingers..) what their most pressing questions are
- AnswerThePublic.com - This is an awesome resource that provides you with questions that your target market is asking in Google and Bing. This is such a great service that, while it's free now, it probably won't be soon. It even allows you to export the information they give you in a very nice visual data sheet!
These are just some examples, but bottom line is: Find out where your target market hangs out online, and join the conversation!
You should also think about who else is in the space. Who is the 'top dog' so to speak. If YOU wanted to find out these answers where would you go? Find out how THEY are serving the market (and maybe find out how you can do it better).
Once you nail down your target market, it's time to figure out what you are going to be talking about, what topics you are going to be covering, the type of content you are going to be creating, and how you are going to organise it on your blog. We do this through a combination of creating an organised site structure and doing some keyword research. Let's start with the site structure.
Figuring Out Your Site Structure
Let me start here by saying that a site structure is really just how you are going to organise the content on your blog.
A site structure for your blog is extremely important, not only for the search engines (SEO) but also for the user experience. It should be one of the first steps you take when starting a blog.
In my mind, there is nothing more important for any blog than providing a great user experience. So much so, that some SEO pros are now starting to replace 'Search Engine Optimisation' to 'Search EXPERIENCE Optimisation' because of the factors that Google uses to rank websites these days.
When we talk about site structure, we are talking about the way your content is organised.
From categories, to tags, to pages and posts - everything should be created and organised with PURPOSE, and to provide VALUE to your target market. (Save the 'what I ate for breakfast this morning' post for twitter).
Why is a site structure important?
1. It Helps Google: A good site structure will give google clues as to what your site is about, what the most important content is, and how to find it. Good site structure can easily lead to higher ranking in the search engines because it makes it easier for the search engines to understand why your site is important, and who it will benefit.
2. It Helps Your Readers: A good site structure makes it easy for PEOPLE to find the content on your site that they WANT. If you give your target market and readers a great user experience, and your content provides answers to their questions, concerns, problems or fears, you will build a raving fan base just waiting to consume more of your awesome content.
3. It Helps With Congruency: A good site structure will keep you focused on the task at hand. You will know what you need to write about, you will know what your target market needs, and you will never find yourself writing content that doesn't belong on your blog.
A side effect of this is that it makes it very easy to target your audience with relevant offers and content upgrades based on the content they are reading (for instance based on what category they are checking out, or what page or post). Super congruent offers = Higher conversions.
Remember, attracting new readers largely depends on whether people can find the content they want on your site. If they can't, that back button gets pushed before they read past your first paragraph. When starting a blog, new readers are your lifeblood. Even for established blogs new readers are the lifeblood.
Thank you for stopping by, you are SO appreciated!
Love Melissa // Online Mastery