Good news – the results are in, and it turns out that despite rumors to the contrary, blogging is very much alive and well. It’s a great way of reaching a wider audience, it synergizes well with almost all forms of social media, and when done right, it can ensure that you’re sitting pretty at the top of page one of Google.
However, ensuring all of that isn’t a given. It takes time, effort, and more than a little savvy. If you’re new to the blogging world, it can seem extremely daunting, and chances are that you have absolutely no idea where you should begin in order to get your blog up and running.
During the course of this article, we plan to lay out the best ways of getting into blogging for beginners. No matter how inexperienced you are when it comes to the world of blogging, if you’re able to follow the beginner blogging tips that we lay out in this article, then you’ll soon have a highly successful blog whose posts are being shared far and wide.
Just What Counts As A Blog?
But before we start with blogging tips for beginners, it’s handy to define what a blog actually is. It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot and can sometimes be misused, so it’s an important clarification.
A blog is, at its heart, a website that focuses primarily on written content. Note that that is not exclusively on written content, so it’s still possible to include multimedia content like videos and photos. The bread and butter of the blog is, however, written content. These are called blog posts (and not ‘blogs’; the website itself is the blog).
Blogs can be about anything and everything, and they’re usually written in a more personal and intimate style. Newspaper-style articles, for instance, don’t really have that ‘blog’ feel. Writing a blog post about your five favorite spices for use in Indian food, however, does.
It’s important, then, for blogs to have that personal feel. They should have an identifiable author (or authors) that the audience can connect with.
With blogs themselves defined, then, it’s time to take a look at how you can get to grips with creating a successful one.
Think Of A Niche
Step one before even putting fingers to keyboard: you need to know what you’re going to be blogging about. There’s no point in finding a host, getting a theme or even coming up with a name if you haven’t decided what the topic of your blog is going to be. So before doing any of that, sit down and figure that out. Not choosing a good nice is one of the main mistakes beginners make when getting into blogging.
A few guidelines for picking a niche:
Know Your Topic
Your blog should be based around something that you know extremely well. There’s no point in starting a shark blog, for instance, if you know absolutely nothing about sharks. Your goal should be to establish yourself as an authority in your chosen niche; that way, readers will come to trust your voice, and will link to, and share, your articles on social media.
Don’t Be Too Broad
If you’re starting a cooking blog, it’s probably not a great idea for your niche to simply be ‘cooking’. That is, by definition, not a niche! A niche is a specific and narrow area of interest within a larger one, and your chosen topic should likewise be specific. Instead of ‘cooking’, for instance, it should be ‘Caribbean cuisine’, or maybe something even tighter like ‘traditional Jamaican cuisine’.
There are, after all, a million cooking blogs out there. Yours needs to offer something that the others don’t.
Don’t Be Too Niche
This may sound as if we’re contradicting what we just said, but bear with us. Having a Caribbean-themed cooking blog is great, but if your blog is about Jamaican jerk chicken– and only Jamaicanjerk chicken – then that’s not, if you’ll pardon the pun, much of a recipe for success.
The problem with being too niche is twofold. Firstly, your niche is likely to be so niche that it’s going to struggle to attract a broader audience. This means that you’ll be dooming your blog to obscurity and low traffic from the get-go.
The second – and equally damning – issue is that you’ll quickly run out of new material. How many articles, after all, can you really write about Jamaican jerk chicken before you’ve got nothing else to add?
If you can keep all of the above in mind when picking your niche, then you’ll have laid a solid foundation from which to proceed.
Check out our detailed guide on choosing the perfect niche for your blog!
Choose A Name
So you’ve got your niche and you’re ready to proceed – the first step in blogging for beginners is taken. But you need a website, a host, and all of the things that go along with getting a blog up on the internet. But how are you going to choose a website name if you don’t have a name for your blog?
It goes without saying that your blog name needs to be related to your niche. It also needs to be snappy and memorable – you want people to remember the name, after all, in case they forget to bookmark it but want to come back to it later.
Before settling on anything, you’ll want to do a little research. This obviously involves checking if the domain name for your blog is available, of course, which you can do via hosting sites like GoDaddy or MochaHost.
But beyond that, you should check to see if the name is available on big social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok. After all, it’s going to be incredibly inconvenient if, after purchasing the domain name and getting your blog up, you can’t register a Twitter account with the same name.
If your blog is connected to your business, too, then that should be reflected in the name. This helps to create brand awareness and to link your business with your blog in potential customers’ minds.
Finally, if you simply cannot think of a name that does justice to your theme (or the name you like has already been taken), don’t be afraid to break out the thesaurus. Many beginners struggle with finding the right name for their blogging endeavours. It can be really handy to have a list of synonyms handy, and this can be a great way of getting back on track if you’ve hit writer’s block at the first hurdle – coming up with your name.
Above all: keep it relevant and keep it snappy. If you can bear these two mantras in mind, it’s hard to go wrong.
Choose A Blog Host
Depending on how you’re wired, this step may be much easier than the previous ones – or it may be much harder.
A blog host (also known, more generally, as a web host) is a company that stores your blog, and all of the contents thereof, on its servers for a fee. Without a host, you cannot put your content up on the internet. It’s therefore crucial if you want to publish your blog.
There are a great many web hosting services out there, and it can be a little daunting trying to find one that’s fit for purpose. There are a few things to bear in mind when it comes to choosing a web host:
This is a measure of how fast your website transfers data and files to anyone who accesses it. Simply put: the faster the better. You don’t want your website to be taking north of ten seconds to load a page; we live in an attention-deficit world, and many readers will simply find a blog that can tell them what they want more quickly. Beginners may not need dedicated servers and the most sophisticated technology to get into blogging, but it’s better to be set up for success rather than starting on the wrong foot.
This is, simply put, how stuff your web host can store. If you’ve got a blog that’s heavy on additional media (hi-res images and videos, for instance) then you’ll want more storage space rather than less. Additionally, if your blog accommodates user uploads of any kind (or even simply a comment section) then more space is better, as you’ll need to store these, too.
Cyberattacks are a growing concern, and any web host worth its salt will have tools to combat them. Things like SSL certificates, firewalls and automated malware scans can help to keep your blog secure.
Uptime is key for all websites, and that includes blogs. It’s a measure of how much time your website is ‘live’ and available for people to view. The lower the uptime, the more frequently your website will be down. Obviously, the higher, the better.
When choosing a blog host, then, try to keep all of the above in mind. It can be the difference between a smooth and enjoyable user experience and a laggy, unresponsive mess that has readers quickly checking out.
Choose A Website Theme
You’re almost there now. You have a niche, a name, a domain name, and a web host. But how’s your blog going to look? While many beginners will rather start with thinking about the look and forget about choosing a niche or name, you have already taken these important steps to get into blogging. Now, it’s time to think about the look and feel.
Website design can be incredibly daunting, particularly if it’s not your forte. And there’s no reason why it should be your forte, really – you’re a blogger, after all. So how can you go about designing your website quickly and easily, while making sure that it looks good?
You could hire a designer, of course. But the truth is that in this day and age, WordPress themes are plentiful and affordable. There’s really no need to go out of house when you can handle building your website yourself.
WordPress themes like the many offered by such sites as ThemeForest are fantastic for people who are looking to get their websites off the ground. There are thousands of themes on offer, many of which give you the tools you need to make an attractive, striking website with no experience whatsoever.
The beauty of many such themes is that they have drag-and-drop editors included as standard, which means that getting your blog up is as simple as entering your text blocks, choosing how to arrange them, and adding visual elements like images or videos. The more sophisticated ones will allow you to make use of features like blog carousels, comment sections and social-media share buttons.
This almost goes without saying, but it’s so important that we’ll say it anyway: a blog isn’t a blog if it doesn’t have any content. It’s therefore crucial that you start getting content up at a regular and consistent rate. Unfortunately, many beginners get into blogging and soon deprioritize content, because – let’s face it – content is a lot of work.
There’s no need to run before you can walk, however, so don’t feel obliged to put out eight blogs a week for the first six months. Not only is this a punitively heavy workload to put on yourself, it’s also so much that it will probably result in a deterioration of quality in your articles, and could well lead to burnout.
A realistic goal when you’re getting started is to put out three 1000-word blog posts a week (at least). These can be a little longer if you like (and have the motivation), but 1000 words should be the bare minimum.
This means that you’ll have 12 blog posts a month, and a solid 72 after six months. That’s a great base to start from, and means that people who end up on your site will have a lot of material to work through.
You can also create internal links from one blog post to another, which will have people clicking through and staying on your site longer. This lowers your bounce rate – e.g. the number of clicks people make on your website before leaving – and, in turn, makes your website look better in the eyes of search engines like Google.
Long story short: content is king. However…
Quality Is More Important Than Quantity
Chances are that in your time you’ve probably come across some ‘blogs’ that are not really blogs at all, but simply keyword factories churning out low-quality, borderline-incomprehensible posts that don’t exist to help anybody or provide meaningful content at all – they are just there to encourage people to click on them from the Google results page.
Google is actually getting wise to sites that play the keyword game, so this approach is already less effective than it once was. But the truth is that what people (and, increasingly, search engines) value is high-quality content that actually serves a purpose.
How can you do this? By bearing the following in mind…
Anticipate People’s Questions
One of the most successful ways to generate traffic for your blog is to find the questions that people are asking – and to answer them. But while this is key to success in blogging, it can be tricky for beginners.
Returning to the example of a Caribbean cuisine blog, for instance – a quick Google search of the phrase “how to make Jamaican jerk chicken” also returns some “people also ask” results:
- What makes jerk chicken?
- What are the three ingredients of jerk?
- What is jerk chicken seasoning made of?
- How to make jerk gravy?
That’s an extra four blog posts just waiting to be written right there, just from a simple Google search.
You can use SEO (search-engine optimization) tools like Moz, Surfer SEO or Semrush to get even more insights into what people are searching for, too. Such tools will take keywords and give you reams of information, including the questions that people are asking, in order to help you write relevant and engaging blog posts. Our firm favorite is Semrush – the leading all-in one SEO solution on the market. This, in turn, informs the structure of your blog posts, and makes writing them faster and easier.
Use Google Analytics
Growing your blog is going to be difficult if you’re not aware of how you’re generating traffic. Luckily, Google’s free Analytics tools are on hand to help you understand that.
Are people finding you via search-engine results, or from social media shares? How long are they spending on your website, and how long are they spending per article? Are they clicking through to other articles, or are they only reading one before leaving?
This analytical information is extremely useful for figuring out what you’re doing right, and – more importantly – where you’re going wrong. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be in a great position to fix the issue and generate even more traffic in the future.
Build A Mailing List
One of the best ways of promoting your blogs is with a mailing list. Especially for beginners, building a mailing list is a great way to get started quickly with blogging. At the bottom of each blog post, you should be offering readers the chance to sign up for your mailing list in order to keep up with your latest articles.
The great thing about mailing lists is that they’re populated entirely with people who want to hear from you. They opted in, after all, so they’ve already demonstrated that they’re interested in what you’re putting out. That’s why mailing lists traditionally have such a high ROI – and why they’re so good at generating traffic for blogs.
Once you’ve established your mailing list, make sure you send a mass mail out once or twice a month. This can take the form of a newsletter or simply a summary of a couple of your more popular blogs, along with links and calls to action. Email marketing tools such as those offered by HubSpot can make this process even easier.
As we’ve seen, there are a fair few steps involved in building a successful blog. And while it can initially seem quite overwhelming, as long as you bear the above mentioned advice for getting into blogging for beginners in mind, you’ll soon find that it’s really not all that complicated.
Modern blogging tools and web-hosting services actually make it quite easy, and you’ll soon find yourself with a successful blog ready to go. Once you’ve picked your niche and generated some ideas for content, you’ll find that the rest almost takes care of itself!