With so many fantastic blogs out there, it’s hard to stand out, grow your visitor count, and get your audience to keep coming back. But becoming a successful blogger isn’t impossible.
In this post, we’ll cover how to start a blog, choose a topic for your blog, write a blog post online and promote your blog, and how to make money as a blogger.
How to choose what to blog about
Try to find a niche while choosing a creative topic to blog about. Choose something specific, and both your followers and the search engines will reward you. Try not to be overly generic and instead concentrate on one specific subject. Find a niche that you’re passionate about and pursue it – just make sure to stay on topic.
How to pick a name for your blog
The name of your blog will reflect your distinct perspective on your industry or area of expertise. It should fit your blog’s aesthetic and define the feeling you want your readers to get when they visit your blog’s homepage.
It should also describe the type of information you intend to publish. The name of a food or lifestyle blog, for instance, should represent the particular niche you want to write about without tying you too rigidly to a specific topic.
Look at what well-known bloggers in your field are doing. Take notes on what you think they do well and what they could do better, and use their blogs as a guide to what your industry’s readers want to see. Examine the branding of these blogs, as well as the names.
Remember, something short and memorable, particularly with an easy-to-spell URL, can help with SEO.
The best platforms for your new blog
One of the most critical components of becoming a successful blogger is selecting the ideal blogging platform for your needs and budget. As a beginner, you need a platform that’s simple to set up, has a shallow learning curve and requires only basic coding knowledge. You should also consider what kind of blog you want to create today and how that might expand in the future.
You may wish to change your site’s design and add new features as your blog increases in popularity. That means picking a blogging platform that is both versatile and scalable. Starting on the wrong platform will make it hard to switch platforms later.
There are a variety of free and paid solutions available, but keep in mind that the free options usually require you to pay for hosting.
WordPress.org is the most widely used blogging platform globally. WordPress was founded in 2003 and today runs 43% of all websites on the internet.
It’s a self-hosted option, which means you’ll have to sign up for a WordPress hosting account. If you want complete control over the future of your site, WordPress is an excellent choice.
Google’s Blogger is a free blogging platform. It allows non-technical users to build a blog quickly and easily.
Wix is a popular and intuitive website-building platform. Their drag-and-drop website builder makes it simple for beginners to create a website. The Wix Blog app can also add a blog to your website. Wix has a free version, but you will have to include a Wix banner ad on your website.
Squarespace is a website-building platform that allows you to construct visually appealing websites with simple drag-and-drop features. It mostly caters to small business owners searching for a simple solution to establish an internet presence and has blogging capabilities.
Develop blogging skills with online courses
Futurelearn has many courses that will get you started on your blogging journey – below are two of the best courses for aspiring bloggers.
Learn web development with the Raspberry Pi Foundation
Build your personal brand with Professor Jonathan A.J. Wilson
Professor Jonathan A.J. Wilson, a branding expert, will lead you through this ExpertTrack and introduce you to personal branding and the concept of creating and presenting yourself as a brand. You’ll discover how to establish a following and set yourself up for success in your profession by using the same ideas and strategies used by established companies.
You’ll learn about brand thinking and the elements that make up branding. You’ll learn how to articulate and convey what you do, what makes you unique, and what you have to give. Furthermore, you’ll learn to do this in a natural and elegant way.
Blog creation tips
Technical and branding skills aside, great blogs rely on creating great content. Here are some tips on how to write a top-quality online blog post.
Make it personal
Wondering what to blog about? Make it personal. Your readers will appreciate it if you reveal more about yourself in your blogs; people like to follow other people rather than brands. Include an “about” section with a short, relatable biography and a photo. You’ll inspire people by providing a personal touch, and you’ll encourage loyalty by tapping into your readers’ emotions.
Most of the world’s biggest blogs feature plenty of images. This is partly because consumers enjoy scanning online pages and seeing photographs and pictures that break up text and give visual interest. Images are vital when creating a blog, so include as many as possible and give your viewers plenty to enjoy.
To learn how to take your own professional-looking photographs for your blog, check out our Digital Photography: Discover your Genre and Develop your Style microcredential by The Open University.
Give your blogs eye-catching titles
When brainstorming topics for your blog, think about titles that are search-engine friendly as well as appealing and catchy. You want to draw people in and pique their interest. Find out more about SEO best practices in our ExpertTrack on search marketing.
Make reading simple
As a general rule, people prefer to scan websites rather than read every word. With that in mind, aim to keep your posts short and simple to read. Wherever possible, use short paragraphs and lists to break up your content.
SEO guidelines around ideal blog length are constantly changing – and, to a point, depend on the type of content you are publishing. Long blog posts perform well, but only if all of the content is valuable. Keep checking in on the latest updates to search engine algorithms.
Give your readers something useful
Your blog will only succeed if you provide value to your readers. Give your audience what they want and make their browsing worthwhile.
The content you publish should demonstrate its worth; people won’t want to read your content if it is not giving them something to take away. Consider what you’re putting out there and ask yourself whether it is valuable.
Proofread your work
Double-check your spelling and proofread your content several times before hitting the “publish” button. Not only will poor spelling affect your credibility, but it will also harm your SEO because search engines will punish poor writing.
SEO blog writing tips
Blogs need to be updated regularly to be promoted by search engine algorithms. Aim to post at least twice per week. Ideally, you should be blogging every day. If you’re going on holiday, use your chosen platform’s scheduling tools to post automatically while you’re gone.
Your blog posts should target the most common keywords for your specialist subject. Use a tool such as Ranktracker to find keywords with a high search volume and low difficulty.
How to attract readers to your blog
These days, you can’t simply start a blog and hope that people will find it without any marketing; you must actively market your blog through various means and channels. Begin interacting with other bloggers by leaving thoughtful comments on their blogs, which will help drive readers to your site.
Alternatively, you can use search engines and tools such as Ahrefs and SEMRush to find popular themes and keywords to write about. To help build your visibility, you can write guest posts for other blogs.
Use social media sites and your blog’s RSS feed to keep your followers and fans up to speed on your latest posts. Use a third-party service such as Hootsuite to organise your posts. Test everything and make sure you’re happy with the automatic updates and tweets you’re sending out.
How to keep your audience coming back
Wherever possible, encourage interaction: urge readers to comment on your blog and build a community by responding to people’s opinions and suggestions.
There are many reasons why people may not leave comments on your blog posts: you could be posting about negative themes that people don’t want to discuss, or your site could be set up so that making comments is difficult. Make commenting simple and write about themes that encourage constructive conversation. If your blog allows visitors to interact with it, they will want to return.
Use analytics such as Google Analytics to track how people find you and how they arrive at your blog. Customise your blog posts to meet the needs of your visitors while also keeping track of which themes are getting the most attention.
Your analytics will also help you in calculating your ROI (return on investment) and determining the effectiveness of your social media activities. Keep checking your web analytics to make sure your blog is performing well.
Include “follow” badges on your blog wherever possible, even if it’s only a link to your RSS feed. Include links to your social media accounts as well.
How to make money with your blog
These days, there are several ways to be a blogger and make money. These are three of the most popular methods:
Include banner ads on your blog
Brands that are relevant to your readers can buy advertising space on your blog page. Advertisements can appear anywhere on a blog page, although they’re most common at the top and in the sidebar.
To make money, you have two options: with CPC (cost per click) you’ll be paid a certain amount for each reader who clicks on your ad, whereas CPM (cost per mille, also known as cost per thousand) means you’ll be paid a set amount for every 1,000 ‘impressions’ your ad receives.
Because of the popularity of AdBlocker plugins, CPC and CPM can be low – but this depends on your industry, and there’s no harm in trying them out. Setting up a Google AdSense account is a simple way to get started.
Use affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing works by incorporating affiliate links into your blog’s material. Every time a reader clicks a link and purchases from that site, you earn compensation.
The links take readers to a brand’s website – the money you get is essentially a reward for directing your readers there.
Almost all ecommerce websites, such as Amazon and Booking.com, have some form of affiliate programme. Join Affiliate Window, a massive affiliate network that allows you to advertise thousands of well-known companies and services from all over the world. Affiliate marketing is easy to set up – for example, a service like Restaurant.com will walk you through how to make money as a food blogger.
When using affiliate marketing, remember to be honest and authentic. Only encourage your readers to purchase something if you believe it to be a decent product or service.
Create sponsored content and advertorials
Creating sponsored content and advertorials is one of the most lucrative methods for monetising a blog. These are effectively paid advertisements disguised as articles or blog posts.
This monetisation technique usually works well when you have a strong niche audience. Once your audience has grown, brands will typically approach you to commission you for sponsored content. Be sure to be upfront with your readers, however. You should make it clear that a company has paid for a particular post or content; otherwise, your readership will begin to distrust you
It’s easier than ever to create a blog these days; however, that also means that the level of competition is greater than ever. Following the tips in this article and creating quality content in an in-demand niche will help you to become a successful blogger and turn your passion into a career.