Setting up your first blog is an exciting opportunity. After all, some bloggers make a decent living off their sites. Others use it as a side gig or a way to get their voice heard and become experts in their field.
The Content Marketing Institute reports 70% of marketers use blogs to reach consumers. You can find a blog on nearly any topic imaginable. They’re a great way to distribute information, pull traffic to your site, and create content to share on social media.
If you want a successful blog, there are some things you should keep in mind. If you’ve done professional writing, the process will be a bit easier for you. However, anyone can blog, even someone with little to no writing experience. Here are the steps to setting up your first blog:
1. Setting Up Your First Blog: Find a Niche
There are more than 600 million blogs in existence. If you want to grab attention, you have to find a unique angle. Try to come up with knowledge only you have or put a twist on a new classic.
For example, parenting blogs are a popular category, and there are thousands of them. However, Scary Mommy made a name for herself due to her snarky attitude and sense of humor. She talks about similar topics other parenting blogs do, but with a twist.
2. Secure Your Data
If you plan to collect email addresses or other information from site visitors, make sure you think through site security. The last thing you want is a hacker to get their hands on sensitive information or take control of your blog.
Startups are at a high risk of hacking, with about 43% of cyberattack victims being startups or high-growth enterprises. Invest in a firewall and carefully protect your passwords.
3. Choose a Platform
You must decide where your first blog will live. If you want complete control, you should purchase a domain name and hosting. You can use open-source software such as WordPress for free.
If you prefer an established platform, look to sites such as Blogger.com, WordPress.com, or Medium.com. All three allow you to host your blog and get going in mere minutes. However, it is much harder to monetize your site, and you’ll lose a lot of your creative edge. You won’t be able to install third-party plugins or customize your theme, for example.
4. Choose Your Fonts
The typography on your blog must be eye-catching but readable. People publish about 2.7 million blog posts every day. Adding the right fonts can grab attention, pull the reader’s gaze to your headline, and show off your personality.
Think about how the text appears on differently sized screens. Make sure it is readable for various visual impairments. Are the fonts you’ve chosen compatible with your readers? Do your images have alt tags? Consider the usability of your site through the lens of typography.
5. Select a Color Palette
Even though the bulk of your focus should be on creating stellar content, your blog’s visual aspects make an impression as well. When people first land on your page, they look at the design as a whole and determine whether it’s aesthetically pleasing.
Choose a color scheme that reflects the emotions you’d like to evoke in readers. Different hues enhance different feelings. For example, if you choose red, you may create feelings of excitement. Blue can be seen as trustworthy.
Think about the message you’d most like to send and what colors tell your story best. You can always change them later or swap out some of the secondary colors.
6. Research Keywords
Although keywords aren’t as important as they once were, and you should never stuff a bunch of the same phrase into an article, they’re still important if you want readers to find your work via search engine results pages (SERPs).
You can learn a lot by punching in terms related to the topic of your blog. See what articles rank high in the SERPs. Pay attention to Google’s “People Also Ask” section. The questions there represent specific questions people type into the search engine.
Once you have some top keywords, use them in your titles and within the post. Look at your competition for those keywords. Is there anything missing in their article you can add to yours? How can you make yours better?
You may not be able to compete with massive sites with tons of traffic, but you may bump your way up to the top against smaller bloggers.
7. Write Compelling Content
Spend time creating the types of content your target audience wants. Write articles, shoot videos, and upload everything. Make your first pieces the absolute best they can be.
Hire an editor to polish them up. Invest in beautiful photographs. Ask for feedback until they sparkle.
Ensure your text is skimmable, since people are extremely busy. They don’t have time to get bogged down in the details, but they want them in place in case they need more information than a cursory glance provides.
Use headings, bullet points, and short paragraphs to make your content easy to read. Ideally, people will skim down the page and then return to read it in more detail.
8. Set Some Rules
Think about what rules you want for your blog. Will you take guest posts? If so, what are your requirements, and how will you ensure they don’t just spam your readers?
With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in place, plus other rules, you may have to explain how you use any information collected and protect it from outside influences. Go ahead and get your policies in place to put users’ minds at ease and fulfill regulatory requirements.
9. Build Links
Take the time to link to other sites. Reach out and ask them to do the same. Mention top resources and then let them know you did and you’d love a social media mention or blog post mention. Not everyone will respond, but some will.
The more people who organically link to your site, the more chances for others to discover your blog. Put the effort in and avoid mass link scams. So-called “blackhat” search engine manipulation may get you flagged by Google and can hurt your rankings more than help them.
10. Embrace Social Media
There are approximately 4.2 billion social media users in the world. One of the best ways of gaining exposure for your new blog is by sharing content on platforms where your likely readers hang out.
Take the time to create a buyer persona for your readers. Who are they? What are their interests? Dig into demographic data so you have an idea of their age and gender. If you mostly have female readers over 30, Pinterest is an excellent choice to promote your blog. On the other hand, Facebook reaches a wide range of ages and interests.
You can even take out ad boosts to get your content in front of those most likely to read it. Set advertising by interest or other groups the person belongs to.
Test Everything on Your First Blog
You will have a few blunders along the way. Any new endeavor hits snags. Make sure you fix them, conduct some A/B tests to see how users respond to the adjustments, and repeat as needed. With time, your blog will attract a loyal following, and you’ll start to get word-of-mouth traffic.