How to Blog 101
Blogging is a journey to success and I am certainly on my way! I am the type of person to jump right into something as soon as something with an inkling of hope crosses my mind. The problem with that is that its a risky business and the necessary preparation hasn’t been carried out. I wish I had taken the time to read up on blogging strategies and learn how to blog, but I am still growing and these tips have helped me see results already!
Setting up your Blog
Picking your Domain
I knew that Merrymaid was the domain I wanted because I am an advocate for Ocean Conservation, I love mermaids and I enjoy being happy.
The problem with Merrymaid is that people will not usually type this into their search bar- they would usually only type in “mermaid” so naturally my blog would not be searched for a lot. That’s why I depend on my traffic coming from my social media presence. I have a facebook page which drives a bit of traffic to my blog, my Instagram and my Pinterest accounts.
I originally started my blog on wordpress.com but did not like the restrictions in place so decided to up my game and convert it to a wordpress.org account. I bought my domain from WordPress.com for a low price and it meant that my blog URL was not something like www.merrymaid.wordpress.com – so it looked a lot more professional. If you are wanting to run a wordpress.com blog I would highly recommend that you purchase a domain so that the professionalism is kept consistent. You can always convert your website to wordpress.org later on which is what I did.
Pick a domain that means something to you and that is catchy and snap it up quickly!
Before you begin creating your website and designing it the way you want, think carefully about the brand that you are trying to create. Once you build a following you will find it hard to change anything about your website which is why you must decide on logos, fonts, colour themes and writing style as early as possible.
I didn’t care hugely about my blog brand to begin with which shows in my lack of direction in my early blog career. It helps you to set the scene if you take some time and focus on how you want to appear to your readers and those who do not yet read your blog.
The next step after buying the domain name is doing some research and finding out which web hosting platform you would like to use for your blog. WordPress gives you an extensive list of their favourite web hosting platforms but my favourite and go-to place for this is Getflywheel (If you click on this link you are helping to support my blog as I am a Getflywheel Affiliate). Clicking on the link you will see that you can get your first 3 months free if you sign up for a new annual plan in July, the reference code is FLYJULY17.
What I loved about Getflywheel other than the amazing support they offer technophobes like me, is that they do not advertise their annual plans falsely like a lot of other web hosting platforms. It would frustrate me as the price looked amazing for other web hosting platforms but when I had put in all my details they would then hit me with the old line of “pay this full year upfront”. *Sigh*- its not like I am a seriously successful blogger who is earning 5k a month yet! Getflywheel was excellent in that the price might look slightly more expensive but it was broken down monthly. An ideal platform for those who might not be able to afford it upfront.
I had no understanding of any kind of technical language and I asked around Facebook groups to find out how to convert my blog to wordpress.org. It was so confusing and I got beyond frustrated a couple of times that I ended up giving up for a while. I bought my space on Getflywheel and I had already imported my blog content (for a guide on how to change from WordPress.com to wordpress.org please click here) so I had to keep going to point the DNS to my new site and to replace my theme as the old version of the theme I used did not copy over correctly. I tried and tried to do this myself but could not figure it out so decided to admit defeat and contact the bright sparks at Getflywheel and a lovely man had walked me through the entire process. Talk about customer service! So that’s why I would recommend this web hosting platform!
Picking your Niche
What is the hype surrounding Niches? Is it a funny word without a proper definition? No a niche is your specific field. For me, my niche is ocean conservation and self help but a lot of people stick to one. You could be a lifestyle blogger, a Stay at home Mamabear, a Scubadiver, a ornithologist or a sailor and you would find an audience. The trick to gathering an audience is to appeal to a select few, rather than going for a widespread approach.
To find your niche, stay tuned as I am going to be writing a blog post about that in the near future.
Picking your Blog theme
Make sure it is SEO friendly and attractive. How many times do you go to a new website and you are immediately turned off of the page because of the mess of the layout? That’s all to do with your theme. I found there were 2 specific free wordpress themes that I liked and they were Juno and Whitish Lite (this is my current blog template). These two themes are easy to customise to your own preference and you are given quite a lot of freedom with even the free version.
Its time to set up your social media accounts. I use Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest and am building up a following slowly but surely. There are lots of guides on how to get a following built available on the internet but the things that I would suggest to you all before starting a blog is starting to create the hype around your blog. You can make a facebook group page for you blog which is what I did and if you request to join a bunch of different facebook blogging pages you will find there are millions of people just like you!
As an idea- you can request to join the following:
You can connect with wonderful bloggers at the same time as learning about how to improve your own blog!
Once you have a facebook page or an Instagram account- you have to get into the habit of clicking “Share”. Share your blog posts, share your URL, share other blog posts that may be of use to you for later reference, share interesting news stories that would keep your members engaged. SHARING is CARING, never forget that! That’s how I managed to make my first 79 followers on Facebook.
You have a website, built up with your favourite ideas and now you are ready to start publishing posts and getting your name out there! Don’t rush this bit. In fact, I would even go so far as to hold off of going live with your site until you have at least 20 post ideas stockpiled.
An idea that always goes down well on blogs is to introduce yourself- tell us all about who you are, why you are blogging, what you have done in your life that might be of interest. Why should people read about your life and your musings?
Another idea would be to take your niche topic and divide it into subsections Even create a mindmap to help you find the different areas of the topic that you might want to cover with your content.
Coming from somebody who had no idea what this meant, it can be understood- trust me. I use a cheat tool called Yoast, which is a free plugin you can use for your blog. You should always make sure that your SEO button turns green and that you take time to figure out your focus keywords. The readability button on Yoast should also be green. Once you hit green on both (or mainly on the SEO button) you are good to go!
The big day is coming up for you and your blog. You are getting ready to put yourself out there for judgement, speculation and enjoyment so you want to make sure you are doing this right. If you have a social media following already you might want to start advertising your blog just by facebook posts etc- announce your launch date. You could also feature a giveaway as a welcome to your blog but I would suggest that that should come at a later date.
In order to keep everything as high quality as possible, you could use a post scheduler on wordpress where you create the entire blog and instead of clicking “Publish” you click on the “Schedule” button instead and select the date and time of which you want your post to go live. This prevents you from forgetting to post for a few weeks if you are suddenly swamped at work.
Patience, Richard Parker, patience
Hands up if you got that reference!
Building a blog does take patience. I don’t want to be on of those corny blogs that say “It is no overnight success” because in some cases, it actually is and that’s what we want to achieve. With blogging, comes confidence, community, past-time and eventually if you want to, Money! And who wouldn’t want to be earning money while they sleep? Bloggers can sign up to affiliate partnerships with companies. You can usually find a list of affiliate programmes by searching on Google. By becoming an affiliate, you are able to begin earning without placing irritating ads all over your beautiful blog. Amazon Affiliate programmes are great and you will rarely see a blogger who is an affiliate of other programmes without already being one of Amazon. Affiliates basically place links in their blog posts which promote readers to click on and buy something. The blogger then gets a certain percentage of commission of that product sale. Ideal!
Just whatever you do, do not lost hope. You will eventually get there- it has taken me a great deal of time to only get to where I am and I know there is a lot of improving to be done. I wish you luck! Comment your blog URL for me to check it out and leave a comment!