Blogging is getting increasingly popular.
With more and more bloggers publishing income reports and similar enticements, a lot more persons are getting started blogging, hoping to stumble on a reliable source of passive income.
Interestingly, the low barriers to entry for blogging (which is supposed to be a good thing) has led many to start blogging impulsively, without giving much deliberation into the choice of topic and general strategy. In other words, they treat blogging like hobby but expect returns of a business from it.
After sometime, when results are not matching expectations, frustration sets in and they call down evil on blogging (and the cycle continues to loop).
Alright, let’s get started and get our hands dirty!
1. Narrow Your Focus
A lot has been said about blogging about a topic you love, so I won’t go there in this post. Let us rather start off with a little pep talk about the importance of focus.
Being specific in the focus of your blog can improve the likelihood of success by many folds.
It is far easier to start off a blog in a small niche topic than it would be to compete with the bigger blogs. When starting off, concentrate on building a strong loyal audience before thinking of expanding your base into a broader topic area.
For instance, instead of starting a blog on “personal development”, it may be easier to get faster ranking if your blog focuses for a start on “personal development goals” and gradually introduce broad-base content as your rankings improves.
Constrict your niche, and you get traffic and recognition faster.
2. Register a Domain Name
Once you have decided on a topic, the moment to choose a domain name has come. Your domain is very important and careful thought should be put into selecting one.
I use Namecheap for all my domains, and mark my words: the only thing cheap about their service is their price.
While it may help to get a domain name that includes your keywords, in my experience major search engines no longer consider that as very important. So there is no need to go overboard and end up with an ugly domain name like www.howtostartalowbudgetorganicgarden.com
I am sure you get the point.
Domain age is increasingly becoming a major ranking factor for search engines. If you will like to do some domain hacking, here is how you can get an aged domain name for your new blog.
- Head over to Go Daddy Auctions and add your keyword to the search form. In the sidebar filtering options, enter the minimum and maximum years for the domain name.
- Select the domain name that is most suitable for you.
- Make payment via PayPal or credit card and the aged-domain name is yours.
Whether you choose to buy a new domain name or an aged one, your blog can still succeed. However, having an aged domain name tips your blog for faster success.
3. Secure a Fast Hosting Account
Assuming you have followed the steps above closely, you should now have a topic you can blog on and a domain name for your blog.
Now is time to find a home for your blog.
There are a lot of hosting providers out there and it would be extreme to say one service is the best.
However, I have found that Hostgator provides stellar services for both small and big customers alike.
I rave about this company because of the level of support they provide to their customers. There is nothing as frustrating as finding yourself stuck with a host who takes days to reply to support requests.
Do not fall for the mistake of going for cheap – unless you have intensions of building a cheap service. I made the mistake of hosting my first blog with a mass host just for a savings of $1.24 per month and it cost me greatly.
4. Install and Extend WordPress
In this step, you get to install WordPress, the most popular blogging and content management software known to man.
Almost 60, 000, 000 blogs are hosted on WordPress.com, not to mention they countless self-hosted blogs powered by the WordPress software. I am mentioning this so you know that in choosing Wordpress for your blog, you are in good company.
Hostgator provides a five-minute quick install for WordPress, and that’s another reason to give them a second look, especially for beginners.
After installing WordPress, you may want to consider extending it. My blog runs on the Genesis Framework for WordPress, which extends and improves on a lot of WordPress core functionalities.
Genesis is one of the best frameworks for WordPress out there, with excellent SEO, customization and security advantages.
If you need an alternative, Thesis is the closest thing in the market to the Genesis Framework, so it does not matter one way or the other which one you decide to use.
However, do not be led to believe that your blog cannot succeed without buying a framework. WordPress ships with enough native bells and whistles to start to get you started.
5. Buy a Premium Theme
There is nothing as important as starting off with a bang. So, your blog has to be distinctive enough to stand out from the crowd.
There are tens of thousands of WordPress themes, but to stand out in that crowd, it is better to have a premium theme.
People judge you on the basis of the amount of work you have put into your blog and they use that to gauge the value you have for your business. If you value your business, you would not flinch at the thought of investing about $37 for a premium theme.
But of course, buying a premium theme will only make your blog relatively unique. Other bloggers, some even in the same niche as you are may have bought the same premium theme you bought – though relatively few as compared to the thousands of same-themed blogs that would use a free theme.
A premium theme is a good start, but if you really want to stand out, you want to have something unique.
6. Build Landing Pages
Having a specific goal for each page on your site can greatly increase your conversions. So if you have a Newsletter Signup page, it should do just that – provide a form for people to sign up.
As a rule, remove all distractions from your action pages – sidebars, menu bars even your ads and social buttons.
Let people have the opportunity of taking the action you want them to take without the temptation of options.
It’s a good practice to remove all the distractions from specific pages and have one goal for every page.
So if your goal for the newsletter signup page is to make people signup for your newsletter, then remove the sidebar, your ads, the menu and anything that will distract the reader from taking that action. All features of If the goal of your sales page is to sell something, then remove anything that will make the reader go somewhere else.
This type of layout is called a landing page and you can build them by tweaking the layout of your WordPress theme.
If tweaking your WordPress theme is too much of a hassle for you, then you can do it with Premise from Copyblogger Network.
7. Create a Lead Magnet
You need something to give visitors to your blog as a reward for engaging with your content and tempt them to get on your mailing list.
You may have heard that they money is in the list, so it pays to start early with a lead magnet. The sooner you begin growing that list, the faster you can achieve reader retention.
How is that?
If you have the email addresses of your readers, you can notify them when you create new posts and drive traffic to your blog with just an email broadcast.
Most persons are giving out free eBooks, but since a lot of subscribers unsubscribe after getting the eBook, I recommend a better approach.
Start an eCourse that is delivered over three weeks or so through an auto responder. Apart from reducing the unsubscribe rate, an eCourse helps establish you as an expert far sooner than an eBook will. When you deliver valuable information via email, your subscribers get used to ac
You can’t go wrong with either of these choices, so test and go for anyone that you find easier to implement.
Warning: I have read that Mailchimp does not allow affiliate offers within emails sent on their system, so you may want to beware of that if you intend to sell third-party products as an affiliate.
Final Word – Ensure Continuous Improvement
It takes continuous improvements to make your blog succeed.
While some bloggers achieve recognition in just a couple of months, it may not be so for every new blogger. It will take work, work, and more work to get your blog noticed from the point you get started.
Ensure your goals are clear and stick to them. A tightly focused blog will position you as an authority in no time, while a lose-themed blog will see you struggling for an audience for a long time to come.
Read wide and become an expert in your niche – If you want to be viewed as the goto expert for information in your niche, you need to have the knowledge of an expert.
There is no way around this.
It is either you know your stuff or you don’t. If you don’t, your blog will struggle for a long time to come.
Photo Credits: Candescent