Wanting to start a blog is a great idea; there is no better way to get your thoughts out there and express yourself. Now that you are looking for a beginners guide to WordPress blogging, you must be overwhelmed by the number of tips online, all telling you what to do. It may all sound very confusing, especially if you are a newbie in the world of blogging and have absolutely no idea where to start.
However, this guide will not have too much jargon and will make the journey in making your blog much more interesting and less daunting.
Before you get started
Running a blog and running a business have a few things in common, the first being the challenges you will endure, and everything you need to know about running one. Without this information, you will give up at some point because you will not know what to expect.
Running a blog is a lot of work
Running a blog is not at all easy, not if you want to stand out and keep people coming back for more all the time. You will have to spend time researching your topic for the post, finding the perfect images and editing them, typing and proofreading, rewriting, and moderating comments. You will also spend a considerable amount of time (and funds) to promote your blog on social media platforms and email marketing. Brace yourself, as every week, you will have quite the work to do.
It is okay to start small
As a newbie, looking to larger brands and personalities can provide the motivation to get started. With time, effort, and consistency, you can reach your full potential. However, it is important that you consider starting small, with a subdomain from user-friendly platforms like Blogger or WordPress. You might love it, and with time, putting in funds to buy a domain and hosting becomes the better and reasonable way to proceed. There is no need to commit yourself and any funds for a project that you are not sure about.
Content is everything
In any business, the quality of your product will determine your success (or lack thereof). The same applies to what you offer your readers, which is the content. In addition to having the best theme, blog title, and templates, you must ensure that the quality of content you upload to your blog is excellent. By excellent, you want what you write to be engaging, thought-provoking, sharable, accurate, valuable, and worth going viral. By getting people to keep coming back for more and sharing your URL with friends and family, you boost your chances of success multiple-fold.
You will have to go social
If being social is one of the things you abhor, then you might want to take a step back from blogging. To be successful, you will have to interact with other bloggers and creatives from your area of interest and outside as well. These connections will help you build links, obtain guest posts from reputable writers, and so much more. Being a part of a blogging community will be extremely helpful in your blogging career and will provide an avenue to network and share the challenges you face in writing and keeping your readers interested.
There is a major tech aspect to running a blog
If you are already in the world of IT, then you should have no issue with the tech side of things. However, to truly get the most of your blog, you will need to get plenty of knowledge in the technicalities involved in running it, such as SEO, analytics, basic HTML and CSS coding, and so much more. This is another reason why you want to start with platforms that offer free sites, as these allow you to use drag-and-drop rather than coding to create your blog. There is so much information online about this technical information, and reading about it should be easy. With this information, you will also be able to handle any technical challenges that crop up.
Speaking of challenges
Running a blog has its own challenges, which you must be aware of before getting into it.
1. Getting a following for your blog
Today, society is very information-centric, and whatever you have in mind is probably already out there. Starting your blog will make you one of the many in your area of interest, and you will definitely experience changes in attempting to get an audience for your blog. Like any new product in the market, competition, and low awareness about your blog will be the main barriers to entering the ‘blogosphere.’ For the first few months, a low response rate and even zero visits for days on end will make you feel like you are speaking to an audience that is not interested and may ruin your motivation.
2. Finding yourself a niche
Even before pooling an audience, you will have to select a niche that is relevant. It may be easier if you want to offer advice in your area, for instance, a financial consultant talking about the stock market, it becomes easier. It can also be a walk in the park if you want to run a blog to sustain your business. All you need to do is write about what you offer and provide advice to your clients.
However, if you believe you are a talented creative and can make blogging work, you will be faced with the daunting task of selecting a niche, and you will constantly worry about whether you made the right choice. Regardless of the challenges, you will face in selecting one topic to write about, it will be crucial for your success. Too many topics will confuse your audience and make them turn away. Besides, you will need a theme to center your blog around, and you will not be able to if you cannot pick one topic.
3. Producing high quality work constantly
At some point, you will be confronted with the two-word horror that every writer faces: Writers’ block. Even though you have selected a niche that you are passionate about and truly identify with, there will be that one day where you sit in front of your screen and stare for hours at the blinking cursor. Coming up with ideas that your audience will find valuable and engaging every week after months of writing about the same thing can be challenging.
4. Getting readers to leave feedback
The more feedback your blog has, the better it will look for new readers looking for reliable and authoritative information. However, getting readers to leave a comment, suggestion, or question in your comments section is often a challenge. With time, it might be a sign that your blog does not have a loyal community, and it might reduce your motivation, especially if you have a certain connection to a post.
5. Making some money from your blog
Another major challenge that you will face as a blogger is making money from your website. Once you are well established, monetizing your website will emerge over the horizon. If making money from your website is your primary motivation for starting a blog, you may want to revisit your motivations as the larger percentage of bloggers never reaches this goal. Affiliate marketing, ads, premium content, and other methods should help you make some money using your blog, but you must be careful to accomplish the delicate balance between valuable content and money-making, as too many ads will drive away your readers.
These few challenges might make you shy away from getting your blog online, but if anything, knowing that challenges exist should give you the motivation to start! After all, beating the challenges will make you stronger and better as time goes by. Other reasons why you should get your blog running include:
You can make money from your blog
Some bloggers make up to $5000 in three months of starting their blogs. The economy today is fragile, and you cannot afford to rely on one source of income. Your blog, if well built, can be a reliable source of high income for years on end.
It will allow you to grow your technical skills
Running a blog has a strong technical component, and as you build on it and tweak it to fit your style, you will learn how to use various templates, basic coding, SEO, media formatting and optimization, and so much more. Technical skills are a must-have in this digital age, and as you go about being your blog’s admin, your level of tech expertise will soar above the basic level.
Blogs are the perfect creative outlet
If you are overwhelmed by your current job or other issues, a blog is a perfect place to vent. A blog is a great online diary, and you can allow yourself to pursue your creative abilities from the comfort of home.
Ready to get started?
There are dozens of reasons why you should get your blog started, and if you are convinced, then read through this information to start your blog on the right note. What’s more, you now have all the information to help you make the right decisions every step of the way. As technology has continued to develop, starting a blog has become incredibly easy. If you follow this guide, you should have a dazzling new blog in less than thirty minutes.
Choose your niche
As mentioned earlier, writing about too many subjects makes it difficult to run a blog, not to mention the mixed signals it sends to readers. Pick a single area of interest that is neither too general nor too specific, and start working on being knowledgeable on the subject. To make writing less tasking for you, also pick a topic that you identify with and are passionate about.
Choosing such a niche should make it easier for you to express your views and differentiate yourself from other blogs. Other affairs that you will need to determine before you get started with the more technical side of things include:
1. Your blog personality:
how do you want people to perceive your blog? It can be fun and light, deeper and spiritual, or professional and serious. Your blog personality will have to appeal to your readers and make them feel ‘at home’ as they scroll through your content. When choosing your blog personality, ensure you remain authentic to your true self for consistency.
next to blog personality will be your brand, which will go hand in hand. By building an online brand for yourself, you are able to build a loyal group of readers and market yourself easily. Your blog brand will also include more visible aspects, like its logo, color pallet, template, general appearance, and the mood it evokes in the people who visit it.
3. How you want to set your voice apart:
every writer has their own writing style or voice, and this should also help you pool a community of readers that identify with your view of things. Your voice is essentially vocabulary, idioms, contractions, tone, and so much more. Are you planning to offer a more serious approach, which would be expected in a law or finance blog, or a more informal tone as would be in a health and lifestyle blog?
4. Organize your blog content:
you must determine a regular post upload schedule that will work for you and stick to it. You can choose to write a blog post every Tuesday, for instance, and have a small on-going feature to fit trends in your niche.
Choose a blogging platform
A blogging platform is an online resource that you will use to build and run your blog. when choosing a blogging platform, you have two choices:
1. Free platforms:
As a newbie, a free platform is a great choice for you. It will help you get started, learn the ropes, and as you get better and more inspired, you can proceed to a premium option. These platforms are also user-friendly and way less tech-intensive. Examples of excellent free blog-hosting platforms are Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress.com.
The biggest catch to using a free platform is that you have to make do with a subdomain, and other platforms will make your blog crawl with ads. After all, the platform needs to make money! If you are starting a blog for your business or to build a personality, you want to avoid these at all costs. Clients will quickly run away from a business website without a domain, as it also looks unprofessional.
2. Self-hosted platforms
These kinds of platforms allow you to map your domain into the blog and take full charge of your blog and its contents. Self-hosted systems, also called content management systems to allow you to use your own web-hosting space and domain name. The most popular and highly recommended of these is WordPress.org. This option is best suited for you if you are a small business or eCommerce store. For a small amount of cash, about the cost of a Starbucks coffee, you will be able to have a professional-looking online space to sell your products, in addition to telling your story. What’s more, many opportunities to make money using your blog will only be available if you are using a premium domain name.
When working with a self-hosted platform, another decision you will have to make is what domain name registrar and web-hosting services provider to use. Examples of such firms are GoDaddy, Bluehost, and NameCheap. Such reputable names will often give you a domain name for free if you choose to purchase web-hosting services from them.
3. Pick a domain name
Your domain name is what readers will type into their web browsers to visit your blog, for instance, yourname.com. Your domain name will be your unique address, and domain registrars will let you have them for as long as you pay your annual fee (ranges between $10 and $15). Most domain names have domain checkers that you can type in your ideas to see if they have not already been claimed by another blog owner.
General rules for selecting a domain name include:
- Should be easy to remember, spell, and leave a lasting impression on readers
- Should be relevant to your blog theme or overall niche
- It should not contain symbols or numbers
- It should not contain any offensive language
- Should be short
4. Get web-hosting services
Your blog will need space for its content, which is where web servers come in. The web-hosting services you choose will determine the loading speed of your site, bandwidth (how much traffic your website can withstand), and downtime frequency. For hassle-free blog management, it always better to get both domain registration and web hosting from the same company.
5. Choose the correct theme
Your blog theme is essentially your design and will be the face of your blog. You want a theme that fits the blog’s personality, niche, and overall tone. Also, the colors must blend seamlessly with each other to avoid harsh lines, be intuitive, and pleasant to the site. Your blog design will trigger either acceptance or instant rejection, so take your time here.
You can start with a few basics to provide a face for the blog, then add more intricate details later. You must also avoid cluttering your theme with excessive widgets and pop-ups as they will slow your blog’s speed and make it more distracting and unpleasant. When looking for a theme, use this reliable checklist:
- Mobile-responsiveness: your theme must load well on tablets on smartphones as most readers use these instead of laptops.
- Premium or freemium: using a free theme is advised against because their developers are not bound to improve them over time or fix any security issues. Premium themes, on the other hand, are often updated and improved, and you will find with time that they offer way more than free themes. These cost between $30-$500, and if you have the budget for it, get a coder to custom-make a theme for you at $500-$2000.
6. Write content and upload it
The framework and online space for your blog is all set up, and now it is time to fill up space with valuable information for your readers. This content must speak your message, easily accessible and readable, and acceptable on a general basis. Even though your goal is eventually to make money, your work must never be commercially focused (greeting your new visitors with ads and banners instead of reasons to stay and read on is a sure false start).
In addition to your main content, other kinds of content you require include:
- An about me page: tell readers who you are, why this topic matters to you, and other details about you that will endear you to readers.
- Contact page: a section that allows readers to talk to you. This section can include a simple contact form, links to your social media, and email address.
7. Promote your blog continuously
With your first blog post on your live blog, it is time to let people know that you have a blog. Start simple; tell your friends and family that you have a blog and ask them to leave comments. Also, submit your blog to search engines, bookmarking sites, and, of course, social media. Be active and often post to your blog and other blogs in your niche as a guest author. Marketing is a continuous process, and you will soon see the benefits as the number of your visitors and comments starts to climb.
Blogging is one of the most effective ways to disseminate information. Practically everyone today has a smart device and a strong internet connection, and many readers turn to the internet for information and leisure reading. If you provide helpful and engaging content regularly, more people will visit your blog to read, share, and contribute their thoughts on your opinions.