Launching a blog can be a daunting process. From just finding a suitable name, to those tentative first posts, the whole blogging atmosphere can feel almost terrifying. But it needn’t be stressful. Here’s our ‘How To’ guide on how to launch and maintain a successful blog.
1. Choose a Topic
Before launching into the blog making process, it’s important to decide whether you intend for your blog to have a running theme. You hold a greater chance of success if your blog regularly covers related topics, rather than jumping from one topic to another without any logical link between each post. You may choose to post about technology, or human rights. Or you may hold a passion for businesses, comics, or popular culture. Overall, a common running theme throughout your blog will see a returning readership as they are more likely to find each post relevant to their interests.
2. Choose a Blogging Platform
There are a number of blogging platforms to choose from, each of which comes with its own benefits. The three biggest blogging platforms are WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr, each providing its own appeal to a different target audience.
WordPress – One of the big players of the blogging industry, WordPress offers a highly customizable blogging experience, with a number of themes and widgets that can be added to improve your blogging experience. A popular choice, WordPress states that its users create 64.8 million posts each month, and its bloggers include the likes of CNN, TED and Tech Crunch. As of 2014, 48% of Technorati’s top blogs were housed by WordPress.
Domain and Hosting— If you are going for WordPress, then an ideal choice would be Bluehost or Hostgator for hosting. An exception would be for you to check out other hosting plans. You can register your domains as well, but I find them to be a bit expensive than other domain registrars like Namecheap or Godaddy.
Simply install WordPress with the default options available and you are good to go.
How to Install WordPress on Bluehost: 7 steps with pictures
Blogger – Offering a unique experience, Blogger is linked directly to your Google account, making the sharing of posts into social media circles easier. Like WordPress, Blogger (formerly known as Blogspot) hosts a wide range of customisation options, providing each user with a unique blogging experience.
Tumblr – Although reputed as a ‘young’ blogging site, Tumblr is fast acquiring popularity. High profile bloggers include famous YouTube stars such as Nash Grier and Tyler Oakley, singer Taylor Swift, actor Mark Ruffalo and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. Like WordPress and Blogger before it, Tumblr is highly customizable, but it also allows the addition of creating your own theme free of charge, and extensions such as Xkit and Tumblr Savior ensure that Tumblr works the way you wish it to. Its popular ‘Ask’, ‘Reblog’ and ‘Tagging’ systems make cross blog communication easy, and arguably make Tumblr the most sociable of the blogging platforms.
3. Remember that your URL represents you.
As tempting as it may be to just stick with the first URL that comes to mind, this isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. Your URL will be the first thing people come across, before they even reach your blog, so keep it sensible. If you’re aiming for a professional blog, your URL should reflect this. If you’re aiming for a more ‘fun’ blog, particularly one that’s based around a particular interest, it may be worth considering a URL closely linked to that topic.
4. Choosing a theme.
A theme is the design of the web-page where you find your blogposts published. When you first start blogging, you’ll be assigned a basic theme, but also given access to a host of themes to choose from, with varying levels of customization.
WordPress and Blogger only offer a basic level of customization on their free blogs, but an upgrade to a premium account allows you to customize more features.
With a self hosted WordPress blog, you have a lot of themes you can choose from. You can also design one for yourself, if you happen to be a designer, or hire someone to develop a custom theme.
The right theme would lend a personality to your blog. It should reflect what’s the blog about.
You can purchase entire set of themes from Themeforest, ThemeJunkie etc. or you can install a framework like Genesis framework or the Thesis framework that gives you access to lots of childthemes.
For example, over at ThemeJunkie you can get access to all 48 themes for just $49. That works out to be just a little over $1 for each theme. You will be spoiled for choice.
Tumblr, however, provides you with a fully customizable theme from the start, provided you have some knowledge of HTML. Alternatively, you can import a theme from one of the many theme makers around the site.
The aim of the theme is to make your blog visually appealing. Your theme should be easy to navigate, and an added navigation or tag cloud can make it easier for your readers to find their way around your blog.
5. Making that first post.
When you have the theme set up, then comes the all daunting first post. You already have a topic in mind, and maybe a certain discussion prompted you to creating a blog in the first place. Blogging, in many ways, is like telling a story or writing a report. When you press the ‘new post’ button, you should have your discussion in mind; what is your point, and how do you intend to get that point across? Ensure your blog post is easily readable, with clear and concise points, and ensure you engage the reader.
Before you post, it’s worth tagging your post, regardless of which platform you use. This not only makes it easier for readers to find similar posts whilst within your blog, but also launches your post into the site’s categories, potentially widening your readership.
6. Engage with other bloggers
You’ll come across other bloggers during the course of running your blog, whether through the blog reader (or dashboard) or through comments. One of the easiest ways of ensuring traffic to your blog is by leaving comments and ‘reblogging’ content. This ensures your visibility within the blogging community and can raise some interesting conversations.
If someone takes time to comment on your blog, it is always worth taking the time to at least read their comment. Sometimes it may be praise for an interesting post, sometimes you may find a new point of conversation. Engaging with these bloggers will increase the likelihood of such readers returning to your blog, and furthermore recommending it to their peers.
7. Update regularly
This cannot be stated enough. Sometimes, you may not feel like blogging, and you’re under no obligation to. But ideally, one should set aside some time to blog once a week. This ensures that your readers return to your blog, knowing when to expect an update, and when to find new content.
8. Make your content unique.
There may be a thousand blogs in the same field as yours when you start out. But having so many blogs in the same field isn’t necessary a hindrance. Coming into the field with a fresh and unique take on your topic of choice can be just as important in running a successful blog as having a long running blog. After all, even the most successful bloggers amongst us started out with a blank page and a great idea.
A Case Study for You
Six months ago, Matt Barby decided to start a food blog called Pescetarian Kitchen. Now Pescetarian refers to a diet that’s mainly vegetarian but along with sea- food.
He found that there was a great demand for it, especially in the US, with the term being searched around 40,500 times per month.
He went on a full-fledged research— analyzing the type of content his competitors produced, marketing techniques used, social landscape analysis (analyzing the kind of content being shared across social networks), SEO, and backlink analysis.
Using all of this data, he planned out the content and laid a roadmap on content creation and deployment which paid well.
Currently, these are the stats for the blog:
- Page 1 rankings in Google for the terms pescetarian blog, pescetarian recipes, and pescetarian meals. I searched and found his blog on position 3 for the term pescetarian.
- 4,700+ followers on their Facebook page.
- The average engagement on one of their Facebook posts will often result in around 100 likes, 5-15 comments, 20-50 shares and 100-300 clicks through to the website
- 850+ Twitter followers
- 500+ Pinterest followers
- 550 double opt-in email subscribers
- 30,000+ unique visits to the blog
- 15,000+ unique visits coming from social media traffic alone
- 65,000+ backlinks in less than six months.
Also see the Coconut prawn recipe below, that’s awesome as well.
As seen in the example by Matt Barby, the first thing he did was get a complete understanding of the niche. He looked at the content that competitors were popping out, the kind of links being built, the promotion strategies being used, and a lot more stuff on that line.
Also measuring the growth has been an integral part of his success story. Matt paid attention to what strategies brought him more traffic and links and continued along that path while discarding the methods with less ROI (Return of Investment)