Blogging can be a great pastime. It can be a creative outlet, a fantastic learning opportunity and even provide a source of income. Carving out your own space in a niche and becoming an authority and expert in your subject can present you with many opportunities, but of course, many hurdles and challenges too.
For influencers, blogging is a great opportunity to boost your presence and allow you to connect with your audience in a more open way via long form content. Check out our recent post 8 Reasons to Start a Blog for Social Media Influencers to find out why it’s worth the effort.
Whether you’re hoping to set up a blog and start publishing your own content for the first time, or if you’re an experience blogging wordsmith, our ultimate guide to blogging is sure to have some useful tips and tricks to help you along the way!
Let’s kick off with the visual element. While it’s true that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, a good looking blog will grab – and hold – the attention of viewers and give you the best possible start.
If you’re using one of the main blogging platforms such as WordPress or Wix, you’ll be able to find an off-the-shelf theme to use as a template to start off with a slick design. You can usually customise these themes as much as you want but to get the best possible user experience, you may want to consider a premium design theme to get a head start. These will often include a customer support package which can be very valuable to get everything just right and troubleshoot any issues you have.
Make sure your blog is easy to navigate, with consistent text and coherent, attractive colour codes that are easy on the eye to really make people want to stay on your blog and check out more of your content.
There’s a bunch of plugins you can use to add more to your blog, what you use is really up to you and what you want to offer, but widgets such as social media icons, social feeds and social share buttons are great to offer cross promotion to your other channels in one place!
Set up, check and double check all your links – there’s nothing worse than browsing a blog to find they have broken links on their homepage, that’s a sure-fire way to lose interest from your viewers. It’s also a good rule throughout your blog to make sure all your links are set up to ‘open in new tab’ when clicked, that way your readers won’t lose their place on your content page or, god forbid, be forcibly navigated away from your blog!
Time reading counters at the top of your blog posts are an example of a non-invasive addition which can be helpful for your readers to know the length of content before they commit to reading. You might also want to add a search bar to your blog for people looking for specific content.
You can get a plugin for just about anything, just don’t go too overboard and clutter up the design of your site!
Now let’s take a look at the main show; content! Your content is what will keep people coming back for more and should provide the most value to your readers’ experience. Your content should be consistent and high quality, so always spell check and when possible, have someone read through and edit your writing to make sure it’s as strong as it can be.
Let’s run through a few things to consider as you look to create your content.
Your niche is what makes you unique and should revolve around your areas of interest and expertise. Got a bunch of tasty vegan recipes you want to share with the world? You’re in the vegan lifestyle niche! Do you love traveling round the world on a shoe-string and want to share your experiences and tips with your followers? The budget travel space is where you’re at!
Keep in mind that viewers who enjoy your content will want to see more so try to come up with new content ideas along similar lines, as well as in relatable areas. For example, if your vegan recipes are a hit with your followers, maybe some eco-friendly lifestyle ideas or even mindfulness content will also resonate with them.
Try to consider the problems your readers have and why they’ve arrived at your blog looking for solutions. You might want to keep things light and upbeat, friendly and informal to get your points across and be the best solution provider for them. Remember, you’re cultivating your own community and it’s important to consider how you can relate to your audience to know exactly what they want to see.
This one is really important. If you’re not authentic, there’s not much reason for people to read your content. You need to be honest and genuine when writing your pieces while trying to be authoritative on your subject.
Structuring your content is not only visually pleasing for readers, but it also breaks down your posts into logical areas, making it easier for readers to digest and navigate back to specific areas of interest.
Split your articles up into a structure that flows well for someone reading. Start with an intro, then go through the different topics using titles that stand out and finish up with an outro section. If someone is scrolling through an endless body of paragraph text, they’re likely to find it daunting and uninteresting so make sure it’s broken down into sections.
Use images to add a visual aspect to your post, this will make it more engaging and enjoyable, as well as providing separation for your different sections.
Categories are a great way to segment your blog into certain sub-niches or areas. It’s good to have a handful of categories, which can be grouped together in a collection that readers can find if they’re looking for more specific ideas.
For example, are you blogging about food, cooking and recipes? It might be good to categorise your recipes as “breakfast”, “lunch”, “dinner” and “snacks” to help visitors find what they’re looking for more easily. Or you could group your posts as “meat”, “vegetarian” and “vegan” recipes and also have a separate category for “kitchen products”.
It’s an easy way to make your blog more organised and set your content out in an easy to navigate field. Make sure you have a categories menu somewhere on your blog. This could be on your homepage with a drop down menu as well as a sidebar menu on each individual post.
Consider your audience and work out what their Reader Persona might be. This will ultimately help you when trying to nail down how, and what you write in your content. Is your main audience parents? They are probably very busy and pressed for time, which you should factor into your content. Working out their character and point of view will help you hone in on how to talk to and with your audience, providing them with the best possible reading experience.
Your voice and tone of writing should be determined by who your audience is, what they’re wanting to read and how they want to be communicated to.
Cornerstone content provides the main building blocks on what your blog is all about. Think about the main things you’re blogging about and the main problems your potential viewers are likely to have when they come to your blog looking for solutions.
You can mark cornerstone content much in the same way as a category and signal to your audience that certain pieces are critical to read in order to gain the most from the rest of your blog posts.
Maintaining consistency throughout your blog is key. Not only is this necessary on each post and across several posts, but the type and timing of posts also factor in. Write down different content series that you want to work on and make sure you have a planned structure for each group of posts.
It’s also good to maintain a content calendar. Work out what you want to post and when to build a posting schedule. This will help you keep a consistent timeline of posts and your readers will come to appreciate the routine of when you post certain content.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a huge thing. Many people spend their whole careers working on just this area and it’s very important to bring in traffic and readers to your blog.
SEO is all about gaming search engines such as Google or Bing to display links to your site to searchers looking for something. When people use certain keyword phrases, if your blog fits the search, your site will be offered as a search result.
It’s all about your websites Domain Authority (DA), which determines its relevance to a specific subject area or topic. Nailing this will help you rank higher on search engines and bring in a lot more traffic to your blog.
We could spend all day going down the rabbit hole of this subject, but for now you should start off with our other post Minimal SEO for Blog Posts in 2021. You can also get a head start by using a plugin such as Yoast SEO to get an SEO rating on your content and tips on how to boost it.
Adding tags to your content is an effective and easy start but getting it wrong can have the adverse effect on your content’s visibility. Adding a tag to a post will add that post to the tag’s archive and search engines will understand that all the posts in this archive belong together.
Adding too many tags to posts, each of them unique to the posts, then you’ll be creating several archive pages which makes it harder for readers to view related posts and they also won’t help search engines ascertain what your site is about.
Tags should be existing words or phrases and relevant to the post, as well as to the posts that relate to it. Working out the common denominator across a group of posts is useful to make sure they are effectively linked together and easily visible to readers. Again, using an off the shelf plugin will help by automatically analysing your tags page and providing suggestions for improvement.
There’s two main ways to boost your blogs linking stats. Firstly, cross-linking between your posts. Cross-linking is adding links in a post to other posts on your site. They should be relevant and provide more value to your reader, and in doing so, you’re boosting the reader’s journey and experience spent on your website.
Back-Links, also known as inbound or incoming links, are links from one website to another website resource. They’re incredibly important to your SEO game as they denote a “vote of confidence” from one site to another, enabling search engines to infer that the site is worth linking to and thus boosting your ranking in the search results. One of the best ways of building up back-links is by working on guest posts for other blogs and websites and earning a back-link back to your own site.
Aside from SEO, using your social following is a good way to drive traffic to your blog. On social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, share your post with a page preview feature. This looks much more professional than just a text link shared and allows the embedded featured image of the article to be an eye-catching element of your social share.
You can even optimise your content to be converted directly into a Facebook article, allowing easier access and quicker loading times for viewers.
If you’re lucky enough to have over 10,000 followers on Instagram, you’re able to add a link to your story posts, which is a great way to promote new content with a direct link to access it for your followers.
Failing that, create a feed image to pair with your blog content and make sure you have a link to your blog in your Instagram profile. If you have more than one link you want to share with your Instagram audience, use a link grouping platform such as LinkTree to display several links from one access point.
Guest posts are a great way to boost the content offered on your blog by inviting a new perspective, new ideas and a new voice to join you. You might want to invite other bloggers or professionals in your niche to do a guest post on your blog to provide similar content to your own, or even those further afield from your space to offer something relatable but totally new for your audience.
Collaborating with other bloggers and content creators in this way will give you exposure to their followers and bring in new viewers to your community.
Similarly, writing guest posts on other blogs is a good way to get yourself and your content in front of other blog audiences, with links back to your blog and social channels to bring in new followers.
One of the main attractions to blogging is being able to earn an additional income stream from your efforts. Realistically, you’re unlikely to suddenly start gaining notable income from your new blog on day one, but with some consistent effort and research, you’ll be able to build this up over time.
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to monetise your website. There’s literally millions of products available for you to promote on your website so you can choose relevant products and services that your particular audience will find useful. You’ll be able to embed product tiles and images into your content and earn commissions from any sales that come via your site. Get clued up on affiliate marketing with our guide Affiliate Marketing: The Ultimate Guide.
Be sure to use affiliate links sparsely, there’s nothing worse than trying to read an article when it’s drowning in adverts and links – this will just make you appear disingenuous and readers will have less interest in returning to your blog. Avoid common errors that will stifle your affiliate gains, read our article 10 Reasons Why Affiliate Campaigns Fail: The Common Mistakes.
However if you’ve made a good recommendation, and the implied endorsement in your content has resulted in a sale, not only will you have earned commission from the sale, but the consumer will appreciate the problem solving suggested from your blog.
If you’re writing about music for example, a good product fit might be some new headphones, or even a subscription to a streaming service. Always make sure it’s a good product fit for your audience and the content they’re reading. It’s more important to focus on this as opposed to a higher commission level, after all, it’s better to make several sales with a smaller commission that are relevant to your audience and keep them coming back than it is to earn a higher commission from one sale via less relevant products.
To learn more about the advantages of affiliate marketing for bloggers and influencers, check out our post 7 Perks of Affiliate Campaigns for Bloggers and Influencers. If you’re ready to get started then check out this post to help you out 5 Things to Consider Before Kicking Off an Affiliate Campaign to Skyrocket your Earnings.
You can set up automated ads with a service such as Google AdSense which will automatically populate an advert section on your website, such as a banner or side bar, with adverts relevant to the users who are viewing your blog. This is an easy passive way to set up an advertising opportunity on your blog and has the benefit of providing dynamic user-specific adverts, so it’s a safe bet that they’ll be relevant and applicable to any given viewer.
Depending on your blog style and image, you might want to consider selling your own branded merchandise on your website. Of course this isn’t relevant for all bloggers and influencers, but in some cases, it can be a great way to generate additional income, as well as strengthening your connection with your audience.
Unless you’re certain you can shift a lot of merch, there’s no need to invest in physical stock which might not sell quickly and just sit there cluttering up your living room. Services such as TeeSpring allow you to set up a print to order merch store, so when someone buys one of your designs, the order will be printed to order and they’ll even handle the fulfilment.
This means there’s zero risk and no initial cost at all to get going, you’ll get a cut of each sale. You can fully customise the prices and put your designs on a range of different coloured clothing items as well as accessories such as phone cases and mugs. It’s a great way to earn passive income from your blog as well as boosting your exposure by getting your name out there.
Again, this won’t be for all bloggers, but you can set up a donation option on your blog for anyone who wants to support you. Platforms such as Ko-fi allow supporters to say thanks by buying you a coffee which you can cash out to your PayPal.
It’s a nice way to allow your audience to show their appreciate for your efforts and earn a little extra along the way.
For consistent creators of high quality content, you might want to consider working with a platform such as Patreon. This will help you earn consistent income each month from your Patreon backers, as long as you’re offering something valuable in return.
You could work on an exclusive premium content series which is only available to your Patreon backers, giving them access to your best work and earning you subscription style donations each month in the process.
Your audience are your fans, they’re the ones who spur you on and allow you to do what you do. Be sure to get to know them whenever the chance presents itself, engage with them and reply to them when they get in touch.
Create a meaningful connection with your audience and foster a community around you and your image. This will build a relationship with you and your supporters and help bring in new followers who see you as an approachable content creator who interacts with their audience. Our post The Ultimate Guide to Building Community will help you perfect your community building skills.
Not to mention, when you reply to comments on your social media posts, you’ll be boosting the engagement stats on your channels and in turn, increasing your reach. To get the most out of this on Instagram, check out our post Mastering the Algorithm: How to Optimise your Instagram Game.
Measuring your blog performance can seem daunting at first. But there’s many tools to help you break it down into different areas that you should be looking at. Everything from how many people are coming in from search engines, to who’s coming in from your followers across different social media platforms can be used to keep your site in check and make sure everything is aligned to optimise your blogging efforts.
It’s important to know where your visitors are coming from, so using tracking links on top of the links to your content will let you know where in the world your readers are and where they’ve arrived on your blog from. This will help you know what’s working with your promotion, and just as importantly what’s not working, so you can put your efforts into rectifying it.
Understanding your site’s traffic will help you boost your viewing figures. You can use plugins on your blog’s backend system to understand what content is performing best, what’s keeping your viewers on your site the longest and how are they navigating on your site.
Your blog will provide you with a bunch of data points to help you effectively measure what’s going on with your traffic. Understanding this will put you in the best possible position to attract new visitors as well as retain existing readers.
Your social media pages and accounts will also provide you with useful insights on your posts. Knowing which posts are getting the most clicks and diverting the most traffic to your blog will help you gear up your future promotional endeavours to get the maximum possible viewers to your site.
Hopefully you’ve found this guide helpful for your blogging adventure. If you’ve never blogged before, everything discussed above should give you a good introduction to what you need to consider as you get going. If you’re already a blogging veteran, maybe there’s a few hints or tips you’ve discovered that you hadn’t thought about before.
Ultimately, it all comes down to you and your content. The better content you create, in a way that’s interesting and valuable to your readers, the better results you’re going to have with your blog. As long as your content is good, everything else should come together to give it the best possible chance for reaching the most people and keep them coming back for more!