When I set up my first blog I had no clue what I was doing. While there were some resources out there to help new bloggers, they were not as numerous as today. That is why I wanted to provide you with eight steps to start a successful blog. These are steps I wish someone had told me when I set up my first blog.
The sheer amount of competition means that you need to know how to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way in order to create a successful blog. While it is not impossible, it will take some hard work and smarts. This article gives you the smarts, so you don’t waste all that hard work. We cover everything from the basic set up to strategies to help you drive and convert your traffic.
Eight Steps to Start A Successful Blog
1. Find your audience
Before you start blogging, you need an audience interested in your services or products. If you know who your target market is already, then please skip this step. If you are still looking to find the right niche then start exploring what those in the groups you belong to discuss. For example, if you want to connect with small businesses you can join various groups on LinkedIn for small businesses. As you can see below, I am a member of LinkedIn Chicago. Being a member of this group allows me to connect with a number of small business owners throughout the Chicagoland area.
Your target market will vary based on what you sell. To paraphrase from a key business principle: when everyone is your reader, then no one will read your blog! The internet is too crowded with junk at this time. That is why you need to specialize. Figure out the easiest way to connect with your target market, and then target all your posts to that audience. Blogging is crowded. The right niche could provide you with a wealth of opportunities. Otherwise, you might as well go to Amazon and purchase a diary.
2. Domain Name
Once you know your audience, pick your domain name. The essential domain name to choose includes your business or personal name. If your personal name is taken (a la the .com for Andy Nathan) then you might want to check out the .net version. With all the different TLD (top-level domain) structures in place today, you have the opportunity to get whatever domain name that fits your needs. For example, real estate professionals can add .condo, .house, .estate, .realestate are just a few of the 16 different real estate TLD structures.
You can find the complete list on Wikipedia to see what TLD you want to get for your business.
In addition to a domain name, you also need hosting. Hosting varies greatly based on your needs.
For those who plan on using WordPress, we can help you. (Yes, this is a sales pitch. It comes with a huge layer of awesomeness and value including free training sessions every month). If you already have a website and you want to upgrade your hosting to ensure that it has the best security and backups to ensure your site runs smoothly then contact me today. When you register for hosting, you also get access to our support library and ongoing training.
4. Blog Design
First impressions on your website matter. While ugly websites dominated the internet in the early days, your blog will not be able to compete without a professional-looking site. Fortunately, you can use one a premium theme to help you improve the design and user interface for your blog.
Just remember that the user experience is what matters most. Your website does not need to have an explosion of colors or perform magic tricks. Instead, you need a website that helps customers learn more about your services, so they feel comfortable buying your wares. Easy peasy with the themes below. Choose one that you believe you will help you accomplish your goal.
- Twenty Nineteen– WordPress default builder with block editor.
- Divi – A powerful WordPress builder that helps you design your site visually without knowing any code.
- Beaver Builder – Technically not a theme, but the plugin works like a theme. It is also a visual site builder like Divi.
- Drag and Drop– A new type of site builder that includes premium templates and set up from a professional web developer at a jaw-dropping price along with on-going hosting and training.
5. Create Dynamic Content
There are a few types of content you can create for your site. The key is to mix and match these to the appropriate audience. For example, text posts might work best if you work with a more scrutinizing audience. They might want step-by-step instructions. The DIY folks will never buy from you but will share your blog content to their friends who might need and purchase your services. On the other hand, you might to visually shown people complicated procedures that writing a blog post would take too long to explain. Before you choose a path, create a survey to find out what your customers want.
Text Posts– Over the past decade, I have written over 5,000 blog posts. It is not easy, but if you want to make a difference in people’s lives by providing them with better content you need to start writing quality information. I never set out to create this many posts. However, one blog at a time I created more and more value for clients. Plus, I get a little (itsy-bitsy) better every time I write a post. That makes me sharper about my field, and more able to explain to my clients what strategy works best for them.
Photo Posts- As you can see from the post below, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” So true in our 1,000-2,000 word blog-obsessed culture. That is why 32% of marketers feel that visuals are the most important form of content to market their business. I have seen how valuable photos are to my blog as the image usually is what draws in visitors from social media.
Video Posts- Another powerful form of content is video. YouTube receives 500 hours of content to its site every minute. Over the past decade, I have had the opportunity to watch as video marketing went from the future of marketing to something every business needs to include in their blogging arsenal today. That is why even with long blog posts like this Grammarly article, I included a quality video as well. Personally, I like listening to Grant Cardone or Les Brown before I go on a sales call to motivate me. As Les says, “It’s Possible!” So, start your first video today.
You can use your phone to record your first video and then edit it on software like Camtasia ®. The tools we have available to us today so much better than what they were even 5 years ago. Therefore, you have no excuse to not use video in your marketing efforts.
Podcasts- I have had the opportunity to work on an amazing podcast over the past year. The key is to know the benefits of the platform and how to use it to connect with your audience. For example, podcasts are great if you want to reach people on the go. I can sit in my car and listen to great podcasts like Every Day is Saturday or The Quote of The Day Show. Both of these shows help drive qualified leads and provide daily insights their customers can use as they travel in the car or on public transportation. If you are starting on your first podcast, then consider using PowerPress or Anchor.Fm to launch your podcast quickly.
6. Market Your Content
Writing the content is just the beginning of the process. While it feels like after writing a lengthy article, you have done so much already. However, to start a successful blog, you need to do more than just write content. Now you need to buckle down and build up a readership interested in your content and services. Start by using the digital marketing plan template we created for you to use for free. Additionally, you can choose from some of the strategies below to help you get started with marketing your content
SEO- one of the most powerful forms of traffic generation comes from search engines. When Google or Bing rank your content on their sites, you have the potential to get unlimited amounts of free traffic. The more content you produce, the greater the likelihood these search engines show your content.
However, just creating content is not enough. You need to optimize your content keywords, make sure you get backlinks and provide incentives to keep your readers on your site longer. After all, Google values sites who keep their readers on the site longer and visiting additional pages. That way, they know your content is relevant to their readers. To engage visitors to your site, use interactive SEO content (videos, podcasts, etc.) like we mentioned before and link your content to other relevant posts you made.
Social Media– The world today is connected in ways that were unimaginable 10-20 years ago. Billions of people are connected to different social networks around the world. The number of groups makes it possible for you to find your niche or audience on a social network and promote your content to these audiences. Leverage social media to connect with your audience and also to get influencers in your niche to share your content with their networks.
Email Marketing-A traditional companion to blogging is email marketing. Leverage your blog to grow your list. Since many prospects who visit your blog are not ready to purchase your wares immediately. Therefore, you need to find a way to stay in touch. Adding them to your email list allows them to stay in touch for when they are ready to purchase your services. Plus, it helps market your blog in the meantime, so you build trust with your audience.
7. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint
If you want to start a successful blog, then you need to give the strategy at least one year to succeed. Personally, I blogged every day for three years when I started. During that time I went from no clients and no list to a roster of clients and a backlog of prospects that took up so much time I had to focus on their content first. The key is that it takes time. An inordinate amount of time. A good rule of thumb is that if you think you are at the point of wasting your time, then you are probably close to a breakthrough.
Until that point, you need to blog at least once per week, preferably 2-3 times per week when possible to grow your business. Keep creating content. Blogging is a marathon that you need to prep for mile after mile to succeed. It is not a sprint where you write one post, it goes viral, and you never need to market your business again. That is just not realistic.
Bonus: Have a Prominent Call To Action (CTA)
If you plan to start a successful blog to drive qualified traffic to your business, then you need to have a way to convert that traffic. That is why a prominent CTA is so important. Whether you want to add visitors to your subscriber list or purchase your services, you need to have a CTA that matches their expectations and helps your prospects move forward in the buying cycle. Here are a few CTA’s you can use for your next blog post.
Start A Successful Blog Final Thoughts
Starting a successful blog in today’s ultra-competitive environment is not easy. However, with the right strategy and execution, you have the ability to a successful blog that grows your business. Let us know in the comments how many blog posts you plan to write for your blog in the next 30 days. Then let me know if you need me to share this content.