So you have made that conscious decision to start a blog, you have heard about WordPress being one of the best blogging platforms available, and you have ended up here. Looking for tips on how to start up a blog.
Well my tips work for me (have had other blogs in the past) and whilst this blog is still relatively new, I thought it worthwhile highlighting what I have done.
Hey if it helps you or serves as a point of reference then this blog post on tips to start a blog, has done it’s job.
1.Identifying your niche
Whilst it can be said I have a clear identifier on what I wish to write about i.e. WordPress for WPin.me. You need to identify a niche. What are you interested in? What makes you tick? Just because your niche is relatively small and of interest to you it does not mean you will be a king in terms of traffic.
With careful and informative writing however there is no reason why you can’t carve out a useful little segment of traffic for yourself. Hopefully over time this will grow exponentially until you become somewhat of an authority!
So things to remember when identifying your niche:
- What do you care about, what interests you?
- Is there enough mileage to your niche? I.e. enough things to write about?
- Research other sites similar to the topic you wish to cover, what are they doing? Is there ways you can improve on them?
2.Your writing style
Personally I think the niche you choose will lend itself to the way you write about it. If your looking at writing blog articles about sports i.e. ice hockey then an almost commentator style or approach could be adapted in terms of writing. Think “how could I appeal to a potential audience”, whilst my tips are just that tips, it is worthwhile having a clear mindset about how you want to come across in your articles.
3.Have a goal
Set yourself realistic benchmarks/goals. If you are blogging to purely make an income STOP. You will more than likely make a complete hash of it and no one will read it. Trust me (I have actually been there). When you decide to blog purely for an income without establishing yourself as the go to blog, no one will read your articles.
Why? It will become obvious to readers that you are purely blogging for money, each post will seem forced and labored towards monetary gain this will put people off completely and the end result which of course we do not want is, no readership.
Set realistic goals:
- Readership of 100 people within xx period of months
- 100 + RSS Subscribers within xx period of months
- 50 + worthwhile comments on posts within xx period of months
The above goals are relatively small scale, but we need to walk before we can run, once you have established yourself as an authority the above could be possible from just posting one worthwhile insightful post.
Niche, Style, Goal these are all set so what’s next?
4.WordPress Theme to fit your niche
There are quite literally thousands upon thousands of WordPress themes to choose from some bad and some free ones with erroneous backlinks in them. When searching for a WordPress them always use the WordPress.org repository for themes as these are all actually checked by “Theme Wranglers” who work at WordPress and vouch for security design etc.
Some searching on WordPress.org can often yield decent results with freely available themes that will suit your niche, failing that you could always go down the premium WordPress theme route.
Premium WordPress themes are paid for themes complete with support and documentation, often this themes have been created for specific niches such as sports, directory, portfolio, news, magazine, photoblogging etc. So half the work is done, it’s just a case of applying your own style / imagery.
5.Recommended plugins for your niche blog
Plugins essentially extend the functionality of your WordPress blog, and add things such as email subscription, social media integration, analytic’s and more.
Some plugins I personally recommend (all are free)
- Akismet – an incredibly useful antispam filter system essential for weeding out spammers leaving comments etc
- WordPress SEO – this particular plugin gives greater granularity in terms of SEO settings and can help no end with suggestions for SEO and a lot more (we want your blog to get found don’t we?)
- Ultimate Coming Soon Page – this plugin enables you to put up a holding page for the world to see, announcing that your nearly there. As an admin user you can still work on and see the site as if the plugin is inactive. A great way to announce and work at the same time.
- Contact Form 7 – A fantastic way for you to create a contact form for those who need to get hold of you, with full antispam support via Recaptcha this plugin is essential for blogs who need to be able to be contacted.
- Posts Table Pro – If you’re blogging regularly, then your lists of posts will quickly grow and it will be harder for visitors to find what they’re interested in. Use the Posts Table Pro WordPress table plugin to automatically list your posts in a searchable, sortable table with filters. This creates an interactive index or table of contents for your whole blog.
6.What about Google Analytics, Google Webmaster, Bing Webmaster,etc?
Well as these are all essentials of your blog A) being found & B) being indexed, worry not. WordPress SEO plugin has the meta verification of Google, Bing & Yahoo sorted with handy fields for you to cut and paste your respective meta verification tags to.
As far as Google Analytics is concerned, I am of the opinion do you really need a plugin to help on this? Simply open up your Footer.php file of your theme and just paste in the analytic code above the tag. This way you eliminate the need for a plugin and still get Google Analytics working. Of course there are a raft of plugins that will do this for you just search WordPress.org or search plugins in your WordPress Admin.
7.What other plugins will I need 4 doesn’t seem like many????
You are of course right, 4 WordPress plugins does not seem many at all. In fairness this is where it will get a little difficult and a case of ‘horses for courses’. It’s impossible for me to tell which plugins would be right for you as your niche will no doubt dictate the flow of your blog and subsequent plugins that will be needed.
8. Cue up articles (don’t do what I did!)
This part I got over excited about and I just launched the site willy nilly with one post (epic fail). A silly thing to do but nonetheless I have done it (hands severely slapped). In order for your blog to get the best possible start I would recommend you write up to at least a months worth of posts prior to going live.
This way you can schedule fresh content on a daily basis whilst writing new articles to continue the flow of freshness. Ideally you are aiming for 20-30 posts a month, do not publish them all at once drip feed them and gauge your response to them via analytics and social media, which leads me onto SOCIAL MEDIA.
9.Social Media a bug bear for some but if used right can yield some decent traffic
Social media love it or hate, why on earth anyone would want to know what you are doing this very second is beyond me, but hey it’s not going anywhere so lets try and leverage it. There are choices again your niche will dictate the best social media outlet for sharing your posts the obvious ones are:
Twitter is useful and if used properly can help you to build up a following of dedicated tweeters who will share your links and more. Facebook again is a way for you to tap into the social behemoth with millions of users it’s a great way to engage with your readers. Linkedin is another useful tool although mainly used by business people it can be a great way to tap into another demographic who might benefit from your blog. Google + is another useful way to engage with readers and promote your content to those who may not be familiar with your blog or indeed you.
All though email marketing is it’s own entity in fairness I have lumped it in with social media, mainly because it is social really. In the first instance you will have no subscribers nowt, zip, zilch. However there are plenty of plugins that will connect to email providers an enable a subscribe today box and such. You know what I mean you will have no doubt seen them on some of the blogs you actually read.
Providers such as MailChimp, Madmimi, Aweber all have ways of integrating their services into your blog to enable email subscriptions and get those all important readers to subscribe to your future scribbling’s.
Yup we have all heard it. No doubt in your quest for research you will have no doubt seen ‘content is king’. Despite the ubiquitous calls on this, it is in fact true.
There I said it, I said ‘content is king’ now take me out the back and shoot me for being the same as everyone else. Content in particular YOUR content needs to be informative and well written. The ultimate aim of writing your blog and indeed blog posts is to impart knowledge this much is a given.
However we want those who have soaked up your knowledge to appear as an authority themselves, whether this is through leaving an insightful comment or more importantly sharing your blog link with kindred spirits. Either way we will be happy, user engagement in this fast food world of information (everything is now, now, now) commenting is important.
Sharing your blog posts is obviously of equal importance to you in terms of traffic and becoming an authority, the go to guy/girl with all things relating to your niche.
Write well, write really well, offer advice, tips and above all else make your copy a good read. Remember you only have a few seconds to capture the mind of the visitor make the count. Which leads me onto:
11.Blog post structure and imagery
Right off the bat this post is relatively long, I probably could have split it down into byte sized chunks. How do I retain interest in this post? Simple enough, imagery and structure.
Intersperse your content with striking visuals relating to the post itself and write captivating headers, by doing this you are spurring on the individual to finish reading and perhaps offer up a comment or share it on social media platforms.
12. Attracting visitors in the first place + web traffic tips
Well it would seem we are going backwards to go forwards in essence. However you have taken the time to write your blog posts, carefully worded them, optimized them for seo. Heck your even proud of them (as well you should be) But how in the hell are we going to get people to read your posts?
This is difficult and there is no finite solution to achieve this, save for a collection of solutions they read:
- Leave comments on other blogs relating to yours, not just spammy ‘I have a new blog’ type comments then post a link. Engage with that blogs readership, glean information from the readership and offer insightful comments. In the long run this will pay ten fold for you. A) You will build up a name & B) Building up a relationship with other bloggers share advice and tips, it will pay dividends later on.
- Social media, build up your Twitter following, engage with users, offer links not just to your blog you do not want to come across as a self promoting imbecile. Comment on tweets ask for help offer advice.
- Participate in webinars, seminars on your chosen niche if applicable, network with others receive advice and give tips when you think you have something to give.
- Slowly drip feed your posts on your WordPress blog, test the water see how they fair, what post was more popular, what did I do differently in this post to the other etc.
- Run competitions to win downloads or alike, it does not have to be expensive set yourself a budget and stick to it.Competitions can vary from leave a comment to enter, retweet to enter, like it on Facebook to enter etc. People love a freebie, just make sure it’s relevant to your niche and something they would actually want!
Well this ends my tips on starting a niche WordPress blog, I thank you for taking time out to read it. I would be keen to hear if you have any recommendations when starting out? If so please feel free to leave a comment on your successes or do’s and dont’s.