Over the past few years, the blogging craze has exploded and we now have millions of active blogs dedicated to everything from cats with attitudes to molecular gastronomy. As a blogger, you have the chance to express your ideas and share your passions with people across the world. Blogging is also a way for small businesses to increase traffic to their websites and get exposure for their businesses online.
But how to start? The thought of writing on a regular basis and exposing yourself to an unknown audience (and their potential criticism) is daunting even for professional writers- so it’s understandable that if you’ve just launched your website, the benefits of blogging doesn’t seem to outweigh its costs. We’re here to convince you otherwise.
What is a Blog?
Blogs are regularly updated online journals but their purpose, content, and audiences can vary hugely. They’re (for the most part) unrestricted online spaces for personal or professional use. Anyone with Internet access can start and write a blog and the options are really limitless when it comes to subject matter. Blogs are creative spaces which foster freedom of expression and innovation. They enable online communities to develop and encourage sharing personal and professional content for the benefit of the rest of the online community.
Benefits of Starting a Blog
If you’re blogging to grow your business or your personal brand, you should have a clear idea of who your audience is, tailor your content to meet their needs, and address their pain points. Blogging is educational, for both the writer and the reader and sharing ideas on an open platform is one of the most empowering things that you can do.
Blogs are also sources for inspiration and support for many. Blogs that openly confront personal issues help connect people, create organic communities, and support networks. Blogging about your life honestly helps others in the same situation to feel like they aren’t alone and that’s a truly powerful and meaningful thing to share with other.
How to Get Your Blog Started
Getting started on your blog is super easy. Strikingly has just launched a really beautiful blogging platform called Simple Blog which makes writing really intuitive and easy.
First, you may want to invest in purchasing a custom domain for your blog. It’s a great idea to use a word in the name that relates to the content you’re posting. It’s not essential at all but it will make it a lot easier for interested people to find your site. This definitely isn’t a hard and fast rule; some of the most successful blogs have totally unrelated names to their content, think Huffington Post, Refinery29, and Elite Daily.
A custom URL will look like this: www.mysite.com. Whilst a sub domain will look something like this: www.mysite.hostcompany.com.
It’s relatively inexpensive to buy a domain and it looks more professional than a sub domain but the choice is yours. You can start off with a sub domain and upgrade later. But bear in mind that someone else might take your URL of choice in the meantime.
Once you’ve set up your site, it’s time to start writing. Even if you aren’t an expert writer, you should start with the goal of blogging regularly to improve your efficiency and quality of writing with time.
What to Blog About
If you’re blogging for your business or startup, your content should be tailored for your target audience. Your aim is to share something that’s of interest for your readers to know. Blogging is really a balance between sharing what you’re knowledgeable and passionate about and attracting the attentions of a niche audience. The main focus should be on producing quality writing with clear value for the readers. Website visitors will only return if they see your blog as a reliable and credible source of information.
You can try posting advice articles, how tos, industry updates, personal interest pieces, or thought leadership posts. Keep the content varied and try to follow some kind of routine. Starting a blog series where you build on a central theme for a number of posts can be a great way to encourage yourself to write frequently as well as gain return readers. Blog series could be something like weekly updates from your startup, or a “Photo Of The Week” series for a personal blog. You can also write extensive posts and release them in parts to your readers.
A big part of learning how to blog is reading other people’s work. Scope out other blogs to get a feel for the content in your industry or area of interest. Try to pinpoint what works and what doesn’t and identify what you can do better. There’s always room and an audience for quality writing and an interesting point of view. Put your spin on widely written about topics and work your own flair into your blog. Give people a reason to click on your post and then give them a reason to stay.
Blogging Tips for Beginners
Writing a blog isn’t as difficult as it seems because there are really no hard and fast rules. To help you get started we’ve put together a few really simple guidelines to help guide your writing process and help your posts to be naturally engaging.
Break Up Long Content Visually
Pay careful attention to the way your writing is laid out. Not many readers get excited about reading giant blocks of text. By breaking up your content into shorter paragraphs and insert images in the post, you can engage your readers more easily. Also, bullets and subheadings that break up the piece are really useful as they help readers skim the blog post’s content easily.
Write in a Conversational Tone
This works not only for personal blogs but also for business blogs or blogs covering more serious subject matters. It’s about being relatable. Blog posts written without jargon and in a casual tone are much easier to read. Writing in a conversational tone not only makes blogging easier for beginner writers, but this method has been proven to be more effective for engaging readers.
Also, don’t be afraid to use humour on your blog, even if it’s a company site. Reading a blog should be an enjoyable experience. But remember to keep your writing style relatively consistent throughout posts or the blog could come off as little disjointed.
Proofread and Edit Each Post Carefully
This should kind of go without saying, but there are countless sites that are riddled with simple errors which really take away from the overall impact (and authority) of your site. Double check these details because they’re not a good look for your blog.
Free Blogging Tools
Even the most experienced writers sometimes need a helping hand with their posts. Here are a few free tools that we love to turn to. You wouldn’t necessarily use these for every piece you write but it’s a good idea to keep them bookmarked for those days where you need just a little help.
Portent’s Content Idea Generator
This tool generates titles based on your keyword. It only has a set number of different combinations so it won’t necessarily come up with something genius but it definitely gets your creative juices flowing.
The titles are original and can be pretty funny so it’s an invaluable tool for when you’re totally out of ideas. Don’t be afraid of using really adventurous titles; it’s all about getting people to click into the post and you should capture the reader’s attention by whatever means necessary (without being purposely misleading of course).
The Hemingway Editor is a proofreading app that makes editing and simplifying your writing super easy. The application identifies the parts of your blog post that are overly complicated and gives suggestions on how to simplify it.
When using a writing editor like Hemingway, take note of the rules but don’t be afraid to break them. The app uses a set algorithm to assess the writing so it doesn’t always get it right. If you’ve worded something in a way that you really like, don’t change the essence of it because there’s one too many words in the sentence.
Blog Design Tips
When it comes to designing your website and blog, consider the needs of the reader and keep the layout simple so it’s easy to read the content. Minimize clutter and follow the ‘less is more’ principle.
Keep the writing on an easy to read background and break up long sections of text with high quality and relevant images. Look at your blog from the perspective of a reader and tailor it to their needs. Make note of what attracts you to a website and then what keeps you there reading. If your site is conducive to a good reading experience, you’ll be doing yourself and your followers a huge favour.
Driving Traffic & Growth
Increasing traffic and growing your blog’s audience are areas that many bloggers struggle with. There are a few really quick and easy things that you can do to make sure you’re achieving maximum reach with minimal effort when you first start blogging.
Share your posts on existing social media accounts. Social media is a more personal way to reach out to your current network and spread your content through people you already knew. You can seek out feedback for your content and gather new ideas based on what your fans would like to see. Social shares on blogs also help to build credibility so it’s a great way to build up new readers.
Finally, you definitely need to take care of optimizing your blog posts for search engines.We wrote a simple guide to kick ass at Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But don’t place too much importance on the technical “tricks” for optimizing your blog for search engines- the quality of your content is still the driving force behind generating traffic so focus your energy on writing engaging posts.
Most of the steps to improving your site traffic are once off tasks that involve only a little maintenance. Taking some time to initially set this up is an investment in your site for the long term.