Thinking that you’d like to start a blog this year? This post is for you!
Today we’re going to show you some really important things you need to know before you jump in.
If you follow these tips you’ll save a lot of time and valuable energy.
The quick steps involved in starting a blog
First up, if you don’t have a blog yet and are wondering about the best way to get started there are a few quick steps you’ll want to follow:
- Set short and long term goals.
- Get a domain name and blog host and install WordPress as your blogging platform.
- Choose a theme and decide on branding elements like logos and colors.
- Add an opt-in form to start collecting email subscribers.
- Begin producing strategic content that helps people.
The content below will go into much deeper detail about starting a blog this year and give you a bunch of helpful resources that you can use to skyrocket your blogging progress.
What’s different about starting a blog recently?
Some things never change when it comes to blogging.
Other things, however, change quite regularly and it can be really confusing if you’re new or just looking to get started.
If you are wondering:
“Where do I start a blog?”
“Should I use WordPress or Blogger or Tumblr?”
“Do I need Aweber or will Feedburner suffice for my mailing list?”
“Should I update my blog daily?”
“How should I monetize my blog?”
“Etc. ad infinitum.”
These types of questions are timeless but the answers often change from year to year. And even if the answers don’t change it is sometimes necessary to remind bloggers that the answers haven’t changed! That is: keep doing what you’re doing.
Let’s do some of that now.
So you’re starting a blog? What do you need to know?
Here are some of the most important things you’ll want to pay attention if you want to make this blogging thing work for you:
- A self-hosted WordPress blog is still your best bet
We harp on about this a lot but best thing you can do about blog hosting is to set up your own WordPress.org blog on your own host.
Here’s a quick graphic highlighting a few differences between a free WordPress.com blog and a WordPress.org blog that you create on your own host:
- Visual content (videos, graphics, photos, etc.) will only get bigger
Finding quality photos and images for your blog is a tricky issue.
At a minimum, you want to be part of a quality stock photo site that allows you to use photos on your site with an attribution license.make your own images, or have a professional do it – that really sets you apart from the rest.
Visual content has been growing for years and it appears to be speeding up, not slowing down. We now have retina display tablets and our smartphones are getting bigger. Social networking sites like Facebook and Google+ are favoring images and videos over text.
- Growing a mailing list is still the most important thing
If you asked a big blogger for advice about the most important thing to do they would have probably told you to grow a mailing list.
Your email list is a means to get into people’s inboxes whenever you like. That can lead to increased traffic to your new blog posts as well as more sales when you launch a product or promote an affiliate product.
But the main reason that you want to grow an email list is because you just can’t trust Google for traffic. And you can’t trust social networking sites that constantly change their policies. It’s only the mailing list that gives you a constant source of traffic, should something go wrong.
- It’s time to get smart about competition analysis
Almost every post that you write has been written before. Every blog that you think of is already out there. Most products have things that are pretty much the same.
It’s really important to use a quality program to do some research into the competition.
This is invaluable information as it helps you decide whether or not you can compete in certain niches and keywords. If someone has links coming from Harvard, Wikipedia and NASA then it is unlikely you’ll be able to outrank them in a hurry.
- It’s time to spend money on promotion
For some reason bloggers hate the idea of spending money on advertising. It’s a real shame.
One thing you’ll start to see more and more this year is that the bigger bloggers (and other internet entrepreneurs) will start to pay to promote their posts and products a lot more.
There is so much noise online. Just think about the niche you are in – how many competitors are there that are doing better than you?
Well, one way to bypass their domination is to spend a little bit of money promoting your best work to a targeted group of people who are likely to be interested in your stuff.
The great thing about advertising on social networks like Facebook is that it’s low cost and there is a chance that people will share it of their own free will, once they’ve seen your advert.
- Make big connections early
Something that a lot of new bloggers fail to recognize is that your success is often largely dependent on the alliances that you form.
If you are going to start a new blog it’s a good idea to start making connections with the big blogs and bloggers in your niche as soon as you can. It is not about spamming them with guest post requests either – it is about making genuine friends that can support each other for the long term.
Start by finding the big players on Twitter and sharing their stuff. Mention it on your site and let them know about it. It’s a nice little introduction.
- You’ll need a deliberate and clever blogging strategy
Over the years blogging has become more and more scientific.
Big companies have realized the value of blogs and other social networking sites and have been investing money to make sure they are get a good return on their investment.
One of the best ways to compete with this is to have a solid blogging strategy that helps you write the perfect blog post and genuinely help people in your niche.
Try to plan out your goals for the next month, year, and five years and ensure that everything you do when you start a blog is about making that strategy come to fruition.
Remember, a lot of people give up on new blogs before they give it a chance to flourish – a long term set of goals matched to a strategy will help you avoid that.
- Responsive blog designs are a must
Mobiles and tablets are now a primary source of web traffic the world over.
If your theme doesn’t respond well to the smaller mobile screens there is a good chance you will be losing valuable traffic as people click away to find something easier to navigate.
Google has even started removing non-mobile responsive sites from mobile searches in order to provide a better experience for their customers. Make sure you are thinking about your mobile users at every turn.
- Outsourcing will make you prolific
Firstly, it helps you create more content and frees up time for you to focus on the tasks that really grow your blog. Secondly, it gives work to someone who really needs it and, hopefully, is a lot better at that task than you are.
Over are the days where you do everything on your blog from the writing to the photoshopping to the HTML editing and outreach. It’s time to get help with it all.
- Personal branding will become more important
Google+ is on the rise. And something you need to know about Google+ is that it is really about the personal brand of the author. Google wants to make each individual a useful participant in their search engine (and thus the internet).
Taking from this lead, we need to focus more on our personal brands.
Bloggers may need to get their faces out there more. Spend less time building a website and more time building the person behind the website. This increases trust and allows you to create new projects that aren’t locked in to just one stale brand name.
- Diversification of income will be key
This is another one of those tips that have been around for a while but become more and more relevant with every passing year.
If you start a blog in this year you should expect your income streams to change. That can be a really scary thing if you aren’t prepared.
For example, if you rely on Google Adwords from organic search traffic and your blog suddenly get’s pinged in some update you might wind up with zero income for a while. The same goes with an affiliate product that you might be promoting with natural traffic vs paid traffic. That can dry up in an instant.
Try to think about diversifying your income streams so that you aren’t up the creek should one dry up. The best bet is a strong mailing list that you can use to launch your own products and affiliate promotions.