Pen To Print

Friday Feature: 7 Simple Steps To Creating A Successful Blog

by Palak Tewary

Blogging encompasses a vast arena. True, there are bloggers who do this only as a hobby. However, it’s also a platform for writers to showcase their work, as well as connect to audiences; so, for many, blogging underpins – or even becomes – a career choice.

The success of the blog is dependent upon what you determine success should be. For example, if you want to blog as a hobby, a criterion could be the number of posts you put out and that would be your measure of success. However, if you want to make a career out of blogging, your success might be determined by the amount it allows you to earn –  enabling you to turn it into a full-time career, for example.  If it’s about showcasing your writing though, you may wish to base levels of achievement on the number of views your post/ blog gets. Of course, though some metrics are linked, such as views and earnings, for example, the time spent and effort you dedicate will vary, depending on what you want out of it.

The following are steps you may wish to consider around creating a blog:

1. Why Do You Want To Blog?

The first thing to do is to decide why you want to blog? It could be to:

  • Leave a legacy – you own the content you blog about and it will always be out there.
  • Create an impact – the work you put out could help others, leaving a feeling of profound satisfaction.
  • Connect with new people – blogging connects you with readers, other bloggers and writers, allowing you to gain valuable insights through these connections.
  • Grow a business – if you already own a business or are looking to start one, if you provide value blogging allows you to connect with your audience. If done correctly, it will also helps your business to climb Google rankings.
  • Make it your career – blogging as a fulltime career is becoming extremely popular and there are several success stories around this. However, it requires long hours and skills to make it. So, it’s worth starting small, as a side business to your ‘day job’.
  • Be known as the expert in your field – if you regularly post quality content on your topic, it’s possible to build a reputation which could lead to new opportunities in your industry.
2. What To Blog About?

Once you have decided on WHY, you will need to look at WHAT. There are several niches and sub-niches and you would need to ascertain which one is best for you. Start brainstorming and researching, look at your ideas and then look at a few blogs that cover those ideas. Would it be something you would enjoy writing about (remember you would need to produce content regularly on that topic)? Are you knowledgeable on that subject? Are you passionate about it? Is it a big enough niche? (Look at how many other bloggers there are, what sort of ads pop up in your search results, check Google trends, for example, by doing a prelim keywords search to find out if there is going to be enough traffic coming through.)

Examples of niches include:

  • Food
  • Health and Wellness
  • Travel
  • Lifestyle
  • Beauty
  • Motivational and Advice
  • Start-ups
  • Small Business
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing or Digital Marketing
  • Technology
  • Do-It-Yourself
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Music
  • Games
  • Gadgets
  • News
  • Animals
  • Cars
  • Writing and Publishing
  • Poetry
  • Photography
  • Books

This list is not exhaustive, by any means! Your blog can even be a sub-niche. There are blogs focused solely on Book Reviews or on Beachside resorts, for example.

Note: If you are looking to seriously monetise the blog, you should look at narrowing your niche; for example, ‘Food vs Food’ for Diabetics.

3. The Name Of Your Blog

The name of your blog is important and should be easy to remember. It should also resonate with your why. If you are looking to leave a legacy it could be your own name. If you want to monetise the blog, it should be something relevant to the content and be memorable, too.

Once you have your name, you can set up a free blog or buy the domain name. Since domain names are relatively cheap, it would be advisable to go down this route. Otherwise, it may be bought by someone else and, if the blog is successful, you would have to buy it at a much higher price.

If you are buying a domain name, here are some tips:

  • A .com or .co domain is popular
  • Auto-renew – so as not to lose your domain name
  • Ensure it reads well i.e. no double meanings
  • Avoid hyphens or dashes
  • Avoid numbers, if possible
  • Make sure the spelling is right
4. The Blogging Platform

WordPress is the most popular blogging site builder and one of the best options for a new blogger. There are two options – wordpress.org and wordpress.com. The key difference is where your website is hosted. With wordpress.com, the site is hosted by them so it is much easier to start but there is less freedom. With wordpress.org, you would host your own site (you would need to use a hosting company to set this up).

Your option, again, is dependent upon your WHY.

If you want to just get your content out, you should look at setting up a wordpress.com account. It is easy to set up including website redirections and you can easily design the website the way you want via the templates provided, add widgets as required and then you are ready to post content. If you have no budget, this would be a good option to start off with, as you would not need to invest any monies in to start a blog, you can start off with a free website, namely ‘www.nameofyourblog.wordpress.com’, to try out designs and put out content (though it is difficult to transfer from one version to another once the blog is older so it would be advisable to make any decision to transfer relatively quickly)

With wordpress.org, you would need to log in to your hosting company, install WordPress, login and set up the design. This version gives you more flexibility as you grow your blog.

Note: While this is a slight introduction to WordPress, there are several articles that can help you step by step once you have decided which version to go for. Also, enhancing the design for WordPress is an ongoing process as your blog matures and you can find additional features.

5. Content Strategy

It is advisable to set up a content strategy;  which is essentially planning what you are blogging and when. This saves you time and keeps you on track.

To plan your content, think about your audience and what would they like to read; their questions and how can you answer them.

Mostly, readers tend to look for one of the below four points when consulting content:

  • Value
  • Information
  • Entertainment
  • Motivation

You should ensure your content delivers one of the four with every post as well as being authentic and real.

Also, if you can vary the content – words, photos, videos, podcasts, etc. – this gives the reader a variety, while helping you access other search engines such as YouTube.

6. Using Keywords And Titles

Every piece of content you create should include keywords. These are words that help search engines determine what your blog is about and so direct traffic to your blog.

  • Research keywords that have low competition. There are several free resources that can give you keywords:  search volume as well as the competition associated with the keyword. You need to choose words that are highly searched but have low or medium competition.
  • Ensure you use these words in your content i.e. blog, as well as within the title, headers, alt-text, meta descriptions, tags, categories etc.
  • If possible, get backlinks to your content with these targeted keywords.

However, be careful not to write posts just based on keywords. This stops your content from being the best it can be and might also get your content blacklisted. You should produce good content and then try to fit in the keywords, not vice versa.

Titles are crucial to getting your content read. If your title is attractive, readers will click through. You will, though, need to ensure your title matches up to your content as well. This free tool, which scores your titles between 0 – 100, can help you create fantastic titles: https://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer.

7. Earning From Your Blog

You can earn money from your blog, no matter what the niche.  Here are common ways to do so:

  • Displaying advertisements – placing adverts on your blog can earn you a commission if someone sees it or clicks on it.
  • Selling digital products – i.e. creating your own digital products and selling them on your blog. An example could include courses, worksheets, e-books, pdfs etc.
  • Affiliate marketing – this is a passive way of earning through your blog through promoting a product or service on your blog or post and earning a commission if there is a sale via your link.
  • Publishing sponsored posts – these are content that promotes a product or a brand and you get paid by the company when you publish the post.

The above are a few ways you can earn through your blog. They do require time and effort, though. Ideally, the best way to get a good income from your blog is to build the traffic to your website.

To do this:

  • Post regularly
  • Multiply your traffic through other sources such as replicating content on video or podcasts
  • Share content on social media
  • Create pins on Pinterest
  • Network with other bloggers
  • Guest post on other websites
  • Build your email list via offering an incentive such as a free course or e-book etc.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my take on the seven steps you need to create a successful blog.

Good luck in your blogging journey!

Palak Tewary, an Indian-born Londoner, is a management and finance professional, who along with being an ardent writer, is a travel buff, photography and videography enthusiast. She blogs at www.palaktewary.com and is now focusing on writing books, articles, short stories and poetry. Connect with her on YouTube/ Twitter/ Instagram: @palaktewary.

Read the latest issue of Write On! magazine online.

Blogging encompasses a vast arena. True, there are bloggers who do this only as hobby. However, it’s also platform for writers to showcase their work as well as connect to audiences; so, for many, blogging underpins – or even becomes – a career choice.