Starting a WordPress blog is a fun way to express yourself and share your thoughts and experiences with your online community, or it could be an effective marketing tool for your business. Whatever your reasons are for wanting to start a blog, all you need to know is that it has never been easier to set up than it is today.
This has led to an online explosion of blogs on every topic under the sun. The good thing about it, is that it gives bloggers a way to benchmark their creations against other bloggers with similar interests.
On the other hand, standing out from the crowd is going to take a fair amount of work from you if you are going to do it right.
How do you get started?
We will look at the essential matters that you should consider in order to get yourself set up and blogging.
- Plan your blog
This is the fun part, where your imagination can run wild. Maybe you have an idea of what your blog will be about, or all you got is a simple outline or concept; all are good places to start from a creative point of view.
If you got your blog mapped out and ready to go, think about how often you plan on updating it, and how your publication calendar will look.
Are you the type of person that has to publish on a schedule, or do you find yourself releasing your updates in fits of creativity, and then lying dormant for a while? If you haven’t already thought about this aspect of your blog, it’s important to figure it out, as your readers need to know when to expect new content from you.
The next part of your planning should involve finances. What is your budget? Are you looking to have your blog made professionally, or will you take the DIY route? This is probably the biggest decision that you will make in the early stages of your blog’s creation, and it is one that will affect how you develop the platform going forward.
Most people opt to go with the DIY approach these days, but there are also a lot of affordable providers out there that can whip up a website for you if you do not wish to deal with it yourself.
- Decide on a structure, theme and layout
By this point you should already know what you are going to be blogging about, so the next big decision that you need to make is how you plan on structuring your blog.
This includes the graphical and photographic layout, if you decide to use pictures to enhance your website. If you are pursuing a blog to share your art in any form, then choosing a layout that features pictures and photos is a great way to get your work out there.
The default WordPress page layouts address these matters by giving you 4 different options to choose from when creating your blog’s homepage. This will determine what your page will look like and what content you decide to share.
The first option sets the layout as a list of your latest posts. This is the best option for writers that publish stories or any content that has a lot of text involved. It makes it easier for your readers to navigate through your posts when they are laid out in a list.
If your work involves photos, then you should try using the grid layout, as this shows thumbnails of each picture and is an eye-catching way of displaying your media.
The other two options are geared towards online stores and a standard welcome page as found at an online retailer or business.
When it comes to selecting a theme, you are really spoiled for choice, because there are literally thousands of themes to choose from on the WordPress platform. You can choose almost any color and configuration that you like, making the possibilities almost endless.
The availability of free plugins is one of the reasons that WordPress is so popular, and it makes for interesting and simple web design, speeding up the process and simplifying it at the same time.
- Do your research
You might be already an expert in the subject matter of your blog, or you might be using the blogging platform to learn more about a topic while sharing your findings with other people. Both approaches can work, depending on the style and objective of your blog.
But if you want your blog to achieve any success, you will need to learn as much as you can about blogging basics. This includes important things like keywords and SEO, as well as how they can affect the ranking of your blog.
You will also want to learn about as many WordPress tips and tricks as you can while researching your blog idea, which will make you a far more proficient WordPress blogger in general. All of this is necessary so that you have a better idea of how to put your blog together and get it noticed by the right people.
Next, check out the other similar blogs on the same topic. This is can really help to point you in the right direction if you are struggling to pin down a theme or overall mission for your blog. Not only does this serve as a source of inspiration, but it can also help you understand how popular a blog like yours has the potential to become.
This does not mean that you need to copy a successful blog in order to find popularity and success. Quite the contrary. It is just a way for you to see how the different elements of a blog can come together to create a fantastic online resource for your users.
Sign up to a few different newsletters and find out what is popular with the communities of each blog, and see if it is in line with what you are doing yourself. All that remains for you to do is to tie up all of this information with the SEO and Google Analytics of your blog and you could be on to a winning formula. All it takes is some research and a few good ideas.
- Tag and categorize
If you already know everything about classifications on WordPress websites, then you can probably skip this part. For everybody else, all you need to know is that Categories and Tags make it much easier to find specific topics or phrases on your blog.
This isn’t the same as keywords, which search engines use to rank your blog in their search results. Instead, a tag is just an indicator that lets people know that the article or blog that you have posted is on a specific topic. The main thing to remember is that your tags must be relevant to the content that you post; otherwise you will confuse your readers.
The categories that you set up for your blog don’t have to be anything too complicated, just aim to have no more than 8 to 10 of them if you don’t want to start cluttering up your site’s layout.
- Make some time for your blog
Starting anything new can be daunting at first, but once you have gotten a few blog posts under your belt and the whole concept of blogging has become normal, you need to start thinking about discipline.
Using your blog as a creative outlet is great, but as you probably already know, waiting for inspiration to hit can be unreliable, especially if you are trying to get content out to your readers on a regular basis.
Some bloggers categorize their posts and will release actual content whenever it is ready, but will still update the blog with other information such as interesting happenings and events as they unfold. A blog that hasn’t been updated in a while makes people lose interest, so always make sure that you never leave your blog unattended for more than a day or two if possible.
For those who need more structure, think about setting up daily reminders in your phone’s calendar, or a similar online equivalent. There are plenty of free online calendars, so choose your favorite one and think about setting up publication schedule.
Remember that you will always have distractions that seem like they are more important than your blog updates, so discipline is crucial if you are going to keep your fans coming back for more of your stellar content.
- Before you launch, stockpile some content
Nobody wants to visit an empty website, and search results will omit sites that don’t have any real content. So, in order to remedy this, you will need to get some content ready before your launch, even if it is only one or two blog posts.
The more content you have on launch day, the more likely you are to attract visitors to your blog and show them what you can do. New users are far more likely to come back to a populated blog than an empty one, so be sure to have enough content up and online as you can when you launch your website.
However, uploading content on launch day is only half of the battle. You also need to keep your website updated and fresh, so you will need to keep on writing, posting pictures, and updating your blog as often as you can.
Remember, people love daily updates, even if they are just small bits of information. Social media plugins are a great way to keep your blog updated, especially if you use Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to check in often and monitor your traffic as this can show you what your readers like.
- Sharing is caring
As your blog becomes more popular, you will find that there are other similar sites out there that share a few common interests with you and your users. If you are connected with like minded bloggers on social media, then be sure to share their content with your followers as well as your own.
You don’t have to overdo it with the sharing, but it is important for other blogs to see that you are actively engaging with people that follow the same interests as them, making them more receptive to your platform. And who knows, maybe they will start sharing your content among their own followers, especially if it is well written and researched.
- Be original
Your audience expects a lot from you; the content that you produce must be fun to read, and entertaining at the same time, or valuable in some tangible way. If you are writing a personal blog, make sure that you put across all the points that you are trying to make in a genuine and sincere manner that reflects who you are.
Readers are often quick to dump a blog if they feel that the person they are following isn’t taking them seriously, so keep that in mind. The same principles apply even if you are posting videos and pictures and not just writing, so be sure to keep things original, and don’t be afraid to be yourself.
- Get tech savvy with Google Search Console
We already know that we need to learn more about SEO and how keywords can help your blog to get noticed more often, but what other tools does Google offer other than Google Analytics? The good news is that there are actually a lot of different Google solutions for bloggers to use that will help them to rank much better in search results, which equals more site visitors.
A well-known tool from Google is called Google Search Console, previously known as Webmaster Tools. It works by measuring your site’s search traffic and performance while fixing common issues that are making your blog show up in fewer searches.
It also optimizes your content and shows you how visitors are finding your blog. Google Search Console is a powerful tool that will alert you of any issues that may have gone unnoticed when you first launched your blog, and you can then fix the problems yourself. The best part? It’s free!
- Don’t give up!
Remember to be patient and to persevere, especially in the beginning. It is not unusual for a new blog to get very little attention when it first launches, and there are a few reasons for this.
Don’t be disheartened if your stats are not ticking over as fast as you would like, it just takes time. Remember to apply SEO best practice techniques to your page if you find that you are still not getting traffic after a few weeks, because the chances are strong that a few tweaks to your SEO game will push things along nicely.
There is a balancing act that you need to perform in order to successfully run your own WordPress blog. On the one hand, you need to be creative and productive, uploading updates and content as much as possible.
On the other hand, you also need to be your own promoter and advertiser, getting the word out to as many people as possible. It is not an easy thing to do, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you are finding it difficult to strike a balance between the two. It all comes with a bit of practice and a lot of determination.
There are no limits to what you can do with an online blog, regardless of whether you are looking to turn it into a business, or to pursue blogging as a hobby. Have you started your own blog already or is it still just an idea you’re considering? Tell us all about it!