September 12, 2016

How To Start A Successful Blog: What I’ve Learned Over The Years

When it comes to starting a successful blog experience is everything. I have never seen someone start a blog without any experience and find success quickly. All of the bloggers that I know, who had no experience blogging, started off on the wrong foot. They made a lot of mistakes right off the bat that really affected how well their blog did for months and sometimes even years. I know that sounds like a lot of wasted time, and it is, but it’s also a valuable teaching tool that you can’t get without making the mistakes. And I’ve learned a lot!

I wish I had found a post like this on how to start a successful blog. I was led in all kinds of unhelpful directions in the beginning, and I started a few blogs that did so poorly is was embarrassing. None of them are around anymore because the damage was too much to fix. But, you can benefit from my mistakes! Following are my biggest tips on how to start a successful blog, including some actions to take starting today.

Know Exactly What You Want To Blog About

I’m assuming because you are reading this, you have an incline around what you want topic you want to blog about. If you are not clear, that’s your first step in the process.

This is probably the biggest tip I can give you on how to start a successful blog. Why? A successful blog comes from a clear intent with a clear mission, and you need to know what your blog is based around in order to do that.

One thing I’ve learned is that the most successful blogs are built around a tighter niche. Yes, broad topics, such as relationships or education can do well, but it often takes a lot more work. More targeted topics, such as ‘attracting women’ or ‘online education’ seems to do better in the search engines, and it definitely helps people understand what your blog is about and decide whether they are interested in it or not.

Remember, someone will find your blog because they are interested in the article that you posted or the social media profile they found you on, and if they see a ton of stuff not related to what they are interested in, they will click off and never come back. People don’t have the time to figure you out. Instead, they will just move on.

Going to YouTube and watching videos is a great way to understand what a target niche is. Most of the vloggers base their channels around one or two things. It may be beauty, family, relationships, news, YouTuber gossip, productivity, or their personal life. They make it very clear what they are going to vlog about, and because of that you can easily decide if you want to subscribe to them or not.

Think about making it as clear as vloggers do with your blog. Create a homepage that lets visitors understand who you are and what your blog is about. Let them know what they can expect to see. When you do that, you create much more interest in your blog and have an easier time connecting with your audience.

Also, when it’s clear what topic your blog is about, advertisers will have an easier time deciding if they want to advertise on your blog.

For instance, part of making money from your blog is working with companies on brand deals. If a company sees that your blog is a good fit for their product, then you will have a high chance of getting a deal with them. But, if they can’t figure out what your blog is really about, and there are too many topics that don’t relate to their product, they might be unwilling to work with you.

Action to take: Get clear on your niche topic. If you want to blog about more than one topic, that’s fine. But build separate blogs on each topic to help visitors understand what your blogs are about, and to help you make the most out of your blog.

Have You Built Your Social Profiles?

I know that you came to this article on how to start a successful blog and probably expected to see more talk building an actual blog, but this is the stuff that I know is important to have set up before you even begin to set up your blog. As I said, I wish someone would have told me this stuff when I first started because I would have found success much quicker with my blogs.

First, decide which social media site will be best for your topic. If you are building a blog focused on your personal life, then Facebook would be the best platform for you. If you are starting a food blog, Pinterest and Facebook would both be valuable to you, but especially Pinterest.

Pinterest would be great for any food, family, beauty, home, or hobby blog. You can entice people to your blog through your pictures, and if you have some great pictures, you could get a lot of traffic to your blog from Pinterest.

For instance, Pinch of Yum, a popular food blog that makes thousands of dollars a month, sees Pinterest as their second highest traffic source. Google’s search engine brings them the most, but in their last income report, there was less than a 10% difference between the two. Without Pinterest, they would be down over 620 thousand visits! Facebook brought them in over 100 thousand referrals.

Because they are active on both social media sites, they can take advantage of that traffic and convert them into loyal followers on social media that see their new posts and interact with them easily. That’s over 700 thousand potential connections made for their blog. Is that a good enough reason to use the right social media?

The thing to remember is that you want your social media profiles to be clear in purpose too. They should reflect your blog’s topic so that people know what they see on your social media profile is what they will see on your blog. In other words, if they like you on social media, they should like your blog!

The first thing to focus on with social media is building relationships. You don’t need to share your blog in the beginning. You need to establish yourself as somewhat of an authority on the topic you are focused on. The more you tweet, share, or post information on your blog’s topic, the more connections you will make and authority you will build.

And do NOT spam people. Nobody will respond to you if you are constantly sending them messages to buy something from you. Nobody will respond to you if you are constantly sending them messages that having nothing to do with them or their relationship with you. The focus of social media should be to help other people and interact with them. That will help you build a successful profile, which will help you build a successful blog.

Action to take: Pick at least one social network that would work well for your blog’s topic and sign up to it and fill in your profile, including pictures. Then start interacting with other people, making connections, and posting relevant stuff.

Pick A Good Domain Name

At first, I thought your domain name – the address where people will find your blog – had to be keyword rich. In other words, if you wanted to blog about cookies, you should include ‘cookies’ in your domain name. Now, I know a successful domain name is one that describes the essence of you and your blog and is easy to remember.

The best thing to do is brainstorm words that fit your blog. For example, a food blog may use the words:

– Delicious
– Tasty
– Vegan
– Vegetarian
– Crockpot
– Eating
– Lunch

Combining words, such as Delicious Lunch, can help you come up with a domain name that describes your blog. You should use the domain name as the title of your blog (like pinch of yum) so that people can search for your blog by title and know when they’ve reached it by the URL they see. So, pick something that makes sense, stands out, and is easy to remember!

Then, head to a place like Bluehost to see if your domain name is available. Just remember to put your words together. For example, instead of delicious lunch type in deliciouslunch.

Once you find an available domain name, get it into your cart. I’ve seen domain names disappear very quickly, and I’ve kicked myself a few times over a missed name. You don’t want that to happen so grab a hold of it while you can.

Action to take: Brainstorm words related to your topic and combine them to form ideas for your blog’s domain name and title. When you get really excited about a name, you will know that it is the perfect one. Go out and see if it’s available and if it is, get it in your cart! If not, keep brainstorming.

Pick A Reputable Hosting Company

When I first started, I picked the cheapest hosting that nobody else was blogging on. I don’t know what I was thinking about (I guess that it was cheap), but it held me back from blogging success for months.

The hosting site I used was hard to figure out, didn’t host WordPress, and made my life difficult. I spent more time trying to figure out how to style my blog and make my blog work than I did actually blogging. It was such a waste of time.

The right hosting company should make things as easy as possible.

– You should be able to install WordPress easily on your domain name.
– You should be able to ask questions and get answers easily.
– You should be able to easily access your files, hosting account, and anything else you need to access.
– You should be guaranteed a lot of uptime (time your blog is live for people to see) so that your blog doesn’t go down and miss valuable traffic.

It doesn’t matter so much about bonuses that they offer, such as $100 in advertising credits. (That’s what got me!) It more matters that they are a reputable business who guarantees your blog will stay up and that you can easily do whatever you want to do with it.

I recommend Bluehost or something similar.

Note: While some people have had success on a free blogging platform like blogger, I only recommend doing that if you are an author or well-known public figure that has a business outside of blogging. If you want to start a blog that successfully makes you money and helps you stand out, you will want to have full control over what you post on it, which means you will need to pay for hosting and use WordPress as your blogging platform. Free platforms dictate what you can and cannot do with your blog, and they can shut you down at any time if you go against their rules, which means all of your hard work will be lost. Believe me, I’ve been on blogger, had a blog that was getting a lot of traffic, and then they shut me down because it was focused on relationship topics that they deemed too risque.

Action to take: Research hosting companies and pick one that resonates with you. Look for uptime, customer service, and ability to host WordPress.

Build A Strategy For Your Blog

Lastly, make a plan for your blog. This is something you need to do if you want the most success you can have.

I’ve blogged aimlessly, not having a strategy or an end goal. Do you know what that did? It made it really hard to find any type of success. Without knowing what I wanted to accomplish with my blog, I didn’t know what topics to blog about, how often to post, how to build a funnel of posts that led people to something (such as a sale!), or how to build my blog on solid topics that gathered long-term interest.

A blogging strategy will help you increase your leads and visitors. And that will help you have much more success.

The first thing you need is a goal for your blog and then a strategy to go along with it. For instance:

– Do you want to make money from affiliate marketing? What type of products are you going to promote? What do they require in a blog?

– Do you want to build a killer list that you can market to? How are you going to build that list? What will get people interested enough to sign up?

– Do you want to get brand deals with big companies? How are you going to make yourself seem like an authority that could review their products? Do you need to do a lot of reviews or a lot of tutorials?

The next thing you need to decide is how you are going to stand out in the blogging crowd. Pay attention because this is a HUGE tip on how to start a successful blog!

If you are offering the same thing everyone else in your niche is offering, then people won’t feel a need to follow your blog. But, if you are unique in some way, and can offer them something that other bloggers can, they will feel like they MUST follow your blog.

I’ve found the best thing to do is be yourself. You are already unique, so you can use that to your advantage. Use a unique voice (your voice!), use unique pictures (your pictures!), use unique stories (your stories!), and if you have a unique approach to your topic, make that the focal point of your mission statement.

For instance, if you are someone who wants to talk about dating, and you also enjoy psychology, then your blog can approach dating from a psychological level. That would make it stand out among all of the other relationship blogs out there. Or, if you are a man who used to be a player but now wants to help women find a meaningful relationship, then you can blog from the point of view of an ex-player.

Use your experience and interests to make your blog unique, even if it is based on the same topic as a million other blogs out there.

Action to take: Build your blog strategy. Decide what you want to accomplish with your blog and build a plan to accomplish it. Do this before you even start posting. In fact, build a posting schedule with specific topics as part of your blogging strategy so that you can talk about things that help you get your blog to where you want it to be.

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