Do you blog for your business? Perhaps blogging is your business or perhaps you blog for pleasure, there is more to having amazing blogs than just adding lots of great posts. A blog is a location, a place to visit and should do more than just offer up the information within the posts. So, when you are starting your own blog, here are some ideas to consider in addition to the topics you write about.
Creating the blog
When you begin to make a blog, the first thing you will consider is the topic. This might be decided for you if you are blogging for a business or about a particular passion. If you are looking to create a blog as a business, then the topic of topic can be more relevant – can you see yourself writing about the subject frequently? Can you find lots of topics to write about? Are people interested in what you are writing about?
Good blogs offer something unique to their customers – their viewpoint. The topic can be identical to half a dozen other blogs but yours give the subject your own view, your experience and your opinion (or that of your business). No-one expects you to reinvent the wheel, as the old saying goes, but maybe you can find a new style of the classic wheel that suits your needs.
Once you know what you are blogging about, then it is time to choose a name. There are some really clever blog names out there but remember a few things – keep it short and catchy and make sure it gives the reader an idea of what you are blogging about. If you are too subtle, too niche or too obscure, people might not understand what your topic is and simply move elsewhere. Don't be afraid to look at some other blogs to get an idea on how you want to structure your own.
Deciding on a platform for your blog is relatively simple these days – the majority of blogs are hosted through WordPress. There are other sites available such as Blogger but WordPress is key for a number of reasons. The ease of use is one of them and the reliability of the software. But the ability to create a blog that looks just how you want it with the themes and plugins is that make blog writing through this platform so popular.
There are hundreds of themes and thousands of plugins that offer their own benefits to your website but use them sparingly – especially plugins as these can slow down the load speed of your pages and this is a turn-off for visitors. Look for themes that fit in with the idea of your blog, your topics and the style of blog it is – examples include magazine styles, portfolios, e-commerce websites and journal-styles.
Homepage and the sidebar
There’s still some debate about the importance of your homepage but it never hurts to make it impressive. Most themes will allow you to create a static homepage that contains the elements you want. This might the categories of your blog, information about services the business offer or product pages. Whatever the case, aim for a good balance of design with functionality and make sure it doesn’t become too cluttered.
The other important thing to consider is the sidebar. This is the section at one (or both) sides of the page that tends to appear on all pages and posts unless you specify not to. It contains your key plugins which may include links to social media, categories of the blogs, latest posts and email signup forms. Again, keep the information concise and important, avoid filling it for the sake of appearances as this can bury the important stuff.
Planning your articles
There’s no set number of articles you should have ready before you launch you blog – some people say one, five, ten or even more. What is important is that you plan your articles, your keywords and create an editorial calendar of some form to ensure you keep posting regularly. You don’t have to post every day – every week or even every month might better suit your niche or your lifestyle. But set a schedule and stick to it.
Once you know how often you want to post, you can start looking at what you are going to post. Do some keywords research on your area and do plenty of reading – yes, that includes the competition too! Look at articles that list the best blogs in your niche and subscribe to them or follow them through a RSS reader, even on social media. A little competitor stalking never hurts to see what works and how this might work for you!
The subject of your post is crucial and the information within it is what will keep people on your site. But the headline is often the thing that will draw them to the site and therefore should be carefully considered. Whether you write it before or after the article is down to you but don’t underestimate its importance. There are tools to help you judge the balance of words in your headline and to get a potentially more powerful version that might increase the clicks that it receives.
Other pages on your blog
Alongside the homepage and your articles, there are other pages to consider around your website. One of the most important is the ‘About Us’ ‘About Me’ or even a ‘Work with Us’ page. Whatever the purpose of the blog, this page should be tapered around it. If you blog for love, then tell your story, include a picture of yourself and tell people why you are writing. If you blog for business, then talk about what the business does and include visuals such as charts and images to help make the business a real group of people, rather than an aloof name.
To make blog writing successful, you need more than just great writing. Using images within posts, organising your sidebar to make it informative and easy to use and adding extra value pages such as landing pages or About Me pages make for a better visitor experience. And happy visitors are returning visitors, email subscribers or even customers for your business.