Blogging For Dummies: Getting Your Blog Started
Are you interested in starting a personal blog and joining the blogging community? Don’t know where to start? You have come to the right place! In this article, we give you our advice on how to create a successful blog for free with a few blogging basics!
Choosing the right blogging platform
Whether you are trying to build a business blog or your own blog, you have probably noticed that there is an overwhelming number of free blogging platforms or blogging software offering their ‘unique’ services. It may be difficult to pick the right one but luckily, we have chosen the top 3 free platforms for you to have a look at.
Personally, we think this is the best blogging platform! Why WordPress? Easy. Put simply, it’s the simplest and most complete platform to start blogging. In its early days, WordPress was intended for the creation of personal blogs. Today, the WordPress platform claims more than 70 million users worldwide.
Behind this success, there is a powerful blog platform renowned for its ease of use, with a large catalog of customizable free WordPress themes. In less than half an hour, you have completed downloading themes, and you can create your first post immediately, like in a text editor, add images, etc.
The WordPress package includes free tools and basic, but practical, functionalities, like sharing buttons, left sidebar, forms, or the newsletter. For the thousands of other more advanced plugins, as well as the more advanced themes, it will still cost from a few tens to more than a hundred euros. However, a free plugin is offered as well.
Google’s very own free blogging platform. Blogger is 100% free and does not offer a paid formula. The interface is also very easy to use and allows you to create your blog in just a few clicks. Blogger offers nearly 900 rather nice features, and there are some free contemporary themes. To use Blogger, you must have a Google Account. But after that, it will link your blog directly to YouTube, Google+, Picasa, Google Analytics, Adsense, Google Adwords, etc.
The Queen of drag and drop platform. Its ultra-practical use is what gives this web server its uniqueness. It should also be recognized that Wix themes or templates are particularly elegant and well designed.
Although this is not its primary vocation, this young blogging platform has serious strengths despite obvious weaknesses. It would prevent blogs that have worked hard on their search engine optimization from ranking on search engines compared to its two other competitors.
Another drawback is that there are no default comments. To remedy this, an external application must be selected and installed. And finally, you’ll still get Wix banners until you pay a premium package.
Here are some important criteria to help you make your choice:
- Can you directly modify HTML and CSS code?
- What storage space do you have?
- Is advertising allowed?
- Does the platform offer an interesting variety of “essential plugins”?
- Does the platform offer many free themes?
- Are you offered unlimited sites?
- Which platform is the most ergonomic for your company?
Although this may not seem as important as the content of your blog, themes play a key role in blog performance. On some platforms, such as Wix, you have the luxury of creating your own blog themes. However, this comes with a catch. Once you have validated your theme, you can no longer make any changes.
Take the time before you set your heart on the theme of your future blog. Take a look at some other blogs for inspiration and make sure you run “demos” to get an idea of what the future product will look like.
Note: During the demo, have a look at what kind of advertisements, if any, are appearing on your site.
Depending on your choice of platform, you will find a number of free blog themes online. Obviously, with ‘free’ themes, there will be a limited number of suitable and elegant themes available to you. This does not mean that none of them are good! It just means that your choice is limited. Premium WordPress themes for example for which you have to pay, offer a much larger variety of colours, layouts, and fonts.
Colours and personal customization
A good blog should reflect your image and be in line with your business objectives, so be careful when making your choice. Choose colours that represent your brand and logo well.
You may have more advanced technical knowledge than the average blogger. If so, check that the HTML code, CSS, and wp super cache (if using WordPress) of the theme are accessible and editable.
A responsive theme. A 21st century must!
For your blog display to adapt to all existing devices, including smartphones and tablets, you need a responsive theme. The number of Internet users who no longer use computers continues to grow and it is becoming more and more likely that your readers will read a blog post another form of technology.
At this point, ask yourself these essential questions:
- Is it possible to easily modify the theme via HTML and CSS?
- Is there any advertising displayed on your pages?
- Are the colours in line with your company?
- Is the theme in line with your online goals?
- Is your theme suitable for mobile devices?
Customize your domain name
There are several reasons why you should choose a custom domain name, rather than keep the one that is provided to you by the platform of your choice.
Most of the time, people will type your domain name directly into the url bar. They could also stumble upon your domain name in your advertisements or on your business card.
Generally, the format “nameofyourbusiness”.wordpress.com is too long to remember, not easy on the eyes, and not credible for a professional. It is therefore important to personalize your own domain name with your company name in order to highlight it and shorten it as much as possible.
Your viewers don’t need to know that you are working off of a WordPress blog (or another platform), so create a short, and self-explanatory domain that ideally contains just the name of your business.
It’s forever and ever
Think about buying a domain name: often at a small price, it is a profitable investment that will ensure the security of your blog. Even if you change your platform to host your blog in the future, you can link it to the same domain name and readers will be none the wiser of the switch. You won’t need to modify all the links you have published in various other places: websites, flyers, business card, etc…
Some platforms may offer you these customizations in the URL, but most of the time, you will need to invest a minimum amount of money in your domain name. Services like OVH offer from 4€ TTC per year.
Content is King!
Whether it’s images, text, or videos, your blog content contributes over 80% to the site’s conversion. On the web planet and even more so, in the world of blogs, content reigns supreme. With your content, you attract traffic, you create links and you know how to share your expertise with your potential customers with whom you can build loyalty.
In addition to customer loyalty, you receive valuable information about their true expectations. This allows you to adjust your business strategy and start making money.
Search engines also appreciate sites and blogs where content is often enriched. In short, publishing content on a regular basis is interesting for your readers, SEO, and your company.
What content to publish?
This may surprise you, but there is not only ‘one type’ of blog article. You can vary the pleasures while respecting your editorial line with :
- Professional articles – With these, you can talk about company news such as product launches, partnerships, development projects, etc. You can also share what’s new in your industry, etc.
- Life of your business – These are the types of articles where you invite the reader into the core of your company. They are ideal to create proximity and showcase your human side: introduce them to your employees, your premises, etc…
- Customer references and testimonials – Just like in the real world, customers are more confident when they realize that others have already done business with you, and even better if they have been delighted with your services or products. Needless to say, positive reviews are then word of mouth on the web.
- Tips and tutorials – Internet users are keen to find answers to very specific needs. You can offer them articles that go deep into a particular subject. You can even ask them what topics they want you to address in a future blog post. It also creates proximity. This is the preferred format for a casual blogger.
- Guest blogging – It consists of inviting other bloggers to publish articles on your blog. But keep in mind that their content of choice should be in line with your overall blogging theme. This is a good way for you to not have to write as much and attracts new viewers with the other blogger’s readers. Regular guest bloggers can even become a WP admin if you wish.
- Interviews – This concept is to get out of the pattern that you are alone in front of the readers. By conducting an interview with an influential player in your community, your credibility skyrockets. This can take the form of an article, audio, or video podcast. This is a good type of format for a first blog post. Start creating a community from the gecko.
- Reactions to recent studies and articles – By giving your opinion on a survey or an article, you show your readers that you are a master in your field. The other advantage is that you have little research to do! Much of the content is already provided by the study in question. If the article comes from a very popular site, it is only a bonus for your reference. Additionally, the survey or article may appreciate the extra visibility on your site may become a place for sponsored posts.
Create exciting content for your blog post
Here are two things all bloggers strive for in their content:
- The WOW effect – The reader will be impressed and excited about what you publish because your content will have brought real solutions to their problems. They will have found THE blog for them
- The snowball effect – If done correctly, very quickly, your content can become viral: it will spread on social networks, tweeted, retweeted, and comments will flow.
How do you achieve this?
- Produce content that is neat, structured, and enjoyable to read – Use clear language that your audience can easily understand and use keywords relevant to post topics to better blog performance.
- Clickbait – Use titles that capture attention and provoke…lightly! The rest of the article must also be relevant, unique, even original.
- Know your audience – Who are they? What is their profile? Age, gender, region, work, etc.
- Identify topics of interest – Find obstacles your audience faces and that you can help them with by proposing your expert solutions.
- Calls to action – Your reader should feel like they are expanding their knowledge thanks to your content. You’ve taught them something, and they want to come back for more, so draw them in somehow.
In the end, the best content will have succeeded in generating traffic, improving your blog’s positioning on SERPs, strengthening your credibility, and certainly expanding your customer base and generating sales in the medium term.
Bedazzling with images
Internet users quickly get bored with texts. Break the routine with images, photos, computer graphics, etc.
However, if you want your posts to work well, these images must:
- Be relevant to the topic
- Clear, with good resolutions, no large pixels, etc.
- Not too heavy for quick loading
- Be original. Corporate or hyper classic images found on image banks will not make you stand out. Either you choose a style that fits your blog of your own, or you take your own photos.
Be sure to use royalty-free and free images.
Share your publications on social networks
Now that you have started blogging, it’s time to reach out. There are numerous and powerful, social networks out there and they are essential partners to share your publications and make your blog known to the greatest number.
Although this may seem like a less time-consuming task than the actual creation of your blog, if you wish for your posts to receive much social media attention, this task will be just as long.
You will need to be efficient in the distribution of your content on the web. Social networks are a major ally to any business, website online that is trying to gain more traffic. In order to optimize your shares, we advise you to use different tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, or a social media agency to get you started. Don’t hesitate to take inspiration from other blogs before you start.
Blogging for dummies no more
Now that you have all the information necessary to start your blog, it’s time to get started! Remember that blogging is much more than just writing. Take into consideration all the points that we have made in this blog, from the platform to the themes and type of content, and the importance of social media.