What is a blog?
A blog is a collection of articles (or posts), usually on your company’s website, which can act as a source of news, education or entertainment. Posts are usually categorised so visitors can filter posts by categories or date and blogs usually include some kind of search functionality.
Once called a “Web log” and slowly transforming to “weblog” then finally “blog”, businesses have used them for years as a means to educate or entertain buyers in order to build trust. They come in several shapes and sizes and there’s lot’s of different routes to take when looking to setup your own blog.
Examples of blogs
The following are a few examples of blogs that have extremely high traffic and an active community:
Why you should start a blog
Regularly writing and publishing blog posts is a great way of bringing new people into your marketing funnel, whilst slowly pushing other customers through the evaluation and consideration stages. Let’s look at some of the ways they can contribute to your online marketing strategy.
Blog posts are an extremely effective way to bring more traffic to your website from search engines if your budget won’t allow for bringing in a SEO agency. Let’s say you want to target 50 different key phrases for Google, writing a blog post for each of them means you have a specific page for each desired key phrase. Not only this, but having a regularly updated website shows Google that the business is still active which in turn will improve your search engine ranking. I’ll talk more later about how to make your blog posts Google-friendly!
One of the best ways to increase engagement and your follower count on social media is creating your own original content. Blogging about your niche expertise and sharing it through social media can attract potential customers, educate existing ones and encourage others to share your ideas.
Becoming an Authority & Thought Leader
A blog can set you apart from the competition as an authority or thought-leader in your industry. If you have an extensive knowledge on a particular topic (I’m guessing you know a fair bit about your industry), show off your skills by writing how-to’s, tutorials and industry news.
How to write blog posts
The perfect blog post will be composed of several components including a Google or Social friendly headline, a minimum word count, related images and a researched set of key phrases for SEO. Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these.
The headline is the title of your blog post which should sit within the main heading of your blog page in addition to being inside the <title> tag within the HTML. A headline serves two purposes: Firstly, it should be optimised for people searching on Google. This means you’ll need to do some keyword research to find a phrase that has high search volume and low competition. OR you may instead decide to focus more on sharing on social media, in which case, your headline should be an attention grabber. Headlines such as “10 ways to do x” or “How to [do something] in 5 steps!” are particularly successful currently.
As far as Google is concerned, the longer the article the better. Ideally your blog posts should be 2,000+ words long, but aim for at least 1,200 if the former isn’t possible. Gone are the days where we could publish a 500 worder every now and then. Dig deep into any topic you can to up that word count and add even more value to your post.
Researchers found that when using relevant imagery alongside data, 55% more is remembered three days later. If you want your readers to remember you and your content, make sure you add high quality imagery to your blog posts. We’ll chat about where you can get royalty free images later.
As with your headline, you should be trying to target a key phrase or two within the blog content. Head over to Google Keyword Planner to find key phrases that you can scatter among your blog post. Don’t scatter them at the expense of your writing quality though: Google knows when you’re trying to squeeze in keywords unnecessarily, so use them sparingly. Ideally, the same key phrase you chose for your headline will also be regularly used within the content itself.
Starting a blog
Starting a blog is pretty straight-forward. You need to create your blog, come up with some ideas and create a content calendar to keep yourself organised. So if you’re ready to get started with blogging, here’s what you need to do:
Create your own blog
There are several ways to get started with creating your own blog. Let’s look at some platforms for setting up your blog for free:
Most websites are made using WordPress nowadays. For good reason too – it’s really simple to use and you don’t need to hire a web designer every time you publish a blog post! You’re going to need Web Hosting to setup your own WordPress website. We offer a web hosting package for WordPress blogs at just £5 per month. When you’ve got web hosting, head over to the WordPress Website and download WordPress. All you need to do now is upload the files to your web server and go through their simple install process (which takes less than a minute!)
No web hosting required for Tumblr. Just sign up on their website and get started!
As with Tumblr, just sign up and get writing!
What To Blog About
This is a big stumbling block for a lot of people when it comes to starting blogging. To begin, try writing some really basic articles about what you do. Are you a florist? Maybe you could write “how to make your own valentines day bouquet” or “how to make a wedding table centre piece”. In my experience, the more you write, the more you’ll think of to write about. For example, I’ve currently advised you to research keywords twice in this article – that’s a new blog post I’ll be writing next month: “How to research keywords for SEO”.
So don’t panic too much if you can’t think of what to write about to begin with. Just start with the basics and see what ideas come to you as you begin writing. If all else fails and the ideas start to run dry, try taking a look through some of your old posts and look at the headings you’ve used. So far in this post, I could write an individual blog post for the headings “Examples of blogs”, “Writing blog headlines”, “Keyword Research” and “What to blog about”. Find topics you’ve already written about and see which ones you can go into even greater detail with.
If your customers regularly ask the same question on the phone, social or on your blog, why not write a blog post that answers each frequently asked question?
Royalty free photos for blogging
You’ve got to be a little bit careful when choosing what imagery to use for your blog posts. Most images on the internet are licensed and there’s still a few companies who monitor the usage of those licensed photos. You can find yourself being fined for a crazy amount of money if you use an unlicensed image. Here’s a list of websites where you can find royalty free images which you can use for any project an unlimited amount of times:
How to start a blog and make money
There are several ways to make money from your blog. In reality, all of them require high traffic, so your focus should always be on creating quality content that’s optimised for search engines and share-worthy. Here are some ways you can start a blog to make money:
Become an Affiliate Advertiser
Why not review some other peoples products and write about them on your blog? You can include an “affiliate link” to where people can buy the product. If someone clicks your link and buys the product, you get a commission from the sale? You can get started with this on affiliate window.
Make most of your websites content free to use and with-hold some of the more popular content for paying members. You can offer a monthly subscription for people who want to see more of your content. This can be setup through PayPal so the payment is secure.
If your blog is getting a lot of traffic, you could sell advertising space on it. A lot of people use Google Ads on their blogs, but the pay per click is quite low.
Writing guest posts for other high traffic blogs in your industry is a great way of getting additional exposure when your blog is small and not getting much traffic. When writing a post for someone else’s blog, you can throw in a link or two to your own content. Sometimes links to your own blog will be deleted by the blog you’re posting for, so make sure any links you add are relevant and invaluable to the post you’re writing to ensure they’re not removed.
Comment on others blogs
Blogging is about being part of a community, talking within it in addition to talking to it. Contribute to others blogs where you can. By contribute, I don’t mean talk about yourself and your company – I mean start commenting and getting to know people. Get a reputation for being helpful. Only when your known not to be a spammer should you throw in the occasional link to your own content.
As you can see, there’s a whole hell of a lot to talk about when it comes to blogging. It’s very likely that I’ll add more to this post as time goes on, so don’t forget to bookmark it and check back every once in a while!