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Building a Blog from the Beginning: What You Need to Know
If you have a website, then blogging is an essential task that you should be invested in. This is true even if you’re a website owner that is actually looking to convert your audience offline. Your website still needs to look alive and fresh, and the only way to achieve this and to keep your website growing (without adding pointless, meaningless pages) is to blog.
The great thing about a blog is that it’s easy to write, and because you own the website it’s going on, you can do whatever you want with it.
The first step is to actually create the blog itself. If your website is built using WordPress or another popular content management system (CMS), then you’ll have a blog all set up and ready made. If you’re using a CMS provided by a web hosting service, or a custom built one, then you should still be able to attach WordPress or whatever CMS back-end you’d rather use.
Once the blogging platform is set-up and you have everything you need to create the blog, it’s time to get started writing, almost.
What Will You Write About?
This might seem like a no-brainer. Obviously, you’re going to write about the industry sector in which you’re working, right?
That’s true to some extent, but the way to build a blog is to focus on a number of key areas that you’re going to be writing about. If you had a blog about football, for example, it would be impossible to write about everything to do with the sport. You’d think about the areas you wanted to focus on, such as the English Premier League or Major League Soccer, and write about those.
You should take the same approach for your blog. Choose the specific areas you are going to focus on within your general sector, and work from there. Look at the categories at on our blog and tutorials pages. Not only does this help to focus your mind on what you’re doing, but when readers come to your site they’ll know what you write about and be able to find the content most relevant to them.
Finding Your Voice
Before you write your first blog, you should think about what you want your personal writing style and approach to be. There are generally two ways to go about this.
The first is to come up with a “brand voice” and style for your blog. You might deliberately be writing so the language fits in with a certain target audience. Coming up with a brand voice and style for your blog usually works best if you’re in a very specific niche and targeting a very specific area. For example, a trendy fashion blog targeting teenagers from 16 – 18 would be written in a very specific manner in terms of the style and the language.
The second option is just to sit down and write. Even if you don’t feel like you’re blessed with writing skills, we all have our own style that will be obvious from our writing within sitting down and writing a few hundred words. This can work for blogs that aren’t targeted to a particular area, but can also lead to your writing feeling more personal and authentic rather than giving a contrived impression.
Keep these two options in mind, too, if you go down the route of outsourcing your blog writing to another writer. In terms of option two, remember that all writers will have their own individual style – and that it might not be the same as yours. Think about the sort of style you will be most comfortable with – run a small-scale trial if you need to – then hire away.
At this point, you just need to blog, blog, and then blog some more.
However, the unique thing about blogging is that you never reach the finish line. It is an ongoing task that you need to be invested in for as long as your website exists.
The final part of making your blog powerful over the long-term is how you use it to build a community.
Creating a Blog Community
Attracting readers to a new blog can be difficult enough without even thinking about the best ways to get them commenting on your posts. Spend a little time searching the blogosphere and you’ll find dozens of abandoned blogs that were written at least semi-regularly up to a certain point.
While it is impossible to know the reasons these blogs have been abandoned without contacting the bloggers directly and asking why, we’d be willing to bet a reasonable sum of money that the reason they gave up was that they weren’t getting any engagement.
Understand that just because you don’t get any comments in the first 6 – 12 months, this doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer or that no-one is interested. Yes, 6 – 12 months is at least the amount of time you should be dedicating to your blog before you can expect to start seeing results. However, just as Google look for trust signals, readers of your blog will, too. A new blog with three posts might be fun to read, but how many people are going to take the time to post a comment when there might never be a fourth post? A blog that is clearly consistent and committed means a lot more to a reader, and is far likelier to see comments.
You also need to take responsibility for sharing your blog on social networks, and for contributing to conversations online that will drive a greater volume of traffic to your blog, eventually starting to grow your community.
Growing Your Blog
Eventually, your blog will start to gain a readership and comments. These will grow organically over time, and your ultimate aim should be to get your blog to the point where it is an established resource with great traffic and an active community on each post even before you’ve done all the social promotion when you’ve published it.
Just remember that you need to spend a significant amount of time on your blog; potentially committing a couple of hours a week, every week, for the lifespan of your website.
The key? Don’t give up in the early days when you feel like you’re writing for no one.