Blogging For Beginners
In my previous article, I wrote about 20 Reasons to Start a Blog, and as a follow up, like I promised, I will, in this article be talking about ‘What you Need to Start a Blog.’ Even if you know why you want to start , if you don’t have the implements or instruments to start, the knowledge of the reasons to start will take you nowhere. If I tell you the reasons to start without telling you the substances that will make up the blog, I haven’t actually empowered you. Take a look at the following things you need.
What You Need to START A BLOG
1. A Niche: Without finding your niche, you can’t start a blog. You must decide your area of interest, which is your passion. Your passion is what will be your driving force, and you need that driving force to be your source of motivation. If you don’t find your niche or passion, you won’t stay long in the business. There are loads of people that started blogs, and in less than one year, gave up. Many gave up because they simply followed what other people were doing, without focusing on their passions. If you’re passionate about it, you will carry on, in spite of the pains. And I must confess, there are lots of pains, because there are no instant financial rewards, and there may never be. In an article titled ‘Eight ways to find the true passion in life that has eluded you,’ it was stated that ‘If you can’t imagine not doing something, it’s a passion. It doesn’t have to be a money-maker.’ So, if you think your passion or niche must always give you money, you’ll be in pains when there isn’t gain. Just do it – not for money, but just do it.
2. A Website: I know that in my previous article, I talked about a number of free blogging websites like Blogger and WordPress, but I also emphasised that having your own website is absolutely the best thing to do if you want to be a committed blogger that’ll be taken seriously. And may I also point out that the best platform to design your website is WordPress. It might interest you to know that WordPress powers 30% of the global websites and has over 60% market share, according to W3Techs. As a blogger, I can’t overemphasise the relevance of using WordPress as the basis of your blogging website. Note that there’s a free WordPress and a paid one, which your website can be designed upon. To conclude on this, to design a good blog, you need a professional web designer. It will cost you some hundreds of dollars, but you’ll be proud of the job done. Please don’t worry, if you haven’t got the budget for it – simply use the free ones for a start.
3. A Domain Name: The world has become a global village. What you put on the internet in an unknown village somewhere in East Asia, will be seen by the whole world. Why am I saying this? If you have to pick a domain name, please choose something that will be easy to pronounce and remember, if you want to reach people of different races within your niche. Some Eastern European and African names are difficult to pronounce and remember by people of other ethnicities, so why use a domain name that people can’t remember? If you do that, you’re killing your brand. Remember; your blog is your brand. I have seen some blogs from my country, Nigeria, and those blogs bear first and surnames that are ethnical and as someone in the UK, I know that most foreigners won’t be able to pronounce such names, let alone remember them. Don’t kill your brand with a name only people from your ethnic group can pronounce, if you want to reach the globe.
4. A Theme: According to 123 Reg, a theme dictates the look and style of your website.Your theme is made up of a range of things, such as font types and sizes, your colour scheme and other areas that affect the aesthetics of your site. Your theme helps to reflect your identity through your site, and helps to improve your customer’s experience.
According to WordPress, a WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software. Themes may include customized template files, image files (*.jpg, *.gif), style sheets (*.css), custom Pages, as well as any necessary code files (*.php). For an introduction to template files, see Stepping Into Templates.
WordPress has some free themes that can be used to design your blog, but there are also premium ones that you have to pay for – these are mostly sold by independent developers. If you go for the premium themes, you will have the freedom of choosing from a variety of designs – what you choose must match the type of blog you want to launch.
5. A Research: Before you start, do a research of at least, one hundred blogs that focus on your area of interest, niche or talent. Don’t be lost in the imagination that because you’re passionate about something, you’re the only one doing it. To be honest with you, there’s nothing you want to blog about that there aren’t already masters in the game, so, you need to learn from the big boys. Learn how they spin what they write or post – spin yours in the same direction, but using your own uniqueness – you can be innovative without driving off the route that blog followers choose to tread. If you wander into unfamiliar destinations, no one will be there to read or hear you.
6. SEO Basic Understanding: You must understand the basics of search engine optimisation, otherwise, you’ll be doing an unnoticed great job, and where you’re not noticed, your work doesn’t get appreciated. I must confess, I am still learning when it comes to search engine optimisation – sometimes, the whole thing bore me, but I can’t stop looking into it because I need it to succeed as a blogger. In search engine optimisation, find out how the use of keywords can help you get your blog noticed. But one warning I will sound out to you is that you shouldn’t let keywords damage the beauty of your blog updates – one or two keywords are enough – just focus on your content.
7. Content Creation: As a blogger, the number one and most important thing you need is content. In the blogging world, there’s a popular slogan that says, ‘Content is king.’ If you have a beautifully designed website, but without quality content, no matter how search engine optimized it is, it will end up a failure. You must regularly update your blog with what people need, otherwise, no one will visit it. If you create quality content, it’s only a matter of time before your blog starts attracting the right attention.
One point besides content creation I would like to emphasise is how regular you update your blog. There is the need to update your blog weekly or even more than once a week if you have the time. Search engine rewards you by improving your ranking if you regularly update your blog, but if you abandon it, it will be deemed inactive, and your ranking will go down.
Another thing I would like to address is copy and paste blogging. In my opinion, copy and paste blogging isn’t blogging – it’s just people trying to make names for themselves through the backdoor. Search engine respects, appreciates and rewards websites that create original content. I strongly advise that you create your own content.
Previously, writing short articles were acceptable to search engine, but these days, it isn’t. Search engine determines how much time each visitor stays on your blog. If the content is short, people won’t stay long there, but if it’s long and interesting, they will. So, don’t just make an article long – make it interesting. And in addition to spending a long time on your blog, search engine also determines if there’s a return visit. So, serious readers bookmark a long but interesting article – if they can’t finish it in one go, they come back to it when they’re less busy.
8. Images: Images are part of content, but I deliberately made it a major point because of its immense relevance to blogging. In my understanding, content is the father of blogs, but images is the mother. Without images, a blog is ruined, and becomes very boring. Search engine rewards a website with quality images, especially when they are well laid out.
May I add that you don’t just go on the internet to pick up any image, because you might be infringing on someone’s property right, and you’ll be sued for that. If you ignore this caveat, you’ll find yourself in waterloo. However, there are websites that offer royalty free images, and here are a number of them – Unsplash, Flickr, Pixabay, Gratisography, Picjumbo, Dreamstime, and Death to Stock. Finally on this, using images and infographics to depict or describe your writing make it easier for readers to interact or engage with it.
9. Importunity: Importunity is persistence and impudence to the level of being troublesome and annoying. Until you assume an importunate attitude, you can’t be a successful blogger, because if you think blogging brings instant rewards, you must be an inglorious liar. There are many times that people will never appreciate what you’re doing, even if the information you’re sharing is far more valuable than that of those going viral. There are also moments of failures – failures, not because you aren’t doing the right thing, but because no one cares about what you’re doing. The people that will look down on you first are those that know you – you would expect that they should help you share your articles, but they won’t – they won’t even read it, or watch your videos or listen to your audio. In moments like this, people without undying passion for blogging give up, but those who are in it for the dear love of it will continue. It is the continuation, in spite of the many rejections that will help you push your blog to the top. Whether you’re accepted or not, never stop creating quality content. One day, you will break through!
10. The Social Media: If you want your blog to be optimised, you must, and I repeat, you must love the social media. Most blog visitors come through the social media. You need Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and about 50 more social media platforms. One of the most effective social media platforms needful in getting visitors to your blog is WhatsApp. I predict that in the near future, WhatsApp will overtake Facebook in ranking. People share content on WhatsApp like mad – everyday, the number of content I get are alarming, and one good thing about this platform is that it appears more like person to person, rather than the big open social media arenas like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
11. Email Marketing: One of the best ways to market your blog is the use of email, for so many reasons – more effective than social media, measurable, customisable, etc. The major email marketing platforms are Constant Contact, Drip, ConvertKit, AWeber, GetResponse, MailChimp, and ActiveCampaign. The advantages of email marketing can never be overemphasised.
12. Contributors: You need contributors who will be ready to make inputs in your blog, and I must confess that as a starter, it wouldn’t be easy finding committed people that will make regular contributions to your blog. Sometimes, you may not even find those that will make infrequent contributions, let alone, regular – so, if you find one, respect and appreciate him. Many potential contributors are lazy – they can’t sit down to put content together, and some don’t believe in themselves – they think they have to be perfect to create content; they do not understand that nothing is perfect, so, you must begin from where you are.
13. Copyright Laws: Do not copy people’s content without either asking for permission, referencing them or creating a backlink to where the content was obtained from, otherwise, you will be infringing on copyright laws, and you will pay dearly for it. Beware of using other people’s images, soundtracks or videos, especially those protected by copyright laws. You might get away with it for a while, but not for life. You might be used as scapegoat if you keep infringing on copyright laws. You need to understand how the copyright law works as a blogger.
14. Be a Follower and/or a Subscriber: You need to follow other people’s blogs, not just for the sake of doing competitor analysis, but also for the aim of learning from them. Each week, I read lots of articles and blog updates – I do speed reading – I sort out the most important points relevant to me, and use them to improve my knowledge and grow my skills. If you want to be a successful blogger, continuously learn from other people. The people you follow or subscribe to, don’t necessarily have to be household names or very successful bloggers -there are successful bloggers in the making who have very rich content, even more than the so called successful ones. Identify them, and learn from them.
15. W.A.I.T: To become a successful blogger, you need to W.A.I.T. W stands for WORK – A for AMBITION – I for IMAGINATION – T for TIME MANAGEMENT. Without work, ambition, imagination, and proper time management, you can’t succeed as a blogger – blogging isn’t for lazy-minded people, and it isn’t a road to being a celebrity. Blogging is business, and must be treated as such.