If you’re trying to start a blog, you probably have a lot of ideas as to which direction to take. While you may have plenty of design, content and branding ideas for your blog, you need far more than that to succeed. There a few keys step that you need to ensure you don’t miss along the way. These steps will be critical in helping your blog perform and stand out from the competition.
Step 1: Target and Research an Audience
Many people start out with a topic they’d like to write about. This is a great way to get started but may not necessarily be the most profitable. A better way to go about building out your blog is to find an audience. Defining a specific target audience to write for allows you to consider different angles. For example, rather than write about scrapbooking, you may find that you can write about multiple arts and crafts projects as well.
You also want to research your audience after you’ve honed in on one. You want to find out what problems they’re facing, what questions they have and what interests they’re engaged in. This will give you a wide variety of content ideas you can write about and help you understand your audience so that you can really connect with them in a way that other bloggers aren’t.
Step 2: Use the Right Themes and Plugins
Like many people trying to start a blog, you’ve most likely decided to go with WordPress and an attractive theme. While this is a solid choice, you need to think beyond that. In order to get the traffic you need to your blog and make the most of it, you need to be set properly. You want to put a strong emphasis on using the right themes and plugins regardless of which content management system you’ve gone with.
Some things to look for in a theme include a SEO friendly code, fast loading site and a responsive design. This will ensure that you get the most out of the search engines, provide your users with a good experience and ensure that your blog looks good on a mobile device. As for plugins, you’ll want things like a popover to collect email addresses, social share buttons to get more views, and widget managers to help you organize your various content blocks.
Step 3: Create a Content Strategy and Schedule
When it comes to content creation, many new bloggers tend to just wing it and come up with content on a random basis. But if you publish two pieces of content one week and go the next week without any content, you’re going to hurt your momentum. You need a clear content creation strategy and schedule to engage your readers and build out your blog. There is a difference between coming up with a schedule and a strategy.
With your content strategy, you want to have a way to research and analyze content ideas. You should develop a list of competing or similar blogs in order to see what their audience is really responding to. You should also use tools like BuzzSumo in order to figure out what kind of content is popular on social media for your particular keyword.
With your content schedule, you need to be consistent with your content creation and publishing. If you can’t do it all yourself, you’ll probably want to build a team of content creators to help you. You also want to use scheduling tools like blog and social media auto posting tools to automate much of the process. This will allow you to focus on what’s important instead all the small tasks like managing multiple channels.
Step 4: Drive Your Blog Forward with Analytics
How do you determine what kind of content to work on next? Use an analytics tool like Google Analytics. You’ll learn which pages have received the most views and which posts have the highest engagement. This will give you a strong idea of what your audience is responding to and what they’re ignoring. Making decisions for your blog without the proper data is simply a guessing game that you don’t want to play.
Using an analytics tool can also be used to drive your SEO and social media campaigns. You’ll find that people have found your site using keywords you haven’t even thought of. This can help you set up pages for those keywords or optimize existing pages. You’ll also get ideas on what to post on your social media channels to drive engagement and ultimately build your readership.
Step 5: Create a Business and Marketing Strategy
If you’re taking your blog seriously, then it’s essential that you come up with a clear strategy on how to generate traffic, develop a relationship with your readers, and monetize your blog. Without a clear strategy, you’ll be going in circles and end up wasting your time and money. With a clear direction and strategy, you get instant feedback on what’s working and not working so that you can adjust and figure out what changes to make.
For example, figure out how you’re going to generate traffic. Will you be using SEO, social media or even paid advertising? Once you get that traffic to your site, how will you engage visitors? Will you be focusing on building a relationship with them long term or will you have a system set up to generate a sale for your products or services? These are all questions you need to be asking as you start growing your blog.
Those five steps are some of the few things that other guides don’t talk about. At the end of the day, your blog exists to support your business or serve as a strong source of revenue. These proper steps need to be taken to ensure that it performs to your expectations.