I've just been checking out 'A Simple Guide to Blogging and Social Media' by Click, an award winning name in the digital marketing industry. It got me thinking about what - if anything! - I've learned over the years I've been blogging.
The scary thing is that it has been years. I set up my very first blog on Livejournal, way back in 2004, and I've been blogging in one form or another ever since. So, with that in mind, here are my top ten tips for setting up a blog of your own:
#1. Pick Your Platform
The best platform for your blog is going to heavily depend on what you want to do with it, and who your target audience is going to be. If you want a range of privacy options then a platform like Dreamwidth is great, but if you're looking to reach as many people as possible you're better off going with Wordpress or Blogger. WP has a bunch of plug-ins which can make your life easier, but I found Blogger's terms and conditions much more appealing.
Whichever platform you go for, they're all pretty easy to put your own stamp on. The big things you're going to want to do is pick a template, sort out your header, your 404 page, and fix up your favicon (aka the little tab logo). You might want to set up your own domain name at this point too, although it's fine to wait and see if it's something you're going to enjoy first.
Okay, so your blog's looking great - now you've just got to fill it with content. This is the time, when you're full to the brim with ideas, to sit down and come up with as many post proposals as you can. Because I'm a bit old school, I like to pick up one of those cheap pocket diaries and write in an idea for each day of the year. This way you can look up all those awareness days and random holidays, and plan posts to coincide with them.
Once you've settled on a niche - i.e. blog category - and began generating content, it's time to network with other bloggers. Throughout the week there are various blog 'linkies' where people link up their own posts and comment on others, and social media is a great way to make contacts.
#5. Get Social
Social media is a must if you're looking to spread the word about your blog. At a minimum you're probably going to want Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, but there are literally hundreds of different networks out there. Check out the ones which have appeal to the kind of people you want to reach, and get busy setting up some new accounts.
#6. Number Crunching
As your blog grows you're going to want to keep tabs on exactly how much. How many visitors you get, what their favourite posts are, and all that kind of thing. Google Analytics is the big name when it comes to tracking the figures and is pretty easy to set up.
SEO - search engine optimisation - is all about improving where you rank in search results so you can drive more traffic to your blog. There are some really easy wins like always including 'alt' description tags in your image html (great for SEO and accessibility), while other aspects will require more work.
#8. Link Building
One of the best ways to improve your SEO is to work on your domain authority. This is basically a ranking of how trustworthy your site is, based on how long it's been around and how many people - and what kind of people - link to you. The best way to achieve this is to have content worth linking to, obviously, but there are plenty of things you can do to help the process along.
#9. Level Up
By this point you'll know what works and you what you want to get out of blogging. It's time to make sure you're getting the most out of the tools at your disposal. AKA reorganise your blog categories and sidebar to showcase your best work, sign up to social media services like Buffer which will schedule posts for you, and generally start thinking a little more professionally about your next steps.
#10. Have Fun!
Seriously, if blogging just starts to feel like another joyless chore take a step back from it. Go on a break, recharge your batteries, and come back ready to take the world by storm.
Got a tip of your own? @ClickConsultLtd are asking people to share their thoughts on setting up - and growing - a blog with the hashtag #BloggerGuide.
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