Blogging For Beginners: How to Start a Successful Blog

Blogging For Beginners: How to Start a Successful Blog

Every business needs a blog. It was top of my mind when I setup Zenith Copy.  Blogging is a great way to position your brand as the solution to problems your audience faces. My first foray into blogging was in 2012.

I was a novice who was winging it the entire way. If you want to start a successful blog, don’t make the mistakes I did. I blogged once in a month or two and expected traffic to follow.

A blog allows industry experts and businesses to show off their expertise. You build trust and rapport with visitors. More importantly, blogs make money. People are likely to spend money on your site when they come to your blog. There are multiple avenues to explore such as selling directly from your site, affiliate marketing and advertising.

Blogs provide a social outlet even anti-social people can’t ignore. You can use an anonymous persona to interact and share your perspective while learning from others.

What is blogging?

A blog site is an online journal on a website. Or so it used to be. In the past, blogging was a way for people to document stuff going on in their lives. The content included videos, text, GIFs and images. It was mostly for personal use. Information was shared with the public or an exclusive group.

Today, blogging has evolved into a business tool to reach clients and engage with them in a conversational way. A blog is not a website. People tend to get confused because many businesses integrate a blog into a website.

The distinctive features of a blog over a traditional website is

  • The best blogs are regularly updated with content
  • Blogs engage readers through social media and email.
  • Readers comment and discuss on the blog, making it social.

Top 5 benefits of blogging for beginners

One of the major questions I get from my clients is “Do I really need a blog on my website?” I work with small business owners who have a limited budget. They assume that skipping a blog is a good way to cut cost. However, successful business owners attest to the benefits of blogging.

Here are the top reasons why you need a blog

Increase organic search traffic

image of young boys fishing

Image source: Pixabay

Digital marketing expert, Jayson DeMers compares blogging to fishing. The more hooks you put in the water, the more fishes you’re likely to catch. Apply this logic to your website.

The more content you create; the more pages you’re giving Google to index. This improves your visibility on search engines and drives more organic traffic.

Convert traffic into leads

A new post is an opportunity to convert leads.  Simply add a lead generating call to action at the end of each blog post. It could be a free offer, subscription to your blog or any content asset the reader willingly exchanges for information.

Become an expert in your industry

Looking for a way to show your audience that you know your stuff? Start blogging today. Successful brands like Gillette, Under Armour and Nike, use blogs to assert their position as industry leaders on a variety of topics. Consumers are more likely to trust your product when they trust your opinion.

Attract inbound links

Great content that is highly informative and educational attracts links from multiple sources. These links are an indication of trust and a mark of authority that your content is worth directing traffic to. Increase your chances of gaining inbound links with long-form content that covers a topic thoroughly.

Humanise your brand

Many businesses have moved away from robotic content that doesn’t inspire loyalty to building personalised relationships with their audience. A blog gives you free rein to create useful, relevant and helpful content. Its’ the only place on your website where you put relationships before sales.

How do I start a successful blog?

Decide what to blog about

Figuring out your niche could be challenging. The topic should be interesting. As a new blogger, you’ll likely doubt your ability to see it through and your level of expertise. Surely no one wants to listen to me. I’m not an expert.

You don’t have to be great to start a blog. There are many reasons why people read blogs. They want to see your unique style, what you have to offer and interact with you. Yes, you! If you can talk, you can blog.

What are you passionate about? Research the topic and see what information already exists. It should be something people are interested in or you’ll have zero views. The blog topic you choose should fit you. Choose a topic you’re willing to learn more about. Your curiosity carries the blog through in the early days.

Develop your content strategy

Each blog post should be part of a larger strategy. It must have a goal and a mission to accomplish. If you’re creating blog posts off the top of your head, you will struggle to attract qualified traffic or sustain your content in the long-term.

A content strategy is an actionable plan. It factors in your niche, ideal reader, their pain-points and the unique value you’ll provide. The goal is to solve pressing problems for your audience.

At the end of the blog post, what do you want your reader to do? Do you want them to read another piece of content, subscribe to your newsletter or buy a product you’re selling?

Think of your ideal reader. What do you know about them? Create an audience persona that details their demographics and psychographic information. This include features such as age, job title, income, location, gender and values. It’s easier to create valuable content when you know your audience.

Choos a value-driven content pillar for your blog

Pillar content is the foundation of every blog. It is a comprehensive guide that serves as the backbone of your blog. Pillar content is at the top of a group of topic clusters that shows Google you’re the authority on a topic.

It needs interconnected content to support it. Pillar content links to related pieces. It does not stand on its own in a vacuum. The supporting pieces should also link back to your pillar.

Pillar content is ungated. It is at the heart of an online strategy to drive traffic from Google on a specific topic. HubSpot suggests that you spend more time optimising the cluster for traffic and the pillar content for conversion.

It’s a great way to generate leads. You offer a PDF version of the long-form content or something relating to an offer you’re trying to give for free. In exchange, the reader gives you their email.

However, you need great content for your pillar. Good content isn’t going to cut it anymore. You have to create valuable content, at scale with an interconnected strategy.

How to create pillar content on your blog

Identify the most pressing needs of your readers

We’re assuming you’ve done your audience research and you know who they are. Now it’s’ time to uncover what is on their mind. Use their pain points to develop topics for your pillar posts.

If you were a member of your audience, think of how you felt. Do they hang out on Twitter? Get insights to understand the topics they mention. Also, look through pillar subtopics other bloggers in your industry use to create content. Buzzsumo is a great tool for this.

Identify the head term

This is the big keyword with a high monthly search volume. I chose “Blogging for beginners” with a monthly search volume of 6,600. I could have easily gone for “how to start a blog”. It has a monthly search volume of 135,000.

However, I wanted a less competitive keyword I could rank high for. A brand such as Hyleys Tea would choose “weight loss” or “slim tea”. It is broad enough to explain with context.

I used Keywords Everywhere to determine the monthly search volume of my preferred keyword. Ideally, your monthly search volume should have 2500|month and align with your content strategy.

Choose the core topics

These are keywords or topics that have a high search volume but not as high as the main topic. They should align with your context to the head topic.

They are usually long-tail phrases and keywords such as “Weight loss teas” “Do slim teas really work?”  and “slimming herbal tea”. At the bottom of the search page, you’ll see searches related to slim tea. It’s a good place to find core topics.

What kind of presentation would your audience prefer?

There are multiple options here.

  • List
  • How to guides
  • Infographics
  • Statistics based
  • Roundup posts
  • Quick reference guides

Create mind-blowing content

It’s time to create your pillar article. The content you write should be helpful and engaging so your audience feels compelled to share it. Write content that inspires people and amazes them with the value you provide.

Commit to a schedule

Give readers a reason to visit your blog. I read a post someone made on The Copywriter Club. A reader described her process for staying on schedule. She likened her body to a machine that obeyed instructions.

A schedule requires discipline. As time passes, you adjust to the schedule and it becomes second nature to you. Consistency is one of the important aspects of running a successful blog.

Consistency sets expectations with your reader. It becomes a part of their routine to check your blog on particular days of the week. Regular blog posting schedule also helps you test and understand the type of content your readers want.

Pickaweb states 10 reasons why you should blog regularly

  1. Make a good first impression
  2. Drive traffic
  3. Increase social media engagement
  4. Increase shares
  5. Retain visitors
  6. Build authority in your niche
  7. Get more inbound links
  8. Achieve your content marketing goals
  9. Increase conversion
  10. Increase your SERP rankings

How do successful blog sites make money?

Affiliate Marketing

I’ve never been a fan of Google AdSense. The blog site owner doesn’t have control over the ads and the pay is terrible if you’re just starting out. Affiliate marketing gives you more control.

Think of the hair product review you read on a blog. The review was convincing. You used the link on the blog to purchase the product. The blogger gets a commission for the sale. That is affiliate marketing in action. It’s not as easy as it sounds or the passive income people project it as.

Affiliate marketing requires a large, engaged audience who trust your recommendation. Think Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop.com and Ramit Sethi’s I will teach you to be rich. These blogs have a ton of useful content that builds links, SEO and trust.

You can make affiliate marketing work with any niche. Lifestyle, tech, video games, shoes, hair products, computers and more.

Sell private Ads

Why work with advertising networks when you can partner with a business? Advertisers come to you when you have enough traffic. Alternatively, you could reach out to them and toot your own horn.

Private ads allow you to set your prices and choose the ads that are displayed on your website. It could be a button, banner or link.

Sell your own digital products

This is an idea I love. Use your blog to sell useful products or services to your readers. You’ll make more money than affiliate marketing or private ads.

What do your readers love? Which of your posts got the most traffic and engagement? Are they facing any problems? Provide the solution and people will pay good money for it. If you don’t have a physical product or service, you could sell an e-book or online course.

Charge a small fee for VIP access

I’ve seen fitness instructors use this tip to make money online. They have a general area for the public and an exclusive corner for only VIP members. The trick is to make the content so good, people get FOMO when they imagine what they’re missing. It should be information visitors can’t find elsewhere.

For instance, a fitness trainer could offer tips on how to lose weight in the general section. In the VIP section members have access to a detailed diet, personalised workout schedule and online coaching sessions.

Sponsored posts

Here, a company pays a blogger to create content about a specific product or their brand. It looks like other blog posts on the site but carries a disclosure about the sponsored status. It could be in the form of a newsletter, videos, articles, images, social media posts or live videos.

Online courses, coaching and mentoring

Did you know that Ramit Sethi crossed $10 million in annual revenue with his premium courses? Bloggers have an expansive knowledge of subjects they can share with others.

Today’s blogger educates their audience through guides, workshops, webinars and e-books. Package your expertise in a course and sell it to your audience who want to know all your tips and tricks for success.

Blogging for beginners: 8 tips on how to create a successful blog

Set goals

If you don’t set goals for your blog, you’ll flounder the entire way. Set achievable and quantitative goals for your blog. Consider the possibility of not achieving all your goals. Think positively as you move forward and look for new ways to improve your strategy.

Which objectives are most important? Work towards achieving them in the early days. Select benchmark data and metrics to determine how your blog is performing. It’s a great way to see what’s working and where you need to make changes.

Be yourself

image of a successful blogger

Image Source: Pixabay

It’s easy to lose yourself when trying to be someone else. Influencers became influencers by finding their voice. They branded it, stuck with it and people loved them. You should do the same.

Don’t think about what people will say when they read your content. Find your voice, write with it and those who love your style become loyalists. Don’t worry about the traction your content will get. If you want to publish a post, do it. However, keep your audience at the centre of your creative process. Everything you do is for them.

Be social

Getting lots of traffic through search engines in the early days isn’t going to happen. There are older blogs who are better and more consistent than you. Google favours them. Drive traffic through social media such as Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Heck, I even use WhatsApp.

Be consistent

I know I already mentioned this earlier, but am going to say it again for emphasis. Consistency is important for growth. If you slow down your blogging, your traffic will tank. Blogging consistently increases your traffic on a regular basis. The key is to choose a niche you’re passionate about or you’ll tire out quickly.

Guest Posts

Guest Posts on niche blogs helps you get noticed. The challenge many influencers face is the large number of spam emails they receive. I cover this topic in my guide to link building.

You won’t become rich overnight

Image of bigfoot

Image by RyanMcGuire on Pixabay

 

I know this is hard to hear for new businesses hoping to reach their content marketing goals through blogging. It takes time to build an authoritative blog and a loyal readership. Blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. A lottery ticket or betting on the existence of bigfoot will probably yield higher odds.

Use your audience for content inspiration

My last post on LinkedIn Optimisation Tricks was inspired by some of my connections who wanted advice. A great blog answers questions from people who are interested in your content. Go through comments on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

I saw a comment on LinkedIn from a 2nd Degree connection on LinkedIn who was infuriated because someone had given him a bad review. The reviewer didn’t purchase his product, yet left a negative review.

He wasn’t sure how to handle the problem. I did the research and created a post on LinkedIn for business owners who may have similar challenges. You can read it here.

Retain your audience

Getting people in the door is easy. Staying? That’s the tough part. It’s a big mistake to focus on new visitors and ignore returning visitors.

Survey your visitors to learn what they want. Survey Monkey is the best tool. Use the data to create content for your audience. Respond to comments and messages. Hire a copywriter if it’s’ tasking for you. Collect emails. It’s the best traffic source for your blog.

Blogging For Beginners: Everything You Should Know

Do not fear controversy

Remember the last Gillette advert, “The Best Men Can Be”. Gillette didn’t mention one word about shaving sticks or blades. Instead, they focused on toxic masculinity.  I shared my thoughts on Gillette’s advert here.

While many condemned the ad, Gillette got the response they wanted. A controversial ad that forced people to demanded attention. It has over 29 million views on YouTube and a wave of support from female celebrities on Twitter such as Chrissy Teigen.

Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Brands like Nike and Dove took a stand on issues that affected consumers.

Read voraciously

Great men and women love reading. A book is more than just ink. It’s wisdom. Books expose you to a new thought system. They challenge assumptions you’ve made, answer questions you’re asking and change your view of life.

I subscribe to over 20 blogs in my industry. Who are the influencers you love? Subscribe to their blog. You become a leader by reading extensively. Think of it as insider-knowledge into the minds of successful people. Here are some of the top copywriting books every aspiring writer should read.

Be unique

My former boss once said to me,

You don’t have to change the narrative, you just have to attack it from a new angle.

Whatever niche you choose, assume there are 1000 bloggers already doing what you do. The way you write and communicate sets you apart from the competition.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a cue from other bloggers but you need something that is entirely yours. That’s how you truly become successful.

Invest in your blog

Top bloggers like Jeff Bullas, Neil Patel and Darren Rowse have a massive budget for their blogs. They see it as part of their business. Think of money as a way to accelerate your progress and reach your blogging goals. Investment is the difference between top bloggers who succeed and those who fail.

Neil Patel shares this list of expenses he makes on Quick Sprout blog. You can’t afford to spend as much but create a budget to ensures you have a regular stream of content.

Image source

Use images to increase engagement and views

Images are super important on a blog post. Use relevant images in your posts. It could be infographics, stock images or illustrations. For this piece,  I’ve added several images to keep you engaged. Images improve visibility and entice your followers to read your content.

Optimise your content for search

Optimise your content to show up on Google image search results. No one reads your post if they can’t see it. Apart from keywords, use key phrases and entities to tell Google what your content is about.

Value over virality

Neil Patel says he gives everything away for free. He spends $30,000 a month on content to help his readers. It might sound strange. Why would people pay for information they can get for free? According to Neil, your business grows by 290%.

Many bloggers think it’s better to save their valuable information for paid content. Virality is a waste of resources because it doesn’t get you what you need. Value achieves more.

You drive more traffic, engagement, subscriptions and conversion. People are more willing to convert when they see first-hand that you’re passionate about helping them succeed. Valuable content increases trust in your audience and authority in your niche

7 places to find content ideas for your blog

Keep a doc file

Inspiration comes at odd times. Sometimes, it happens when am sleeping, cooking, running or at work. I use a notebook app on my phone to jot down my ideas.

On my pc, I have a doc file called “content ideas”. These are questions people ask me, a topic I want to explore or sometimes it’s a scene from a movie.

Read news and subscribe to blogs

Industry news is a great source of inspiration for your blog post. People want to hear your viewpoint regarding industry news. Google news and trending news on Twitter are also good sources of information for a blog post.

A Google alert for your choice of topic or query means you receive email updates of the latest Google results.

Content idea generator

A fresh and creative way to switch it up on your blog is to use a variety of content generators. Leave your go-to format and think of new ways to present information to your audience.

Is it a quote someone said or a success story you heard? Perhaps an infographic loaded with stats and facts. It could be a leaderboard ranking of blogs, people, events or locations.

You could create a tutorial or how-to guide that shows your readers practical steps to take. Publish your own webinar, a top list post or curate a list of interesting articles on a topic.

You could compare two competitive products pitting readers against each other or review a book you recently read.

Review your blog comments

I think of blog comments as a goldmine. Do guest posts for sites with more traffic and use the feedback for inspiration.

Use your keyword research

Proper keyword research is crucial to your SEO strategy. You’ll have an excel spreadsheet of keywords you’re trying to rank high for. Pick a long-tail keyword and tweak it into a blog post topic.

Repurpose your most successful posts

Go back to your top performing posts. Use the focus keyword or title as a Google search. Create a new post from the most successful posts that turn up on search results. Extract entities, add more information and find new angle others haven’t explored.

Invite guest authors on your blog

You don’t have to write every post on your website. I usually schedule the posts at a particular time, so it’s published when I am away. Avoid gaps in your content by asking people to write on similar subjects as guest authors.

Take a morning walk

It’s difficult to find inspiration when you’re stressed out. A short walk in the morning clears your mind. The sight of people, animals and fresh air rejuvenates you to find your creativity. It’s easier to find ideas for your blog post when your mind is clear.

Blogging for Beginners: 8 Tools You Need for Success

Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin

a Yoast Screenshot of Blogging for Beginners

This was the first plugin I installed on my website. You need Yoast if SEO is part of your blogging strategy. Enter a focus keyword and Yoast shows you how to improve the content for search. You can edit your meta tag description, slug and more. Keep in mind that Yoast is most effective when you know the keywords you want to rank high for.

Google Analytics

While there are paid tools on the market that provide better data, Google Analytics is the best free tool for bloggers. I recommend Monster Insight’s WordPress plugin to get detailed statistics from your site.

You can track referral links, watch visitors and view posts that reach the most people on social media. You also monitor your SERP results, clicks and more. You only need the predefined results in the early days. But as your blog grows in traffic, dive deeper into your audience.

Grammarly

I love Grammarly. I’ve talked about it as a copywriting tool every writer needs. The free version checks for basic errors you make in your writing. The premium version cost $29.95 a month and $139.95 a year.

While there are other spelling tools, none compare to Grammarly. It checks your writing style and gives you recommendations on how to improve your copy. I’ve installed Grammarly on my Chrome browser and Microsoft Word to ensure my work is error-free.

Buzzsumo

Need content guaranteed to make a splash on social media? Buzzsumo helps you understand the types of content and topics that perform well. It’s an in-depth tool to discover top influencers, key data, relevant topic and social media insight. Get more content ideas by researching trends and your competitors.

Canva

The best blog posts are intriguing. Social media is focused on images as the gateway to the reader’s mind. Your blog posts should include gorgeous graphics that holds the audience’s interest.

Use Canva to create infographics and images that look like they were designed. It’s a free tool that contains multiple premade templates in predefined sizes.

Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator

The headline is the most important element on your blog post. It entices readers to read your content. You have to get it right. 8 in 10 people read the headline. Ted Nicholas also said that 73% of buying decisions are influenced by the headline. In the famous words of Brian Clark, your blog is invisible with a poor headline.

Simply enter your target search queries in the blank space and watch as multiple blog post ideas pop up. Get creative and tweak the topic title to make it more interesting.

Mail Chimp

Image Source: https://mailchimp.com

Want to collect emails with your awesome blog posts? MailChimp is the best tool. An email list helps you build trust and develop a relationship with your audience. When you decide to sell a product or you’ve got big news to share, they’ll probably be your first buyers.

Combine Long Tail Pro and Google Keyword Planner for keyword research

I know you’re eager to create content right after setting up your blog. But, you need to do keyword research first. Don’t apply guesswork to your blog content.

Combine these tools for exact phrases people use on search engines. Long Tail Pro is in-depth. It gives you more information with filtering options to narrow the results.

Take the keywords from Keyword Planner and plug them into Long Tail Pro. You’ll get less competitive targeted keywords that convert better.

Blogging for beginners: Top Five Mistakes to Avoid

Trying to push content every day

new bloggers might tire out quickly

tired bloggers

Your mind is full of ideas in the early days. All you want to do is write. It’s new and your raving to publish ASAP. Truth is, it gets harder and you will slow down.

A good blogger creates an editorial calendar of blog posts and follows a blogging schedule. Lazy bloggers don’t update for months at a time.

Unpredictability frustrates your readers. Think of your obligations. If you can’t create content on your own, how much can you afford to pay a reliable copywriter? Space your posts so you have a steady stream of content. Better to publish twice a week than to have a content gap next week.

Forgetting about your audience when creating content

Do you ever go back to a blog post and pat yourself on the shoulder for the good job you’ve done? An idea that interest you might not be a good fit for your company’s image.

You want to solve problems and build a positive brand image. Your blog should serve your company’s goals. Ensure your content correlate with issues and concerns your prospects have.

The key is to find the balance between blogging on a topic that interest you and your audience. However, the purpose of your blog is to help the reader. Place the reader front and centre when researching ideas.

Writing like a robot

This happens when the blogger lacks confidence in their skills or is used to writing for an academic audience. A blog post is not a term paper. Most readers are scanning for information. Your content must read effortlessly and sound like an actual conversation you would have if the reader was in front of you.

Not capturing leads

This is a mistake I made. I wanted users to enjoy their experience on my site without any popups for the first couple of months. But I’ve started using MailChimp to capture leads as you’ve probably noticed.

Collecting email is one of my top priority. Email marketing generates 38x return on investment. That’s $38 profit for every dollar spent. You want your content to serve a purpose, rather than empty traffic.

Failing to promote your products or services on your blog

Social media is not the only place to sell. You can do it effectively from your blog. You’ve awed your audience with your incredible content. They feel smarter and empowered to practice the tips you’ve shared.

A happy audience is more receptive to convert at this point. Include non-interruptive links in the sidebar. It should lead to your product page. Create blog posts around happy customers who used your product and loved it.  Don’t be shy about selling a great product that solves problems for your audience.

10 Blogging Statistics You Should Know

  1. Creating blog posts is the biggest inbound marketing priority for 55% of marketers
  2. Only 18% of bloggers create content over 750 words in length
  3. 43% of readers skim a blog post, instead of reading every word
  4. 64% of B2B marketers outsource their blog copywriting
  5. Readers prefer “how to” headlines for blog posts
  6. Companies with fewer than 10 employees spend 42% of their marketing budget on content.
  7. Blogging increases your chances of getting a backlink by 97%.
  8. 96% of companies plan to maintain or increase their content marketing budget in 2019
  9. Blog posts of 2,000 words and above get the best result
  10. 58% of B2B content marketers and 60% of B2B marketers publish blog posts on a regular basis.

Conclusion

Blogging works. Every business should care about blogging. Business blogging is a marketing tactic that increases your online visibility and supports your business growth. It drives traffic to your website, converts traffic and establishes you as an industry authority.

Got questions for us or need help creating your blogging strategy? Call +2348037422278 or send an email to info@zenithcopy.com

 

 

Comments (2)

  1. Ewa Ozols
    Apr 04, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    Hello. This article was really remarkable, particularly since I was looking for thoughts on this matter last Monday.

    • Chima Mmeje
      Apr 05, 2019 at 6:14 am

      Glad I could Help Ewa

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