Getting Started With Your Content Blog: The Complete Guide
When I started doing all of this some years back, I realized that a lot of people have come and gone in this industry. Had their own share of mistakes, learnings, and victories. However, it’s one thing to know, it’s another to teach. Most of the advice on the internet seemed so complex to a non-techie passionate writer like me. It felt like someone had started communicating code, that too in Greek! And I was so close to giving up my dream of making blogging a source of income. I tried and tried till I made sense of this space and with the skills I picked up working in the ad tech industry I now guide bloggers and entrepreneurs in their quest. I’ve prepared this small write-up to help you focus on your agenda and breakdown your goals before you get started and be afloat for 6 months.
MAKING A CONTENT BLOG
Questions to ask yourself?
- Why are you doing this?
- What’s the main purpose?
- How important is it to make immediate money from this?
- How frequently can you upload articles onto the website?
- If you’re a non-techie, are you truly ready to embrace some new learnings?
You might wonder what these questions have anything to do with the objective of helping you. Basically, I firmly believe in the Golden Circle Theory which states that the WHY behind anything comes before the WHAT and the HOW. So, it’s imperative to know what drives you for any business or your passion to succeed.
Now try answering these questions –
Why are you doing this? What’s the main purpose?
One need not only make a blog to make loads of money. It might be just a passion for some. However, I will assume that our readers intend to make some extra income from their blogging project.
So, let’s make it clear – we want to earn using this blog. It might seem redundant, but believe me, when you’re getting carried away with interesting topics to write on, or personal stories, it will be important to remember your WHY – You want to earn from your blog.
How important is it to make immediate money from this?
Making money, and making quick money are two very different things. Making long term money from a blog revolves around consistently writing brilliant articles and building an audience that looks forward to reading your content.
Over time, they are addicted to your website and then you can monetize it through advertisements, affiliate offers, or product stores like Amazon or Etsy. But, if you want to make quick money from your blog, you need to ensure every article you write is heavily based on good keyword research – write on topics easy to rank for on Google (topics with good search volume and low keyword difficulty).
Apart from this, you need to invest into topics that could be potentially viral on social media to gain quick traction.
Few smaller things that one needs to decide is either a product-centric approach whereby you focus on User Experience and design your website accordingly OR a monetization centric approach where you overload the website with ads. Once again, the former is a long term game and the latter a short term one. Hope by now you can see how your strategies will be starkly different based on the answer to this question.
How frequently can you upload articles onto the website?
Dreaming big is good for everyone’s confidence and health. I truly believe. I grew up wanting to make it to Top 100 on Forbes, but that’s a different story – one we can dive into later 😉
However, reality checks are very important in life, so let me help you with one. You want to create a mind-blowing blog, and monetize it, want it to be socially viral – all is good. BUT, do you know how much time you can invest in all of this? To help you with some rough numbers writing a good quality article will take a first-time blogger 4-5 hours (spell checks, SEO compatibility check, plagiarism check, finding relevant images, uploading and formatting)
Besides writing, you will have some other tasks like building your theme for the website, getting some basic designs, figuring your social media pages and updating them constantly, learning how to use some tech tools (if you’re a non-techie) — which is all approximately 3-4 hours per week.
So, if you want to publish ONE article per week, you need to at least invest 8-10 hours per week. This should help you chalk out your pace and growth.
Ideally, it’s good to publish 1-2 articles per week on your blog.
There are ways to invite others to contribute on your blog as well through Guest Posting, which eases your burden of coming up with articles yourself and can potentially increase traffic as the Guest Author will also share his/her article on your blog with his/her audience.
But if the quality of those Guest Posts is not great, remember that it will still reflect on your brand and hence your user loyalty.
If you’re a non-techie, are you truly ready to embrace some new learnings?
I’ve in my journey of these years have seen a lot of people with true potential trying this sector and giving up within a couple of months. Simply because it is very easy to get overwhelmed by the new technology and tools that you will have to use to make a decent website.
For most people including myself, finding a domain name, hosting, choosing between themes, setting up plugins, customizing the website to what we want it to look like is all a first time experience.
My two cents on it – literally nothing is rocket science about blogging. All it takes is, like most other things in the world, persistence. Just keeping Googling as you stumble on any issues, find the answer, implement and keep your fingers crossed till you encounter the next issue 🙂
PS – I have always trusted GoDaddy when it comes to finding a domain name, and Siteground for hosting.
TOOLS YOU NEED FOR YOUR CONTENT BLOG
- SEO Quake
- Google Trends
- Similar Web
- Lean Domain Search
- GoDaddy Auction
You must be all geared up to use the most convenient tools to create and monetise your blog. I will address all the resources one needs in the form of most frequently asked questions by first time bloggers in one article each. In case, your question isn’t featured here, feel free to mention in the comments 🙂
Q1 – What does one write about? Personal experiences? What does everyone keep saying about picking a niche? How broad or narrow should a niche be? How will I know that I’ve chosen the right topic?
Woah! Okay. Slow down. Let’s take it step by step.
Rule 1 – Write Valuable Content
No matter what you write about, one thing needs to be clear – your content MUST help someone reading it. It can’t be content that is already out there, it needs to serve a purpose. In industry terms, it’s consumer-centric. And the reason to keep it is so is not so noble. It is for your own benefit – the more helpful your content is, the more people will read it, the more people will share it and the more organic traffic you will get. And all of this equals to, more money.
Rule 2 – Write about something that you’re passionate about
Now coming to what should you write about. Again, there’s a ground rule here – write about something that you are passionate about or at least know enough about. You can’t hate movies and choose to create a blog about acting – even if you plan to outsource your content you will still need to come up with the content strategy for the blog and that will surely need you to have interest in the topic. So yes, like most people I shall also advise you to create a website about a topic you connect with.
Rule 3 – Write for wider audiences, not yourself
Yes, you can choose to write about your personal experiences, no doubt, but it needs to connect with a wider audience. Remember, you’re creating a website to monetize, NOT publishing your personal diary online.
For example, even I’m sharing my personal experiences and learnings but it is to benefit a wide range of people who are interested in blogging. Some valid personal experience topics are travel stories that people can benefit from, food recipes that you’ve created or any skill you’ve learned or simply your weight loss journey.
Rule 4 – Pick the topic that has diversity
At this point, you might be getting some ideas about what you can write about. Let me stop you for once, and brief you about one more rule. Yes, it’s important to ensure that you’re writing about something you are passionate about, BUT it’s also important to check the total scope of the topic. You need to evaluate how many articles can you create around the topic.
A simple way to do that is take a pen and paper, and start scribbling all the possible sub-topics around your topic that you could write at least 600-700 words for.
Let’s do one together – my topic is helping people earn through blogging as a side income. My sub-topics could be – content, domain selection and hosting, social media marketing, buying paid traffic on facebook, how to use Pinterest to your benefit, tools to get free images, and so and so forth.
So as you can see I am able to quickly list down sub-topics that are big enough for a 600-700 word article. If you can’t have at least 30-40 sub-topics you can ideate around, then maybe your topic is too small for a website. Even if you can’t come up with sub-topics at least look for related topics that can be addressed on the same blog. So using my example, related topics could be other ways of making side income, like freelancing as content writer or registering as a Uber driver to make money.
For SEO purpose it is important to ensure that your article is anywhere between 700-1500 words.
Rule 5 – Find Topics with high search volume & low keyword difficulty
While choosing a topic it is critical to check 2 important parameters – search volume and keyword difficulty. Don’t panic! They are simple terms. Search volume is simply the total number of people searching for this term on Google or Yahoo or other search engines. And keyword difficulty is the difficulty to rank for this term on search engines – so the higher it is, it means that lots and lots of people have already written/created images/videos about this topic and very little scope is left. If the keyword difficulty is low, and the search volume is decent, then you have hit the gold spot!
SEO Quake is a free google chrome extension that you can download and for every search it will show you the volume and difficulty for the keyword.
Rule 6 – Ask yourself How can I Monetize the Content?
One of the most important factors in choosing what to write about is – how can I monetize the content – will there be relevant advertisements or affiliate offers for my content? So if I am writing about medical travel then I am confident that I will get affiliates for my content and that the topic has potential to be further explored.
It’s easy to identify this – all you need to do is sign up on a trustworthy affiliate platform like Commission Junction.
You can create a profile of your website (without having a company or any traffic on your site) and browse through all relevant affiliate offers. While going through the offers look at the EPC (earning per click) and the revenue share.
Some advertisers would say that, if you provide me a sale I will give you a 40% commission. This is a revenue share deal. They are very lucrative but the only caveat being conversion. If there’s no conversion you might end up with nothing. And like I’ve mentioned before, the only trick to conversion is being relevant. You cannot expect to convert a sale of the mattress on a travel blog.
Rule 7 – Analyze the Lifespan of the Topic
Once you have identified the topic you want to write on, it is important to see the history and life span of that topic – to see if it’s been growing. A very simple way to do it is through Google Trends.
Enter your keyword on Google Trends, and search for 5-year historic data in your geography.
Rule 8 – Perform Competition Analysis
This one is not so mandatory but will surely help to validate your thoughts so far. There’s no harm in borrowing brilliance – yes I am talking about your competitors. Create a list of competitors once you’ve narrowed down your topic. Now, go to similarweb.com – you can use the free version.
When you go there check for the source of traffic – you shall be able to see various heads like Search, Direct, Social, Email, etc. At this point the two important things to check are – High search traffic means that people are organically coming to this website which also means that your topic is something which has the potential to have organic traffic. The other thing is checking social traffic – potential to do well on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram has become a very important factor these days for websites.
Coming to Niche – you will often read about this term and hear bloggers talk about it seriously. Like the word indicates, it’s a small window of opportunity. It’s a topic that has average number of people searching for it, but it’s not popular, so not too many people have written about it yet, which makes it easier to rank of the first page of search engines. For example, knitting or socks or acid reflux diet.
It’s not necessary that you need to pick a niche to succeed. You can take widely competitive topics like travel, education or finance and also succeed as long as you produce some uniquely brilliant content and figure the right way to get an audience for it.
Phew! You must be overwhelmed by now. But trust me, it’s better to follow these rules and decide on something concrete rather than investing time into a topic and later realizing that it wasn’t worth the effort.
Once you’ve crossed this hurdle, get to the next article of this series. It talks about how to choose your domain and hosting.
Q2 – What about my Domain Name? Where to find cheap ones? Should I buy a new domain or an old one?
Brilliant! Now that you know what category you want to write about, you’ve won half the battle.
Few things to keep in mind about your domain name.
Rule 1 – Keep it simple & Short
Keep it simple, and short. Ensure that with just your domain name the reader knows what you write about. For example, if you’re writing about beauty, or fashion, or style – then ensure that one of these words are a part of your domain name. Yes, yes, I know it’s difficult to find.
Check out leandomainsearch.com. Simply enter your keyword and it will show all available domain names around it.
I’ve used Godaddy for donkey number of years and I must tell you I’ve not been let down ever. When searching on Godaddy for domains, try to also search for Godaddy auction. You can simply enter your budget and keyword here and hunt for old domains.
The only benefit of doing so is that older domains tend to have some authority already (Domain Authority) – in very simple terms, think of it as – a young 20 year old starting a business vs. a 35 year old starting one. People (or in this case, Google and other search engines) tend to have more trust in the older man as they might have some credibility from their past experiences. The old domain might have had some viewership in the past, which might benefit you now.
Just be sure to check that the old domain was not posting any obscene content – you can check that here.
Rule 2 – Always prefer (.com) over others
The other perennial question – should we buy a .com domain? My default answer to this is YES. Even if you have a website that only caters to one single country it’s better to choose a .com domain – you never know when later it might be relevant to some other country. However, if you’re not getting your keyword in the domain or it’s too expensive, then it’s not so important to get a .com domain.
Q3 – What next? Hosting? WordPress or WIX or Weebly?
Like I keep saying, please breathe. You’re on the mission to create good content, not some foot soldier at world war.
Congratulations on registering a domain name. Please ensure you can see it in your orders on GoDaddy or any other provider that you’ve used. The next is to figure hosting – without getting into too many unnecessary details I will explain the concept of hosting to you briefly.
Think of it like renting a house, you can either have the whole house to yourself or share it with some people. Likewise, it will be cheaper to share, and more expensive if you have it all to yourself. However, you’ve got more privacy, security, and flexibility if you have the house to yourself, right? Similarly, having a dedicated server for your website is the best option, if you have the money for it. But, a shared hosting suffices till the time you’re less than 150,000 users monthly. It’s best to not invest into dedicated servers till the time you are sure of making back the money you’ve put in.
As far as my journey has been SiteGround has been an economical and trustworthy hosting partner. The few things I kept in mind while choosing a hosting service was price, reviews online, services provided and most importantly customer care. For most, non-tech bloggers there are roadblocks while setting up the website and at that point, you want partners who’re willing to help you out.
So, here it is. You have learned how to start your content blog from scratch today, what all tools you need, what all rules you need to follow.