To reap the benefits of blogging, you need to put some work into it.
You can’t just write a post and expect your audience to line up to read it. First, you need to deliver your content straight to your target readers so they don’t have to look for it themselves.
Before that, you need to set up an editorial calendar so you can publish posts on a regular and consistent basis about your niche.
And even before that, you need to set up strong foundations on where your blog rests. That means choosing the best domain, hosting, and CMS, all factors of which will decide whether your blog audience will want to frequent your site or not.
While blogging is no walk in the park, there is a formula that you can follow to position your blog at the best place possible using the best tools and practices.
In this post at Your Escape from 9 to 5, I carefully detailed the steps that you need to take to ensure that your blog will achieve success sooner or later.
I have turned it into an infographic so you can also get a gist of what I’m talking about on the post.
Domain and Hosting
I suggest that you go with NameCheap* so you can manage both in a single place. It also delivers on the promise of its name – I pay $20 a year to manage this site, and it’s worked out well so far!
Also, I suggest that you use CloudFlare as your content delivery network (CDN) to manage the server requests from your visitors. You can install it on the CPanel of your NameCheap hosting with just a few clicks of a button.
You simply cannot go wrong with WordPress. It’s perfect for serious bloggers who want to get the most out of their blog. One of the best things about WordPress is the hundreds and thousands of plugins that you can install to supercharge your blog.
If you’re not comfortable with WordPress, then I suggest that you use Weebly. While it’s not a blogging platform in the strictest sense, its drag and drop feature allows you to create a stunning blog without any design experience. Also, you won’t need a hosting service for running Weebly because it runs on its own. On the downside, you will have to pay if you want to use its premium features.
Theme and Design
If you decide on using WordPress, then you can start by looking for free themes in this Colorlib post. Normally for blogs, you will need a Magazine theme since it’ll help showcase your posts the best way possible to your audience.
To make sure that you’re using the best theme for your blog, you need to make sure that it’s both mobile-friendly and lightweight. Regarding the former, you need to run it using Google Mobile-Friendly Test to make sure that search engines can tag your blogs optimized for mobile viewing. On the latter, run a Pingdom Website Speed Test to see if it loads faster than four seconds – 25% of your visitors will leave your blog if it loads longer than that. If it does, choose another theme.
To make your blog easy to find on search engines and make it appear on top of search results, you need to assign a target keyword to optimize on a specific page. The process of identifying which keywords to target can be nerve-wracking, which is why you need to a tool that will do the hard work for you.
In this case, I suggest that you use LongTailPro*, which will extract long tail keywords that you should target and the keyword difficulty of each. Use the most relevant ones with the lowest KD so you can maximize your opportunity in optimizing your blog’s SEO performance.
To read my review of Long Tail Pro, click here.
Once you have researched for the keywords with the least competition, it is best practice to also implement a link building campaign that will help you generate backlinks to your content. Correctly doing so allows you to increase your organic search on Google, thus making you easier to find by your target audience. To help you piece together your off-page strategy, read this helpful post about white hat link building at NikSto.com.
Setting up an publishing schedule for your blog allows you to prepare the posts in advance so you can write and auto-publish them on your blog.
There is no one way of developing an editorial calendar for your blog. I follow a simple process when preparing blog posts in advance using Trello*. However, this may not apply to everyone who isn’t used to using Trello. The important thing is you need to prepare ahead of time using any tool you’re comfortable so you can plot out your posts and set your publishing schedule to autopilot.
If you’re working with a group of bloggers and want to simplify the social sharing process of your post, then I suggest you use CoSchedule*. It’s a tool that you can use within WordPress to help make collaboration and assigning topics easier. More importantly, you can schedule the sharing of posts on your social media account before they even get published. You can also keep sharing them again and again to maximize their ROI using CoSchedule.
To read my review of CoSchedule, click here.
Since your posts won’t promote themselves, you need to make a deliberate and organized effort to reach out to your audience. Not all of them know your blog exists, so you should take this opportunity to make them now that it does, and it’s awesome.
Aside from the usual promotional tactics, one of the most effective ones is blogger outreach. This process entails you to send a well-crated email to influencers to build a genuine connection with them. From there, you can promote your latest posts so they can link to it or share it on social media.
While the ulterior motive of blogger outreach is to promote your blog, you need to craft a creative strategy that masks this fact. This may include actually wanting to build a relationship with each one of them first so you can enjoy a mutually beneficial synergy that will encourage them to promote content for you.
Tracking and measuring your blog performance is something that not all bloggers do. However, those who do delve in data mining and number crunching for their blog enjoy better results in the long run. The reason for the importance of blog analytics is the ability to see weaknesses that you can improve on. By taking action to the problems in your blog, you even out the edges that provide a better experience for your readers and possibly search engines.
For a beginner’s guide on how to proceed with web analytics, you can start by reading this post I wrote.
Also, when it comes to analytics tools, you can’t go wrong with Google Analytics. Not only is it one of the most comprehensive analytics tools available in the market, it’s also free to use. You can start using this tool first and read this as a guide on how to use it.
Wrapping it up
Blogging requires tireless work and creative thinking on your part before thousands of blog traffic and social shares, if not actual sales, come rolling it. It ultimately depends on how bad you want to succeed with your blog and how driven you truly are. By following the tips featured in the infographic and the post above, you already have the blueprint that you can replicate on all your blogs.