Blogging has become increasingly popular over the past number of years with over two-million blog posts written every day!
So, how can you expect to stand out in a hugely over crowded market?
Quality and interest.
These two aspects are imperative for the success of your blog and if you can’t combine the two then this isn’t the route for you to go down.
The reason so many blog posts are written every day is largely down to the fact that people have been promised an easy buck just for throwing some words up on a website. This simply isn’t the case and while it once might have been easy to create a niche specific blog with a few pages you could leave there and get money from, that certainly isn’t the case any more.
The focus has switched largely to authority blogs. People want specific answers to the questions they ask online and Google rewards the blogs that provide them. So, it’s vital that you’re going the extra mile to give this information to your readership.
Organic search certainly isn’t the only way you’ll drive traffic to your website but following the guidelines to creating a blog that Google approves of, is the surest way to create a sustainable blogging business.
In this article, we’ll look at how exactly you can create your own blog. From researching your niche, to creating content, and attracting and growing a readership. As with all the businesses featured on Acadoceo, blogging takes a lot of hard work and will take a mammoth amount of effort before you see a return.
Ok with that?
Good, then read through the rest of the article and learn everything you need to know about creating your own profitable blog.
What Should Your Blog Be About?
It’s much easier to grow a blog that’s based on a certain topic rather than trying to tackle everything at the beginning. In this way you can make sure you’re covering everything a person would like to know about that topic and it makes it much easier to grow.
This isn’t to say that you can’t move on to speak about other topics in the future, but you don’t want to spread yourself too thin when so much work needs to be done.
It’s much easier to be seen as an authority on one topic than it is on many.
So how do you pick what you need to write about?
Well, it’s much easier to write about something you have knowledge of and that you enjoy. This is essential on the days when things don’t go to plan or that little voice is telling you to quit. Having an interest in the topic you’re working on every day is going to make it a lot easier to sit in front of the computer.
However, there’s no point putting the work in of nobody else is interested in it.
You need to find a balance between what you enjoy, what’s going to attract a lot of attention, and what’s got good potential to make you money.
To find that sweet spot, you’re going to need to put in a huge amount of research.
Research, Research, and More Research
I know I’m repeating myself a bit at this stage but this point is crucial in determining whether your blog will become a success. The last thing you want to do is put in hundreds of hours of work only to realise that no one’s interested or that you’re not going to make much money from it.
So, first things first.
Write down a list of 10 things you have an interest in.
After you’ve done this you’ll be able to check what kind of interest there is in the subject, what the competition is like, and make sure it’s profitable.
To do these checks, you’re going to use a few tools. We’ll start with the Google Adwords Keyword Planner.
If you’re not familiar with the tool, Google’s Keyword Channel lets you find information on specific search terms to see how many searches they receive per month, how many results come from those searches (competition), and what the CPC* is on each term
* CPC or cost per click is a guideline as to what advertisers can expect to pay if they run a PPC (Pay per click or paid advertising campaign) using that keyword. The higher this is, the better, as it will help you to monazite your site.
Ok, so let’s say we put the following 5 at the top of our list of interests:
We’ll start with the first term – Gardening.
Now this is much to broad to start your overall website with, but it could be your end goal. If you search this term you’re going to get a huge amount of results back and lot’s of competition. However it’s a good idea to run the search and check.
When you log into Google Keyword Planner, you’ll be met with the following screen. Click the first option “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.”
Set the location to the United States. You can broaden this later if you wish, however, most ad revenue will come from users in the US so it’s important to know the results from here. Leave the other settings as they are and run search. When your search results come back, make sure you’ve selected the tab “Keyword Ideas” You’ll get the following.
So, searching for gardening shows that around 22,000 people search for this term frequently. Not a bad amount. We can already see that Google thinks the competition is Medium, however, you’ll need to check this out further to get a better idea. To do this, simply run a Google Search with the term “Gardening”.
That’s a lot of competition! That’s far too many results to expect to make a dent. The CPC is ok but it’s not the highest. Ideally, you want to be looking for a minimum of $2-3 per click. The higher the better.
So lets dig a little deeper into the Gardening Sector.
A great place to find relevant searches are on the results you got from the Keyword planner. Here, you can see relevant terms and even sort by the many headings. You can even find good suggestions at the bottom of the Google Search you just did.
Or simply break it down yourself. People who are looking at gardening are probably looking for more specific information such as, gardening for beginners, when to plant certain vegetables, how to keep a green house etc.
Search everything you can think of and keep an Excel spreadsheet so you can keep everything recorded.
Remember Authority, Not Just Niche
This is a really important point to remember as it’s not enough to be just a niche site any more with a few pages. You need to be a complete authority on that niche.
Having more pages means that Google will see you as more of an authority. So will your readers. As long as the pages you have are of high quality, your SEO rank will be boosted, your bounce rate will be lowered, and your retention rates will be much higher.
The way in which websites are scored has changed dramatically in recent years and there are a number of factors that will lead to you becoming an expert in your field. These include:
- High quality content that completely answers a users question
- Related articles of the same quality
- Long content (3,000 – 5,000 words)
- Different mediums of content (Articles, Videos, Presentations etc.)
- Social signals
- Keyword optimisation
- Length of time spent on page
We will go into more detail in creating content in another article but it’s important to understand the importance of those elements while conducting your research.
Ok, so continuing on with the Gardening theme a little more research showed me that the term ‘Organic Gardening’ had potential.
Looking at the results for the search term, I can see there are roughly 870,000 results. Now you might think that’s a lot, but you need to look at the competition you’re up against.
The first result listed is a gardening website that has an organic gardening website.
The articles are on the short side so we can definitely improve on that. They have a large social following but that’s only a small issue. Their website design isn’t the easiest to navigate and in my eyes, they aren’t doing the best job of answering the questions that users are most probably asking. In fact, there’s only about 10 articles listed on the topic which we can definitely improve upon.
That’s the main thing you need to look out for.
Can you realistically improve upon this?
You’ll get better at answering that question with experience but look out for the above elements and see where you can improve on them.
Back to the search, other results aren’t much better and there’s a wikipedia page and YouTube page listed which is good news as we should be able to rank higher than those if we create good content.
What about related keywords? We can’t just focus on one, so we need to analyse what other potential’s we have, what competition there is, and if there is any low-hanging fruit.
Here’s some research done for our new gardening authority site. We’re looking at long-tail keywords here as they’re easier to rank for.
I’ve identified some that seem promising, the one’s highlighted in yellow are our ‘low-hanging fruit’. The terms with very little competition that we would want to rank for quickly. We’d focus on these before moving on to the more difficult terms.
In order to do this effectively, we’ll need to create a content strategy that includes these keywords. We’ll cover this in an in-depth content guide later.
Determining the Popularity of Your Subject
Now you should have a good idea of the keywords available for you chosen interests, you need to check how popular each of them are. To do this, you can use Google Trends to get an idea of how popular your topic is.
It’s very simple to use, just head to Google Trends, enter the search term and hit enter.
Now, we can see when we analyse the term “Organic Gardening” That its:
- A) Been falling in popularity year on year
- B) Seasonal
Seasonal search terms are to be avoided completely however, it’s better (especially for your first blog) to pick a topic that has interest year round. We can also see which countries the term is most popular in.
Here, the top countries are Tier 1 countries which is good. You want a term that does well in the US, Canada, UK, & Australia primarily.
Creating Your Brand
Now you have all of your research done, it’s time to put it all together. Try to invent a ranking or point scoring system based on your interest in the subject, it’s keywords, and it’s popularity.
The one that scores the best is the one you need to go with.
Once you have your subject and ideas for initial content, you can start thinking of your name and building your brand.
A lot of people will tell you to get a search keyword into your domain name. This doesn’t work as well as it once did as Google caught on to the fact that people were doing this solely to increase their rankings.
That’s not to say that it has no bearing anymore, it definitely does. However, you really need to think of a brand as it is a strong brand that makes a business sustainable.
I always use the test, would I like to wear merchandise with the name i’ve chosen?
Something like ‘Orgardener’ is going to appeal to more people than ‘Organic Gardening Tips’.
Disclaimer: At the time of writing these weren’t taken as far as I could see!
Everything you should be thinking about is in the long term. If you want to scale your business up then these are the elements you need to be thinking of now. Along with your name, you need to create your logo and think of what your message is and make sure that everything you create on your website or social media sticks to that.
Again, we’ll create a full branding guide to take you throw everything you need to take into account in order to make a memorable brand.
How to Set Up Your Blog
You now need to create your blog. This means picking a CMS (content management system) and choosing hosting that suits you.
Let’s look at CMS first. Unless you’re a coding wizard that is fully comfortable building from scratch, it’s recommended you use WordPress to build your website on.
Over 20% of all websites online are built on WordPress and for good reason. As an Open Source software, it is continuously being updated and there are a huge amount of talented developers creating stunning templates and useful plugins. Pretty much anything you need on your site, you’ll be able to find a ready made solution for. If not, it’s not hard to find someone to develop a bespoke solution for.
Most big hosting providers have a one-click install that sets up WordPress for you after you enter in some basic information. This is especially useful for non-technical people and it’s still a real time saver for people who are more technical.
If you’re set on hosting from a provider that doesn’t provide this set up then make sure you download the latest version from wordpress.org. There are many videos on Youtube that will guide you through the set up and we’ll also be creating a step-by-step process in getting your WordPress site up and running.
In terms of hosting, there are many different services and people will offer you a huge amount of recommendations. What you need to look out for are the following things:
This is from my own personal experience and i’ll go into some more detail as to why these factors are so essential.
Reliability relates to uptime. You don’t want your site on a server that goes down at the same rate as a professional footballer. Downtime should be incredibly rare because it not only affects user-experience, it affects your Google search rankings as well.
Support is essential, particularly if you struggle with technical aspects. Write a list of questions and call the company to get a feel for them. You want them to reassure you on whatever you’re worried about. Remember, a hosting provider is there to help you specifically with server and hosting issues, they can’t build your website for you. However, some companies will offer to help you through getting set up initially.
Most importantly you need reassurances to their reaction time. If your site goes down, what’s their protocol? How quickly can they respond and what’s the ticketing system like? You need to get an understanding of this and know what to expect.
My initial hosting provider promised a rapid response time and initially this was adhered to. Unfortunately, that service dwindled and ended up in a server issue that took 3 weeks to resolve. In that time my sites were completely down. Daily phone calls went in but made no difference. In the end it was resolved by my new hosting company swooping in, transferring all my files over and getting me set up again, in a matter of hours.
Those 3 weeks really hurt my business and thankfully my new providers have been great. They also offer a service which relates to my third point – scalability.
When you start, you’re going to see a trickle of traffic come through. As you grow, your traffic will do too and you need to be able to be ready for something going viral (hopefully!).
To give you an example of this. One of my sites would have a steady stream of traffic, around 30-50 people on at any one time. Then, one of my lovely visitors shared an article onto Reddit and boy, was I unprepared.
It hit the front page and 800 people were trying to get on at the same time repeatedly. This was too much for my server and the site crashed over and over. Not a good experience for the people trying to read the article.
Not a great experience for me trying to find a solution quickly.
This kind of spike only lasts for a few hours to a few days, so you don’t want to spend money on a huge server that you don’t use for the majority of time.
Siteground, my hosting provider, has an ‘Autoscale’ option for users using cPanel hosting.
As you can see, you can adjust your CPU and RAM automatically depending on usage, setting a limit to what you want it to cut off at. This means that it will go up by 1 CPU, or 1 GB of RAM every time you hit 90% usage automatically and you only pay for what you use.
Which means every time since and now that I log into Google Analytics to see the following, I know my sites going to stay up!
Apologies about the bad quality, screen capture wasn’t working and I relied on my phone with my shaky hands!
Other hosting providers may have this option too but I didn’t come across it when looking to switch hosting providers. This option, combined with their reliability, and excellent support is the reason I have all of my websites hosted on SiteGround.
Check them out, check others out and pick which one suits you best!
Now That the Basics Are Covered
Ok, so this should give you a basic knowledge into what you need to know about starting a blog. We’ll be going into each past in more detail, including running your blog and growing it as you move forward.
You’ll need to know how to create fantastic content as well as attracting people to read it.
We’ll post the links below here as they’re completed and will be featuring our own case study so you can see exactly what’s involved and the time scale on these things.
You’ll also want to know how exactly you’re going to make money from it so check out this article on monetizing your blog.
On top of that, we’ll also be creating videos for people who prefer to see how things are done.
Stay tuned and start thinking about what you’re going to base your blog on!