David previously worked with Europe’s No.1 Marketing Agency & the World’s No.6 biggest Integrated Marketing Agency, seeing first-hand how £150 million+ campaigns are executed to create household brands. Now he is the CEO of YewBiz and is focused on helping small businesses.
How to Start Blogging
Have you ever considered setting up a blog but do not know how, or the best practices?
Then this blog post will explain the definition of a blog, how to start a blog, blogging for beginners and any blogging tips that you may find useful.
What Is A Blog?
The definition of a blog is an online journal or diary, where owners and users can document information about a topic or hobby of their choice.
It can educate, promote, sell and entertain to its readers. Blogs can be websites on their own or a section on a website, however, this article will centre around a completely new blog.
Starting a blog can be for personal or business use, where there are different platforms available for each use and at different costings.
Why start a blog and how can it benefit small businesses?
Blogging, depending on how much effort you put in, can be worth your while. As a small business owner, blogging can increase site exposure to help achieve the sales you have been wanting, like a marketing strategy in itself. Here are five reasons to start a blog:
- Portfolio - If you enjoy writing, then a blog can be a great online portfolio to not only display your work but also to offer useful information or entertainment values.
- Skill Development - Starting a blog can also develop your technical skills, in setting up and maintaining a blog.
- Key Networking - It allows you to network with online readers, as well as experts in your industry.
- Keep Trendy - It allows you to write about current trends, linking to your business, to appeal to your readers and customers.
- To Capitalise - The most popular motive is to make money. If you can make money whilst writing form the comfort of your own home, then why wouldn’t you give it a go?
So, you have now decided to set up a blog, but have no idea where to begin? The following steps clearly explain how to set one up using both hosted and self-hosted platforms.
Step 1. Hosted vs Self-Hosted?
There are two methods to starting a blog – hosted and self-hosted.
A hosted blog is typically a free blog. If you opt for this method, your blog posts and files are stored on a designated server - your chosen blogging platforms’ servers.
Therefore, you do not own the content entirely. These types of blogs are easy to set up and are designed for blogging beginners.
A drawback is that hosted blogs have limited capabilities; personalisation is limited and making money can be difficult from limited advertising options. They can also look less professional.
Blogger is a great free platform, which is powered by Google. It offers a basic experience that is great for blogging beginners. It was one of the first blogging sites introduced to the market and only requires a Google account to get started.
A self-hosted blog is one which is held on either your server or a third-party hosting service.
This option is more professional as you own all the content that is being published, as well as having full control over the customisation of your site.
Any business looking to make money from their online content should choose this option, as you have full control over your site, and you can set up advertising for capitalisation.
Although you have free reign of your site, it can be overwhelming to design and customise, due to the endless capabilities of a self-hosted blog. Also, set-up can be challenging for a beginner but there is support available.
WordPress CMS is typically the easiest and most frequently used for people setting up a blog site.
There are many hosting providers which you can create a WordPress blog on. When choosing a host, you need to consider the speed of the server (how quickly pages load) and customer support options. Most hosts will offer a money-back guarantee, which is great if you find the platform hard to use.
Here are some of the popular hosts: Bluehost, Dream Host, HostGator and GoDaddy. Once you have decided on a host, you will then install WordPress onto the server. Many of the hosts offer a "one-click" option where they will do this for you.
Step 2. Choosing A Domain Name
Once you have decided on the type of platform, you need a domain.
A domain is your website name and the text that is written in the URL box of a browser. For example, yewbiz.com is the domain and https://www.yewbiz.com is the URL.
This is an option for both hosted and non-hosted channels, however, every domain needs to be registered before it can be used. Consider it a similar concept to a registration plate for a vehicle.
If you decide to use a hosted platform then you are usually given a free domain, but it will include the hosting server in the domain name. For example, yewbiz.wordpress.com. For a new blog, this is sufficient, however, to look professional, a registered domain name is recommended.
If you decide to use a self-hosted platform then you need to purchase a domain name. Domains are relatively cheap and work on a yearly subscription model. You would be looking to pay anywhere from £4.99 to £20 depending on how popular the name is.
Here is a list of websites that sell and register domain names:
I personally use 123-Reg is to register most of my domains. For the yewbiz.com domain, I used GoDaddy - you can read about my story of using GoDaddy here.
Step 3. Design Your Blog
All the logistical work is now out of the way and it is time to customise and create the look of your site.
A blog needs to have a landing/homepage, an about us and a contact page.
The appearance of a blog (unless you are a programmer) is based on a theme. A theme is a selection of templates that you can download to your website to change colours, font, etc.
Hosting platforms, like WordPress and Blogger, make it easy for blogging beginners as the layout is already determined and the capabilities are limited, meaning decisions are made quicker.
If you own a self-hosted platform, then you have full control over how you customise your site.
You can choose the layout, the colours, the font, the widgets (a program that displays code that can relate to social media, a newsletter form etc).
You can also add a newsletter function, to keep your readers up to date on your posts.
Step 4. Start Writing Your Blog Posts
You now need to write content to upload to your site.
This needs to be in keeping with your brand and based on a theme that will appeal to your readers.
Blog posts are usually between 500 and 2000 words long. But I am seeing some long "skyscraper" or "pillar" posts which are 8,000 words in length.
Any longer and I suspect that your readers will lose interest and will leave your site.
My top tip is to create a content schedule, this is vital to ensure you create content frequently and that your posts go out on time.
Step 5. Making Money From Blogs
So, you have now set up your blog but are wondering how to make money from it?
Unfortunately, this does not happen overnight. It takes time and effort to build up a larger following, epically as a blogging beginner.
However, there are many methods to make money and when it works, it can be profitable.
Most bloggers use advertising as a source of income as it is an easy method to set up on a blog and can be lucrative. Google AdSense is typically the site used for advertising on blogs.
All you need is to visit Google Adsense and sign up using a Google account. Google will then walk you through linking your account to your blog or your businesses website.
Affiliate links are URL links that are added to your site to promote another company’s products or services. Every sale you make, where customers are using your unique link will ensure you make a commission on it.
For example, I use a fantastic product called ActiveCampaign to help me automate my email campaigns. Lots of people use MailChimp, but I find ActiveCampaign more powerful and better for my business. So I registered for an affiliate account, and they provided me with a unique URL for me to promote:
(You will see my unique ID is 6FH8NGS3).
If you want to explore ActiveCampaign, you can sign up for a free trial here, no credit card needed.
These are easy to set up, all you need to do is find a product to promote that you feel will fit well into your business. If the company offers an affiliate programme, you will usually find details at the bottom of the company’s webpage (footer).
There are other monetization methods, including:
- Ecommerce/Electronic Commerce – the buying and selling of products and services utilising the internet.
- Sponsorship – where a company will send you a product or compensate you, to talk about the company on your blog or social media.
- Paid Advertising – where a company will dictate what will be said about it in a blog post, with you the creator being reimbursed or sent a product.
Blogging For Beginners Recap
I have outlined the five steps we have covered for you in the table below:
|One||Hosted v Self-Hosted|
+ Easy to use
+ Lots of capabilities
+ You fully own the content
+ Support available
- Difficult to start
- Too many options
|Two||Domain||Free domain but with the host’s name included, e.g. yewbiz.wordpress.com. Option to purchase a domain.||Need to purchase a domain to build site, e.g. yewbiz.com|
|Three||Design and Customisation||Layout is pre-determined |
Some themes available
Customisation of colours and font is limited
Access to thousands of themes
|Four||Writing||Write content that will appeal to your readers and will be in keeping with your brand identity.||Write content that will appeal to your readers and will be in keeping with your brand identity.|
|Five||Monetization||Limited methods are available. Very difficult to get started||Numerous methods available: |
• Affiliate Links
• Paid Advertising
- Consistency is key. Building a large following is only possible if you post frequently and on the same days. This is so your readers know what day they can expect content. When you are first starting, posting every other day, if not every day is what will build up your reader base and your traffic.
- Listen to your readers. If your readers like a certain topic you have written about, then write more posts on this topic as this is where your prime traffic will be.
- As much as written content is important, images are vital to keeping your readers intrigued.
- Google Analytics is a must. Even if you hate numbers, they are so important to track your progress. Using analytics can track who is visiting your site, from which country, how long they are viewing a post, and how they arrived at your site.
- Set up goals. Small but achievable goals such as 100 new subscribers every month or 1000 views a week will focus you and your content on success.
- The most important blogging tip - do not give up. Although it may be challenging, the results can be rewarding so push on through.
Blogging is not hard to do if anything it's time-consuming. But once you get started and if you write about a subject/topic that you are passionate about, then you will enjoy yourself.
So my advice is, if you don't already have a blog, go ahead and start creating one.