When you’re just starting out in the world of blogging, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. That blank page staring out at you seems to mock you; try as you might, you can’t summon the words for your first post, and you don’t know how to market or structure your blog, either. Rest assured that this is a problem facing many bloggers, and we’re here to help you with it. Here are 10 essential tips for first-time bloggers to help you overcome your “blog fright” and build the perfect blog for you!
1. Build your expertise first
You shouldn’t enter the world of professional blogging until you’re confident that you have the right level of expertise. Blogging is built around being knowledgeable and authoritative about your subject, and if you can’t say that you’re confident in talking about your chosen area, then you likely won’t make it very far. Research your topic extensively and make sure that you’re ready to be challenged whenever you write a post, because it will almost certainly happen.
2. Don’t quit your day job
Blogging is almost never instantly profitable. Ask any professional blogger and they’ll tell you that the money does eventually come, but you’ll probably need to wait a little while for it. As such, you shouldn’t quit your day job initially; instead, use the income to supplement your blogging endeavours. If you absolutely must walk away from your job, be sure that you’re claiming whatever benefits are owed to you while you blog, and know that you can always take advantage of loans on benefits if you need to.
3. Network with other bloggers
If there’s one thing that will help catapult you into the big leagues when it comes to blogging, it’s networking with other aspiring writers. Getting together with other folks who are looking to break into the same industry as you is almost always a good thing; you can share tips regarding how best to engage with clients and who’s accepting freelance work right now, and you can collaborate with each other in order to shore up your audiences as well.
4. Identify your audience
Different audiences call for different registers. Twas ever thus in the world of writing, so one of the best things you can do as a blogger is to identify your audience and know how best to write for them. Of course, you should always still “write like you”; don’t try to co-opt or adapt somebody else’s style, because you won’t develop a cohesive voice of your own. Think carefully about what your audience wants from you and how you can change your writing style to fit that audience.
5. Focus on content at first
While you will be tempted to get your graphics and branding right, the more important thing about a blog is having great content. First and foremost, people are visiting your blog to read what you’re writing, and although an enticing aesthetic will help to draw more people in, it won’t create long-term fans. Your writing will do that, so make sure that the content is on point before you start worrying about things like branding (which you will still need to focus on eventually!).
6. Optimise your blog for SEO
Google’s best SEO practices are constantly shifting and changing, but it’s definitely in your best interests to keep up with them and know what they are at all times. By keeping on top of this, you’ll be able to optimise each piece of content to rank as highly on Google as it possibly can. This goes for images, too; make sure your alt text is sharp and your images are the right size (and make sure you’re inserting images in the first place, as this can be a huge SEO boon).
7. Watch your analytics, but don’t live by them
As with any kind of content creation, your analytics are important, but they shouldn’t be all that drives you to keep creating new content. After all, your analytics might tell you that a certain post is doing well, but they won’t necessarily tell you why that post is doing well. Analytics could also dissuade you from trying new things and taking creative risks with your blog, which would be a mistake, as these risks are what can catapult you to the next level.
8. Figure out monetisation
Monetisation is one of the thorniest issues for bloggers. How are you going to translate your passion into a profession? There are a number of different avenues you can take to monetise your content, including asking people to subscribe, holding back some content for premium subscribers, and even freelancing for other blogs. However you decide to monetise your blog, though, make sure you do extensive research on whether that strategy will work for your chosen niche.
9. Don’t delete old content
If a blog post hasn’t performed particularly well, you might be tempted simply to get rid of it and move on. However, you should never do that. You never know when a piece of evergreen content could be rediscovered and shared for whatever reason, but you can be sure that if you delete it, that definitely won’t happen. Even if you’re writing news posts or content that deals with current affairs, don’t delete it if it doesn’t perform; you might be able to link back to it later.
Blogging is perhaps one of the most difficult jobs out there to do consistently well, and it’s even harder to make a living from it. With that in mind, if you’re absolutely dedicated to blogging as a job, then the most important characteristic you can have is perseverance. Make sure that you don’t give up, even when things are looking a little bleak, because you never know when a monetisation strategy is going to pay off or the right person is going to discover your content.