Over the past couple of years, blogging has become so popular in the internet circles that even those who do not have a writing talent have jumped on the bandwagon in order to join the blogging community.
Originally, blogging was a platform for people to express their sentiments and views on a wide range of topics from personal experiences to making tirades on issues they like or hate like politics.
However, many have used this platform to generate income online as well. But, before jumping into the blogging bandwagon, you need to start off by knowing how to start a blog.
Choosing a blogging topic is the first step on how to start a blog
As already mentioned, you can start a blog about anything. Just be sure that readers love what you are blogging about and that it is working for you. This is where identifying your niche comes in. So, what is a niche?
A niche is your blog’s general topic. It provides direction and focus, making your blog’s purpose easy to define and understand, not only by you but by your target audience as well. If you are starting a blog for purposes of making money online then you might consider these popular topics: memoirs, food, fitness and weight loss, decorations and photography.
Important questions to ask when choosing a niche
Here are four important questions that you need to ask when choosing your blog’s niche.
1. Is the niche specific or too broad for a start?
Ideally, you want to blog about a specific topic. This way, it will be easy to stand out from all the other blogs in your niche and gain credible traction from your target audience. If one of your goals is to make money online blogging, then remember the importance of traffic.
If you fail to attract many readers because your niche is too narrow, or get lost in the crowd because you have selected a broad topic, then you can be sure that your income will be affected.
For instance, instead of blogging about a broad topic like food, you might want to narrow down to something like desserts and pastries or peanut butter recipes.
2. Is the niche saturated?
Back in the days where there were not so many blogs, you could almost choose a topic and run home with it. However, things are a lot different these days. Some niches are really, really saturated and very difficult to break into.
Of course, it is not impossible to break through into such niches; however, you will need a lot of creativity and perseverance to break through. A deal blog is one such niche. Instead of targeting the nation with your deal blog, you might want to try starting one for your local area.
3. Is your audience willing to spend money?
This is an important question, especially if you are hoping to make money from your blog. Figure out how to find an intersection between your niche and target audience. For instance, if you are thinking about promoting luxury cars, then it is certainly a bad idea targeting college students. You may also want to find out if the other blogs in your niche are making money.
4. Do you have plenty to talk about?
You need a niche that you can write about regularly and authoritatively. Remember, you not in this for just a couple of weeks or months. If you are going to post once a week, then that amounts to 52 posts between January and December. If you are going to post three times a week, then you need to be ready to make 156 posts by the end of the year.
So, avoid something narrow so you do not run out of ideas only after a couple of weeks or months. Ideally, you want a niche in which you can be an authority.
Hosting your blog: Free vs. self-hosting
One of the most important decisions that you need to make is whether you are going to use a free hosted blog or whether you are going to opt for a self-hosted blog. This is important for a variety of reasons. But first, you need to know the difference between the two.
Free blog hosting
This is one in which you sign up with an existing blog service and put together your account for free. Free blogs are great with beginners; however, you may run into problems with it as you become a more established blogger since some of their key services are limiting.
For instance, most free blogs cannot be monetized. You cannot place ads and banners on them. However, some free blogs offer premium features like domain names, custom CSS as well as upload of audio and video files.
Starting Self-hosted blogging
Having a self-hosted blog means that you buy your own domain and web hosting service from your preferred vendors like Hostgator.com or WordPress Premium.
Click here to check out how to set up your hosting with Hostgator. Self-hosting gives you a lot more control over your blog’s design and content. In addition to including your premade themes and plugins, you can also set yourself apart by customizing your blog.
This is important for visibility and branding purposes. Having your own domain name gives you a better visibility as it offers better search engine optimization in comparison to free hosting.
One of the limitations of a self-hosted blog is the cost involved. However, this should not be so bad if you choose the right hosting service provider. In addition, you can offset this cost by implementing the right blogging strategies.
Search engine optimization and starting your blog
No matter how great your blog is, you will attract much audience if it cannot be indexed by the major search engines. This is where search engine optimization comes in. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing use page ranking software to determine the relevancy level to search queries.
Now, it is important to understand from the onset that search engine optimization is a process, one that requires diligence, effort, and patience.
The SEO strategy on starting a blog
As already mentioned, you need to keep in mind that SEO is a process that takes time to realize the desired results. Thus, you need the patience to wait for your blog to obtain the desired exposure. There are several strategies as far as search engine optimization is concerned. However, you need to identify the strategies that are applicable to your niche and focus on them.
Here are the SEO techniques that are commonly used by bloggers
Picking the right keywords is the first thing you need to focus on. This involves analyzing the keywords that are relevant to your niche. This is probably the most crucial aspect of search engine optimization.
Social media marketing is another vital traffic generation strategy. Thus, you can rely on the power of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to attract an audience to your blog. This begins by identifying your audience and taking your message to them.
Link building is another opportune strategy for your blog as it allows you to diversify the blog through other blogs that are already enjoying a great reputation in your industry.
Content marketing is another important SEO strategy that you must not overlook. Be sure to provide your audience with fresh content on a regular basis, and you can be sure that they will bookmark and share your blog with friends in their network.
Epilogue on starting out
Blogging is an excellent way to share your perspective on a myriad of life issues. Better still, you can earn money online from your blog. However, when figuring out how to start a blog, you need to start off by choosing a niche that you are an authority in. Next, decide whether you are going to use a free host service or a self-host service.
Finally, you need to figure out how to reach your audience by optimizing your blog in the search engines.