Understanding how to blog correctly is important. We shall provide some blogging tips and a complete guide to blogging for those new to this form of online interaction. If you want to blog seriously, or even to make money as a professional blogger, this guide explaining how to blog effectively and profitably will be of significant benefit to you.
Most bloggers are interested only in running an online diary – this was the original purpose of blogging. However, with the development of content management systems that extended the potential of such online diaries, many people discovered how to blog and make money. Google introduced Blogger and eventually WordPress became a competitor with its own free blog, operated from its .com site.
Ultimately, WordPress offered its CMS to those wishing to host their own sites, this being made available from the .org site. These blogging tips and guide to blogging will be centered on self-hosted WordPress blogs that are run professionally. That is, their fundamental purpose is to make money.
You will learn how to host WordPress on your own domain. WordPress can be installed by virtually one click from any web hosting service offering cPanel or any other easy installation service such as the Fantastico software auto-installation service. It can also be installed manually from the WorPess.org website.
Here are the steps involved in setting up your own blog online. This will explain how to blog using WordPress, this being the most popular CMS system online.
HOW TO BLOG: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO BLOGGING
- 1. Choosing a Niche
- 2. Niche Focus and Keyword Selection
- 3. CMS Platforms
- 4. Web Hosting Services
- 5. Blog Setup
- 6. Themes, Plugins and Graphics
- 7. Blog Content
- 8. Target Audience and Attracting Readers
- 9. Essential Pages
- 10. Email Subscription Lists
- 11. Connectivity
- 12. Site Analysis
- 13. How to Increase Traffic
- 14. How to Make Money
- 15. Branding Your Blog
- 16. Blogging SEO
- 17. Review and Revise
- 18. How to Blog – Summary
1. CHOOSING A NICHE
You must have something to blog about. If you are using your blog professionally, then you must choose a niche. This will not always be your personal interest or passion. Armenian basket weaving might be an interesting pastime, but you will be unlikely to make much money from it. You are even less likely to get many visitors to your blog, other than other basket weavers.
Forget your own interests to an extent and go for something that can make you money. You must still have an interest however, or you will find it difficult to write about the subject every day. The underlying need is for your niche to have large numbers of people who are interested in it. You must be able to sell products and services on a regular basis in order to make a living from your blog. For more information read our article: How to Choose a Profitable Niche for Blogging.
2. NICHE FOCUS AND KEYWORD SELECTION
To get your blog started, you must choose an aspect of your niche that has the potential for a significant number of visitors. Keyword research can help you achieve this by finding the search terms that are used most in your niche.
2.1. Keyword Tools
If you can identify what people are looking for online, and then meet that need, you have a better chance of success than if the topic of your first post referred to some obscure aspect of your niche. There are several good keyword tools online, but for this purpose it is best to use the free trial offered by Wordtracker.com.
2.2. Using Wordtracker
Wordtracker is one of the most established keyword research tools available online. Go to the Wordtracker.com website and sign up for the free trial. Enter your generic keyword into the search box. We shall use ‘create a blog’, ‘how to blog’ and ‘blogging tips’ as an example here.
Click ‘Search’ and you will find something like this:
What you see is a number of keywords related to the keywords use. The terms used above the list are:
Number of searches for that keyword carried out by real people (not robots) over the past 30 days.
Direct competition for the keyword on a scale of 1 – 100 (so lower is good).
‘In Anchor and Title’ is the number of competing pages with the KW in the Title tag for the page and also in anchor text used in a backlink to the page from another website. It is a good indication of the competition for the keyword. The lower the better.
The Keyword Effectiveness Index is the relationship between search volume and competition. The higher this figure, the more profitable this keyword is liable to be.
2.3. Finding a Good Keyword
To find a good keyword from this list, check the ‘KEI’ column. The higher the better. What you are looking for is a balance between a high ‘KEI’ and a high ‘Searches’ result.
While the top result, ‘create a blog’ has the highest demand (searches) it also has second highest competition. ‘How to create a blog site’ might seem stilted, but it is still used by a number of people – 1,599 searches every month. ‘Create a blog’ has 4,185 searches/month, and is also contained within the top KEI term.
It would appear from these results, that for this keyword (create a blog), the best choice would be the term ‘How to Create a Blog Site.’ You could use this as a title for a page, for example, with ‘create a blog’ as your primary keyword. A combination of highest KEI and highest Searches.
For the actual competition, go to Google and use the keyword in the search box in this form: “create a blog” using the quotes. This provides the number of competing web pages using this exact keyword. Here’s what we get:
764,000 results is a reasonable target to compete against. Some bloggers are competing against 764 million or more!
What this keyword research has revealed is that if you want your blog to cover the blog creation niche, then “how to create a blog site” is an excellent name for your blog.
2.4. Domain Registration
If you then go to www.domainsbot.com you can find what domains are available using this keyword. We found this for create a blog:
So, in this example, create-a-blog.co and create-a-blog.me are available for registration while five others are for sale. Keep in mind that this is simply an example, and you will get better or worse results for your own choice of domain name.
If you have options, then use namechk.com to find the availability of you being able to use the domain name as a handle on social networking sites. Namechk will list those social sites where nobody is using your preferred domain name as a handle (not website name, but in their user name). You are better to use an option with most availability in this regard, all other factors being equal.
You could also manually check for Twitter handles or Facebook page user names. It is always better if you can use your chosen domain name as your handle on social sites that permit this.
Use your favorite registrations site, such as GoDaddy, to register your preferred domain name. You are now ready to set up your blog. You can often get discounts on domain registration. Visit our domain names coupons section for getting such discounts.
3. CMS PLATFORM: FREE OR SELF HOSTING?
The content management system you use can be either free or self-hosted. Here is an explanation of each.
3.1. Free CMS Platforms
The two most popular free platforms are Google’s Blogger and the WordPress platform available from WordPress.com. You can run your blog from these platforms without having to pay for web hosting. However, the functionality of your blog will be severely limited, and this is not a recommended option for a professional blog.
If you intend blogging professionally you should install WordPress onto your own domain. As explained earlier, this can be done from cPanel or any other control panel offering Fantastico. If your web hosting service does not offer this facility, then go to WordPress.org and follow the download and installation instructions. It is also possible to have this done for you at a price – check online for a WordPress installation service.
To summarize: if you want to blog seriously and to base your business around your blog, then it is essential that you select a self-hosted blog. If all you want is to use your blog as a hobby without a great deal of customization, then Blogger or the free WordPress.com service should be all that you need.
4. Web Hosting Services
In order to run your blog from your own website you must first have your own website! We have already explained briefly how to choose and register a domain name. Now that you have your domain name registered, you must now select a web hosting service.
The web host provides you with space on the World Wide Web so that your blog can be found on the internet. It also provides the storage space for the files that run your blog, and usually a control panel to enable you to administer your website.
You are highly advised to choose a web hosting service that provides a control panel offering email services, traffic analysis, HTML and text editing facilities, MySQL databases and an easy way to install WordPress. These features will all make your life a lot easier.
If you want to access the best possible web hosting service to meet your needs, then it is important that you take the correct advice. Check out our reviews of the web hosting services that should best meet your needs. Also visit web hosting coupons section for discounts on web hosting.
5. BLOG SETUP: HOW TO SETUP YOUR BLOG
We shall now assume that you intend to set up a professional blogging site and use it as a profitable business. Once that you have your domain name and web host service organized, you must now set up your blog.
If you have selecting a hosting service that uses a cPanel control panel, then uploading WordPress to your site is easy. You have the choice of a single or multiple blogs. You can use your primary domain name or an add-on or subdomain for the blog. Here’s the difference:
5.1.1. Primary Domains
Your primary domain is the domain name that you initially registered with your web host. Depending on your hosting service, you can use that domain as a platform for your blog or for multiple other virtual websites. Services offering cPanel, such as Hostgator and BlueHost, allow you to register unlimited add-on domains or subdomains.
5.1.2. Add-on domains
Add-on domains are separate domain names that you must purchase, but that can be run as different websites with their own URLs from your main domain. For example, if you purchased the domain name “mydomain.com” and loaded WordPress to the root directory of that domain, your blog URL would simply be www.mydomain.com.
If you then registered another domain name, such as techlila.com, you could park/point that domain onto your main domain as an add-on domain, the files for which would be held in a separate directory. You could install WordPress onto that directory, and run the blog as a separate website, www.techlila.com.
A subdomain also runs from its own directory, but is not a website in its own right. If you choose to run a subdomain, you do not have to register another domain name. Simply choose a directory name – this can be the same name as an existing website while an add-on domain cannot be.
The subdomain is also run from a directory on the main domain, but this directory is not resolvable online as a www site. Let’s say you choose SEOTips as a subdomain. You do not register SEOTips.com, but simply use it as a directory. Your URL would then be SEOTips.mydomain.com rather than “SEOTips.com” – see the difference? Add-on domains always look more professional than subdomains.
It is recommended that you setup your blog either on your main domain or on an add-on domain. Then it will have its own dedicated URL. Website URLs that are obviously subdomains might not be taken seriously by serious internet marketers or other bloggers. Unless you intend running more than one blog, install WordPress on your domain. If you want to run multiple blogs, use your main domain as a platform for your add-on domains and install WordPress on each of these.
5.2. Setting Up Your Blog
If your web hosting service uses cPanel, login to your account and you should be on the cPanel control panel.
- a) Scroll down to software/Services the click on Fantastico (or Fantastico Deluxe).
- b) To the left you will see a number of options: go to ‘Blogs’ and click on ‘WordPress’.
- c) On the main panel, click on ‘New Installation’.
- d) You will see ‘Install on domain’ – if you have more than one domain registered, i.e. add-on domains, you will see a drop-down menu that you must choose from. Choose the domain on which you want WordPress installed.
- e) If you see ‘Install in directory’ leave it blank unless you want WordPress installed in a define directory – but if so, you will be having to read this guide!
- f) Create a User Name and Password for your Admin – you may be asked for these each time you login to manage your blog.
- g) Create an admin nickname, enter your email address and then the name of your blog, e.g. myblog.com – you can also add a description which is advised for SEO purposes. However, if you decide to use a third-party SEO plugin such as Yoast, this will be overwritten.
- h) Click ‘Install WordPress’ and that’s it done.
Once you have installed and set up your blog, you can then get down to the interesting stuff.
6. THEMES, PLUGINS AND GRAPHICS
6.1. Choosing Themes
There is a very large selection of WordPress themes available for you to use for your blog. The theme defines the basic architecture and structure of the blog. Choosing the correct theme can make all the difference between success and failure, so you must choose carefully.
The theme is fundamentally what your visitors see when they visit your blog. It not only comprises the look of your blog, but also the way that you are able to customize it and present it on the internet. Some themes look great online while others are more functional than pretty.
You are strongly advised to choose a theme that is relevant to your niche if you can find one. If not, do not worry, because most themes are sufficiently adaptable and customizable to enable you to design a blog that will impress all your visitors and potential clients.
While some themes are free, paid themes are generally worth the expenditure. This is particularly the case if you intend blogging professionally. While it is important to understand how to blog professionally and profitable, you will require the security of a professionally designed theme that offers the support and updates that free themes tend to lack – including those provided by the WordPress platform itself. Read this article, if you are confused about free and paid WordPress themes: Free WordPress Theme or Paid WordPress Theme?
A discussion of themes and how to choose them is an entire subject itself, so we shall not dwell too long on them here. However, before reading further you are recommended to check out our post on blog themes.
6.2. WordPress Plugins
Plugins are software applications that extend and expand your blog’s functionality. They enable you to add specific features or capabilities to your site. For example, the Yoast SEO plugin enables you to easily ensure that the basic concepts of SEO are applied to every page and post on your blog.
Akismet is a WordPress plugin that can detect spam comments and allow you to check them before publishing, while others generate simple contact forms on your web pages or posts. You can get plugins that publish your blog posts to your Facebook timeline, or that automatically generate XML sitemaps of your blog and submit or ping them to search engines. Another plugin pings your new posts to social bookmarking and networking sites.
Every professional blogger will use a number of plugins to provide as much functionality as they require. Plugins will also be used to ensure that you are making the best possible use of your readers by helping you collect their contact details and keep in touch with them.
Here is a list of plugins that we recommend you consider for your own blog. Any professional blogger should know how to use these to their best advantage. If you are unsure, the contact can be by email or using your blog Comments box.
6.3.1. Header Graphics
Graphics should be used for a reason, not just to ‘prettify’ your page or post. The main graphic on most WordPress blogs is the header. It is not necessary to use the large headers provided by your choice of WordPress theme. You can replace these with a header of your own, so long as you stick to the dimensions provided with the theme.
It is possible to change the header dimensions from the functions.php file, though you must also make a change to the style.css file. Unless you understand WordPress programming, you are best to ask a friend to do this for you or even pay for the customization. Otherwise use graphics that fit the protocol required.
The header you choose should represent the theme of your blog. If you prefer just a simple heading without a graphical header, then there are many free and paid WordPress themes that you can use for this. You will also get support in customizing the theme to meet your exact requirements.
6.3.2. On-Page Graphics
On-page graphics can be uploaded from your hard drive, DVD or USB stick to your Dashboard via the ‘Media’ link. They can then be placed on your pages or posts from the ‘Add Media’ tab on the visual and text views of your post. You can physically move graphics to where you want them. Do not use graphics unless they have a purpose. They can be presented in the form of photos, drawings, charts, graphs and so on, but should be relevant to the subject matter of your blog post.
6.3.3. Graphics SEO
Make sure that your graphics are properly optimized. Search engines cannot ‘see’ graphics files, and you must tell them what this item on your page is. use the ‘Alt’ attribute to explain this, not only to search engines, but also to readers if your graphic fails to resolve for some reason.
Within the “<img src=”http. . . >” statement, add “alt=’image description’” before you complete the HTML linking code. The ‘image description’ should contain a keyword relating to the post. You can also add a Description tag, etc.
7. BLOG CONTENT: CONTENT is EVERYTHING!
Content and its quality go hand in hand. If content is King then quality is Queen. A low-level of well written content will do just as well as or even better than a high level of badly written content. You should aim for well-written highly relevant content for best results. There are no shortcuts worth taking.
7.1. Content Creation Software
Avoid content-creation software like the plague! Google is aware of content creation software that scrapes the web for portions of articles, and is now hunting it down. Penguin and particularly Penguin 2 have been programmed in part to detect rewritten and scraped content. Any website or blog content that has been generated by software is systematically being shut down – the pages are being delisted. So write your own blog content, or have it written professionally.
7.2. When to Post
You should post at a frequency sufficient to keep your readers interested. The more readers you have, the more frequently you can post. if your blog is new, then you may have to wait some time between posts to gain interest. Use article marketing and social networking to attract visitors to your blog.
If your niche relates to a subject whereby certain events must be reported, then these events will decide when you must post. Current affairs, entertainment and sports blogs come under this category for example. You might have to make a large number of posts until you build up a good following, but if you don’t post enough meantime, and miss a major event, then a) you will miss potential readers about that event, and b) you might lose existing followers because of it.
7.3. How Long Should Your Posts Be?
The length of your posts will depend on the topic and what you have to say. Sometimes a short post, straight to the point, will be appropriate, while at other times a post on a topic such as SEO might have to be considerably longer.
However long your post, you must grab the attention of your readers immediately. You must keep them interested. Research shows that people on average read only about 20% of the text on a page. However, that percentage increases as the post becomes shorter or the reader has a commitment to the topic.
If you are using a blog post to review software applications, for example, then there is little point inartificially shortening it. Readers will have a commitment once they start reading, because they will want as much information as possible before making the decision to buy. The same is true of informational articles and posts. However, if you are simply blogging to catch attention then a short blog followed by a call to action will be more productive.
7.4. Monitoring the Blogosphere
It is important for any professional blogger to monitor the blogosphere. That is, to check out what others are blogging about in general or about any specific niche or topic. You will not only find out what other people are talking about in your niche, but also find some useful names and contacts. You might find some new information, but are also likely to discover potential sources for guest blogging.
7.4.1. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is a powerful way to get relevant backlinks to your site, and reciprocal guest blogging is even more powerful. This is particularly true if your guest blogger is an accepted expert in the niche. Guest blogging also keeps you current with what others are writing about in your blogosphere.
A guest blogger can not only improve your search engine ranking, but also get you more readers – those who are fans of your guest blogger. The backlinks are also useful when you guest blog on another site. Once again, you also get extra exposure to readers. If you impress the readers of the blog on which you are guesting, then you may capture them as regular visitors to your own blog. Read our article to know more about: The Right and Wrong Way to Guest Blog.
7.4.2. Keeping Current
It is important to keep up with new developments in your niche or sphere of blogging activity (your personal blogosphere). Regular websites are often updated only a few times a year, but blogs are continually offering new information. A blog can be more up to date than a newspaper, and certainly more than a weekly magazine!
7.4.3. Monitoring Tools
You can use any of a number of tools to monitor the blogosphere. There is a good selection of free and paid tools available online, such as Trackur and GroupHigh that can be used monitor the blogosphere for keywords and brand names. Google Alerts is a great free tool, and Talkwalker is another good free monitoring service.
7.5. Choosing Your Post Topics
If you can choose a unique topic that has a good following, then that would be perfect. However, blogging has been popular for so long that there are few, if any, of these left. The #1 rule for choosing a blog topic is that it must interest you.
However, you must not be so passionate or opinionated that you cannot take criticism or adverse comments on your personal beliefs. Your visitors will make comments, and if you react badly to those you disagree with you will soon have no readers. It is good to be passionate, but you must be able to argue properly rather than abusively.
The best niches are those with lots of followers. Sure, there might be a lot of competition, but there will be that in most popular niches these days. One tip is to hunt out aspects of the niche that others have neglected – look for an aspect of your niche that you could make your own.
Another aspect of your niche is whether or not you can make money from it. If you want to become a professional blogger, you need a source of income. That might be a service you can offer, a product you are able to sell or perhaps you could run a health blog and sell affiliate health products. Lots of competition, but if you are good at communicating with people and writing in a friendly fashion, then who knows …
So to summarize, look for
- Something you know about or are passionate about.
- A topic with a good following.
- Something you can discuss intelligently rather than aggressively.
- A growing topic.
- Something you can write about.
- A niche with an unfilled gap.
- Something you can monetize.
7.6. Post Titles
Post titles are a very important component of your blog. This is not the SEO ‘Title’ you use in Yoast or any of the other SEO plugins, but the visible title of your blog. This is what visitors will see as soon as they click to your landing page or blog post. If this does not immediately catch their interest they are likely to simply leave.
The most important tip is to write for humans. Yes, you should also include your main keyword close to the start and search engines will reward you for the keyword, but readers will punish you if the title has been written for a machine. One reason for Google introducing the LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) algorithm was to enable you write naturally, and the spiders to still understand the theme of your page.
Here are some more tips on writing blog titles:
- Make it eye-catching, but totally connected with the topic of the post. Readers should not be confused and expect content other than what is written.
- Grammar and spelling are very important in spite of what you may have read elsewhere. People are not as easily fooled as they once were, and bad grammar and spelling are now regarded with suspicion.
- Capitalization is important. Do not capitalize every word. A good rule of thumb is to avoid capitalizing ‘stop’ words such as ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘to.’
- Never over-exaggerate: ‘The Best Ever’ and ‘Make $1,000 overnight’ are exaggerations. If people knew how to make this money overnight they would likely keep it to them and their family.
- Numbers can help – such as” 5 Killer tips to Improve Your Traffic” or “7 Easy Steps to Set up a Family Blog”.
- Boring titles get you nowhere – revisit your titles and spice them up. “5 Killer Traffic Tips to Explode Your Blog’s Popularity” is better than “Five Ways to Get Traffic to Your Blog”.
- Never copy somebody else’s post title. Not only is this poor blogging etiquette, but they were there first so you will often rank behind them.
Your title is important to humans and to search engine spiders. If you know how to write effectively, you will be able to achieve both at the same time. If in doubt, write for your readers and not the machines.
8. ATTRACTING READERS and TARGET AUDIENCE
8.1. Define Your Target Audience
You cannot be all things to all people. In order to be successful within your niche you should focus on become the best you can be in a certain aspect of your niche. To do this, you must define your target audience.
What service are you providing, and for whom are you writing? It is important to understand that there is a difference between defining an audience and providing for it. Ask yourself if there is an area of your niche that is being ignored or missed by other blogs. Look around the forums and other blogs.
8.1.1. Unfilled Gaps
Are there any issues that appear to be raised that are not being adequately answered? Are there any apparent gaps that you can fill? Many of today’s popular technical developments came about as a result of good market research and information on what people needed.
Take Apple. The iPad was designed as a device that could be used by those not needing the full functionality of a laptop, but wanted a simple way to access the internet. Steve Jobs admitted that an even greater market was recognized if this facility could be built into a cell phone – so the iPhone was born. The iPad then became a commercial product when larger screens were demanded for portable devices.
8.1.2. Market Research
You can carry out your own market research in your chosen niche by visiting forums and other blogs. Check out the questions being asked and suggestions being made. Listen to your friends and ask them: “If there was one thing you would like to see developed/changed in (your niche) what would it be?”
Check all the responses and act on these to provide them with what they want. Your questions could be slanted to ask for what type of blog on the niche, or what aspect of the niche is underserved by existing blogs. Are you answering your readers’ questions when they visit your blog? If you are unsure, then ask them. What are their questions and why are they visiting your blog?
Whatever method you use, it is important to define your target audience. Ideally these should be people seeking out aspects of your niche that are not yet being adequately represented in other blogs. There may be many different websites on the topic, but no blogs – and you have an aspect of your niche that you can make yours.
8.2. Attracting Readers
There are many ways of attracting readers. Do not depend initially upon SEO and potential high search engine rankings. These take time to establish, and while you should certainly work on your search engine optimization as a plan for the future, you will need a short-term strategy for your first visitors.
You can get people involved with your blog in a number of ways, including:
- Setting up a Google+ page relating to your blog.
- Setting up a Facebook Page on the topic of your blog.
- Set up a LinkdIn profile.
- Set up a Pinterest profile.
- Include a link to your blog in each of these profiles, and regularly update your pages with fresh information.
- Be active in Facebook groups and Google communities.
- Set up accounts to social bookmarking sites such as Technorati, Delicious, Reddit and StumbleUpon.
- Use article marketing to create backlinks to specific posts and attract incidental readers.
- Include a contact page (with Captcha) on your blog.
- Include a subscription form on your sidebar to collect readers’ contact details and generate a subscriber list.
There are more, but these can be very effective methods of attracting and retaining new readers.
9. ESSENTIAL PAGES
Each of these pages should be presented as a clickable link on each blog page or post. This is a good way to use a footer that appears on every visible page on your site. Let’s look at each of these ‘essential’ pages and how to create them.
9.1. About Us
Your ‘About Us’ or ‘About’ page should provide readers with information about you and/or your company. If your blog is a personal one, where you are identified with it rather than a corporate business, your readers will want to learn more about you. It is your blog’s version of a Facebook ‘Profile’.
State who you are and explain your experience in the niche and why they should listen to you. If you have any relevant qualifications and diplomas, provide details along with any other information relevant to your status within the niche. Include some personal information, such as your photograph.
The ‘About’ page is also a good platform for backlinks to any other blogs or websites you have. You can include a list of these on the page – preferably with the hyperlinked site name or the naked URL.
9.2. Contact Page
Although you may have a contact form published on certain pages or blog posts, it is also beneficial to provide a ‘Contact’ page on your blog. How many times have you searched for a ‘contact’ link on a website so you could ask a question or make a statement?
This page should at least provide an email address, and then any other contact details you wish to offer: phone number, snail mail address or contact form. If you offer a contact form then your email address should be unnecessary.
If your blog relates to finance, health or affiliate marketing, it is essential to include a disclaimer. Make sure you use one that is legally phrased. Check out some disclaimers on other web pages and clone one of these, or employ a lawyer to construct one specifically for you and your blog.
Even if you are blogging on a general topic, it is a good idea to include a general disclaimer stating that anybody using your site or the information provide on it does so at their own risk, and that you accept no liability whatsoever for any health condition or loss, financial or otherwise, arising from use of your site or blog.
9.5. Terms and Conditions
Finally, if you apply any terms and conditions to the use of your blog, you should list them on a separate page. You should also state any penalties applied for not observing them. Large numbers of people have lost their Adsense accounts, for example, for not reading and observing Google’s Terms and Conditions (Or Terms of Service as they are also known) for the Adsense program.
10. EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION LISTS
Visitors or readers of your blog are difficult to attract, so once they reach your site you should do your best to keep them there. The obvious way is to provide interesting and useful information, but what then? Are you going to hope that they return? Statistics show that the vast majority of visitors to websites and blogs visit once only – never to return for more!
One way, and by far the best way, to keep in touch with your visitors is to persuade them to subscribe to a newsletter or short email course. They must provide their email address for these, so you can keep in touch with them whenever you have something new to tell them.
10.1. Professional Email Addresses
It is important that your email address is professional and related to your business. Your web host control panel should offer the option of creating several email addresses for your business such as ‘admin@. . .’ or ‘support’. . . ‘
One of our email addresses, for example, is email@example.com – this looks far more professional than a generic Gmail or Yahoo mail address. Not only are the latter more prone to be attacked by spammers, but a professional email address shows that you are a genuine company and not just an individual trying to make quick bucks online.
10.2. Autoresponder Services
Another way is to offer them a gift in return for their contact details: an eBook, report or video that you will send them once they provide you with an email address. The best way to set up such offers is by means of an autoresponder and subscription form. You can use GetResponse, AWeber, MailChimp or any other autoresponder service to manage this.
Autoresponders enable you to design your opt-in form and write emails in advance to be delivered at pre-programmed times and dates. They collect the names and email addresses and create lists that can be use for future contact. They also deliver the gifts.
10.3. Offers and List Management
To explain how they work, let’s take an example of a blog in the SEO niche. You can offer readers a 14-part course in basic blogging SEO, to be offered in 14 emails over a period of 4 weeks – one email every 2 days.
The visitor fills in the registration form, and the autoresponder transfers the details to a BlogSEO database. It then sends the first part of the course to the reader. Every 2 days it sends another part of the course until all 14 have been delivered.
Meantime, you can send broadcast emails to all people on the list, making product or service offers, and bringing their attention to the content of your new posts. You will be continually getting new members added to your list, and you can contact these individually or all at once with new information on your niche, your blog and your products.
By now you should appreciate the benefits of email subscription lists. Your visitors are no longer lost when they leave your site, and you have a host of people interested in your niche and your blog that you can contact whenever you wish. Some people have lists of hundreds of thousands of names and email addresses or even more.
When you create a new product, or have an affiliate product to offer, simple broadcast email everybody in your list and you have a host of people who are interested in your products being offered them – perhaps at discount prices if they buy now! You may have heard the famous saying: “the money is in the list”. That might very well be true if you can build a large responsive list.
Connectivity refers to your relations with other bloggers and social network users. If you can connect well with others in your niche, then you can benefit from reader-sharing and cross marketing of products. You sell or advertise my product and I will sell or advertise yours. The benefits of this type of relationship cannot be overemphasized.
Here are the more common ways of connecting with other bloggers online:
11.1. Social Media
There are many ways to connect with and communicate with other bloggers using social media. Social bookmarking sites such as Technorati and Delicious are more useful for developing a sound linking structure than enabling you to rapidly access websites and other blogs that have interested you.
11.1.1. Social Networking
Services such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter enable you to connect with other bloggers in a more direct manner. You can follow other bloggers in your niche, and include them in your Google+ circles. By keeping yourself up with what they are currently blogging about, you can make sure you don’t fall behind.
11.1.2. Optin Lists
Another good way to keep up with your contemporaries, or even competitors, is to register with their optin email list. You don’t have to do this through your blog email address if you prefer to remain anonymous. You can easily create an anonymous Gmail or Yahoo address using a pseudonym, and receive their newsletters.
11.1.3. Personal eMails
Sending an email to other bloggers is a good way of forming a relationship. It is less impersonal than simply commenting on their blog, and might be sufficient to set up a good working relationship between two people seeking the same thing – readers. Such relationships can be mutually rewarding, and can sometimes lead to a business relationship.
12. SITE ANALYTICS
It is very important to understand how much traffic your blog is getting and where it is coming from. Google Analytics is an extremely valuable tool. Among the more important information it offers are:
Total Visits: The number of people visiting your blog. This can be compared with previous months or years to enable you to assess whether or not your promotions are having the desired effect.
New Visits: Google analytics informs you of the number of new visits to your blog as opposed to returning readers. It is as important that your existing readers return to check out your new posts as it is for new visitors to keep coming. If your new visits are about the same as your total visitors, then you will have to work on your content to persuade visitors to come back.
Bounce Rate: This relates to the visitors who leave your blog very shortly after finding it. A high bounce rate relates to a poor landing page. This gives you something to work on, while without using analytics on your blog you would never have had this information to help you improve.
Popular Pages/Posts: This data lets you know what content is most popular with visitors. This information enables you to focus on the popular type of content and to avoid that which interests fewer people.
Source of Traffic: It is always useful to know where your visitors are coming from. You can find out which promotional techniques are effective and which are not. Are you getting traffic from social sites, and if so which. Is your article marketing working for you? Where should you be focusing your advertising and marketing?
Goals and Conversions: There is a facility within Google Analytics than enables you to set up Goals and show you the posts leading to most conversions. Examples are the posts that persuaded people to register with your newsletter or buy a product.
Landing and Exit Pages: Analytics can show you the most popular landing and exit pages on your blog. You can work on the exit pages to keep your readers on your site.
Google Analytics is a very powerful tool, and no professional blogger can afford to do without it. It is free to use and easy to set up, so make sure that you take advantage of all this great free information. Checkout our post to learn how to install Google Analytics in WordPress.
13. HOW TO INCREASE TRAFFIC
Many of the aspects of how to blog that we have discussed so far relate to getting traffic to your blog. These include social networking, social bookmarking and opt-in subscription lists. However, there are three specific techniques we should discuss here that have the potential to significantly increase your traffic if done properly.
These are guest blogging, article marketing and local marketing. Local marketing works best for blogs based on local services such as hotels, restaurants, auto dealers and so on. Here are some comments on each.
13.1. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging has already been mentioned in the passing. Fundamentally, it involves making a guest post on another person’s blog that is related to yours. Please note, however, that if you are guest blogging, do not include your blog URL in the post. Google is now looking for your Google+ link rather than a web page URL.
Link your name to your Google+ profile, so when a reader clicks on your name to find out more about you, they will be sent to your Google+ Profile. Make sure this provides meaningful information, including your blog URL and your email address.
To get involved in guest blogging, identify a blog related to your niche and simply ask the question. A lot can be achieved by a direct question by email, or even better – via a phone call. You could offer a reciprocal arrangement, whereby you each guest blog on each other’s blog. This is a powerful means of getting more traffic because your audience is already interested in your niche, and may react well to being offered an alternative source of information. Read our article to learn: The Right and Wrong Way to Guest Blog.
13.2. Article Marketing
An alternative to guest blogging to is to write articles on the topic of your niche and submit them for publication in article directories, ezines and blogs. A good article, offering sufficient information to be useful, should be of around 700 – 1,000 words in length. It must be well written to be listed by Google, and you can either write them yourself or have them written by a professional article ghostwriter.
Published articles can provide you with a number of benefits, so ignore those that claim this to be a dead marketing technique. It is anything but. You can get PageRank juice though the backlinks from the URLs published in your author resource section. You can get clicks to your blog from these links, and people also copy such articles to be used as content on their own websites and blogs – complete with your links.
13.3. Local Business Marketing
Using the Google local business service you can have your blog listed at the top of the search engine results pages for those people carrying out a search from your geographical area. Google can tell the area from the IP address of the computer carrying out the search, and customize the results to be local to that computer.
This is an extremely valuable service for those who offer local services. You can even have your premises pinpointed on a local Google map of the area. This applied to blogs offering local services as much as to websites. You can do this from your Google account. Also generate a Google+ page and include your blog URL in your Google+ profile.
14. HOW TO MAKE MONEY FROM BLOGGING
Although some people run a blog for fun, most serious bloggers do so to make money. There are several ways to make money blogging, ranging from Adsense and affiliate marketing to CPA and selling advertising space on your blog.
Many professional blogs earn enough to make a good living for themselves and their family. Others are not so fortunate, but still make enough from part time blogging to enable them to supplement their regular income for a very comfortable standard of living. It is very important, however, to make sure you can make money from blogging year in year out before giving up the day job.
Here is more detailed information on how to make money from blogging.
15. BRANDING YOUR BLOG
There is a lot of advice online about how to brand your blog. This process should have started when you selected your niche and your domain name. Your blog name need not be the same as your domain name – this is a fact that many people fail to understand, although the two should be related.
Take a close look at your blog and try to distinguish how it is different from other blogs on the same or a similar topic. What is it intended to do – what is its objective – what message is it giving to the reader? How should people feel when they read it and why should they use your blog rather than any other using your main keywords?
Nobody said branding was easy – advertisers can spend many thousands on TV ads to get their brand known. You could try formulating an advertising slogan or maybe a mission statement. One way to begin your branding process is to use the slogan or part of your mission statement as your blog’s tagline. Many people ignore the tagline, yet this could easily be the basis of your branding process.
Once you understand yourself what your blog is really about, and how you can differentiate it from others, then you can begin branding it and getting your brand known web-wide. If you are looking for some ideas for the focus of your blog, go to www.wordle.net – if you enter your URL into this service, it will create a word cloud of the important vocabulary on your blog. This should give you some ideas.
16. BLOGGING SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is threaded throughout this document. It begins with the keyword research you should carry out to select your domain name and carries on into the marketing techniques you employ. Here, we shall touch briefly on keywords, linking strategies and authorship before directing you to our comprehensive Complete Guide to SEO for WordPress Blogs.
16.1. Keyword Research
There are many keyword research tools available online, including Wordtracker that was explained in Section 2. Your keyword selection for each page and post should be carried out fundamentally as in that section. Each page and post on your blog should have its own keyword, and be optimized only for that keyword.
Do not dwell on keyword density (KD) because that is relatively unimportant in this era of LSI (latent semantic indexing). Google can give a blog post a high-ranking for a search term that does not appear even once in your text, let along constitute 2% of the word count!
Although KD is no longer very important, we don’t recommend using 0% KD. You should follow the convention of using it in the title, first and last paragraphs, once in a H2 heading and the description, and then only when it is natural to do so.
Write naturally, as you would if you were explaining the post content verbally, and you will get good results if your verbal description is good irrespective of your use of keywords. However, it is still good practice to use a theme or principal keyword within the SEO plugin you use. We recommend Yoast, although All-In-One SEO is also good.
Find more about keyword research here.
16.2. Linking Strategies
Your linking strategy should be designed to provide links to and from other web pages that are related to your own page. Treat each page or post as a separate entity on your blog, so that you are linking to and from pages and not the entire site.
Use your main blog URL in your Google+ profile, and link your name to this profile wherever your name is published and links are permitted. In fact, you can use your Google+ profile as your master profile, and link back to this whenever asked for a profile. Not all sites will allow this, but do so when it is permitted.
Otherwise, you can arrange for your backlinks to be provided from a range of different web pages. Examples include article directories, PDF directories, social bookmarking and networking sites such as Technorati and Facebook, video sites such as YouTube, guest blogging and links from a wide variety of other websites.
Check out our publication “Complete Guide to SEO for WordPress Blogs” for a comprehensive explanation of SEO for bloggers. This guide also explains Google authority rank or authorship. This is an important new metric or algorithm recently introduced by Google that many people still neither use nor understand.
In fact, it is becoming more technically demanding to conform to Google’s algorithm updates and new parameters used for calculating rankings. So much so, that many people have to resort to paid SEO services to retain the rankings they already have. This publication explains how to keep your blog Google-friendly without using expensive technical expertise.
17. REVIEW ANALYTICS AND REVISE
Once you have your blog up and running, check its performance using Google Analytics or whatever traffic analysis software you use. Run it for a couple of months and then if you are not getting the traffic you need or expect, make a change.
This could be a change of content, a fresh landing page or a change to the look and feel of your blog (graphics or presentation of navigation links). Whatever change you make, make it noticeable, but make only one. Do not make more than one alteration to your blog because you will not know which one was responsible for any change in your traffic or other stats.
The change in your analytics might be positive or negative – it doesn’t matter. If positive you keep the change you made and if negative you revert back to the original. Whichever it was, you are now ready for the next change and so on until you have optimized the performance of your blog as much as you can.
18. HOW TO BLOG – SUMMARY
If you follow the above advice, you should finish up with a successful blog in a profitable niche. However, nothing is definite, and if you don’t get the volume of readers that you would like then you should check that you have missed none of the above blogging tips. No guide to blogging can cover every eventuality, and if you are still unsuccessful then make sure that your niche has enough traffic potential for what you want.
It is possible for your niche to have too little overall interest, or for the competition to be too high for you to succeed in the short-term. It is to avoid these two possibilities that you should be particularly painstaking with your keyword research and choice of niche. Never give in, because many of today’s successful bloggers struggled when they first started.
Follow all of our blogging guides and guides to SEO to be certain that you are doing all that you can do to learn how to blog profitable. If you follow our blogging tips, then you will maximize your chances of success and more than likely follow all those others that have made a success of their professional blogging business.