Once in a while, you’ll hear someone who claims that blogs are dead because they’ve been replaced by videos or the latest social media platform. Yet, today's blogs are more alive than ever and, in fact, simple online journals have become true mainstays as marketing strategies.
With a blog, in fact, you can enjoy major advantages. From a SEO point of view, blog content really appeals to Search Engines, so they’re rewarded with increased visibility. This, in general, translates into increased traffic and, consequently, into more potentially interested people and greater opportunities for conversion.
A blog also serves to assist with branding, form connections with readers and customers, increase transparency and add a human face to a company, thereby contributing to customer loyalty.
Starting a blog, therefore, is the right move if you’re looking to acquire new customers and build a close relationship with your clientele. But how do you create a professional blog? You'll find out by reading this article.
When to start a blog
Let's begin with a warning. Everyone loves to immediately reap the rewards for the work they do, but a blog doesn’t operate that way. You need to be patient and assume a medium to long-term perspective. You should start writing and publishing so that the search engine has time to index your content and, if you're good at it, elevate it to a higher position on the SERP. At the same time, readers will begin finding you, reading your posts and liking them.
It takes time, however, before what you sow bears fruit. That's why you should begin as soon as possible. At first, you’ll publish your posts and perhaps very few people will read them. Use this time to experiment, refine and improve. By the time your audience becomes more consistent, your blog will already be populated with lots of interesting content, and this will benefit your image and credibility.
In short, if your question is, "When should I start a blog?”, the correct answer is: “Yesterday”.
How to establish a content plan
The blogosphere is a crowded place. It’s estimated that by the end of 2020, there were more than 500 million blogs in the world with a total of more than 2 billion posts published per year.
If you want to succeed in carving out a space for yourself in the midst of this proliferation of personal and professional blogs, you’ll need to proceed with a strategy and a method.
Here’s what you should do to properly set up your blog:
Focus on your goals
Before you even metaphorically pick up your pen and begin writing a post, you’ll need to understand the reason you’re doing it. What are your objectives? What are the values you wish to transmit? What’s the message you’re trying to convey?
Don’t overlook this step. Having a clear cut goal will help you in the choices you make, moving the needle each time you need to make a decision.
Choose your niche
Now that you’ve defined the goals you want to achieve, you’ll need to address another fundamental issue. You’ll need to decide what to talk about in your blog.
The topics you can cover are virtually endless and, in fact, there are blogs of every type. Among the most popular are those having to do with travel, cooking, DIY, fashion, technology, fitness, politics … and the list goes on and on.
Obviously, your choice will depend on your interests and needs. If your idea is to start a personal blog, there’d be no point in writing about what you’re not passionate about or knowledgeable on. If you want to create a business blog, you’ll instead need to start with the product/service you’re selling, with the goal of attracting potential customers.
Identifying the general subject area, however, is not enough. In areas too broad and already widely discussed, the competition would be too steep and your chances of success too low.
What you need to do is specialize. Find a specific niche where you’ll fit in.
So, for example, it wouldn’t make sense for you to start yet another general cooking blog. You could, however, focus on starting a blog based on mouthwatering strawberry recipes. You’ll have less competition and a greater chance of positioning yourself.
But how do you identify an interesting niche in which you can operate?
You’ll need to do a bit of research. Services like Semrush and Seozoom can help you feel things out. Remember that a niche is interesting and profitable if:
- it attracts a significant number of people interested in the topic
- is inherent to a topic you know well
- people who are interested are also willing to spend money
- you have something to sell in this niche
If you find a niche that hasn’t yet been overrun and can satisfy all four of these requirements, bingo! You have all the makings of a blog that’ll give you great satisfaction.
Identify your audience
While doing the research to identify your niche, you’ll inevitably also begin thinking of your audience, i.e., the recipients of the articles you’ll publish, the readers of your blog.
This audience of "yours" is only a rather small percentage of the millions of visitors active online every day, and that's okay. Your goal, in fact, is not to speak to everyone; your goal is to speak only to those interested in what you’re offering.
Who are, then, the people who make up this group? What are their true needs and interests?
Try to create a profile of your typical customer/reader. Give them a name, an age, a profession and perhaps even an appearance (experts would say, “create a persona”). This will help you think of them as a real person. With this sketch in mind, each time you need to write a new blog post, you can ask yourself:
“Is this content valuable to him or her?”
“Which problem(s) does it solve?”
This will help you write quality content since writing to a friend with the goal of helping or entertaining them is easier than writing to a stranger.
Prepare the keywords
You've got a specific niche - and therefore a subject area - and an audience whose main traits you have identified. How do you now choose what to talk about in the post you’ll be publishing? The topics can be many. Is a post on strawberry jam better than one on how to grow strawberries in pots?
You’ll have the answer only after doing a good keyword search.
Try doing a preliminary search on a forum like Quora, for example, or on Facebook Groups or the other blogs that feature recipes with strawberries, and try to figure out which questions are asked most frequently. A very powerful tool in this regard is Answer the Public. It allows you to find all the questions asked on a topic, providing dozens of ideas for new articles.
Write a list of all the questions and insights you found and supplement it with the topics you’d like to cover.
With this list in hand, you’re ready to move to the next phase: checking search volumes. Using a tool like Semrush, you’ll need to check the number of monthly searches for each keyword. This will lead you to figuring out which ones to invest in by writing a post.
The best keywords for a blog still in its infancy are those having search volumes between 200 and 700. If they have a lower volume, in fact, they risk not attracting enough traffic. Conversely, those with higher volumes may be overly competitive and will put you up against already more established blogs.
A good strategy is to work with medium- or long-tail keywords. These are keywords composed of multiple words which generally have lower search volumes but are also less inflated and can provide good results.
Typically, keyword research tools also offer useful information on long-tail keywords, showing you how they are used by competitors, what their research volumes are and how you should structure your article to have a greater chance of visibility on the SERP.
Organize your editorial plan
At this point, with a clear idea of your project, you can begin to envision the type of content to produce and organize it into an editorial plan.
If you work strategically early on, you’ll find that in your blog, you’ll need to publish different types of posts, and the editorial plan will help you maintain a common thread and pursue various goals. In general, you’ll need to produce:
- long, in-depth posts that work with specific key words → objective: SEO
- short, catchy posts → objective: ENGAGEMENT
- membership support posts → objective: LEAD GENERATION
- sales support posts → objective: CONVERSION
To manage your publications over time, it’s a good idea to then translate your editorial plan into an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar can be a simple spreadsheet in which you list all the posts by reporting, for each of them, information such as the date of publication, title, tags and categories, sources, etc.
Very often, those who start a blog at first tend to have an "instinctive" approach. If and when inspiration comes, they write a post and publish it. Having a plan and an editorial calendar helps you take a big step forward. It gives you a medium-term perspective and allows you to prepare content that you can then schedule in order to maintain some regularity and consistency in publication.
How to generate traffic through SEO
We now understand how blog articles can work wonders for your website and, more generally, for your business. Obviously, however, there’s no useful return if these articles aren’t well positioned and, as a result, are neither seen nor read.
This is why it’s so important to work on SEO and make Google one of your best allies.
Analyze research intent
We’ve already discussed audience awareness and keyword research but, in reality, you should dig a little deeper and try to figure out, not only which queries are the most searched, but also the information needs of the people you’re trying to target and the intentions guiding their research.
When people research something, it’s because they want something. In other words, they have a need they’re looking to satisfy, i.e., to get an answer, receive information on a service, figure out which product is worth purchasing, etc.
The reason a user does an online search with a specific query is what’s referred to as search intent.
To simplify, search intents fall into one of the following query categories:
- Navigational searches: The user is already familiar with the site or product; he or she just needs to reach it. Their interest can be summed up by the verb Go.
- Informational searches: The user wants to document and increase his or her knowledge on a given topic. Their interest can be summed up by the verb Know.
- Business searches: The user wants to collect information before completing a purchase.
- Transactional searches: The user is looking to take action, for example, to sign up for a newsletter, download something or complete a purchase. Their interest can be summed up by the verb Do.
As you can imagine, if you can understand the search intent, you’ll understand why your audience has a need, since someone is performing a search but, above all, you’ll understand why (and how) you’ll need to create content that can intercept it.
Types of content: the importance of evergreen articles
Identifying keywords, knowing their search volumes and understanding their underlying intentions puts you in the position of figuring out what kind of content you’ll need to create.
We’ve already seen that posts can be distinguished by the objectives they’re attempting to fulfill (SEO, Engagement, Lead Generation or Conversion). Posts created for SEO, in turn, can be of three different types, and it’s important that they’re all present and well balanced , within your editorial plan:
- Evergreen: There are keywords for which interest remains constant over time. To intercept these topics, you should invest in creating content such as tutorials, in-depth guides, interviews and case studies. This investment will be repaid by the content guaranteeing a minimal level of site traffic, thus laying the foundation for long-term growth.
- Hype: Other keywords are related to current events. In this case, you can write news in order to ride the wave and insert yourself into the current discussion. With this content, you aren’t aiming for an increase in steady traffic, but you will get momentary spikes in traffic.
- Seasonal: Finally, there are keywords for which interest is concentrated only at certain times of the year. If you can identify these, you can work ahead to seize the moment with ad hoc content.
An additional tip: A good evergreen article results in strong positioning, organic traffic and, at times, natural links. It has a long shelf life but can "age out”, so remember to keep it updated so it can continue to be as effective as possible.
How to promote a blog
If you want people to read your article, you can't just write it, publish it and then simply wait for readers to spontaneously arrive. You’ll need to get to work and go after them.
If you have a budget at your disposal, naturally, the first thing you can do is sponsor it through advertising. Fortunately, however, there are many other ways to promote your content free of charge. In these instances, the process will perhaps be a bit slower, but it will be just as effective.
The first place to promote your blog content is on social media. Don't make the mistake of sharing your articles everywhere. Rather, do some testing and find what content works best on different platforms in order to prepare the appropriate communications for each social network.
- Videos and training content work well on Facebook.
- Photos and Stories are preferred on Instagram.
- News, blog articles and GIFs are most seen on Twitter.
- Videos are posted on TikTok.
- Professional content and news are preferred on LinkedIn.
- Infographics, photo tutorials and visual content are successful on Pinterest.
Writing a guest post entails writing content to be published on another blog in exchange for a backlink, i.e., a link back to your blog.
You should look for blogs that operate in the same niche. Try contacting them to offer original and high-quality content that’s, above all, not too self-promotional.
Some will turn you down but others will accept, and little by little, you’ll start weaving a collaborative network.
Writing guest posts will help you establish yourself as an authoritative source in your field, increase traffic to your site and, above all, obtain valuable backlinks that will increase your blog's Domain Authority.
Through the pages of your blog, you offer valuable information, and many of your readers will be happy to give you their email addresses to ensure they stay up-to-date on what you're publishing and offering.
However, don’t forget to to provide a registration form and build your own list of contacts. You can use this list for sending out periodic newsletters where you can promote your content.
There are numerous tools that allow you to build/manage contact lists and send informational emails. One of the most useful is Sendinblue.
How to earn money with a blog
Up to this point, you’ve done everything you can to create great content, optimize it on the SEO side to see it increase in terms of organic searches and actively promote it in order to reach your audience.
What should you do now to help your personal blog become an actual source of income to compensate you for the investment of your time and resources?
Earning money with a blog is possible, as is evidenced by the many bloggers who now earn a living from this activity. However, don’t expect to make money right away or without having to work hard to achieve success. As we’ve already mentioned, it takes time, perseverance and strategy.
There are many ways to earn money with a blog. The best advice is to diversify. Don't rely on just one method. Experiment and figure out what works best for your project and your target audience.
The paths you can take include:
- joining Adsense or other advertising networks
- selling banner space
- joining affiliate programs
- selling info-products (e-books, video courses, templates, etc.)
- writing and publishing reviews to promote third-party products and services
- publishing sponsored posts
- for nonprofits and associations, adding a button/form for collecting donations
Additionally, if you can achieve a certain level of credibility and notoriety as a blogger, you might even consider earning money by offering training, organizing courses and participating in events or other similar activities.
Creating a blog with WebSite X5
We’ve covered it all: goals and strategy, editorial plans and content, SEO, promotion techniques and monetization methods. One question remains that’s important to answer: “Where do I create my blog?”
If your goal is to create a free blog, go to Wordpress.com, Blogger (Google’s platform) or Medium. You’ll sign up for the service, and it only takes a few seconds to start writing and publishing.
Sure, you’ll have your free blog, but you’ll always be a guest in someone else's home, so you’ll have to abide by their rules, perhaps settle for an unflattering third-level domain and accept that you’ll never be independent.
The greater the importance the blog has in your web strategy, the greater the investment you should be willing to make for it to function at its best and provide you with the greatest opportunities for growth. Sometimes, the investment required is quite small.
If you’re willing to give up the idea of creating a free blog in order to invest in a more professional solution that’s still very affordable, you may want to consider creating your own site and blog using WebSite X5.
WebSite X5 is €89.95 for the Evo Edition and €199.95 for the Pro Edition. The license is yours forever with no additional fees or commissions, includes hosting and allows you to create as many websites as you’d like, whether for yourself or for third parties.
WebSite X5 is also extremely easy to use. You can choose one of our ready-made templates and customize it to fit your needs and style, and then proceed to insert your content.
As you can see, many templates already include a blog along with the customary pages, including “Home”, “About Us" and "Contact Us". Some also have an e-commerce page.
Regarding the blog, it’s worth pointing out that you can choose the page layout, write and schedule the publication of posts, deal with article optimization and supplement your writing with pictures and videos.
Finally, remember that with WebSite X5, free web space is also included for one year, along with the option of registering your own domain.
Find out how easy it is to create a blog with WebSite X5 by reading the guide or watching the video tutorial in the link: How to Create a Blog
We’ve now come to the end of this guide, where we’ve attempted to answer the questions that, if you’re considering starting a blog, you’ve surely asked yourself. As you may have guessed, blogging is a powerful tool. It certainly requires application and perseverance, but it’ll allow you to achieve significant results, both in terms of branding and sales.
So, when will we be reading your next post?