Starting your own blog is a one of the best ways to show off your skills as a writer, creating content or just sharing your thoughts on a subject you love. It also looks great on your CV, more employers than you think actually take a look at your website, cover letters and CV’s can only show an employer so much about a candidate but a blog gives greater depth and a bit more of a personal touch. If you blog about the industry that you are trying to get into then it allows you to stay on top of industry news and show that you really know your stuff!
Personally, i’ve been to interviews in the past and the interviewer said that they’d had a look at my blog (I blog about the latest news on social media and tech). From a bloggers perspective that was really great to hear and it does show that employers do actually take the time out to take a look at what you have to say.
Part 1: Setting up the blog
1. Choose your topic
If you’re trying to get into digital marketing then blog about the latest news on social media, marketing campaigns, etc. You probably have great opinions that should be heard and are of interest to other industry influencers. If you’re a bit of a foodie, blog about your latest recipes or the latest restaurants you’ve tried out. Choosing something that you already know and are passionate about will make it easier for you to write and develop your blog.
2. Narrow it down
Now that you’ve figured out a topic it may be very broad, so think about why you want to write this blog (apart from enhancing your employability) it may be to help people, keep people updated with the latest news and trends, making people laugh or to inspire people.
3. Come up with a name
Have a little spy on the competition and see what else is out there, try not to copy any already existing blog names. Have a sit and a brain storm and eventually it will come to you. You could even write a few blog posts before you publish them to get a sense of the personality of the blog
4. Choosing a platform
Choosing a platform in which to host your blog is one of the tough choices as they all have pros and cons, so take a bit of time to see which one is right for you. You may also want to buy a domain name for a small fee of around £10 a year to make it a bit more professional. If not you can always pick up a free one but it will have the host name in it is such as myblog.blogspot.com, it also means that you wont be able to make money off of the site.
If you choose to buy your own domain name then you need to choose a host, have a bit of a research in terms of packages, however beware that when you are finding if if your domain name is available enter it the least amount of times as possible. Others can see which are the most popular choices and will buy the name and try to sell it back to you at a higher price.
5. Make a content strategy
How often will you blog? If you decide to post every Monday morning then your readers tend to get into the routine with you, they know exactly when you’ll be updating. It also saves them from having to check your blog to find that you have not updated it in 3 months, which can really lose you readers. Its also quite helpful to plan what you’re going to post about and when, this is to keep you on track so you don’t deviate away from updating the blog. Millions of blogs end up being abandoned after the first 3 months just because the blogger fails to see any engagement or following building but you really just have to push through.
6. Choose a theme
You need to choose a theme that will reflect the personality of the blog. You can choose from pre selected themes which are free, pay for a premium theme or if your a whizz at coding then you can create your own from scratch. Whether you’re choosing or creating, make it clean, simple and professional to show off your content and without being annoying to your readers.
Part 2: Your posts
1. Get personal
Your first blog post is probably the most important. You need to share as much about yourself as you are willing too, a picture, tell the reader who you are and what you do. This is so that the reader will identify and connect with you. Next you need to discuss what you will be blogging about. Is it a lifestyle blog, personal, or business, or about a particular interest. Spelling out the content of the blog will let the reader know what they are in for when they arrive and decide on whether they will stay along for the ride.
2. Let your readers contact you
You also need to decide on how your readers can contact you, or even if you want them to contact you. You can allow them to comment, don’t be afraid of negative feedback, all press is good press right? Anyways negative comments can open the door to discussion and allow your other readers to get involved. Make sure that your readers comments and opinions are welcomed and appreciated, you can even set up an email address for them to contact you personally, as they might want to feature on your blog.
3. Content length is key
If you want your blog to be highly ranked by Google, then content really is King. The more detailed your posts the greater chance of your blog appearing on the front page, all of the other blogs that are ranked have at least 2000 words in most of their posts. However don’t just add fluff in to meet the word count like you did in your uni essays, only ever right for your readers never the search engine. It will reap the rewards, the higher your page rank will mean that more readers will be diverted to your blog.
4. Write as in you’re having a conversation
Remember this isn’t an academic piece, it wont be sent off to be moderated. Real people who’s job isn’t to actually read your writing are solely reading because of their own free will. So converse with them, use words such as a “you” and “I“, inject your personality and don’t be afraid to use humour. Italicising words will also subconsciously allow your readers to engage with you and feel as if you are both holding a conversation.
5. Make your text visually appealing
Use break lines so that your paragraphs don’t go on forever, you know how hard it is to a read a really long piece of text. So try to break it up as much as you can, make the text look like it will be something that you would like to read. It can be hard to get out of essay writing mode and the normal rules do not apply, long pieces of text will make your post look more like a lecture than blog post.
part 3: Do’s and Don’ts
- Only blog about something you are passionate about. We’ve all done essays which we’re an absolute bore and it probably reflected so in your writing.
- Be yourself. Your interesting subjects is what will draw your readers in but its your personality that will keep them.
- Post links. Links to other blogs will not only keep your readers more informed but it will also increase your search ranking on Google.
- Not every post will need images, but when they do add them! It will make the blog visually stimulating. Careful though, you need to only use images that you own or have been made available for commercial use. Creative Commons is a great tool that you can use.
- Respond to comments. Not all comments will need a response but when they do be friendly and helpful to your readers.
- Share your posts on social media. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, the lot.
- Install analytics, you’ll be able to track your readers and see where they found the blog, what posts are the most popular and if they come back to the blog.
- Plan your posts in advance, this will give you editorial character, it will also help you write good content if you brain storm in advance and plan out what you’re going to write about.
- Find a blogging buddy, so you can both bounce ideas off of each other.
- Try not to be unrealistic. You’re not going to post a 2000 word blog post every day. Aim for once a week to get into a routine and then see if you can fit in anymore time for more posts.
- Remember don’t put a limit on your posts. Search engines love content and so do we!
- Don’t publish when you’re angry or drunk! People tend to read blogs for information or escapism, not to hear you moan.
- You wont get millions of readers as soon as you publish your first post, don’t be disheartened because it takes a long time to develop a readership base.
- Don’t give up too quickly, blogs take months to get going properly.
- Don’t solely focus on the advertising on your blog, you’re not going to get mega rich in the first instance. Build your following then take the time to turn the blog into a money spinner.
There are many professional and personal advantages to blogging, it looks great on your CV but also gives you a chance to develop skills you probably didn’t know you had. The best way to blog is to be helpful to your readers and produce the best content you can. If the blog makes money on the side then its win win right?