By Kevin Ho
Curious about how to start a blog, but not an internet guru? Well-versed in the tech aspects, but less knowledgeable about how to write a blog post? Read on for our simple tips and tricks that can help you start your own blog in just a few clicks of a mouse.
Everyone has a story to tell, and starting a blog can be a great way to tell your story — whether it’s for your business or to support your hobby. #writingtips #writingadvice #blogging #fancycommaTweet
Find a Platform
Before you can start a blog, you will need to sign up for a web-based platform to host your blog posts. Two common blog hosting sites, which are free to use, are WordPress and Blogger. These sites host your web content and offer an easy-to-use graphical interface to write and publish posts.
You don’t need to have a formal blog to engage in blogging, though. Web users worldwide can choose from a variety of platforms to host their blog, from the free blogging websites mentioned above, to custom-coded websites, to social media platforms like Medium and Tumblr. The platform that is best suited for your blog depends on your needs.
So before you start a website on the many website builders the internet has to offer, ask yourself this: what functionality am I looking for in a blog?
The good news is that you can start a blog for free very easily. The free version of WordPress includes a suite of helpful tools that allow you to easily create and format blog posts, drag and drop to upload files, and set blog templates and themes. WordPress also features social media sharing to help your blog make the greatest impact.
Many people choose to build a website to host their blog, which they can then integrate with a blog hosting site such as WordPress. There are many resources for average internet users to build a website in minutes. Domain registration sites like GoDaddy often include a built-in blogging function that, for a monthly fee, allows users to post content on their website on a blogging interface. WordPress has similar functionality which allows you to link your WordPress blog to a registered domain name.
While taking stock of what you need, take care to identify if the tools you need come for free on a certain platform or if a paid subscription is needed to gain access to advanced tools, such as a customized, short domain name; advanced functions to improve your site’s visibility on search engines; built-in videos; and e-commerce stores.
Know Your Style, Audience, and Content
Once you’ve decided on a platform, you need to think about content. This may seem obvious, but before you start a blog, know what you are blogging about! It is also important to establish a personal style to your content in order to build up your initial readership. This style can be formal — e.g., a scientific site with formal references — or informal — e.g., a fashion blog talking about different outfits you wore each day of the week. Finally, remember to focus on content. Finally, it may be helpful to come up with a blogging plan to help you organize your ideas.
Write with Your Audience in Mind
The process of finding your own blog voice does not have to happen overnight — it can be dependent on readers’ feedback and improvements based on feedback. If you have a particular style and audience in mind when writing your blog, make sure to take user feedback into consideration to see if you are on the right track or not.
A great way to build up your style and establish an audience is to blog regularly and at a consistent schedule. That way, you have a constant stream of feedback from readers about the quality and style of your content. Blogging regularly also creates more opportunities for interaction with your readers in the comments section, which will further improve relations with you and your viewers. Posting regularly, and regularly interacting with your readers, is an important step in building your reputation and getting word of mouth out there about your blog. This is especially important if your blog is meant to be a marketing tool for any business enterprises that you have.
Focus on Content
It is important to have original, high-quality blog content that can draw viewers in and leave them with a good first impression. Useful, insightful blog content will maximize incoming web traffic as blog readers will rely on your article and are more likely to share it with others and/or link to your excellent blog writing.
You will want to consider the word count of your posts. Think about whether you want to capture readers’ attention with short, interesting posts, or serve as an authoritative resource on a topic with longer, well-referenced posts for readers to peruse. A good rule of thumb for blogging novices is to start with 1000 words per post — that is about five paragraphs long.
You can also make your blog more attractive through what is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Search Engine Optimization is a wordy and complex term which refers to writing your web content to perform optimally in the complex algorithms that shape search engine traffic. SEO relates to the keywords you use in your post, the length of the post, whether people are linking to your page, and other factors.
We have written a three-part series on Search Engine Optimization, including best and worst SEO practices, and the importance of SEO in maximizing visibility of your web content. With our helpful (and free!) SEO guide, you will gain insight into how search engines work and why SEO can be so important, especially for businesses who seek to rank highly on the Google search results page.
Give Credit Where Credit is Due
Remember that the most important thing is to write original, high-quality content that will be useful for readers. Plagiarism is not only unethical, but will reduce the SEO of your page — the stolen content will be promptly written off as derivative and unoriginal by both readers and search engines.
Continuing on the theme of original, quality content, it is important to cite appropriate sources for your content if you are using ideas that are not your own. By crediting the authors of your sources, you can build upon their ideas with your own thoughts, and create a more substantive and useful article. Plagiarizing may, in fact, make your content worse — not better — because the best content is the one that can benefit from your own voice, knowledge, and perspective.
You can use a number of sites such as Copyscape to double-check that you are not plagiarizing other sites on the web. By generating original, useful content, you will boost the visibility of your page in Google search results and build a reputation as a blogger with integrity.
Cite Your Sources
When citing sources, it is also important to use authoritative sources to establish credibility with your viewers. This can be as simple as looking up a few authoritative sources on Google or citing the advice of a respected individual in your field to help establish credibility.
For science writing, you can look up scientific studies on sites such as Google Scholar or PubMed to back up the points in your content.
If your blog is more content oriented, citing your sources is even more important. People may want to review your sources for more information about the topic. References can be credited in several ways — for example, they can be listed at the end of the article, linked in the text of the article itself, or listed as footnotes.
The type and tone of your content should be a factor when determining what types of citations you should use. For more informal content, citations can be a simple list of hyperlinks. For more academic work, you will need to have highly detailed and authoritative posts to boost your page rank if you want viewers to take you seriously. If your blog includes writing on academic subjects like history or science, you should use proper citation formats that you would find on scholarly journals to further solidify your credibility among viewers. There are many different types of academic citation formats. Common formats include APA, MLA, and Chicago style.
Ultimately, giving credit where credit is due should be a habit for any aspiring blogger, but you should adjust the exact format depending on the tone and substance of your content.
These days, starting a blogging website is easier than ever. There are a variety of tools that can help you launch your own blog. Remember to focus on quality content, write with your audience in mind, avoid plagiarism, and cite your sources where appropriate. Useful content not only helps your readers but can help boost SEO and, by extension, the visibility of your content on search engines such as Google.