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The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog


Do you want to start a blog but do not know how to begin? Are you anxious about what blogging is but yet to see a relevant guide? I have painstakingly written an extensive guide to help you overcome your fears and pave the way for you to start your blogging business the right way. Take your time to digest this guide before jumping into the blogship. You will find interesting and eye-opening insights presented in simple and practical ways.

The internet has become a strong tool for information dissemination in contemporary days. Virtually every household across the universe has access to the internet. People create and share the Information accessed on the internet through websites, social media and blogs. Of these means of information sharing, blogs are the most relied on. Some blogs are updated almost every day allowing viewers to see new updates and information on what is going on at a particular period. This makes blogs strong marketing tools for driving traffic and increasing the awareness of a business and industry. Similarly, increasing the number of customers to a product or service and eventual income upturn from sales.

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The Ultimate Guide to Starting

Many people believe it is difficult to start one and therefore requires expertise. Yes, it does require some level of experience, but not just a complicated thing to begin. The only problem lies with the fact that some of these starters lack the basic information and guide needed to start the blogging business the right way. Information is key! You need it to know the dos and don’ts of the Blogging Empire. With the right kind of information, which I will carefully and in simplicity provide in this post, you can set up your blog and ascend, as time passes on, to a pro blogger.

This an extremely lengthy of more than 10,000 words you can download the ebook or use the contents guide below.
I remain your loyal blogger!

What is a blog?

A blog is a kind of digital diary holding updates on activities, events, findings, discoveries, interviews, news and publications. These updates are published, mostly, on daily basis, though some blogs are updated once in a week. Randy Duermyer explaining the history of blogs in The Balance noted that:
“Blogs started as personal web diaries keeping details about human views, activities and experiences”.

You might just want to let people know the books you are reading by publishing reviews, insights and lessons you have learnt reading them. While some are for catching the fun of it and sharing information alone, others are business oriented. Full-time blogging can pour in streams of income and at the same can shoot up the publicity of a business from just 100 clients (customers) to over 1 million customers within few months. It all depends on the purpose behind the creation of the blog. Businesses have seen blogs as viable marketing tools for reaching prospective customers and business associates. Hence, digital marketers, content writers, and copywriters are employed by these business organisations to manage the digital input of their businesses.

Features of a blog

So many people are still not clear with what a blog is. To them, a blog is just a term to describe a web platform for information dissemination. As true as that assertion may be, some features make a blog what it is - a website that displays updates to customers. Below are top 5 features that make a blog what it is today. To distinguish it from a website, you can jump to the next section – Blog vs Website.

1. Main Content Area

Every blog has a main content page displaying newly published posts. This allows visitors to encounter the updates. For standalone blogs, this is usually the home and first page visitors will come across when they visit the blog. In most cases, this main content area equally contains placeholders for top posts, featured posts, labels (categories or tags), ads and archives. Those are added to allow quick access to these segments of the blog. The display style differs from blog to blog. The most preferred is the grid system with thumbnails floated to the left of each post and excerpts with a read more link. Other display methods are one column view of recent posts with or without pictures, titles with excerpts, and titles with excerpts.


2. Has an archive of older posts

Literally, an archive is a collection of documents stored in some place – in this case, a web server – for later access.  It can be categorized for ease of access and better presentation. For a blog archive, blog posts are categorised into dates of publication, usually by months and years. Some archive systems go as far as displaying the days of publication. Blogs that publish several posts a day where you can find up to 10 need this. News blogs are the most updated on daily basis.


3. Features a comment system for reader engagement

One way of finding out how customers, clients and visitors feel about your updates, products you review or services you publish posts on is by getting feedback from them directly from those posts. Every blog integrates a comment system where users can enter something to express their opinions on publications. That will give you great insight on several areas: acceptability, perception, recommendations, patronage, corrections among many other things. If you have ever read a blog post, this is not something new to you again. Individual posts have comment form placed at the end. Meaning that the commenter would have read the post before making any comment about it.


4. Integrates one or more feeds

A feed is a system that automatically updates posts to subscribers and on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. Blogs make use of feeds to send emails to subscribers, at a set time, when new posts are published. This is a way of optimising your blog and getting people to stay in touch with what you publish. The commonest feeds are RSS and Atom. For people who use feed readers, this is a better way to read updates at convenient periods as these feed readers will surf blogs for updates. However, they would have included this blogs on their reading list.


5. Categorises posts

A better and faster way for visitors to access posts that are related is the category feature of the blog. Blogs with categorises posts using labels and tags you have added to each post at the point of publication. When the system discovers posts with similar tags or labels, it brands them as related groups. Related posts are displayed at the end of a post to show similarity. This can attract visitors to keep on reading one post to another that have related viewpoints and findings. This is a powerful feature, which can be used as a menu link to direct visitors to what they had liked to read.

Blog vs Website

Is a blog a website? Are there differences between both? Can all web platforms displaying information be regarded as websites or blogs? Well, these two terms are interwoven at the basic understanding. In the broader sense, all blogs are websites, but not all websites are blogs. The major differences between them are expressed below. A blog;

1. Has a frequently updated main content page unlike the home page of a website that can remain the same for a long number of years before changes are made.

2. Engages the readers to make comments on posts and products. They can express their feelings and level of satisfaction. Websites, on the other hand, are made up of web pages that do not allow users’ comments. Users can only view the information on the pages, and if need be, express their feelings through a contact form or email.

3. Can be part of a website. Though a blog can be a standalone web platform, it can also be part of a website. Some websites have blogs as part of the system to allow for updates on products and services. This is useful for business outfits who might use this to keep customers abreast of their products, services and offers.

4. Provides a subscription system for visitors to enter their emails through which contents and updates are delivered to them when published. This subscription system is a way of conducting email marketing in a flexible and cheaper way.

Who can own a blog?

Many people believe that you must attain a particular qualification before owning a blog. Some conclude that you must be an expert in the art of writing before starting a blog. Another group opines that you need programming and web design skills to get started. The truth is this, “anybody can start a blog”. Not all bloggers are tech people or writing experts. Some just begin and learn the rest over the years. It all depends on your goals and targets. Having experience in other areas such as writing, web design, application development, digital marketing, social media marketing, marketing, etc. only enhances and eases your blogging workload. Definitely, you need to improve your writing skills in order to develop contents that will sustain readers’ interests and ignite their zeal to visit your blog again.

Benefits of a blog

If blogs had no benefits, only few would have been in existence today. The high number of blogs on the internet suggests that blogs are beneficial to individuals and businesses. I have put forward a few benefits of owning a blog below.

1. Helps to build trust

Trust is a key thing you must build when starting out. However, this does not come easy. It takes years of posting quality contents, attending to your subscribers and assisting others to build trust. When you build trust, especially for business needs, users will recommend your services to other people, thus, increasing your customer base. Customers prefer trusted blogs and businesses. Just like you value products people talk so much about, so do readers prefer trusted blogs. If the contents of your blog cannot be trusted, then you are sure to lose subscribers. Your contents tell the command and authority you have over the subjects you publish. Readers can assess how well you know the services you provide to customers.


2. It is a source of income

Blogs are great sources of income stream, be it on the part-time or full-time basis. Most created blogs out there are for making profits. I guess you have the target of making money from your blog. There are several ways of making money from your blog, sumptuous enough to make you self-employed and living your dream life. I have discussed Insights on how to monetise your blog on this post.


3. It is a strong marketing tool

To withstand modern competition from related business outfits, comprehensive marketing becomes necessary. Blogging is one of the strategies utilised by these businesses to stay ahead of competitors.  Most customers prefer to research the products or services they want to purchase using search engines like Google. They mostly click on the first few web pages that appear on the search result. Blogging presents a way of making your products appear among the top pages of search engine results. This is achieved by observing Search Engine Optimisation, SEO, rules of which content is King.

More so, those who subscribe to newsletters are likely to keep visiting your blog and telling others about what they enjoy from your blog. They send emails to inform subscribers, clients and customers of offers and updates just to reach them first before your competitors. Businesses using blogs and other forms of marketing strategies stand a good chance of increasing their customer-base and publicity than those who do not.


4. It makes you a better writer

Blog owners often write and publish posts. Not only do they write posts, they develop good contents. You can only write good contents when you understand the underlying principles of writing. To do this, bloggers improve their writing skills by doing research, reading articles, applying for courses and applying what they have learnt. The more you do this, the better you become in writing. When you use good writing and proofreading software, like Grammarly, the rate of development becomes more awesome. You will reach a level where you realise that you have horned the necessary writing skills people pay a huge amount of money to acquire.


5. It makes you research-oriented and well informed

As earlier stated, good bloggers write good contents. These contents serve real and authentic information, sometimes reference other articles and statistics from research. To write such good contents, you must engage in relevant information-sourcing (research). This will make you love what you find out and expose you to ideas and information that richly affect the contents you publish. The more you research, the better you become and the more you will want to research.


6. It creates opportunity for synergising

There is nothing as good and effective as collaborating with others in reaching your goals: whether it is a business goal or personal target. Blogging creates that opportunity for you. Other bloggers and those who engage with your posts can decide to synergise with you on several areas and topics. This will make you gain more grounds and broaden your skills as you learn from others’ views and opinions. You can also, initiate collaboration by reaching out to other bloggers in your field and area of specialisation. This is called blogger outreach.


Types of blogs

There are different types of blogs and they largely depend on the purpose of creating them. I have categorised the broad types of blogs as follows:

1. Standalone blogs

These are websites created for the sole purpose of publishing information and updating visitors on relevant happenings. Blogs hosted on blogger platforms are good examples. In these types of blogs, the home page displays recently published posts and can discuss a single or variety of issues. For instance, this blog – Affiliate Marketing – on which you are reading this post, is a standalone blog. The main content page is the homepage where recently published posts displayed with the latest at the top and it focuses on digital marketing.

2. Personal Blog

A personal blog is a digital online diary that contains information and updates about one’s personal life. You can decide to set up a blog to talk about the things you do, your family background, the bulk of experience you have, how you view the world and the people you come across. GatesNotes is a good example of a personal blog. In this blog, Bills Gate discusses the books he has read, tech ideas, his views on politics and people. This type of blog is very easy to curtail. The information you need to create posts is all around you since you talk about your life and environment. Some other personal blogs discuss the life of an icon or someone who has been of great impact on certain fields of life.

3. Business blog

Business blogs are quite the opposite of personal blogs. They are set up with the goal of making money. This does not mean that personal blogs cannot be monetized. It only implies that business blogs are profit-oriented compared to personal blogs. As I explained earlier, some business enterprises create blogs to market their services and products. This does not mean that only business blogs are sources of income. All blogs can be monetised to fetch income to the owner(s). The difference is in the fact that business outfits host business blogs who may have a separate website or have the blog as part of the website.

4. Niche blog

A niche blog is a blog that specialises in a specific or particular topic or line of discussion. Unlike general-purpose blogs, owners of niche blogs will always create their blogs around a single topic. These types of blogs allow the author(s) to focus on a particular topic. Every post created or article published revolves around the main topic, though there can be discussions on related topics. Common examples of niche blog’s topics include any of those listed in the categories below:

Sport – football, basketball, volleyball, rugby, cricket, etc.
Fashion – Men’s wear, shoes, women’s wear, native wears, bedding, children’s wear, make-up, etc.
Home appliances – Television, furniture, gas cookers, freezers, air conditioners, etc.
Phones – Repairs, review, tutorials, etc.
Business – marketing, ideas, guide, tutorials, etc.

Other categories include fishery, agriculture, politics, science, technology, health, psychology, computer science, products, web design, application development and many others.

5. General purpose blog

In the context of blogging, a general-purpose blog is one that discusses several topics. It is the exact opposite of a niche blog. For example, most news blogs publish articles on politics, sports, education, health, agriculture and so on. Most of these types of blogs usually have more than an author contributing to the posts on the blog. Sometimes, it can be in a particular category, e.g. sport, with several niches such as football, basketball, rugby, cricket, volleyball and cycling. An example of a general-purpose blog is a news blog (e.g. Naij, Naijaloaded, etc.). New blogs publish articles on several categories and topics. They cover politics, sport, health issues, environment, lifestyle, home, and many others.

Terms you should know

Every field has words with unique meanings. Though some of these words can be used in other fields, they will present different or slightly different meanings. Blogging has its own unique terms every blogger should be conversant with if not all. Therefore, I have selected 10 terms you should know as you begin your blogging career. You will get familiar with other terms as you get along with your blogging business.
Blogging terms


1. Blogger
Blogger represents two different meanings. The first refers to those who are into blogging – create and publish articles online. Once you begin your blogging business, you are a blogger. The other refers to an online hosting platform developed by Google for creating blogs. This platform allows bloggers to create their own blogs at no cost and hosted freely by Google. A Google blogger user can create up to 100 blogs in one account with charges.

2. Post
In a simple sense, a post is an article. An article is a content written to express a particular thought, give guidelines, portray an opinion or give insight. In fact, this is what you would mostly be doing to grow your blog. Visitors will love to see new inspiring posts on your blog whenever they visit. Bloggers create and publish relevant posts.

3. Author
This is a more direct term. someone who creates and publishes posts is an author. Just like the conventional meaning of writers of books and other literary works, an author coins an opinion, researches on it and presents it in an article they way readers will best understand it. You become an author right from the moment you write and publish articles or posts to your blog.

4. Comments
Published posts draw readers’ attention and opinions. Readers express their opinions through comments using the comment form at the end of each post. The comments can be a thumbs up expression, a call to omission, recommendation, a backlash or contribution and support to what you have published.

5. Share
The joy of owning a blog is to attract many readers and visitors. You gain more readership by sharing blog posts on social media. To share is a way of letting people know (on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, etc.) what you have published on your blog. Every blog has a customary share button to allow readers share posts to their pages and profiles. This is one of the ways of optimising your blog.

6. Draft
A draft is a term used to refer to a post that is yet to be published. Sometimes you may have an idea you feel like saving to continue working on. You can create a draft copy and come back to it later. Draft posts are not accessible by others, only permitted authors and blog admins can view them. To make them available, publish the draft.

7. Permalinks
This is a shortened version of the words permanent links. A permanent link is the web address of a post which can be referenced.  E.g. www.bloggingtips.com/08/2017/what-is-blog.html That is a permalink. It is unique for every post across the internet. What I mean is that no two posts on the internet can have the same permalink. But slugs can be different on different domains, or on the same domain but different archive e.g. www.startblogger.com/08/2017/what-is-blog.html and www.startblogger.com/09/2017/what-is-blog.html. Though this is acceptable, I strongly advise against using this. It can be confusing and raise a lot of referencing concerns.

8. Slugs
Slugs are short expressions used to complete the permalinks of blog posts. They form part of the URL (uniform resource locator) or web address of a post. Slugs are powerful SEO strategy. Most SEO experts suggest that the keyword should be included into slugs when forming them. WordPress supports this opinion, documented in their blog optimisation guide. You can also follow this SEO tip when creating your posts.

9. Publish                                                                                              
I have used this word several times in this post to mean creating an article or post and making it available to others to interact with it. Unlike the draft, a published post has a globally accessible link except when secured with a password for paid or pro users. This term is also used to mean creating and making a blog available over the internet for others to see.

10. Blogging
This is a career that revolves around creating a blog, publishing articles and making me with the blog. Whether you are attending to subscribers, publishing post, selling your stuff or helping other bloggers, you are simply blogging. You are reading these tips because I am blogging and you want to start or you are already blogging.


Choosing a name for your blog

A name is an identity. It can uniquely express the niche of your blog. Every website and blog has a name that visitors can reckon with. Some starters are prone to just giving their blog any name that tickles their fancy. I happened to be a victim of this. Therefore, I do not advise that you follow that path. You can think it through and equally discuss with your partners on a suitable name to use. It would be a mistake to name your blog Google Insight because everything Google is unique to a giant company you cannot replace. This should not be a headache. Consider the tips I have below.


Tips for choosing your blog’s name

1. Make it unique
2. Avoid long and confusing names
3. Make it applicable to the main topic of your blog
4. Avoid names with trademark similarities to other businesses or online facilities.

Choosing the type of blog

Here comes another aspect most bloggers often overlook but live to regret they did. You must think carefully about the type of blog you want to work on. For sure, it is not a personal blog. You definitely want to make money from your blog. Think of a niche you have basic knowledge about, rather than joining the reigning party. Remember that you have to show authority through the contents you create. Trying to blend into a topic you have no knowledge on can lead to costly mistakes and blunders. It can even kill off the monetary aspect of your blog.
Therefore, choose a field – I mean topic or niche – you are conversant with and which you can develop quality articles on without missing the line. If you are good at many topics that are related, no problem, just choose a category that fits them all.

Domain Name

A domain name is a unique identifier of your blog. It is different from the name of the blog. It is the address that visitors will enter in the browser’s address bar to surf your blog. It is something like this affiliatemarketing.com.ng, bloggingtips.com, startblogger.com and so on. I will guide you on how to choose a domain name that will work for you and your blog.

Free vs Custom Domain names

You can have a free domain linked to your blog or purchase one to make the blog unique. Let us assume you have decided to use startblogger as your domain name, a free blog domain will be something like this: www.startblogger.blogspot.com. For WordPress, it will be, www.stratblogger.wordpress.com. The problem with a free domain is that most monetary services do not support it. Some affiliate programs, AdSense and traffic drivers frown at free domain names. You can choose to purchase a domain name and get it redirected to Blogspot or host a blog with WordPress as the Content Management System, CMS.

That does not mean that blogs with free domains cannot be monetised.  You can monetise your blog and make money from it even with a free domain.
Well, if you can afford a domain from companies like GoDaddy, NameCheap and so on, do not hesitate.

Exact Match Domains vs Partial Match Domains

Some people prefer using domains that are the same as the name of their blogs. For example, if I choose a blog name to be Money Stream Insider the domain will be www.moneystreaminsider.com. This type of domain is an exact match domain, EMD. Most people believe that using an EMD will bring SEO advantages. That was true some years back. It is completely different now. EMDs can be complex and difficult to send to enquirer over a phone call and can be difficult to remember due to the length.

Partial domain names will come with a word similar to the name of the blog with some other characters. The following are PMDs akin to Money Stream Insider Moneytips.com, realincome.com, etc. The advantage of PMDs is that they are easy to remember and are not complex to communicate.


Expired Domains vs New Domains

Expired domains are those that the owners have failed to renew over the years. Domains expire on yearly basis. At expiration, owners would renew or forfeit ownership. Choosing to go for an expired domain is dependent on some factors such as the traffic volume, legal adherence to guiding policies and cost. Those with high traffic volumes are usually expensive but give great returns. They can also be used to SEO advantages. These types of domains can rock high; however, you need income to get better ones.

Rather than pay high to get an expired domain, you can opt for a new one and begin from there. A new or fresh domain is just like a business you just started. It will take few years, hard work, commitment and trust to boost patronage. Most of us started this way. Buying new domains and building on that to what it is today.

Having read well on choosing a domain name, this is a summarised guide
  • Avoid lengthy domains, use short names.
  • Go for partially matched domains.
  • Begin with new domain if you cannot afford expired one. Take time to make proper findings before going for an expired one.
  • Consider purchasing a custom domain rather a free one.
  • Avoid using confusing words. For instance, a client can misconstrue fonetips.com for phonetips.com, especially when communicated over a phone call.

Hosting

WordPress and Google are the top blogs hosting platforms available on the internet. I will focus on both and briefly discuss other hosting platforms. Both Google and WordPress are popular blogging platforms that offer great features and innovations to make things easier for users. Unlike other hosting companies where you have to pay annually for hosting space, blogger offers its hosting space freely. You can only be concerned with purchasing a domain name alone. WordPress on the other and allows the use of external domains but hosting is not free. You will have to pay for the hosting space. The design of the interface aids you to create posts and customise other things on your blog. Both platforms integrate a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor for writing your posts with minimal proofreading features.

Pros and cons of using blogger and WordPress

Many people use blogger or WordPress as major platforms for hosting their blogs. With several blogging platforms, like Weebly, Wix, and Simplesite, blogger and WordPress attract a considerable high level of patronage. This is primarily down to some key features. Every user will point to these features to answer questions on the decision to choose them. Let’s run through these features that make BlogSpot and WordPress big fans in the blogosphere.

1.            Hosting
When you create a blog using blogger, you use it freely. The hosting company does not demand any payment for the space you use on their server. Thanks to Google for making it that simple and flexible. You spend less or nothing to start your blogging career.
WordPress, however, allows domain integration, but payment is made for hosting space. The advantage lies in the fact that you can host your blog anywhere and use WordPress as the Content Management System, CMS. Using WordPress to manage your blog eases the overall experience and lightens your workload.

2.            Ease of Use
The high level of patronage is an evidence to the fact that both platforms are easy to use. No expertise is required to use this blogging platforms. You don’t have to be a programmer, web designer or some tech guy to get started. Once you have an idea or information to write and tell people about, just create an account and get going.

3.            Gives easy to understand analytics of your blog
A blog’s analytics is a statistical detail that shows key indicators on the performance of your blog and its components. You can view the number of visits and clicks, the posts that are mostly viewed by visitors, the keywords that attract visitors the most, the type of browsers and platform of visitors, and the geographic locations of users. While Blogger integrates an analytic in the admin panel, WordPress offers that through a plugin. You can use a paid plugin to better the experience, but the available default plugin is enough to offer you the needed analysis. This can help you to make key decisions such as what keywords do my site visitors patronize the most so you can create posts on that.

4.            Security
Hosting your with blogger means you have no access to the main hosting panel, but the admin interface for customising it. The same applies to blogs hosted directly on WordPress.com but not with those on other hosting platforms where WordPress is used as the CMS. The security aspect and control of hosting environment rests completely on the hosting platform. Google stiffens the security and gives no room for brute force attack, SQL Injection, HTTP hijacking, etc. On the other hand, CMS WordPress blogs have been known to be susceptible to a number of attacks, especially when poor server configurations and malicious plugins and themes are installed. However, both WordPress and Blogger offer the top security features for hosting your blog.

5.            Has greater community for overcoming challenges
Do you need help from those who have used or are using these platforms? You can easily get one. Since blogger and WordPress are widely used, several communities out there can provide resourceful information for you to overcome any challenge you encounter while using this hosting platforms. Whether you’re trying to customise a template, create and use one, install a widget or plugin, improve the performance of your blog or optimise your blog, you have rich information on the internet to do all of these.

6.            Templates are easy to customise and restructure.
As I mentioned earlier, you can, without stress, change the look and appeal of your blog by customising the templates. The colours, objects, buttons, links, how pictures appear, etc. can all be changed to your desire. Though a better appeal requires that you have basic knowledge of web design, you can still customise your blog. You can choose to install templates (free or premium) or build your own templates and install them so long as the standards are followed in building such templates.

Other blog hosting platforms

Google Blogger and WordPress are not the only blogging platforms available out there. There are other platforms with excellent features to enhance your blogging experience.

Weebly
Weebly is equally a drag and drop web builder that began, formally, June 2006. With its features, you need not worry about being a professional or an expert web designer to get one running. The various design tools allow you to drag and drop texts, pictures, buttons, forms and many others to specific positions on the pages. With Weebly, you can create quality blogs with digital marketing features good enough to help you achieve your blogging goals. Monetising the blog isn’t a concern at all.

Joomla
Joomla is a Content Management System just like WordPress and, therefore, allows standalone installation on other hosting platforms. You can use the .com version to host a fully functional blog or download the application for use on other platforms. Using the .com version for hosting your blog is capital intensive. But you can purchase a hosting space from hosting companies and use Joomla to manage your blog easily.

Wix
Wix is a drag and drop website building tool. Its drag and drop feature makes it quite easy to set up a fully functional blog within a short time. Wix, however, requires payment for most resourceful features and applications. Wix was originally built for designing, publishing websites. Recently, a blog management application was added to it, meaning that you can use Wix to host a fully functional blog and a website at the same. The bad side is that Wix is a new web platform having lesser followership compared to Google and WordPress. In addition, it is capital intensive and all purchases are done within the platform giving no room for you to design your own apps and upload or install.


Important Pages

Every standard blog you surf or come across on the internet must possess a particular set of pages to comply with search engine standards. These pages have been deemed so relevant that some blogs have been developed basically for helping bloggers set up some of them.


About

The about page is one of the recommended pages for every blog to meet search standards. As the name implies, it conveys information about the blog: the objectives of the blog, services provided, and the blogger’s details. Most times, users refer to this page to get a summary of the blog, and from there can decide to proceed to read posts or just navigate to another blog. This page must be carefully developed to provide the user with applicable and useful information on the overall goal of the blog.


Contact Us

Communication is key in blogging, hence the need for a page on the blog where visitors can contact the owner of the blog using the provided means. This page, majorly contains a contact form where visitors will input details such as name, email address, and the message they intend to send to the owner of the blog.  Sometimes, other contact details of the owner are provided to allow visitors get in touch with faster than using the contact form. But security and safety must be considered if you choose to provide your private details, especially phone number on the blog.


Privacy Policy

Blogs are hosted for people to view their contents. In the course of viewing these contents, some might want to subscribe to newsletters so that newly published posts can be delivered directly to their emails. In doing so, they will provide personal information such as email, first name, and or last name. Some get concerned that their information, especially email, can be used for unauthorised purposes, and as such don’t subscribe except there is a privacy policy statement assuring them of their privacy and security for the information provided. That is what the privacy policy page does. A privacy policy is a legal expression by the blog owner to users of the intent to keep information provided confidential and not shared with third parties. It also defines the use of such information obtained. It equally highlights the third parties the blog is related to or used their services. Such third parties could include affiliate providers, Google analytics, plugins and widgets, etc.
This page should be created and published before receiving viewer’s details or information.


Terms of use/Disclaimer

As often said, no one is above mistake. So are bloggers not far from making one. Mistakes can be costly or easy to overlook. Some mistakes attract legal concerns that require the expertise of a legal practitioner to remove your neck from the guillotine. Common sources are contents that cause damages or contravene existing regional ethics. In such scenarios, the first escape route is your disclaimer or terms of use.

Terms of use can be lengthy or short but it defines and expresses the fact that the author (blogger) is not guilty of any damage, losses or injuries arising from the use of the blog’s content and will not be accountable to mistakes and inaccuracies of contents and, or links on the blog. Top bloggers and business enterprises employ the services of a legal practitioner to come up with comprehensive terms and conditions.
This a sample short terms of use.

The contents of this blog are for information purpose. The author(s) will, therefore, not be held for any inaccuracy, mistake, and omission discovered therein. The author(s) will not be held accountable to any injury, loss, damage or mishap arising from the use of this blog, both its contents and links to other web resources. The owner has the right to change these terms of use any time without prior notice to users

Cookies Policy

Most times, this forms a part of the Privacy Policy. It clarifies to visitors and users how information about their activities on the blog are collected. Information collected could include location, time of visit, pages visited, time spent on a particular page, the device used, Operating system, among others. Also, it states how the information collected is used: mostly, such information is used to enhance visitors’ experience and to monitor the performance of the blog.


Choosing a Template/Theme

Every blog has a template or theme that instils uniqueness across all pages and blog posts. This needs careful thinking. Templates are critical to the performance of the blog in terms of accessibility, mobile friendliness, load time, aesthesis, and optimisation (visible to search engines and ranking high)

It’s not an easy task that anyone can just perfectly do. It requires the strategical application of experience garnered over the years borne by internet use across several devices. In short, to choose a template for your blog, consider the following factors.

Factors to consider in Choosing a template/theme for your blog

1.            SEO
Search Engine Optimisation is very key to blogging as you would rely on traffic from search engines to boost your customer base. There are a number of templates and themes out there designed to improve the SEO of your blog. Care must be taken in considering this because most themes are badly developed. Such themes can help to hinder your blogging experience. A quick search will reveal a host of templates that meet up with SEO standards. Most of them are, however, paid for and render excellently.

2.            Mobile friendly
This a mobile world where everyone wants to access resources using mobile devices such as tablets, smartphones, notebook computers, etc. This has equally changed the way templates are developed especially with the numerous screen sizes and Operating systems. Blogs run on templates that are not mobile friendly tend to lose readership and get low search engines ranking. Choosing a mobile-friendly theme will enable subscribers and visitors to access contents anytime from anywhere irrespective of the kind of device they use.

3.            Colours
A combination of colours can add attraction to the overall look of the blog and as such keep visitors fastened to your contents. Most themes allow you to choose colours for several areas of the blog such as header, footer, links, text, headings, buttons, etc. Others offer limited colour formatting. Ensure that your theme of choice allows you to change colours easily as this is important to ensuring accessibility, especially when background and foreground colours contrast come into play.

4.            Web Accessibility
Web accessibility is a guide for web designers, templates and widgets/plugins developers, and web developers to create functional web platforms that take into consideration users with a disability. This guide seeks to offer access to those with varying levels and types of disabilities by integrating features to such purpose. For example, a black font on a white background is much preferred to orange on red. This is because users with visual impairment can easily read the former than the latter.   Some templates have been developed to comply with most, if not all, of the accessibility guides. You can read more about web accessibility here.

5.            Bandwidth
Speed is the watchword here. Remember that to many people, including you, “time is money!”. Templates or themes that load within a short time are the most regarded. As an internet user, it pisses me each time I have to wait for a webpage to load for several minutes, not even seconds. This is time-consuming and reduces patronage. Although slow webpage loading can be down to other factors, such as poor cellular network, badly configured server, type of device, and the size of pictures on posts, well-developed templates can help alleviate the concerns. Always go for themes with quicker page load time. It will save users the time and data used in viewing the pages.

6.            Free/Paid
Even though this is a less considered factor, I have realised that there are huge performance differences between both. Free templates can be designed by just anybody and anyhow because they aren’t paid for. Some are used for testing running methodologies and features. This does not imply that all free themes and templates are poorly coded. No! There are a few high-quality themes developed and offered to bloggers at no cost.

Paid themes/templates are developed for business purposes. They are, therefore, developed by seasoned and experienced web designers to meet the needs of customers. Customers, complain, write reviews and give recommendations on how to improve them making the themes standard-compliant. If your pocket is big enough for a paid theme (pro version for most) or template, go for it.

7.            Users’ Reviews
What people say about the template/theme you use matters a lot. Users’ reviews are borne from experience using the theme. Themes with several reviews of which most are positive (80% of the overall review) are ideal for your blog because humans are wired to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction towards services they receive. Through these reviews, you can equally identify bugs that can be fixed to make the theme better.

8.            Flexibility
Every blogger would love to have control over the design, appearance, and response of his/her blog, just like you. Having complete control requires a knowledge of web design. This doesn’t strike out the fact that you can have a particular level of control. In fact, most themes integrate features and interfaces for managing a blog to the blogger’s taste. If you consider flexibility relevant in your blogging universe, then use themes/templates that will allow you to manage and control major aspects of the blog such as appearance, SEO, and accessibility.

9.        Time of the last update
I have come across templates last updated five, four and even six years ago. Such templates will be far behind current technological innovations and changes. Don’t forget that the web and the protocols are transitional. What was best practice last year might be frowned at a year later. Hence, themes updated a year or at most two years ago are likely to comply with and equally integrate recent standards for enhanced performance and experience derived by users. The continual periodic update is an indication that the developers are working towards standards and addressing bugs discovered by users.


Gadgets/Widgets (plugins)

Gadgets (Google blog) or widgets (for WordPress) are a similitude of accessories you attach to your phone to improve performance, speed up things and increase satisfaction. They add extra quality and boost the response of templates/themes. Without them, it would take a very long time to completely setup a blog that pulls the crowd. Just like themes, there are paid or free plugins and at the same time, some are poorly developed, while others offer top of the art features. In choosing the plugins or gadgets that are right for your blog, adapt the some of the factors I discussed on choosing a theme. For instance, a good plugin must be mobile friendly, easy to use, updated regularly, and complies with SEO standards.


Top Plugins/Widget your blog must have.

With quite a number of plugins (gadgets or widgets) available on the internet, it can be confusing for beginners to sieve out the needed ones. I will highlight common categories of plugins, gadgets or widgets every blog must have.

  1. Email Subscription to allow users subscribe to newsletters and posts by dropping their email addresses.
  2. Top posts that shows posts mostly read or viewed by visitors.
  3. Archives show a hierarchy of posts published since the blog was hosted or published.
  4. Recent posts on the sidebar to show posts recently published. On the blog’s page, this is displayed by default. It is most useful on individual post pages.
  5. Categories/Labels or tags that displays the groups to which posts on the blog belong. This can help viewers to access posts that are related to a particular topic, or discussion area and read them to have a broader understanding.
  6. Analytics/SEO are widgets that enhance the tracking and monitoring of your blog’s performance. This is done by keeping relevant statistics on how your blog and its contents are accessed. Also, these categories of plugins (gadgets or widgets) optimise the way your blog appears on search engines result pages.
  7. Search for visitors to look for contents they find difficult to locate, using a word or phrase.
  8. Custom Menu for adding extra navigational links to specific areas of the blog.
  9. Social media for visitors to follow the social media pages or simply share blog posts to their pages.

Writing Posts

Well, blogging has everything to do with creating and disseminating useful information to readers. Writing posts and articles is at the very centre of it, though video and audio contents can be used. Depending on your action plan, you can write and publish posts daily or weekly or as convenient for you. Though frequently published offer much benefits, the quality of the contents you develop matter a lot. You spice up the contents with pictures and images, strategically to avoid making things clumsy.
Basically, your post will have a title (topic) and the body made up headings, sections, images, videos, links, and many other things. To get started with creating and publishing a post, read this article (for BlogSpot users only):


Tips for Writing Blog Posts
  • Develop a catchy topic that is irresistible
  • Blog content must not present ambiguous opinions different from the topic.
  • Contents should be relevant and time-based.
  • Research properly on a particular topic before creating a post on it.
  • Use keyword tools to find out trending topics and coin your articles around them.
  • The single blog post should be at least 1500 words.
  • Use pictures to spice up your posts. But the pictures or images must add meaning and clarity to the posts, otherwise, don’t use them.
  • Reference other quality posts and avoid using other’s ideas as if they are yours. This can result in heavy consequences – plagiarism.
  • Always strife to beat your competitors in terms of quality, presentation and fact.

Optimisation

Blog Optimisation

Welcome to the blog marketing section! Just like any other business, it’s beneficial to let others know what you’re offering. For your blog to grow and bring you income, you have to get people to understand the services you offer and develop a particular level of patronage. Blog optimisation is a combination of actions and processes taken to increase the number of visitors to a blog, posts readership, and patronage of products (when your offer products such as e-books, applications, and videos for sales).

Over the years, several techniques have been applied to optimise blogs. While some are punishable (due to illegitimacy) others are advisable and yield high returns. I will explain some of these accepted ways of optimising your blog.


Social media

The contributions of social media to boosting the leads of a blog cannot be overemphasized. Social media like Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and WhatsApp come in useful when considering how to boost your blog. There are billions of users you can reach with your ideas and attract them to patronise your blog. For instance, Facebook offers lots of marketing strategies for engaging users with your blog posts. You can create ads, create a page and group for your blog, boost posts from your blog, create events and post linked updates. Other social media platforms offer equally resourceful strategies you can use to boost your blog. But note that some of the services, like ads, campaigns, etc., are paid for. Twitter takes this to a completely new level as a particular post can be retweeted automatically depending on the settings you’ve made. With that, you don’t need to be online to tweet your posts to followers.


Communities

Communities are like a gathering of people with several ideas where everyone is obliged to share insights on specific topics. Some of these communities allow HTML linking. With this, you can share, in summary, ideas to a particular topic you have written a post on and then link readers to the post. Should your summary capture readers’ interests, you would be sure of them clicking the link.
Sometimes, you can write a lengthy response to a topic to show how vast your knowledge on the topic is. This can attract fellow-community members to view your profile where they will find a link to your blog. Most of them might want to follow the link and get redirected to your where they access other rich contents.

Some communities or forums are free, while others offer premium services, granting users access to top quality services and features. One of such blog with free community plans is Quora. Another forum is WarriorForum which is paid for but has a considerate free plan for those not interested in scaling up. Aside from these two, you can search for other forums and register to get started. Common examples include WickedFire, SEOChat, DigitalPoint and many others. Ensure that you register with forums that add meaning to your blog. For instance, don’t join a music forum when your blog is in make-up and fashion. That will be a waste of time.


Email marketing

This is yet another way of engaging and attracting visitors to your blog. Email marketing involves collecting visitors’ emails and reaching out to them via their respective emails on posts, offers, products, and ideas you have developed. Those who visit your blog can decide to drop their emails using the subscribe to newsletter form. Such emails grant you permission to send contents directly to them or send links of contents to them. The choice is yours. But I will advise that you send links of contents to them rather than the whole content. Sending links after brief description will cause subscribers to want to read more and as such will click the link to visit your blog.

Email marketing ethics demands that you don’t send campaigns to people who have subscribed to your mail lists. Most bloggers tend to buy emails or get email addresses unsolicited and then send contents to the lists. When you use such method and you are found, you will be seriously penalised. Come to think of it, would you feel comfortable receiving emails from a blog or website you never visited? The answer is no! So, keep it legitimate by sending emails to those on your lists. You can send emails daily, weekly or monthly, whatever method you use, the choice is yours. But avoid become a nuisance to subscribers. They can be prompted to spam your emails. This calls for technicality and timing. Send relevant contents when necessary and not just as you feel.


SEO

Search Engine Optimisation is a comprehensive digital market subject of its own. But it goes down to your posts or pages appearing among the top pages of Search engine results. When posts appear high on SERPs, searchers can easily click the link to visit the page. It embodies several techniques, dos and don’ts and innovations, some of which are paid for. SEO begins with the design of your blog to the blogging outreach you make. Ankit has a reach post on how to do proper and legitimate SEO that ranks blog posts high on SERPs.

Backlinks

What happens when you get to the market and after searching for a product you landed in a shop with genuine quality products that meet your needs? Your chances are that you will come back when next you a product and you will refer other people to the same shop. Backlinks are like referrals to other blog posts of great value and ideas relative to a post you have created. For instance, under the SEO section, I referred you to read Ankits’ article on ranking high. That is because I have read and found the post to be useful. Now I have created a [back]link to his post.

When other bloggers reference your post and create links to your contents, search engine crawlers will assume that your blog, post or contents are of relevance and as such rank the specific posts high. The higher the backlinks the higher the ranking. You must take caution here not to pay others for backlinking. Google algorithm can figure this out and penalty abounds. This is equally the other way round. When referencing other people’s post, research properly to identify the posts that offer the best and relevant information. Aside from getting rated by Google, visitors will see a level of expertise on your posts as you would seem to have done proper research before creating your post.
Another to creating backlinks is by purchasing expired domain names with high traffic and redirecting the traffic from the domain name to your blog. This is a very expensive thing to do but will definitely yield the right result.

A word of advice here:

Avoid purchasing domain names that have been spammed or blacklisted by Google. Purchasing such domain names can cause a lot of havoc to your blog, especially when Google equally spams or blacklists your blog too.

Online Adverts and Campaigns          

You can do genuine adverts and paid campaigns online to attract more visitors to your blog. With Google Adword, AdSense, Twitter Ads and other online adverts methods, you reach many viewers. This method is cost intensive. You will have to pay for the duration of the advert. Some adverts don’t achieve purpose because of poor planning, lack of research and poor content/presentation. Should you intend to use paid campaigns and adverts, employ the services of a digital marketer or research niche very well to unearth trending needs of web users. This will give you a greater return on investment, ROI. This is also a tool for marking earnings from your blog which I have discussed in the next section.


Making money from your blog (Monetising)

Blog Monetisation

The dream of most bloggers is to earn money from their blogging business. As it is well known, blogging can open streams of income for you if done the right way. It is quite unfortunate for some bloggers who fail to reach this level where their blog(s) become real source(s) of income. This can be attributed to a lot of factors. For instance, some would advise that you start monetising your blog from the onset. As good as this is, the wrong application will completely ruin your blog. Therefore, I am going to show proven ways of how you can make money from your blog. This will help you to align your goals with the operations on your blog. You can make up to $2000 a month from your blog using these methods.

AdSense

The first point of call for beginners is joining advertising networks, one of which is Google AdSense. Google will pay you a particular amount of money to place adverts on your blog. You can get paid by 1000 impression, which translates to the number of views a particular ad-containing page receives. It can also be by the number of direct clicks on ads on your page. Google has set of rules and performance control measures for tracking all ads across your blog’s pages and posts.  If your blog is hosted on Blogger, the process is quite easy. Login to your blog and on the left, click Earnings and follow the prompts to set up your account. For blogs hosted on other platforms, create an AdSense account, get approval and place the ads in your posts to start earning money. Please do ensure to read the necessary terms and policies binding your use of AdSense.

Sell your stuff

Yes, you can sell your products using your blog to earn cool cash. Having published several posts, the first point is to combine some of your blog posts into a relevant e-book and sell to your subscribers or visitors. This can fetch you money if you have gained trust and large followership. Aside e-books, you can sell widgets, themes, templates, plugins and applications (software) you have developed. If you’ve got the coding skills, put them to use here. In addition, you can sell other digital services such as tutorial videos, graphics, and contents. Just ensure that you have these products ready and of top quality and then make them available for purchase. You can use posts, adverts and campaigns to reach potential buyers.


Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is lucrative, but it requires proper planning and commitment. In affiliate marketing, your duty is to promote the products of other businesses using your blog and other means attract customers to the products. When a customer purchases any product through your link, the affiliate network of advertisers pays you a particular sum of money, called commission. One way of doing affiliate marking is via product reviews. When you review products you have used before and recommend them to your customers who already trust you, there is the chance that some of them will purchase the products. This is where most bloggers make mistake. The promote inferior products which fail to attain the recommendations given. Doing such can hit back on your blog heavily, especially when subscribers begin to unsubscribe from your lists as a result.

There are several affiliate networks you can join or create a direct account with Jumia, Konga, Amazon, or eBay.


Direct advert

This is one of the richest ways of making money from your blog, but it takes time to attain this level. It equally depends on the number of visitors your blog receives each day. There companies who prefer to place adverts on blogs directly without using AdSense or other networks. Depending on your lead, you may be contacted to place a specific size of their advert (e.g. landing page) on your blog. When you do so, the advertising company pays you based on the contract agreement you have with them. At the end of the period, they can choose to renew or simply stop.

To reach that level of placing direct adverts from companies on your blog, you will have to first attract many visitors to your posts. No serious business or enterprise would want to pay for direct adverts on blogs that record only a few visitors a day. That is seen as wastage because out of the few visitors to the blog, only a small percentage is converted.


Finally

Information was all you needed to build a positive blogging career. Now you’ve got it. What you do with it next matters a lot. Don’t archive this in some place where it would become irrelevant. Share it with others to contribute to excellence.
Now I am assuming that you have the basic (comprehensive on another view) knowledge to kickstart. This might not be an exhaustive guide or an all-round resource for your blogging needs. There are always other topics you will need to research deeply on and get the right information. On this blog also, there are other great posts on blogging that can give you proper insight on other blogging areas such as content writing, Search Engine Optimisation, Affiliate Marketing, and Social Media Marketing
Don’t equally forget to tell me how useful this content is to use. You can use the comment form to express or your thoughts or simply contact me on how you feel about this post.

Welcome to the Blogosphere!


I remain your loyal blogger!

Comments

  1. Blog post or blog marketing is the term of internet marketing. If you want to promote your business easily then you should do blog marketing. Post on blog can attract the audience easily and convert them as paying customer. Social media marketing tips

    ReplyDelete

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