I seem to receive about three emails a day asking me for advice on how to become a blogger. I try to respond to every email, however in recent months I've begun writing articles on the subject to save myself time and to help anyone else who is intrigued. Ever since my first blog post on 100 things to do before you die, I have been adapting my strategy and experimenting on a constant basis. So have a read through my 10 steps on setting up your own blog.
1) Choosing A Name
Once you have chosen, you're stuck with it for life, so put in a good few weeks on this stage. I would recommend loading up a site such as GoDaddy, as well as Twitter and Google+ to test out potential website names and to see if anything already exists.
OK, you might not need to design a professional looking wireframe (unless you're good at design or feel the urge), however you need a general idea of how you want your site to look. Have a look at competitors to get an idea for style and layout. If you don't have the budget for a developer, you can get a great theme for around £30. You may also find that the competitor site you're admiring is also on WordPress, meaning a quick look into the source code will identify the theme being used.
3) Create A Backlog
One of the biggest stumbling blocks people hit when they have a new blog is struggling to consistently produce fresh content. The one thing I have learned throughout the years is that you should build up a backlog of blog posts, so once it all goes live, you can focus on other tasks such as building your social accounts or improving your site, rather than worrying about writing a new article every couple of days.
4) Create A Blog Calendar
The first step is to build a keyword analysis of terms you want to target over the next 12 months. I would recommend using a tool such as Searchmetrics or SEMrush to find what terms your competitors or other sites in your industry are ranking for. Having a complete year schedule will offer more guidance over what you should be writing about, as well as helping you to prepare for seasonal topics. It will also remove the time wasted when you are thinking week-by-week what to write about.
5) Tools & Analysis
There are some basic areas you need to get setup on as soon as possible. Firstly, set your site up on Google analytics and then workout what you want to be a 'goal', so you can track the conversion rate of each page. Next you will want to setup your site on Webmaster Tools, so you spot issues, as well as submitting an XML sitemap to Google and many other useful tasks.
6) Build Your Social Profiles
You can write the greatest content of all time, but if nobody sees it, then it will fall on death ears. Gathering eye-balls to your site will be a continuous progress, as you begin to build a brand, however social will play an important role until organic search becomes a big player. You need to make a decision on which social profiles you want to post on and how many you can handle. So many people setup social profiles and then leave them empty, which can look worse than not even having one. On the other hand, it can be good to gain your brand name on a social profile so nobody else takes it.
7) Record Your Metrics
I would recommend setting up an excel sheet containing every metric you want to record, including followers on all your social channels, social shares, weekly visits to your site, email subscribers etc. Recording this on the same day each week will help you to spot what has or hasn't worked, as well as keeping you on track and motivated.
8) Set Brand Guidelines
This may seem a bit odd at the moment, but a consistent style will make your site seem a lot more professional. From the size of images being presented in a consistent manner, to your font and paragraph layout, if you don't do it at the start you might have to go back later and fix up your site. So setup as you mean to go forward.
9) Attend Relevant Conferences
Whatever industry you're in, there are conferences or events you can attend. If there isn't one in your area, consider setting up one yourself! I'm lucky as there seems to be endless events for travel bloggers, both as a way to network with others and to learn new ways to optimise my site.
If you've gone for WordPress then you will find probably the greatest benefit is the vast range of plugins. The more you search and read on the topic, the more you will want to experiment with different plugins. Some you may want to check out include AMP (accelerated mobile pages, a new mobile speed advancement), Backup (to regularly backup your website), Disqus (commenting system), Leverage browser caching, social widget, WordPress related posts and Yoast.
If you are hoping to create a blog and want any advice, please don't hesitate to send me an email with any questions you may have, I'm always happy to help.