Starting your own blog is a great way to showcase expertise, boost your job search or simply find a creative outlet. Starting a blog can be daunting, so here are some tips to help you along. I’ll refer to ‘business’, meaning a blog for a business purpose, and ‘individual’ as shorthand for a personal blog.
1) Identify your purpose
A blog shouldn’t be a diary. Simply writing about your day or jotting down everything you think about can make for a haphazard blog that no one wants to follow.
Instead, identify your purpose or your theme. As a business, what is your area of expertise? As an individual, what are you passionate about or expert in? Creating a consistent theme and posting on topics around that will help you create a useful resource or source of entertainment that people will keep coming back to.
Once you know what you’re going to write about, you’ll need to…
2) Find the right blogging platform for you
As an individual, there is a range of free blogging platforms for you to use. The most common are Blogger and WordPress.com. I host my blog on WordPress because it offers good analytics and is easy to use. It’s also easy to attach to CMS systems like Drupal should I ever want to incorporate it into a website.
As a business, you’re faced with a choice; host your blog on your own domain, or host it outside of your main domain. For the majority of businesses, the best choice is to host it on your own domain due to the SEO benefit and ease of use for the user.
Once you’ve found a blogging platform…
3) Choose your URL
Whether you’re a business or an individual, you’ll need to find a URL that suits your purpose.
As a business hosting the blog on your own domain, your blog will likely sit at ‘www.mybusinesswebsite.com/blog’ but think about whether you could improve that. If you’re an expert in wine, that’s what you’re selling and that’s what your blogging about, how about ‘www.mybusinesswebsite.com/wine-blog’? There is some SEO benefit (albeit relatively small) to using key terms in your URL.
The same applies to individuals – when choosing your URL, if you’re not hosting it on your own domain, it’s likely going to looking something like ‘prefix.wordpress.com’. On my blog, I chose to use my own name in my blog title, not because I’m slightly conceited but because my intention is to use my blog to build my own reputation and the name is consistent across all of my social media as a means of achieving this. You may choose to do the same, or you may think about including key terms referring to what you will write about.
4) Incorporate Google Authorship
This sounds more daunting that it is! Google Authorship is a mechanism through which Google can recognise the author of any given post and assign appropriate value to that post and to the author who wrote it. It’s increasingly more important in SEO as the author’s identity can give a good indication of the quality of the content.
Take a look at this post on adding Google authorship to WordPress for instructions.
The value of a good blog is in up to date, fresh content. So write something! I’d recommend setting up a Twitter account if you don’t already have one; follow people who tweet about what you blog about and engage with them, listen to what they say and be inspired. You can post your new blog updates to Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook etc. when you post them or, depending on the platform, you can set this up automatically.
Good luck! Please feel free to comment below and let me know how you get on or post any questions you may have. If you’re interested in how to improve the SEO on your blog, take a look at my beginner’s guide to on page SEO.