You want to learn how to start a blog that’s successful? Not only is blogging a great pastime, but it also allows you to express yourself in a unique way, help others with problems you’ve overcome, establish yourself as an expert, and make money.
The goal of this guide is for you to start a blog TODAY. Not tomorrow, next week, or next month… but right now.
How to create a blog STEP BY STEP
You probably already have a general idea of what to blog about, but let’s look at a few blogging tips for beginners just in case you are not quite there yet.
- Choose a niche
For example, don’t just blog about fitness, blog about marathon running or resistance training in particular. Keeping all of your articles in a tight niche to begin with will help Google to see that your site is an authority on the subject and they will send you more visitors if this is the case.
The above isn’t designed to crush your dreams of making a huge site, this is quite possible later on. You can expand into new categories of course, but it is a lot easier to get the ball rolling with traffic if you stay focused to begin with.
2. Try to create evergreen content.
Write about topics that people will always be searching for, even in the future.
To give an example of this in the fashion niche (Notorious for this problem), people will always be searching for the best flats under $100 – this is unlikely to change massively over the years. If you write about a particular Chanel model that was popular for one season, expect that people may no longer need your content after a short amount of time.
Choose a blog creation platform
Before you can even start worrying about how your blog will look, you’ll need to know the best place to start a blog. This is known as a blogging platform (or content management system in tech-speak).
These are the best free blogging platforms for you.
What are the best blogging platforms?
There are A LOT to choose from. You are able to create a blog with many different blogging platforms, such as Drupal, Tumblr, Blogger and more…
However, given that there are over 72 million active users using WordPress today, it’s clear that WordPress is the best blog platform hands down.
All of my own blogs and sites are built with the WordPress blogging platform.
- FREE for everyone to use: (including themes, layouts, and add-ons that many other blogging platforms don’t provide).
- It’s super easy for you to set up on your own: I’ll show you exactly how in a little bit…
- It’s safe & secure: WordPress is always updating their software and keeping everything sound and secure, so there’s rarely a worry of having your blog come under hacking attacks. No wonder NASA, Time Magazine, and even top university blogs are using WordPress.
- It’s HIGHLY customizable: There are hundreds of free themes and plugins that add more functionality to your blog, from contact and subscribe boxes to plugins that improve blog performance and more.
While the other blogging platforms are generally all pretty okay; nothing, in my opinion, has ever come close to matching the freedom and customization options that WordPress offers.
So without a doubt, go with WordPress. Especially when you are just starting out.
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Blog?
It costs as low as $0.99/month in HOSTINGER to have a blog up and running.
Can you start a blog for free? The short answer is yes. But here is why you should pay to have it self-hosted (WordPress.org):
- You own your site 100% – if you blog using the free version, you don’t own the content and they can delete it anytime for any reason.
- You don’t share revenue you earn from your site – if you make money from your blog, you don’t have to share it (you do if you use the free version).
- Total control – You can do whatever you want with your site and don’t have to follow WordPress.com’s rules.
- Professional looking site – Your website address would be www.yourblogname.wordpress.com instead of www.yourblogname.com if you use the free version. You see how unprofessional it looks?
Pick a great web host
Finding a domain name and web hosting provider
Now to the exciting part!
To set up a self-hosted blog on your own domain name, you’ll need two things:
Domain Name – This will be your personal blog address where people find your awesome articles over and over again. For example, Google’s domain is www.Google.com. Your new blog domain name will be www.YourBlogName.com, except you’ll choose what’s going to be behind YourNewBlog.
Web Hosting – This will be the home of your blog address and content that’s on the blog. Without web hosting, you’ll be unable to use your domain. Think of it as a computer hard drive that stores all your content on your blog (images, blog posts and so on).
The cost of good web hosting is usually somewhere between $10-15 per month, but you will get over 62% OFF with the coupon code below.
With my special deal for you below the total cost will come out to less than a venti coffee at Starbucks a month – so it won’t break the bank.
It’s a relatively small, yet extremely important investment for your long-term blogging success.
Where should I get my domain name and hosting?
When it comes to web hosting, there are only three things that matter.
- Page load speed: The average amount of time (in seconds) it takes your blog to load.
- Uptime: How often your site is up and running. 100% uptime is not really realistic, but a very good web hosting company will give you 99.9% uptime.
- Customer service: how responsive your hosting company is if you have a problem.
There are literally THOUSANDS of different web hosting providers.
They all offer you a similar service (domain name + hosting) with a relatively similar price.
And luckily for you, I’ve already done the research to narrow the list down to the one and only reliable service you should consider using for creating your first blog.
Remember, I want to help you avoid the same mistakes I made when I first got into the blogging world, and save you from experiencing any sleepless nights from scrambling to get your website back online.
I’ve dealt with and monitored many famous and recommended web hosting companies like Bluehost, iPage, Godaddy etc…
…but now I only use and recommend HOSTINGER for 62% off your web hosting.
HOSTINGER gets my vote as the best web hosting for blogging on WordPress since they really care about helping bloggers like you and me get started as quickly and easily as possible.
Want to know the best part?
Now that we got the background information out of the way, let’s dive into it with these 5 simple steps.
Step 1: Choose a Hosting Plan
If you haven’t already, and choose a hosting plan.
Next, choose the plan that best suits you. There are 3 plans starting out. StartUp Plan is the most cost-effective for only $0.99/month. You can upgrade later as your blog grows. I started out with Single Shared Hosting for ONE websites hosting.
I highly recommend signing up for a 48 -month plan to save money in long term time.
Step 2: Choose a Domain Name
Don’t spend too much time trying to come up with the perfect domain name or else you’d never start a blog. Try to come up with 4-5 possible names just in case your first choices are taken. Check to see if it’s available. Find your domain on HOSTINGER.
It’s not a problem if you’ve already purchased your domain name elsewhere. You can still use HOSTINGER as your web hosting company. You don’t have to get the domain name and hosting plan from the same company, but it does make it a lot easier when starting out.
I have my domains through NameCheap and my hosting is with HOSTINGER
Step 3: Fill Out Your Information
Create a username/password and fill out all the billing information. If you have the money to shell out all at once, then go with the 48-month plan to save money. But if you don’t, then start out with the 12-month plan.
Step 4: Install WordPress for FREE
How to make money blogging on wordpress? Now is time to set up your WordPress. HOSTINGER do all the work for you.
Choose login details for WordPress. Your admin email can be your personal email. Make sure you write down your username and password because you will use it a lot to work later on.
Step 5: Select Your Theme
You are almost done. Now is the fun part. You get to decide how you want your site to look.
There are thousands of free and paid ones once you’re logged into WordPress dashboard, but there are some free ones from HOSTINGER that you can also choose.
I started out with a free theme, then switched to Divi theme, and then ended up using the Genesis Framework Brunch Pro for about a year.
I am currently using FLATSOME theme and I really love it.
Here’s how to find and install a theme you’ll love:
When you log in for the first time, you’ll see a dashboard or admin panel that looks something like this:
Mouse-over the “Appearance” tab in the WordPress sidebar, then click on “Themes”.
On the next screen, you’ll see several themes are already installed. If you don’t like those, click the “Add New” button at the top, or the great big “Add New” square to start searching for a theme.
Now, you’ll see tabs where you’ll find featured, popular and brand new themes, as well as a “Feature Filter” and search bar.
I really like the “Feature Filter” option, because you can choose themes in certain color schemes, select specific layouts and even choose themes with built-in advanced features.
Just choose the options you want, then click “Apply Filters” on the left hand side. If you’re finding this challenging, just search by keyword – there’s no wrong way!
When you’ve found a theme you like, click “Install”. You’re nearly done!Once the theme has been installed, all that’s left to do is click “Activate” on the next screen:
Configuring your blog to be search engine friendly
There a couple of things you need to do to make your blog more search engine friendly.
First, get rid of ugly and clumsy URLs like:
A much better way is to use: yourblog.com/how-to-start-a-blog
See the difference? One is filled with irrelevant information and the other one is short, clean, neat and contains the theme of our article which in this case is “how to start a blog“.
In order to change your links to a more cleaner, click on the Settings > Permalinks and use the following settings:
Secondly, prevent spam comments.
Unfortunately, lots of people want to leave automated spam comments on your blog. They do that for a couple of reasons – to get people from your blog to their blog and to advertise their services/products.
To avoid that, make sure you moderate your comments. Here’s how to do that:
Go to Settings > Discussion and tick these two options.
Now, what is next? How to make a blog?
Woohoo…It wasn’t too bad, right? Are you ready to start your first blog post?
Log into your WordPress www.yourwebsitename.com/wp-admin. Type in the username and password you just created above and voila! You are now logged into the WordPress dashboard.
If you have any technical problems, HOSTINGER is only a click away to help you. They have the best customer service I’ve ever encountered.
How to create a blog that makes money successfully
Install essential blogging plugins
So like every blogger, you might feel like a kid in a candy store when you first get to searching for plugins in the back end of WordPress, but hold your horses there! The first thing you need to know is that it is not a good idea to install too many plugins because…
- Installing lots of plugins WILL slow your site down
- Building on the above, low quality plugins are ‘heavy’ and will slow your site more
- Some plugins cause conflicts when used together and this may crash your site!
I have done a ton of experimentation over the years to find the essential WordPress plugins for bloggers and here are the only plugins I feel you need to begin with. These guys will play nicely together so there is no risk to your site either.
To find them, simply head to your WordPress dashboard and go to Plugins > Add New and type the name of each plugin into the search field.
1. Rank Math
Although we have covered some basics of setting your site up correctly for search engines, the Rank Math plugin will help to add a few more valuable SEO tweaks, and on top of this you get to learn how to use SEO in your actual articles in a completely painless way and for free!
Jetpack has a ton of features, but here are a few of my favorites:
- Social sharing buttons
- Site monitoring (is your website up and available to the public?)
- Easy to create and activate contact forms
- Brute force attack protection (security)
- Image CDN (Puts all your images on their server so your site loads faster)
- Site stats (give you data about how well you are doing for visitor traffic)
Plus around 20 more features!
This may sound like it flies in the face of having too many plugins on your site, but with Jetpack, the plugin is…
- Made by Automattic, the creators of WordPress so it will always be updated and secure
- The code is incredibly clean and light
- If you are not using some of the features just switch them off and they are no longer loaded on your site (no excess bulk code that you don’t need)
- Removes the need to add multiple other plugins which do the same jobs
3. WP Super Cache
This plugin will help you to make your site faster by serving a cached version to your visitors. This is very important as it will both directly and indirectly help your site to get more traffic from Google.
4. UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
Although your host will usually have a backup of your site and/or be able to roll your site back if you break something, I always hover on the side of caution and create my own site backups. This plugin will take care of that by regularly sending a copy of all your sites files to Dropbox, Google Drive, or one of many other services so you always have the peace of mind of knowing you will never lose all of your hard work.
When you are creating articles you will no doubt be adding images, and these images are often the largest parts that your site has to load for visitors. If these image files are too big then it can really cause problems for your loading time. Optimole reduces the size of these files so that the site runs like greased lightning for your visitors, but that’s not all it does.
Once you get the basics of blogging down and you want to start adding great looking design features, buttons, graphics, social sharing widgets, carousels, and a whole bunch of other stuff you NEED to see (you can customize your whole website without knowing any coding at all!)
You can’t go wrong with Elementor. It’s incredibly easy to use and you’ll find it invaluable on your new website.
And that’s it!
You will of course end up installing more plugins at some point later in your blog’s life, but the above are what I consider some of the best WordPress plugins for news sites and they are more than sufficient to get you off to a fantastic start with your site.
2. Create your important pages
One of the first things you will likely be a little confused about when you get into the admin area is the difference between WordPress pages vs posts. I like to think of it this way:
What are pages in WordPress?
Pages are not the actual ‘interesting’ meaty content of your site, they are more likely to be the sort of thing you will find on almost all sites such as the ‘about me’ page or legal pages.
The first thing I’d do is create a proper “About Me” and “Contact” page. This lends some credibility to your site both in the eyes of your visitors, and search engines. Here are two resources I created on these subjects previously.
- Creating a perfect about me page (This is usually the most visited page on your blog)
- Adding a contact page form on your blog (So that your readers could contact you)
As I am not a lawyer, it would be irresponsible for me to tell you what to put on any legal pages you create (so please don’t consider this legal advice), but it is always a good idea to add…
- Terms of service
First of all, don’t panic! 🙂 This may look like a nightmare but it is really quite painless and there are a couple of ways to go about doing this for free (although you could invest in having a lawyer draw up these pages specifically for your site at a later date).
The second method is to use a WordPress plugin which will essentially do the same thing. This is slightly easier, but I personally prefer to keep plugins to a minimum and usually go the first route.
How to create a WordPress page
Simple, head to:
WordPress dashboard > Pages > Add New
And a new page will be created. The layout here is very similar to what you see when you create a new post (see below).
3. Brainstorm blog categories
OK so you may now be asking yourself “what categories should I have on my blog?”, and while there is no concrete answer to this it helps to understand what categories are actually used for on WordPress.
Basically, categories are a blog topics list to help visitors zoom in on the particular subject matter that interests them the most by placing them in a neat section.
Let’s take our marathon running example from earlier…
Of course, our overarching theme here is marathon running, but the marathon specific categories which sit under this might look something like this:
- Diet and Nutrition
You get the idea right? You often see links to a sites multiple category pages like this on the sidebar or in the header menu on a website.
Don’t get overwhelmed with this when you begin creating a blog!
As mentioned earlier in step 1 on choosing a niche, pick a couple of categories to start the ball rolling and post heavily on those first as this will show Google you are an authority on these ‘sub-niche’ subjects and they will send you more traffic. Later as you start coming up with more ideas for articles you can begin to add more categories as you see fit.
4. Make content creation strategy and editorial calendar
This might sound like a boring stage that you can just skip right?
You know what you want to write about so why not just get on with it!
Well, there are a couple of reasons:
- Spending a day strategizing your posts for the next month allows you to just get to writing every day without having to sit down and think about it. This will turn you into a blog engine which pumps out content.
- Placing your planned posts into an editorial calendar is like setting goals and will help you stick to a structured plan.
How to build a blog content strategy
With regards to your content strategy, try to plan out all of the different articles you want to get written for the upcoming month.
- What will be the title/headline?
- What will be the subsections (subheaders) ?
- What are the particular keywords this site will target?
- What are a couple of great resources you can look into about this subject matter?
- Is this related in some way to existing content you have written? If yes, make a note to link internally to it.
Try to get all of these details down for each article you plan to write for the next month. When it comes time to write you will have everything you need in front of you.
What should you use to make this plan?
You can use something as simple as Google docs or even a text note, but I like Trello as it fits nicely in with learning…
How to create a content calendar
The basics here?
Take each piece of content that you have planned and add it into some sort of calendar system where you can keep track of how you are doing while actually following your plan!
Also be sure to make an appointment with yourself at the end of each month to create your content strategy for the following month so that the cycle continues.
Trello is absolutely amazing for this purpose, you simply create a card for each piece of content which will contain all the details you put together when developing your content strategy. Then you add a deadline to each card which will be the publish date.
You can even add people to your Trello boards at a later date if you start hiring writers, but that’s not the best part. Wait for it…
It’s also free!
More info that you might find interesting:
- What is the best time to post a blog?
- Improve your blogging productivity
5. Publish your first blog posts
So you have learned how to start a blog on WordPress and by now you should have a fully working WordPress website on your very own domain name. You should also have a custom blog theme that fits with your blog’s topic and have a blogging strategy and calendar.
Congrats again – you’ve done a LOT more than most bloggers and I’m proud that you’ve managed to get so far.
Here in the penultimate step, I’ll show you how to write your first blog post and share some tips for writing blog posts well.
In this section, I’ll show you…
- How to write a post in WordPress
- How to add images, links and format text in WordPress
- Some quick tips and tricks for writing great content
Using WordPress to blog
To add a new blog post, click the “Posts” section on the left-hand side-menu, then click on “Add New”.
On the next screen you’ll see something like this:
Add the title to your blog post in the top field, and your content goes in the big text box below the title.
Can save your draft or publish your content live by using the box menu on the far right of the page. You can even schedule the post to be published later – or make the post private so only friends can see it.
Once published, your new post can be found in the “All Posts” section of the “Posts” tab, so you can edit it anytime.
Let’s take a quick look at some things you can do to spruce up your post:
How to add images in WordPress
To add an image to your post, click the “Add Media” button right above the lower content field.
Tip: Before you click “Add Media”, be sure you’ve left your cursor inside of your blog post where you want the image to show up. Otherwise, you’ll have to move it later on.
Next, click the “Upload Files” tab on the screen that pops up, then click “Select Files”.
Once you’ve found the file, double-click it and WordPress will upload it automatically.
When the upload is finished, make sure the image you want is selected, then click the “Insert into post” button to add the image to the post you’re writing.
How to add links in WordPress
Linking out to other websites is a great way to build relationships and share interesting content.To add a link, click on the icon in the toolbar that looks a bit like a chain link.
On the pop-up, you’ll need to enter a few important bits of information.
- URL is the web address of the link you want to share. Make sure you include “https://” before the website address, or your link will be broken.
- Link Text is the text you want people to click on to get to your link. It might be “Click here”, or anything you choose.
- Open link in a new window/tab: it’s a smart idea to check this box. Otherwise, when someone clicks your link, they’ll leave your blog.
- If you want to link to existing content, you can use the “Search” section to find a post or page you’ve already created and click it to add a link.
Finally, click “Add Link”, and your link will be added where you left your cursor in the post you were writing.
Adding headers and editing text
It’s a good idea to use headers and bolding to make your content easier to read and scan.
How to add headings and subheadings in WordPress
To add a heading, click on the drop-down menu on the bottom left of the toolbar.
Try to only use “Heading 1” once within your page (usually done automatically with the title so you will probably never need it), and use “Heading 2” or “Heading 3” for other sections in the copy, as this is better for search engines.
Tip: You can also highlight the text you want to change in your blog post, THEN click on the drop-down menu and select the format you want the text to be in.
How to change fonts in WordPress
You can also bold, italicize, underline and even change the color of your text in a click or two.
- “B” is for bolding
- “I” is for italics
- “U” is to underline your text
- “A” will open a dropdown menu where you can select font color
As you can see, this is all pretty simple for anyone who has worked with Microsoft Word before.
Finally, if you are struggling to come up with ideas for your articles then take a look at these blog ideas (warning: HUGE list).
6. Start growing your audience
Now that you have set up your blog and know the basics, it’s time to make your blog successful. Many beginners struggle at that point, thus I’ve put together a handful of guides to get you going easier.
So in today’s post, you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to grow your audience faster as well as how you can make sure that your readers keep coming back.
Let’s dive in and get started!
How to grow your blog’s audience faster:
- Start networking with other bloggers on a regular basis
- Contribute to the top blog’s in your niche
- Create your own tribe on Triberr and invite other bloggers
- Publish content your target audience wants to read
- Encourage social sharing with these tactics
- Make promotion part of your blogging process (and here’s how to do it)
How to keep your audience coming back for more:
- Tidy up your blog’s user experience
- Encourage your audience to subscribe to your email list
- Ask your audience to join you on social networks
- Make RSS subscription easy (it’s not dead yet)
- Engage with your audience
How to grow your blog’s audience faster
In order to get people on your blog, you need to expand your reach.
This ultimately means driving as much targeted traffic to your blog as possible.
I’ve talked about traffic generation tactics in the past, but which of those tactics can really move the needle and accelerate your blog’s growth?
Below you’ll find some of the tactics that have the potential to grow your audience faster.
1. Start networking with other bloggers on a regular basis
As the saying goes:
“It’s not about what you know, it’s who you know.”
… The same can be said about blogging.
When you start networking, you’ll notice you get more traffic, shares and engagement on your blog.
And once you’ve developed strong relationships with other bloggers, that’s when you can figure out other ways of helping each other.
But, remember – there has to be mutual benefit.
So how can you start getting to know other bloggers in your niche?
- Engage with other bloggers on social networks – This can include sharing other people’s content and responding to them in comments of status updates.
- Leave helpful comments on other blogs – This is best done on personal blogs where the owner responds to comments. This is a sure-fire way to get noticed providing you leave anything promotional out of your comments and focus on leaving helpful comments.
- Become part of a thriving community in your niche – Online communities are a great way to connect with other bloggers. From Sub-Reddit’s to Facebook Groups and forums, there’s plenty to choose from.
2. Contribute to the top blogs in your niche
If you want to grow your audience, contributing guest posts to top blogs in your niche will be extremely effective.
But, in order to get results that will truly move the needle, there is a specific approach you need to take.
Here’s how you should approach guest blogging:
- Identify blogs in your niche with an engaged audience – If you’re contributing to a blog with no following and no engagement, you’re not going to get much in the way of results. Social shares and comments are good benchmarks to look at.
- Connect with the owner of the blog before pitching them – This is essential. We talked about getting to know bloggers earlier; the exact same steps apply here. Get to know the blogger before and it’s more likely that your pitch will be successful.
- Make your pitch about the blogger and how you’ll help them – Most bloggers receive a crazy amount of pitches from guest bloggers. Read this post to find out how to write the perfect email pitch.
- Don’t hold back when it comes to writing content – I can understand that you may want to keep your best content to publish on your own blog, but if you really want to reap the rewards of guest blogging, go all out!
- Build an email list using your guest posts – Just guest blogging on its own will help you create awareness about you and your blog, but you can also build your email list. It’s as straight forward as linking to a page with an opt-in form from your author bio. For specific steps, check out this post by Sue Anne Dunlevie. We’ll also talk more about building an email list later in this post.
- Promote your post like you’d promote one on your own blog – The more effectively you promote your guest post, the better. The blogger you’ve written the post for will appreciate it and likely be open to you contributing in the future.
- Respond to comments even if the blog owner doesn’t – Responding to people who leave comments is a great way to get noticed and increase engagement later on.
3. Create your own tribe on Triberr and invite other bloggers
Triberr is a social platform that makes it easy to share each other’s content. It can be a great way to increase your reach, network with other bloggers and grow your audience.
On Triberr, you’ll find tribes of bloggers under a wide variety of topics.
You can apply to join tribes as a follower and in those cases you’ll get updates from that tribe within your “tribal feed” (pictured above).
The chief of a tribe can then promote you to a full member, your blog posts will be seen by everyone else in your tribe, providing you’ve added your RSS feed to your settings page.
One great way to get started on Triberr is to create your own themed tribes – you’ll then be able to find other active bloggers who write about the same topic.
To do this, you’ll need to sign up for an account, click on the “tribes” tab at the top, then click the “new tribe” button.
Then you can write a description for your tribe and start searching for bloggers who’d be a good fit for your tribe.
4. Publish content your target audience wants to read
When you publish the right content for your target audience, you’ll grow your readership faster.
And when you publish the right content consistently, those readers will stick around.
Before you can dive into specific steps here, you’ll need to figure out exactly who your target audience is (and how you’re going to help them).
Once you’ve got that figured out, you can use a combination of these tips to narrow down which topics to write about:Monitor trends and write newsworthy content – Spotting emerging trends and writing about them is a great way to get visibility and stay on top of what’s happening right now. This post by Ann Smarty covers the process in more detail.
Monitor important topics with Google Alerts or Talkwalker Alerts – Both of these tools are free and can give you a heads up the next time someone writes about topics you cover on your blog. This can be a great way of spotting trends before they happen and getting an insight into what others write about within your niche.
Find popular content using BuzzSumo – Which topics are getting the most traction on social networks? And which topics are working well for your competitors? BuzzSumo is a paid tool but you can still get some helpful data for free.
Use SEMrush to find out what keywords your competitors are ranking for – SEMrush can show you some of the keywords your competitors rank for and give you rough traffic estimations. It’s a paid tool, but you can still get some good data for free.
Whichever topics you cover, keep your audience at the heart of your content and focus on solving their problems.
Headlines also play a big part of this, just don’t forget the human element.
5. Encourage social sharing with these tactics
When you get more social shares, chances are that you’ll get more traffic.
Chances are that for each new person that shares your content, even more new readers will find their way to your blog.
But, what can you do to encourage people to share your content?
Make it easy to share your content via social networks
Before we can start encouraging social shares, we need to make it easy for people to share.
This is straight forward – add social share buttons to your blog.
I currently use a WordPress plugin called Social Snap for this (it also helps with a tactic I’ll talk about in a moment).
One thing I particularly like about this plugin is that you can add a unique image that will just be used when your content is shared on Pinterest. This is great because taller images work better on Pinterest.
But, there are plenty of other tools and plugins you can use to add share buttons, this post covers some alternatives.
Limit the number of share buttons
I used to add social share buttons for almost every network imaginable.
In time I learned that most social shares were happening across a small number of networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter etc).
So most share buttons I had weren’t being used, it was pointless them being there.
But, there was another problem…
The more options you give someone, the less likely they are to take any action at all.
For example, when you sit down to read a menu at a restaurant and find yourself struggling to make a choice because there are so many items on the menu.
The bottom line is this:
Limit the number of share buttons, but always consider prioritizing the social networks that your audience is most active on.
Hide share counts if you don’t get many social shares
Share counts are great but only if you get a lot of shares.
This is because of a concept called social proof – when people see that a lot of others have taken a certain action, it gives the impression that it’s the correct action.
The problem is that there is both positive and negative social proof.
So, if you aren’t getting many social shares, disable any share counts to avoid any negative social proof.
When your social shares are increasing (and they will!), it’ll be time to add share counts back.
Add “click to tweet” boxes within your content
Whether you want to add a short quote, a tip or a statement to your blog posts, click to tweet boxes are a great way to do it.
You could also add a click to tweet box just after the intro of your blog posts, using the post title or a description of the post like I’ve done above.
I mentioned the Social Snap plugin above, it also makes it easy to add click to tweet boxes.
Adding this is very straight forward, here’s an example of how it looks:
Social Snap is a paid plugin, but there are a few alternatives which are completely free:
- ClickToTweet.com – This tool allows you to create a tweet and gives you a link, allowing you to add that link anywhere you like. The downside is that you don’t get the eye-catching tweet boxes. But, you could potentially use this within PDF’s and other media. You don’t need WordPress for this.
- Better Click To Tweet – This WordPress plugin comes with some handy features. It’s fully customizable if you know CSS and most importantly, it makes it easy for you to add click to tweet boxes.
Add images sharing to give your social share a boost
People love to share visuals, so this is a great opportunity to take advantage of.
Sure, a lot of people use browser extensions that make it easier to share to Pinterest, but not everyone does.
For example, if you use the Social Snap plugin for WordPress, you’ll be able to add a “Pin It” button to images on your blog.
6. Make promotion part of your blogging process (and here’s how to do it)
There’s a lot more to promoting a blog post than publishing it to your social media accounts.
When I first started blogging, I’d share to a few social networks and that was as far as it went.
Then I found other promotional tactics and used those every so often, but I found it difficult to be consistent. Most of the other tactics would get missed out after a while.
Aside from my poor memory, the reason why this happened was that I didn’t have a documented process for promoting each post.
Ever since I created my first blog promo checklist, I’ve driven more traffic to my content and saved loads of time that would have previously been spent trying to figure out where to promote each post.
It’s time to create your own blog post promo checklist
The exact tactics you include in yours may vary; after all, every niche is different.
All you need is a spreadsheet to get started.
You’ll need some basic information first for each post (it speeds up the process):
- Post description
- Post excerpt
- Shortened URL
- Twitter handles and/or emails of anyone mentioned in your post
Then you can add some basic promotion tactics:
- Email to your subscribers
- Share to your social networks
- Share to popular social bookmarking sites
- Write to niche social bookmarking sites
- Let people whom you’ve mentioned know
Now that you’ve got all of the basics covered, you need to flesh out the checklist with other tactics you can use and sites that you can leverage to promote your content.
These will be dependent on how much time you want to spend promoting your content (the more, the better) and on your niche.
Once your checklist is complete, you can keep an eye on your analytics to see how well it’s paying off.
You may want to swap out certain tactics, but remember that if a tactic doesn’t work the first time, it doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.
It means that you might need to try a different approach.
How to keep your audience coming back for more
We’ve covered some effective steps to accelerate the growth of your blog’s audience, now it’s time to ensure they keep coming back.
Below you’ll find out how to improve your blog’s user experience and make it easier to notify your readers about new posts.
1. Tidy up your blog’s user experience
Our goal should always be to simplify the experience on our blog’s as much as possible.
Every element on our blog must have a purpose, if it’s of no help to anyone – it probably shouldn’t be there.
Here are a few things to look at when you get started:
- Make it clear who your blog is for and how your blog will help them – Your about page is a great page for this. Just answer this phrase: My blog helps ___ to __________. You could use this to create a catchy headline for your homepage and descriptions for your social media accounts.
- Trim down navigation menu items – I like to keep my main navigation simple and focused. There are always other pages that need to be visible somewhere; I put those in my footer.
- Remove unnecessary clutter – Is there anything you can remove? Maybe from your sidebar or your footer? Maybe you’re displaying ads which aren’t performing or you’re displaying a badge which has no purpose. Consider removing anything that doesn’t have a purpose.
One more aspect of your blog to improve
Aside from all of the tweaks you can make to how your blog looks, there’s one more important consideration…
… Page loading times.
This is super important, not just for users but also for search engines (page loading times are part of Google’s Algorithm).
There are a lot of ways you can improve load times, but this guide from WPMU Dev covers everything you need to know.
Another thing to consider is your web host.
I use HOSTINGER Hosting, it’s more expensive than a lot of other web hosts (pricing starts at $24.99/month) but load times are good and support is insanely quick.
If you can justify the cost of upgrading to a fast web host, it’s well worth doing.
2. Encourage your audience to subscribe to your email list
Building an email list is one of the best things you can do to keep people coming back to your blog.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Use an email provider instead of a feed delivery service – Using an email provider like MailChimp means you can send out emails to your subscribers whenever you like and you get much more control over how emails look. You also get better analytics and can create sequences of emails that new subscribers will receive, otherwise known as auto responders. Be sure to check out my comparison of popular email marketing services.
- Offer something for free in exchange for email addresses – Your audience has a problem and your goal is to solve it so this is a great opportunity to put together a free resource for your readers. It could be a checklist, guide, template or even a tool.
- Make it easy for people to subscribe – Give your audience plenty of opportunities to subscribe. This means adding opt-in forms to strategic locations. WordPress plugins like Thrive Leads are super effective. This postcovers Thrive Leads in more depth, and provides some alternatives.
Start utilizing landing pages for massive conversions
I want to talk about this tip in a bit more depth, because most bloggers don’t use landing pages.
A landing page is a page with one goal – to convert.
For our purposes, the conversion goal will be to get people to sign up to our email list.
Why are these pages so great?
… They have no navigation or other distractions, so they convert like crazy.
With targeted traffic and a well optimized page, it’s not unheard of to get over 50% conversions.
If you use WordPress and want something more cost effective, you could use Thrive Architect to create THIS.
There are free tools that can help you here, but most end up costing more than Thrive in the long run because of having to purchase add-ons etc.
How to leverage landing pages
Once you’ve created your own landing page, you can start driving traffic to it.
You could use social media updates for this, but the best tactic I’ve ever used for this has been guest blogging (we discussed this earlier).
Just include a link to your landing page in your author bio and you’re ready to go.
This will make it easy for anyone who reads your guest post to subscribe to your email list but it requires that you guest post on blogs with very engaged audiences – social shares and comments are a good benchmark to look at.
You could also experiment with paid traffic, because after all, guest blogging isn’t really free – you’re paying with time.
Whichever tactics you use to drive traffic to your landing pages, be sure to experiment and test new things.
Identify a tweak you can make which may improve conversions and run a split test. This is easy if you use Leadpages, if you use a WordPress plugin or tool which doesn’t have split testing you could use Google Optimize (it’s free).
Take your list building efforts a step further
Just by using a few of these tips, you’ll start to grow your email list faster than before.
For further reading on list building, check out my ultimate guide – it covers 36 tips to help you build your email list faster.
3. Ask your audience to join you on social networks
Considering the sub-heading above, the following may sound odd but bear with me:
It’s important to mention that your email list will be far more successful at bringing your readers back to your site than social media.
That’s a fact.
When someone clicks on your social profile, it’s far too easy for them to spot something else and not return.
I’m not saying social media is a waste of time, because it isn’t.
What I am saying is that you should prioritize list building via your blog over building your social networks via your blog (at least on the surface).
For example, my opt-in form is at the top of my sidebar, but links to my social profiles are in my footer:
This ensures that while they aren’t distracting people away from my opt-in form, my social profiles are still accessible.
The key here is to introduce your social networks once people have signed up to your email list.
Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Add a follow button to your confirmation page – When someone confirms their subscription to your email list, they’ll be sent to a confirmation page. This is a great opportunity to add a Facebook Like box, Twitter follow button or something else.
- Invite your subscribers within a welcome email – When new subscribers join your list, they should get a welcome email telling them what to expect from you. With MailChimp you can send a “final welcome email” using a free account which does the job, for other email providers you may have to add this manually using their auto responder feature. This is as simple as asking them to join you on your favorite social network.
- Create a special email for your auto responder sequence – Most email providers have the option to create an auto responder sequence. Similar to the welcome email, you could add another email later which encourages subscribers to follow your social profiles. How you introduce this is up to you, you could use a “getting to know you” type email or just add it to the next email in your sequence.
4. Make RSS subscription easy (it’s not dead yet)
RSS is sometimes referred to Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary.
It’s just a file which makes it easy to syndicate content.
Why is this important?
A lot of people use feed readers like Feedly and Netvibes to subscribe to their favorite blogs.
Some say that RSS is dead, but people still use it. It’s not as popular as it was but it’s still worth taking advantage of.
All you need to do here is make it easy to find your RSS feed URL.
WordPress creates this automatically for you, so yours would be:
Most feed readers will automatically find your RSS feed URL by default, but it’s still good to make this URL available.
I do this with a social media widget in my blog’s footer; it includes my social profile links too.
If you use WordPress, there are plenty of free plugins available which can help. Social Icons Widget is one such plugin.
5. Engage with your audience
If you want your readers to keep coming back, you need to engage with them.
Once you start engaging with your readers you’ll help to foster a stronger community surrounding your blog.
So how can you get started?
- Be accessible – Being unreachable is something often done in business, but it shouldn’t be done with a blog, even if your blog is a business. Make yourself available, starting with adding a contact page for anyone wanting to get in touch. And always avoid sending emails to your subscribers from a “noreply” style email.
- Respond to your readers – The more readers you have, the more difficult this is but it’s important to do. Whether through commenting or emails, responding to your readers needs to be done.
- Involve readers in your content – This can have a huge impact. Brian Dean is a great example of someone who does this right. He publishes case studies about readers who have used his marketing strategies.
These are just a few ways you can get started, but there are likely a lot more.
Sure, it can be time consuming but you’ll become closer to your readers, create a stronger community and make a lasting impact.
What popular bloggers do that you don’t?
Have you ever wondered what popular bloggers do that you don’t? Well, knowing how to be a great blogging storyteller to engage readers is one of the most effective blog writing techniques you can learn.
Are you tired of writing content that no one is reading? Well if you follow these 7 steps, people will start reading and sharing your content. Step
1: Write with the words “you” and “I”. It makes the reader feel like you are having a conversation with them, which causes them to read more. This is a popular blog writing technique as this type of storytelling connects with readers. Step
2: Your paragraphs can’t be more than 5 or 6 lines. Long paragraphs seem overwhelming which discourages people from reading. Step
3: Use sub-headings. Sub-headings make your content easier to skim. But, great bloggers know how to tell stories with their subheadings. This helps to engage readers by drawing them into your blog content. Step
4: Write a conclusion. By having a conclusion people will know what your blog post is about. Many readers scroll down, read the conclusion first and then the rest of the blog post.
Step 5: Cite your facts. When you are using facts, make sure you cite them. If you don’t you won’t build credibility, which means your readers won’t trust you. Step
6: Use pictures. Popular bloggers know that a picture says 1000 words. So why not use images to convey your message. Step
7: Write thorough/actionable content. If people gain value from your blog they will come back for more. If you are writing fluff, readers will bounce off your site and never come back.