Tom Howlett

So You’ve Started a Blog, What’s Next?

22nd May 2012 Social Media 9 minutes to read

Social MediaBlogging has been popular for a number of years now. It is a good way of expanding a site’s reach, build your brand, continuing to develop fresh content on the site (which search engines like) and to create linkable content.

Whether you have an existing site and have just integrated a Blog or you are starting a standalone Blog centred on a specific topic, there are a number of points to consider before you start.

Initial Setup

Decide on a Blog Strategy

It is important initially to decide on a Blog strategy. Ask yourself what type of things you want to Blog about and how often you will post. If you are setting up a Blog related to an existing site, you are likely to want to stay on topic, consider:

  • Similar Blogs within the same industry, what are they doing? How can you improve?
  • What are potential customers searching for? If they do any research prior to purchasing (depending on industry), are you able to post a guide or a review?
  • Is there a gap in the market? Something that people are searching for with little or no competition.

If you are setting up a standalone Blog on a certain subject, you need to be clear on the types of audience you are trying to attract and what you want to Blog about. For example, if you are starting a Design Blog, considerations may include the type of designers you want to attract. Is it related to a specific area of design or a piece of software perhaps, is your aim to mainly include tutorials or maybe just provide design inspiration?

For both examples it is often best to keep the Blog focused on 1-4 closely related topics that will help attract your audience.

Initial Keyword Research

To get a better idea of the industry or area you wish to Blog about, keyword research will give you a good idea about the kind of things people are searching for/interested in. It can also help you align your Blog for your audience, to select a phrase that defines your Blog and will even help bring in visitors.

Think about a title that describes your Blog and then think of a tagline. This will help you think more about the types of things you want to Blog about and the audience you hope to attract.

Here are some useful tools that can help you discover a bit more about the current state of the industry you want to start your Blog in:

  • Google Keyword Tool – To see what has got search volume, it may give you some ideas for a few Blog posts.
  • Keyword Eye – A visual keyword tool that will quickly help you establish what is popular and if there are any hidden gems.
  • Google Insights for Search – To see what is popular and on the rise.
  • Social sites (Twitter/Facebook) – Very useful to see the conversation that is going on, to see what is popular, what people are asking. Can be very useful for finding post topics or a potential audience for your Blog.

Social Integration

On setting up the Blog, you will want to make sure that the people who visit the Blog can easily share your content. You can do this by installing social sharing buttons on the main Blog page and on each of the post pages. It is best not to go overboard, concentrate on including buttons for the most popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Stumbleupon and Pinterest.

As well as enabling users to share your content, it is worth adding links so they can stay connected. Consider adding the following:

  • A link to a Facebook page (to gain fans).
  • A link for following you on Twitter.
  • An RSS feed link if people want to receive regular updates.

Enable Comments

Comments are a valuable asset to a Blog; they create a platform for conversation and debate. Comments can also help highlight popular posts which in turn make the Blog appear to be popular from outsiders. Open up your Blog for comments to help grow your audience.

Blog Compatibility

You will want to make sure that your Blog is highly compatible to make it easy for people to view your content. Have you considered mobile and tablet use? If your Blog is difficult to navigate and read on these platforms, you are potentially losing many regular readers as the number of mobile users has grown massively in recent years and is continuing to grow.

Creating the Content

Researching Ideas

It is likely that you have a clear idea of the type of things you want to Blog about. One of the hardest things about keeping a Blog going is to maintain a constant flow of ideas. It is better to Blog less often with quality content as opposed to Blogging often with content that nobody wants to read.

There are a few ways to keep the ideas flowing on top of just doing keyword research, I have listed some below:

  • Keep up to date with the industry and what people are talking about.
  • Use Google Alerts to track the conversation across the web for various topics.
  • Actively participate in social media for ideas. This could be as simple as listening to what your customers are interested in, or what they are asking.
  • Monitor other social media channels.

Creating the Posts

Once you have your ideas you will want to create the posts, here are some useful considerations while creating the content.

A Good Title

You should have a good idea what people are generally searching for whilst doing your keyword research. This should be incorporated into the title to help the content get ranked within the search engines and to help people find the content .

The title should also have an element of persuasion, something that entices people to click through and read the post. Newspapers and magazines are good examples of how this can be done.

Quality of Content

As mentioned previously, the post should have a focus on quality content, something that will keep a person reading. This will help towards creating a more engaging Blog, help increase subscriber numbers and increase the number of shares on social media platforms.

Length of Content

Whilst it is not necessary to constantly churn out 1000+ word posts, the length of content can reflect the hard work put into writing it. A ‘guide’ post on the other hand will benefit from being easy to follow and fairly short (depending on the subject) so users can quickly browse the post and take the information they need from the post.

Writing lots of short posts that lack substance will likely seem uninteresting or unhelpful and this will turn potential followers away.

Optimising the Page Meta

It is important to optimise the page Meta when publishing a new Blog post. This will ensure that you include an appropriate and keyword targeted title that will show up when displayed in the search engines.

The Meta Description is an opportunity to explain what the post is about and why it is interesting or helpful. This can help influence the click through to your website instead of the competition.

Blog Promotion

Promoting Similar Content

When someone visits your Blog, they are already interested in the content you are providing so it makes sense to highlight other resources they may be interested in. One way of doing this is to show links to related or popular posts on each of the pages. Linking to other pages within the Blog post can also be a useful tactic (if relevant and helpful to what they are reading).

Building Followers

This refers back to the Blog Social Integration mentioned above. A good way of gaining followers is to make the ways of subscribing as easy as possible by linking to these profiles via the Blog post pages. Increasing the number of possible platforms for interaction will help increase the number of followers, although most people use the standard Facebook and Twitter platforms.

Being active on Facebook and Twitter is also important. Join in on the conversation and tell people about your new posts, this will improve the interaction and remind followers to revisit if they haven’t for a while.

Blog Directories

There are a number of Blog directories that list Blogs by topic and theme (e.g. Technorati), this is just another method of discovery. Usually you will get a link from these sites and they can potentially send a lot of interested users so there is no harm in submitting to these types of sites.

Guest Blog Posts

Guest Blog posts are one of the most powerful ways of gaining a lot of followers, subscribers and traffic. It is however one of the most time intensive ways of Blog promotion. It will require a bit of research but there are usually quite a lot of industry related Blogs that openly offer guest post opportunities.

Typically you will write a post to be published on their website and in return they usually will give you a link back to your website. This opens the door to more followers and readers for your own blog as well as a little extra domain strength.

Email List

Email is not a new technology but is still widely used today. One way to get new content in front of the eyes of interested people is to create a sign up for an email newsletter or similar. This can be done by adding a field to your Blog, either on the main Blog page or on each of the post pages. This is another platform to advertise new content and developments to interested individuals.

Usually there will need to be a benefit for the subscribers. This could be that they receive special discounts or promotions, get to find out about new developments before anyone else or get emailed unique content/tutorials. There is usually quite a lot of different options when it comes to persuading people to sign up, think about the interests of the subscribers and what they might want.

Some Useful Tips

Here are some useful tips to consider when Blogging:

  • Try to use a common Blogging platform (such as WordPress) – This will really help ease the management of the Blog from easily adding Meta to linking to related posts.
  • Don’t be afraid to link to others – If you feel like the link will benefit your readers (a useful tool perhaps), don’t be afraid to link. Your subscribers are likely to appreciate the help.
  • Focus on providing something useful – After all, this is what people want in a Blog and is usually the reason they subscribe. A Blog whose main purpose is to create link opportunities is unlikely to benefit anyone.
  • Prevent spamming the web to promote your content – If someone is asking a questions online and you feel that your post answers their question, that is fine. If, on the other hand, you just sign up to forums to throw up a link to your Blog, it is likely to anger the other users.
  • Encourage comments within the Blog posts – Asking a question to your audience or getting them to describe their opinion on the subject usually works.

Stay on topic if your Blog allows it – Deviating too far from the initial Blog idea will likely lose you followers and make it hard for new visitors to establish a benefit in subscribing.

Image Source

Social media concept in thumb up symbol via BigStock

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