There have been a few requests for advice for beginning bloggers, and we are working on projects with clients who are just learning the craft as well. Since blogging has been such a massively expanding industry over the past decade, I assumed there would be an overabundance of webpages about blogging. I was right. Most of them gave the same, timeless and valuable recommendations. However, those that were coming in at the top weren’t always recent editions. In fact, some page one blogs about blogging dated all the way back to 2006, and in Internet years, that’s at least a couple decades. Since the number one rule and purpose of a blog is to keep it current, we have decided to release our best advice for beginning bloggers looking to succeed in 2013 and beyond.
How to Blog and Be in Business
Maybe you didn’t intend to read a blog about business, but that is very much the case. Blogging has blossomed from an obsessive hobby to big business around the world. The purpose of most blogs is to support a business or to be the business itself. The most successful bloggers are not just good at writing about their industry, but they also excel at business. To keep your blog afloat these days, you must be business savvy. Even if you desire no money from your readership, you do want that audience. In order to capture and maintain it though, you must:
- put out a product (your blog);
- that is comparable or better than the competition (other websites’ content);
- and that will stand out and get noticed (your idea and advertising).
For this you need new ideas, innovative strategies, clever marketing, and the endurance to keep it up long-term. If you’re not ready to be in the business of blogging, hire copywriters who can do it for you.
Multimedia Skills are Required
You know your industry like the back of your hand, so why wouldn’t you be good at blogging about it? That all comes down to your writing skills. This is more than spelling or punctuation, but about grammar, organization, voice, tone, relevance, and audience as well. That really will make a difference in your audience and in your Google rankings. Once the content is ready, you need to accent it with multimedia, which means you need to create multimedia. You can’t simply take someone else’s and post it on your blog. To increase the number of reads and shares your blog gets, learn how to make:
- presentations for AuthorStream and Slideshare,
- videos for YouTube,
- Infographics for Pinterest and Tumblr,
- and other media.
Writers Can’t Escape the Code
Knowing how to make a presentation or video is only the beginning of your technical needs. Today’s blogger needs to know what a C-Panel is (that’s the place in a website where you log in to add a blog or change a page) and how to add a properly optimized blog. I learned early on that knowing basic HTML coding was very useful. It isn’t always as easy as copy and paste. Sometimes, C-Panels will need you to add in:
- heading tags <h1>Title</h1> <h2>Subtitle</h2>
- paragraph tags <p>Paragraph Content</p>
- bullet points <ul><li>Bullet Point Item</li></ul>
- images with text-wrapping <img alt=”Alt Description” src=”http://www.weblink.com/blog/image-title.jpg” width=”214″ height=”300″ />
- and links <a href=”http://www.weblink.com/webpage.html” title=”Alt Title”>
The great thing is, if you can get through that initial intimidating foreign language that is HTML basic coding, you can take care of a lot of blog glitches on your own. Even better, other people will pay you to post theirs, because they couldn’t make it through the code! With most WordPress blogging sites though, entering your blog is pretty easy, so as long as you can learn how to use a C-Panel, you’ll be fine.
You Better Know SEO
SEO has already been mentioned in passing, but it gets its own section too. In order to get your blog noticed online, you need to be good at search engine optimization. That means balancing quality content with keywords you need without alienating your readers or losing focus. You need to know how to use (but not overuse) keywords in:
- paragraph content
- anchor text links
- image alt descriptions
You will also want to apply that same piece of knowledge to your social media marketing campaign (yes, you’ll need one of those too), you content creation strategy, and your backlink development plan. Does SEO sound like a lot of work? Good, because it is.
Rank and Reputation Go Hand in Hand
Marketing plays a huge role in blogging, and when it comes to search engines, your rank and your reputation go hand in hand. You need to build up your reputation on more sites than just your own, which is why you need to be promoting your blog on all of the major SM platforms and creating satellite sites with your name or your brand identifying it as yours. Many of these are connected and Google is increasingly focused on social influence in results. Get an Author or Business page at:
- Google Plus
The more your name spans the web in conjunction with topics in your industry, the better your reputation will be. The better your reputation within a particular industry, the better Google considers your Author Rank. A better Author Rank results in better website rankings and more web traffic.
There’s a risk though. If you get a bad reputation even by accident, whether through poor content, keyword stuffing, unnatural backlink building, linking to or from unethical sites (porn, spam, etc.), or associating with organizations with bad reps, your author rank can become associated with them. Then, the only information that pops up on page one is negative and getting your blog to rank by topic is practically impossible. That’s why you need to pay attention to where your links are coming from and control the information that surrounds them.
Good Ethics are Strongly Recommended
Ever since the dividing line was drawn between black hat and white hat SEO, bloggers have come up on both sides of the battle. Search engines are, at least we optimistics believe, trying to rank the best possible pages for our query. That means, as content creators, we now have a responsibility to put out original, high quality content that helps to better educate or inspire the world. No more publishing BS, no more spamming readers, no more fake backlink or fan building. The content we create will shape a culture and inspire a new generation, so don’t let money or popularity be your only motivation in the quest for the top spot. Be one of those bloggers who makes the internet better. Make it a priority:
- to plan out content schedules according to the needs of your audience,
- to do thorough research that people can rely on,
- and to be very thoughtful with your publishing.
In short, to be a blogger, you need to be business person, a marketer, a multimedia content creator, a writer, an editor, a web coder, and a good person. That’s not asking too much is it? If it might be a little much to add to your daily duties, consider hiring a multimedia marketing team to take care of your blog. If you’re still set on doing it for yourself, your research has only just begun. At least now, you know what you’re getting in to!
More blogging basics can be found on any number of websites as the key to a great blog hasn’t changed too much. However, if there is something you’d like to know specifically, just ask. The answer may just make our next blog.