Anyone can start a blog—even if you aren't the most talented writer (read till the end and you'll see why we think so).
There are many reasons for starting one.
A blog can help you reach an audience of like-minded people who are eager to hear what you have to say. For an ecommerce brand, it could be a means to boost SEO and drive organic traffic to your online store.
If you've just begun your foray into blogging, you might need some help to get started. In this article, we look at five things you'll need to set yourself up for success.
1. A Niche
A good blog covers more than just a single topic. In fact, most popular blogs frequently touch on a wide range of topics and organize their content into different categories.
However, a good blog also has a clear direction and purpose. This is usually achieved by specializing in a niche.
For example, Say Yes is an award-winning blog that focuses on family. However, it engages readers with content that spans other topics, like food, travel, and DIY projects.
The key is finding a niche that is not only specific enough to draw readers in but also broad enough that it allows you to branch out into other interesting issues as well.
Therefore, you shouldn't look at your niche as limiting your content. Instead, it should act as a foundation for you to build upon, and a central idea you can always return to.
What niche should you choose? What are you passionate about? What do you find yourself thinking about every day?
It’s perfectly fine if you don't have an answer now. After all, this is your first step—take your time to consider this thoroughly.
2. An Audience
Once you've found a niche, the next thing you need to do is find a group of people who are interested in your content. Here's how:
Identify your current audience.
Use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to figure out who is visiting your page. What channels are they coming from? Look at the keywords driving your traffic and analyze their demographics to find people who are looking for the information you can provide to them.
Identify the audience you want to reach.
You can start by creating a list of keywords you want to rank for on Google and finding popular blog posts written by others (including your competition). You could also dive a little deeper and look at people who comment on these posts.
Another thing to try is finding industry experts on LinkedIn. What do they usually share on their feeds? Who usually comments on them?
The aim isn't to identify specific readers but to get a general sense of their demographic and interests.
Identify the content your audience is interested in
Monitor newsworthy trends within your niche. This helps you get visibility and stay relevant.
There are lots of tools that can help you do this. Google Alerts are great for getting useful articles and content to your email. You can also use search and keyword tools like SEMrush and UberSuggest to canvas for keywords that your readers might be interested in.
On social media, you can follow accounts that have their finger on the pulse when it comes to your niche.
For instance, you can create a Twitter List of journalists in your industry, look through popular hashtags and follow Twitter Topics that relate to your niche.
3. Engaging Content
This is where the actual blogging comes in, though it's seldom as straightforward as it sounds. Here are a few tips for writing blog content that is both accessible and engaging:
- Give your readers useful tips: Include in your blog content that gives your readers a solution to a problem they have. For example, if you have a blog about buying and selling bikes, you can write about online platforms that allow people to do so easily. Readers will love tips they can apply to their life.
- Write your blog on a regular schedule: Sticking to a schedule is important for building a loyal readership. If you have a blog about parenting, post on a weekly basis. Readers might expect to see your blog on the same day every week.
- Make your blog easy to read: You can give your blog a better feel by making sure that each word is easy to understand. Use short sentences and paragraphs. Use plenty of white space so that your readers don't get confused. Your readers should be able to read your blog quickly and easily.
At this stage of the process, you should have some idea of who your audience is and how to write the content they like. Now, it's time to figure out how to reel them in—how to keep them coming back for more of your blog content.
4. A Community
Once you have a niche, an audience and some exciting content in the wings, the next thing you need is a dedicated community of followers. Here's how you can get started:
Grow an Email List
The easiest way to make sure people keep reading your content is to deliver it straight to their inboxes.
This can be as simple as allowing your readers to subscribe to your blog's mailing list. Websites like Medium make this very easy, since they're built to host newsletters.
Just remember: You don’t need a very long email list for this. In fact, a list of just 500 people is enough to get started. If you're starting from scratch, engaging readers with interesting content is more important than having a very wide reach.
With quality content, your readers are likely to share your content or recommend it to friends. And that is how you begin building genuine engagement and reach.
Network with other Bloggers in your Niche
Identify blogs in your niche that have strong followings, and reach out to their creators via email or on social media. For a start, you can share their content on your social media platforms.
Try not to look at it as a competition—it's not always a fight to draw a larger audience. Being part of a vast community of content creators can give your fresh perspectives and ideas, as well as allow your content to reach a much wider audience.
Also, look for Discord servers, Facebook Groups or Subreddits that feature these creators. These are often organic communities of like-minded people.
Many of these communities were created by individual bloggers as well: David Field's Tech Blog Posts Discord server grew from his own private server; Discourse Blog's Discord also started from a collaboration with the Discontents media collective.
Connecting with bloggers in your niche could mean an opportunity to guest blog somewhere down the road. Remember to make the most out of this larger audience by linking back to your own blog or blog posts.
Encourage Readers to Share on their Socials
Of course, you'll need to make sure your content is compelling enough to be shared. Assuming you got that down, adding social share buttons to your blog should do the job.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of how you can start building a solid community of readers. Use these as a springboard for more creative and personalized strategies that help to boost engagement.
5. A Lead Magnet
While it isn't a necessity, it's definitely something that's good to have.
What's a lead magnet?
It's a marketing tool that generates "leads"—customers, or readers in your case—by offering a resource, in exchange for that reader's contact information.
Try couching it as an exclusive reward, targeted at those who become part of this in-group by subscribing to your mailing list. Here are some options you can consider:
- A free ebook
- A free online course
- A short video series
- A checklist
- Access to an exclusive panel discussion
For instance, HubSpot has a Website Grader that scans websites and returns a score based on their performance, mobile experience, search engine optimization (SEO) and security. Readers get a detailed report about their website and how they can improve it, while HubSpot gets their emails to recommend their own content, such as courses hosted on their website.
What makes for an effective lead magnet? That'll depend on your reader. Find something that'll closely align to your readers' interests, needs and behavior.
Feel free to unleash your creativity with lead magnets! After all, you should know your readers best.
Starting a blog and keeping it running requires a lot of commitment. What we've shared in this article is only a fraction of what you'll have to consider when putting your blog together.
As challenging as it gets, there are many ways to streamline the work you put into content creation. One way is to harness the power of AI to automate blog writing with Hypotenuse AI.
Are you wondering how good an AI-generated blog post can get?
Well, we let the AI write the segment you read about crafting engaging content!
That was pretty impressive, wasn't it? Maybe you're wondering how good an AI-written blog post can get. Well, we'll admit a good part of this blog post was written by our AI! If you're interested in finding out more, get in touch and we'll share more about how we can help set your blog up for success.