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8 Top Tips for Starting Your First Blog
Posted on February 20th 2014
Thanks to the work we do with our Digital Career Portal, we’re always talking to students, graduates and candidates who are interested in entering the digital sector and dishing out advice on what they need to do to get their foot in the door.
From tightening up your social media privacy settings to cleaning up your digital footprint, there are lots of things you should be doing prior to applying for digital jobs – and if you’re interested in entering the fields of digital marketing, copywriting or online content, setting up your own blog should definitely be top of your list.
Now, I’ve covered blogging tips and advice on this blog before (namely, why no one’s reading your blog, how to survive a blogging burn-out, the 10 commandments of blogging and the 5 secrets to blogging success) but I’ve never actually blogged about what you should do when starting your own blog… so today I thought I’d change that.
You see, it’s all well and good telling someone to go and start their own blog – but that statement on its own isn’t actually that helpful. OK, so everyone knows what blogs are and reads them – but setting up your own blog and getting it all going is a completely different story. I mean, where do you even start? And how do you even set a blog up?
From choosing your platform to developing a voice, there are lots of different things to consider when starting your own blog. For anyone interested in getting into the industry, here are my eight (it was supposed to be five but I got carried away!) top tips for starting your first blog.
1. Choose Your Platform Carefully:
When it comes to blogging, the first thing you need to consider is the platform you’re going to blog on. Now, the two most popular options are WordPress and Blogger – and while both platforms have their pros and cons, WordPress always wins my vote every time. Why? Because it’s easy to modify (you can download themes and plugins), it’s easy to use and it has great built-in functionality.
If you choose to use WordPress, you need to consider if you’re going to go for a free account or a paid account. Yes, free accounts are always tempting but you do end up with the WordPress subfolder in your URL eg. “bubble-blog.wordpress.com”, while with a paid account you don’t – so it’d just be “bubble-blog.com”. On this point, you need to consider how serious you are about your blog – and how professional you want it to be… which leads me nicely on to point two…
Once you’ve chosen your platform, you need to consider what you want to achieve with your blog and what you want it to cover. Do you want it to cover the latest eCommerce news, act as an online portfolio or act as sounding board for your comments on digital marketing industry? Only once you’ve established your aims, can you move on to the next couple of points.
3. Consider Your Blog Name:
Now you’ve chosen your platform and established your aims, it’s time to pick a blog name. Now, it can be tempting to just use your name eg. “Amyedwardsblog.com” or “Amyedwardsblog.wordpress.com” – but I’d urge you to think carefully when it comes to your blog name. The right name for your blog again comes back to your aims and what you want to achieve. Think about whether you’re looking to build a brand around your blog which you can take with you into the industry – and consider the use of keywords in the URL which may help with SEO.
4. Develop A Clear Voice:
The most successful blogs have a clear tone and voice which sets them apart from their competitors and which their audience can identify with and relate to. Before you write anything on your blog (even the ‘About’ page), think about your target audience, what they want – and what the tone, voice and style of your blog should be in order to appeal to them. Don’t forget – your blog will be viewed by prospective employers in the future – so you need to consider this when developing your brand style and voice (eg. controversial might get attention – but will it be for the right reasons?).
5. Be Consistent:
When it comes to a blogging, the key is to be consistent. Whether it’s the format of the blog (eg. font, style, image size), the style of the posts or the content of each post (eg. theme, nature), you need to make sure you maintain a certain level of consistency with every post. Why? Because it’ll help your blog to create a professional image, find its place in the industry and may even help it to lure readers back again and again.
6. Find A Niche:
In addition to having a clear voice, the most successful blogs also have their own niche in terms of content and audience – so you need to consider this when setting your blog up. Is there one particular area of digital marketing, SEO or social media you’re particularly interested in but no one else is blogging about? Do you have a few interests that you think would work well together on a blog that no one else is covering? With blogging, it’s all about finding your niche and becoming a trail blazer – that way, not only will you stand out but you might also bag yourself some great organic rankings in the SERPs which might prove to be valuable later down the line.
7. Get Into A Rhythm:
Remember in point five when I said you needed to be consistent? That also applies to how often you post. When it comes to setting a rhythm, you need to be realistic. Yes, a post every day would be great, but if you’re in your final year of university or you’ve already got a full time job, are you really going to be able to find the time (or the energy!) to put something together every day?
To begin with, play around with how many you’re posting – you’ll soon see how long it takes to write and publish a post and how many you can realistically do each week. But remember, once you’ve committed – you need to be consistent.
And whatever you do, don’t just stopping posting altogether – and continue to include it on your CV. Why? Because, believe me, employers (especially in the digital industry) will check your blog out – and if they see you haven’t really bothered to write many posts and haven’t posted anything for two years, they might conclude that you’re not committed to your blog – which in turn could affect how committed you are to their brand/the job in question.
8. Don’t Forget About SEO:
As an SEO and Content Manager, there’s no way I could write this blog without mentioning SEO on your blog. If you want your blog to rank and be found online (and really, why wouldn’t you?!), you need to be sure to apply great SEO. This means making sure each post has a unique title and metadescription, using keywords in your image ‘alt’ tags – and adding relevant tags to each post (this should also help with site navigation). There are lots of great WordPress SEO plugins out there that actually make this pretty easy and simple to implement.
Similarly, as I’ve mentioned before, authorship is becoming increasingly important when it comes to SEO and blogging – so make sure you’ve got a Google+ profile set up, you implement authorship properly on your blog and you attribute each article to the correct author. You can find more info about establishing authorship on WordPress and building Author Rank here and here.
So there you go; just eight things you really need to think carefully about when starting your first blog. Good luck – and remember, don’t give up – it’ll be worth it in the end!