8 Tips I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog
I am a web developer. I know all about WordPress themes, design best practices, and how to generally make code-type stuff work. I started my own blog since I’ve tried and failed once or twice before and I’ve decided to really give it my all this time.
I started this blog about 2 and a half weeks ago and I’ve already figured out what I should have done differently
Starting a blog isn’t easy
Honestly I didn’t expect it to be easy either. I’ve had enough experience working with websites and online content to know that it’s NEVER as easy as it sounds.
Still there are several things that I wish I could go back and tell myself. I feel that if I had known these things before I started pouring time and effort into this blog that I would be seeing even better results than I am today.
1: Do keyword research BEFORE you start writing
This is something I am still struggling with. For some reason I have it in my head that I should just start writing without trying to decide what to say beforehand. It seems like a rather obvious thing to do but it
really doesn’t come as naturally as you would think. However I do see much better results when I look into what people are searching for related to my topic before I start writing the blog post.
2: Write headings and subheadings BEFORE writing the actual article
Again, this may seem like a brutally obvious thing to do. But even doing keyword research before starting a blog post isn’t really enough, and that is something that did not occur to me until about a week ago. Figuring out what people are searching for is only step one. Taking the time to outline your blog post and make sure key points are brought out is what really makes keyword research worthwhile.
When I do outline my main points and subheadings before I begin writing, the article seems to flow much more naturally and it becomes a more enjoyable process overall.
3: Set up an email list
This is one item that I still need to implement. Only after I started my blog did I realize how important it is to build an email list of loyal readers.
After just a week of blogging I started really digging into tips and strategies that other bloggers use to build their audience, and email lists are by far the most popular and successful. Unfortunately I still need to add a subscription to Aweber into my budget. But I will certainly post a review of their service and my level of success once I’ve implemented this.
Every single article I have read about starting a blog highly recommends building an email list of subscribers.
4: Use the crap out of lighboxes and popups
This is another tip to starting a blog that I wish I had known before I launched my own blog. Lightboxes, or popups as some people call them are extremely effective for marketing and for building email lists.
I intend to use a popup to build my own email list. I’ve already used them for PPC marketing on some other sites I run, and I can tell you now that they are unbelievably effective at engaging users.
5: Define a post tag strategy
Luckily this is something that I learned about pretty early on. Right after starting my blog I noticed that my tags weren’t really consistent and they didn’t seem to be doing much good. I looked up articles about effective tagging strategies, and learned a few really interesting tips to use so that my tags to the most good for my blog.
Defining a set ‘tag list’ allows me to make sure that I’m using tags how they’re meant to be used – to link to other related content. If I use the tag ‘starting a blog’ on this post, and then use the tag ‘tips for starting a blog’ on another post, they won’t be linked and therefore readers won’t be able to dig deeper into the subject of starting your own blog.
I’m still building my tag list, but having a fairly comprehensive list of tags to start with has helped immensely with avoiding tag overload and tag redundancy. When I write a new post I usually look through my tags to see which ones apply to that post. If I notice that there aren’t any tags that relate to a specific topic within the post, I add a tag for it into my list.
6: Define a content marketing strategy
This is another key area that I am continuing to work on. Having a good content marketing strategy is essential to the success of a blog. Right now I use HootSuite to coordinate my social media posts, and I do a lot of research on good hashtags for posting my blogs on Twitter and Google+.
I’m still trying new things with my content marketing strategy, and I’m constantly looking for new information on this topic. However having even a vague content marketing strategy has helped me to spread my content more effectively than I would be otherwise.
7: Learn more about blogging itself
You would think that I would have thought of this before starting a blog, but no. After just a few short weeks of blogging I’m realizing just how complex some aspects of this field can be.
Learning to create engaging posts, using the active voice, shortening sentences, and improving readability are all things that I never really gave much thought to until recently. But as I’m continuing to research ways I can improve my blog I am finding new ways to improve the posts and how they’re written.
There are plenty of blogs about starting a blog (go figure), but I’ll list just a few of them here that have been especially helpful:
8: Pay attention in English class
Yeah, it’s a little late for this one. I like to think that my grammar skills are not too horrible. But you’d be surprised to learn just how many times I’ll be writing a blog and wonder if a comma goes in a certain spot, whether or not I’m spelling something correctly or whether I’m using the right verb tense in a sentence.
I know English isn’t exactly fun for everyone to study. If you’re getting ready to start a blog though, it probably would not hurt to brush up on your grammar and spelling skills.
That just about does it for the things I wish I had known before starting this blog. Have I missed anything? Are there any good blogs about blogging that I’ve left out of my list? Leave a comment and let me know!