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Learn How to Blog – Simple Steps to Effective Blogging

Learn How to Blog – Simple Steps to Effective Blogging

Have you ever wanted to learn how to blog? You are not alone. In fact everyday people like you take the plunge and create a blog. While their goals are usually different the idea behind the blog is to get people to read what you are passionate about. No matter what your main goal is there are some common goals that most blogs have in common:

  • Get Readers – Everyone wants their blog to be read by as many people as possible
  • Reader Interaction – The true test of your writing is getting others to reply in your comments about your subject
  • Build Subject Authority – Get to be known as an expert
  • Increase your websites traffic – The more people who visit your website the more motivated you will become
  • Create Income – When you learn how to blog successfully you will generate a long term income that gives financial freedom
  • Obtain SEO and Organic Website Rankings – This leads to being ranked in the top pages of Google and brings traffic without advertising

These are great goals, but simply dreaming about them is not going to make your blog successful. Creating content for your readers is ultimately what will drive your authority, SEO Rankings and long term financial freedom. However, just creating content just to create content is not going to take you to the top. You need to give clear thought to your topics, optimize your articles for keywords and make overall good choices when writing your articles. When you learn to blog effectively you will notice an increase in your SEO page rank within the major search engines. Google and Bing will reward well written content with higher page placement. This translates into more viewers for your website.

Learn how to blog – effective steps to success

The early stages of your blog are about planning and following some steps that are always best to keep in mind. A successful blog follows a systematic approach that helps you create quality content that will capture the imagination of your readers and help them meet their needs.

  • Building Blocks of a Successful Blog

  • Make Sure You Are Setup For Success With The Proper SEO Tools

  • Write Quality Content with SEO in Mind

  • How Often Should You Post
  • Format Your Blog Posts to Keep Interest

  • Sharing and Promoting Your Blog
  • Analyze The Results of Your Efforts

If you want to start a business blog, do it right the first time around. Follow these steps to make sure your blog is set up for success.

Building Blocks of a Successful Blog

Before you even write your first article in your quest to learn how to blog you need to set the foundation for your new websites home. This involves choosing the CMS (Content Management System) you will use. Here are some of the ones available:

  • WordPress – By far the most popular CMS in the world with over 75 million websites built using their platform – FREE
  • Ghost – A newer blogging platform in comparison to others – Paid only
  • Drupal – Like WordPress this platform is good for both business & blogging. There is a higher learning curve – FREE
  • Joomla – Higher learning curve then WordPress, but easier to use then Drupal – Paid only

These are just a few of the ones out there, but as most people will attest using WordPress makes the most sense. When you are trying to learn how to blog you want a platform that does not require hours, days or even weeks to learn and setup. The best part is that there are literally thousands of articles and videos on how to setup and run a WordPress website. The community is large and you will be able to get the help you need without much searching.

Also with this platform you do have two options to choose from:

  • Free – yoursite.wordpress.com – Hosted on their servers using a sub-domain name like this example
  • Paid – yoursites.com – While the software is Free to use you would still need to obtain web hosting.

So what are the advantages & disadvantages?

With the free version you have no monthly cost associated with having your new blog up and running. The software is ready to go once you setup your account and you can virtually start blogging. However, you will be limited in terms of customizing your look and the plugins you can use to enhance your readers experience. The main detractor in my opinion that WordPress.com will serve ads on your website to offset the cost of providing you a free blogging platform.

With the paid hosting version you will be able to customize the look of your website to virtually anything you want. Also you will be able to install any plugin you want. Also you will be the only one making money on your website. The only real downfall if you even call it a downfall is that you will have to pay a monthly web hosting bill. The cost will be worth it though as your website becomes popular and the income you can generate will make you forget about that monthly bill.

All things considered your best choice is to register your domain name with a company such as Lovemyhost or another registrar that offers great customer service as well. In addition you can get managed WordPress hosting with built in videos on how to use WordPress. This is extremely useful when you are trying to learn. It is less time for you to search around the internet looking for answers.

Simply put you will not go wrong with this platform. The resources, plugins, integrations and so much more will make your blogging experience a lot better when you are trying to learn how to blog.
One final note on this subject. If you are going to be writing a blog that is in conjunction with a product or service make sure that they are not a separate. Having your blog separate from your product or service will negate the effect that your blog will have on your SEO and traffic benefits if you are trying to make a living off a product or service.

Make sure you are setup for success with the proper SEO tools

Search engine optimization or SEO is one of the most important things you need when you learn how to blog. Think of SEO as the cue that search engines such as Google and Bing use to find, rank and index your blog. What this means for your website is that when someone searches for something that is related to the topics of your blog posts your site will show up on the search pages.

Blogging is about getting your passion out there, but also about increasing your traffic. There are two ways that you accomplish bringing traffic to your website. One is paid advertisements through sites such as Google, Bing, Facebook and others or using proper SEO practices to grow organic traffic through search engines. Both of these methods are effective, but the second one is the preferred method as you do this with little to no investment.

Something to note about SEO is that simply writing an article is not enough to bring in traffic. Your articles need to be optimized properly each and every post. The problem that we run into with optimizing is that the algorithms change on a regular basis. These algorithms determine what is considered quality content and keeping up with these changes can be hard.
The best way to ensure that each of your pages and posts are optimized is to use a plugin. There are several out there to use, but two stand out above the rest when it comes to SEO optimization.
  1. Squirrly
  2. Yoast

Both of these are great for optimization and help you to create quality content. After using both over the years I have made Squirrly my go to SEO plugin. It provides keyword search and easy to follow optimization tools within your posts and pages that just make sense and work really well. You will spend a little bit to use it, but the expense is worth every penny when you are trying to get your website ranked. Yoast like Squirrly has a free version and a paid version. The problem I have with Yoast is the lack of a built in keyword research tool that Squirrly has. This has been invaluable when searching for the right keywords to target for an article.

As you can see a keyword search that we did for this blog post. You notice that our chosen keyword is “Learn how to blog.” The competition is low and has a steady trend within Google searches for those looking for this topic. To the right you see the live assistant that helps you with optimizing your blog post. Green means you are optimized. You can also see that as I am writing this there is a box that is giving me information on what to improve. The human friendly helps you see if you have enough writing after a keyword to make sure that it is SEO friendly. By and far the easiest plugin that I have ever used and highly effective.

Squirrly SEO Plugin

Below you notice that you will also be able to track where your articles are at in Google to see how effective your SEO is. The articles you are seeing in this image have new. Normally you can expect 3 to 6 months before you will see any results. Yes it is about patience as well.

Squirrly Analytics

 

One other tool you really need to use for SEO is a Sitemap. There are several plugins that generate a sitemap for you. Squirrly and Yoast both have this built into them. A sitemap tells search engines what content to index and how to find it. This is a must have.

To install plugins, from the Plugins menu, go to Install New, and then select Upload Plugin. From here, you’ll upload the folder that was downloaded from the plugin’s website or WordPress page.

However, most Plugins can now be installed by going to the Plugins Menu, select add new and you will notice that down below boxes show up with plugins in them. These are initially the recommended ones. Not always perfect to use for your blog, but some good ones are in here. If you are looking for SEO plugins to install just do a search for SEO and all related plugins will show up. You can then read the details, determine how often it is updated and if it is compatible with your current version of WordPress (this is important). Then simply click install. Once it is installed the word will change to activate. Click this and you are finished.

Write quality content with SEO in mind

When you first learn how to blog you will be tempted to write as many articles as you can. The problem with this is that you will be focused more on quantity then you will be on quality. Writing an article to just write an article is a bad habit you should get away from. The more time you take to write a quality the better the search engines will reward you with a higher search ranking. This will translate into more traffic for your website.

Quality content starts with proper SEO keyword research (you can do this right from Squirrly). Knowing what to write about, which keywords to target and how many keywords to use in an article along with their proper placement is critical. To many keywords will make search engines classify your article as spam. To few and they will not rank you high enough to get noticed. It is a fine balancing act that will frustrate you some, but with the right plugins this frustration can be reduced.

If you are unable to use Squirlly or Yoasts premium features at the beginning that is fine too. You can use these websites to help you find the same information as well.

These will give you a list of the highest-ranking (most searched) terms for your topics.

Learn How To Blog

These tools are helpful and a good alternative. The downfall is that while they give you most of the information that you need there is one key feature that I like about Squirrly: How easy it is to rank in a keyword. You can determine your choices from this list based on competition in each keyword. So if a keyword says that the competition is high this means you should avoid it for the most part as ranking will take a long time. Try to target keywords with little competition. While there will be fewer searches the odds are you are going to be able to get the front page of the search and the traffic from this will be worlds beyond what you will get by not ranking in highly competitive keyword.

As I said earlier the placement of keywords is extremely important. Try to follow these keyword placement tips when you are writing each of your articles and pages:

  • Keyword in the URL
  • In the first and last paragraph of your article (as I have done above with our keyword learn how to blog)
  • Placed naturally throughout article
  • In the Alt Tags of your images that you use
  • Use at least one H1 or H2 (a sub-header)
  • In your meta description for the page

Also keep a list of your article ideas. You might also consider mapping out these ideas to make them flow from one to the other to keep interest going. Another thing is to keep a list of your SEO keyword research you have done. This way you never forget ideas. Lets face it ideas come and go quickly and sometimes if we forget to write them down — well we just simply forget them.

Remember that all of your posts you write will need to be planned according to Seasonality, Timeliness and Competition. Pay attention to major events within your industry, what your competition might be talking about and if it relates to your current time of year.

How often should you post

For years the saying was always content is king and in some respects that still holds true. However, how much content is king when you are talking about how often you should post to your blog.

Over at Hubspot they conducted a study. They used blogging data from their over 13,500 customers to see the effects of their blogging. What they found is pretty much what was to be expected:

“Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0-4 monthly posts.”

OK I can see it now. You are thinking that earlier I told you that always take quality over quantity. That still holds true, but you can easily write 16 blog posts in a month that are high quality, but you need to take your time and make sure they are quality posts.

Think about this:

Quality posts are always more important then quantity — If you are new to writing for the internet you might want to take it slow at first. Sure you won’t be producing 16 posts per month, but maybe you will be putting out 12 amazing articles instead of 16 so-so ones. Google will recognize low quality posts and instead of rewarding you with high page rankings and a lot of traffic you will instead have your articles labeled as irrelevant.

Think about what your real goal is — Think about what your real goal is for your blog. Is it traffic? If so then you should focus on driving traffic by writing a large number of well written articles. However, if your goal is to convert readers into buyers you should consider writing a smaller number of articles that are designed to convert leads into sales as well as marketing well performing posts.

Format your blog posts to keep interest

You can write the best article in the world, but if you do not set it up to encourage people to stay and read it, share your posts, and engage with your website then you might as well be writing for yourself.

  • Blog posts should be easy to read: People should be able to quickly read through a post without getting lost. You can do this by using bullet points and headers where necessary to keep the flow clean as you go between subjects.
  • Encourage Social Sharing: Social websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and others are here to stay and are a valuable way to get your blog to become popular. Encourage the sharing of your posts and pages by using plugins such as Shareaholic and others that add social sharing buttons to your posts. These can fixed at the bottom of your post or floating buttons as some sites use. The preference is yours, but make sure that it is not distracting for your readers.
  • Break up monotony:  Don’t make your paragraphs long and by all means use images and videos to keep interest. Boring your readers to death is not the best way to build your new blog. Make sure that everything you use adds value to your article though.

Sharing and promoting your blog

So now you have your blog up and running and you have written articles. Basically you have built and they will come. Yep any moment now the people will begin pouring in to read your articles. No that is not how it works, but hey it would be amazing if that is all you had to do.

The main reason you wrote your blog posts and built that amazing website was to have people see your hard work. The only way to really get noticed is to begin sharing on every social platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) and yep you will need to create business pages for each. It adds legitimacy to your new business and makes it even easier to have others find you and share your content.

Also lets not forget about good old fashioned emails. Yes they are still effective. In fact for every $1 spent on email marketing you should expect a return of around $40. Email marketing is still the best return on your money of any method of advertising for an online business. It is important to remember that there is a fine line between effective email programs and spamming. Do your research before you get into email marketing.

One final thing to remember when dealing with social marketing is that you need to check in off and on throughout the week to engage with people who comment on your articles. If you simply write it and ignore them they will quit coming back. People like to interact with the person they consider an expert and yes if you write well enough you will be considered an expert.

Analyze the results of your effort

Every so often you need to go over data to determine what is working and what is not. You can do this weekly, monthly or quarterly the choice is yours. I am a fanatic about it so I do mine about once a week (sometimes more if I am really bored). The way you do this is by creating a  Google Analytics (GA) account  All you need to do is follow the easy to use steps and you will be able to capture data about your website that will help you better focus your efforts. You can easily connect your blog to your Google account using any number of plugins that are available such as the Google Analytics Dashboard.

Once installed, you’ll be able to see everything from overall traffic to which sources are driving the most visitors, which blog posts are converting the most readers and much more.

Learn How To Blog Analytics

Most likely if you are reading this article you are going to be new to Google Analytics. That is OK, because we all have to learn somehow. Just go over to MOZ to read this guide and learn how to read & analyze the data you will see. The stats that you track will be determined by the goals you set:

  • Overall Traffic
  • How much organic traffic do you get
  • How much time is spent on a page
  • Where is your traffic coming from
  • What blog posts are visited the most

This information will help you see the pattern of where your visitors are spending the most time. With this data you will be able to determine what articles you are going to focus on next that mean the most to your readers. Of course you can and should always write other articles that may not fit within this data graph that you have created. If you don’t try something new how will you ever know what other topics people are going to like.

Don’t wait lets get started with your new blog

Sure there are a lot of things that you are going to learn along the way. That is the fun of running your own website and blog. Mistakes will happen, but that is to be expected. Heck a lot of successful people have filed for bankruptcy before starting a successful business.

  • Sam Walton – Ran a successful Ben Franklin chain before losing it all and later founding Wal-Mart
  • Walt Disney – He started the Laugh-O-Gram Corporation in 1921 only to file 2 years later for bankruptcy
  • Conrad Hilton – Lost all his hotels during great depression and bought them back
  • Milton Hershey – 4 failed candy companies before Hershey

The point of this? Don’t be afraid of what you think you can’t do. It is persistence and hard work that pays off.

Get started with your WordPress website and begin blogging about your passion and interests.

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