The most successful blogs are written by people who are passionate about a subject. It doesn’t matter what the subject is. When a writer is personally invested in what they’re writing, it shows. The more personal you make your blog, the more likely you are to find yourself with a devoted, loyal following.
Today we’ll talk about creating a blog. Not just any blog, but one that fits your interests. A blog that covers a topic (or topics) that you have a personal connection to.
Ready to dive in?
Don’t Just Make a Blog, Tailor It to Something You Connect With
When you look at some of the half a billion blogs out there, you can get the feeling that many of them were started with the sole intention of making money. You can practically feel the disinterest radiating from them.
Don’t get me wrong; earning money from a blog is a good thing. But a blog that is calculated or clearly written by someone with no interest in the subject leaves me cold. I can see that it’s nothing more than an advertisement delivery system.
There’s no heart and soul anywhere to be found.
That kind of blog can generate some advertising dollars in the short run. But the lack of genuine interest from the owner will limit its growth. By that, I mean the growth of the audience. Many people are put off when they sense a lack of enthusiasm in a blogger.
What’s a Niche, and Why Should I Work in One?
If you have an idea for a blog, but you’re not sure if anyone will be interested, don’t worry. There’s an audience for everything and everyone on the web. You just have to find your audience. You can make finding an audience much easier by occupying a niche.
We’re going to talk about the technical tools you need to start a blog. But before we get there, you’ll want to have an idea of what your blog is going to be about. If the topic or subject you want to write about is wide-ranging, say, technology, you have to narrow your focus.
That narrow focus is the niche.
So, rather than writing about all technology, pick a specific technology. For example, say you’re interested in phones. That’s a vast subject. No one is familiar with every aspect of it. Ask yourself which phones you’re most interested in, or have the most experience with.
Let’s say you decide your blog will focus on Android phones. (Perhaps not the most thrilling subject, I know, but bear with me.) That’s still a broad spectrum of topics. You can blog about the operating system itself, hardware, applications, or a specific manufacturer.
Do you see where I’m going? When deciding on a niche, you want to be as specific as you can. Starting in a particular niche may seem limiting, but you can always branch out.
Identifying the ideal niche may be the most challenging part of starting a blog. But working in a niche has benefits. When you stick to a specific topic, readers who are interested in your first five articles are likely to be interested in the next five. And keeping visitors interested is the key to blog growth.
Choosing a Niche, or: Find What You Love and Let It Guide You
Let’s talk about passion. That word has been overused and abused so much that it’s almost become a cliche. Google returns as many results for “passion” as it does for “hairstyle” or “luxury car.” (About 1.8 billion if you’re keeping score.)
But if you’re passionate about something, no matter what it is, it’s a great starting point for your blog.
Do you have enthusiasm for something but aren’t quite sure of the best way to translate it to a blog? Consider these points.
- Which blogs do you like to read? What is it about them that you like? Translate those ideas to your blog.
- Do you feel like something is missing from your favorite blogs? What is it? Use your blog to fill that gap.
- Can you teach about the subject? Tutorials are one of the best ways to attract readers.
- Have you solved a problem that other people might have? Write about how you did it.
- Are you currently learning more about your niche? Write about what you’re learning as you learn it.
- Do you want to be known as an expert or authority on your niche? Think about your blog as a whole, and what it will say about you in a couple of years. Stay focused on what you want that impression to be.
- In marketing, they use imaginary composite customers called “buyer personas.” Knowing who the typical customer is helps companies communicate with their ideal audience. Develop a reader persona (or two or three) and keep them in mind when planning or writing.
- Don’t forget that you can always broaden your niche later. But broadening will be more effective if it’s done on top of a solid foundation.
Essential Blog Building Blocks: Web Hosting and a Domain Name
When most people think about blogs, they think about the popular blogging platforms. Sites like Blogger/Blogspot, Tumblr, and Medium all serve a purpose, but they put unnecessary limitations on a serious blogger.
- They limit what you can do technically—both in website capabilities and search engine optimization.
- You’ll never be able to brand your site on those services properly.
- Most of them are at a disadvantage when it comes to Google search.
- Finally, when you decide to move your blog to your own domain (and one day you will), migration is painful.
That should be enough to convince you to steer clear of blogging services or websites. To be taken seriously and positioned for success, your blog needs its own website and domain name.
That might sound like more complication than you want to deal with. But the reality is you can get web hosting, a domain name, and blog software installed during your lunch hour. But to do that, you need a host that makes the job easy.
With proper WordPress hosting, you can quickly set up nearly any kind of website and start creating content before the end of the day. As there are so many services available, the hardest part is choosing the best WordPress host to fit your needs.
Let’s Talk About How to Make a Blog Using WordPress
Since you’re using your own web hosting and domain name, you need blog software. Ten years ago, we could have talked about several options. There are still dozens of blog programs available, but there’s really only one option for any serious blogger: WordPress.
WordPress Is Easy to Install
The makers of every piece of software will tell you theirs is easy to install. That’s not always true. But WordPress can be installed with a couple of clicks. It doesn’t get any easier, and it couldn’t be any quicker.
WordPress Can Adapt to Your Niche, Whatever It Is
The things that make WordPress so flexible and adaptable are themes, plugins, and blocks. We’ll go into more detail on themes and plugins in a minute. Blocks are exactly what they sound like – building blocks for a blog post or website page. They make it easy to construct an interesting page.
The WordPress Gutenberg editor comes preloaded with several blocks. But there are even more blocks available with WordPress plugins like ZeGuten. Expanding WordPress blocks well beyond the everyday options, ZeGuten opens a new world of possibilities.
Sections, tabs, custom headings, animated boxes, progress and countdown timers, carousels, blurbs, and advanced maps are just some of the blocks ZeGuten provides. Your blog can look modern and professional without writing a single line of code. You can tailor your pages and posts to your niche with a click.
Choosing WordPress Themes and Plugins
The way your WordPress blog looks is dependent on the theme you choose. There are tens of thousands of free WordPress themes out there. The quality and usefulness of those themes can vary quite a bit. If you prefer a professionally built theme with a clean look that performs well and is infinitely customizable, check out Gutenix.
It works with the WordPress Gutenberg editor, as well as page builders like Elementor and Brizy. Gutenix is fast and flexible, the typography options are great, and it’s made with SEO in mind. It even includes starter site templates.
Everything I’ve mentioned is included in the free version of the theme, which is pretty impressive. But if you want increased functionality, access to more starter sites, and around the clock support, they also have licensing options available. When you buy a Gutenix license, they even throw in a premium version of the ZeGuten plugin for free.
If themes control the blog appearance, it’s the plugins that control functionality. We already talked about ZeGuten and the blocks it provides. Since it’s built by the same team, it integrates perfectly with the Gutenix theme.
And there are thousands of other useful WordPress plugins to handle specialized tasks. Plugins for SEO, security, Google integration, performance enhancement, and countless other tasks.
Blog Marketing 101
Building your blog, customizing it, and creating compelling articles is only part of the job. A great blog needs great readers. And proper SEO will help you attract those readers, but it’s not enough on its own.
You also need to be social.
Not chatting-in-the-grocery line social (though that couldn’t hurt), but social media social. Posting links to your articles on social media is the most reliable way to get more visitors. Hit as many social sites as you can, and over time you’ll see which ones work best for your blog. Focus your efforts on those.
The second most effective marketing tool is email. You can create a newsletter and send it out regularly, or send lists of recent articles. Build your email list through signups on your blog or via social media.
It may take some time to build a good-sized list. But resist the temptation to buy mailing lists. Not only are they a waste of money, but they can also get you labeled as a spammer and stop your email marketing in its tracks.
For the best results, don’t send your newsletter or blog updates from your web hosting account. Use a dedicated email service. There are high-volume ( and highly-complicated) email services like SendGrid and Aweber.
But you might want to start on a friendlier service like MailChimp. It’s easier to get started on MailChimp than most other services, and when your list is under 2,000 recipients, MailChimp is free.
You Can Build a Popular Blog
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, but if you take it step by step, it’s manageable. Remember that all of the technical attention to detail and promotion doesn’t mean anything if your content isn’t compelling.
You need to be aware of how to use SEO but always write for readers, not search engines. Be engaging, be thorough, and don’t be afraid to write long articles. Longer, substantial articles take more time to craft, but they attract more readers, and Google ranks them favorably.
Consistency is your ally. You’re building a brand, and your brand is your writing. Stay focused on your niche, create new articles consistently, and be diligent about promotion. If you tick all those boxes, you’ll stay ahead of the game.