How to create a blog: learn how to build your own blog website

Plenty of businesses strive to create a blog nowadays, especially considering that content marketing can be such a valuable, high-converting strategy. Most know they should start a blog, but they’re lost about how exactly they should get started.

If you’re worried about how to build a blog, what’s involved, or how to be successful, you can rest easy! Starting a blog for your business is much easier than you’d think once you know what to expect and how to proceed, and we’ve got you covered.  

In this beginner’s guide to creating a blog, we’ll show you the step-by-step process you need to follow to build a blog in no time and we’ll give you some tips and recommendations for successfully promoting it.

Step 1. Understand what exactly is a blog

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A blog is a website (or a dedicated portion of your site) that displays frequent updates or articles from the blogger or business, almost like journal entries. These articles, which can be meant for entertainment, persuasive, educational, or sales purposes, are shown with the most recent content first.

Business blogs are almost always focused on highly authoritative, educational content that has underlying goals of expanding the business’ reach and driving specific actions, like engagement, subscribing to the business’s email, generating leads, or driving sales. 

“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.”

Blog vs. website: let’s understand the differences

Blogs are a type of website, but unlike most “traditional” websites that are relatively static, blogs are dynamic. Your business’s homepage and About Us page likely change only infrequently. Product pages may be updated a bit more frequently to accommodate new product information or FAQs, but they are still updated less often than a typical blog. 

Blogs can be a standalone website, but they may also be part of or closely connected to pre-existing websites. Business blogs should be easy to get to from your main business website—you’ll often find them in either the header or footer menu.

What is a blog used for?

#1. To develop a community around your brand. Readers who become loyal and follow can become a community on your blog, especially if they’re regularly engaging.

#2. To target potential customers, clients, and partners. After researching and understanding your customer’s pain points, you can create and optimize content designed to address those pain points and solve customer problems.

#3. To establish yourself as an industry expert and build authority. When you create valuable and authoritative content that stays on top of industry trends, you demonstrate your authority and build trust among your customer base.

#4. To boost SEO and increase traffic to your site. Creating search-optimized, evergreen content for your blog means that you can appear in search results for a large number of diverse keywords and drive traffic in the long-term. Evergreen content covers topics of persistent interest to your readers, so you can write long-form, highly authoritative guides that will serve as a reference for months or years to come. Over time, this means that more traffic will come to your site, especially as blogging contributes to authority-boosting backlinks that will further help your SEO.

#5. To convert traffic into leads. Your blog allows you to build trust with your followers. It also gives you a chance to show your product in use and explain why it’s valuable to an interested audience, resulting in leads and even sales.

#6. To develop and strengthen relationships with new and existing customers. Creating authoritative content cultivates trust and makes you a go-to information source for local followers. To further strengthen relationships, engage with your readers by responding to their comments on the blog. 

#7. Create opportunities for sharing and market growthAs your brand becomes trusted and you’re promoting your products or services effectively and repeatedly over a long period without being too aggressive, there are valuable opportunities for market growth.

Step 2. Find your blog niche

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When you’re planning the strategy and concept for your blog, it’s important to decide on a niche early in the process. As we mentioned above, niches are a subset of a broader topic or audience that allows you to more easily connect with your target audience and differentiate yourself from the other blogs in your industry. A strong niche will help enhance your brand and build your authority in your industry

Let’s look at an example. A culinary school trying to recruit students could focus on the general topic of “cooking.” This will be difficult to compete in. They could also break down into any of the following blogging niches:

  • Tutorials showing students how to make classic dishes
  • Breakdowns of common mistakes made in the kitchen and how to rectify them
  • Historical information on different cuisines, spices, and dishes 

These topics are all focused and have a strong point of view, and they’re not being written about extensively by many people.

When developing a blog niche use the following blog success validation process:

#1. Come up with a large list of broad topics you’d like to write about. Think of specific blog topics that could become posts, like “How to Fry an Egg Correctly” and “Reasons Your Cake Didn’t Turn Out Right,” and then look for common trends. In this example, it would be lessons for precise cooking. You can also write down more broad topics you’d like to cover and look for common themes there as well. 

#2. Validate the list that you’ve brainstormed. Do some market research and see if there would be an audience for these topics and the general niche. You can do basic keyword research to see if these posts or similar posts would have any potential to rank well and drive traffic. You can also use it to assess the relative popularity of your topic over time.

#3. See if the blog’s main niche can incorporate other niches, too. You may already have a small, well-defined niche, and then realize that multiple audience segments fit within that niche. By identifying these segments, you can create content geared towards each one at some point. An accountant targeting small businesses with financial advice may have niche audience segments of brick-and-mortar retail stores, entrepreneurs, and freelancers. 

#4. Ask yourself a few questions to assess your decision. Will you love writing about this topic for years? Will other people want to read this topic? And can you make money writing in this niche, whether you’re selling online courses, ebooks, products, or something else? 

#5. Define your ideal readers. Go back to those buyer personas you’ve created, and think about their main motivations and pain points. What solutions are they looking for, and what do they need? Remember that the audience you want to target should always dictate what you write about. An accountant writing about financial protection for freelancers won’t attract large corporations with that content. 

“Success comes because you have found your ecological niche and can flourish by doing your own valuable thing”

Step 3. Choose a blogging platform 

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There are multiple blogging platforms you can choose from when it comes to business blogging, which can include hosted blog solutions like Blogger.com, or self-hosted blog solutions like WordPress.org. Let’s see the differences below:

#1. Self-hosted blog solutions

The most popular is WordPress.org which is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) that allows customization in both design and function. You need to pair your WordPress.org site with a web host like GoDaddy (more on that below). 

Using WordPress.org on third-party hosting sites is recommended, as you can scale and customize your site as your business blog needs require, and often at a lower price point than other options.

WordPress.org: Pros and cons

WordPress powers 27.5% of the web, running everything from personal blogs to the New York Times.

#2. Hosted blog solutions

Free hosted platforms, such as Blogger or Tumblr for instance, are ideal if you have a limited budget however, they come with some limitations such as:

  1. You can’t have a customized URL. Your blog name will be in fact set as a subdomain, such as yourblogname.blogger.com or yourblogname.tumblr.com
  2. Your customization capabilities are pretty much restricted
  3. You must follow their rules and regulations
  4. If you want to migrate your blog you can’t simply because you can’t download the source code, files, and database and move to another provider

Step 4. Choose a domain name

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Choosing a domain name isn’t unlike choosing a brand name. It says a lot about your business, so it’s important to get it right. You can often purchase a domain name when you’re paying for a hosting service. 

Here are the best practices you need to consider when creating a domain name:

  • Keep it simple. You want your domain name to be easy to remember and type. A URL like “www.dinosaursrus.com” is a lot easier to remember and type correctly than “www.dinosaursareourlifeforever.com.” 
  • Incorporate your brand name. If at all possible, including your business’s name in the domain is a good choice. This ties the content back to you. 
  • Use .com domains. These are the most known extensions. Other domains such as .biz or .info are easier to forget and may be misleading.
Insider tips for buying a domain name
– Align your domain name with your business name to improve brand recognition and trustworthiness for your customers.
– Keep it short and catchy so it’s easy to tell anyone where your website is located and also easy for people to remember. You can lose customers if your web address is too complicated.
– Get a top-level domain (TLD) such as .com or .co.uk. Choose the TLD based on your customers’ main location so your site will show up when people search with local versions of Google.
– Register the domain under your own name so that you have control over it. If you don’t want your name and address plastered all over the web, then you can enable domain privacy for an additional fee with most providers.

Step 5. Buy a web hosting

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When it comes down to choose a web hosting solution for your blog it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed however, you have 3 main options to choose from:

#1. Third-party hosted blog solutions: This includes blogging sites like Medium.com where your content exists on their platform and relies on their servers to store and display your blog. With these options, you typically won’t be able to use a custom domain name. 

#2. Propriety hosted blog solutions: Blogging platforms such as Blogger.com or WordPress.com offer free hosting when you design your blog on their platform. Everything will be managed in one place, but you won’t have access to the blog code if you want to add unique customizations. 

#3. Self-hosted blog solution: With self-hosting systems, the web hosting provider (e.g BluehostHostGator, and GoDaddy) handles server upgrades and maintenance while giving you more access to the technical elements of the site. This enables better customization for themes, plugins, and other functions.  

Basic features every good web host should offer
– Server uptime. No web host can guarantee a 100% server uptime however, web hosts such as Bluehost or HostGator promise an uptime of 99.9% which is very good indeed
– Variety of plans and pricing
– Very fast server speeds
– Dedicated support 24/7
– Intuitive dashboard (c-panel) interface
– Offer migration support in case you have an existing blog
– SSL secure connection if you run an e-commerce website blog
– Unlimited storage
– Backup

Step 6. Pick up a blog theme and get it customized

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Choosing a blog theme is pretty much straightforward in fact, you can choose between free and premium (paid) themes. No matter how you decide to proceed the blog theme you will choose, it will need to be customized.

Your blog’s design is essential, and it can matter just as much as the content itself. If the blog layout doesn’t look clean and professional, it can make your entire brand lose credibility. 

Keeping your blog design clean, clutter-free, and user-friendly is key. Here are some blog layout tips to help you start with the best foot forward:

  • Incorporate plenty of white space on the blog. This helps the reader focus, and it looks clean. Use wide margins and good content spacing to accomplish this.
  • Format the text for scan-ability. You want people to be able to skim your content and your blog as a whole quickly. Think short blocks of text, lots of bullet points and subheadings, and bolded text to help your main point stand out.
  • Keep the color scheme simple. Stick to your core branded colors, and make sure that the main color field isn’t too dark so that the text can’t be read. 
  • Organize your navigational tabs. It should be simple for your readers to find what they’re looking for. Include a search bar and the option to browse by topic. 
  • Test the responsive theme. Make sure the design actually looks great on mobile, too.

If you want to customize your blog design, you’ll need web design and coding experience. If you don’t, consider hiring a web developer or a designer.

When hiring a web developer, make sure you ask the following questions:

  • What coding languages do you work with?
  • What blogging platforms have you done work with before?
  • Will I be able to maintain my site long-term?
  • Do you have any client testimonials? 

And when hiring a web designer, ask these:

  • Can you show me a few examples of sites you’ve worked on?
  • What is the creative process like?
  • Can you design a blog that fits my budget?
  • Do you offer other services than web design?

Step 7. Add blogging plugins to improve SEO and usability

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One of the great things about plugins is that they allow you to add new features to your blog without having to do any coding. So how do you choose the best plugins that will enhance your blog look and functionality? We’ve got you covered, with a list of the eight most important plugins you need to start your blog on the right foot.

#1. Yoast SEO

This is the most important plugin to install on a blog. This plugin will help you with search engine optimization (SEO) so that your blog ranks better in the Google search results. You can do some overall configuration for your blog at the start, but you can also use Yoast SEO to optimize every new page or blog post you create.

#2. W3 Total Cache

This plugin helps to speed up your site by creating a cache of your content so that pages can be loaded more quickly. Since page speed is one of the factors in search ranking, using a caching plugin is good for SEO, and W3TotalCache is one of the most popular.

#3. Akismet

Spam is the bane of our lives and it doesn’t just affect email; it also affects blogs. If you create a blog and allow comments, then chances are you will get spam comments posted by users or bots. Akismet helps to identify and eliminate those spam comments so you have a clean blog website.

#4. Contact Form 7

The built-in WordPress contact form is a little bit basic. That’s why thousands of people use Contact Form 7 both for their contact page and to collect visitors’ emails.

#5. Wordfence Security

If you want to keep the hackers away from your blog, then a security plugin is a must. Wordfence Security secures your site, lets you block attempted logins and bad bots, and even reminds you to keep your plugins and themes up-to-date for additional security.

#6. Share Buttons by AddThis

Share Buttons by AddThis is one of the most-used social sharing plugins. It will automatically add social sharing buttons to each blog post to make it easy for readers to like and share your posts on social media. Social media sharing is important for engagement, reach, and SEO, so a plugin like this is essential.

#7. Comments – wpDiscuz

Blogs have a built-in comment management system but sometimes you need a little bit more. Comments – wpDiscuz allows you to customize comment forms, integrates with social login, has antispam features, and much more.

#8. FooGallery/Envira Gallery

There’s nothing like a beautiful photo gallery to capture the attention of web visitors. FooGallery and Envira Gallery are popular photo gallery plugins that are pretty easy to use. Check out the previews and see which one you like best.

Insider tips for installing WordPress plugins
Check the reviews to see if there are any recent issues or bugs that affect how the plugin will work.
Ensure that the plugin is being regularly updated to work with the current version of WordPress and to address any recently discovered security issues.
Avoid installing too many plugins as this will slow your site down, which is terrible for SEO.

Step 8. Write captivating blog posts

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And now, finally, is the part that you’ve been waiting for since you first decided to launch the blog: writing the content itself

Content is king. Without informative, helpful, and authoritative content that’s well-written and provides valuable insights to the reader, your blog will go nowhere.

Authoritative web content typically possesses the following characteristics: 

  • It’s informative and actionable, so the reader learns something and knows how to use that information.
  • It’s relevant to your target audience, making it impactful.
  • It’s easy-to-understand so that it’s easy to act upon.
  • It’s detailed-oriented, offering more information than what they could find with competitors.
  • It’s including your expert opinion and your industry knowledge. 
  • It’s valuable and beneficial to the reader. 

While you need the individual blog posts to contain all of these elements, remember to pay close attention to your “About Us” and “Contact” pages. You may already have these up and running, but if not, make sure that they’re transparent and that they feel authentic, explaining who you are, what makes you different, and how your audience can get in touch. 

If any part of this process feels overwhelming or outside your wheelhouse, consider hiring a content writer. There are plenty of experienced, knowledgeable content writers out there who can offer high-quality writing and content strategy to increase your success. 

When you hire the writer, you should make sure that you provide them with clear style guidelines. This should include the tone and language you want them to use, any keyword strategies that you have, and specific style guidelines. Your preferences on sentence length, passive or active voice, conjunctions, or title case should be mentioned here. It’s also helpful to share the goal of the piece and the audience you want to target.

When hiring a writer, ask them the following questions:

  • Can I see two relevant samples of work?
  • How can you optimize my content for search results?
  • What steps will you take to increase the likelihood of users converting (like signing up for our newsletter or purchasing an affiliate product)?
  • What is your creative process like?
  • Do you include outlines or revisions in the fee? 

Make sure that the draft is proofread thoroughly before publication. You can do this yourself or hire a proofreader if needed

Step 9. Get your blog SEO optimized

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing your blog website to help search engines’ crawlers easily find and “understand” your content and index all of your blog pages. 

The vast majority of online traffic comes through search engines, so you want to ensure that your content is ranking as highly as possible. If not, you’re missing out on an enormous portion of potential clicks, which could have ideally been high-intent potential customers.

Optimizing your content for SEO takes consistent effort, and should start with the following steps: 

  • Do keyword research using tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs, and identify keywords that have enough search volume that you can get results but aren’t so competitive that you’d struggle to rank for them. You can also hire a keyword research specialist to help.
  • Include the keywords in your headline (h1) and H2 and H3 headers. 
  • Include keywords throughout the text and in alt-image text. 
  • Create a meta description that includes the target keywords. 

You should also optimize the backend of your site for SEO. A technical SEO specialist can help you with this part of the process, which may include the following:

  • Adding Schema markup to your site, which helps Google read and understand the information on your page. 
  • Setting up canonical tags which helps prevent duplicate content issues
  • Use open graphs (OG), which are meta tags designed to improve integration with social media platforms.

Since SEO includes a variety of skills and knowledge, it can be helpful to hire an SEO freelancer if you don’t have these skills yourself. A freelancer can take care of all SEO aspects behind SEO, whether it’s on-page, off-page, or technical SEO. 

Step 10. Promote your blog

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Once your blog is up and running, it’s easy to think that it’s all smooth sailing ahead. But blogs need consistent and ongoing promotional efforts.

Even if your blog content is fully SEO optimized, you can’t just sit back and wait for your audience to find you. It can take some time to build up SEO rankings and for your blog to draw consistent organic traffic, so be proactive about your blog promotion strategy.

Here’s are some ways to effectively promote your blog: 

  • Be active in your niche by participating in industry forums and Q&As, such as on Quora
  • Be active on social media, sharing your blog content regularly on your profiles
  • Find guest blogging opportunities to build more online visibility and increase your brand’s trust and authority
  • Participate in a blog community. Blog communities can offer valuable insight and help you build connections that can benefit you moving forward.
  • Collaborate with other bloggers in your industry. Partnering up with other bloggers opens up opportunities for guest posting and shared promotion strategies.
  • Respond thoughtfully to comments on your blog. If your readers are taking the time to leave comments, you should take the time to write a strong response that shows that you value their input.
  • Focusing on quality over quantity. Quality is always superior, so make sure that your content is well-researched, well-written, and well-edited, even if you can only publish one post a month.
  • Be consistent. If your posting schedule is irregular, your topics are all over the place, or your brand voice changes too frequently, you’ll lose readers quickly.
Here are five ways to repurpose your blog content and extend its reach
You want your blog to benefit you as much as possible. This can mean using the content you’ve already created in new ways, extending your content’s reach, and making it even more powerful. 
Consider implementing the following strategies:
– Use the content as part of your paid advertising campaigns. Create retargeting campaigns based on users who viewed certain posts. 
– Create forums and online communities (including Facebook Groups) around the blog. 
– Create newsletters summarizing your best content, ensuring that all of your subscribers see every great post. 
– Repurpose great blog posts into podcast episodes, which can be uploaded onto third-party platforms. 
Create videos based on repurposed blog posts, which can be embedded in the blog posts themselves and shared on third-party, high-engaging platforms like YouTube.

Conclusion 

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Launching a new blog can be exciting and overwhelming for business owners at the same time. However, with all the incredible potential that content marketing has to offer, it’s not something that you want to put off! 

With a strong blogging strategy like the one we’ve detailed above, you can drive your business more effectively. You can achieve items such as effectively reach your target audience, drive traffic to your site, build thought leadership, increase your SEO rankings, drive leads and sales, and establish long-term relationships with potential customers. These are all incredible benefits that you want to take advantage of as soon as possible because they can be a game-changer for your business (and your profit margins).

There are some complex tasks involved in creating a blog, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed or out of your element, that’s okay. There is an abundance of talented and experienced freelancers available for hire who can help your business blog excel. 

Join the discussion on connect.samcx.com

Daniel

Daniel

Contributor @samcx.com. Passionate about everything Sales, Marketing and Account Management.

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