One of the most fundamental reasons why people blog is because they want traffic, a ton of visitors and be the proud owners of the most popular blog out there.
Of course, setting up such a blog is easier said than done.
But nonetheless, it’s all extremely doable. Here’s how:
First things first, start off with a short, relevant and memorable domain name for your blog – a domain name that is easy-to-remember and easy-to-pronounce as well. Complicated names (such as those with long words separate by multiple hyphens) remain one of the biggest reasons why people don’t return to a website or visit it again; if it’s hard to pronounce, it will be hard to memorize.
A list of DO’s when it comes to domain names: Short, precise, to-the-point and reflect the content of the blog easily. E.g. Twitter.com, Gmail.com, Soccernet.com. The domain name should be relevant to your blog, as well as memorable, and should always include your relevant keywords.
A list of DON’Ts when it comes to domain names: It is inadvisable to choose domain names that are very long (over 10 characters, for instance), complicated, contain too many words, or are simply too hard to pronounce.
Example of a bad domain name: www.lose-your-weight-in-10-simple-steps.com
Example of a good domain name: www.loseweight.com
If you’re planning on going for a Wordpress.com blog (or planning on going for a hosted solution such as Blogger, Tumblr, etc.) this shouldn’t be a consideration at all.
If however you’re choosing a Choosing the right hosting service will undoubtedly be one of the most important things when setting up the blog, if not the most important!
Going for a reliable webhost is essential, as it provides a strong foundation for your blog to be built upon.
Choose a well-known and a well-reputed webhost. Look for read up on extensive reviews online, and make your decision accordingly. But above all, never settle for webhosts offering ultra-cheap packages, you’ll certainly regret it at a later stage.
Some of the more well-known hosting services include:
- Host Gator
- Just Host
A few considerations when it comes to choosing a webhost: it is preferable (although not mandatory) to choose a package which allows you to host a multiple number of domains (websites), unlimited (or a large) amount of bandwidth, and an unlimited (or a large) amount of webhosting space.
3. Choosing a CMS
If you’re going the self-hosted route, choose a good content management system (CMS). While there’s a lot to choose from when it comes to good CMS, my recommendation would be Wordpress, hands down.
Wordpress is extremely easy to use, easy to install, and easy to get your hands around. It features a strong, stable back-end, including a powerful dashboard, and a fully-customizable and flexible front-end with the option to choose from a ginormous library of themes, plugins, addons as well as other enhancements.
In fact, if you look at the competition, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t go for Wordpress as your CMS-of-choice!
4. Choosing a Theme
If you’re going with Wordpress (which you should – I hope I’ve made a strong enough case for it!), you have plenty of options here. You can choose from a wide range of free themes available out there, or one of the many premium ones (more on this in a bit).
But first, what makes/defines a good theme?
It’s a combination of many different things – a theme that is customizable, attractive and beautiful to look at, can be read easily, is browser-friendly, features a good color combination and a readable font, has text that can read easily, and of course, provides options to customize and change all these aspects through the dashboard.
A good theme also features a strong navigation mechanism – which is visitor-friendly (allows your visitors to easily browse your website), as well as search-engine-friendly (allows search engines to navigate and index different parts of your website).
Examples of good themes include the Elegant Themes (which is actually a theme pack, that includes a whole host of different themes or skins), and good theme ‘frameworks’ include the Genesis Framework and the Thesis Framework on Wordpress, both of which provide plenty of customization options. Apart from these, you can also check some of the themes on Themeforest.
A good theme will allow you to customize every single detail – small and big – of your interface, make your website more search-engine-friendly, and allow you to make HTML and CSS changes to your blog as well.
With Wordpress, you have the option of choosing from a large pool of themes, which means you can go for a theme best suited for the kind of blog you’re starting.
Side note: personally, I always recommend opting for a premium theme instead of a free one.
Content is, by far and wide, one of the single-most important thing about your blog. To create an all-round excellent blog, you’ll need to be able to put fresh, unique, interesting and compelling content on your blog, and keep it updated with such content constantly and consistently.
Strive to provide excellent, high-quality content to your visitors, make this your top-most priority.
DO’s: Your content should aim to solve problems, per se. It should be useful. It should be tailored according to the requirements of your potential visitors/niche. It should be easily-digestible. It should aim to fulfill the requirements of your audience. It should be able to attract them to your blog. And yes, it should be search-engine optimized, by including all relevant keywords/terms/phrases.
DON’TS: Avoid – for understandable reasons – providing your audience with low-quality, spun, plagiarized or copied content. Trust me, no one wants to read a rehashed version of something that is easily accessible elsewhere (and something that they’ve probably already read).
Develop a content-creation strategy for your blog. Do different sorts of posts – interviews, Q&A posts, video-based posts, and the like. Invite guest posters so that your blog gets a regular influx of quality content and from a varied and different perspective.
Your content should be so good, it should, in itself, encourage people to share it over social media, and link to it. Creating great content becomes the single-best link-building strategy available to you. Spend a significant chunk of your time and energy into developing your content, as I firmly believe that your content is the thing that will ultimately make or break your blog.
The field of SEO is extremely vast; so vast in fact that one could write a book on it! However as a blog owner, it is important to educate yourself with the basics of SEO, particularly certain on-page and off-site SEO factors - even if you’re totally SEO-averse or unaware of how websites are optimized.
For starters, I recommend reading up on websites such as ProBlogger to learn about some of the SEO best-practices and how you can implement these in your blog. However it might also be a good idea to outsource your website’s SEO to a consultant, a freelancer or a company specializing in providing SEO services.
Try your hand at reading up on the internet. Learn about ways with which you can improve certain metrics of your website – such as how to keep visitors on your blog for a longer period of time, how to decrease your bounce rate, have an improved CTA, and the like.
Link-building is an important aspect of SEO. You can read more about it here.
7. Keep Visitors, Make Repeat Customers + Misc Stuff
Just like any business out there, it is important for your blog to make and keep repeat customers. This can be done through various avenues, such as (a) email subscriptions, (b) RSS subscriptions, (c) social media.
Make a page for your blog on Facebook, and allow your visitors to ‘like’ the page so that they can learn about updates to your blog (such as when a new article goes up) through Facebook. Put up social sharing buttons and a Facebook-box on your website as well.
Try optimizing your website for speed, your website should ideally load up quickly, and should not make visitors wait for it to load up: anything more than 10 seconds of loading time and you’ll certainly start losing visitors. You could use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for this purpose.
Use Google Analytics to measure various aspects of your blog. It is a free tool that provides a large number of different data and various sorts of information regarding the health of your website. An absolute must-have!
Try your hand at posting (constructive, valuable) comments on other blogs in your niche. This is a good way to build linkages with other (authority) bloggers, and can also be a great link-building strategy.
Finally, invite bloggers to post guest-posts on your blog, but perhaps most importantly (as a new blog-owner), try your hand at doing a guest post on an authority blog, and ask if you can include a link back to your own blog in your write-up.
Feel free to post a comment if you have any questions!