- What is a blog?
- Where to start
- Creating the blog
- How to find ideas to write about
- How to prioritize ideas
- How to write good blog articles
- How to promote the blog and attract traffic
- How often should I publish?
- How to earn money with a blog?
What is a blog?
A blog is a type of website based on content published on a regular basis over time. This content usually has the shape of articles that deal with a topic in a more or less profound way. A blog can also have as its main type of content videos (video blog or vlog) or images (photo blog).
Why start a blog?
Whether personal or professional, creating a blog allows you to achieve different goals that are not within the reach of a conventional website or online store.
Becoming an authority on a subject
Are you an expert on a certain topic? Blog is a great way to improve your personal brand. It can bring many opportunities; from getting a job offer to receiving proposals to participate in conferences or other media.
At the business level, it will help you to establish yourself as an authority in a specific field. Having contact with the target audience before they even want to purchase gives you an advantage when selling products or services.
Documenting your learning process
You don’t need to be an expert to start a blog. You can share your experience with learning something new and document the whole process. Do it for a while and you will become an authority on that subject in no time. The only requirement is interest and persistence.
Promote company’s goods or services
Most business websites focus on presenting the products and the company. Having a blog makes it easier to reach potential customers when they research the topic before making the purchase.
For example, a person who starts running may read a blog post explaining how to prevent injuries where he discovers the importance of the right pair of running shoes. Then he can read another article comparing different types of shoes. After a few days, he may visit the store to do the shopping.
Having reached the potential customer before he was in “purchase mode” gives the company an advantage when the purchase intention appears. This content without a direct sales objective would have no place elsewhere in a shoe store than in the blog.
The same is true for all kinds of products and services, from photography to kitchen supplies. Providing knowledge about a subject is always more beneficial than not doing so for fear of “giving away free information”.
Serve as a meeting point for a specific community
A blog does not have to be a mono-directional communication channel where one person writes and the rest read.
Including the option of comments or even a forum for other people to interact is a great way to influence and relate to a specific community.
Nowadays social networks such as Facebook, Quora or even Reddit add a multitude of communities on all kinds of subjects. Whenever possible, it is better to have your own space for this. Your own space allows you to create an email list, for instance. However, this type of third party community will be very useful to promote your blog.
Get traffic for a business website or online store
When you publish a new article, your blog is a candidate to appear in search engines for terms related to its content. When someone visits this article, they may also see other pages or articles on your site. Thus, thanks to the blog, it is possible to get visits that otherwise you would not have.
In addition, one of the most important positioning factors is the links from other websites. It is more complicated to get a link to the home page of a business website than to a blog article with interesting content.
These are the reasons why companies and individuals create blogs. The good news is that even a small blog can compete with large companies. You just need more attractive and relevant content than the competition.
Where to start
Before you start writing all kinds of articles you need to make 3 decisions: What will be the theme or niche of your blog, what domain name it will have and how you will create your blog.
1. Choose a theme or niche
In general, this is the easiest decision to make.
If you have a specific business or hobby you don’t have to think much further. But if you want to create a blog to make money by recommending products or advertising, you will have to think about it some more.
In general, the more specific a topic is, the more likely you are to succeed, since it will be easier to write relevant content and you will have less competition. However, if a topic is too specific, it will have fewer people interested.
A niche is a specific part of a more general market. For example, golf accessories is a niche within the sports fashion market. A good niche will be one that has little or no competition and has a reasonable search volume.
You can see how much competition a niche has by doing internet searches and analyzing the first results. Use tools like Google Trends to see the interest over time. Take a look at this post to get some ideas.
2. Choose a hosting method
Every blog, online store or website needs three elements to work:
- Hosting: The place where the files that are part of your blog (texts, photos, videos…) are located. It is usually a folder on an online server.
- Domain: The name that helps the browser to find where your blog files are so you can display them.
- Content Management System (CMS): The software that allows you to create the blog and upload new content without having to program each page from scratch.
When you create a blog (or any online project) there are 2 ways to do it. Hire the hosting and the domain and “install” a content manager compatible with your hosting or use an online content manager that includes everything in one place (Hosting, Domain and CMS)
If you decide to hire each element on your own, you will have all the freedom possible to customize it, but you will also be responsible for its technical functioning. Often you will have to enter the code to customize and keep your blog running. It is therefore a solution best suited for people with technical knowledge or time to learn it.
By using an online content management system you have fewer possibilities to customize each element. However, you gain a lot of time when creating and maintaining the blog. All this time you can invest in the elements that are really worthwhile to succeed; good content and promotion.
In the past, online content managers had fewer possibilities to configure SEO. Today, both the CMS itself and the search engines have improved and the difference in SEO is practically non-existent.
Whether you choose to do everything yourself or use an online CMS. The domain and its content will always be yours and you can take it somewhere else whenever you want.
In this guide, we will show you how to create a blog in the Webnode website builder. It is the best solution for beginners and people that want to focus mostly on the content of their blog.
3. Find a domain name
If you already have a website or online store, it is absolutely recommended to include the blog within your domain. This way, the visits and links you receive through the blog will give value to the whole website. In addition, by publishing new content regularly, search engines will check your website more often.
The best way to include a blog in your website is to do it through a folder. For example www.mywebsite.com/blog. Some providers offer the possibility of creating it in a subdomain (blog.mywebsite.com). Although in theory there is no difference, there is a lot of documentation of blogs that have had considerable improvements in SEO by moving from a subdomain to a folder.
If the objective of your blog is not to support an existing website, and you expect to earn money with advertising or product recommendations, you will have to get a domain name.
It is recommended that your domain name is short, easy to remember and connected to your blog’s theme. It may be difficult to find a domain name that is not taken.
When you register with Webnode, your blog is hosted under a subdomain of the type http://myblog.webnode.com/. This subdomain is free without any time limit, it is a good way to have the experience of having your own blog before investing any money in it.
While you search for the right domain name, you can start writing and customizing your blog content. However, it is advisable to get your own domain name. In addition to the advantage in terms of SEO, it will also improve the credibility of your blog. In a nutshell, investing your own domain brings more visitors to your blog and helps to gain their trust.
Creating the blog
Once you know the topic, have the right domain and have chosen a method to manage the blog, you can start creating your blog.
Blogs are usually a little simpler and easier to lay out than to create a complete website. However, there are some specific elements that you should take into account.
Step 1: Structure
We recommend planning the structure of your blog before you start writing. The main objectives in terms of structure are
- Facilitate navigation
- Encourage the discovery of other items
- If your goal is to sell products or services, take your visitor to the website or online store where they can make the purchase
Try to keep the structure as horizontal as possible. Make a small list of articles related to the blog’s topic and group them by categories. There should be the maximum of 4 to 6 categories. This number will allow your visitors to find the content that interests them without being overwhelmed.
Sometimes an article can be related to two different categories, don’t worry about it, you can include it in both keeping the same URL.
If your blog is not part of a website or online store, make sure to include a page with contact details and information about you.
To create categories on a Webnode blog, simply create a new “blog page” and add the corresponding articles to the new category.
Step 2: Design
Once you have the structure of the blog clear, it’s time to start working with the online tool.
The design of your blog should help users to easily read the content and navigate through it.
Keep in mind that a good part of your visitors will read on their cell phones. One of the great advantages of Webnode is that all its templates will automatically adapt to any screen size. Your readers will have no trouble using any device they like.
If you haven’t already done so, sign up in Webnode with your blog name and email address. Immediately afterwards, you will see the available templates.
When starting your own blog, you probably have an idea of how it should look. Maybe you even visited other blogs for inspiration. With these ideas in mind, select a template that looks like this.
It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, all the visual elements of the template can be customized. You can also choose a non-blog template and adapt it.
Each template comes with a predefined content to give you an idea of the structure of the blog and each page. Start by adding the categories you created in the first step and then customize the layout of the homepage and category pages.
Finally, you can adjust the color palette and text font. Remember, the main thing is to make the content easy to read. Don’t forget to check your design from a cell phone.
Step 3: Write articles
The content of your articles (also called posts) should be the cornerstone of your blog. The main advantage of using a platform like Webnode is that the system takes care of all the technical aspects so that you can spend all your time on the elements that make the difference: Good content and promotion.
Whether you are just starting your blog or have had one for some time, it is important that you have a content plan. It doesn’t have to be too complicated. Just a list of ideas. This way, when you are uninspired, you can draw on it.
If you have a company or affiliate sales blog, you can use this content plan to prioritize those with more possibilities of attracting customers. For example, those most related to the products you sell.
How to find ideas to write about
For a journal or a blog designed to document a learning process, most of your articles will be based on your own personal experience: what you have done; what you have seen; or what you have lived.
On the contrary, if you have a professional blog, the vast majority of blog posts will focus on defining or explaining the solution to a problem.
For this second case, the easiest way to find topics to write about is to put yourself in the shoes of the audience you want to reach and answer the questions or problems they have. There are many ways to do this.
“Brain-Storming” or own knowledge of the market
Put yourself in a customer’s shoes looking for your product or service and write down all the questions they may have. If you have contact with customers, there are bound to be some frequently asked questions. These will be your ideal starting point.
News and developments in your sector
If you attend conferences or fairs in your sector, these are a fantastic source of ideas to write about. Take note of the more controversial topics or presentation titles and write about them from the consumer’s point of view.
There are many places on the Internet where your audience raises and answers questions. Facebook or Linked-in groups, specialized forums, Quora, Reddit…
These communities usually have a search bar. Use a generic term related to your market and write down in your content plan the most repeated questions you can answer. Visit these communities frequently to keep up to date on new topics.
Many times there are people who prefer written content to video. Whether you have a fashion blog or a kitchen furniture company, you can find plenty of related videos on YouTube. Do a search and see what videos are made on your blog’s topic. Choose the videos with the most views and use them as inspiration for your article.
Related search terms
Search engines often show related terms. Sometimes they also show “user questions”. Tools such as answerthepublic.com use this information to give you a list of perfect questions to inspire you.
Check out your competitors’ blogs and see what topics they deal with. Are you able to deal with the same topic in a more detailed, easier to understand way, from another point of view or with another format? There is nothing wrong with being inspired by the competition.
Pay attention to the competitor’s social media ads. Are they promoting a blog article? That content will probably work well for them to sell, it would be a good idea to do something similar.
Tools like Google Trends show those topics whose interest is growing. Start with a generic term that describes your business and review the related topics and queries.
Most successful previous articles
How to prioritize ideas
Once you have your content plan full of ideas it is time to prioritize the ideas: The best way to do this to ensure the success of the blog is to prioritize in terms of 2 metrics: Search volume and value to your business (if it is a blog with an expectation of making money)
The biggest source of visits to your blog will come from search engines. If you manage to get an article from your blog to have a good position in Google, you will receive visits every month. When you get more articles positioned in the search engines, your blog will have a rising trend of visits, without depending on the number of articles you publish.
There are many tools to get the number of searches for your blog post ideas. The best-known ones like Moz, Semrush or Ahref are paid. However, there are tools like Keyword Generator or Keyword Surfer that can help you get this information for free.
If you have a business or want to sell products on your blog, there is no point in having many visitors if you do not make money. In this case, add a second column to your content plan to include your value for the business and assign a value to each idea. 0 if you think the article will not sell or 10 if the readers of the article are potential customers.
Once you have the search volume and value for your business in the content plan, it will be a matter of writing first those articles that have the biggest value for the business and the highest number of searches.
The 80/20 rule
Although it is hard to admit, people are not interested in your company, product and service. If you have a company blog and you want it to be successful, try to comply with the 80/20 rule.
80% of the content should be reader-centered and value-driven, the remaining 20% can be used to present your company and sales-focused articles.
Providing value in the form of free knowledge for the reader seems a bad sales strategy at first, however, it is an ideal way to position yourself as an authority on a subject and gain the reader’s trust.
How to write good blog articles
Besides having interesting and specific content for your readers, you have to present it in the right way to keep their attention.
First you have to gain the reader’s attention. Every website or social network is full of elements competing to get visitors. To help you you have three very powerful weapons: The title, the meta-description and the first paragraph.
When you promote your article on social networks and also on search engines, the only thing the reader will see is the title of your article. It is very important to take the time to get an attractive title that is true to the content.
- Use numbers: On a screen full of text, a number will draw attention to our logical side. Ex: “4 ways to…”
- Promise and mystery: Includes in the title a hidden benefit for the reader. Ex: “The secret to…”, “What nobody told you about…”, “An infallible trick to…”
- How-to articles: When we Google how to do something we often include these words in the search engine. If your title matches the search terms you have a better chance of getting the click.
- Titles with questions: Any formula that is out of the ordinary will attract attention. In the case of questions, this is a good method because it directly challenges the reader. Ex: “Product X or Product Z, which one is better?
- Controversial point of view: If there is a well-established truth about a subject, you will get the reader’s attention with an opposing point of view, the rest of the article will have to justify the title or find a formula to deny it without the reader feeling cheated. This formula works very well for generating conversation.
- Length: Keep the title as short as possible to prevent it from being cut off and to make it easier to read.
To customize the description of your articles in Webnode, go to the article administration, click on the one you want to modify and change the description in the “Blog post SEO settings”.
The meta description
The meta description is the text that appears below the title in the search engines. It provides the visitor with more information before clicking on the link. Write an attractive summary of your article.
In Google the maximum length of the description is 900 pixels, that is between 155 and 160 characters. Keep the description below 150 to ensure that the description is complete.
To customize the description of your article in Webnode, go again to the article administration, click on the one you want to modify and change the description in “Blog post SEO settings”.
The first paragraph
Congratulations! Of all the possible options on Google or Facebook, the visitor has clicked on your article. Though, it is not yet time to relax just yet.
The first paragraph is the most important so that the reader does not leave as soon as he or she arrives. After writing an article, check the first paragraph to make sure it invites further reading.
There are several tricks to achieve this:
- The inverted pyramid: In journalism, it is common for the editor to cut an article to fit the design of the newspaper. In order to avoid the loss of important information, journalists place the most important thing at the beginning of the news. You can do the same in your blog. Start with the conclusion and then develop how you have reached it.
- Include the reader in your article: There is nothing we like more than to see ourselves reflected in a text. Start your article by describing a common problem that I’m sure the reader has also faced.
- Tell a story: When we start reading a story unconsciously we want to know how it ends. Embed your article into a story. Introduce a character with a problem to solve and tell how he arrives at the solution.
- Share an interesting fact: Information that goes against what we expect attracts a lot of attention. If you have such a fact, include it in the introduction and explain more about it in the rest of the article.
Although we are becoming more and more used to it, it is uncomfortable to read on a screen. So when we are on the Internet we don’t read every word, but quickly glance at the content.
To facilitate this way of consuming content, we can adapt our way of writing. Follow these tips to make reading easier and avoid exhaustion:
- Paragraphs and short sentences: Give the text some air by separating it into short paragraphs. Avoid subordinate or too long sentences.
- If a word has a shorter, more direct synonym, use it.
- Use different text formats, bold or italics are excellent for highlighting ideas.
- If a number of items can be listed, why not? It’s a very quick way to make it easier to read.
- The Internet gives the possibility to link texts. It offers the reader additional information through relevant links. Also link your own articles to avoid repetition and to promote other articles in your blog.
Images and videos
Mixing content in different formats is the best way to entertain the reader. It lightens the text and reinforces its meaning.
Try to include images in the content. If you do not have your own photos, there are several sites where you can find images for your blog. The Webnode editor includes an extensive image library that you can use for free in any online project.
In addition to images, video is a natural format of the Internet. It is easy to absorb so we spend more and more time watching videos online nowadays.
The most efficient way to include videos in your blog is to upload them to YouTube or Vimeo and integrate them into the content. This way you save money on their hosting and you can also get additional visits from these portals.
To insert a video with Webnode, select the + sign in the section of the page where you want to put the video and enter the YouTube or Vimeo link. Afterwards you can adjust the size and place the video wherever you want.
What is the ideal length of a blog post?
Everyone in the SEO world has been asked this question and the truth is that there is no specific answer.
A blog article should be as long as necessary to satisfy the reader, but no longer. Therefore, it depends on the complexity of the topic you are dealing with. If you are writing about the latest t-shirt fashion, maybe 1000 words are enough, an article about how to do the tax return might need 3000 words to be useful.
Therefore, the usefulness of an article should be your main objective. If there are two articles that are equally useful, but one is twice as long as the other, the shorter one will be ideal.
There are many studies that analyze the length of blog articles according to their position in Google and other search engines. According to these studies, the recommended length is around 2000 words. However, these articles do not rank well because of their length, but because they are useful in answering the reader’s questions.
What does seem to exist is a minimum length, around 300 words. This makes sense since there are few topics on which useful content can be provided in such a small space.
When you are done writing ask yourself if your article would be just as useful by being shorter. If so, you can remove those parts that contribute less. If, on the other hand, your content loses quality when it is shortened, this means that its length is adequate.
How to promote the blog and attract traffic
If you have followed this guide, you will have chosen a topic with enough searches and optimized the title and description of your article to receive visits.
Now is the time to promote your article to start getting visits in a natural and sustained way in time.
The objective is twofold; 1) To achieve initial traction with visits and comments on social networks and 2) To ensure visits in the medium term through links on other blogs or websites.
There are a multitude of strategies to do this. Of course, in the end it all depends on the quality of your article or the conversation it is able to generate. Use one or more of these methods to achieve your goals.
The easiest way to start is to promote the item to your own audience:
- Share the article on your social networks: You can do this multiple times during the first days after publishing the article. Be sure to change the text so you don’t repeat yourself.
- Link your blog to social networks and include buttons to share your articles without leaving your blog. You can also display Facebook comments on your posts, a good way to help generate conversation and avoid the typical spam of other commenting systems. You can achieve this easily in Webnode from the blog settings window.
- Build an email list: Start as soon as possible to create your own mailing list. Either through your business’ client list or through a form on your blog. When you publish a blog post share it with your email list. Webnode allows you to create your own list very easily with the “newsletter registration” form.
- Link your new article from other related articles: It will help you get visits from those articles and help Google discover your new article quickly. Just your own audience might not be enough to position your article in the search engines. It is necessary to present your article to more people. You can use the following strategies:
- Facebook/Twitter/Linkedin Ads: If you have invested several hours in writing content and it has commercial value, why not invest 20 euros promoting your new content?
- Share your article in online communities (Quora, Facebook groups, Reddit, specialized forums…): In the same way that we use different online communities to find issues that concern our audience; now we can use these networks to offer our answer to those questions. It is not simply a matter of placing a link to your articles. Be active in the communities you choose, help people, and share your articles when relevant.
- Public relations and influencers: Surely there are people in your market who are visible in social networks or on their own blogs. Ask them for their honest opinion about your new article and add their suggestions. Hopefully, these influencers will link to or share your content. Watch out! For this technique to work the content has to be totally original, no one is going to publish a rehash from other websites.
Following these steps, your article will receive some visits during the first few days and instead of going back to 0 when you stop promoting, it will continue to receive traffic continuously over time.
How often should I publish?
It is not necessary to publish an article a week to have an active and/or profitable blog. Spend time finding those topics that interest people in your niche and create original content that helps your readers.
If you don’t publish new articles for months, your readers may think your blog is abandoned. To show some activity, it is advisable to write an article every 2 or 3 months.
Webnode has a very useful feature: Publication scheduling.
Perhaps you have a season when you can write several articles. Instead of publishing them immediately, it is possible to select a date for publication. If you have less time for the blog afterward, you can organize it so that it doesn’t look like it’s abandoned.
This function is also very useful for those articles that need to be published on a specific date.
As you place more articles in the search results, visits to your blog will begin to rise without relying on publishing many articles or constant promotion.
And then what?
Don’t forget the goals you set at the beginning of this guide. Although receiving many visits or comments is great, you have to get something out of the effort invested.
If you have an online store or business website make sure you link your blog where it is relevant. You can also promote your blog among your customers by sharing its URL when they buy an item or in your email signatures.
If your blog is about a skill you have mastered or has just been learning, it might be a good idea to include a page with your contact details. You never know what opportunities may arise thanks to the blog.
How to earn money with a blog?
With enough perseverance and planning it is possible to earn some money with your blog, however, you must keep in mind that it is not something that happens overnight. Making money on the Internet requires time and effort.
In general there are 3 ways to make money with a blog: With advertising, with affiliate programs or by selling space on your blog to companies or bloggers.
The main Internet portals have “display” advertising networks that any website can join. When you do so, you “rent” a space on your blog to the network where banner ads will be shown.
When your ads are shown X number of times or when someone clicks on a banner, you will receive a compensation agreed with the advertising network. This way of earning money, is appropriate for blogs that receive many visits, therefore, require a little specific niche.
Webnode works with the Google advertising network called AdSense. To participate in this network you just have to register on their website and place a piece of code on your blog. Follow these steps to do so.
It is important to find a balance between the number of ads and their economic benefits. If you go too far, you are likely to lose visits or even be penalized by Google.
Many companies have affiliate programs to increase sales through referrals.
Their operation is simple. When you sign up for the program you are given a code to add to your links. You will receive a commission every time someone uses your blog link to buy the product you recommend.
This system to earn money is the most suitable for small blogs. You don’t need a large volume of traffic, you just have to find a way to reach an audience relevant to that product.
If your blog is focused on a very specific niche in which you have experience, it will be easy for you to generate some sales.
It’s important that when you participate in an affiliate program you let your audience know. In general, people don’t care if you earn a commission for recommending a product. Make sure you make it clear that they won’t pay more for the product if they buy it from your blog.
The most common affiliate networks are those of Amazon. But many specialized stores also have their own programs. Before starting an affiliate blog, do a little analysis of the different existing affiliate programs and the commissions they pay.
Webnode also has its own affiliate program, sign up and earn $100 for every Premium user you generate with your blog.
Sale of space
If you have a successful blog you may receive requests to publish guest posts. This means publishing an article written by another company or blogger.
As the owner of the blog you get content without writing it, the other party gets a space to recommend their product and service and include a link to their website.
If you accept this type of collaboration, make sure you are strict with the content you receive. Just like the articles you write must be original and useful to your audience. The best way to do this is not to commit to publishing the content until you have seen it.
As in affiliate programs, it is necessary to clearly mark which article on your blog is a guest post. If you don’t do this, Google and other search engines may penalize you in the search engines.
For any of the ways to make money described above, you have to maintain a balance between promotion and the usefulness of your content.
In the short term it may be beneficial to place more AdSense ads or sponsored content, but in the long term you may lose readers or be penalized by search engines. Always think about the value you bring to your readers.
In this guide, we have shared everything you need to know to start or manage your own blog. Do you already have yours? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.