Blogging can be as simple or as in-depth as you want it to be. There are layers upon layers that can be delved into if you wish to really get down to the nitty-gritty of the process. Most of us know the basics, but how many of us really know how blogs work at the top level?
There are blogging basics, and there are high-level blogging techniques. It will be totally up to you as the creator to decide where on the scale you wish to be. In this guide, we’ll give you some insight into a few of the higher level things that can be done with your site, should you wish to take up that challenge.
Let’s get the basics down at the very beginning of starting your site. These things form the foundation of your website and will be built upon as you go.
It is going to be impossible to run a site if you don’t have a good idea of what you’re focusing on. Your niche is the topic you blog about. The more specific you can be, the better. Instead of choosing something like “recipes,” go for something very particular, such as “authentic South African recipes.”
Why? Well, you’re catering to a specific audience of people here. The internet is enormous! You’re competing with thousands of other sites in your niche. The chances of you standing out are not large when you’re all doing the same thing.
If you get specific though, immediately your competition pool narrows. People who are searching for specific recipes will be more likely to land on your site. Of course, people who are simply looking around will always have the chance of landing on your site too. But you’re beginning to form a following of people who like your content for the specificity. This is a very key point when it comes to how blogs work.
You also want to eventually find yourself in the position of being considered as an expert in your niche. This is when you get the attention of people such as influencers, and that can skyrocket your site’s growth. It starts, though, by showing your knowledge in a specific area – not being a Jack of all trades.
The way you format your posts can make or break the process for you. Sure, that sounds a little petty and silly, but believe me – nobody wants to struggle through a blog post that is poorly formatted. If you’re serious about your writing, the last thing you want is someone avoiding reading your content because the formatting is terrible.
Break your articles up into:
- And lists
You want readers to be able to pick out chunks and not be scared off by a wall of text. Also, choose your font carefully – some things are far more work to read than others.
Bold phrases that you want to stand out, add hyperlinks, break it up with a picture here and there. Get creative – you want your readers to be able to skim through it but get the info they need.
Consistency is key! You need to commit to writing and publishing things regularly.
You can do this manually, or you can write a whole lot of posts and schedule them in advance to be published on a particular day. Programs such as Buffer can be used for this purpose.
If your posting is consistent, people are going to start getting to know when your new content comes out. More posts equal more eyes to your content more often, so this one cannot be overstated. Just don’t over-commit – choose a rate that you can easily keep to.
You don’t have to post every day, either. Once or twice a week would work well too.
Your website may gain a couple of followers who stumble across it by accident. If you really want people to find your content, though, you need to be sharing it on social media. Everybody and their cousin are on social media, and we all know that sharing is caring.
Getting eyes on our blog posts is what we are all after from the start of this process. Social media might start off getting just your mom and close friends’ eyes on them. A couple of shares later, though, you could be earning yourself some new followers.
Social media is powerful when it comes to growing your site, so don’t underestimate it. Share, share, share – you don’t know who might end up seeing something, clicking on the link back to your site and sharing with their own network.
You will need a blogging platform when starting a website, and there are many to choose from. WordPress is the most popular, and for a good reason too.
You can have your website hosted by WordPress for a small fee. This is a great option as they obviously have all the WordPress know-how and can assist with any queries you may have. If you want to, you can also use a separate hosting company. There are plenty of options which you can see by simply looking up hosting on Google.
You will want to go with paid hosting if you have any aspirations of ranking and gaining a following. Free hosting comes with a host of disadvantages that will hold you back from moving to a higher level in the blogging world.
Once you’ve got the basic systems in place, you should see an increase in followers. If you’re content to stay at this level, then awesome. Keep doing what works for you!
If, however, you would like to level-up your site and start looking into some more high-end stuff, there are things that you can start working on to give your site a high-level boost.
This is the real meat of blogging, the ins, and outs of how it really works in the thought-leader, money-maker way.
SEO is really a basic blogging tool, but it comes into play in a big way when you’re looking at moving from low to high-level blogging.
Putting a bit more effort into your search engine optimization is extremely worthwhile for getting attention to your site. Getting your blog posts to rank highly in search results is one of the best ways to draw in new readers.
There are various things you have to focus on when it comes to the SEO ranking of your posts. These include choosing a relevant keyword, your length, the structure of your articles and linking to other websites.
The best advice for improving your SEO is to install an amazing little WordPress plugin called Yoast. This really does make easy work of SEO. It provides you with constant updates on how SEO-ready your post is, and improvements that need to be made.
You may wonder why branding is important if you aren’t a company, but do not underestimate the power of being recognizable. If you wish to get to a point where you can make money off your site, you NEED to stand out.
Creating a brand for yourself is not easy, but it’s definitely doable and can be fun. Be clear on the kind of style you embody and work everything else around it. “Everything else” means colors, fonts, writing voice and picture styles.
Are you outgoing, funky and fun? Choose bright colors and bold font, and write with a bit of humor. Do you come across more gentle, soft and quiet? Select paler colors and more curvy fonts.
A website about Crossfit is not likely to be pale pink with flowy calligraphy. In the same vein, one about cross-stitch is less likely to be bold and solid.
Brand yourself according to what you want people to see – the message you want to get across about who you are and what you do.
Backlinking basically means sticking links to other people’s websites into your own content.
Why is this important? For two reasons. One, Google loves backlinks and will rank you higher if you use them. Two, people are usually appreciative of a “mention” on your site. Someone who lands on your post may end up on their website thanks to your backlink.
You want to connect only to relevant, good quality sources: no fake news sites or things like that. Connecting to other sites similar to yours can also be the beginning of a relationship with another creator – one that may yield a few backlinks to your own site from their side.
Those who don’t network with others in their niche are missing out big time. You can join a blogging community which will give you a chance to foster relationships with others that you get along well with.
Try guest blogging. This is how you grow your audience. This is an underrated thing when it comes to how blogs work. You write a post for someone else to publish on their site, and they write one for you to publish on yours. Their readers check out your site, your readers check out theirs. Mutually beneficial!
Basically, the more connections you have and get along with, the higher your chances of bringing in new readers or subscribers.
There’s quite a lot of work when it comes to content marketing, but every piece has the same aim – to get the customer to take action. This can mean buying a product, using a service, or simply clicking on a page or signing up for email updates.
The key to content marketing is not promoting yourself. The idea is to share relevant, interesting content that will essentially lead back to your own site/product/service. For example, a company that manufactures orthopedic chairs may share an article about back pain and how traditional office chairs make it worse. Relevant information, not plugging their own products, but still enticing someone to take a look and possibly buy.
Monetizing your Blog
This is what separates the amateur from professional bloggers. Are you looking to make money online and bring in a certain amount each month? Well, there are a few ways to monetize a blog, and this puts you right in the high-level blogging bracket.
Apart from selling products or services through your site, there are some ways to make passive income. They can seem complicated, but if you can get these right, you’re dead on track to making your site your full-time job.
If you have an established following, affiliate marketing could really work for you.
In short, this means that you promote other people’s stuff, and if someone buys it using your link or code, you get a commission. You can promote anything, from products to services to online courses.
Often this is done by writing up a review of something in a post. It can also be interspersed through your normal content, which is less specific, but still gets it out there. Marketing is super important for affiliate marketing to work well. You will need to be on point with your social media and your content, and basically, gear your marketing towards making people understand why they need this thing.
Most big companies have an Affiliate Network that you can join if you wish to promote their products. Obviously, whatever you’re promoting needs to be of some relevance in your niche and to your audience, else it won’t make much sense why you’re promoting it.
Google AdSense is a very passive way of earning cash through your site. What this is, is an ad service that is run by Google. So how does this work?
All you need to do to get started is to sign up and copy and paste the bit of code into your website code. Google does the rest. When people land on your site, Google will show various adverts (depending on the person who lands on your site and their browsing habits), and if they click on the ad, you get a little commission.
There are different types of AdSense programs, such as one that simply displays ads, one that displays search results, one specifically for video. Check out some passive way of making a bit of cash on the side.
As a creator, you have full free reign over how much you want this work to contribute to your daily life and your salary. If you wish for it to become the source of your income, you need to take a step up and start employing some of the higher-level blogging techniques in order to start growing your audience, making a name for yourself and being considered an expert in your niche.
How sites work is not too complicated:
- Brand Yourself
- Produce quality content consistently
- Share your content
- Join a community
- Make connections
- Link back to other people’s sites
- Guest blog / have guests write on your site
- Assert yourself as the expert in your niche
- Try affiliate marketing and Google AdSense
- Keep working at it!
Consistency is key when it comes to being a successful blogger, and if you keep doing the things we’ve outlined, have a bit of patience and believe in yourself, you can make the leap from just plain old blogging to high-level and full-time.
Now that you have a better idea of how sites work, you can start making it work for you! Get started by choosing a topic. Click here to read our full guide.