There is a reason why it seems everyone is starting a blog these days. Blogging is a good way to make extra money. It’s an excellent avenue to get your voice and expertise out into the world. And, it’s a fun way to document and journal your life’s adventures and accomplishments.
It doesn’t matter why you want to start a blog, what matters is that you do start a blog.
And, here’s the good news.
No matter what you have heard, or what you have been telling yourself, it’s easy and inexpensive to start a blog. You don’t have to know how to code, you don’t need to know a lick about web design, and it takes less than a day to publish your first post.
To help you get started, here is a quick overview of what to consider when starting a blog, and how to get started with either WordPress or a website builder.
How to Create a Content Strategy for Your Blog in 4 Steps
Here’s the deal. If you start a blog, but then never post, you don’t really have a blog. You won’t make money or engage your audience. Before you even sign up for a blog hosting plan from HostGator, it’s a great idea to plan your content strategy.
Here are some tips on how to do this.
1. Start by listing your goals
What are you trying to accomplish with your blog? Is it a tool to grow your business? Are you looking to share expertise? Hoping to get started with affiliate marketing in a particular niche? Write your goals down as your first step.
Your goals will determine what you post, what tone your blog takes, and your content calendar. For example, if you are trying to increase your website traffic to sell eCommerce products, then you will need to post often. You’ll also want to heavily optimize your posts for increased SEO.
If you are starting a blog for personal reasons, then you may not need to post as often. Also, the tone of your posts will be more friendly and casual and you won’t need to put as much effort into SEO.
2. Identify your target audience
As you are listing your goals, your target audience will become more apparent. However, it’s important to solidify in your mind exactly who will be interested in your content.
Are you writing for tech-savvy youths? Maybe you are writing for an older generation that is interested in homesteading and gardening. Perhaps you are running a blog on the most relevant pop music.
The target audience for various types of blogs will be very different. Your audience will determine the tone of your blog, the depth of your articles, and your voice.
For example, if you’re targeting tech-savvy Gen Zers, you’ll probably want to develop a tone that’s a mix of professional and cheeky. A blog geared toward people interested in pop culture will need to be fun and quirky. And, a blog that people interested in homesteading and gardening may need to be more conversational and to the point.
Your audience will affect how you write, so it’s important to determine who they are before you put fingers to the keyboard.
3. Create a content calendar
Did you know that 44% of marketers have identified content production as their top challenge? You may not be in charge of an entire marketing department, but you are in charge of marketing your blog and may experience the same challenges.
To eliminate this problem, create a content calendar. Consider your audience, what information they will find interesting, and your bandwidth.
Brainstorm topics and then select the ones that you know will resonate with your blog readers. You can also write down topics that occur to you and add them to your calendar later.
Here are some ways to come up with topics:
- Look at what your competitors are doing and then add something unique to your post
- Ask your audience what kind of posts they want to see you produce
- Answer the most common questions your audience has and develop them into how-to posts
- Tell a story that is interesting and relatable
- Use Google as a tool to see what topics are trending (Google even has a free tool for this)
4. Learn how to write for the internet
Another thing that is critical for new bloggers to know is blogging requires a different format than any other type of writing.
- Create great titles. The title is important for two reasons. First, it tells Google what your post is about, so make sure to include your keyword. Second, those 4+ words will tell your reader exactly what your post is about and helps them decide if they want to continue reading.
- Put the most important things first. The average reader spends 96 seconds reading a blog post. This stat means you shouldn’t wait until the end to get to the good stuff. Put the most important things first.
- Make your posts scannable. It would be weird and boring if a novel had a bunch of bullet points and headlines, but it’s awesome for blogs. When writing for the internet, break up your content as much as possible with headlines, subheadlines, and bullet points. This strategy makes it easy for readers to quickly glance through your copy.
- Use images. Not only are images interesting, but people can understand what your story is about in the glance of an eye. Additionally, people can recall 65% of the visual content that they see almost three days later. Infographics and videos are also powerful tools to supplement your blog posts.
- Include a call to action. Bloggers usually have some sort of motivation for sharing information on the internet. In other words, they want readers to do something. Don’t be shy about telling your users exactly how you want them to act. Include your call to action in your post. For example, you can say “call us today for more information,” “download a free sample,” or “start a free trial today.”
- Optimize your blog posts for search. SEO optimization is an involved process, but there are a few things you can do that will always help Google catalog your posts in the search results correctly. First, identify your keyword (what a user would type in the search box to find your post). Then, use your keyword in your title, in a few of your headlines, throughout your post, and as the name of one of your images. Just don’t overdo it. Learn more in our Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research.
How to Create Your First Blog Post in WordPress
The best thing about hosting your site with HostGator is it makes setting up your WordPress blog a cinch.
The first step is to go to your web hosting control panel (cPanel), and click on “QuickInstall.”
On the next screen, you’ll select WordPress and then enter all of the necessary and relevant website details.
This step includes naming your website, enter your login information, and then clicking “Install.” With a click of a button, the HostGator software will do all the hard installing work for you. All you do is sit and wait.
Congratulations! If you’ve gotten this far, you officially have a WordPress blog up and running. Now, it’s time to make it pretty. Here’s how.
Login to your WordPress dashboard via a link that looks like ‘yoursite.com/wp-admin.” If you forgot your login details, don’t worry. HostGator emails you your login details automatically, so just check your email.
Once you’ve successfully logged into your site navigate to Appearance>Themes, then click “Add New.”
Once you get to “Ad Themes,” you can browse through the 200+ beautiful FREE templates and select the theme you like best. Your WordPress theme is the precoded foundation for how your site looks and functions. Since WordPress is primarily a blogging platform you’ll find that most themes come with extensive blogging-related features.
Selecting a theme will give your blog a basic layout, but you can customize it however you want. To further customize your site, look at your side navigation bar, and navigate to Appearance>Customize.
Under this tab, you will be able to customize all of the following:
- Site identity – Site title, site tagline, and the site icon.
- Header image – Image at the top of your home page.
- Menus – Primary and secondary navigation menus that you create.
- Widgets – Any plugins or sidebars you want to add to various sections of your template.
- Home page settings – Your latest post or a static page.
- Theme settings – Color, layout, and other options.
- Additional CSS – You only need to worry about this if you know how to code. If not, don’t touch it, or you might regret it.
And that’s it! By clicking through those options and making the desired changes, you’re well on your way to publishing your first post.
Creating and Publishing a Blog Post with WordPress [Step by Step]
To create a blog post in WordPress, head over to your WordPress dashboard. Then, click on Posts>Add New from the left-hand navigation menu.
Doing so will bring up the post editor screen where you can enter your title, your post content, add social media, and any post metadata.
Once you’re satisfied with your blog post click “Publish”’ and your post will be live. If you’re not ready to publish your post, you can always save a draft and return to it later.
How to Create your First Blog Post Using the GATOR Website Builder
WordPress is one of the best blogging platforms on the market, but there is also a learning curve to using WordPress. Thankfully, WordPress has gotten leaps and bounds better throughout the year, but if you’re not someone computer-savvy, an easier option may be best.
The GATOR website builder is a website builder that’ll allow you to build your blog in the shortest amount of time possible.
This tool is beginner-friendly and super easy to navigate. You can create your own blog without having to touch a single line of code. Not to mention, you’ll find plenty of blogging-oriented themes that come with your hosting package.
To select your blog template and start building your site, you have a lot of options. You can search via keyword or category, or simply browse through the entire collection until you find the perfect theme.
If you want to get your blog up and running quickly, skip to the “Blog” category and browse through the themes. Once you’ve found the perfect template, hover over it and click “Select.”
Next, you will see an editor pop up. This editor helps you to customize your site with the drag and drop builder.
Once you spend some time navigating the editor tool, you’ll be amazed at what you can do.
Creating and Publishing a Blog Post with GATOR [Step by Step]
To publish a blog with GATOR, all you have to do is click on the “Blog” section on the left-hand editor, and click “Add New Post.”
From here, you can enter your post title, author name, meta tags, featured image, and your content.
Once you’re satisfied with your first blog post, click “Save Post” and your first post is officially live.
Over to You
Creating a blog is not only a fun side hustle, but it’s something you can do completely on your own. If you’ve been dying to start a blog, the time is now. As soon as you’ll get started, you’ll be shocked to learn how easy it is, and will be wondering why you didn’t start years ago.
For more information on how to get your blog up and running, visit HostGator today.
Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and advertising/marketing. In a previous life, she was a Russian teacher at Brigham Young University, a corporate trainer, and a grad student—all at the same time. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world with her 2 kids and husband, reading poetry or taking a deep dive into the fabulous world of comedy. Connect with her on Twitter at @ashleyrcummings.