What Should You Do Before Launching a (Successful) Blog
In the past few years, the Internet has developed more and more, encompassing new online presences everyday; this can make one think about this amazing trend and when it will present a lower growth ratio. It is practically impossible to state exactly how many websites are being created each year but a Mashable article lets us know that, each day, 150000 new URLs are created. In 2008, Google stated that more than 1 trillion websites were indexed hence the figures are simply amazing; just to form an idea, in 1992 there were less than 15000 URLs.
The last five years are considered a real boom because of the new online stars: the blogs. Initially these were created for fun or to make certain feelings public, but nowadays there is nothing not to be mentioned at least on a dozen of blogs. I do not believe that there could be a piece of information available that hasn’t been mentioned in the entire blogosphere.
The huge number of blogs and the easiness of creating one conducted to the wrong mentality that anyone may be a blogger and quite probably, after a year or two the respective website could bring a profit formed from many zeroes. In spite of these, the creation, the maintenance, and the monetization of a blog aren’t really that simple and solid knowledge is mandatory. Many people interested in the web have attempted to launch a blog and expected that in few months they will become a star but this didn’t happen; much more, only a very limited number of tries were successful and even a smaller category have managed to obtain a good income from blogging activities.
Statistics offer various percentages of the heavy traffic blogs but the common item is the reduced number of these; without any doubt, a blog is more than handling a post in WordPress and publishing it, in fact there is a huge endeavor before launching it. The decisions made before any post is online are capital, many bloggers have simply ignored these, and the result wasn’t gratifying. This post represents a complete strategy of what should be done before launching a blog, each checkpoint having a clear explanation, therefore the lecture will be enjoyable and the learning process will be easier and logical.
As everything in this world, the post isn’t perfect and any reader is welcomed to correct or to share his opinions with us, the more comments, the more interesting the post will be.
1. Choose a topic + a domain + target public
It’s very simple to say that tomorrow you will launch a blog but the work to practically do it is incomparable to anything you might have done before. The first decision made by a new blogger is to establish very clearly the topic/topics debated on the blog. This choice is capital, it determines the future of the blog and the categories of people to visit it. Some people choose general subjects, which isn’t wrong, but they must be aware that these are very debated by more experienced bloggers and the blogger must come with something new and original to attract visitors; thus, the volume of work is bigger than selecting a more targeted topic.
Selecting the topic just because it has the potential to attract Internet users is another mistake, the blogger must know very well about what he writes, the more experience he has in the chosen domain, the bigger his chance of the blog being visited. Nobody will waste minutes reading something which isn’t interesting or useful.
An entity that may reveal which is the subject of a blog and people care about, is the domain name; an irrelevant one that has nothing in common with the issues presented has slight chances of attracting other people. Choosing the best domain name is a very large matter that is the subject of a book but the most important tips are:
- the domain name must be relevant to the issues presented;
- it shouldn’t be very long;
- it should be easy to memorize.
Each new blog must be created to inform and delight the visitors but people surfing on web have very different hobbies and necessities hence it is recommended to select only a category of people to write for. In this manner, a community is created around the blog and they are transformed into a trustworthy source of constant traffic. The conclusion is clear, before you start writing the first posts, it is mandatory to imagine the profile of the reader and write for him, not for you or the search engines.
2. Select a reliable hosting company
There is nothing more annoying for a blogger than to manage attracting visitors but the host not to have the same high standards. The problem of hosting shouldn’t be very difficult because the offer is various and the stringent competition guarantees the existence on the market of only the best providers. The cost of hosting is also important but the spending isn’t very high, a reliable firm with an adequate plan is the best byname to solve this matter.
3. Carefully study the potential competitors
Blogging supposes a living competition between bloggers and here the old principle from Sun Tzu may be applied – “to conquer your enemies, it is mandatory to know them very well”. A new blogger willing to really gain money from blogging and to turn into a web star must know all the competitors, their strong or weak points but also the harsh competition shouldn’t be transformed into enmity. Being competitors doesn’t mean that you should hate any other blogger or disregard his activity, take the example of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and their long relationship.
Studying carefully the competitors is advantageous because it allows an easier and complete determination of the quality of the posts, the specific structure, or the strong points of each one and without these it is hard to write something original or something that isn’t fully covered in the blogosphere. Engaging in discussions with other bloggers is also beneficial for both sides: each person has at least one original idea and by exchanging these, the community will benefit with richer and more useful blogs. The friendship with other blog owners or writers may be the binder that has put the basis of a future collaboration or a reciprocal advertising of the posts.
4. The design of the blog – Try to be the best
Even if the content is the one that interests a visitor, the design is still very important and it may be an attraction for random surfers. The beauty of a design is important but it must be also functional and accessible. A layout that doesn’t help the readers and makes the lecture a hell surely will scare away all the visitors and the final result will be a disaster. The layout may be obtained from three parts, each one having its own set of advantages and disadvantages :
- Buy a theme from various online markets and customize it; the price is very advantageous, the problem of time is satisfactory but there is a great chance of already existing websites built upon the same theme, hence originality won’t be your strongest point.
- Create a layout and make a website but this requires the respective blogger to be skilled in HTML and CSS. This option is free, you are the creator of the blog, the time spent depends only on your own forces and the money invested is zero.
- Hire a designer who is talented and ready to be hired, this solution guarantees that the layout will be original but at the same time the payment should require a fair amount of money.
In conclusion, no matter which solution is taken, there are advantages and disadvantages but what is really important is the quality of the design.
5. Pay attention to SEO- hire a SEO specialist or try yourself, anyway do not neglect this!
Any blog success is strictly determined by the number of visitors, the more, the better. The best blogs truly offer quality posts and useful advice but there is a little trick that makes the difference: “the friendship” with the search engines. A blog that is liked by the crawlers of the search engines will appear on the first positions and this means a higher chance of being visited. Any responsible blogger pays attention to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) because it is the key of heavy traffic which means money, so now it is clearer, SEO is money!
On the other hand, writing only for SEO purposes is quickly penalized by humans and all the endeavors are in vain.
6. Establish the strategy of the blog: number of posts/week, their format, the usual length, the style adopted
From now the real work of blogger starts, writing and analyzing the result of one’s work. One of the most important feature of the blogs is the consistency, usually the posts must have a similar topic, a specific structure etc. Another important blog feature is the following of a clear schedule, if you consider the best solution to post only Monday, Wednesday and Friday do it, but keep this program or else the incoherence will be penalized by visitors.
I recommend making a good reserve of posts before starting to put the first article online, nobody knows what could happen if you weren’t available to maintain the blog for some days. Word Press is making possible to schedule the publication of the posts in advance hence you can take a nice trip and the blog is running with no delay. There is no strict formula but from my experience added up with some conclusions of my debates with other bloggers, it is better to have the posts for a week assured or more simply, you are writing today the post to be published next week.
It’s great to respect a posting schedule and to have a good reserve of posts and many bloggers are doing it but they forget a more important issue, the visitors aren’t coming just because you publish a post, they want quality and the same style that is liked by them. In this way, I give you another pretty cool tip: the same as the developers are keeping separately the files that improve the look of a website, the so named CSS external sheet, a blogger must establish a complete draft containing all the necessary details to write a post. It’s capital to maintain the same style, some surely won’t like it but 100% there are people who will enjoy your kind of exposing. Don’t get it wrong, a very clear delimited style doesn’t mean that it blocks the evolution, it’s only necessary to look professional.
7. Propose clear and realistic checkpoints according to a marketing strategy
Some people are more optimistic and they will be always content with their work on the blog while others will be always sad because they don’t get the traffic desired, some even believe that “the planet is sinking”. In order to have an objective opinion about the future evolution of the blog, a wise person will setup some realistic targets and carefully keep these. In fact, these must be a part of a more complex marketing strategy which is capital for any blog (some people, including me, have the tendency to use very radical terms as capital, vital or important and sometimes maybe they overestimate the real situation but here capital is really capital). I want to believe that the quality is by far, the most important, but as I gain more and more experience, I see the marketing even more important. What do you think: is marketing more important than the quality of the posts?
Anyway, there is enough to understand that marketing and branding are important only by randomly reading some posts of the most important bloggers. The conclusion is simple: before launching a blog that must be visited and be appreciated by people as a reference entity in blogosphere a concrete marketing strategy is mandatory. This must include realistic goals and deadlines, the evolution must be efficiently controlled, and the wish to improve it is the fuel of success.
8. Promote its launch, create a Facebook page, and ask for opinions
The days until the first post is published are very few and the excitement is high. Another mandatory step is the creating of a Twitter and Facebook account, the power of social media is high and neglecting it is almost a blogger sin.
An imperceptible sign of professionalism is the customization of these accounts, the more and interesting they are, the better. Facebook pages are created for everyone and everything, it’s impossible not to get bored by, but an original one has bigger chances of being liked by people. Twitter customization consists mostly in having a cool background and an interesting bio, the Internet is full of amazing examples of well done graphical realization, inspire and create something special for you. The customization is in vain if the accounts aren’t active and professionally maintained.
Social networks do not refer only to Facebook and Twitter, the most targeted ones are very important and from these a lot of traffic may come, therefore don’t stop only to the most used ones.
Don’t be afraid to promote these pages, step by step a community is forming and the first members must be your close friends, even the pages of Justin Bieber or Britney Spears start from “0 likes.”
9. Think twice before publishing the first post; are you sure about your intentions
I may be accused of inserting unnecessary steps in this list, I must apologize to the ones that believe this but once again I emphasize the difference between pleasure and business. A blog just for the owner and his friends is a thing; a blog to be monetized is a completely different job where hard work and consistency are the pillars of the development. My personal advice is not to quit launching the blog but don’t expect for miracles to happen and immediate opportunities to gain money. I have just launched a blog and all my friends asked my how much money I gain…when they found out that some months are necessary until the first hundred of dollars would be in my account they accused me of making bad affairs.
This is my message and I hope to understand what I advised you.
10. Prepare yourself for a huge volume of work and difficult moments
There come another negative aspect, the blogging activities are time consuming and very few of them manage to obtain a balanced report between personal life and work (not me!). The family, the relatives and close friends must be aware that the respective blog isn’t only a passion that take you from the daily life and keep in front of the computer. A quality blog is pretty like a brick and mortar business, you invest money, work, and time and expect profit; obviously, a healthy affair can’t produce huge profits instantly.
In the end, I want to run away this pessimistic final and encourage you to try blogging, nobody was born blogger and all of us make mistakes. The most important bloggers aren’t necessarily the most talented designers or the smartest people, they are keeping up the work even the results weren’t from the start very satisfactory. Take their example and don’t look back!