I’ve been Blogging for almost 15 months now.
Soon (in March) GrowingMetrics will be a year old.
And the experience has been immense.
To date, I’ve come across a variety of interesting questions new bloggers face, on many platforms like Quora, Reddit, Twitter, etc.
So, I thought, hey, why not create a comprehensive guide in the form of Question and Answers, that will acknowledge the common blogging concerns new bloggers face (some of these questions are from my own experience)
And that’s what I’ll be doing in this post.
As of now, I’m covering almost all the difficulties you’re likely to face as a beginner until you become a fairly decent blogger.
But, in case, there’s something you need an answer to, ask me in the comments section and I’ve definitely resolve it.
So, let’s get started.
- What is a Blog? (Blog vs Website)
Blogs and Websites are now used interchangeably. But they are, in fact, very different. A blog is something that you’d update regularly (or consistently), a website, on the other hand, is updated less frequently, in terms of content on the website. A blog can be a part of a website. Importantly, every blog is a website but the opposite is not necessarily true. A differentiating example of a website and a blog can be put in the form of Neil Patel (in case you’re not familiar with him, Neil Patel is an entrepreneur and an internet marketer); here’s Neil’s marketing website: http://neilpatel.com/, while here’s his blog: http://neilpatel.com/blog/. See the difference? Neil’s blog is a part of his website. A Blog can be anything. A personal diary to write your daily experiences; a tutorial place to provide some math tutorial; a place to write your business experiences and strategies.
- How to Start a Blog?
Simple, really. Choose a topic, select a domain name, register that domain name, get hosting, install WordPress and boom you’re done. And, hey, it might seem overwhelming but I’ve got you covered. I’ve put a supermassive guide (7000+ words, step-by-step walkthrough, screenshots and videos) to Starting a New Blog.
- Why should you start a blog?
There’re many reasons, to be honest. One could be to expand your offline business. Another could be just to share the knowledge you have with the world. To start a blog, you don’t have to have an existing business; just pick up a topic you’re familiar about and start writing about it. Many ( or in fact most) of the people are lured towards blogging because of the money factor. Yes, you can monetize your blog. We’ll take a look into that later.
- How to Choose a topic to blog about?
Follow this: Take a piece of paper; write down all the topics that interest you. It could be anything. Next, funnel out the things that interest you but you are not sure you’d like to blog about it. Finally, from the topics left out, scratch off the topics that cannot be monetized (made money from).
- What’s a domain name?
When you consider Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ is Facebook’s domain name. A name by which your website can be located amongst millions of other websites.
- How to Choose a domain name for your blog?
While choosing a domain name, try to stick to this checklist: Easy to remember (eg. gmail), Short (eg. Again, something like gmail will work in your favour), Conveys what the site is about (eg. TutorialsPoint — you know you’ll come across tutorials on this one), Keyword inclusive (eg. You want to buy a new car, you search about it on Google; this is one of the results that shows up: CarTrade.com), Hyphen and Number exclusive (As much as possible, try to avoid names containing hyphens (-) or numbers), .com available (A domain name ending with.com is recommended).
- What is Hosting?
Hosting is a kind of a rental home for your website. A place will all your websites data will be stored. It will be a computer, located somewhere remotely.
- How to get hosting for your blog?
Choose a hosting company and just follow the on page instructions. Some of my top recommendations will be BlueHost, HostGator and SiteGround.
- What is WordPress?
Starting a blog is not just it. You want to design it, publish articles, images and videos and a lot more. Without WordPress you’ll have to code every bit of it. WordPress is an interface, which makes it easy for you to install necessary softwares (plugins), design your blog the way you want, publish articles and a lot more. WordPress is the most widely used Content management system. Some others are Blogger, Drupal, Joomla.
- What is a theme?
A theme is a design software that’ll help you make your site look better and more organized. There are tons of free themes available in the market, I’ve covered the best free WordPress themes for 2017 . On this site, we use the SPI theme from StudioPress, which is incredibly fast and offers a great design. My recommendations to look out for a paid theme would be: ElegantThemes, aThemes, StudioPress.
- What is a plugin?
A plugin, like a theme, is a piece of software that will help you with a variety of small or big tasks on your blog. There are tons of plugins available. The top install, as soon as you start a blog would be: Yoast SEO, Hide Title, Sucuri, W3 Total Cache, Akismet, Jetpack.
- What is a keyword?
In Blogging (particularly in SEO) you’ll come across keywords. A keyword, in simple terms, defines a web page. For instance, if you write a blog post about online marketing, you should put words online marketing throughout your page, like, in the page title, in the URL, in the headline, etc.
- What is click through rate (CTR)?
Suppose you put up a link on a web page, that page gets 100 views. And that particular link is clicked 5 times. Then the CTR for that link will be 10%.
- What are conversions (and conversion rate)?
The definition, for this term, differs from place to place. In simple terms, if you can get a person to do what you want him to do by following certain steps , that’s a conversion. For example you’ve published a new blog post. And you want to get more traffic to that post. So, you post an ad on Facebook. Here your aim is to get as many people — to view that blog post — as you can using Facebook ads. So the conversion rate would be the number of people who view your blog post from that ad (say 20) to the number of people who saw that ad (say 100) — That’s 20% conversion.
- What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It means you optimize your website (make some changes into it), so that it ranks on first page of Google. This will help you get lots of traffic to your site from Google (even in millions if you blog in a very big industry and rank for a very popular keyword).
- How to optimize your site for Search Engines?
Google (and other search engines like Bing) consider tons of factors to rank articles. They have to come up with the best results to show up on the first page of Google. So, when you query something like best smartphones 2017, the results that show up are not by coincidence, but because they are rendered to be the best by Google.
- How to get started with SEO?
Here are two interesting guides I’d point you to, to get started with SEO:
- What is a backlink?
You publish a web page, say A, and some other web page (from your blog or other) puts a link pointing to A, that’s a backlink. For example you’ll see tons of links in this blog post that point to other blog posts from other websites as well as this. Every link on this page means +1 point to those pages.
- How important is link building for SEO?
One of the very first and still very important factors Google considered to rank pages on SERP was it’s backlinks. The more backlinks a web page had, the better it was. Today, of course, things are different. There are over 200 factors Google considers to rank pages on it’s SERPs. But backlinks to a page still remains one of the highly valued factors.
To understand this even better, go to Google and type in any query you want. I, for instance, searched Top Social networking sites and these were the results:
Ever wonder why LifeWire ranks first and DreamGrow ranks second? That’s because they’re have good score in terms of those 200 factors. And those 2 pages that rank on top have many backlinks.
- How to get more backlinks?
There’s a lot into this but I’ll try to keep it short. The best way to get more backlinks is to create content that is better than the existing content and share it with the right people. One of the many ways to get Backlinks is via Guest posting. Brian Dean has written two extremely good pieces to get more backlinks: Get high quality backlinks, 17 untapped backlink sources.
- What is guest posting?
Guest posting is publishing a blog post on some other blog, as a guest.
- Why is guest posting important?
One, you get exposure to a new audience. Two, you can get new followers and email subscribers to your blog. Three, you’ll get a backlink. Just remember, when you publish an article on some other blog, as a guest, you want that blog to be better than yours and gives you a dofollow link (a dofollow link is something that’s good in eyes of Google, so you want that).
- How to find blogs to guest post on?
- What to do once you’ve started a blog?
Once you’ve got all the basic setup done like getting hosting, install WordPress here’s what you need to check out — Blogging Guide: 15 Points to Focus on for first 60 days.
- How to create content for your blog?
Before you drive traffic to your blog, you need to publish some content for people to come to and read. Generally, the best content generation idea is to start by aiming at the beginners in your industry. Figure out the problems beginners might be facing in your industry, write down those ideas on a piece of paper. Research about those topics. Try to create, something even more better and publish it. Following this path will help you get a lot of quality traffic to your blog. This guide by KissMetrics will help you get an idea on what kind of content you can create.
- Long vs Short content, what works?
There’s no optimum length. Test both and publish what works best with your audience. For instance, Google values long form content more than short. But that does not mean you’ve to pull a concept — that could be explained in 500 words — to 2000 words.
- How to drive traffic to your blog?
Driving traffic comes to some basic principles. Firstly, what kind of traffic you want to drive? Organic (from Search engines like Google and Bing), Social (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), Paid (Advertisements), Email (Building a Mailing list), Direct (People know your site’s name, they type that in, in their browser and visit your site), referral (Someone referrers your site on their blog). The basics of driving traffic, I’ve covered in this FREE Traffic generation Course.
- How to make sure people read your post?
The amount of time a person stays on your site is measure by a metric called bounce rate. The less the bounce rate the better. When reading a web page people scan it in the form of ‘F’ i.e. from right hand top to left and then coming down. To see, how much of your post people are reading, you can use the heatmap tool from SumoMe .
- How to make people stick to your website for long?
The best way is to provide the best content. Content that the visitor was looking for. Moreover, you can use more multimedia (videos, infographics, gifographics) to make people stay longer. Internal linking (linking from one blog post to other on your site), also works well. Make it easy for people to scan and understand your blog post quickly. This can be done by creating a list post with big and bold headings.
- How to market your blog on Social Media?
With millions of people using Social Media every day, it’s a great platform to build your brand and get targeted traffic. Having said that, every other blogger is trying to get traffic from Social Media like you. And with complex algorithms, Facebook and Twitter have limited your reach on these platforms. This means, you would be able to reach limited people using these platforms, even if you have tens of thousands of Facebook likes and Twitter followers. A tweet is visible only for a span of about 7 or 8 minutes due to the overwhelming amount of tweets going out everyday. So, it’s necessary to choose a Social Media platform wisely and build your brand on it.
- Why you should choose only a few Social Media platforms at the start?
A common beginner’s mistake is trying to be on every social media platform on the planet. That’s very wrong. Start with a few, 1 would be best. Build a brand and then later explore other platforms.
- What is the best Social Media platform?
That depends on what industry you’re in. If you are a food blogger, Instagram would work best for you. If you are a digital marketer, perhaps Twitter would be great. So, once you’ve chosen your niche, follow the most successful people in your industry. Find out what platform gets them the most traffic. You could be in a niche where social media won’t work at all, so why waste the efforts?
- What is a mailing list?
A mailing list is a list of people who’ve subscribed to your blog with their email. So every time, you have some update you can directly contact them by sending them an email. My email list, as it stands, has over 1100 email subscribers. SumoMe has played a huge part in building this list. You can check out my SumoMe case study here: How I added 687 email subscribers to my blog in a month via SumoMe .
- Why is a mailing list important?
That’s because you can get your message directly to the people who’re interested in your content. You don’t have to post in on Facebook and hope someone sees it. A mailing list has a far better click through rate than Facebook or Twitter.
- How to grow your mailing list?
One of the best ways to do that is by providing something valuable for free. Well, not exactly free but in exchange for an email. The free stuff could be some paid product or a free ebook. The best way to start is by providing a free ebook or a guide (in the form of PDF). So when people subscribe to your blog, they get that in exchange for their subscription. Just make sure the stuff you are providing is something that people actually want.
- What is Blogger Outreach?
Every niche has a few industry leaders. People who’re experts in that industry, with a lot of experience and followers. What if you befriend them? What if they share your blog post with their thousands of followers? That would be immense, right? That’s what Blogger outreach is. You first build a relationship with a top-dog in your industry, next you ask them (nicely) to share your content.
- How to do Blogger outreach?
It breaks into 3 simple steps. i. Subscribe to your target blogger’s blog. ii. Follow them on all social media platforms. iii. Share their content regularly, with your audience and let them know about it. iv. Comment on their blogs. v. Link to their site from your blog. vi. Finally, once you’re confident you’ve done enough for them, ask them (politely) for that favor. Believe me, they won’t say NO. This is not as easy as it seems. If you’re too impatient, this won’t work for you. But, it’s a very effective strategy.
- How to measure your blog’s growth?
It is often believed traffic is the best way to measure growth. I wouldn’t say anything against that, as it’s partially true, but not completely. If you want your blog to truly grow there’s much more than traffic you ought to be looking at. At the beginning, though, traffic is the best metric. But, as you continue to blog, you want to improve user engagement (comments on your articles, shares by your visitors on their social media platform). You want people to stay for long on your site. This is known as bounce rate. All of this can be analyzed by Google’s free tool, Google Analytics. This awesome guide from Moz will help you get started with understanding Google Analytics.
- How to make money from your blog?
Ah, the most sought after question. Money. Yep, you can make a lot of money as a blogger. But , that will take a lot of time. To make money from your blog, you need to do the right things consistently and have patience. Some ways to make money from your blog: Advertisements, Affiliate Marketing — recommend some product you use to your blog readers and if they buy that product from your link/coupon you get a small commission, Freelancing — You’re good at something? Let people know about it from your blog and then hire you for your expertise, Sell your own products — the best way to make money blogging is by selling your own product whether digital (like some software) or physical.
Let Me Know!
Hope you’ve found your answer as a beginner, but in case you’re still confused, it’ll hardly take less than 30 seconds to land a question in the comments section below.