<> What is a blog post?
A blog post is any article, news piece, or guide that’s published in the blog section of a website. A blog post typically covers a specific topic or query, is educational in nature, ranges from 600 to 2,000+ words, and contains other media types such as images, videos, infographics, and interactive charts.
Blog posts allow you and your business to publish insights, thoughts, and stories on your website about any topic. They can help you boost brand awareness, credibility, conversions, and revenue. Most importantly, they can help you drive traffic to your website.
But in order to begin making posts for a blog — you have to learn how to start one, first. Let’s dive in.
<> How to Start a Blog?
- Understand your audience.
- Check out your competition.
- Determine what topics you’ll cover.
- Identify your unique angle.
- Name your blog.
- Create your blog domain.
- Choose a CMS and set up your blog.
- Customize the look of your blog.
- Write your first blog post.
1. Understand your audience.
Before you start writing your blog post, make sure you have a clear understanding of your target audience. To do so, take the following steps.
*Ask yourself exploratory questions.
To discover your audience, ask questions like: Who are they? Are they like me, or do I know someone like them? What do they want to know about? What will resonate with them?
Jot down your notes in a notepad or a document. This is the time to brainstorm audience attributes from scratch, no matter how out of left field they may feel. You should also think about your audience’s age, background, goals, and challenges at this stage.
*Carry out market research.
Doing market research sounds like a big task, but in truth, it can be as simple as accessing a social media platform and browsing user and blog profiles that match with your potential audience.
Use market research tools to begin uncovering more specific information about your audience — or to confirm a hunch or a piece of information you already knew. For instance, if you wanted to create a blog about work-from-home hacks, you can make the reasonable assumption that your audience will be mostly Gen Zers and Millennials. But it’s important to confirm this information through research.
*Create formal buyer personas.
Once you’ve brainstormed and carried out market research, it’s time to create formal buyer personas. It’s important because what you know about your buyer personas and their interests will inform the brainstorming process for blog posts.
For instance, if your readers are Millennials looking to start a business, you probably don’t need to provide them with information about getting started on social media — most of them already have that down.
You might, however, want to give them information about how to adjust their social media approach (for example — from what may be a casual, personal approach to a more business-savvy, networking-focused approach). That kind of tweak is what helps you publish content about the topics your audience really wants and need
2. Check out your competition.
What better way to draw inspiration than to look at your well-established competition?
It’s worth taking a look at popular, highly reviewed blogs because their strategy and execution is what got them to grow in credibility. The purpose of doing this isn’t to copy these elements, but to gain better insight into what readers appreciate in a quality blog.
When you find a competitor’s blog, take the following steps:
*Determine whether they’re actually a direct competitor.
A blog’s audience, niche, and specific slant determine whether they’re actually your competitor. But the most important of these is their audience. If they serve a completely different public than you, then they’re likely not a competitor. That is why it’s important to define your buyer personas before taking other steps in the blog creation process.
*Look at the blog’s branding, color palette, and theme.
Once you determine that they’re your competitor, it’s time to take note of their techniques so that you can capture a similar readership. Colors and themes play a huge role in whether you seem like part of a niche — for instance, a blog about eco-friendly products should likely use earthy tones instead of bright, unnatural colors such as neon yellow or pink.
*Analyze the tone and writing style of the competition.
Take note of your competition’s copywriting. Is it something you feel like you can successfully emulate? Does it ring true to the type of blog you’d like to create? What do readers most respond to? For most, creating a tech blog might be an excellent idea, but if journalistic, review-based writing doesn’t work for you, then that might not be a good fit. Be aware of what you can feasibly execute or hire freelance writers.
3. Determine what topics you’ll cover.
Before you write anything, pick a topic you’d like to write about. The topic can be pretty general to start as you find your desired niche in blogging.
Here are some ways to choose topics to cover.
*Find out which topics your competitors often cover.
One easy way to choose topics for your blog is to simply learn what other blogs are writing about. After you determine your competitors, go through their archive and category pages, and try to find out which topics they most often publish content about. From there, you can create a tentative list to explore further. You might find, for instance, that a competitor only covers surface-level information about a subject. In your blog, you can dive more deeply and offer more value to readers.
*Choose topics you understand well.
No matter what type of blog you start, you want to ensure you know the topic well enough to write authoritatively about it. Rather than choosing a topic you’ll need to research as you write, think about those that come most naturally to you. What has your professional experience been like so far? What are your hobbies? What did you study in college? These can all give rise to potential topics you can cover in depth.
*Ensure the topics are relevant to your readership.
You may find that you hold deep expertise in various topics, but how relevant are they to the audience you understood back in step one? If you’re not serving their needs, then you’d be shouting into a void — or, worse, attracting the wrong readership. For that reason, after identifying the topics you can feasibly write about, ask yourself whether those are subjects your audience would like to explore.
*Do preliminary keyword research.
Keyword research is the process of searching for topics using a keyword research tool, then determining whether there is demand by looking at each topic’s (or keyword’s) search volume. If you found the perfect topics that are the perfect cross between your expertise and your reader’s needs, you’ve struck gold — but the gold will have no value unless people are searching for those terms. Only then can you capture the audience that is waiting out there.
4. Identify your unique angle.
What perspective do you bring that makes you stand out from the crowd? This is key to determining the trajectory of your blog’s future, and there are many avenues to choose in the process.
Here’s how you can find your unique selling proposition in crowded blogging niches:
*Write a professional and personal bio.
Knowing your own history and experience is essential to determine your unique slant. To get started, write a professional bio that explains, at length, who you are and which experiences most inform your blogging efforts. While I could write a lengthy exposition about my childhood, that history isn’t essential unless I’m launching a blog about raising children.
What unique experience makes you a trusted expert or thought leader on the topic? You can use your answers to that question to find your angle. Use this information to populate your “About me” page on your blog and share more about yourself.
*Determine the special problem you will solve for readers.
Your readers won’t trust you or return to you unless you actively help them solve a problem. As you try to find your angle, think about ways you can help your audience surmount challenges typically associated with the topics you’ve chosen for your blog. For instance, if you’re creating a blog about sustainability, then you might help readers learn how they can compost organic materials in their home.
*Choose an editorial approach.
Will you share your opinions on trending debates? Teach your readers how to do something? Compare or share original research? The editorial approach you choose will in part be informed by the topics you cover on your blog and the problems you’re helping your readers solve. If your blog is about marketing trends and your goal is to keep marketers up-to-date on the latest changes, then your editorial approach should be journalistic in nature. This is only one example of how to choose a technique.
5. Name your blog.
This is your opportunity to get creative and make a name that gives readers an idea of what to expect from your blog. Some tips on how to choose your blog name include:
*Keep your blog name easy to say and spell.
No need to get complicated at all with your name, though it might be tempting, since there are so many blogs out there. While choosing a unique name is essential, it’s also important to choose one that is easy to memorize for readers. It should also be simple to remember as an URL (which will come into play in the next step).
*Link your blog name to your brand message.
The more related your blog’s name is to the topics you cover, the better. For instance, DIY MFA is all about writers doing their own Master of Fine Arts in writing at home. The brand’s message is all about delving deep into one’s writing practice without needing a formal degree. Try to do something similar for your own blog name: Alluding to your blog’s message, value proposition, and covered topics in one sweep.
*Consider what your target audience is looking for.
Your blog name should tie directly into what your readers want to achieve, learn, or solve. DIY MFA is about writers who don’t have the money for graduate school, but who still want to develop their writing skills. The HubSpot Marketing blog is — you guessed it — about marketing trends and tips.
It’s okay if your blog name feels “too straightforward.” Straightforward names accurately communicate what you’re about and effectively attract the right audience.
If you still need more assistance, try using a blog name generator. One last tip: Make sure the name you come up with isn’t already taken, as it could lessen your visibility and confuse readers looking for your content.
6. Create your blog domain.
A domain is a part of the web address nomenclature someone would use to find your website or a page of your website online.
Your blog’s domain will look like this: www.yourblog.com. The name between the two periods is up to you, as long as this domain name doesn’t yet exist on the internet.
Want to create a subdomain for your blog? If you already own a cooking business at www.yourcompany.com, you might create a blog that looks like this: blog.yourcompany.com. In other words, your blog’s subdomain will live in its own section of yourcompany.com.
Some CMS platforms offer subdomains as a free service, where your blog lives on the CMS, rather than your business’s website. For example, it might look like this: yourblog.contentmanagementsystem.com. However, to create a subdomain that belongs to your company website, register the subdomain with a website host.
Most website hosting services charge very little to host an original domain — in fact, website costs can be as inexpensive as $3 per month when you commit to a 36-month term.
Pro Tip: You can connect your custom domain to free hosting with HubSpot’s free CMS or in premium editions of CMS Hub. This includes access to built-in security features and a content delivery network.
Here are five other popular web hosting services to choose from:
7. Choose a CMS and set up your blog.
A CMS (content management system) is a software application that allows users to build and maintain a website without having to code it from scratch. CMS platforms can manage domains (where you create your website) and subdomains (where you create a webpage that connects to an existing website).
HubSpot customers host web content via CMS Hub. Another popular option is a self-hosted WordPress website on a hosting site such as WP Engine. Whether you create a domain or a subdomain to start your blog, you’ll need to choose a web hosting service after you pick a CMS.
Pro Tip: You can get started for free with HubSpot’s free blog maker. Our free CMS offers everything you need to get started– including hosting, a visual editor, and hundreds of free and paid themes to choose from.
8. Customize the look of your blog.
Once you have your domain name set up, customize the appearance of your blog to reflect the theme of the content you plan on creating and your brand.
For example, if you’re writing about sustainability and the environment, green might be a color to keep in mind while designing your blog.