How To Start And Grow A Successful Blog (Blogging For Beginners)

by Liberty Stembridge, Money Columnist


Published in Money and Finance on 30th August, 2019


What Makes A Successful Blog?

What makes your blog successful really depends on what you consider to be a success, personally. However, there are some general guidelines you can use to determine a blogs "success" based on conventional stats and ideas in the blogging world.

The first of course, is money. If you're blogging with the aim of eventually generating some income, how much money your blog makes is a good indicator of how successful you are.

start your blog

The real indicator of success that many people value more than money however, is engagement. Online, engagement is currency, and the more people you have engaging and interacting with your blog, the more successful your blog could be considered.

There are a few different factors that we'll run through that many successful blogs have leveraged in order to create their success, namely branding, design, content creation, consistency, marketing, and engagement.

Define Your Vision And Find Your Niche

Your vision for your blog is essentially what you imagine your blog becoming. It's good to sit down and let yourself indulge in a little fantasy - try to intricately invision what your blog will look like, what it will feel like to write, and how you'll engage with your audience.

Think about what you'd like to provide through your blog and how your blog would work to do that. Would you be sharing mostly stories and photos, practical advice, tutorials or something different?

define your niche

Once you've got a good vision of your blog, you need to decide on a niche. You may already have a good idea of your blogs niche, and it won't take much decision-making, but if you're finding that your ideas are very vague and all over the place, try to narrow it down to one "type" or "category" of blog.

Having a niche is important because it helps with branding and means that you can provide a consistent type of content and gain a more loyal readership. If people come to your blog because you've been posting recipes but suddenly you start talking about your dog, they'll be much less likely to stay. This is why having a niche and sticking to it is so important.

Try and find the middle ground where you can comfortably have plenty to talk about and explore different ideas, without being too vague and losing readers.

Brand Yourself

Branding yourself is an important step to creating a successful blog because it essentially gives you a consistent and professional look and feel. Your branding is your image, it's how you make a first impression on a potential reader, and so you want it to attract and reflect who you are.

The first step to any good brand is a cohesive look and name. Having a confusing, misspelt or unrelated name puts up an unnecessary roadblock between you and your readers. Try to find something that reflects your niche, is easy to remember and not too complicated. From here you can extend into your tagline, blog description, colour scheme and more.

If you're struggling to come up with how to brand yourself, try a branding exercise such as looking at other blogs you admire and writing down what you like about their branding, or writing a mind-map of values and words related to your blog and brand. If you're really stuck, consider hiring a graphic designer to help out.

Set Up A Site

Now that you've got a good vision for your blog, it's time to actually set it up. Wordpress is the most commonly used blog hosting method, and although it can be confusing at first, once you get your head around how it works, wordpress becomes a powerful tool for your disposal.

set up your site

There are actually two sites that makeup wordpress, wordpress.com and wordpress.org. Wordpress.com is a free blogging platform that hosts your blog on their server and requires very little setup. Wordpress.org is a piece of software that you can install on a web server and allows you to completely customise your website.

Although it's more complicated at first, it's a more customisable and monetizable method of blogging, which is why it's the most popular.

Alternatively to wordpress, you could also use a micro-blogging platform such as tumblr, or a website design service such as squarespace.

Start Designing Your Blog

If you wanted to, you could settle for a pre-made stock theme provided by wordpress, but generally you'll want something a bit more personal and pleasing to the eye.

If you want your blog to have a certain look and feel, you need to choose a design that represents that, as well as being functional and practical. The perfect design is easy to navigate, pleasing to the eye, representative of your blogs brand and generally professional looking.

There are lots of themes available online if you can't afford to have one custom made. Sites like Etsy and other handmade marketplaces offer modern well-designed themes at affordable prices, or you could customise a theme provided by wordpress.

It's a good idea to start gaining some knowledge about graphic design for blogs and social media now, as it'll come in very handy if you want to design a logo, create pin's for pinterest or any other kind of social media account. Basics such as colour theory, hierarchy, typography and grid theory will help you to create much more visually appealing content.

If you're struggling for design inspiration, try looking at other blogs you admire or simply searching pinterest for blog design ideas!

Plan Out Your Content And Get Writing!

Now comes the really fun part - planning and creating your content. How much you write in one go is really up to you, but I'd recommend having at least a months worth of content ready to go for launch date.

Content Planning

When it comes to content planning, it may seem like a detail to overlook, but it's not. Keeping your content organised will help a lot, and give you a better idea of what your blog is going to look like, so you can make sure you're posting a variety of content and mixing it up.

contant planning

Start by brainstorming ideas for blog posts you may want to create or challenges you may want to undertake, and then create an order for these posts to be released. Transfer this order into a schedule, be it one post a day or one post a week and voila: you have a lovely organised calendars worth of content ready to go.

Rather than writing everything on-the-spot and as you go, try writing in advance during the beginning phase of your blogs life. This will not only help you when life inevitably gets busy and you don't have time to blog, but also means that you have more time to go back, edit and re-work pieces until you've found your ideal writing style.

Don't forget to research and quality-check your content, especially if you're offering advice or expertise on a certain topic.If you're not sure about the quality of your content, get a friend, family member or more experienced blogger to look over it.

Set Up Your Social Media Accounts

Once you've got all your content written and planned out, you'll want people to be able to find it after all that hard work. This is where the magic of social media comes in.

Before you even think about diving into social media marketing and more however, you need to set up and design your accounts. For beginner bloggers, start with the three main sources of blog traffic: pinterest, instagram and facebook. Of course, you don't have to stick to these three if you're more comfortable or already have a following somewhere else, but if you're looking for somewhere to start, these are the top contender.

You'll need to create accounts on these platforms for your blog, and utilise the same branding you've applied for your blog across all platforms. Once you've got the admin out the way, it's time to start posting.

Social media has evolved a lot, and if you're really interested in gaining a following, there's plenty of information out there about optimising and growing your various different accounts.

Needless to say, however, the most basic thing you can do is use the accounts. Update them, post genuine, relevant and valuable content. It doesn't need to be perfect straight away, but as you build your following you can start putting more and more time into perfecting your theme, engagement and so on.

Start Utilizing Social Media Marketing Tactics

Think of social media as your marketing squad: it's what gets the word out about your blog. Without it, you'll just be shouting into the void. Social media provides the opportunity to directly connect with readers and tell them about your work.

social media marketing

So you want to market your blog well, and likely, cheaply. Social media is a great way to essential advertise yourself, for free - but it does take effort.

The first and most important step you can take is to educate yourself about social media and how it works. Even if you've been using Instagram for years, do you really understand the ins and outs of what it takes to actually grow an instagram account and use it to promote a blog?

There's plenty of information out there, from youtube videos to subreddits to skillshare classes to entire books dedicated to the art of social media marketing.

Once you understand a little more about the platforms you're going to be using and how they work, it's time to utilise some social media marketing tactics.

Fair warning - it takes time to build a following on social media, and so any marketing attempts aren't going to necessarily explode your blogs readership straight away. There are some basic golden rules you can start utilising for faster growth straight away however, such as engaging with your followers, researching and using the right hashtags, and posting high-quality content on a regular schedule.

Many platforms love it if you use new features that have been added, and will boost your content if you do, so start planning to make social content for features such as IGTV, Instagram Stories and Pinterest Stories.

Engage With Your Readers

Building up a following takes time, and even if the beginning is slow, it's still important to engage as much as possible with your readers. Taking the time to show them your gratitude will help you to build a loyal fanbase and repeat readers.

engage your readers

If someone comments on a post, be it on social media or on your blog, respond thoughtfully and answer their questions honestly. Start a dialogue that other people can get involved in and ask questions in return. Never forget to thank your readers for making the time to read what you've written.

Keep Going, And Keep On Top Of It

Once you've got your blog started, with your social media up and running and a few readers trickling in, you're pretty much set up, and now the hard part is here - keeping going. Running a blog might look easy, but it's hard work to keep going week in and week out.

Having your posts planned out and schedules ahead of time will help a lot, as will creating a daily or weekly blogging routine, during which you can go through a checklist of tasks such as responding to comments, updating social media and checking emails.

One of the most important elements of successful blog that many people forget is very simply, persistence. The more you persist, the more likely you are to become successful.

Check some methods for making money through blogging.

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