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Almost every single internet marketer out there got their start in blogging. Blogging was one of the first activities that became popular on the internet during its infancy, and what started as a method of social interaction has turned into a way to make serious revenue. Blogging is the first step on your adventure into internet marketing, and it provides a gradual learning curve that will allow you to accumulate marketing skills, coding experience, and a loyal audience.
Creating your First Blog
A blog is essentially a website that is updated with posts that display in reverse chronological order. Visitors to your website will see your most recent post, and they can navigate around the site to both static pages and archived posts. Most blogs are centered on a certain topic, and they encourage contributions from audience members as well as from guest writers when appropriate. A blog is a two-way interaction between a writer and readers, and readers often comment on blog posts with the expectation that the blog author will read the comments and will respond.
There are many good blog platforms out there, ranging from the very-simple to the complex. Most blog platforms will allow someone with no coding experience to easily maintain their blog through a graphics-based interface. Something like WordPress is perfect because it is also a flexible enough platform that the skills you learn while developing your first blog will be applicable to any site that you produce down the road.
Many of the blog providers have “free” options, where your blog is hosted for free – and you get a subdomain on the larger site. These are not suitable for your needs, because it restricts your flexibility and it prevents you from earning the full share of income from advertising on your blog.
Your blog needs to be hosted by a web-hosting service – but you can pick pretty much any web host since the differences between the major players are so minimal thanks to the commodification of that industry. You also need a domain. You should pick a catchy domain that makes sense given the topic of your blog. Pay no attention to the SEO value of your domain for now – SEO is a more complex topic, and you can always pick a new domain later down the road if you need to. The cost of a shared hosting package and a domain can vary, but you shouldn’t be paying any more than $50 or so dollars per year for your first blog.
Installing Wordpress is a breeze with even a minimal amount of technical knowledge (or a basic ability to follow YouTube tutorials) and you’ll quickly be on your way to producing your first content!
Creating Blog Posts
Writing your blog content should be a labor of love. Pick a topic that you are genuinely interested in, and write content that you think people would read. A lot of starting bloggers spend a lot of time getting caught up in the vagaries of SEO and technical writing, but it is MUCH more important to create content that people will read and share. For at least the first year of your blog (and first 100 posts or so) SEO takes a backseat to building a reputation as a sources for quality content. Search engines will find your blog if people do, and a blog that is widely shared gains traffic and attention more than one that is stuffed with rote keyword recitation.
Blog posts also need to be shareable, so include content that is digestible in small chunks. Let’s face it, attention spans are plummeting and people are captivated by the unusual, so make your headlines exciting and informative, and consider including pictures and info-graphics to make the content more visually stimulating (and to allow viewers to share that content on visual-centric sites like Instagram)
Marketing Your Blog
The majority of your time in your first few days of blogging will be spent building an audience. There are basically two types of people that will use your blog. Casual users go to your blog for a single article, maybe browsing around, but they are temporary and might not come back. Recurring users are the users that sign up for your blog, read every article as they come out, and develop a relationship with your brand by commenting on your blog posts and making an attempt to be part of a community.
One way to jumpstart your blog is through cross-promotion. Find similar blogs and make relevant comments on articles that interest you – link back to your own blog, and provide some kind of value for readers (like an alternative viewpoint) so they consider your blog a good sources of information alongside that original traffic source.
Another great way to get viewers on your blog is through social promotion outside the blogosphere. Something that a lot of people fail with when they are first starting their blog is the dividing line between spam and content creation. You want to promote your blog, but you want to do so in a way that is sustainable over the long term. Take Reddit for example. If you post a link to your blog on Reddit, the odds are high that it will be removed for being self-promotional. On the other hand, if you are a valued member of a community, and you take time to comment on other peoples’ work – they will welcome your blog links as another source of information. You want to actively be a part of the community that you are going to depend on for traffic. Give something back!
Monetizing Your Blog (The Basics)
The subject of blog monetization is much more complex than this introductory guide is suited for – but we have dozens of other articles on the ins and outs of making money from your blog properties. What is important when you are starting your first blog is a bit of perspective.
It is unlikely that you will be able to quit your job after producing your first blog.
It is unlikely that your first blog will supplant the Huffington Post or CNN as the next great news source.
It is unlikely that your first blog will serve as a pinnacle of web design for generations to come.
It is certain that your first blog will teach you a great deal about web design, you will make some lifelong friends and acquaintances in your niche, and you will gain an understanding of the world of internet marketing. At the very least, you should be able to break even on your first blog, and you might even make some extra spending money that you can reinvest into your next projects.