How to Choose the right Topic for Your Blog
Choosing a blog topic is not something you should take lightly. Choosing a blog topic that has enough of a niche to be noticed can greatly improve your odds of increasing your readership. Google provides extensive research tools that allow you to check the popularity of certain search terms and help you narrow down your focus for your blog.
While this aspect of your blog topic doesn’t specifically relate to a topic, creating a basic focus for your blog allows you to appear more professional and focused. If you run a blog about creating art, then your blog should contain articles that mostly aim to teach people how to create art.
It sounds like common sense, but too often people neglect to keep the overall feel and mission of their blog in mind. One way to help you focus is to create a mission statement for your blog. State clearly what you want to provide readers and make sure each article finds some way of expressing that goal. Don’t write about horses if you run a blog about dogs. Readers come to your blog because they want to learn something specific that you have the authority to teach them about. Take this role seriously and refine the focus for your blog, if you haven’t already done so.
Start With a General Idea
Now that you have a focus for your blog, you want to narrow down that focus into a title that is writable. Come up with two words that summarize the focus of your blog. For example, if you write a blog about dog training, then choose the words “dog” and “training”. Search for those two keywords using Google’s search engine. What you’ll find is that additional searches will pop up as Google attempts to determine what you’re trying to find. Google doesn’t just randomly choose these search terms, they are chosen based on what other users are looking for. With just a few moments, you can narrow down the keywords for your blog and create relevant content that people are actually looking for.
Self Hosting Vs. Third-Party Blogging Platform
It may seem like the obvious choice. Save some money and use a third-party blogging platform to host your site. However, there are various considerations that you must keep in mind when choosing a platform to host your content. A platform might provide you with the basic features you need when just starting out, but what happens when your readership grows and you need something more robust? Moving all of your blog posts and articles to a new website or platform may seriously hamper your search engine rankings. The choice basically comes down to should you self-host your blog or use an established provider to host your content? Read more
The Difference Between Self-Hosted and Third-Party Providers
Self-hosted content means that you pay a Web hosting provider for use of their servers, or you run a server from your home. Using Open Source platforms like WordPress, you can install and run your own blog without having to worry about restrictions and limitations. If you need to move your blog at some point in the future, you can download the entire blog and reinstall it with another hosting provider. In a self-hosted environment, you own the domain and the content on your website.
In contrast, a third-party provider requires you to adhere to the terms of service of the provider. You also have to use the platform that they provide and moving your content from their proprietary servers to your own servers may mean you lose your search engine ranking and readership. Even the most reliable providers can go out of business. If this happens, all the money and time you put into hosting on a third party platform goes up in smoke.
Owning Your Content
When you host your blog on a third=party platform, you don’t actually own the website domain name. If the platform goes defunct, you get put in a position of potentially losing all of the work you put into your blog. A third-party provider might change their terms of service and start requiring you to pay for services. In contrast, when you own your own blog, you have more control over the manner in which you display your content and the type of content you can post. The terms of service you create for your readership is completely dependent on your own decisions. Select the right hosting provider and you can avoid surprises and avoid the need to abide by often restrictive terms of service conditions enforced by the third-party blogging provider.
Control of Your Content
When you rent or own your own servers you have complete control of your content. Free services limit what you can do with your website. Using a third-party provider makes it very difficult to add an eCommerce store or to sell your own products straight from your blog. Your third-party hosting provider might prevent you from selling goods or running ads that are competitive with their service. You can even have your site shut down by a third-party provider for virtually any reason at any time. Free sites also only provide basic customizations for your website. When you want to brand your company, you can’t rely upon a third-party provider to give you the customization tools you need. Finally, a third-party service typically doesn’t provide the option to install and track user behavior in an advanced way. At most, these sites typically only let you know how many visitors went to your blog in a given day. When you host your own site, you can install much more powerful analytic programs that help you to get a real feel for who your readers are. This enables you to create custom content that your readers will enjoy.
Ultimately, the decision to host your own blog versus using a third-party platform comes down to choice and risk. If you just want to host a basic blog and have no ambitions to compete at the highest levels of the blogosphere, you can probably get by with a basic blog hosted by a third-party provider. If you want more control, and don’t want to be left out to dry if a third-party host goes under, you can host your own blog and make regular backups to preserve your blog.
How to Pick the Right Domain Name for Your Blog
It’s a battle to choose the right domain name for your website. It has to be easily remembered yet unique without being too long. There are a lot of rules when it comes to choosing the right domain name for your website and business.Read more
Try to choose a Dot-Com
Most customers and web surfers will use dot-com for their searches, so choose a domain name that is available with a dot-com address, not dot-info or dot-net. The average searcher doesn’t always know that there are variations available and will type in the dot-com, which will be a loss in traffic for you if that’s not your address.
Keep it Short and Sweet
The domain you ultimately choose should be short and easy to remember. It should be the minimum amount of letters while still holding true to your niche. Avoid hyphenated words and a long address.
Expectations and Uniqueness
While you don’t want to create a name so unique that nobody can remember the name of the blog, or how to spell it, the name should speak to your brand and your company specifically. When you say the name of a popular brand, you know exactly what to expect at the site. Brands like Blogspot let you know that this is the spot to blog. You want that association with whatever your niche and brand is and the blog name that you choose.
It can be tough to come up with a name that is remarkable and memorable in the sea of blog names and web addresses. It should reflect the personality of the blog while being descriptive and focused on the niche. The days of choosing a name and adding the word ‘best’ or ‘top’ in front of it are over. Be remembered for being unique and clever, not ordinary or a copycat.
Think about your favorite sites. Do the names roll off the tongue when you say them? Are they easy to remember and spell? These are the same things you need to consider when choosing your domain. Most names are simple, short and to the point. Often, they are clever too. Don’t be afraid to let the personality of your blog show through in the name.
You can register domains
- With your Hosting Provider
Choosing a web hosting provider for your blog
Whether you are a start-up or an established business, having a blog accessible to your audience at all times is necessary. Your blog should be accessible to visitors 24/7/365.
There are many types of web hosting services including shared, VPS and dedicated hosting. The former involves hosting multiple clients on one physical server while in the latter, each customer gets exclusive access to his own server. Each hosting service has its advantages and disadvantages. While shared hosting is an affordable option, it does not offer the security of dedicated hosting.Read more
Below are a few things to look for:
• Find out how many blogs and websites are sharing the server with you. Traffic from many sites can slow down your blog. Find out how many sites share the same server with other web hosting services to give you room for negotiation.
• Investigate the customer support offered by the company. The best web hosting firms offer 24-hour customer support and offer speedy replies to customers’ queries. Avoid sites that charge for customer service.
• Rates can vary between service providers. Most providers offer different types of web hosting packages to accommodate the needs of different customers. In general, the more expensive a web hosting package is, the more it offers in terms of space, additional services and bandwidth.
• Investigate bandwidth and limits. Have a strategic growth plan for your bog. The amount of space you need is determined by the nature of your site. However, be sure to give your blog space to grow.
• Look for web hosting services that facilitate blog maintenance. Choose web-based administration if you are not familiar with basic housekeeping.
• Look for web hosting services that offer FTP access to facilitate editing of scripts and uploading of files.
• Understand the host’s e-mail services and make sure they accommodate your email needs. Some web hosting services offer POP mailboxes, while others offer aliases that redirect mail to existing mail accounts.
• Look for web hosting services that offer Secure Socket Layers (SSL) security if you will be conducting business through your blog. This will facilitate safe transfer of credit card information.
• Find out if the web hosting service offers special features such as anonymous FTP, email auto replying, statistical data maintenance and mailing list management.
• Find out if the web hosting service is compatible with the blogging platform you are using. All web hosting services can support basic HTML websites. However, not all can support content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress or web applications that require specific scripting and back-end technologies. Confirm with you web host if they can support such technologies.
Hosting Services We Recommend
Web Hosting Hub – have been great to deal with when it comes to domain registration and hosting. I’ve had a really good experience for several years which is why I continue to renew my service as well as introduce their services to more of my clients. They have packages starting at just a few dollars per month which means it is easy to get started blogging with minimal investment.
Heart Internet – are a UK based web host and while they are not quite as cheap as Web Hosting Hub they offer very good customer service and if a UK hosting provider is something you are looking for I highly recommend them.
WP Engine – WP Engine are specialists at WordPress hosting. WP Engine offers a full service WordPress package, they will run any security updates, make regular backups and help to improve the speed and performance of your site. This means that their pricing is a lot more expensive but it takes a lot of the technical hassle away from you.
How to Set Up a WordPress Blog Manually with FTP
Today, WordPress is the most popular CMS (content management system) on the internet.
It allows you to easily set up flexible blogs and websites on top of a MySQL backend with PHP processing. WordPress has seen incredible adoption and is a great choice for getting a new site up and running quickly.
This tutorial will guide you through installing WordPress, manually, for the first time on an apache server with cPanel. You should be able to run through this entire process in less than 10 minutes if you have all the correct tools and passwords to hand.
For this installation you will need:
- A FTP solution such as Filezilla
- A hosting account with cPanel access
- A web browser
Step 1 – Download WordPress
To start you need to go to the WordPress download page and grab the most up to date version of WordPress from their official website.
Step 2 – Upload the Files to your Server
You want to unzip the files you just downloaded and using your FTP program upload them on to your server. Alternatively you can upload them via cPanel -> File Manager -> Upload file(s).
If you want to install WordPress on to the main domain, then you want to install it in your /public_html/ directory. If you want it in a subfolder, then upload it in a sub-folder such as blog i.e. /public_html/blog/
Step 3- Create a New Database in MySQL
Now that you have uploaded all the files via FTP you want to log in to your cPanel account and create a new database with the MySQL Wizard.
- Add in your database name and click next
- Add in your database username (make sure you have a very strong password)
- Add users to the database and click “All Privileges”
- Keep a note of the values of hostname, username, databasename, and the password you chose for your new database
Step 4 - Follow the WordPress 5 minute Installation Wizard
Now that your database is installed and the files are uploaded to your server you need to go to navigate to your domain in your browser.
You should see a screen like this
Click the create a configuration file button and fill in the database information you wrote down earlier.
WordPress will now check if your settings are correct. If you have entered all the necessary information, you will see a confirmation screen.
Press the Run the Install button to proceed.
Once that has done you need to fill in the username, password and email address for your new blog. Avoid using admin as your username and try to use strong passwords to prevent people from hacking your new website.
Now hit Install WordPress and your new blog will be ready in a few seconds!
What Key Pages Should Your Blog Have
One of the most impacting ways to improve the overall experience and functionality of your blog is by ensuring that you have the ideal pages set-up. One area that many bloggers fail in is building great site navigation and providing pages that are designed to enhance the user experience and build the strength of the blog as whole.
When you are thinking about what pages you should add to your blog, it is a good idea to walk a few blocks in the shoes of your readers. Think about your target audience and ask yourself, what would they be interested in seeing?
Since providing high quality relevant content is extremely important, it is a good idea to determine what type of content would best suite them Read more
We believe that the following blog pages are a key part to a strategic approach at effectively engaging readers while strengthening your brand and positioning your blog in your particular market, whatever that may be.
1. The About Page
The “About” page is vital to the overall success and continuity of any blog. This is especially the case when you have organic traffic arriving on your site. This means that someone conducted a search and your site popped up in the search results. When these people land on your site, they need to have a quick way of determining exactly what your blog is about and how it will benefit them. The “About” page does that.
2. The Bio or My Story Page
This page is extremely important as well. It allows the reader to effectively connect and identify with you and/or your company. It also presents a powerful branding opportunity. Connectivity goes a long way in building the relationship that will lead to reader loyalty.
3. Squeeze Pages
These are the pages that you send people to in order to present the opportunity for them to sign up for your newsletter or updates from your blog. This is an extremely important element of your blog because it is one of the best ways of building repeat readership.
4. Thanks for Subscribing
Make sure that you have a page to send your readers to when they subscribe to updates from your page. This is another way to effective connect and make their experience on your site more personal. Remember, this entire process is about building relationships
5. The Press Page
A press page can be a vital part of your traffic building process. As a general rule, the more mentions, write ups and interviews that you receive the more visitors you will receive. A press page is also a great source of social proof.
6. The Confirmation Page
When a person’s subscribes to your site, they will receive an email with a confirmation link. When they click that link to confirm, you have the option of allowing them to go to the default page of your email service provider or sending them back to your site to thank them personally. It is best to send them back to your site. It further enhances the personal experience and you can often persuade them to follow you on social media or give them an unexpected bonus.
7. Already Subscribed Page
This progression of pages may seem somewhat redundant, but the subscription process is an extremely important element of building a successful blog. There will be times in which a reader will forget that they have already subscribed to your blog or newsletter and will attempt to do it again. An “Already Subscribed” page will help prevent duplicate subscriptions.
8. Comparisons Page
This page is used to promote other services that are relevant to the content that you present on this blog. This will also allow you to have an opportunity to promote services and products for which you will be paid affiliate commissions.
This is another valuable asset for your readers. This is where you will present additional resources that will help your readers. This will add value to your page and provide motivation for your readers to return. Update this page regularly.
10.Contact Me Page
Every site should have contact page that makes it easy for visitors to leave messages and inquiries. This is yet another way to improve the experience of the reader.
11. Archive Pages
As you add more content, your older posts will be moved from the post page. An archive page will allow visitors to go back and read your older posts. This means that everything you post will remain relevant.
12. Favorite Posts
This is where you will be able to showcase your favorite and top performing post. This will allow you to showcase your best work.
13. Custom 404 Page
Over time pages will be deleted or change URI’s to prevent users landing on a generic 404 page and leaving the site setup a custom 404 page that will help them get back on track.
If you are earning any type of revenue on your page, it is a legal requirement that you present a disclaimer that expressing this. There are a number of free services that will draft a legal earnings disclaimer for you.
15. Products and Consulting Page
If you offer any type of product or consulting service, you want to provide easy and clear access to an explanation of those products and services
Adding these pages to your site will help improve the overall user experience of those who visit your site as well as increase the overall functionality and effectiveness of your blogging experience. Keep in mind that the rules and trends surrounding blogging are consistently changing. Having the ability to adapt to those changes will go a long way in ensuring the success of your blog.
How to Write Your First Blog Post
Now that you have installed your new WordPress website it is time to get down to writing your first blog post. It is important to take time to plan what topics youare going to write about and perhaps consider setting up an editorial calendar to help get you on track.
Create a Title for Your Blog Post
Once you have three to five keywords, combine them into a title. For example, the keywords “dog, training, classes, prices” gives you the necessary information to create a very specific title. A possible title might be, “Locating Price Conscious and Cost Effective Dog Training Classes.” Once you have a title, you are well on your way to getting that perfect blog post, and all it took was a little time searching for suggested keywords based on the mission and focus of your blog.
Once you have a title you can work with, you can start researching the title to find out possible angles that you can take. Get creative with your title, but make sure to use your keywords within the title. This accomplished three goals: A good title helps to keep you focused on the content for the blog post, it provides search engines with a keyword-rich title that accurately reflects your content and the content your readers are searching for.
Divide your article up into smaller subsections to ensure that your article doesn’t lose its focus. By creating subsections and planning out the outline for the article, you can ensure that the topic never loses its focus. Make sure that each subsection ties in with the title of the post. Use Google to find additional keywords to help narrow down the titles for your blog post. Once you have a title and appropriate subsections, the rest of the work is just research and creating suitable content for your blog. Spend some time creating your titles and subsections and you’ll find that the more you complete the process the easier it gets.
Topic Sentences That Reinforce Your Content
You’re almost ready to create your content. Now that you have a good title and appropriate subsections, you can start to work on an introductory sentence for each subsection. The introductory sentence needs to pull in the reader and provide them with an overview of what the subsection is going to contain.
Create a few drafts of this sentence and constantly relate it back to the subsection title and the main title for your blog. This helps you to stay focused and create content that doesn’t contain fluff or filler words just to meet a word count. If you create good subsections and interesting topic sentences, you’ll find that the article practically writes itself.
Rounding Off the Blog Post
Now that you have your title, subsections and introductory topic sentences for each section, you are ready to begin writing your content. Cite research to support your facts when necessary. Provide excellent value to your readers and you’ll be able to grow the number of visitors to your blog with each new post. If you can pull people in using highly targeted content and relevant keywords, you’ll find that people start sharing your blog posts and the readers may even start helping you come up with new ideas for additional blog posts in the comments.
Pay attention to your readers, listen to their thoughts and create content that allows your blog to thrive and surpass other blogs that don’t put as much effort into the creation of their content.