10 steps to your first blog post success
Ok, well spotted, I’m not an expert blogger or content marketer.
In fact, I only started this website a few months ago – but you already knew that, right?
Perhaps that’s a blessing in disguise.
When you’re about to start a new blog, don’t pretend you’re a know-it-all
For beginner basics, it’s best to take on board the pro bloggers’ tips and learn from them – that’s how I started my Website Journey.
Information’s much easier to use when it’s all in one place, and it’s easier to find the perfect gem to get your first blog post off the ground – especially when that great first blog post becomes a fascinating first blog post!
“fascinating” means “very interesting or appealing”
Here’s 10 easy steps for the beginner basics to first blog post success.
1. Enjoyment is key for a great first blog post
Before anyone else can enjoy reading your blog, you need to pick a topic that you’re going to enjoy writing about. If you don’t enjoy it and have much to say about it, then that’s what people notice and will likely stay away.
Choose a topic that you feel passionately about. You’ll know you’ve chosen the right one, when it’s no longer a boring job that needs doing. There’s no room for monotony if you’re creating a fascinating first blog post – we need to set our standards high from the outset.
Laugh, and the world laughs with you
2. Make your idea unique
People blog about every topic under the sun. So, there’s bound to be another blog, somewhere, that’s using the same topic as yours. The difference is that you’ll cover that topic from a different angle, in a more interesting way.
For example, if you’re going to write about fishing. Instead of writing about fishing generally, write about a fishing aspect or technique that’s personal to you. Perhaps include your own recommendations, expertise or tales of your adventures. After all, only you know your recommendations, can share your expertise, and have experienced your adventures.
That’s what’ll make a great first blog post original and stand out from the crowd.
Be unique… and therefore, fascinating
3. Plan your posts in advance
Blogs are ongoing. At least, that’s the aim. If you want to increase your audience and the main search engines’ interest in your site, then you need to regularly create new blog posts.
The more often you publish new posts, the more often the search engines crawl your website. If there’s no new content, then the search engines assume that’s unlikely to change any time soon, so they visit your website less often, which potentially lowers your ranking.
Unfortunately, the same applies to your audience. They’ll visit a few times but if there’s nothing new to read, they’ll assume your blog’s rarely updated and will swiftly move on. It’s sad but true – there’s no time for loyalty when there’s so many other “fish in the sea”.
So, you must plan your first blog post….. but you must also plan your second, third, fourth etc. You shouldn’t write a great first blog post, and only then realise you’ve got nothing else to write for your next blog post. Aim to continue the high standard – it needs to keep people interested.
It’s a good idea to always keep a notebook to hand. Jot down your blog post topics, headings and outline ideas throughout the day. Don’t throw out any of the ideas yet – some may provide off-shoots for other topics which you can use later on.
Plan for tomorrow, today
4. How many posts is “enough”?
How often should you create new content? There’s no “one size fits all”. Every website is different, and the post frequency that works for one, may not work for the other.
Decide your niche topic and check out the main blogs in that category. How often are they publishing new posts? Use that frequency as your basis or eventual aim.
The majority of blogs aim to publish new posts between 1 to 3 times per week, and often regulate these into categories to help their audience know when to expect specific topics.
Realistically, your blogging frequency depends on your lifestyle too. Not everyone has the time to blog as often as they’d wish. In which case, just publish posts as often as you can – something is better than nothing, as long as it’s not just fillers and waffle.
If you find yourself in this predicament, you should at least aim to make your post super interesting, informative, and long enough to be of use, so that it’s helpful to the reader and doesn’t waste their time.
If you’re a one-man-band, don’t feel that you have to keep up with the pro bloggers’ publishing time-frame. Very often, they have other people working with them to help find topics and draft the blog posts.
Create your first blog post as you intend to go on and, unless it’s meant to be a bite-sized post, aim for a good average of about 1,000+ words. That should be sufficient if you’re only publishing new content three to four times a month.
If you’re writing about 3,000 to 4,000 words for each blog post, then once or twice a month is fine for your regular audience – unless it’s a very specific niche that requires full detail on a regular basis.
You’ll soon find out how much detail your audience prefers from the amount of traffic and comments you receive.
However, be aware that if your target audience hasn’t found you yet, then publishing few or irregular posts may negatively affect your search engine rating and lower your general audience traffic.
Read your website statistics via Google Analytics and you’ll notice what works and what doesn’t, and which posts are getting the most traffic. Follow the Google Analytics results, adapt your blog as needed, and it’ll increase your website traffic.
Your target audience and lifestyle commitments determine how often you post new content
5. Start your blog post with a bang
Michael Pollock of www.michaeldpollock.com suggests 10 ways to make a blog post start with a bang:
- short and direct
- multiple choice
- shocking fact or statistic
- something personal
- withhold compelling information until later
- debunk conventional wisdom
- a success story
- a reader’s question
- bonus tip: a quote
Any of these would be great to use when creating your fascinating first blog post.
For more of Michael’s ideas, follow on twitter @michaeldpollock
Grab your readers’ attention from the outset
6. Chat, don’t command
I soon noticed that other bloggers wrote in a chatty style which came across as friendly and informative. This was a total WOW moment for me – I’d recently started my website by writing product and technology reviews which I still love to do, but it meant that my writing style was quite formal. I’d not even considered how the posts sounded to the outside world as I thought it was just a case of giving out the facts. I know, not ideal – so don’t you get caught in the same trap!
Rather than leave my posts as originally published, I revisited them all and re-drafted the wording for a more appealing read.
Don’t be stuffy and school essay-ish – just write as if you were telling your friend the story. Unusual expressions, funny jokes, amazing facts and interesting memories can all work together to make your fascinating first blog post an original, great first blog post.
Oh, and remember to always check and double-check your grammar and spelling – that’s definitely one of the beginner’s basics to first blog post success. You’d be surprised how often people notice.
A helpful tool, that’s also a good plumb line to use whilst you learn to make your blog post easier to read, is the Flesch Reading Ease rating.
The higher the rating, the easier your blog post can be understood by all ages and levels of intelligence:
- For the top 100 rating, your average sentence can be understood by a young school child. The average sentence consists of a maximum of 12 words with each word being no more than two syllables
- A rating of 65 means that you’ve written in Plain English, with an average sentence of 15 to 20 words long
- A rating of 30 means that it’s a little hard to read with sentences of mostly 25 words
- A rating between 0 and 29 means your blog post is very hard to read
Although the Flesch Reading Ease rating is a useful guideline, it’s obviously not human and can’t distinguish between different styles, such as an anecdotal blog or a scientific review. This means, for example, that every two-syllable word is judged the same, regardless of its meaning or daily use, and that it doesn’t take into account your blog’s context.
Shorter sentences make your blog easier to read
7. Climb the ranks and use SEO
Search engine optimization is also known as SEO and helps your website get a favourable search engine ranking. A quick way of explaining how to make your blog post SEO compliant, is that you need to use keywords (words which you’d like someone to use when looking for your post in a search engine) in your main heading, content and meta description. You should also include them in your image descriptions and alt tags, and when possible, link to and from other reputable websites/your own posts.
It’s not a case of stuffing your blog post full of keywords, but there needs to be a few of the same keywords throughout your post so that your topic is clear to search engines.
It’s more important that your post is interesting and makes sense to the reader – which it won’t if it’s full of repetitive words.
It could take a while for you to compete effectively with large websites (which rank one word keywords) or to become an authority in your niche. Therefore, for your first blog post and probably quite a few others, your keywords should be a short phrase (aka a long tail keyword) relevant to your blog topic. This basically means that when someone types a phrase (ie, your long tail keyword) into the search engine, they’re more likely to find your website, whereas if they only typed in one word of that phrase, it’s doubtful your website would show up in the results.
There’s more chance of the search engine ranking your post well for a long tail keyword, as there’s less competition from the larger websites.
Blogs are rarely overnight success stories
8. Images will make your first blog post “POP”
Images will make your blog post more appealing to both your audience and the search engines. They could make or break your first blog post – will it just be “another” first blog post or a fascinating, great first blog post with interesting images to grab the reader’s attention?
Once you decide to use images, either use your own or download them from websites that specifically allow for commercial use. Remember, your website is commercial if you’re planning to or are already making money from it (even if it’s just affiliate marketing).
Always fill in the image alt tags using keywords, but also helpful words that briefly describe the image. The alt tag is not only used by the search engines to “read” and rank your images, but they’re also used by automated screen readers, and shown if the image doesn’t load on a web browser.
Pixabay and StockSnap are a couple of the websites providing free images released under the Creative Commons CCo licence. The CCo licence means that the image owners have waived their copyright and you’re allowed to use and adapt the images for commercial use, without attributing the original author or source. You’ll see that the websites state that the photos are free for commercial use and free from copyright with no attribution required – but that doesn’t include the top row of each Pixabay image category, which is sponsored payable content by Shutterstock.
The images you choose are just as important as the words you use
9. Social media is the secret sauce to success
Now that you’ve written a great first blog post, you need to advertise it. You can either pay to advertise your blog, wait for the search engines and people to find you, or use free social media.
If you’re not yet part of the social media world, now’s the time to join. At this stage, there’s no need to join them all, as it may be too much of a learning curve if you’re short on spare time. Instead, for now, pick one that you feel comfortable joining, interact with others, and start linking to your posts. This should be well-balanced with interaction, mentioning other topics of interest, and linking to other people’s articles. People on social media like it when you’re not just self-promoting. They’re more willing to follow your profile if you have something worthwhile to share.
For a beginner blogger without a social media following, it can take a while to build up the trust to appeal to the masses. I’d never used social media before starting my website and had to start from scratch. I chose to start with Twitter (@PeasOnToastMrsP). I’ve learned that by continually posting your own content, interacting, and sharing other people’s tweets or website content, that your followers gradually increase.
Don’t be tempted to buy social media followers as you’re invariably buying stolen accounts. You’d be encouraging the black market, only to be out-of-pocket and gain inactive followers. It’s totally not worth considering.
A high number of followers is great, but pointless if they’re not your target audience
10. Learn from experience
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in starting my website, it’s that there’s so much to learn and find out about… and we’re bound to make mistakes along the way. But, that’s what we learn from, right?
Let me know how you get on with your first blog post. How often have you decided to publish new posts? Experienced bloggers – what tips would you recommend for a first blog post?
Note: this article is intended to be a general resource only.