HOW TO RESEARCH YOUR BLOG COMPETITORS

HOW TO RESEARCH YOUR BLOG COMPETITORS

So, you want to improve your blog, right? DUH! Who doesn’t, am I right? And did you know that you can use competitor analysis to your advantage and improve your blog?

Before I go even further, I’d like to put a disclaimer here. I’m using the word “competitors” with a bit of cringe here. You see, in blogging your competitors are not exactly your competitors. Blogging is a collaborative activity.

Think about other bloggers in your niche as colleagues. You’re all in the same boat. Network with them and support each other. You’ll see that this is a recurring theme throughout this article.

That being said, I’ll tell you exactly how to research your blog competitors, how to identify them, what to look for when analyzing your blog competitors, and what to do with the information you’ve gathered.

 

 

What is blog competitor analysis?

Competitor analysis is the assessment of your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, audience, promotional strategies, and monetization methods.

The goal of the competitor analysis is to find out what other bloggers in your niche are doing and how you can do it better or differently.

Blog competitor analysis

 

When to do competitor analysis?

Ideally, you should start identifying who your competitors are before you start your blog. That being said, competitor research is an ongoing process. It takes more than an afternoon.

IMPORTANT: Don’t get caught up in your competitor analysis. It’s very easy to start comparing yourself to the other bloggers in your niche. After all, bloggers in your niche are not really your competition, but more like your colleagues.

RECOMMENDED READING: 12 Things You Need to do Before You Start Building Your Blog

 

Why do you need to research your competition?

Your competitor analysis will help you determine:

  • Information about your target audience
  • How your competitors are driving traffic to their blogs
  • Identify gaps in the market
  • How you can monetize your blog
  • How you can differentiate yourself from your competition
  • It’s also a crucial step before you brand your blog

It will also allow you to create a more effective marketing and selling strategy.

You’ll also find out where your target audience hangs out. You see, your competitors are where your target audience is.

Identifying your competitors will also help you find bloggers to guest post with.

 

Who should you consider as your blog competitors?

Well, everyone in your niche is your competitor. Does that mean you have to analyze every single blog in your niche?

No!

Not every single blog in your niche is written for the same audience you are trying to attract.

Let’s say you are starting a blog productivity tips for stay at home moms.

A blog about productivity tips for business owners might be considered your competition as some of the tips probably will be similar, and some of the stay at home moms might be business owners.

That being said, focus on analyzing other blogs about productivity tips for stay at home moms.

 

How many competitors to analyze?

It depends on the size of your niche.

But I’d say that identifying 5 to 10 blogs that are close to what your blog is about, is a good amount to aim for.

There’s no need to analyze every single blog in your niche.

 

how to research your blog competitors

 

How to research your blog competitors

One thing before we dive into how to perform your blog competitor analysis: How long have they been blogging for?

You see, I genuinely don’t want you to get caught up and start comparing yourself. It most likely took them years to get where they are now. So, don’t expect yourself to get where they are now in a few weeks or even months.

 

1. Identify who your competitors are

First things first, you need to identify who your competitors are.

 

Where to find your blog competitors?

Google

The easiest way to find your competitors is to do a simple Google search. Just look up your niche and the keywords you are most interested in and see what comes out.

You can also Google round-ups of the best blogs in your niche. This will help you identify the big names in your niche. Just look up “blogs about >your niche<”.

 

Social media

I guarantee you that your competitors are on social media. Just look up your niche on different social channels, and once again, see what comes out.

You see, not every single blog is going to be included in those “best blogs about…” round-ups. I’ve found most of my competitors on Pinterest, for example.

Join different social media channels. I’d say that Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are the best ones.

On Facebook, don’t forget to join groups in your niche.

 

Think outside of the box

Google and social media isn’t where it all ends.

Are your competitors replying to questions on sites such as Reddit or Quora?

Are they submitting their articles to Medium? Do they have a following there?

 

If you’ve read my guide to defining your target audience, you’ve probably noticed that in terms of the places where you can find your competitors and target audience, they are pretty much the same.

Well, of course!

As I mentioned earlier, your competitors are where the audience is.

 

2. Analyze your competitors’ websites

Don’t forget to look at your competitor’s website as a whole.

Those are some of the questions to ask when assessing the websites:

  • What is the structure of the website?
  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • Or is the website so cluttered that you can’t find anything?
  • What pages do they have on their blog?
  • Can you even find them?
  • What’s the whole web design like?
  • Are they using contrasting colors?
  • Or is it difficult to read anything?
  • What does the layout look like?
  • When you first entered the website, did it load fast?

NOTE: You can analyze your competitors’ websites on both desktop and mobile devices as those two versions will most likely look a bit different.

 

3. Analyze your competitor’s branding

Your competitors’ logos, color palettes, and fonts won’t probably tell you much though.

Pay closer attention to their tagline and mission statement.

If they don’t state that on their homepage, it’s definitely going to be mentioned in the about page.

If they took the time to write a good about me page, you’ll find valuable information there. You’ll know exactly who they are trying to target.

 

4. Analyze your competitors’ content

You need to analyze their content and content strategy.

  • Are they using long-form or short-form content?
  • Are they using other types of content such as video, podcast, infographics, etc.?
  • How often are they posting new content?
  • What does the content look like?
  • What’s their writing tone?
  • What’s their engagement?
  • Are people commenting, liking, and sharing the content?

 

Have a look at your competitors’ social media channels as well.

  • What kind of content are they uploading?
  • Do they have a community of some sort?
  • A Facebook group?
  • What kind of posts are they sharing in the Facebook group?

 

Subscribe to their email lists. Pay attention to their lead magnets.

  • What are those lead magnets?
  • What other content are they sending to their email list?
  • How often?
  • What do their opt-ins look like?
  • And what about their landing pages?

 

5. Analyze your competitors’ promotional and marketing strategies

Of course, every blogger promotes their blog somehow. You need to know how.

  • Where do your competitors promote their blogs?
  • Which social media channels are they using?
  • Are they also writing for other publications?
  • Are they active on sites such as Reddit or Quora?
  • How are they trying to capture email list subscribers?
  • What products/services/freebies are they offering?
  • How are they marketing them?

 

6. Analyze your competitors’ audiences

The easiest way to do it is to read through your competitors’ comments sections. Then go back to their social media channels and have a look at their subscribers and followers.

  • What are they commenting?
  • What do they like about your competitor’s content?
  • What are their audiences struggling with?

Look at the demographics.

  • Are their followers predominantly men or women?
  • What ages are they?
  • Where do they live?

 

7. Analyze your competitors’ SEO

  • What keywords are your competitors ranking for?
  • Have you seen your competitors appearing in rich snippets?
  • How many backlinks do they have?
  • What’s the dofollow/nofollow ratio?
  • Where those backlinks come from?

To be completely honest with you, SEO is not exactly my forte. But I found this guide to SEO competitor analysis from Moz. It’s an amazing guide, so if you want to analyze your competitors’ SEO, definitely check it out.

 

8. Analyze their web traffic

There’s no way you can see exactly how much traffic your competitors are generating.

What you can do though, is to look at their engagements. The number of comments their blog posts are getting can get you an idea.

If they’re using social sharing buttons, you might be able to see the number of shares.

Don’t forget to check out their followers, likes, comments, etc. on their social media. No, any of this data won’t tell you exactly how much traffic someone is getting to their blog.

To get a clearer idea, use a tool such as SimilarWeb.

 

9. Analyze how they are monetizing their blogs

Now, we’ll have a look at how your competitors are monetizing their blogs. Just a simple scroll down will tell you if they’re monetizing their blog with display ads.

If you read through some of their blog posts and see affiliate disclosures, you know that they are making money with affiliate marketing.

But let’s go even further.

Are they offering consulting services? You’ll most likely find out if they make money with coaching or consulting if they have a work with me/services page.

Are they selling digital products? Or even physical products? If so, what kind of products are they?

Use the information you find to determine how you can create a new original product.

 

 

Tools to research your blog competitors

Here’s a short and sweet list of blog competitor analysis tools that will make the whole process a lot easier for you. The majority of those tools are paid, but all of them have a free version or at least a free trial.

 

Google

Google is going to be your best friend when conducting your blog competitor analysis. After all, you need to first find your competitors, right?

Google search

 

SimilarWeb

With SimilarWeb, you can compare your traffic volume, ranking, referral sources, and more to your competitors’ websites. You can also see insights into the visitors of the website.

SimilarWeb is a paid tool, but they offer a free trial where you can see 5 results per metric, one month of mobile app data, and three months of web traffic data.

SimilarWeb

 

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo will tell you what the most popular articles on your competitors’ blogs are, as well as worldwide trends in any niche and any topic you like. You can also use this tool to find popular topics to create content.

BuzzSumo is a paid tool, but they offer a limited free version which provides you with 10 searches per month.

 

Moz and MozBar

Moz is an all-in-one SEO analysis tool. Apart from being able to see your ranking keywords, backlinks, and lots more, it also has a feature where you can see your competitors.

Moz also has a Chrome extension called MozBar, when you can see your competitors’ page authorities, domain authorities, and links on the go.

Moz is a paid tool, but they offer a 30-day free trial.

 

 

 

SEMrush

On SEMrush, you can perform an SEO audit of your own blog as well as your competitors’ keyword strategies.

SEMrush is a paid tool, but they offer a 7-day trial.

SEMrush

 

Ubersuggest

Apart from being a keyword research tool, you can also use Ubersuggest to analyze your competition. You can see estimated domain traffic, ranking keywords, most popular blog posts, and more.

Ubersuggest is a free tool.

Ubersuggest

 

 

What to do after you’ve analyzed your blog competitors?

You could gather the information you’ve collected, and create a document. But I have a different suggestion for you.

Now that you know who your competitors are, connect with them, and support each other.

Yes, running a blog is like running a business. In fact, it is running a business. But in blogging, you grow with your competitors.

You all have different messages, reasons why you started your blogs, who you want to help, and how you want to help your readers. All of you have different approaches and have different ways of how you appeal to your readers.

Network with your competitors and support each other. 

You can learn a whole lot from your competitors, and they can learn a whole lot from you.

 

Conclusion

Competitor research is a long-term process. It takes time to identify who your competitors are, what they are doing, what their strategies are, etc.

Don’t get caught up and start comparing yourself. It’s for analytical purposes only. The goal of blog competitor analysis is to identify your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, strategies, and how you can do them differently and better.

That being said, your blog competitors are also your friends. You grow together. Identify your competitors, connect with them, and support each other.

 

RECOMMENDED READING:
How to Start a Blog
How to Plan Your Blog Before You Launch It

 

Featured image courtesy of Pexels via Andrea Piacquadio

 

HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT NICHE FOR YOUR BLOG

HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT NICHE FOR YOUR BLOG

One of the biggest issues new bloggers face is finding a niche for their blogs. Is that your case as well?

You decided to start a blog but now the question pops in your head: what to blog about?

How to find the right niche for your blog? That’s the question that’s been occupying your mind, am I right?

Don’t worry, because today I’ll tell you how to find the right niche for your blog and what to do if you’re interested in blogging about multiple niches.

 

 

What is a niche?

A niche is the topic of your blog. It’s what you are going to be writing about.

 

Does your blog need a niche?

Yes, your blog does need a niche if you want to attract an engaged audience and eventually monetize it. Your audience needs to know what to expect from your blog.

Remember that if you’re trying to reach everyone, you’ll reach no one.

 

Things to consider when picking a blog niche

To find the right niche for your blog, there are several things to consider:

 

#1 Consider your interests

You should be blogging about something that interests you. It’s going to take time until you see some kind of return on your blog. If you pick the wrong niche, you might give up before your primetime comes.

I see the word “passion” being thrown a lot regarding choosing a blog niche. To be completely fair, I don’t think you have to be passionate about your niche.

Instead of focusing on your passions, think about what you’d like to write about. You’ll most likely find that you have a lot of interests. But which one of those interests would you like to write about?

How long have you been interested in this topic?

If you’ve just picked this niche because it’s popular and profitable, you won’t last long. Ideally, you should pick a niche you’ve been interested in for a while.

You can start a blog on something you would enjoy learning about and document your journey. The issue might be that a few months into blogging, you might find out that you don’t enjoy that topic as much as you thought you would.

 

#2 Consider your knowledge

Interests are one thing, but what you know about that topic is also important. You see, blogging and teaching are very connected. Think about any blog. Chances are that the blog is teaching something. If not, they are just sharing information about something, right?

To share good-quality information and build trust with your audience, you need to know your niche.

 

Can you start a blog when you’re not an expert?

You don’t have to be an expert in your niche to start a blog. You need to know more than your audience. Be honest about your level of knowledge with your audience. Your blog can target a type of audience that knows less than you about the topic.

 

Do you need the education to teach this subject?

That being said, some niches will require you to have a formal education. For example, if you want to start a blog where you’re going to be giving some medical or dietary advice, you should have an education.

 

What to do if you want to start a blog about a niche you don’t know a lot about?

There are two ways to go about it:

I. Start the blog and document your journey of learning your niche

There’s something powerful about documenting journeys. It also builds trust because your audience will be able to follow your journey from the beginning.

II. Take some time to learn about the niche

What if you took a few months to learn as much as you can about your niche?

This approach doesn’t apply to all niches. Not all niches can be learned like that. If you can take some time to learn about your niche, definitely do that. You might even find that you’re not as interested in the niche as you previously thought.

And that’s okay. You can always pick a different niche.

For me, I’ve always wanted to try archery. Perhaps it’s my obsession with The Lord of The Rings and elves that draws me so much to archery.

But I’ve never had the chance to try it.

I haven’t done the market research, but it might be a great profitable niche I might enjoy writing about. Not too broad, but also fairly popular if I found the right audience.

If I took some time to learn archery, I might be able to write about it.

 

#3 Consider the popularity and demand

Is there an audience for your niche?

You could be writing the most amazing blog about shoe boxes. But how many people are that interested in shoe boxes to read a blog about them?

To check if your niche is popular, you can do a simple Google search. Google your niche and see what comes out. If there are lots and lots of results, your niche is popular. This way, you can also start identifying your competitors.

The more specific way to do that is to come up with a primary keyword that describes your niche and look it up in a tool such as WordTracker. It will give you a list of suggested keywords with a monthly search volume.

You can also check Google Trends to see if your niche is on an incline, decline, or whether the popularity is stagnant.

IMPORTANT: Don’t choose a non-competition niche. It might be easy for you to dominate that niche. The thing is that there is no demand for that niche.

 

#4 Consider the profitability

How to know if your niche is profitable? And what makes a niche profitable?

The profitability of a niche depends on its popularity. If your niche is popular, there’s a demand. Therefore, it’s most likely a profitable niche.

That being said, what makes a profitable niche is its audience. You need a paying audience. Is your audience willing to pay for the products and/or services you’ll be selling and/or recommending?

For example, if your target audience is broke college students, the answer is most likely no.

 

Profitable niches

I believe that almost any niche can be profitable if you choose the right audience to target.

However, Brandon Gaille researched blogging incomes and put together a list of the six most profitable niches:

  • Personal Finance
  • Marketing
  • Food
  • Lifestyle
  • Mommy
  • Travel

Blog niches by income

 

#5 Is the niche evergreen?

If you want to see success in your niche in the long run, you need to pick an evergreen niche.

What is an evergreen niche?

It’s a kind of niche that’s always in demand. It doesn’t rely on seasonal trends.

Don’t start a blog about trends. Do you think it would be wise to start a blog about fidget spinners? I don’t think so.

 

#6 Do you want to be associated with this niche?

You might have found a great niche you want to start your blog about. The problem is that you don’t want to be associated with it because it might cause you problems in your personal or professional life.

That’s understandable and okay. You can either start your blog completely anonymously, or you can pick a nickname you’re going to be using. You can create an animated picture of yourself or a character, and you can be using that as your profile picture across your social media.

 

How to find your blog niche

How do I choose a blog niche?

When choosing your niche, ask yourself those three questions:

  • What are my interests?
  • What can I teach?
  • What do I enjoy writing about?
  • Who do I want to help?

I believe that there are three ways of identifying your niche:

 

1. Based on your interests

The first way is based on identifying your interests and going from there.

 

I. Write down your interests

First things first, grab a pen and paper and write down all the interests you can think of. They don’t have to be too specific. You can just write down general topics.

Think about what you enjoy talking about.

 

II. Pick your favorites

After you’ve come up with a list of interests, look at your list and pick your favorites. Remove all interests you’re not that into.

 

III. Which one do you know the most about?

Now is the time to consider your expertise. I’m using the word “expertise” carefully here. I believe that you don’t have to be an expert in your niche, but let’s go with “expertise” for now.

Which one of those interests can you talk about for hours?

A great way to verify your knowledge is to write a list of possible blog post ideas. The more you can write, the better. I’d aim for at least 50 blog post ideas without researching them. Just grab a pen and paper, again, and write a list of ideas.

If you can’t come up with those fifty ideas, it’s an indication that this isn’t the best niche for you.

Look at the niches you’re left with. Which one are you confident about teaching? And which one would you enjoy writing about?

 

2. Based on your expertise

The second way is the first way but reversed. It’s based on identifying your expertise and going from there.

 

I. Think about what you can teach

Think about your knowledge you’ve gained throughout your life. Think about your studies and work experience. What can you teach?

Write a list of topics you’re confident teaching.

 

II. Which one are you interested in?

Sometimes what you can teach isn’t what you’re interested in. Look at your list, and once again, remove anything that you’re not that into.

Remember that blogging is for the long-run. You better enjoy what you’re doing.

 

3. Based on a specific audience

The third way is based on who you want to help.

Pick a specific group of people you’d like to help. What are they struggling with? What kind of blog would they find helpful? What kind of content would they enjoy?

 

What makes a great niche?

Your ideal niche is a combination of all three aspects I’ve mentioned – your interests, knowledge, and an audience you want to help.

Or even better, your ideal niche is a combination of your interests, your knowledge, and demand for the content you want to start creating, and the products you want to offer.

So, when you put together your interests and expertise, find the right audience to target. Find the audience that is interested in what you have to say.

how to find a niche for your blog BLOGOLOGY

 

After you’ve found your niche

1. Research your target audience

After you’ve identified who you want to help, you need to research those people.

  • Read your competitors’ blogs and read the comments their readers are leaving.
  • Create social media accounts and read comments on your competitors’ posts.
  • Join Facebook groups in your niche and pay attention to what the people there are asking.
  • Go to Quora, Reddit, and forums and pay attention to what’s being asked and discussed.

RECOMMENDED READING: How to Define Your Target Audience

 

2. Niche down

After you’ve identified your niche, it’s time to narrow it down. It might seem counterintuitive. Broad niches have larger audiences.

But it’s also going to be harder for you to establish your blog.

 

How to niche down?

I. Pick a specific aspect of your niche

Let’s say you want to start a blog on digital marketing.

There’s a lot that goes into digital marketing. You have SEO, PPC, social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, etc.

In this case, most of those sub-niches are still quite broad.

Look at social media marketing. Which social channel do you want to specialize in? Is it Facebook? Instagram? YouTube? LinkedIn?

 

II. Pick a specific audience

You can also niche down by targeting a specific audience. Let’s say you want to start a blog on Facebook marketing. But Facebook marketing to whom?

You see, the advice might look a little different for big corporations than for an Etsy shop owner.

 

III. Make your blog as unique as possible

Perhaps no matter how much you niche down, your niche is still too competitive. That’s not a bad thing at all! But, you’ll have to think about how you’re going to differentiate yourself.

Do all the blogs in your niche look kind of similar? Great! Do something different!

  • Make your blog load super fast.
  • Make your blog easy to navigate.
  • Write your blog posts differently than your competitors.
  • Include a short story into each of your blog posts.
  • If you’re a graphic designer, include graphics throughout your blog posts.
  • Add a few aspects to your blog your competitors are not using.

That being said, don’t go too overboard. Adding too many aspects to your blog might end up being overwhelming and might even put off your visitors.

 

What if you want to blog about more than one topic?

Perhaps you have a lot of interests and can’t pick just one to blog about.

There are two ways to go about it:

 

1. Start multiple blogs

You can either start several blogs, each on a specific topic.

I don’t recommend this approach if you want to start all of them at once. It would be too overwhelming for you.

Instead, you can start the first blog, grow it, then start a second one, grow it, and so on.

 

2. Start a multi-niche blog

At first, I was against multi-niche blogs. But I’m seeing more and more people starting multi-niche blogs and being successful with them.

The secret to starting a successful multi-niche blog? The niches have to be connected in some way.

Let me show you what I mean on an example. Have a look at Gathering Dreams. Sara’s blog is about making money online, traveling, and healthy eating. Which is a kind of lifestyle many people want to live. That’s why similar blogs are called lifestyle blogs.

If you want to start a lifestyle blog, you have to keep in mind that your target audience is going to be someone interested in all the niches you’re writing about.

You don’t necessarily have to start a lifestyle blog if you want to write about multiple niches.

Another example of a successful multi-niche blog (and YouTube channel), that’s not a lifestyle blog, is Project Life Mastery. Stefan blogs and vlogs about online business and self-development.

Some niches work very well together. Think digital photography and editing, for example. Or gardening and crafts.

 

Still can’t find a blog niche?

Are you still lost even after reading this?

Now, do you feel like you can’t find a niche for your blog because:
a) You have too many interests
b) You have no interests you’d like to write about
c) You don’t have the experience to write about a topic

I go through all of these in Still Can’t Find a Niche For Your Blog?

 

Key Takeaways

Finding the right niche for your blog is the very first, and probably the most important step you need to do when starting a blog.

Your perfect niche is a combination of your interests, expertise, and demand for that niche.

Yes, you can start a multi-niche blog, but the topics have to be connected.

If this is your first blog you want to start, look into your interests and go from there.

After you’ve picked your blog niche, you can move one and choose a name for your blog.

What’s been your main struggle when finding your blog niche? Let me know!

 

RECOMMENDED READING:
12 Things You Need to do Before You Start Building Your Blog
How to Plan Your Blog
How to Brand a Personal Blog

 

Featured image courtesy of Pexels via Bongkarn Thanyakij

 

HOW TO DEFINE A TARGET AUDIENCE FOR YOUR BLOG IN 3 STEPS

HOW TO DEFINE A TARGET AUDIENCE FOR YOUR BLOG IN 3 STEPS

You want to start a blog, right? You’ve heard that you should write content your audience wants to read. But how do you know who your audience is?

And what is a target audience in the first place? Why do you need to define your target reader? And how to define a target audience for your blog?

Today, I’ll answer all those questions and more. I’ll tell you why it’s important to define your target reader before you start a blog, how to define your target audience, how to find them, and what to do after you’ve found them.

Identifying your target audience is a crucial step in starting a successful blog. Unfortunately, many bloggers skip this step. Defining and understanding your target reader is an ongoing process, but it’s also a crucial part of your success with blogging.

 

 

What is the target audience?

Target audience is a group of people with common characteristics you are trying to reach and attract to your blog.

Think about your target audience as the ideal readers of your blog. They are the people who are going to keep coming back to your blog, subscribe to your email list, and buy your products or services.

Anyone can read your blog and buy your products and services, but your target audience is your top priority.

 

Why is it important to identify your target audience?

Because everything you do on your blog should be done with your target audience in mind. From the branding of your blog, the type of content you publish, the way the content is written, when you publish new content, to where you are promoting your blog.

It’s also a crucial step you need to do before you brand your blog.

 

Benefits of identifying your target audience

  • You’ll know exactly who you are speaking to. The more specifically you know your target audience, the easier you can get in their minds and craft your content to their specific needs.
  • You can adjust the branding of your blog. First impressions matter and your branding can play a big role in whether the visitor leaves your blog straight away, read the whole blog post, and consider coming back.
  • You can create products based on their specific needs. If you know your target audience well, you’ll know exactly what type of paid product you’ll be offering to your readers.
  • You’ll be able to identify what the mission of your blog is.

 

When should you identify your target audience?

It’s important you identify your target audience at the very beginning. Ideally, before you even start building your blog. You’ll be able to implement effective marketing strategies from the very start.

RECOMMENDED READING: 12 Things You Need to do Before You Start Building Your Blog

 

How to define a target audience for your blog?

#1 Think about who your blog is for

What kind of audience would you like to attract? For now, basic information will be enough. Think about who your blog is going to be for. Who are you going to serve?

Let’s say you want to start a blog on productivity tips. Productivity tips for whom? Freelancers? Workers in the corporate fields? Students?

 

#2 Find your target audience

You need to think about where your target audience hangs out online. Where do they spend their time? Where are they looking for information? Where are they searching for solutions to their problems?

 

Where to find your target audience?

Google

When you are looking for a solution online, the first place you go to is a search engine, right?

 

Social media

Go through different social media channels and see if your audience is there. Go through the related posts, uploads, videos, hashtags, etc. If there’s a lot of them, your target audience is most likely there.

 

Facebook groups

There are Facebook groups dedicated to almost every topic out there. Join a few different Facebook groups in your niche. Don’t limit yourself to Facebook groups only. There are dedicated groups on other social channels as well.

 

Quora, Reddit, Forums

Quora is a questions/answers site. Reddit is a massive forum site.

These two sites are great to find what you target audience us struggling with.

 

Blog comments

Read blog posts on your niche and scroll down to the comments. Take note of their questions and struggles.

 

In general, sites, where questions are being asked, are a great place to find your target audience. Type in your niche and “forum” into Google.

 

NOTE: Where you can find your target audience depends on your niche. I can say that Pinterest is a great place to find your target audience. But the reality is that women tend to use Pinterest more than men. For that reason, if your target audience consists predominantly of men, Pinterest most likely won’t be the best place for you. Perhaps your target audience spends more time on LinkedIn than Pinterest.

 

#3 Create a target audience avatar

What is the target audience avatar?

It’s a semi-fictional profile of the ideal reader you want to attract to your blog.

When writing your target persona profile, you should consider their demographics and psychographics from what you’ve observed in your search.

 

What’s the difference between demographics and psychographics?

As HubSpot puts it, demographics explain who your target reader is. Psychographics explain why your target readers do what he or she does.

 

How to create a target audience avatar?

After you’ve researched your target audience, you should have some data to work with. Specifically, now you know where they hang out and what they are struggling with.

 

Questions to ask yourself when creating a target audience avatar:

  • How old are they?
  • What gender are they?
  • What is their marital status?
  • Where do they live?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • How much do they make?
  • Where they spend their time online?
  • What social media channels do they use?
  • What are their interests?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What are their goals?
  • What motivates them?
  • What are they struggling with?

 

In general, the more specific you can go with the profile, the better. That being said, in some of those aspects, you don’t have to be too detailed. For example, you don’t need to specify that your ideal reader is 26 years old. Let’s just say that your ideal reader is in their 20s.

 

Target audience profile example

This is an example target audience avatar for a minimalist lifestyle blog:

Jane is a single young lady living in New York. She’s 29 years old and makes a living as a freelance investment consultant. Her salary is $75,000 per year

She is interested in living with less and investing her money in experiences rather than material things. She wants to start decluttering her life so she can start traveling full-time but doesn’t know where to start. She owns too much stuff and the amount of it overwhelms her. She’s also attached to quite a few of her items and can’t imagine getting rid of them.

In her free time, Jane goes to bars with her friends, reads self-help books about the minimalist lifestyle, watches travel vlogs on YouTube, and reads decluttering tips on Pinterest.

 

IMPORTANT: When defining your target audience persona, keep their profitability in mind. If you want to make money blogging, you have to be selling something. But it doesn’t matter what you’re selling if your target audience doesn’t have the money to buy your products. For example, broke college students are most likely not the most profitable market.

 

Can you have more than one target audience avatars?

Yes, and you should. It’s called target audience segmentation.

 

What is the target audience segmentation?

It’s the process of identifying subgroups in your target audience. You can segment your target audience based on their demographics, but also based on their stage of the buyer’s journey.

You’ll find that apart from your ideal target audience, you might also attract people who don’t fit into your description completely. By identifying sub-groups within your target audience, you’ll be able to create content to fit the needs of all your readers.

 

What is the buyer’s journey?

The buyer’s journey, or the sales funnel, are the stages your target audience goes through from first encountering your blog to buying your products. According to HubSpot, the stages are awareness, consideration, and decision.

 

As your blog grows and you have products to sell, you’ll most likely create other avatars to correspond with different stages of the buyer’s journey.

The most basic avatar is someone who you are just trying to attract.

The second avatar is the person who already knows about your blog, but you want to turn them into a regular reader.

The third person is considering purchasing your product.

As a blogger, you will be attracting people in different stages of the buyer’s journey and you should adjust your content based on that. Ideally, when you’re writing a blog post, you should decide beforehand which stage it is written for.

When you are first starting out, write just one avatar. As your blog grows and you release your own products or services, you’ll create more target audience avatars.

 

 

What to do after you’ve defined your target audience?

Now that you know who your target audience is and where to find them, you need to attract them to your blog.

 

#1 Consider the branding of your blog

Based on the data you’ve collected; you can now write your mission statement. That’s a short sentence that summarizes what the main purpose of your blog is.

Think about the colors and fonts your target audience would find appealing. If your target audience is predominantly men, you won’t use the color combination of pink and gold, will you?

Same thing with your writing style. Your audience’s age, gender, location, and other demographics determine their vocabulary.

Men tend to be more technically proficient than women. For that reason, if your target audience is women, you are going to be explaining things differently than men.

Write as if you are talking directly to the avatar. The more specific your profile is, the more you can get in the head of the character, and the better you can help them.

 

#2 Write content they want to read

Read their questions in those forums and sites I recommended above and create content that’s going to answer those questions.

 

#3 Create a product that will solve their problems

Now that you know who your target audience is and what they are struggling with, think of a product that will help them solve their issues. It has to be something they need.

 

#4 Promote your content to your audience

Even though the goal here is to attract your target audience, you have to let your target audience know that your blog exists in the first place.

When you were searching for your target readers, where did you find the most?

Go to the social media channels your target audience spends the most time on and promote your blog there.

Go back to those forums and social media groups and answer their questions. If you have a blog post on that topic, you can send them a link.

 

#5 Keep checking your analytics

Keeping track of your analytics will help you understand your readers. Once your blog grows and you have a substantial amount of readers, you should keep checking your analytics.

You might find that the demographics of your target audience and your actual audience are slightly different.

And that’s okay.

You can adjust your content to the needs of your audience.

Are your visitors men or women?
Do they prefer long-form or short-form content?
Where does the majority of your audience come from?
When are your readers most active?

Check your Google Analytics and the analytics of your social media channels.

 

Should you target your audience for your product or should you create a product based on your target audience?

I believe that you don’t have to know exactly what your paid product or service is going to be when you’re first starting a blog. You should have an idea, but it’s going to depend on your target audience and competitor research. So, the latter.

 

Conclusion

Knowing who is your target audience before you start a blog is crucial. It will help you create a better blog strategy and craft content that will suit your readers’ needs. You’ll also be able to create paid products or services your readers genuinely NEED, which will increase your sales.

 

What are your struggles with defining your target audience? Let me know in the comments!

 

RECOMMENDED READING:
How to Start a Blog
How to Plan Your Blog
How to Find the Right Niche for Your Blog
How to Research Your Blog Competitors

 

HOW TO CHOOSE A BLOG NAME YOU WON’T REGRET (and What to Do if The Good Ones Are Taken)

HOW TO CHOOSE A BLOG NAME YOU WON’T REGRET (and What to Do if The Good Ones Are Taken)

So, you have this incredible idea for this amazing blog. You can’t wait to start building the blog. But there’s one thing holding you back. You can’t register your domain and buy web hosting because you don’t have a name for your blog.

How do I name my blog? The issue of many beginning bloggers.

In this post, I’ll tell you how to choose a blog name you won’t regret, what to consider when picking a blog name, some blog name do’s and don’ts, and what to do if all the good names are already taken.

Finding the perfect name can take time, so don’t rush the process.

 

 


DISCLAIMER: This blog contains affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase through one of those links, I’ll receive a commission at no additional cost to you.


 

Is a blog name important?

The name of your blog isn’t the most important aspect of it. If you are starting a personal blog, the name probably isn’t that important.

However, if you’re planning on turning your blog into a brand one day, make sure to spend some time on this step.

RECOMMENDED READING: How to plan your blog

 

The consequences of picking the wrong blog name

Choosing the wrong name for your blog can have consequences in the future. After all, your blog name is also your domain name.

Unfortunately, there’s no way you can change your domain name. The only way you can “change” it is to purchase a new domain and migrate your blog there. Yes, that is possible.

  • Keep in mind that, essentially, you are starting anew and you most likely will lose your traffic. You’d have to redirect all your old links to your new domain.
  • None of the links to your blog you’ve shared would work.
  • All your backlinks (the links from other websites pointing to your blog) would work.
  • You’d have to change your social media handles. You’ll most likely be naming all your social media after your blog. If you change your domain name, you’ll also have to change all your handles.

Changing your name is doable, but it comes with consequences.

TIP: Pick your blog name after you’ve done some planning and know exactly what your blog is going to be about. I decided to start a blog, bought a domain, but before the launch, I decided to change the niche slightly and the name no longer reflected the topic.

 

 

How to choose a blog name

1. Write a list of niche-related words

My advice is to simply brainstorm.

Brainstorm words related to your niche. What are the best words that summarize your niche?

Brainstorm and write a list of niche-related words.

If you can, incorporate a keyword. What are some keywords you’d like to rank for? It can be a one-word keyword or an expression.

Came up with your list of words?

Great!

RECOMMENDED READING: How to Find the Right Niche for Your Blog

 

2. Play with the words

How can you put a spin on those words? You can combine some of them or you can pick just one and play with it.

You can create a portmanteau. That’s a word that combines meanings of two words. You can, for example, take your niche word and combine it with a word that best expresses the purpose of your blog.

For example, Blogology is a portmanteau. It’s a combination of words “blog” and “-logy”. “Blog” is a regularly updated website with new content being published regularly. “-logy” is a suffix indicating that it’s a science. The main premise of Blogology is “the science of blogging” and “doing blogging the right way”.

Why do you want to start that blog? What is your long-term vision for your blog? Where do you see your blog in the upcoming years?

Who is your target audience? Who do you want to reach? Perhaps you can incorporate that in your blog name. What kind of name would be appealing to your target audience?

IMPORTANT: Come up with more than one idea for your blog name. You might find that the name you’ve chosen isn’t even available.

 

3. Check the availability

After you’ve come up with several ideas it’s time to check the availability of those domain names.

Go to sites such as Namecheap or GoDaddy and type in your domain name ideas.

Is at least one of them available? Congratulations! You’ve found your blog name!

Check the trademark registry as well. Especially if you’re using a general word for your blog name. You don’t want to have legal issues in the future.

Don’t forget to also check social media just in case the handles are already taken.

 

 

Things to consider when picking a blog name

1. Consider changes in the future

You want your blog name to reflect the topic of your blog in the long run.

For instance, I’d be wary of using locations in your blog name.

Let’s say you want to start a blog about traveling around Europe. What if, one day, you discover that Asia is also a beautiful continent. Such a shame you can’t write about it, right?

Unless you know for sure that you won’t be expanding to other locations in the future, I’d stay away from locations.

 

2. Consider your future goals

Will you be building a brand around your blog? Are you toying with the idea of selling your blog one day?

If so, then you don’t want to start a blog with your name as your blog name.

On the other hand, if you’re planning to build a personal brand and perhaps establish yourself as an expert in your niche, then using your name is a good idea.

 

3. Consider what your blog name is going to look like in the URL format

The name might look great when the words are written separately. But if you write them all together, they might create a not-so-nice combination.

Look at these examples I made up:
bookofart.com
curbitchfortraveling.com

See what I mean?

 

how to choose a blog name BLOGOLOGY

 

 

Where to look for inspiration

1. Dictionaries

You can go through the dictionary to find words that best describe your blog.

 

2. Thesaurus

Use Thesaurus to find synonyms for the words you’ve come up with in case the domain name is already taken.

 

3. Other domain names, magazines, and newspapers

The next time you read a publication of some sort, it doesn’t matter if it’s online or not, pay attention to the name of the publication. You can create a similar name.

 

4. Books

Just reading, in general, can help you find words you can use in your blog name. Read books, magazines, websites, anything.

 

 

The do’s and don’ts of choosing a blog name

There are a few criteria to consider when picking a name for your blog.

DO’s

1. Unique

Your blog name should be unique. You don’t want to be copying your competitors by choosing a similar name.

 

2. Short

You should pick a short blog name.

Why?

Well, for starters, short names are easier to remember.

The second reason is that you get the space of around 60 characters in the title in Google’s search results. If you choose a short blog name, chances are you’ll be able to display your whole post title, and your blog name as well.

 

3. Easy to spell

Of course, your blog name has to be easy to spell. You don’t want users to be misspelling your domain, and therefore having issues accessing your blog.

 

4. Easy to pronounce

This one isn’t as important as the other ones, but the name of your blog should be easy to pronounce.

 

5. Memorable

Of course, your blog name has to be memorable. As long as it’s short and easy to spell, it has great potential to be memorable.

 

6. Use the .com extension

Unless you’re creating your blog for an audience of a certain country, use the top-level domain – .com.
.com is the most popular domain name extension and it’s also the most memorable one.

 

DON’Ts

1. No special characters

Don’t use any special characters in your domain name unless you have to. No hyphens or slashes, &s, @s, etc.

You can use hyphens if you really want to use a name but it creates a weird combination in the URL format.

 

2. Be wary of misspellings and “clever” names

Perhaps you want to use a fairly common word for your URL but it’s too general, and most likely already taken.

So, you thought that you might solve it by putting a spin on the name by removing a letter or using a different spelling.

This can be a clever way to create a unique blog name but be wary of it. If done right, you can create a great blog name this way. If not, it might result in a lot of misspellings.

 

3. Don’t use foreign languages

I’m not a fan of using foreign languages as blog names. One of my previous blogs was called LaVieEstBellebySV.com.

I had a few confused French people coming to my blog confused that the blog wasn’t written in French.

 

4. Don’t use brand names

If you know that there’s a brand that’s already using the name, don’t use the same name for your blog.

 

 

What to do when the good blog names are taken

You might have come up with several potential blog names, you’ve checked the availability, but all of them are either taken or premium domains that cost thousands of dollars, and you don’t want to invest that much into your blog when you’re just starting out.

You could use a different extension, but as I already explained, stick to .com if you can. Another viable option is .co extension.

According to Website Creative PRO, the .co extension is a good alternative for .com.

If you don’t want the .com extension, you’ll have to pick a different name.

 

Contact the owner

If you’ve checked the website, and it doesn’t have any content on it or if it’s been years since it’s been updated, you can try contacting the owner and see if they’d be interested in selling the domain.

Just keep in mind that the domain might already have some backlinks pointing to it.

 

Unrelated and made-up words

If everything fails, forget everything I told you about picking a relevant name to your niche. Just pick a random memorable word.

Do you know what Nike is? Or Google?

Well, of course, you do!

But do you know what those words mean?

Probably not.

And yet, they are short, memorable, and easy to spell.

 

Use prefixes and suffixes

You can use prefixes and suffixes to customize the meaning of your blog name. A great example of that is ProBlogger.com.

 

Use additional words

When I was trying to come up with a name for this blog, I loved the name Blogology. A few people have used the word before.

For example, Blogology is a blog theme.

But I checked the trademark registry, and it wasn’t trademarked. The domain was available as well, but it was a premium domain and cost almost $7,000. And that’s how theblogology.com was born.

 

namecheap Blogology domains

 

Abbreviations

If applicable, you can use abbreviations to customize your blog name.

 

 

Blog name generators

If everything else fails, you can turn to a blog name generator to help you with the process.

 

Panabee

Panabee gives you suggestions for .com domains based on the keyword you’ve typed in. It will also tell you which ones are already taken, and which ones are available.

How to choose a blog name Panabee

 

Nameboy

In Nameboy, you can enter one or two keywords and it will generate domain names for you. They will show you which domains are available.

 

how to choose a blog name Nameboy

 

Domain wheel

Domain wheel will give you suggestions based on your keywords for domain extensions of all kinds.

 

how to choose a blog name Domain Wheel

 

 

Conclusion

Coming up with a name for your blog takes time. Don’t try to rush it.

Just grab a pen and paper and brainstorm. At some point, you’ll find the perfect blog name.

Make sure your blog name is short, memorable, and easy to spell, and you’ll be good to go.

What has been your main struggle when coming up with your blog name? Let me know!

 

RECOMMENDED READING:

How to Start a Blog
12 Things You Need to Do Before You Start Building Your New Blog
How to Brand a Personal Blog

 

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash via Devon Janse van Rensburg

 

HOW TO PLAN YOUR BLOG

HOW TO PLAN YOUR BLOG

You want to start a blog. And you want to do everything right from the beginning, am I right? The best thing to do that is to plan out your blog before you start it.

It took me two months to plan out Blogology. You shouldn’t rush this step or skip it altogether.

I believe that a lack of proper planning is what causes most blogs to fail. So in this post, I’ll tell you exactly how to plan your blog before you launch it.

At this point, you should know what your niche is, who your target audience is, and who your competitors are.

 

 


DISCLAIMER: This post includes affiliate links. That means that if you purchase through one of my affiliate links, I’ll receive a commission at no additional cost to you.


 

I’m not saying you have to create a detailed blog plan. But before you start your blog, you should know who your blog is for and what you’re trying to achieve.

When creating a plan for your blog, apart from your niche, you should consider these aspects:

  • Goals
  • Branding
  • Content
  • Website
  • Promotion
  • Monetization
  • Budget

 

RECOMMENDED READING: 12 Things You Need to Do Before You Start Building Your New Blog

 

1. GOALS

First things first, before you start your blog, you have to set goals for your blog. Ideally, you should set specific goals you can measure.

You can set specific dates by which you want to achieve your goals, but I understand that since you might be planning your first ever blog, you don’t know when you can expect to reach your goals.

You need to create a long-term vision for your blog. Where do you see your blog in a year? Five years? Think about what the purpose of your blog is. This might take you a few sessions to complete.

Brainstorm ideas, put them down on a paper, let it sit, and come back after a while to review those goals.

Perhaps your ultimate goal is to become the leader in your industry. Maybe you want to build a community around your blog.

Is that it?

No!

Even though you need a long-term vision, these goals are a bit vague.

How are you going to achieve those goals? You need to set smaller goals that will help you achieve those big goals. Think of them as milestones on your journey to achieving your ultimate goals.

 

Set SMART Goals

Ideally, you should be setting SMART goals.

 

What are SMART goals?
SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.

Your goals have to be specific. If you want to just “grow your blog”, how will you know you’ve achieved it?

You need specific numbers. You need your goal to be measurable.

Your goals need to be achievable. Let’s be real, you most likely won’t hit 50,000 pageviews in the first month.

If you want to stick to your goal, it has to be realistic. Don’t set a goal of writing at least 1,000 words daily if you’ve barely written that many in the past month. You’re not trying to run a marathon.

To set a goal the right way, you need a specific date by which you’re going to achieve that goal.

 

Set performance and creation goals

Creation goals are goals such as writing every day.

Performance goals are goals such as achieving certain numbers by a certain time.

In terms of creation goals, you can set a goal to write every day. I’m not saying publishing a new blog post daily. Just writing every day.

 

Set short-term goals

Since right now you are setting goals before starting your blog, I suggest you set goals for your first month.

You can set the number of blog posts you’d like to publish in the first month, monthly pageviews, blog post shares, email subscribers, social media follows/subscribers, etc.

By setting short-term goals on your journey to achieving your long-term vision, you’re creating small milestones that set you up for success in the long run.

A great blogger goal to set is to learn something new every day. I have a post all about skills every blogger needs. You can start learning one of these skills.

When setting blog goals, don’t go for too many of them at once. You’ll get overwhelmed and you most likely won’t achieve anything.

TIP: Write your goals down. Research shows you’re more likely to succeed at achieving goals if you write them down.

 

2. BRANDING

What is blog branding?

Your branding is how you convey who you are, what your blog stands for, and who it is for.

 

Why do you need to brand your blog?

By building a brand around your blog, you’re differentiating yourself from your competition. It’s how your readers are going to recognize your content.

 

How to brand your blog?

Think about the branding of your blog. The branding of your blog should be based on your target audience.

Those are the aspects to consider when deciding on your blog branding:

  • Name
  • Blog design
  • Color palette
  • Fonts combination
  • Logo
  • Tagline
  • Mission statement
  • Writing voice and style
  • Posting schedule

 

TIP: You can leave some of the graphic branding stuff to graphic designers. You can hire one on sites such as Upwork or Freelancer.

 

Think about what kind of social media posts are going to look like. I’m not just talking about the imagery. If you’re planning on starting a Facebook profile or Instagram for your blog, you’ll need to be publishing helpful content. What are the captions going to include?

Your goal here should be creating a strong brand identity where your readers will recognize your content without having to see your name.

You need to identify your unique selling point. Your unique selling point is what’s going to differentiate yourself from your competitors. That can be a unique angle on the topic, a paid product no one has offered yet, etc.

 

 

3. CONTENT

Before you start your blog, you need plan your content strategy.

 

What is a content strategy?

A content strategy includes planning, creation, delivery, and management of your content. The goal of a content strategy is to create helpful good-quality content that’s going to attract your target audience.

 

How to create a content strategy?

I. Write down content ideas

First things first, you need to decide the type of content you want to be publishing and the type of audience you want to serve.

The last thing you want to happen is starting a blog and not knowing what to blog about.

Think about the audience you want to target and write down all the blog post ideas they’d like to read. What kinds of blog posts are going to be helpful to them?

But how do you know what kind of content you should be creating?

You need to do research first.

 

II. Do keyword research

First of all, you need to research your competition and your target audience.

Then, you need to research what kind of content to produce. You can use tools such as BuzzSumo to find content in your niche that’s already doing well. You can enter your competitors’ websites and see their most popular content.

You can also go to sites such as Quora or Reddit where people are asking questions. A great place to find content ideas are Facebook groups.

And I have one more for you. If you plan on using Pinterest for promoting your blog, start Pinning now. Create a dedicated business account for your niche and save other bloggers’ Pins to related boards. After a while, you’ll see the best-performing Pins in your analytics. You can create content on the best-performing topics.

Then, go to google and type in the main keyword. Look at the autosuggest results as well as the questions in the rich snippets, and of course the content ranking on the first page.

Read through the articles. Are they lists? Or how-to guides?

Have a look at the comments. Is there something else the readers are asking? What else do they want to know?

Great! Now you know what to blog about.

Is that it?

Of course not!

Now you need to create a content plan.

 

III. Create a content plan

Here’s where you are going to set your posting schedule.

Be realistic. I’ve heard about a lot of bloggers who blog every single day for the first month. I suggest you create a more attainable posting schedule. Why not posting only once a week, but only your best work?

Think about which content should go up first.

What other content are you going to be producing?
Do you want to be adding videos to your blog posts?
What kind of images are going to be in your articles? Infographics?

When planning your blog content strategy, you should also consider your email list.

What kind of content are you going to be sending your email subscribers?
How often are you going to be sending emails to your email list?
How are you going to attract your visitors to become your email subscribers?

The most effective way to do that is to offer a lead magnet, also called freebie. That’s a free digital product you offer your visitors in exchange for their email address. That can be a checklist, a template, a short ebook, a mini-course, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s helpful to your audience.

 

4. WEBSITE

I feel like a lot of bloggers are skipping this step, but it’s just as important as the other ones. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a web designer to complete this step.

Before you start planning your website, have a look at other blogs, and get inspired. Look at the different features and decide what you’d like your website to look like.

There are several aspects to consider during the website planning process:

  • Hosted or self-hosted
  • Structure
  • Layout
  • Categories

RECCOMENDED READING: How to Choose a Blog Name You Won’t Regret

 

I. Hosted or self-hosted

First of all, you need to decide if you want to go self-hosted or want to host your website on a blogging platform.

What does it even mean?

Hosted means that you’re starting a blog on a blogging platform. That can be a site such as WordPress.com, Blogger, or Tumblr.

The downside of those sites is that you don’t own your website. So technically, your blog could be deleted at any time if the platform thinks you’re violating their terms of use.

Also, if you’re planning on turning your blog into a business, you’re going to have a hard time monetizing your blog, as a lot of those blogging platforms won’t allow you to put affiliate links or ads on your blog.

Hosting your blog on one of these platforms can be more expensive than self-hosting in the long run.

 

Self-hosted means that you own your website and you can do unlimited changes to it. No one can take away your blog from you and you can monetize it as you like.

You’ll also have a custom domain from the beginning. For example, with the cheapest plans on WordPress.com, you’ll have the addition wordpress.com right after your domain name.

To self-host your blog, you’ll need web hosting and a content management system.

Web hosting is what allows your blog to be viewed on the internet. It’s where you are managing the back-end of your blog.

A content management system (CMS) is where you are managing the front-end of your website – the visual side of your blog.

There are a lot of web hosts to choose from. I recommend SiteGround. It’s a fast and reliable web hosting and it’s fairly inexpensive as well. Their cheapest plan costs $3.95 per month (billed yearly).

The most popular CMS among bloggers is WordPress.org. (Don’t confuse with WordPress.com.) It’s a beginner-friendly content management system.

 

II. Structure

What is a website structure?

A website structure is how the website is linked together. The structure of a website is important to web crawlers. If there’s something that’s not linked to another page or post, the web crawlers can’t find it and index it. That’s a problem because it won’t show in the search results.

Neil Patel has a great article on the importance of a good site structure.

 

How to structure your website?

When structuring your website, you need to keep in mind both the users and the search engines.

Don’t worry, I won’t make you create a detailed plan of all the pages and blog posts on your blog and how they’ll be interlinked.

You should just create a basic structure based on the pages and topics you want to cover on your blog.

Think about the pages you want to have on your blog and want to include a link to them on your homepage.

What are blog pages?
Pages are static pieces of content that usually contain information about your website. But that’s not always the case. You can use pages to publish some of the most important content on your blog.

Most common blog pages are:

  • Homepage
  • About
  • Contact
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Privacy policy
  • Disclaimer

 

Think about what other pages you want to have on your blog. Maybe you want to create a page with useful tools and resources for your readers. Think into the future and think about the pages that are going to link to your paid products or services.

Then think about how you are going to link those pages together.

This is an example of a basic site structure:

site structure infographic Blogology

 

 

At the very top is your homepage.

From your homepage, you link to the most important pages on your blog.

As you can see, not every page will link to any other page underneath it. Those are pages such as Contact.

Think about the main topics of your niche, write a detailed page on each of those topics, and link to them from the homepage. Those pages are called pillar pages.

Then think about the sub-topics. You’ll create blog posts on those sub-topics and link to them from your pillar pages. Some sub-topics will be more complex than others and will require you to create additional sub-topic blog posts for them.

This is a strategy called the topic clusters strategy and was created by HubSpot. You create the main topic page. On this page (or blog post) you address the topic as a whole. From there you’ll write blog posts dedicated to each of the sub-topics and you link them to the pillar page.

 

topic clusters

 

This structure helps the reader find related content on your blog based on the topic. The search engines will be able to crawl your website effectively.

This strategy is very similar to the SEO siloing strategy.

This is a content strategy created for optimal use for the users and search engines.

Backlinko suggests that for ideal user experience and search engine crawlability, you should use a shallow website hierarchy. That means that every single page or blog post should be just three links away from your homepage.

For example, on Blogology, I have four main pages that are on the homepage.

Those are:

  • How to start a blog
  • How to write a blog post
  • How to promote your blog
  • How to monetize your blog

I’ve divided those main topics into sub-topics. What I’m currently working on is creating content around those sub-topics. This particular post belongs to the “Before you start your blog” topic cluster, which is a sub-topic of How to start a blog.

Grab a pen and paper, think about the pages and topics you want to have on your blog, and draw a basic sitemap.

 

III. Layout

What parts does a blog have? 
In most cases, blogs have four parts: header, footer, main content area, and a sidebar.

 

blog layout infographic Blogology

 

Header

What is a header in a blog?
The header is at the top of your website and includes your blog’s name, tagline, and a navigation menu with the most important pages on your blog. You can display a header image here – that can be, for example, your logo.

 

Footer

What is a footer in a blog?
Footer is the bottom part of your website and usually includes the legal pages, archives, the sitemap, copyright notice, or a navigation menu. To be honest, you can put pretty much anything to your footer, but keep it simple.

 

The main content area

The main content area is where all your blog posts are displayed. You can choose whether you want to display featured images for your articles and summaries. Depending on your theme, you’ll also be able to choose whether your content area will be displayed in a column or a grid.

 

Sidebar

The sidebar is where any additional navigation menus and widgets such as author bio, search box, most popular or latest blog posts, social sharing buttons, categories, etc. are displayed. The sidebar can be on either side. However, according to Problog Design, the best place for blogs is the right side.

 

Other features

When planning the layout of your blog, think about other features you want to have on your blog as well.

Common blog features include:

  • Email subscribe opt-in
  • Exit pop-up
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Author bio after every post

 

When planning your blog layout, consider whether you want a static homepage or whether you want your homepage to display your content area.

A static homepage highlights what your blog is about, what you do, and what your readers can expect from your blog. I’d advise you to opt for the static homepage.

You can set a static homepage on your WordPress blog if you go to Settings > Reading > Your Homepage Displays > from there you can set the static homepage option and select which pages you want to display as a homepage and a posts page.

 

IV. Categories and tags

If you’ll going to be using WordPress to host your blog, you’ll be sorting your content into categories and tags.

Think about the blog post ideas you’ve come up with and sort them into appropriate categories and tags based on the topic.

 

What are categories in WordPress?
Categories are the main way of grouping content on WordPress. They are used for general topics.

Ideally, you shouldn’t divide your content into more than 10 categories.

If one of your blog posts fits into more than one category, don’t worry about that. You can sort the blog post into more than one category.

If you want to, you can also create sub-categories for each of your categories.

 

What are tags in WordPress?
Tags in WordPress are a taxonomy used for more specific topics.

Depending on your theme, you can display the tags of a specific blog post at the top or at the bottom of it.

You can also display a widget with your tags in your sidebar.

On Blogology, you can see my tags in the sidebar if you’re on a desktop, or at the bottom of the page if you’re on a mobile device.

 

5. PROMOTION

You can’t just assume that readers will come to your blog. There are millions of blog posts published daily. Unless you tell your target audience that your blog exists, they won’t come.

For that reason, you need to create a promotional strategy for your blog.

 

How to create a promotional strategy for a new blog?

When planning a promotional strategy for your blog, you should consider these things:

  • How you are going to attract visitors to your blog
  • How you will keep those visitors coming back
  • How you are going to get your content in front of existing audiences
  • How you are going to get backlinks (links from other websites)

 

Attracting visitors

When creating a promotional strategy, keep in mind your target audience. Where can you find them? That’s where you want to be promoting your blog.

 

Social media

Think about where your audience spends most of their time online. Which social media channels are most popular among your target audience?

Pick just one social channel and learn as much as you can about it and promote your blog there. Over time, you can expand to other social channels as well. If you try to promote on too many social channels from the beginning, you’ll get overwhelmed and won’t reach anyone.

 

SEO

Search engines can be your best friends when you’re promoting your blog. SEO stands for search engine optimization and it’s a practice of optimizing content so it can appear in the top results of the search engines.

As a new blogger, you want to focus on on-page SEO. Keep in mind that SEO won’t drive traffic to your blog overnight. It requires patience and implementation of the best practices.

 

Keep visitors coming back

Email marketing

You should start building your email list from day one. As I’ve already mentioned, you can offer a freebie to your visitors, such as a checklist, template, ebook, etc., in exchange for their email address.

You don’t necessarily have to offer a product, but your email content should be valuable to your audience. No one will subscribe to your newsletter just like that.

Look at Amy Lynn Andrews’ Useletter. She doesn’t offer any freebie. Instead, her newsletter is based on sending weekly valuable information.

 

Getting your content in front of existing audiences and earning backlinks

Guest blogging

You can do a research to see which bloggers in your niche accept guest bloggers. You can then reach out to those who do and offer to write a blog post on a topic that hasn’t been covered on their blog yet. In that blog post, most likely in the author’s bio, you’ll include a link to your blog.

Keep in mind that you’ll most likely have to abide by the guest blogging rules of that particular blogger or publication.

 

Medium

Another great way to get your content in front of existing audiences is to submit your articles to Medium. Anyone can sign up to Medium and contribute. On Medium, you’ll find a publication in your niche and submit your most popular post(s).

Once again, each publication will have its own rules as to what articles they accept.

Guest blogging and submitting your articles to Medium is a great way to earn backlinks.

Backlinks are external links pointing to your website. They are very important for SEO.

You can also check out the skyscraper technique. That’s a content marketing strategy based on writing extraordinary content and then reaching out to influencers in your niche and asking them to read the article and if they like it, sharing it with their audiences.

 

IMPORTANT: None of these tactics will work if you produce mediocre content. First and foremost, focus on creating great content.

 

To be completely honest with you, I wouldn’t worry too much about backlinks when you’re just starting your blog. Focus on on-page SEO, one social media channel, building your email list, and networking with other bloggers.

What I would suggest is creating a strategy for every three months (quarter), reviewing your results then, and adjusting and expanding your strategy from there.

 

6. MONETIZATION

How are you going to monetize your blog?

At this point, you should have an idea of what your paid product or service is going to be. I don’t believe you should know exactly what it’s going to be, but you should have an idea.

Do some market research and think about a product or service your target audience would find valuable. It has to be something that solves your audience’s problem.

Research if the exact same thing isn’t being sold already. If it is, it’s not necessarily an issue. You can have your own unique twist on it.

In the meantime, you can implement other monetization methods. Beginner bloggers usually start with display ads and affiliate marketing.

 

Display ads

You can display CPC ads on your blog. When someone clicks on that ad, you get paid a small commission. The most popular CPC ad provider for new bloggers is Google AdSense.

 

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing works on the word-of-mouth. You can promote paid products or services in your niche to your audience and every time someone purchases that product from you, you earn a commission.

From there you can search for brands you’d like to collaborate with, and you can reach out to them.

 

7. BUDGET

Consider how much you want to invest in your blog at the beginning.

When you’re just starting out, you’ll need to purchase a domain from sites such as Namecheap.

As I said, you’ll need a web hosting service.

You might also need to purchase an email provider, but a lot of them have free plans. I use ConvertKit and they have a free plan for up to 1,000 subscribers.

In the future, you might want to invest in a keyword research tool, a scheduling tool for your social media posts, and perhaps a premium theme. But in the beginning, you’re good to go with the very least.

 

How much does it cost to start a blog?

Most domains on Namecheap cost less than $10. The cheapest web hosting plan on SiteGround is just below $50 for the whole year. That means that you can start your blog for less than $60.

 

CONCLUSION

Creating a plan for your blog is a crucial step a lot of bloggers skip. That’s a mistake. You need to know exactly what to do after you launch your blog.

When planning your blog, you need to do a lot of research. Especially if you want to turn blogging into a career.

What’s your biggest struggle when planning your new blog? Let me know in the comments!

 

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash via Marci Angeles

how to plan your blog BLOGOLOGY

10 IMPORTANT SKILLS EVERY BLOGGER NEEDS

10 IMPORTANT SKILLS EVERY BLOGGER NEEDS

Successful bloggers keep learning. They know that if they want to stay on top of the game, they need to expand their skillsets.

There are a few skills every blogger needs if they want to be successful. You’ll most likely gain these skills as you go, but I’ve compiled this list so you can actively start learning them from the beginning.

I’m not saying that you have to know all of these skills before you start a blog. Like I said, you’ll learn the majority of them through practice as you go

I’m not only giving you a list of blogger skills. I’m also giving you tips for resources where you can learn the theory, and tips on how you can improve your existing skills.

 


DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase through one of those links, I’ll receive a commission at no additional cost to you. If you want more information, here is my Affiliate Disclosure.


 

 

 

10 IMPORTANT SKILLS EVERY BLOGGER NEEDS

 

blogger skills writing blogology

 

1. WRITING

As a blogger, you’re also a writer, among a lot of other things.

 

Why do you need good writing skills as a blogger?

Obviously, as a blogger, you’ll be writing a lot. That makes writing one of the most important blogger skills.

I’m not saying that you have to be an outstanding writer, but your sentences should make sense. You should be able to explain clearly, and your delivery should be easy to understand.

The good thing is that blogging is a great way to improve your writing skills. After all, the best way to improve your writing is to write. 

 

How to improve your writing skills?

As I said, writing is the best way to improve your writing skills. By writing you’ll be able to identify what your main struggle is. You can then focus on that.

Reading is an excellent way to improve your writing. You’ll be able to learn new vocabulary. Read everything. Books, blog posts, guides, whatever you get your hands on.

You can use Grammarly to edit your spelling mistakes. It also gives you suggestions for your clarity and delivery.

 

2. RESEARCH

Writing blog posts is almost like writing essays. And you wouldn’t start writing an essay without doing research, would you?

 

Why do you need research skills as a blogger?

As a blogger, you’re going to be researching a lot:

  • Competition
  • Target audience
  • Ideas for content
  • Keywords
  • Sources to back up your claims

 

How to improve your research skills?

Similarly to writing, your research skills are going to improve the more you’ll be doing it.

 

blogging skills copywriting blogology

 

3. COPYWRITING

Copywriting is a crucial skill no matter what kind of business you’re running.

 

What is copywriting?

Copywriting is a type of writing that propels the reader to take action. Usually, it’s to buy something, but that’s not always the case.

 

Why do you need copywriting skills as a blogger?

Apart from promoting your or someone else’s products or services, you’re going to be using copywriting to attract readers.

The best blog post titles are a result of great copywriting skills. A great title improves your click-through rate, which is the percentage of users who see your link and decide to click on it.

If you’re using Pinterest to promote your content, you’re actually using copywriting in the texts of your Pins. 

Your email marketing opt-in is also a copy. Therefore, if you want to turn your visitor into a subscriber, you need copywriting.

You’ll also need copywriting when creating landing pages once you release a product or service.

 

Where to learn copywriting?

I recommend this copywriting course for beginners on SkillShare from Jesse Forrest.

Also, check out Alex Cattoni’s YouTube channel dedicated to copywriting.

 

4. CLOSING

If you want to start offering paid services as a blogger, you’ll need to know how to close.

 

What is closing?

The ability to close a deal with a client. 

 

Why do you need closing skills as a blogger?

If you want to make money blogging, you have to be selling something. Ideally your own products or services.

When that happens, you will not only have to be promoting them. You need to know how to sell, but you also need to know how to close a deal. 

How do you persuade your potential client that your service is right for them? (if it is right for them – you don’t want to be selling your services to people who are not the right fit)

 

Where to learn how to close?

I like this guide from Resourceful Selling. It goes in-depth on effective closing.

Dan Lok has a few great videos on YouTube on closing strategies.

 

10 important skills every blogger needs BLOGOLOGY

 

 

5. DIGITAL MARKETING

Blogging belongs to digital marketing. It belongs to a digital marketing sub-category called content marketing. In fact, some companies use blogging as a content marketing tool.

 

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is the practice of attracting potential clients online.

 

Why do you need digital marketing skills as a blogger?

If you want to make money blogging, you need to treat your blog like a business. Since it’s an online business, you’ll be attracting visitors and potential leads online.

In order to attract an audience, turn your visitor into readers, and eventually customers, you’ll need various digital marketing skills.

As a blogger, you should focus on content marketing, email marketing, and SEO.

 

Where to learn digital marketing skills?

HubSpot Academy has a ton of digital marketing courses. Some of them are paid, but they also have a lot of free courses to choose from.

You’ll also get a certification upon finishing some of those courses.

Even HubSpot’s blog is a great place to learn the theory of digital marketing. They have general digital marketing courses, but also specialized courses on topics such as content or email marketing.

 

6. SEO

I already mentioned SEO in the previous point, but I’m going to dig deep on this one because it’s a very important one.

 

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it’s a practice of optimizing your content so it can appear in the top search results.

 

Why do you need SEO skills as a blogger?

Because with the correct use of SEO, you’ll be able to generate a massive amount of traffic coming to your blog from the search engines.

Although you won’t see results from SEO from the beginning, I strongly suggest you implement SEO into your promotional strategy from the get-go.

 

Where to learn SEO?

This beginner’s guide to SEO from Moz is a great place to start.

If you want to keep up with SEO, I recommend the Search Engine Journal.

If you want to read updates from Google itself, go to Google Webmaster Central Blog.

That being said, in order to learn SEO, you have to practice it. SEO is mainly about practice rather than theory.

 

blogger skills social media marketing blogology

 

7. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

Social media marketing is also a subcategory of digital marketing, but once again, I want to go more in-depth here.

 

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is a practice of attracting new potential clients on social media.

 

Why do you need social media marketing skills as a blogger?

Because you should be promoting your blog on social media as well.

You need a social media presence to connect better with your audience and other bloggers in your niche. 

When you are a blogger, you can’t be hiding in the corner.

Ideally, when you’re just starting out, you should pick one social channel where your target audience hangs out the most. You should then master that social media channel and become an expert at it. Then you can move on to other social networks.

 

Where to learn social media marketing skills?

That depends on the particular social channel.

Also, keep in mind that social media algorithms keep changing. If you want to master your social media skills, you need to stay on top of the game and keep up with the changes.

For YouTube, check out Sunny Lenarduzzi’s YouTube channel.

For Pinterest, go to Anastasia Blogger’s blog and YouTube channel.

For Instagram, check out HeyDominik’s YouTube channel.

 

8. GRAPHIC DESIGN

Blogging is not only about writing. Creating visual content will make your blog stand out from the competition.

 

What is graphic design?

Creating visual content to communicate messages.

 

Why do you need graphic design skills as a blogger?

As I said, blogging isn’t just about writing. To stand out, you’ll need to be creating other types of content as well, such as infographics. 

If you’re promoting your blog on Pinterest, you’re creating graphics for your Pins. Although you can use Canva for your graphics, which is very easy to use, you should have an idea as to which fonts look good together, how to combine colors, and the general layout of a graphic.

As a blogger, you’ll most likely be creating graphic content for your readers to make their lives easier.

What do I mean by that?

If you’re writing an article on a complex topic, it would be helpful to create a checklist, cheatsheet, or a template they can use so they don’t forget anything.

Creating visually-appealing infographics is also a good idea. Infographics can be shared on social media and other bloggers, which is a great way to earn backlinks.

 

Where to learn graphic design?

Canva Design School is a great place to start. Check out this beginner guide to graphic design.

Having said that, if graphic design is really not your thing, you can always hire someone on Fiverr to do it for you.

 

blogging skills coding blogology

 

9. CODING

If you’re running your blog on WordPress.org, coding knowledge is not necessary. However, it will be helpful down the road. 

 

What is coding?

As BitDegree puts it, coding is the act of writing a computer can understand.

 

Why do you need coding skills as a blogger?

As I said, if you use WordPress.org as your content management system, you’re unlikely to use coding often.

However, you should know at least the basics of these four languages: HTML, CSS, PHP, and JavaScript.

They’ll be helpful if you decide to change aspects of your blog that WordPress doesn’t allow you to.

VERY BRIEFLY:

  • HTML tells the web browser what each page of your website is.
  • CSS tells the web browser what each page of your website looks like.
  • PHP is used for web development. The core of WordPress is written predominantly in PHP, which means that if you want to make changes to the core of your website, you need to know PHP.
  • JavaScript allows you to add features on web pages.

 

Where to learn coding skills?

The best place to start learning coding languages is CodeAcademy. They teach all of the languages mentioned above.

 

10. NETWORKING

Blogging is a sociable activity. If you thought that by starting a blog you wouldn’t have to be interacting with other people, you were wrong.

 

Why do you need networking skills as a blogger?

If you’re running a personal blog, your blog competitors are not exactly your competitors. They are more like your colleagues. You all grow together.

You need networking skills to drive organic traffic to your blog and also build connections in the blogging community.

If you build the right connections, other influential bloggers can share your content with their audiences. As you can imagine, that’s a great way to drive traffic to your blog.

As you can see, networking is one of the most important blogging skills.

 

How to build your network?

The best place to start is social media.

I recommend these places:

  • Facebook groups
  • Twitter
  • Triberr
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • Quora

One of my favorite ways to network with other bloggers is by commenting on their blog posts. The key is that you have to leave meaningful comments.

Think about where your audience is online. That’s where you’re going to meet other people in your niche as well.

You can also attend events related to your niche. Meet people, ask questions, connect.

 

CONCLUSION

I believe that those are the most important skills every blogger needs.

If you thought that blogging was all about writing, you were wrong. As a blogger, you need loads of other skills. 

After all, you’re a business owner. At least, in the beginning, you might not be able to hire other people, and so you’re responsible for everything.

Once again, you don’t need to have all those skills when you’re starting out. You’ll learn most of these skills as you go.

Can you think of other important blogger skills? Let me know!

 

RECOMMENDED READING: What is a blog exactly?

 

IMAGE CREDIT
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