One of the best tools you’ll have as an author is a blog. It’s a way to share information, post polls, have giveaways, and most importantly, grow your tribe and get subscribers. For most authors, it is the main hub of their business. Starting a blog can be a little confusing but it doesn’t have to be. In today’s post, I’m going to show you how to start a blog like a boss. When you start a blog, there are some things that need to be considered.
How to Start and Run a Blog Like a Boss
What do you want to write about? Some authors write about just one thing, others write about several. I write about author-related things, literary and entertainment things, and pets.
One of my favorite authors, Debbie Macomber, writes about the inspiration behind her books, writing, recipes, etc. One of the most important things to remember is you want to solve a problem that people have and start small. Your passion needs to solve a problem that people have.
Who is your audience? Who are you trying to reach? My audience is beginning authors.
I recently learned about creating a profile of your audience. Take some time and sit down and think about who your audience is going to be. Write down a list of the following points and piece together your ideal reader. Things like name, gender, age, life situation, personal problems, etc.
This will help you narrow down who you are writing for and the language style you want to write in. If you’re writing for business owners, you want to be more formal. I strive to write more casual, warm, and friendly for my audience.
More About Running a Blog Like a Boss
What is the name of your blog going to be? Naming your blog is important. You want to choose something that isn’t hard to pronounce or spell but is memorable. Try keeping it at four syllables or less. If your blog is on your website, then this isn’t much of a concern.
How often will you post? I once heard someone say, “Post less often than you want to.” which made no sense to me. If I choose to post once a week and then decide not to, I’m not going to have a blog.
I’m going to have one blank eyesore of a page. In the beginning, I do recommend once a week. This will get you in the flow of writing and discipline for a month or two. From there, up it to as often as you want. I post on my blog once a week.
How long will your posts be? In the beginning, the recommended word count for a post was 700-1000 words. The new rule of thumb is 1000-1500. Why? Longer posts provide more value to the reader. Just make sure you don’t make your paragraphs too long and break them up with images.
How to Set Up Your Website
Next, we’ll discuss the logistics of setting up your blog. One thing you don’t want to do is set up a free site on Wix or Weebly. Why?
One, it doesn’t look professional. You want to buy your own domain and hosting so you own your own piece of real estate on the internet.
Domain Names-Your domain name is the name of your web site or blog and they are pretty cheap to buy. However, make sure you don’t buy your domain and host your site with the same company. I will explain this in a minute.
Hosting-The company you host with is the service that your web site runs on. I have been with InMotion Hosting for four years and like them. Another author that I follow is with Bluehost and he loves them. You just have to look around at pricing, features, and reviews and choose what is right for you.
Now, I mentioned having your hosting and web site with different companies but why is this? I recently learned that this is important because if something happens and your site gets hacked and someone sends out spam or pornography to your subscribers, your site will get shut down and you’re done.
If you have your site and domain with the same place, you can’t use your domain name somewhere else and have to start from scratch. However, if you are with different companies, you can still use your domain name with another company and rebuild your site.
More Website Tips
Themes-When it comes to themes, buying one is the best option. I recently learned that free themes can possibly have viruses or malware. Not always but sometimes. I recently upgraded my theme to a paid theme when I merged my sites. You can browse and buy paid themes on WordPress.
WordPress-This is the easiest way to get a web site or blog up and running. It’s a very easy interface to use.
Plugins-Having too many plugins can slow your site down. Some plugins that are must-haves are Akismet, Sucuri Security, Real Simple SSL, and Yoast SEO.
What Content to Publish
The first thing you’ll do is write your first posts.
Foundational Posts-Foundational posts are the standard posts pertaining to your business and they must be evergreen. Evergreen means that even five or ten years from now, the information will be valuable. For example, I recently wrote a post about publishing your first book.
Authority Posts-These posts are meant to build rapport, trust, and engagement with your readers which then turn into sales. Remember to write for your audience.
Focus on putting out good, valuable content at first. The good news is, you can always improve and there is always something new to learn.
Learn How to Use Keywords and SEO
Keywords and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) are a learning process. I use the plugin Yoast SEO to write my posts and it is a huge help. However, I am anything but an SEO expert and I highly recommend hiring someone to do your on-page and off-page SEO for your site. Search engine optimization is something that changes every year and I find it mind-boggling beyond writing posts for my site.
One of the main components to getting traffic to your blog is Search Engine Optimization. This is why I recommend hiring someone to do your on-page and off-page SEO. You also want to make sure your blog posts are SEO optimized. Having a plugin like Yoast SEO or Squirrly can be especially helpful. If you really struggle, you may even want to eventually hire someone to SEO your blog posts for you.
Another option is to set up a landing page on your site which is like an advertisement for your free opt-in to sign up for your newsletter. It’s more of an in your face ad than a simple sign up form on your site.
Also, hiring someone to manage and grow your social media accounts is another way to drive traffic to your blog. For example, you can set up “pins’ for your blog posts on Pinterest and when someone clicks on one it will direct them to your site.
Add Social Share Buttons
If you have a WordPress site, you can search for social share button plugins that are compatible with the theme of your site.
Final Thoughts About Running a Blog Like a Boss
Set Up a Newsletter with an Opt-In
If you want to promote your work, you’re going to have to set up an opt-in with some sort of freebie or discount to persuade people to give up their email address. I recently upgraded my opt-in from a checklist to an e-book.
Starting a blog isn’t difficult but there is some planning ahead to do and different things to consider. Don’t worry about having a crap blog when you start, we’ve all been there. It takes time to write posts and get things the way you want them.
Blog Posts = Relationships
Having a blog helps you build relationships with your readers and gives you content to use in your newsletter. With each blog post you write, you create a connection with your reader.
When your reader learns something new and how to go about doing it, they will come back for more. Sharing new resources to make their life easier in some way will help you make a connection.
Also, sharing your personal experiences like adopting a new pet or something cute your kids did, will make your audience see you more as a person than someone sitting behind a screen.
Building relationships are key. Although making money from a blog is the ultimate goal, relationships always come first before the sale.
Blog = Money
When people think of monetizing their blogs, they immediately think of running ads. This drives me crazy.
When I am directed to a blog with tons of pop-ups and ads, it is a total turn off for me. There are many other ways that you can monetize your blog.
- Selling products like books, courses, and other products directly from your site.
- Using affiliate links (just make sure you disclose that you use them in your post)
- Having a solid relationship with your readers will also help you make money in that they will buy your products.
Getting Started and the Basics
Speaking of money, if you are still at your day job and are thinking about starting a blog, I recommend starting a blogging savings account. Start saving money to get your blog off the ground. If you are wanting to start right now, calculate all your expenses and start with the basics first (domain and hosting) and put a little of each paycheck towards the next thing you need. For example, your first ten steps would be:
- Buy domain name.
- Buy hosting.
- Install free plug ins (see above).
- Buy a paid theme. ($40-$80).
- Set up and link subscribe form to Mailchimp, ConvertKit or another service.
- Get a P.O. Box
- Buy legal blog kits/disclaimers.
- Buy a subscription to a stock photo site.
- Create your opt-in (checklist, e-book, recipe collection, etc). My first opt-in was a checklist I made using Canva. You don’t have to spend a ton of money but your opt-in needs to look professional. I recently hired a girl on Fiverr to make my new e-book opt-in and she did a fabulous job. It only cost me $32. However, if you don’t have the money, come up with something using Canva to start with and you can always level up later.
- Start writing content.
As you can see, blogs are an important tool to have in your arsenal. They are a great way to share stories and information with the world and to reach your readers.
So, what are you waiting for? Set up your blog and start the journey to reaching your fans today.