How to start a blog (and keep up with it!)
Whether you have a business to promote, or writing skills to flex, blogging is a great pastime. If you are keen to get a graduate marketing job, but don’t have any experience, then - aside from starting off with a marketing internship - creating and managing your own blog is the simplest way to increase your knowledge in that area. Promote your blog through social media networks and read up on best practises for marketing your efforts – this infographic is a great place to start. When you come to a job interview you will be able to talk at length about how you have proactively turned yourself into a marketing superstar completely off your own initiative.
Starting a blog is the easiest thing in the world if you know how to go about it. Staying motivated can prove more difficult, but remain focussed on the reasons for doing it and hopefully you will see that the benefits outweigh any overpowering laziness.
1. Pick a topic
The most important part of any blog is always going to be the content. It doesn’t matter how pretty your theme is if the information on there doesn’t make any sense (or is boring to read). A successful blog focuses on one niche and sticks to it. If you are serious about building a following, then don’t confuse subscribers by posting about healthy food one day and your top 5 make-up tips the next. Choose a subject that you are genuinely interested in and have been passionate about for a while – the best chance you have of success with your blog is being truly excited and energised about what you are writing so that you can be sure that you won’t give up.
2. Choose a host site
There are tons of good host websites out there ready and willing to be a platform for your blog, so the best advice is to do some research into what each one offers. Wordpress is popular because it is free and easy to use, as well as offering the ability to create your own themes (if you have some knowledge of CSS). Shop around and aim to find one that fits your particular needs – for example Tumblr is great for reposting visuals from across the web, but is not ideal for posting long form content. Squarespace is favoured by designers because of the minimalist aesthetic of its themes and Exposure is primarily for photographers.
3. Design the layout
Selecting a theme is one of the best things about building a blog. It’s like decorating the Christmas tree – turning your blank canvas into something beautiful. You can choose from a vast variety available, both free and paid for. Take time over this stage of the process to ensure that your blog is as visually appealing as possible. If you are feeling particularly brave, you might want to try your hand at learning a bit of CSS and HTML to create your own theme (or to edit one you have selected). At this stage, be mindful of colours and fonts, and make sure you are critical about which work together as well as being appropriate for your subject – get some feedback if you aren’t confident in your own artistic abilities.
4. Decide on a schedule
The temptation when starting out on your blogging journey is to post everything that just burst out of your head. Although this might seem sensible at the time (suddenly your blog looks official, full of content), be wary of burnout and simply running out of things to write. Blogging is a game you need to be in for the long term – success doesn’t happen overnight. With this in mind, come up with a few goals for yourself and then look at how you can achieve those aims. Create a schedule and drip feed your posts at a steady rate to keep your followers interested without oversaturating your site.
Content is king! It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t know about SEO, you just need to ensure that you are writing compelling content. Learn how to proofread, be selective on topics and keep the tone of your blog posts consistent. Remember that the more you write, the better you become at it. Forestall writer’s block by writing posts far in advance – get as much done as possible so that you are ahead of the game with posts in reserve in case ideas run a little dry. If you need any suggestions on how to write great content again and again, then check out this blog post.
6. Track your progress
Figure out Google Analytics sooner rather than later and use it to your advantage. There’s no point setting goals for your blog if you have no idea whether you are smashing them or not. Keep a record of your weekly and monthly progress in terms of visitors to your site, post engagement and traffic from social networks. This will enable you to work out what kinds of posts are getting the best responses from your audience and you will be able to adjust and improve your content strategy accordingly. This is a really informative guide to Google Analytics for beginners if you need somewhere to start.
7. Keep it up
The schedule is key to maintaining your new blogger persona. Getting overexcited and churning out everything all at once will only lead to overdoing it. Take the ‘steady as she goes’ approach and keep the quality of your writing at an even level. Remember why you started your blog and enjoy the process.
Looking for graduate marketing jobs? BrighterBox lists great jobs at London startups.