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3 things you must know before starting a blog
So you want to start a blog? I’ve started many myself with varying degrees of success. However I’ve learned many things over the years and I’m going to talk about them here.
I’ll also give practical advice on the technical side of things such as buying a domain name and purchasing a hosting package.
This article is written for those who wish to make a passive income from a blog. If you just want to blog as a hobby, great you can use the practical lessons here.
However, I expect you are probably here because you want to learn how to make a bit of extra cash. If you do, you’re in the right place.
Let’s get started.
Choose your niche.
What’s a niche I hear you ask.
A niche is just a subject or topic that you will write about. It’s very much an American-ism, but its common parlance in the blogosphere. And you may hear Americans pronounce it ‘nitch’.
Either way, this is the first thing you need to do to get started.
Here are some rules on niche selection.
Write about something you know a lot about, or have first-hand experience of
Choose a niche within one of these top-level categories:
- Health & Wellbeing
Why only these categories? Two reasons:
- These niches are profitable if done correctly
- There are plenty of other bloggers already in these niches, and to get started you must network with other bloggers.
Notice I said must. You are going to need all the help you can get when you start out and there are loads out there if you know where to look.
A good network of friendly, like-minded bloggers can help you:
- Build quality and relevant backlinks
- Share your content on social media
- Give help and support when needed
All of these are particularly valuable when you are starting out.
We have already spoken about the top-level profitable niches, but how do you narrow down your precise topic.
First ask yourself: Am I going to be able to write 50 blog posts on this subject?
If you can, great.
Secondly, you are going to have to write about things that people are actually searching for. How do you do this? Well, there are a variety of methods you could use, but for the sake of brevity, I am only going to tell you the best method I have used in many years of keyword research.
Keysearch is a piece of relatively inexpensive software that can tell you search volumes of keyphrases, cost per click (important if you want to make money from advertising on your site).
It also gives you loads of ways of finding keyphrases you may never have thought of by enabling you to spy on competitors.
I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to write articles that people are actually searching for.
Writing articles that no-one will ever find or read is the biggest waste of your time.
Using Keysearch correctly means you can find out what people are searching for and write for these terms.
There is an in-depth article on the Keysearch site telling you exactly how to do this so there’s no point in me covering that here.
Select a domain name
Now it’s time to select a domain name.
In days gone by webmasters would pick domain names with the actual search term being the URL.
It used to work but not anymore. But that’s not to say having a relevant keyphrase as part of your URL will hurt. If it’s relevant and reads well, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use it.
It can help to make your URL reasonably short and snappy and easy to spell.
Once you have made your decision, buy it. I have always bought mine from 123-reg. I’m familiar with the interface and I’ve never had any problems.
Next, you will need hosting
Whilst WordPress is free, you will need somewhere to physically host your website files.
I’ve been using a company called Unlimited Hosting for years now and never had any issues. Their customer support is always prompt and their prices are reasonable.
Expect to pay £3 per month for their basic package.
If you are at the very early stages of starting a blog, I hope this has been of help and saved you some time.