What You Need to Know Before Starting a Blog this Year

It’s good to know that after toying around with the idea for more than a year, you’ve finally decided to get down to it and start a blog.

So, what’s new?

Honestly, not much. A lot of what you’ve been preparing for remains the same.

But while most things haven’t changed, a couple have become more important than ever before, since the last time you read about how to start a blog.

Below are a few of those things that you need to keep in mind if the blog you start is to survive 2017/18:

  1. The Self-Hosted Blog Route is Still Better

Unless you don’t intend to make money on your blog (in which case this post is probably not for you), you should not be thinking about starting a blog on free platforms such as Tumblr, Blogger or even WordPress.com. WordPress.org is your best bet.

A self-hosted blog gives you the freedom to choose a unique domain name which is memorable and most of all, more professional. This is unlike a free platform that will only allow person.wordpress.com or person.blogger.com.

With a self-hosted blog, you’re also able to customise everything for style and functionality. Free blogs come with restrictions on the number and types of themes you can use.

With a self-hosted blog, the limit to how far you can get in terms of design is in your hands.

  1. Be Ready to Invest in Visual Content

Visual content includes videos, images, infographics, etc. And research continues to show the importance of visual content. For instance, people are 80% more likely to read a content piece if it includes coloured visuals.

Another study shows that people barely remember 10% of the information they hear after only three days. However, if the information is accompanied by relevant visuals, they will retain as much as 65%. This explains why 46% of marketers view photography as a critical component of their current strategies.

So, where do you get the images, for instance?

There are plenty of stock photo sites where you can get high quality images for free. Consider Pexels, StockSnap.io and Dreamstime to start. However, sometimes these sites won’t have the exact image you want. Then you can look at paid options such as Shutterstock and Getty Images. At the very best, you’ll want to take your own photos.

For videos and infographics, you will have to create them yourself.

  1. You’ll Need Email

Social media platforms are constantly changing their algorithms and other policies as Google’s snatching your traffic. But you know you need that traffic and you need to create a loyal following.

How can you do this amidst all the online clutter?

Go back to what you’d have used a decade ago – email.

Building an email list is probably the best method you can use to ensure a constant stream of traffic to your website, even when everything else goes wrong with social media and search engines.

This is because email gives you the chance to directly reach out to people whenever you want. Once in this space, directing them to your website is easy.

To build a great list, you’ll need a service provider such as GetResponse or MailChimp.

  1. You’ll Not Be the First – Or Last – In Your Niche

You probably have really clever ideas lined up for your upcoming blog. But what if I told you that you’ll have competition nevertheless?

Majority of bloggers in the business rarely research before they write blog posts, come up with a blog or even start a new blog.

But the competition exists.

Why should this matter? Isn’t everybody doing “their own thing”? No one is doing their own thing.

You’re in a niche that is already occupied and more people will occupy. A lot of the content that you produce won’t be the first of its kind. It’s been done before.

Researching on your competition helps you understand their audience better – an audience you’ll be trying to have for yourself. A tool like Market Samurai will show you the most popular keywords, the competition’s most popular posts, the number of backlinks received on them and the source of those links.

This information will not only help you to stay ahead of certain competitors but also serve as a guide on who’s completely out of your current league. For instance, you can’t be publishing your first post and trying to compete with a blogger getting links from NASA, Harvard, Wikipedia, etc. this way you can know where to focus your efforts.

  1. Long-Form Content is Not a Fad

I assume that one of the two main reasons you’re setting up a blog is to solve customer problems. This you can’t do if you plan on providing short weekly updates and forgetting about it. Sometimes you’ll need to dive deep into a topic in order to offer the desired value.

And besides (read: because of) addressing customer pain-points, long-form content works for you too. According to Curata, “Long-form blog posts generate 9x more leads than short short-form blog posts.

So, what is long-form content and why is it so effective?

I imagine what comes to your mind when you hear “long-form content” is 9 000+ words. However, while some pieces of content could get that far, Forbes reports that anything around 1 200 and 2 000 words makes for that definition.

Final Word

There you have it. Not much has changed but the refresher was necessary right?

So, what do you think? It’s no longer about writing great posts and waiting for readers to say nice things on the Comments. Now you have to spend money too. Are you still going to start a blog? What’s been holding you back? Let us know in the comments – we read each and look forward to the conversation that ensues.