Content and SEO are equally as important… But which do you start with? We asked 60+ experts to share the strategy they prioritize—and why.
Content Marketing | Jun 25
Masooma Memon on January 6, 2021 (last modified on January 4, 2021) • 23 minute read
Wondering how to start a blog? There’s no short answer to this.
The long answer, however, revolves around several aspects. These include shopping for your domain name, figuring out the best blogging platform for you, developing a content strategy for your blog, understanding SEO and your target audience, and a lot more.
So let’s dive into these details to give you an action plan for starting a blog. Ready to learn? Here’s what we’ve got for you in this post:
Starting a full-time, professional blog can cost a minimum of $941.40. These costs involve:
If you plan to go for a basic plan, you’ll need to shell out between $2 to $20 per month. However, the price goes up as you select the advanced version.
A .com domain costs around $14 per year. Of course, prices vary as per the domain name registrar you select.
You can both save money here or spend a significant amount on a well-designed, easy to navigate and read blog design. If you plan to keep it budget-friendly, you can use a free theme or get one within a $30 to $60 range. However, if you have the green bills to invest in, you can get a good blog design anywhere from $500 to $2500.
If you plan to write yourself, you don’t need to factor in the content writing costs. If you want to outsource, you can find a writer for almost every price. What’s more, writing software such as Grammarly and Writer can help polish your blog posts by finding out grammatical errors, checking plagiarism, and much more. These start at a minimum $30 and you can use free trials (with limited features, of course).
You’ve multiple options at your disposal including:
There’s a lot of work to do when it comes to how to start a blog.
You’ll need to pick a theme to blog about, create a content strategy, work your way around blog SEO, and publish posts regularly. Speaking of which, our respondents insist you can’t take publishing frequency lightly with about half of them saying that publishing frequency is “very important”:
That said, growing a blog takes a lot of time. In fact, over 25% of the experts that we surveyed say it takes a good 9-12 months just to gain initial traction for your new blog:
As for significant traction? That can easily take over a year:
Now that this important bit is out in the open, let’s walk you through proven tips to start and grow a blog.
Here’s a list, followed by the details:
Editor’s note: Track how well your blog does using this free Blog Quality Metrics Dashboard that lays out essential blog metrics such as blog post page views, returning blog visitors, average dwell time, and more on one screen.
Unstack’s Ceillie Clark-Keane suggests you start with defining your purpose. Clark-Keane says ask yourself, “is the goal of your content to educate your audience about your industry? Is it to celebrate your company and customer accomplishments?
Is it to cover industry updates? Once you have your purpose defined, it’s easy to focus your efforts, whether that’s educational content, industry updates, or celebrating cool creative.
You can always make this purpose broader as you expand (and succeed!), but it’s better when you’re starting to focus on doing a few things really well. It can be too easy when you’re starting out to get stuck doing a million things poorly instead.”
According to Odeh Ahwal of eComDimes starting a blog from scratch begins with “figuring out the three W’s! It is the what, who and why. Unless you have answers to those questions, don’t bother taking your next step.
Having a clear vision of what you’ll be doing is crucial when it comes to blogging because it’s a matter of time, and requires a good portion of patience.
Those come as one, and having a clear answer for each of them will determine your whole blogging journey!”
“Choose a hosting company that provides great speed and performance,” suggests Parent Portfolio’s Jonathan Sanchez.
“A lot of new bloggers are easily sold into signing up with a particular host, but only realize down the road it impacts SEO and user experience. There are great hosting companies that are available at discounted prices for start-up bloggers.”
Mostly Blogging’s Janice Wald adds to this bit. “You need to self-host and pick a host you will want to stay with for years. Read reviews.
Prices vary, but you get what you pay for. Make sure you have a host that will ensure your blog will load quickly and provide you 24/7 customer support even on holidays. It’s important the tech support staff members are friendly, helpful, and patient. New bloggers need this support.”
“Extensive research is the key,” advises Damien Martin from Shufti Pro. “If you haven’t written anything on the topic before, make sure you do sound research. Check out how you can use the available information and produce something new. Lastly, your blog must be full of information if you want organic traffic to be qualified leads.”
And while doing keyword research, “keep your ideal customer profile in the center of your mind,” recommends Brooklin Nash of Sales Hacker.
“What questions can you answer that would make them want to immediately use your tool? For example, if you’re a prospecting tool: make the keyword ‘how to export leads from LinkedIn sales navigator’ — not ‘LinkedIn prospecting.’ As you start to build credibility, domain authority and content, you can start targeting the higher traffic keywords.”
Summarizing this, Eduard Klein writes, “Most of the blogs have well-written content, but very little traffic and leads. If you want to succeed with your blog, you need to:
Since we’re already talking blog SEO, you’ll find this tip on how to start a blog useful. It comes from Kinsta’s Tom Zsomborgi who says, “Know what it takes to outrank the competition and drive massive traffic for long-tail keywords.
SEO is not magic, but it takes time 6-12 months at least to see the first promising results and get out of the Google sandbox and you have to know the basics and follow the so-called best practices.
Go deep into the details, optimize your posts, pages, images (alt-text), interlink your content, and consistently publish fresh and relevant content. E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness is what you need in order to succeed.”
Several of our respondents consider this an important, first step when it comes to starting a blog from the scratch.
To begin with, Best Blog Tools’ Barbi Gardiner shares, “I think that choosing the right niche is an important consideration when contemplating starting a blog from scratch.
Some people believe creating a blog that only covers a specific topic limits the number of people who will read their blog. However, many times, the opposite is true, choosing a unique blog niche will earn you many devoted—and regular—readers.
In my experience, the more niched down and specific your blog niche, the more opportunity to excel and gain authority in your area. Google will reward you nicely as well!
The blog niche you choose is one of the key factors, if not THE key factor that will determine how successful your blog will be and how much money you can potentially earn from it.”
So here’s what you’ve got to do as per Swift Salary’s Dylan Houlihan: “As you research, ask yourself:
If there are others who have already found success in the niche you’re planning on getting into, that’s a good sign. Be sure to spend a couple of hours researching different sites and content ideas to be sure.”
But here’s the thing: always make sure you’re interested in the niche you select. Houlihan talks about this too, “you don’t need to know a lot about it at first, but you should be excited to learn more about it. As a blogger, you’ll be writing about it (ideally) every single day, so if it bores you easily, that probably means it’s not the best fit.”
Remember, “focus on one or two topics, and build your content to cover everything about those selected topics,” advises Katrina Dalao from Referral Rock.com. “Not only will it be easier to create a solid internal linking strategy for your blog, you’ll also build subject matter authority.”
To add on top of selecting a niche, Paul Franklin from SideGains suggests, “If you have a strong idea about the principal topic you want to take on, start by producing content in one of its sub-niches.
Build up your reputation with search engines and visitors by focusing very tightly on one aspect of your main niche. By doing this, you’ll achieve several important things. Sub-niches are generally less competitive and you’ll stand a much better chance of seeing traffic in the short-term.
Furthermore, you’ll be able to demonstrate your expertise in a very specific niche more easily and so you’ll appeal to a very specific demographic. This will help you to build relationships with your visitors in a more powerful way than by tackling every subject within your main niche.
When you have a foothold in your sub-niche, you can begin to branch out into other related topic areas to tackle the more competitive areas of your principal topic area.”
Equally important here is understanding what you want to be known for.
Ronit Levy of Simply SEO Systems elaborates, “It’s important to first figure out what you want your blog to be known for. This is even more true in a crowded space. Are you known for writing in-depth guides? The kind of language you use? Who you’re writing for? Once you identify this, you can craft a content strategy as well as use your time and resources wisely.”
“Keyword Research is one of the most important things to do when you are starting out a new blog,” points out Abhishek Shukla from Product Guru.
“Let’s say you wrote an article on some ‘X’ topic and you see no traffic is coming to your website, the biggest reason may be that no one wants to read about it because no one is searching for it. And even if they are searching for it, the traffic is so less than older websites are already ranking on it,” Shukla explains.
“Another thing to check is keyword difficulty, if the keyword is so high to rank for then you need to shift to low competition keywords. So, check for low-competition keywords with a decent amount of traffic. And as you grow then try for some mid-range keywords.”
Adam Connell of Blogging Wizard speaks in favor of leveraging long-tail keywords. Connell comments “The volume of content you publish and the strategy behind is extremely important. In general, any content strategy needs to be diverse, but when you first launch your blog, you specifically need to publish content based around relevant long-tail keywords in your niche. The more content you publish, the better.
The great thing about focusing your content around keywords is that you know people will be interested in the topics you’re writing about. Then, once your audience has grown, you can diversify your content strategy.”
“Starting a blog from scratch can feel intimidating—but don’t feel like you have to tackle everything at once,” advises Meisha Bochicchio from Wistia.
“Instead, focus. Focus on a single audience. Focus on a core topic or theme. Focus on being the very best in your area of expertise. You can expand into new areas over time, but start small and focus on the quality—not quantity—of blog content you produce.”
It’s also important that you look at your competitors. Jakub Rudnik of Illinois High School Basketball points out, “You need to know what your audience is and what competition there is for that audience. There needs to be a group of people who are interested in the subject matter you plan to write about or else you’ll never get traffic.
Just as importantly, you need to be aware of who your competitors will be and how many there are. What do they do well? What can set you apart? Is there room for another thought leader in the space? How will your blog carve out its own loyal following within the community?”
Always “focus 100% on QUALITY. Not quantity,” highlights TJ Kelly. “It doesn’t matter how often you publish new material, as long as that material is exceptional. Go for comprehensive and authoritative.”
Offering value to your blog readers is one excellent way of keeping them coming back. For example, Jesse Cramer from The Best Interest shares, “A huge part of my following comes from the fact that my readers know they’re getting a value-packed new article every single Friday.”
Omniconverts’ Donald Damilola adds, “Writing engaging content is an intrinsic element when it comes to starting a successful business blog online.
It doesn’t matter whether you post once a week, twice a month, or every day, the most important factor is giving out so many values that your readers can’t get anywhere else.
Successful and established bloggers know that understanding the audience’s problems and weird thoughts they’re having on their heads is the key to blogging success.
And yes, you don’t have to be an expert or sound genius out of the blue moon, you just need to be aware of your readers’ needs and what makes them tick online so that you can be serving them from a unique angle that helps them the most. This is what I learned the hard way.”
Workado’s Justin McGill shares a relevant tip regarding the posting frequency here: “start with a high-velocity launch. Try and get to your first 100 published blog posts as soon as possible. Ideally, with a daily content publishing schedule. This will quickly ramp up your rankings and keep Google coming back for more.”
Another important point is to give your blog some time before rushing for results. Regina ThatFrugalPharmacist of ThatFrugalPharmacist.com comments, “You need to be ready to do it because you enjoy it. Unless you’re really lucky, you’re not going to see overnight success.
If you begin blogging for external validation or success, you are likely to become quickly burned out. Be prepared for a long, slow haul.”
Solution Scout’s Blake Bobit goes on to add, “90% of people will give up. If you keep at it through the lulls, success will find you.” Hence, “the key to success with any new blog is to keep publishing and adding value regardless of the signals you’re getting.”
So be mindful: “Many out there tout making tons of money in a relatively short amount of time, and while that can happen, it appears to be the rarity rather than the norm,” Tawnya Redding from Money Saved is Money Earned shares.
“Blogging is rewarding and will eventually pay dividends, but you need to be prepared to work for several years and possibly longer before you start to see significant growth.”
“Develop a content strategy,” recommends Sam Bretzmann of BretzMedia alongside multiple other respondents. “Layout 20, 30, 40 posts so that you have a pathway you are headed on and you don’t have to spend extra time figuring out what you will write about.
SERP Wolf’s Lana Volkov adds, “Planning a content strategy and content hierarchy by topics and categories, is very helpful for a successful blog. Being mindful in advance to which topics are going to be covered will help to create a good strategy.”
Maria Dykstra of TreDigital is also on the same page: “Strategy, strategy, and strategy. Your content is competing with millions of other blogs published daily.
Simply writing good content is no longer enough. A successful strategy will include researching, planning, organizing, writing, and promoting your content. Without a strategy, you will just end up investing hundreds of hours into content that nobody reads.”
Not ready to dive into the strategy bit just yet? Take some advice from Blaze Bullock of Blaze Digital Marketing: “Just start answering questions that people are asking online. You can use Answer The Public to see what people are asking then write a blog post answering that question.”
“If you’re not sure where to begin when it comes to starting your blog, take a look at your competitors,” recommends Thomas Bolt of Big EVAL.
“It’s never a bad idea to draw some inspiration from other similar blogs, which can spark original strategies of your own. Look at blog topics, designs, and CTAs. These factors will all be of great importance when creating your own blog.”
Michael Pozdnev from I Wanna Be a Blogger shares the same thought. Pozdnev suggests you start with studying:
Make friends with these people. Do something useful (free!) for them based on your skills, services, or products.
And only then start creating useful first blog posts that will get traffic as quickly as possible. Thanks to in-depth topical research. Tools like KWFinder, SurferSEO will help here. (If you have a budget, then connect more expensive ones: SEMrush, Ahrefs, Buzzsumo.
Don’t be afraid to mention influencers, journalists, colleagues, and other active bloggers in your blog posts! After a friendly outreach, many of them will help spread your content to a wider audience. This will create backlinks. And these actions will speed up the process of creating a successful blog.”
Justin Mosebach of Improve & Grow also suggests you, “reach out to industry experts/influencers and ask them to contribute to a post (ex. ask them for a quote about a topic).” This will help you make your content more valuable plus play a helpful hand in promoting the posts as contributors share your content.
Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers Company advises you to “focus on distribution and promotion.”
Aufray explains, “when you start a blog from scratch, before publishing, you need to have a strategy to distribute and promote your content. I usually recommend spending 20% of your time/money on blog content creation and 80% on distribution/promotion.
Having high-quality content is key but if no one can see it, it’s pretty much useless.
So, before working on your blog content, make sure you have a plan to show your content to your audience. This could be through social media, emails, niche forums, Q&A sites, etc.”
Editor’s note: Worried about having to look at different places to see where your traffic is coming from? Use this Google Analytics Website Engagement Dashboard Template to get all your important metrics such as your blog’s bounce rate, sessions by channel, average session duration, users, and much more on one screen.
Laura Rike votes for Pinterest when it comes to distributing your blog content. Rike notes, “when starting your blog, consider marketing it on Pinterest.
Sign up for a free Pinterest business account and create pins relevant to your blog post, upload them to Pinterest adding keywords, title, and description, then schedule to be posted at the same time as your blog. Marketing your blog on Pinterest is a crucial step for many new bloggers and has helped thousands of bloggers start their blog from scratch.”
Brandon Amoroso from electrIQ marketing brings another important point to your attention: “ You need to be sure that you can expand on your main topic in order to get traction in the future. You also have to take into account the time and extra elements it takes to create a successful blog.
You need to promote your blog if you want it to grow, so that means adding a lot of interesting visuals and utilizing social media to grow that blog’s following. All of this in addition to great content that resonates with your target audience will allow you to start a great blog over time.”
Hira Mirza of Sevcontent observes, “I’ve written a number of blogs for different clients and there’s one thing I need to before I start: the intent. This means that I should know exactly why this piece of content is being written, and what kind of action the blog needs to encourage readers to take.
The audience is at the heart of this consideration, since I need to dig in to the readership of the publisher and find out what the typical reader is looking for. Unless the ‘value’ of the blog is determined beforehand, there is no way that it can have the right impact on views, ranking, or action.”
“There are plenty of factors worth considering while starting a blog from scratch, with Domain Authority being one of the most impactful ones,” opines Contentki’s Kasia Kowalska.
“If you’re planning to launch a blog covering a very competitive area such as content marketing, then you’ll have to compete with brands like HubSpot (and they’re a tough rival). It’s important to build a decent DA first before launching your own blog – it will give you a better chance to rank well in Google.”
“The key point is to develop your brand/online reputation,” notes Samuel Schmitt from samuelschmitt.com.
This can work wonders for your blog. For instance, Schmitt shares, “I started my blog about SEO in 2019 from scratch, and 15 months later, I’ve reached 20k monthly users.” Here’s how: “It can be achieved by to offer outstanding content, something that resonates differently to the usual content produced by the companies already present in your niche.”
Charbel Coorey from CricBlog points out, “A key tip for building a successful blog is having your audience connect with YOU. Yes, producing great content on a topic you share the same passion for as your audience is the starting point for any blog, but how do you fast track its growth? A: grow your personal profile.
My key advice would be to not be afraid to put your personal and blogging brand out there, express yourself, and interact with others who share the same passions as you do. Once you do, you build a level of trust and authority, and people will be much more keen to hear or read what you have to say.”
Lastly, The Loaded Pig’s Rebecca Hunter reminds, “choose the platform wisely and plan how you will build the site and the necessary features. It’s a lot of work to switch platforms, like going from Wix to WordPress, if you already published many blog posts. Take time to do your research before to prevent unnecessary stress and effort.”
When it comes to how to start a blog, there is, undeniably, a lot of work to do, but it’s all worth it. Start with creating a plan that covers your blog niche, promotion channels you’ll target, the type of blog content you’ll write, and other such details. Then shop for your domain name, blogging platform, and other software. Once your blog is up and running, follow the rest of the tips we shared with full dedication. You’ll be sure to reap sweet fruit in no time.
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