“What to blog on?” is a vast topic and can take pages and days, if you trigger a discussion. But notable is the fact that more or, less most of the successful blogs cover almost the same topics or, are variants of a similar topic. Because most of us are afraid of taking risks, we too, tend to flow with the current and opt for a similar topic to blog on. But how would you sustain and grow your blog in such a competitive environment? What are the strategies you would adopt if you are to stay on top in such a jungle?
Success inÂ competitive environment comes with following the basics, which you can otherwise call as the ground rules. You need not invent the wheel. Just follow the basics to the core and your blog would get traffic and readers and would reach the top.
What are these basics? I would advice only 3 simple steps to be successful in blogging.
- Research – Whatever said would not be enough on this aspect. Success comes with research. Research your keywords, your niche within the broad topic that you are blogging on, content for your blogs etc. etc. Your content will give value to your readers only if it is well researched and written. It is your readers who would take your blog to the top position. So you have to give them value in your content. Adequately researched topics would have value in the sense that it would provide accurate information and tips to your readers.
- Content freshness – Update your blog regularly. Fresh content is what attracts readers. Don’t just keep writing about the same thing again and again. Provide content that adds value. For eg: if your blog is about cricket, don’t just write about the current matches and scores. Consider writing about how to choose the right bat or, how to grip the ball. The content that you write on can be off your regular topic, once in a while, but till the time that is a valuable read for your readers, it is fine.
- Promotion – Promote your blog in all forms. When I say promotion, I do not mean promoting it by doing a PPC ad. I would never do that. There are many other ways to promote your blog -
- Social Networking sites like twitter, facebook, myspace etc. is what I prefer the most. Join them and participate actively in the conversations and you would gain quite a few readers.
- Commenting on other blogs is what I prefer the next. Follow the basics of commenting and if your comments are valuable, you would get a good amount of traffic from this.
- Article Marketing is another preferred way of getting readers and traffic. Write about 5-7 articles on the same topic as your blog and submit it to the article directories. Leave a link to your blog and your would see traffic coming in.
I have ensured that I follow these basics to the core and have been able to get serious readers to all my blogs till date. And because I enjoy researching and writing, I have not had to push myself into doing any of these, rather it comes naturally.
Photograph by thefirebottle under Creative Common License
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Finding a topic to blog on is the most time-consuming and the most important part of all. After you have decided what to blog on and have written about 4-5 topics, you would start to feel as if you have written everything and that there is nothing more to write.
When I started blogging, I was more worried about the fact that I had very few visitors to my blog. This was because my topics where not the ones that many people were searching for, though the niche had quite a good amount of searches.
Both of these points that we discussed above can be resolved using one tool – Google Insights
Yes it is. But the only condition is that you should be ready to work hard and spend some time on researching. You don’t require any other tool to research, if you have access to Google Insights.
If you are already using a Google ID to access any of the Google tools, you can use the same ID to access this tool as well.
Google Insight – This is where you would be able to see what are the most searched keywords and topics on Google. Insight provides you the option to search specific topics from a variety of categories like Arts & Humanities, Automotives, Business etc. You can choose a category of your interest and enter specific keyword related to the category and search to get a detailed report on what was the search count for that category or, topic.
Google Insight will give you a list of keywords that were searched the most for the period that you had set when you generated the report. It would give a lot of information about topics and keywords searched, like -
- A graph showing search interests over time.
- Countries and regions that searched most for the terms.
- A search volume index for the different countries which sent the search traffic.
- The keywords that are rising in searches.
- The top searches
At this point you know what are the topics that are being searched the most. Make a list of these topics on an excel spreadsheet.
Eliminate all the topics that you are not interested in writing about. Prioritize the rest of the topics in the order that you want to write on and you have a nice list of topics on which you can write as many posts as you wish.
“Insight” Photograph courtesy afoncubierta used under Creative Common License.
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Answering this question would be a repetition of what you might have by now read in a couple hundred thousand blogs by now (I know you couldn’t read that many blogs).
But my answer is going to be a bit different than the ones you have read. After all I am teaching you how to make money – the novice way, right?
Let me first of all repeat what you would have read in other such blogs. The best topics to blog on can be decided after considering the following 2 important points -
- Interests and hobbies – What is it that you write a lot about? Obviously it is something that interests you. It could be things that you excel at, your hobbies, tips and how-to-do-things that you are good at etc. etc. Is it really something that you can write about? Yes it is. But bear in mind all that is there in your mind about your hobbies and interests would not be enough material to blog about. We will discuss this in detail a bit later.
- Find a niche that interests you – There are hundreds of thousands of topics and issues that people search the internet for answers. Pick any one such topic which you think you can write about and start blogging. Such a topic will be called a “Niche”. But how will you find that topic or, issue? We will discuss this also in detail in a short while.
When you are a starter to blogging, I would not mind about what is it that I am writing. My objective would be to write. My strategy and plans would be different from all of those blogging gurus out there. But this is what has worked for me and should work for anyone who is ready to put in that efforts.
- Start writing on anything that you feel like writing on. Post about 4-5 posts so that you get acquainted with writing and editing.
- Once you are at the 5th post, you are ready for some research. This is when you actually need to decide on what is it that you are going to write on.
- Jot down 10 things that interest you in a plain paper. This is one of the most difficult things to do for me. The best approach to do this is follow the “method of elimination”. Write down all that interests you. Pick each topic and see if you can speak on it for about 3-4 minutes. Eliminate everything that poses difficulty for you to speak upon. Keep a list of the final ten.
- I have seen a lot of people recommend niche research software and tools to people who are just into blogging and has not even got a hang of it. This is not advisable. This is where I admire people like John Chow and Darren Rowse who only recommends things that are practical and provide excellent tips to newbie bloggers. At this point you should go ahead and research a bit on the topics that you are interested in writing about.
Researching a topic:-
This is where I was stuck for more than 3 months. The biggest mistake that people do at this point is to get into too much of research and follow the advices from one too many people. The end-result is nothing and you would end up de-motivated and dead. This is where most of the bloggers quit blogging. So avoid over-research.
All that you need to research a topic that you want to blog about is access to Google Insights and there is no access restriction to it. We would be discussing this in detail in my next blog.
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The obvious question, when you start – “How do I start”? If you have just joined the blogging caravan, then this question is the one which is most difficult to answer for you. When my blogs punchline said, “Making money online – the novice way”, the first few readers which obviously were my friends and colleagues, asked me a question: “What is the easiest way to make money online and which a novice can start off with”? My response was – “BLOGGING”.
So you are one of them who has just decided that you want to start a blog to make money online, then let us start by answering the obvious question.
Types of Blogging platforms -
There are numerous blogging platforms out there and a few of them are Typepad, Mashable, Blogger, and WordPress. The first 2 platforms only let you host a blog at their hosting but the other two have multiple options.
WordPress gives you 2 options. You can either use the WordPress hosted option or, a Self-hosted option. At the WordPress hosted option or, for that matter all blogs that are hosted at their own hosting servers, your blog name would be something similar to http://yourblogname.wordpress.com or, http://yourblogname.typepad.com etc. You can read more about this option or, start a blog at http://www.wordpress.com.
At the self hosted option that WordPress offers, you will have to buy a hosting account, and a domain name. You should also know a bit about hosting servers and ftp publishing, though these days all hosting plans come with control panels that give you an easy option to install WordPress.
At Blogger, you can host the blog at their servers and yet have a domain name of your own. So that means that you would not have to live with the blog name like the one that we discussed above. You can choose to have a blog like http://www.yourblogname.com. They also give you an option of hosting your blog on your own server. The best thing about this is the fact that you don’t need to fiddle with your hosting server a lot in case you go for this option, because Blogger provides an easy ftp publishing option.
There are 2 situations that we would assume which would be the prime considerations in deciding where to start -
- You want to start making some money soon.
- You want to make money only after some time – about 2-3 months down the line
You want to start making some money soon -
This is how I am and I can go to any extent to learn and research in order to do that. So if you are one of them, then we assume the following -
- You have a bit of knowledge about html and websites – If this is so, then you should start off by using self-hosted WordPress. This is because WordPress has a lot of enhancements available through the numerous plug-ins and you can give your blog a personal touch and feel. Also advertising on your blogs would be in your absolute control and after some time when you become a successful blogger you don’t have to change servers and domains. (This is the worst thing to do ever). You can download the WordPress installation files here at http://www.wordpress.org.
- You have no knowledge of html and websites – In this case the best place to start is “Blogger”. You don’t have to worry about html and hosting servers. They allow advertisement even on their hosted blog and advertising is very easy at Blogger if you know how to drag and drop and copy and paste. Later when you are successful at blogging you don’t need to shift the entire server also. You can run the same blog from your own server with you own domain name. Check out Blogger at http://www.blogger.com
You want to make money only after some time -
If you want to start a blog to get the feel of it and have set a target of making money only after some time, once you get acquainted with it, then the best option for you is WordPress hosted blogs. It is easy to start, configure and run and you can take your own time to get used to all the features of WordPress. Later on when you are ready for your money making blog, you can choose any of the other options.
But why would you not want to make some money while you get acquainted with “Blogging”. My advice would hence be to start off with a Self-hosted WordPress blog right away.
I should tell you that WordPress is amazing. I started on WordPress about 2 years ago and today am running almost 11 blogs successfully.
In case you want help in installing a blog for you on any of the above platforms, my friend can do that for you while you sit and relax. The charges are nominal -
You get a free “Complete manage your blog” guide with all of these.
Blogger hosted blogs – $20.00
Wordpress hosted blogs – $30.00
Self-hosted WordPress blog – $50.00 (You get your hosting space for life, a domain name of your choice paid for the first year and the blog management guide)
Other blogs – $35.00 (No guide available)
Just comment on this blog in case you would like to opt for one and we will get in touch with you at your email address.