The rise of blogging has been one of this century’s most pronounced social trends. The world’s first blog was created back in 1994, yet there were still only a couple of dozen blogs online when the new millennium dawned.
In 2003, blogging platform WordPress and targeted advertising service AdSense launched, respectively providing the foundations and the funding for anyone wanting to become a blogger. Within three years, 50 million blogs were online, and by the end of 2010, there were over 150 million. By this point, metablogs were gaining prominence, detailing how to become a blogger and advising on the creation of engaging content.
Blogging resembles a saturated industry as 2018 draws to a close, particularly given the rise of competing media like vlogs and podcasts. Even if you haven’t already become a blogger, chances are your neighbours and friends will be dabbling occasionally. And while seventy per cent of blogs don’t earn any income, five per cent earn their authors at least £25,000 a year. Yet despite the proliferation of amateur online content, there are still opportunities for new market entrants. It’s not too late to become a blogger if you adopt the right strategies, and don’t rehash content that’s already in the public domain…
Write from your own experience
Nobody else has had your life or experienced the events which shaped your personality and insights. With a plethora of existing content already online, your greatest USP is your own experience. There’s a particularly healthy market for personal stories – mental and physical health blogs, content about parenthood and beauty/lifestyle writing are just some examples.
It’s vital to recognise at the outset that you’ll inevitably upset segments of your audience along the way. Web users are strident and self-righteous, particularly when they’re able to be anonymous. As long as you can support a controversial opinion, espouse it enthusiastically and accept any negativity as the price for building a bond with those who do share your outlook.
Blogs with images receive almost twice as many views as purely text-based content. However, you don’t need to buy expensive photos from Shutterstock. Take well-framed and brightly-lit shots using your phone, or trawl platforms like FreeImages.com to acquire public domain pictures. Remember that image results from Google and Bing are likely to be copyrighted.
Break up the text in other ways
Photos are great for diluting a lengthy slab of text, but there are also other ways to hold audience attention. A third of blog readers prefer list-based headlines, so “Ten reasons” articles will be well-received, for example. Break up body text using subheadings, bullet-point lists, and pull-quotes, as well as attention-grabbing sentences repeated in a larger font somewhere across the page.
Enable social sharing
There are innumerable WordPress plugins capable of managing social sharing. These static or floating buttons enable people to share a link to a published blog or add comments on leading social media platforms. Audience interaction is crucial to assembling a decent following, and retweets or likes will introduce your blog to otherwise unreachable audiences.
Comment on other blogs
Expanding on the last point, engaging with other bloggers and brands is a great way to raise your own profile. Seek out key influencers in your sphere of interest, and demonstrate expertise by adding considered comments to their blogs. Don’t be afraid to ask people to contribute comments or even an occasional guest column, creating reciprocal benefits for both parties.
Be detailed, but don’t ramble
This is a deliberately vague instruction which depends on your chosen topics of interest. However, while search engines welcome lengthy content posts, audiences may tune out unless you have enough observations to retain their interest. On a related note, keep titles between six and 12 words to attract the highest volumes of traffic.
Launch a dedicated website
60 per cent of blogs are abandoned, which is easier to do if it’s a generic page on a third-party website like Blogger. To add professionalism and polish, register a dedicated website address. Sites can easily be constructed using platforms like WordPress, and you’ll find it far easier to establish a presence in search engine results with a dedicated URL.