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The Essential Guide to Blogging

The Essential Guide to Blogging

Learn how to write, design and promote your posts. Get SEO tips, social media recommendations and more.

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How to Start a Personal Blog That You’ll Love, Plus Examples

Writing in today’s world means that you have more ways to connect with other like-minded individuals than ever before. Starting a blog will allow you to hone your skills as a storyteller as you create content driven by your life experiences and perspectives.

We invite you to get deeply acquainted with our step-by-step guide to starting a personal blog, from choosing your template to building an email list. Afterwards, learn by example with some talented folks who’ve built their own successful blogs in all shapes and sizes.

How to start a personal blog

  1. Pick a personal blog template

  2. Develop your brand

  3. Choose a hosting plan and domain name

  4. Create a content calendar

  5. Optimize your content for SEO

  6. Build an email list

  7. Get the word out

01. Pick a personal blog template

Ready-made and professionally-designed templates are a great way to ensure effective content and expressive design, and can also be a source of inspiration. This is a result of carefully tailored templates created for a specific purpose or topic in mind.

Using a fully customizable personal blog template gives you the foundation from which you’ll be able to create a strong online presence and meet your audience’s needs and interests. You’ll want to consider the following when choosing a template of your own.

  • Define your blog’s goal: Giving your site a purpose will help you take the necessary steps to ensure that you find the right template for you and your target audience. For example, if your personal blog focuses on food, think about adding a culinary vibe to your site, like a background resembling a dining cloth. Your readers will resonate with it.

  • Decide on a layout: Your layout has influence on the presentation of your blog. You can choose a template with a layout that will prioritize certain blog content over others. For example, using a magazine-style layout lets you draw attention to featured stories or images and can be suitable for someone creating lots of diverse content.

02. Develop your brand

To make your personal blog truly your own, you’ll want to design it in a way that represents you, your values or goals. This is especially important if you're trying to build your own brand and eventually make money from your blog.

Customizing your personal web space will give you an edge over other blogs, making it easier for you to stand out. Design also has a role in supporting the message of your content seen in the hierarchy or order of the ideas presented to your readers.

There are several elements of your blog to take into account when it comes to branding your blog. Here are the most important ones:

  • Logo: Create your own logo to be the face of your brand and make your blog recognizable. This graphic mark should reflect and embody your blog. Your blog logo can be featured in your social media channels, site’s favicon and other branding assets to increase your brand recognition and strengthen your online presence.

  • Header: This is the space above the fold of the homepage and a strategic part of your personal blog that people see in the first seconds of loading your page. Your header should be inviting, provide basic information and tell users exactly what is being offered. It includes essential web elements, such as a logo, call-to-action button, headline, navigation menu and any relevant text or image.

  • Website color scheme: Colors can inspire certain moods or bring up important associations for viewers. Spend time choosing the perfect color scheme for the type of topics you’ll be writing about and think about what tone you want to convey. For example, if you want to be bold and daring, you can use brighter tones like yellow and orange. Alternatively, if you want to be subtle, you can go for shades of beige.

  • Mobile design: Though not a branding element, mobile design plays a major role in how your brand is perceived. With the number of smartphone users worldwide reaching 3 billion - a figure that forces to be reckoned with - your blog needs to be mobile-friendly in order to stay relevant. To provide the best user experience, you’ll need to include shorter paragraphs, scrollable content and images fit for a small screen, which readers can consume on their mobile.

03. Choose a hosting plan and domain name

A website without a hosting plan is all dressed up and nowhere to go. You’ll need to choose a reliable web hosting plan to make your personal blog visible to others online. Wix’s free website hosting offers an excellent 99.9% uptime that ensures your site will always be up and running on a stable network. It’s also protected with 24/7 security monitoring to keep your visitors safe and provides enough storage space for your pages, images and videos so that they can be seamlessly streamed and be downloaded by visitors.

After you’ve picked a web hosting plan, it’s time to choose a domain name, also known as your online address. When it comes to finding a domain name for your personal blog, you’ll need to come up with one that’s reflective of your content and style. So, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Be unique in order to set yourself apart from other bloggers who are writing about similar topics. Take the idea of parenting blogs; there are multiple existing domains adjoining words “mom” and “blog.” Instead, you can add another description that’s unique to your site and lets audiences know what they will get out of reading it.

  • Make it simple to say, type and spell so that your domain name will be sharable and memorable by all types of people.

  • Use your name to position yourself as a thought leader in your niche. If your goal is to establish yourself as a brand, you can choose your own name as your domain name.

  • Check availability by doing a quick domain name search before setting your heart on one that’s taken.

Finally, you’ll need to connect your domain name to a web hosting provider so visitors can find your blog on the internet.

04. Create a content calendar

At the core of every successful blog is original content. This is why personal blogs are also vessels of quality writing. After all, you are the expert of telling your own story.

To maximize these efforts, you’ll want to create an editorial calendar that will better manage all your content and help you measure your blog’s performance. An editorial calendar is a document that keeps all your blog posting information, such as topic ideas and publishing dates, organized and accessible in a centralized format.

Having a blogging schedule will help you find the best times to post, keep a record of all your content and let you track the progress of each post, from the moment it goes live to marketing it. Additionally, implementing this kind of content strategy can also help you determine your objectives, whether that’s increasing traffic or gaining new subscribers.

05. Optimize your content for SEO

All bloggers share a common goal: to increase the exposure of their writing. In order to drive traffic to your personal blog, you’ll need to think about search engine optimization, or SEO. This is the process of optimizing your web pages to boost your site’s position on search engines through organic searches. The better your site ranks within certain queries, the more likely you are to get visitors and widen your reach.

There are several ways to improve your SEO ranking. One of your priorities will be to conduct keyword research to find the most relevant words to implement on your blog. These keywords will help you understand how people are searching for things related to your niche or blog topic, as well as the type of content they expect to find. In turn, this will let you determine relevant topics for your audience and identify the best keywords to use in your writing. Then you can think about naturally fitting a keyword to the title of your blog post and other forms of content.

Other key practices of SEO for bloggers include writing SEO-friendly alt text for images, creating an optimized meta description using your keywords, and ensuring that your site is mobile friendly.

06. Build an email list

In our everyday life, we use email to check in with colleagues, friends and even spouses. For bloggers, emailing has become one of the most powerful tools for communicating with readers. Furthermore, the right email strategy can help you gain more followers thus lead to lucrative opportunities when monetizing your blog. To explore these email marketing opportunities further, you’ll need to first build a mailing list. In general, you can amass a list of email addresses from blog subscribers and people who have agreed to be updated via their inbox. It’s important to find inviting ways to draw people toward opting-in or subscribing to your mailing list. You can create a strong CTA button, such as “Subscribe Today” and place it strategically on your homepage, so others will see. You can also give an incentive to get people to sign up. Typically, this kind of offer comes in the form of a free ebook or downloadable content.

An email list can be used as an instrument for building a strong community around your blog. You’ll know that your subscribers want to hear from you because they’ve already given you permission to do so - signaling the notion of loyalty and trust. Subscribers are also more likely to share your content because they are interested in what you have to say.

Down the line, you can segment your email list based on specific factors, such as location and demographics, and send out personalized emails that will result in higher click-through rates.

07. Get the word out

If no one reads your personal blog, how could it be said to exist? To draw more attention to it, you’ll need to think about different ways to promote your blog and improve your online presence. You can combine marketing strategies or just stick to one that meets all your needs. The two most common types of promoting methods are social media and email marketing. Let’s dive deeper into the differences between them:

  • Email marketing is the act of sending emails with the aim to build loyalty, trust or brand awareness. Using the email list you’ve built in the previous step, you can run an array of effective email marketing campaigns targeting your audience, from welcome emails to follow-ups.

  • Social media marketing lets you gain access to diverse crowds by reaching out via new channels. Whether it's YouTube, Facebook or Instagram, you can use these platforms to further promote your content, better engage with audiences and create new forms of content, like stories and live streaming.

Best personal blog examples

After decades of world travel, Hazell Jacobs, 86, embarked on a different journey by starting a personal blog. Thus Scarf Aid was formed to serve the purpose of bringing that joy to others. At first glance, Jacobs informs her readers in humorous text that “A Scarf A Week Keeps Coronavirus Away,” as is prominently featured across the header. This proceeds to set the tone for an informal yet complete personal experience.

As you navigate between her different blog post entries, you’ll always be able to find your way back to the homepage through its clickable title. You can scroll down to the subscription form at the bottom of the page and join a multitude of readers who’ve opted to receive email updates about Jacobs’s one-of-a-kind entries. In fact, she’s always straightforward with her audience as seen in her sign-up box. “Receive an email when there is a new blog, every Sunday at 8 am,” she promises.

With a heavy focus on lifestyle and travel, Kimmy Pang’s personal blog also happens to be down to earth. Posting photos taken from her smartphone gives visitors access to her everyday life in a way that’s relatable and friendly. She shows herself drinking coffee and going out running, making her audience feel like they not only know her but can also be like her.

In the blog’s footer, Pang’s pink and playful vector art of branches pairs nicely with photos of her alongside an arrangement of roses. Here she also bids us farewell in what looks like a postcard: “Made by Kimmy With Love,” in Dancing Script font, is elegant and timeless.

Katy Jones wants her audience to feel as if we are going home with her. She is our remote guide to Charleston, South Carolina, and can show us the way locals dine. Check out the site’s menu bar tailored to her niches, “In the Kitchen” and “Recommendations.” The clickable pictures featured on her list of top eateries send you to their websites, rectifying her blog an invaluable online resource.

Her About page also charms readers with her personalized writing style. Jones continually sends off good vibes using a great author photo on the page, as well as providing a very intimate and detailed bio stating who she is and what she’s all about.

Photography is everything on Soverini’s site and based on the amount of blog content, it seems that there’s a lot of activity behind the scenes as well. Yet, with the integration of a clickable blog archive, visitors can easily navigate across the different posts, easing any fear of missing out.

There’s also a news feed on the right side of the page, which evolves to show the Soverini’s most recent posts. Additionally, every post has an accompanying CTA button, “Read More,” to ensure visitors get on it.

While illustrator Melissa Pagluica built a personal blog in the footsteps of her graphic novels, the layout of her blog post entries actually resembles cards laid out on a table. Pick one, any one. At the end of each post are suggested recent posts to keep readers browsing.

Meanwhile, the integration of social media icons in the header and footer remind visitors on both ends of the page to further check out Pagluica on social media.

Travel lovers and hobbyist photographers can get their kicks exploring this comprehensive personal blog, which has a fixed navigation bar across all web pages so no one ever gets astray from returning homeward bound.

We already know that visual content can play a major role in engaging with visitors. Adding an image gallery page can also be the perfect way for a blogger to effectively show visitors examples of their own photo work, as seen in a web portfolio. In this case, the blogger has done just that by integrating an image gallery on their site.

Jamie Evans founded The Herb Somm, a culinary-meets-cannabis blog and lifestyle brand, which houses both rich and fine recipes. In order to unlock her free kitchen secrets, she wants you to consider joining her newsletter (for adults 21+ only) first. By implementing a lightbox to draw attention to this vital first step, she is also able to build a strong email list along the process.

Evans’s Press page is dedicated to all the media mentions and screenshots of news articles that have been written about her flourishing CBD line. The choice of Masonry layout displayed on this page - based on columns without having fixed height rows - also allows for the optimization of space usage by reducing any gaps. The layout is as tough as the bricks it emulates.

Get some quality reading done by checking out this personal blog dedicated to short stories. There’s always a handpicked featured story on the home page to get you started as a first-time visitor. If you’re a returnee, then head straight to the Short Stories section, located on the menu bar, where there are countless others.

Each piece conveniently has an estimated reading time and is made completely shareable with the click of a share icon. And if you’re looking to get in touch with the writer, you can fill out a simple contact form on the Contact page. It even has a space to include a private message.

The parallax scrolling in this expat blog immediately draws you in. This effect lets on a three-dimensional feel and allows for a more immersive browsing experience. The embedded Instagram feed below the fold also allows the blogger to share moments in real time with her audience.

Then check out the comments section after each blog post, which provides a two-way communication between blogger and audience. Blog comments also work as a form of social proof that endorses your site is trustworthy.

By Cecilia Lazzaro Blasbalg

Small Business Expert & Writer

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