15 Questions and Answers for the Novice Bloggers

Blogging sounds easy: just write something and put it on a website, and make money.

But if you want to take it seriously—if you want to do it long term, or do it for a living—it’s a bit more complicated than that.

So complicated, in the fact that the Internet is full of advice for how to do it right.
15 Questions and Answers for the Novice Bloggers
If you’re just getting started, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Read on for 15 questions and answers that will help you get moving in the right direction.

1. What is the best blogging platform?

Lots of guides will tell you that there’s no one blogging platform better than the others, and while that certainly can be true for some people, it really depends on what you want your blog to do.

If you just want a place to put your writing, or talk about something you love, or connect with like-minded people, any free platform is a good choice—it won’t really make a difference whether you use Wordpress, Blogger, Tumblr, or any of the others.

But if you want to build your blog into a business and make money from it, LifeHack.org recommends a self-hosted version of WordPress.  That means buying your domain rather than using a free one, but you’ll own the website and all the work you put on it, which makes a big difference in the long run.

2. How do I start a blog?

To start blogging with a minimum of fuss, just go to a site like Blogger or WordPress, sign up for a free account, choose a name and a theme, and start posting.

For a more professional blogging solution, you’ll first need to purchase a domain (for example, from GoDaddy.com), then set up WordPress or another hosting for your blog website.

Once that’s done, you can begin posting content.

3. How do I make a design for my blog?

Unless you’re setting up your blog from scratch—which is a good way to spend a lot of time and effort doing anything but actually blogging—it’s as easy as choosing one of the template designs or “themes” available on your chosen blogging platform.

Test a few out and see which one you like, then stick with it.

You can also purchase fancier themes and customize with “widgets” if you want.

4. How do I pick a niche and a name?

When choosing your niche (the core theme or topic of your blog as a whole), ask yourself what you love and what you’re an expert in.  If you can find an area where you really know your stuff AND you’re passionate about it, that’s a perfect choice for your niche.

To pick a name, brainstorm a few ideas that connect to your niche.  For example, if you’re an avid coin collector, something like “coinhound.com” might work for you (though sadly, that one’s not available).

Check to see if the name you want is available, and if not, don’t worry about it too much.  Just head back to the drawing board and keep thinking.

5. How do I know what to write about?

This is why it helps to choose a niche that you love or know a lot about—just write about the things in your niche that get you excited, or that people often ask you about.

Use your knowledge and experience to inform your readers, answer questions they may have, or help them solve related problems.

6. How do I make it good?

There are a million guides online for writing quality content, but don’t get overwhelmed.  Choose one or two to start with, and follow their advice as closely as you can.

One of the keys to not getting discouraged is to start slow and improve a little bit at a time, so don’t stress out if your posts aren’t flawless.  After all, you can always come back and improve them later.

The two biggest keys to making a blog post good are to have a strong headline and to have interesting helpful content.  Once you’ve got those two elements down, the rest will follow.

7. Do I need to have perfect spelling and grammar?

No, but your writing does need to be readable.

Keep paragraphs fairly short, try not to use overly complicated sentences, and use a word processor or a site like Grammarly to help proofread before you post.  If you do all that, a typo here and there shouldn’t be a problem (unless you’re blogging about grammar, of course).

8. How do I get people to read it?

When you first start, almost no one will find your blog on their own.

Help it along by writing interesting and useful stuff and then sharing it on social media like Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

You can also bring people in by reading other blogs and leaving thoughtful, interesting comments.

9. How do I get more people to read it?

The most important thing is to keep writing helpful, interesting, original posts.  The more of them you have on your site, the better it will look to the search engines, and the more likely people will be to share them with friends. 

Keep growing your social media and so that you have more people to share with, and take the time to learn a little bit about what Google and the other search engines look for.  You can also give your readership a boost by making connections with other bloggers and sharing each other’s posts.

10. How can I make my posts original when there are so many other blogs out there?

One simple way to make sure your posts stay original is to put your own personal style and personality into them.

Though the topic may have been hashed out in a hundred other blogs, none of them have your particular spin.

So own it!  Be yourself, and let it shine through in your writing.  If you’re still stuck—just like with so many other problems bloggers face—there are guides available to help unstick you.

11. Do I need pictures, and if so, how do I get them?

Pictures aren’t required, but they help draw people into your content and can help with your SEO (see item 13, below).

If you do decide to use pictures, absolutely do not just grab one from an image search and use it—if it’s copyrighted, you could get in legal trouble and be fined or have your website taken down.

Instead, depending on what you need, you should take your own photographs, pay someone else to do so (if it makes sense for you), or use one of the many resources online that offer free or inexpensive photographs along with the proper licensing.

12. How often should I update my blog?

As often as you can, while keeping the quality of your posts high.  It won’t matter that you’re posting several times a day if you don’t post anything of value.

But on the other hand, if you put up just one post every 3-5 months, even if it’s excellent, it’s hard to maintain an audience—not to mention, at that point, you’re not blogging much.

It’s also best to post according to a set schedule, as it gives your readers a sense of consistency and helps make sure the search engines will index your updates promptly.  Many bloggers recommend posting at least twice per week.

13. What is SEO?

“SEO” stands for Search Engine Optimization, which essentially refers to the process of getting your posts and your website to rank as highly as possible when someone searches for a relevant keyword.

Google and the other search engines analyze how you use keywords, high-quality backlinks, how long your posts are, and a huge variety of other factors to decide whether the post shows up on the first page of results, or somewhere harder to find.

There are hundreds of resources—books, blog posts, classes, even entire websites—devoted to giving you more information than you could ever want about SEO.  Take it a step at a time and learn as you go. 

For now, the most important thing to remember is that whatever keyword you decide to target—that is, the phrase for which you want your post to appear in the search results—should be included in the title of your post and a few times throughout.

14. How do I make money?

There are lots of ways to make money with your blog if you’re so inclined.  You could host ads, which typically pay a certain amount of money based on how many people click on or see them.  You could include affiliate links on your pages or in your content, so that when someone clicks the link and then makes a purchase, you get a commission.  You could sell digital products like ebooks, online courses, and the like, or use the blog to help promote your business (if it makes sense to do so).

When you’re just starting out, though, it makes the most sense to focus on creating good content and building your audience.  After all, spending time setting up ads and so on doesn’t make sense if no one is there to see them.

15. How much time do I need for blogging?

Unfortunately, blogging—as opposed to simply using a website as your diary—isn’t as simple as just writing a good blog post and making it public.  You also need to factor in the time it takes to research the topic, market and share your posts, and interact with your readers and other bloggers.

To avoid getting overwhelmed, plan out the time that you’ll spend on your blog, and make it fit with your schedule.

Blogging isn’t something where you’ll become a sensation overnight (unless you’re already famous), so don’t try to overdo it.  Just stay consistent, posting quality content on a regular basis, and your blog will get where you want it in time.
Guest post by Malia Keirsey a professional web designer and a young blogger from Windy City. She is happy to share her knowledge and experience with people interested in blogging. You can contact her via Twitter
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