It was a little over two years that I started writing in my own blog, My Life as an Esthetician. By the time I decided to create a blog, I was half-way through my esthetics program. I decided to use my blog as a way to document the rest of my experience in beauty school as I slowly transitioned from bartending to becoming a licensed esthetician. Have you thought about creating a blog but didn’t know how to get started? Here’s how you can create and build a readership for your blog in four easy steps.
#1: Find Your Niche
This step is probably the most important step. Just like with any good term paper, you have to have a main point, a central focus. Having this focus will help you target the audience you write for and promote your blog to. Take my blog for example. When I first started my blog, I couldn’t find another blog out there like the one I wanted to create. I was in beauty school, making a major career change. I wanted to talk to someone like me who understood what I was going through. I wanted to be able to read about someone else’s journey. I wanted to hear their stories. I wanted to read about their career path. I wanted to ask them the questions I was too afraid to ask my teachers or the other girls in my class.
I wanted to write about the experiences I was having in beauty school and talk about all of the new information that was coming my way on a daily basis. I came up with “My Life as an Esthetician” because I wanted to document interesting information/products/experiences/people/special events that were pertaining to my new life. Due to the subject matter of my blog, I knew that my target audience would most likely be other esthetician students or licensed professionals already working in the industry. I had to make sure that when I posted something on my blog, I was always writing with these types of people in mind.
#2: Set It Up
It’s one thing to talk about creating a blog. It’s another thing to actually do it. Creating a blog is really easy. First, you have to decide which platform you want to host your blog on. There are many choices, but the two main blogging platforms are WordPress and Blogger. I have experience on both platforms, but I decided to go with Blogger just because it was the platform I had the most experience with. Each platform has its benefits. Each one is a little bit different. They both essentially do the same thing. You just have to decide which one is going to work best for you.
The second step to creating a blog is getting it set up. What do you want your blog to look like? Do you want to use a template or write your own HTML code? What do you want the format of your posts to look like? Do you plan on using images within your posts? Are you going to use multiple images per post or is your blog going to be more text heavy? Which profile picture are you going to use? What is your blog bio going to say?
Once you decide which platform you’re going to use, take the time to familiarize yourself with your blog’s settings. This will help you create the look and feel of your blog before you publish your first post. Don’t get too hung up on having the settings, template or colors of the layout exactly perfect. Your blog will always be a work in progress. You can always make minor adjustments or revamp the layout along the way, even after you’ve started posting. Just get something down that you’re happy with so that you can start posting.
#3: Content is King
What’s a blog without content? Now that you’ve gotten your blog all set up, it’s time to get to work. Start posting. Make sure that your posts are appealing, original and informing for your target audience. The first few posts on my blog were all about documenting the special experiences I had in beauty school. As I came across products or tools that I loved, I would review them and post those reviews on my blog. Anytime I attended a special class or read an interesting article in a magazine, I’d feature it in a post on my blog as well. Anything can be turned into a blog post. Just make sure that you’re always writing for your target audience. Keep your topics relevant so that you don’t forget what your blog’s main focus is.
Some other things to try? Write eye-catching headlines to reel readers in. Use relevant images or video within your posts. When starting out, aim to keep your posts precise with only 300 to 500 words per post. My posts tend to be a little longer now because I go into detail on a lot of subjects that my readers have specifically asked questions about. Until you’ve established your target audience and know what your readers want, keep posts short and to the point.
Always write your posts in your own voice. Only you can decide what that voice will be for your blog. For me, I like to use a conversational voice in all of my posts. I want my readers to feel as if they are sitting there with me, discussing the post topic in a face-to-face conversation.
Another important aspect of content is the frequency in which you post. The more you post on your blog, the more likely readers will come back and visit your blog more often. “Frequency” means something different to everyone. One blogger might post once a day. A brand or company might post multiple times a day. Some bloggers post three times a week. Others may post five times a week. There’s really no right or wrong when it comes to blog posting frequency. You just have to find what works for you and your schedule.
Life can easily get in the way of a consistent posting schedule. Trust me, I know this firsthand! For me, my biggest blogging challenge is trying to stick to my own posting schedule. My goal is always to post something new on my blog everyday. With one post a day, seven days a week, that’s anywhere from 28 to 31 posts a month. In addition to working a full-time day job 40-hours a week, my days are also filled with life’s day-to-day activities, managing what little social life I have and trying to get at least seven hours of sleep at night. I not only have a lofty goal of writing a new blog post everyday, but I also have the task of coming up with something to write about.
On the months that I’ve achieved my once-a-day post goal or have come close to achieving it was because I used an editorial calendar. I’ve found using a dry erase, blank calendar board works best for me. Each month, I fill in the month and dates. Then I fill in each day of the month with what I want to post on my blog for that given day. This way, I have 28 to 31 different ideas on what to post each day of the month. Be flexible with your editorial calendar. There will be timely topic ideas that come up during the month that you’ll want to write about, but hadn’t anticipated when putting together the calendar at the beginning of the month. Always give yourself the freedom and flexibility to change the blog post topic on any given day. I use the editorial calendar to make sure that I never run out of blog posting ideas each month.
#4: Increase Traffic and Build a Readership
You’ve defined your target audience, gotten your blog all set up and are posting on a regular basis, but no one is reading your amazing posts. Now what do you do? You have to let people out there know about your blog. Always start with the most intimate part of your circle of influence: your family and friends. Post a link to your blog on your Facebook page, inviting all of your friends to read your blog. If your friends aren’t on Facebook, find them on Twitter or send them an email with a link to your blog. When I first started posting in my blog, it took me a good six months before I started to build a readership and increased the traffic on my blog.
There are a few things you can do to help increase the amount of traffic your blog gets. Use keywords in your posts. If you talk about a company, brand or industry professional within a post, be sure to include a link back to their page in that post. Then follow up with the company, brand or individual with an email introducing yourself, your blog and a link to the post in which you linked to them in. A good example of this is when I wrote a review on the International Dermal Institute. After posting my review, I sent an email to IDI, introducing myself, my blog and included a link to the review on my blog. IDI sent me a very nice email back and also gave me a virtual high-five on their own blog. The link back from IDI was the start of creating some serious traffic on my blog. The more you do this in your posts, the more likely your traffic will grow.
In addition to turning keywords into links, be sure to name your images properly. Instead of leaving an image name as IMG_101.jpg, change the image name to what the image is about. For example, if I’m posting an image of makeup for a post on makeup alternatives for acneic skin, I want to make sure that image I use either has the word “makeup” or “acne” in it. By properly naming the images you use within your blog posts, you increase your chances of ranking higher in a Google search. Ranking higher in a Google search increases the chances of more people finding your blog on the internet.
Another way you can increase traffic to your blog is by commenting on other blogs within your niche. I love it when readers comment on the posts I write. It shows me that people reading my posts and are interested in what I have to say. Be careful not to comment on blogs just for the sake of getting a link back to your own blog. If a person posts a comment on my blog with just a link back to their blog, I consider it spamming. I’ll delete spammy comments on my blog immediately. Don’t be spammy. Only leave genuine comments that pertain to the blog post. If you leave consistently leave genuine comments on a blog, a blogger will more than likely visit your blog.
These are just four basic steps on how to get your own blog started. If you have any questions about how to maintain a blog on a daily basis, come up with fresh, new blog post ideas or drive traffic to your blog, please feel free to leave me a comment below.