In November 2012, James began publishing at JamesClear.com his notes about his personal experiments with habits. He began by publishing a new article every Monday & Thursday.
Within a few months, this simple writing habit led to his first one thousand email subscribers, and by the end of 2013, that number had grown to more than thirty thousand.
“I was becoming known as an expert on habits, a new label that excited me but also felt uncomfortable. I had never considered myself a master of the topic—but rather someone who was experimenting alongside my readers”. James Clear
Starting a blog led him to:
- Publish over 150 articles
- Earning the trust of 1,000,000 plus email subscribers
- Get over 10 million visitors per year to jamesclear.com
- Speak at major events
- Become an author of the New York Times bestseller, Atomic Habits, which has sold over 3 million copies now
- Donate 5% of profit to our charity partner, Against Malaria Foundation
An act of writing regularly using an online medium such as a blog is called blogging.
Blogging is no different from playing any sport. If you are playing in your backyard, you can create your own rules and play as frequently as you like.
Whatever makes you happy!
However, the moment you change the perspective from playing for fun to playing to make a career, everything changes with it.
What you need to learn or practice about blogging depends on your blogging goals.
Blogging For Fun
Want to start a blog for fun?
That’s great! You can make your own rules and schedule to blog.
- Choose any blogging platform
- Write about any topic you feel like it
- Follow any writing style
- Afford not to promote your blog
- Avoid the hassle of improving your blog regularly
However, if you want to be a professional blogger, it gets demanding, and you’ll need to get into the routine of doing quite a few things to compete with other professionals in your niche.
Blogging for Business
I’ve started to realize (mainly because of my own failures), that there is a pattern, which is so evident in all blogs dominating search engine top rankings regardless of the niche.
What is this pattern, and how can you benefit from it to create a successful business blog?
Let’s talk about it now.
A few critical areas of today’s successful business blogging pattern are:
- Niche authority: Google’s business is to offer the best answer to any query their customers search. It is no rocket science that they do their best to prioritize the master of one over jack of all trades.
- Quality keyword research: The moment you choose a specific niche, finding keywords, which resonates with your target audience, increases significantly.
- Detailed but scannable content: It is a big challenge, detailed content perceived to be of high value. However, it does not give you a licence to include fluff.
- Quality over quantity: If you can manage quality with volume would be even better.
- Consistency: This is alone so valuable that it has the power of making you a better blogger than most. Successful bloggers follow a blogging schedule religiously.
They “say success leaves clues” however, it is hard to copy hard work.
Types of blogging
There are many different types of blogs covering a wide range of topics, audiences and interests.
Let’s take a look at some of them:
- Personal blog: It is a great way to share information, express thoughts or emotions, and share personal experiences. It can also be disguised as an online diary.
- Hobby or interest: Blogging about your hobby can help you share thoughts or communicate with people interested in the same thing. This is the blogging you most probably would enjoy the most.
- Professional: It means earning a living through blogging and taking blogging as a profession.
- Business: It can be used as a marketing tactic to get your business online visibility and establish it as a brand. This is called business blogging.
- Community/communal: It allows various people to post their journals at one place where people can respond to those posts by commenting.
- Microblogging: It is an online medium where you express yourself using small pieces of content such as short sentences, images or videos. Twitter is a popular example of microblogging.
- Guest blogging: This is a marketing or SEO strategy where a blogger writes or publishes content on a third party blog intending to promote their personal brand.
To become a successful blogger, It is ideal to plan and choose a blogging niche that works the best for you.
Benefits of blogging
Is blogging worth it?
Absolutely, blogging will remain valuable as long as we keep writing.
Here are the top 5 most important benefits of blogging to grow your business online so you can make an informed decision before jumping onto business blogging.
- An excellent way to showcase your expertise: Your blog is the best place to showcase your expertise, particularly past customer success stories through text, images or videos.
- Increased brand awareness: Creating high-quality content can be an effective way to launch your business online and create brand awareness.
- Sell a product or service: Blogging is a great way to build rapport. People are more likely to buy a product or service from a source they trust.
- Enhanced user experience: A blog can help your customers with relevant information, solutions to their problems, FAQs and encourage them to contact you.
- Establishing authority in your field: Blog posts are a powerful way of demonstrating knowledge, building trust and establishing yourself as an authority in your niche.
Blogging usually produces marketing results in the medium to long term if everything goes as per plan.
Important things to know before starting a blog
Starting a blog will be exciting for some but intimidating for most.
Here are a few important things to know before starting a blog to get the most out of it:
- Spend as much time promoting your content as you did while creating it: The importance of promoting content is often forgotten. This includes sharing your content on social media platforms, email outreach, guest posting and if not these then paid promotions.
- Quality over quantity: Nothing beats high-quality content, not even multiple posts every week. Yes, Google likes fresh content but guess what it likes better? Quality content. Do not compromise the quality at any cost.
- Use formatting to look professional: Most people will not have time to read your posts word by word. So it is best to format a post in a way, which is easy to skim through. You can do this by using short paragraphs with proper headings, subheading and bulleted lists.
- Build an email list from day one: Blogging is the best way to build an email list, and you should start collecting emails from day one. It will come in handy for marketing, promoting or sharing your content.
- Optimize your blog’s page load speed: Page load time is important whether it’s a website or a blog. Visitors hate slow loading blogs, and Google uses page load time as a ranking factor.
- Have a blogging calendar : When you start a blog, you might have a million ideas. Instead of publishing all the deas in the first month, make a calendar and schedule posts as per your schedule over time.
- Add an FAQ section: Adding an FAQs section will save time and make it easy for people to find answers to general questions.
- Write well in advance: Before starting a blog, you should have at least a month’s content already created. This will give you some breathing space and help you out in any unforeseen emergencies.
- Regular updates: Updating your content regularly is important for SEO. It will also help your content fresh and up to date.
Blogging may sound simple at the start, but it requires blood, sweat and tears to pursue over a longer period of time. So before you jump in, you should review your options carefully.
Qualities of a good blog post
Having a strong online presence is not an option nowadays. Publishing helpful blog posts are the best way to get online visibility your business deserves.
Following are some characteristics of a good blog post:
- Post headline: This is the most important element of your blog post. They say that most people will only read your post title and never read your blog post if the title is not interesting enough. So pay special attention when creating post titles.
- Ideal length: The ideal length of a blog post varies from 1500-2500 words according to different studies. However, it should be as long as it needs to be. If you can create an amazing post in 500 words, perfect. If not, use as many as you like as long as your words provide value to your readers.
- Keep the paragraphs short: Paragraphs should be kept short, ideally somewhere between 3-5 lines. It is best to divide your content into smaller paragraphs rather than creating a single paragraph of 250 words.
- Links: Links are what makes your blog powerful and informative. Use quality internal and external links to gives your readers access to more information on the topic.
- Use conversational tone: The end goal of a blog is to always spark a conversation with its readers irrespective of the fact whether it is a business or a personal blog.
A good blog post is the one that is easy to read, informative, engaging and open for discussion. Having the above qualities in your posts will help you achieve this goal.
The blogging world is complex, and there is no single path to success. It’s a pure hard work behind any blogging success story.
A blogging plan will give you a solid foundation for your online content management.
Here are the seven important parts of any solid blogging plan:
- Why start a blog: Getting free traffic from Google is the ultimate goal for most business blogging efforts. However, you can use a blog to improve your business in several ways, which will help you get more and better quality traffic from your blog.
- Understanding Google’s business: It is important to understand google’s business before you start creating any content. Google’s business is to provide the best results for any query their user’s search; you can only get your content ranked once you properly understand how it works.
- Keyword Search: Creating content without carrying out proper keyword research is like playing the lottery, sometimes you win, but mostly you lose. It is essential to look for a keyword with reasonable search volume, commercial intent and ranking difficulty.
- Start small but aim big: If your blog content can’t help 10 or 100 people, how will it help the masses? Every master was once a beginner. Don’t wait to become an expert before you start a blog in your category.
- Use the best framework and tools: The foundation of your blog should be rock solid. So it is best to build your blog with the best framework and tools from day one to get the most out of blogging in the longer run.
- Create scannable but detailed content: Nobody has the time to read a 2500 words post word to word no matter how great it is. Therefore, your content should always be scannable with proper title, headings and subheadings, and categories and tags.
- Promote your blog: As discussed before, spending as much time promoting your content as you spent creating it is crucial. With the promotion, there is no guarantee that you will get lucky every time. So it is in your best interest to set aside a proper budget and time for promotion.
A blogging plan is essential to give you a solid foundation for your online content management. I have explained these points in details in this simple blogging plan.
Whether it’s business or life, having a goal is the first step towards success. Goals help you align your focus towards what matters the most and motivate you to ace it.
SMART business blogging goals are the key to your blogging success.
SMART goals mean:
Whatever your business blogging goal is, the more specific you’ll be the better you’ll be able to measure the results and plan your resources accordingly.
You can choose to have one or multiple blogging goals based on your resources.
How will you measure your blogging success?
10,000 monthly blog traffic by the end of the 1st year is an easy to measurable goal compared to just more traffic. It will help you measure your progress regularly against a specific goal.
Setting attainable goals will set yourself up for success
Is your business blogging goal realistic to accomplish based on allocated blogging resources?
If you are competing to rank for a keyword of best WordPress hosting, which is highly competitive, running a paid ad on Google at the time of writing this post estimated cost per click for this term is $36.63.
Let’s do some maths to clarify this point further.
Assume you are planning to compete in a similar market then your 10,000 per month blog traffic will have a value of $366,300 ($36.63 x 10,000) every month.
Have you allocated resources to create content proportional to the market you are competing in?
- Learning & development
Your business blogging goal needs to be realistic to accomplish based on allocated blogging resources.
All the examples of specific goals we mentioned above are usually dependent on creating quality content.
Definition of quality content varies widely based on the competition in your niche. However, the one common thing, which I find in all pieces of quality contents regardless of the niche is that it helps your readers achieve their goals.
For example, to achieve your 10,000 monthly traffic in your niche usually dependent on the following crucial aspects of blogging.
- Having a niche
- Creating quality content consistently
- Content promotion
- Acquiring links to your content
- Building an email list
Google has a sophisticated ranking algorithm, which takes over 200 factors into account before assigning rankings to any page in the search results.
However, if you are doing the above things with mastery, you’ll be in a good position to achieve your monthly traffic goals sooner or later.
All successful blogs follow some sort of routine when it comes to business blogging.
It varies from posting:
- Once a month
Again it depends on your blogging goals, and you should choose what you can sustain as per your blogging resources.
If you are just starting blogging, aiming to publish one post per week is an achievable goal and the system for that can be writing one hour a day worked great for me.
By following this system, even if I missed to complete a blog post every week, I’m not staring at the white page after a week, at least.
Systems help you build momentum, which I believe enables you to achieve your blogging goals consistently.
If you are genuinely inspired and not just motivated, I believe you will never run out of interesting blogging ideas.
Having said this, here are the few things, which can help you write about what your readers want to read:
- Always start with the keyword research
- Find a sweet spot between what you want to write and what people are searching for
- Consider each keyword a question and answer that question as best as you can
If you follow the above three things, you’ll have more blogging ideas than you can handle.
Keyword research is the most important step before you start developing your blogging ideas. This step can make or break your blogging career if you rely on search engine traffic.
Search engines are bots and rely on your help before they can help your content rank well in SERPs.
Keyword research helps you find out what your target audience is searching so you can create content to address those questions.
You can help search engines by using keywords strategically in your content, once you know what keywords people are searching to find your content.
You can check out this detailed how to do keyword research, where SEO experts shared their best method and tools.
Best blogging practices
Blogging isn’t writing!
Most people don’t search to read our content.
They search to find solutions to their problems, and blogging enables you to solve their problems using text, images, audios and videos.
Following blogging, best practices can help your potential customers find your content and solve their problems.
- Pick a niche and stick with it: Choose a niche you are actually interested in and stick to it instead of writing about entirely different topics every time. Relevancy and consistency are key.
- Use keywords: Use proper keywords to help people find the content they are looking for. It is a great way to get your content ranked higher on search engines.
- Write click-worthy post titles: Post titles should be precise, self explanatory, insightful and should contain important keywords. Creating a title with all of these qualities is not very easy and needs a lot of brainstorming.
- Write accurate meta descriptions: What people can read in Google about your post is the meta description. A good meta description should be about 150 words, including a call to action and your focused keyword. It should be unique, in active voice and should match the content of the page.
- Write content for your audience: The content should be created keeping your audience in mind. You are writing about what you know best, but the reader might be a beginner. Try your best to keep it simple and informative.
- Link internally and externally: A good blog contains both internal and external links to add value to your blog for readers and SEO benefits.
- Post often: With blogging, consistency is important. You will lose your audience if you publish a post once and then forget about it for two years. It does not mean you should post daily but whatever works best for you, be regular.
- Give credit where it’s due: When quoting other sources in your content, don’t forget to reference and acknowledge other people’s work.
- Avoid a definitive tone: This is a critical point for all the writing you do. It is best to use should, could, would instead of must to avoid any claims.
- Write awesome content: All of the above points are important but what really matters is your content quality. Always choose quality over quantity and create awesome and helpful content for your readers.
With these blogging practices in mind, you will be on the right track to building a better blog for your readers that actually ranks in search engines as well.
Blogging tools are crucial in creating and maintaining your blog.
Having the right set of blogging tools will save you lots of time and money during your blogging journey.
A few important blogging tools are:
- WordPress.org: WordPress has democratised publishing. Self-hosted WordPress gives you full content ownership and customization options. It is the best example of blog hosting tools.
- Genesis framework: One of the best WordPress themes, which gives you a solid blogging foundation and is great for SEO.
- Keyword research tool: Ahref, SEMrush or Ubersuggest are popular keyword research tools.
- Google docs: Talking about word processors, Google docs it the best and yet the simplest one to create content and collaborate with your team.
- Grammarly: Grammarly is a digital writing assistance tool. It is like having your content proofread without making an extra effort.
- Headline analyzer: This tool will analyze your headline to determine the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) score. A headline is the most important element of a successful blog post.
- Yoast SEO plugin: One of the best SEO plugins is the Yoast plugin. It can play an important role in the search engine optimization of your blog.
Blogging tools can greatly reduce the effort you have to put in creating content. You can check out these best blogging plugins to pick what you need for your blog.
A lifelong learning mindset is a base ingredient for quality blogging. Having a list of valuable resources to learn regularly can set you apart from the crowd.
Following are my favorite blogging resources:
- Seth Godin: Seth has written over 19 books and been blogging daily since 1995/1996. I’m sure you can learn a few things about blogging from him.
- Chris Brogan: Chris should be your go-to resource if you want to learn how to tell better stories.
- Copyblogger: “Copyblogger is the bible of content marketing.” – VentureBeat
- Neil Patel: Neil is a digital marketing guru and is a great source to learn digital marketing.
- Backlinko: Brian shares best actionable SEO advice to get higher rankings in search results.
I have learned tremendously from the generosity of the above folks. All of these resources individually have the power to improve your blogging significantly.
How to start blogging
Are you ready to start blogging?
If yes, you can follow the steps below to start blogging.
- Decide why you want to start a blog: You need inspiration, not motivation to create a successful blog. So start a blog with a well-defined goal, which aligns with your inspiration.
- Choose a blogging niche: There isn’t a better niche than what you love to do and can make money.
- Pick a domain name: A domain name is your blog’s address on the internet, choose it wisely.
- Get hosting: Your blog’s content and files need to be stored on a server so that people can access it over the internet from anywhere at any time.
- Install WordPress: Self-hosted WordPress is my favourite blogging platform to start your blog.
- Choose a theme: A theme is the front end look of your blog. It should represent your personality.
- Install important plugins: A plugin is a software that extends the functionality of your blog. The right set of plugins are essential to make your blogging life easy and successful.
- Finalise your blogging categories: Blog categories will be the GPS of your blog after your inspiration. Smaller the number of blog categories, the more focus your blog will be.
- Start publishing: Fantastic! You are all set to publishing on the internet.
You can check out how to start a blog, a proven guide to start a successful blog for details.
How to promote your blog
As mentioned earlier, spending as much time promoting your blog as you spent creating it is the key to have a successful blog.
A few important ways to promote your blog are:
- On-page SEO: It includes keyword research, using keywords strategically throughout the post, optimizing your images, post metadata and interlinking relevant pages.
- Share with your email list: People who have subscribed to your email list are genuinely interested in reading your content, so don’t forget to email your new blog post to them.
- Sharing on social media: Social media can play a significant role in promotion of your content and reaching out to your targeted audience.
- External link building: Search engines see a link back to your blog to indicate that your content is of high quality and liked by people. Links from good quality websites suggest that your content is great, which is an integral part of SEO.
- Paid advertisement: In the start, it is hard for organic readers for your blog, and if you have a budget, you can test Google or Facebook ads to promote your blog.
Promoting your content is a bit more difficult than writing it, but it is worth the effort. However, do not hesitate to re-promoting your old content. Also, setting aside a budget for this purpose is a must.
How to make money from blogging
Best part of the blogging is that you can make money.
Here are the top five ways to make money from blogging:
Affiliate marketing is the quickest way to make money through your blog. You can earn an affiliate commission by recommending products or services to your readers.
Sell your own services or products
Your blog can be the best source of leads to market your own product or services.
You can actually make money by writing paid reviews for products or services that are related to your niche and your audience might be interested in. This comes with the benefit of trying out a product for free and also getting paid for the review.
You can sell memberships and offer something more valuable to your readers than what they can find for free elsewhere. Or they can pay to get one on one advice from you but for that, you need to build some authority in your field first.
You can always make money by offering your skills and expertise as a freelancer or consultant. This does not require an upfront investment, and you can start offering it to your readers from day one.
There are many more ways to make money through blogging but not every method will work for you, so don’t be afraid to experiment a little with trying new things. Over time you will learn what works best for you and what does not.
We all have great challenges and great opportunities online. However, the Internet has levelled the playing field and success depends on our blogging game.
Let me briefly reinstate the main point about blogging.
Blogging is not about which tools you need; it is more about what will you blog once you understand these tools.