Whether you are just starting a blog or have had one for a while these are some commandments that you should follow to start a successful blog from the start.
For each rule I will explain why it is important and the consequences I received by not following them.
- Thou shall own a Primary Domain name. This is vital for branding and getting recognized on the internet. I realized this when I got a domain name for my beauty blog, blackgirlish.com, and business blog, epartnersmarketing. They are easy for people to remember. A sub-domain like whatever.wordpress.com is too long for people to remember. It also hinders you from other opportunities that will be mentioned in the other commandments.
2. Thou shall have a visually appealing blog. For years, I thought that bloggers with beautiful sites had them designed by someone else after they reached a certain status. This status was based on a certain number of followers and amount of ad revenue. I was WRONG! A few months ago I realized people with no code experience or professional training were building their blogs themselves. I also realized that a beautiful site gets more views, interactions and followers.
3. Thou shall have a self-hosted site. Having a site hosted on wordpress.com has been frustrating because the features that used to be included for free are no longer included. For a visually appealing site you need access to several templates or at least the CSS and JQuery. On wordpress.com you don’t get access to ALL available free or inexpensive templates that are mentioned on wordpress.org. If you host your domain name on Bluehost or Hostgator you get access to these features. This is vital to get a site that is truly customizable.
4. Thou shall earn revenue from blog whether through ads, Affiliate links or products/services. Many are under the belief that they have to have a certain number of followers or traffic before they can start earning money. This is WRONG! To start earning money from the site you need to have AdSense, affiliate links or product and services that people can buy. You can offer ad space on your posts and on the side bar manually, but I’ll talk about that in another post. A free site on wordpress.com doesn’t have the ability to earn money from ads, even though WordPress earns ad revenue from them. A self-hosted site on Bluehost, Hostgator, Weebly, GoDaddy and Web.com (I think..lol) do offer these.
5. Thou shall join blogger communities and groups. Blogging takes time and patience. Having the support and guidance of other bloggers is vital. Communities are also great for promotion and staying on top of trends. Being in the community can open up opportunities liked featured posts and collaborations.
6. Thou shall have brand elements for the blog. This is such an important rule that I overlooked for so long. I admired other bloggers’ branding, but completely missed the fact that my blog needed it too. Branding is the icing on the cake for a beautiful site. It makes your brand recognizable and pulls everything together. Good branding can take your message a lot further.
7. Thou shall self promote. No one wants to annoy people with self-promotion or seem like they are “into themselves”, but the big blogs self-promote all the time. People won’t know that you blog unless you tell them. Self-promotion doesn’t have to be asking Facebook friends to read your blog everyday. It can be as easy as including in your twitter and Instagram bios that you blog with a link. When you meet people at networking events and happy hours mention that you blog in your spare time. It serves as a great ice breaker.
8. Thou shall use widgets and plug-ins. Widgets are the bling for the sidebar. An about.me gives readers a brief bio, which can persuade them to read more. A subscribe widget is a call-to-action that persuades readers to subscribe. You can also add widgets that feature banner like ads and your most popular posts. Plug-ins help your blog function at it’s full potential. They have plug-ins for everything from SEO to landing pages. While dive into these concepts in a future posts.
9. Thou shall use featured images. A featured image serves two purposes. 1) It grabs readers’ attention. 2) It can be used as a preview to your blog. You want the featured image to be pinable so you want to include your logo, title of post, brief description and link to your site. These are vital to get your brand recognized. Most articles pins on Pinterest are featured images.
10. Thou shall have social media accounts for the blog separate from personal accounts. The separation of the two is vital to promote your personal and business brands. Your personal brand can enhance your business brand if you let it. Your personal brand can make you relatable. Your blog’s brand can inspire.