From Start to Finish: A Guide On Creating & Maintaining a Solid Blog | Express Writers

From Start to Finish: A Guide On Creating & Maintaining a Solid Blog

by | Mar 22, 2016 | Blogging | 0 comments

Blogging is crucial for brands and businesses. One simple reason: marketers that blog get 67% more leads than those who don’t.
If you haven’t launched your blog yet, or you have one but you’re not yet serious about it, it’s time you make that commitment. And I’m here to help you.
If you’re ready to write for and launch your blog, just how do you launch a successful blog?
Many people experience a fear of the blank page, or let’s say blank blog, and try to think up ways to conquer the world, or make a dent when they hurry up to meet a blogging schedule or launch their new blog. Then the worst of the worst happens, in the blogger world (or blogosphere). With no definite direction, newbies risk the all-too common problem of floating by: becoming the next sub-par blogger with no audience presence and no ranking potential on Google. Don’t be that blogger; read our guide to start off strong and maintain a blog that you’re proud to show off to your friends, family, and most importantly, potential customers.
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Your Brief But Ultimate Guide On Creating & Maintaining a Solid Blog

After years of writing and publishing blogs, and with over 300 keywords in the top 10 pages of Google, I like to think that I know how to write blogs that rank; I’ve also been the most-read guest blogger at Search Engine Journal and Content Marketing Institute. So, here’s a few thoughts from my vault.

I. How to Start a Blog

Without further ado, here are thirteen ways to start and maintain a solid blog: and to make it easier, I’m going to break them up into I. How to Start a Blog & II. How to Maintain a Blog.

1. Find YOUR Niche

Not just a niche but your niche. The one that makes you thrilled to wake up, excited to voice your thoughts on. Yeah – if you know that feeling, and you can identify what makes you feel that, you’re golden.
And narrow down here. Do you like the business niche? Okay, what kind of business? Coaching entreprenuers? OK, what age group? You like young, inspired people? Okay, that’s your blogging niche. Could you be the world’s foremost peanut butter authority or an expert on locksmith tips for an average homeowner?
Hone down, my friend, hone down. Find your niche and your viewpoint on any and everything about your topic.
And here’s a tip for those who have a niche that’s somewhat broad and maybe a bit unoriginal. It’s okay: businesses and people may have been ruminating on the topic for years, but as long as you’re able to follow the next few steps, you’ll find yourself running with the big dogs.

2. Develop a Unique Idea and a Point

Developing a unique idea is difficult and somewhat daunting, but it’s doable. Maybe you want to explore how to write a unique post in an in depth way that few bloggers, if anyone, has explored before.
The post linked to in the last sentence isn’t necessarily a unique blog topic, as many people have explored how to write a unique post before, but it is very unique in its depth and how it gives the step-by-step process the author takes to come up with an idea, writing the blog, and posting it.
Although you can also develop a unique blog post by giving broad strokes, you want it to be at least somewhat focused. A successful blog post won’t be titled “5 tips on X” and ramble for 1,000 words; you’ll get very few hits. What you can do is expand your idea and tie together seemingly disparate concepts in an interesting way.
Unique spins show that you’re well versed in your topic as well as gives your blog some SEO weight.

3. Analyze the Competition and Keywords

Figure out what the crux of your blog is and whittle it down to a key word or phrase (one to two words in most cases). Use SEMrush (see my guide here) to take a look at how often your SEO keyword is searched. If it looks good, make sure to put it in your title, description, and metadata. Also, have some minor keywords sprinkled throughout your post. This will generate a few more hits you wouldn’t have otherwise had.
After you have your unique idea and keywords, analyze what you’re up against. Search common keywords related to your topic and check out what the competition on the first page looks like.
Domain authority is a big one. If you’re up against heavy hitters and massive corporations, you may want to rethink your keywords. Again, keep it natural enough that the average person will search for it, but try to avoid going up against H&R Block if you’re blogging about tax law.
You’ll also want to be mindful of backlinks. This will let you know if you’re going up against blogs or posts with 54 viewers or 54k viewers. Needless to say, one is easier to knock out than the other one.
Finally, take note of the age of the blog. Shoot for blogs that are older and not updated or newer. Those are the low hanging fruit you want to compete against. Older blogs that are updated frequently get an air of authority about them in the search engines.

4. Research and Find Links

There are two types of links that you’ll want to use to create a successful blog: internal and external links.
Internal links are links to your own site. This will generate more hits to your site and show the search engines that people are staying on your page for longer. This correlates directly to domain authority.
External links should be chosen carefully and should be to high-ranking sites. These links, again, add up to domain authority, a higher ranking in the search engines, and more page views. Keep in mind that this should come naturally. Ideally, backlinks in today’s SEO era come through shares: you reach out to someone who has a great site, ask them to share your content, and if they really like it, link to it; or someone likes your content so much they’ll link to it. (That usually comes in time after you’re more of a known blogger.)
A simple way to do this is to leave a thoughtful blog comment on someone’s high-quality blog that’s relevant to your topic, and leave a link to your blog. Something like: Hey, Joe! Thanks so much for this helpful piece on content marketing. I’m going to try to work on scoring my headlines according to your tips in #8 now. Would you like to read the blog I wrote as well on a similar topic, How to Create Headlines for Your Email Campaigns? {link}

5. Outline a Structure

This post would be an unreadable mess if it were a simple stream of consciousness. Rather than write how a person would say all this in a casual conversation, there was a deliberate outline and structure that went into it.
The structure of this blog post is as follows: introduction, a step-by-step process for your first blog post that can be used for subsequent blog posts, and a guide for maintaining a successful blog.
Make sure that your reader can digest each point in its entirety before you go on to the next one. Just because a strangely laid out narrative structure worked for the movies Memento and Pulp Fiction doesn’t mean that it will work for your blog.

6. Write

By this simple “write” I mean that you should put your outlined ideas down how they come out naturally. Just let them flow and don’t worry about the details.
When you’re writing, be mindful of the word count. Short form blogs are all well and good if you can pump them out by the bushel full but longer posts can gain hits too. For instance, this post is roughly 2,000 words long. That was decided before pen hit the page (or fingers hit the keyboard in this case).

7. Get Visual

Once you have your basic structure pinned down, get some images. They break up your blog into easily digestible pieces, illustrate the point further, and look fantastic.

Get our guide: 20 incredible FREE stock photo resources

Think of a longer Wikipedia post like “Philosophy.” It doesn’t necessarily need pictures; it’s an abstract concept. That being said, it has pictures of famous philosophers because it breaks up the post and looks nice to the reader. A successful blog post will have a smattering of images throughout.

8. Proofread

After you write and find images, take a day away from the post. Come back to it with fresh eyes and really get into the nitty gritty of your post. Reword awkward sentences. Check for flow. Deliberate every comma. Ensure the post reads well and is flawless in spelling and grammar.
As you become a bit more successful with your blog, you’ll find that it’s nice to have a new set of eyes take a look at what you’re writing. This is beneficial in a few ways.
The benefits of someone not being emotionally invested in the content can’t be understated. They’ll take an objective eye to the project and won’t hesitate to cut out the fat and correct your mistakes.
Another massively important benefit to an outsourced writer is that you, as a writer, will learn things about writing that you never thought about before. This will make you a better writer and your blog more successful.

II. How to Maintain Your Blog

Maybe you wrote your first post and it was a runaway hit. Or maybe you wrote your first post and it got a few hits, but you want to keep writing either for the love of the game or to create a successful, unique blog.
It takes work on your part. Blog posts don’t grow on trees.

9. Pay Attention to & Answer Comments

If your post gained enough traction to have a significant amount of comments, take a look at them. Find out what is being discussed or what common threads go through each user’s input.
They’re telling you what they want to hear. Take those ideas and run with them for subsequent posts, even if they’re not your next ones.
Then, answer those people to encourage them to keep reading and commenting.

10. Write Down Ideas

Keep a notebook of your ideas, whether it’s virtual or physical. Note the word “a” in the preceding sentence. You won’t want your blog ideas written down on a dozen restaurant napkins, in three notebooks you used for college, and inside of a book you were reading last year. You want them accessible at any time and easy to find. I use a Google Doc.
Ideas don’t need to be limited to blog titles or subjects. Anything that catches your fancy might be used in a future blog. As they say, it’s the little things that matter.
Every week or two you should take an inventory of the ideas. Pick out the good ones and ignore the bad ones. Keep the “bad” ones around; they may be helpful in the future.

11. Motivate Yourself

Motivation is a tricky one. Everyone has different motivations in life and different motivation techniques work for different people.
One piece of advice that will motivate you from the start is to pick a niche that interests you and you’re passionate about. If you’re not at all interested in Ancient Rome, don’t blog about it just because it’s a topic you can choose from. If you love what you’re writing about then it’s easier to motivate yourself to write.
One way you’ll find yourself lethargic, scared, and unmotivated is to set your bar too high. If you’re thinking that you’ll make a living off of three or four blog posts, you might set the bar low for yourself in terms of writing content. Make the expectations realistic so you aren’t quickly burnt out.
Another way to stay motivated is to get inspiration from others! I hold weekly Skype sessions where my team and I “brain-dump” on new topics. It’s fantastic for new ideas!

12. Find, and Maintain, a Schedule

The holy grail of writing a successful blog is figuring out how often to write your pieces. This was briefly touched on before but it bears going into more detail.
Your schedule should be directly affected by how much you plan to write per piece.
If you’re writing brief, pithy posts about current events, you may want to write a few pieces per day. This is dangerous territory, especially for those who have full time jobs. If you’re only putting out 300-500 word pieces once a week, you likely won’t have people sticking around on your blog for too long, hurting your domain authority. Read my post on why evergreen content (which is long-form, very thorough content) matters so much.
Newer blogs or blogs that have short, but original content can be updated about once every day. This is still somewhat trying, but it can be done if you’re taking a few hours to write every day and laying out blogs a week or two ahead of time.
Some people decide to post certain topics on regular days. For a fashion blog this might mean posting “Wardrobe Wednesdays” or “Monday’s Workday Apparel.” For these types of blogs, a few postings a week will suffice since they are frequent, but regular.
Finally, longer blogs can be written and posted around once a week. Don’t take the risk of posting bi-weekly or monthly since readership might decline and people might lose interest in that long amount of time.
In the end there is something to be said for experimentation in this area. Successful blogs tend to follow a set schedule and a few rules, but there is some flexibility in posting frequency.
I publish to our own blog three times weekly: the third post on Fridays however is created by Rachel, our Social Media Specialist, and is a recap of our Twitter chat #ContentWritingChat. On guest blogs, I publish an average of 10 blogs/weekly. I know – I write a lot!

13. Want to Stay Committed? Get Blogging Backup

I wouldn’t be here without my writing & design team. I seriously feel like I have the world at my fingertips with the resources I have here at the writing agency I’ve built.
And while I realize not everyone has the luxury of owning an Express Writers, I also know it’s easy to find some accountability partners, or simpler yet, a writing solution backup. Whether that’s just ordering a blog from time to time.
Remember, blog posting doesn’t just mean you need to be writing and posting 365 day a year. Quality over quantity. But, don’t disappoint your audience. Blogging does mean a serious commitment of both time, effort and actual published pieces; if you’re not blogging at least twice a week, I don’t think you have the opportunity to really build a sure audience, especially as you’re new. If you’re not blogging at least once a week – you, my friend, are not a serious blogger.
But as you get further into the world of blogging, get regular readership, and find a few blogging buddies, you’ll find it easy to ask for a guest blog or two. Guest blogs are great for a few reasons – just remember to get a high-quality guest on your blog, or it’s all worth crap (really). First, the owner of the blog gets some much-needed rest while still providing content. Second, the owner of the blog gets a bit more recognition since the guest will link to the post on your blog. Third, the guest gets some exposure to your readership and a few more hits because of it. Finally, the reader is exposed to a blogger they may not have heard of before and may come to love.


Reality: my thirteen steps listed above are not easy and blogging isn’t a quick way to drive business or earn a living. It takes tons of work, dedication, and creativity to gain traction. I have over 600 blogs on my site in the last 4 years to earn my 300+ keywords in the top 10 positions in Google. (Say whaaa?)
However, I can tell you right here, right now that blogging can be a massively rewarding undertaking in and of itself, for your brand, business, credibility boost, and lead generation.
Also, blogging gets creative juices flowing, allows you to integrate with social media, causes you to see the world in a new way, and provides an insight into what drives people. Not only are these things useful for businesses, they’re beneficial for the individual who wants to get out there and start a successful blog.
Need a blog, several blogs, or a monthly package? Check out our services!