How to & How not to run a blog?

Blogging is wonderful, adventurous, worth spending time & money for. But it is equally dangerous, mind-boggling and senseless, if not done properly. I am blogging for last seven years… and now I am all ready to give advice to those who have just started. This blog post is a summary of all my experiences on what I did wrong with my blogs and what did I learn from those mistakes. It is worth reading for all newbie bloggers, and to some extent, the intermediates and will help them to better run a blog.

Introduction

I didn’t plan the way things went until 2013. Almost everyone does that. We start a blog first and then think how to move it forward. That, is probably the best way to think around any website. If I had any earlier plans for gauravtiwari.org, things could have been different. I feel that I had lost nearly $50k during the three years of 2010-2013 by not planning things – and not knowing internet marketing. I expect others won’t do the same mistake. If you are starting a new blog, then be sure to make a mind map and work along with that.

In your mind map, be sure to take care of the following points. I guarantee that these will be the greatest help in future.

Do not start with WordPress.com or Blogspot.com subdomains

WordPress.com and blogger (viz. Blogspot.com) both are quite good for beginner bloggers. You should try those if you are not capable of buying a custom web-hosting. They are good in all manners. But! DO NOT use usual .wordpress.com and .blogspot.com subdomains. They hurt. They spoil your hard-work and may even break your branding in near years.

I don’t suggest to directly jump to shared webhosts instead of trying wordpress.com and blogger. Try them if you can. But at a mere $20/year, wordpress.com allows you to mask your own domains to their free & full-featured webhosting. Blogger, on the other hand, is much cheaper and you can mask your domain name to existing blogger blog at no extra charges. Other blogging sites like tumblr provide similar free domain upgrades.

My experience: I started with wpgaurav.wordpress.com on WordPress.com. Which is just one year, reached whopping SEO matrices like Page Rank 4, Alexa 40k. But once I switched to gauravtiwari.org (which I had to), everything soiled. I had to start with Page Rank 0 and unlisted Alexa rank. I had to re-index each and every page on Google, Yahoo! and Bing-like search engines. It took around two more years to build mentioned statistics. These were the best two years, I could use in earning money with my blog, instead of just rebuilding it.

Brand Properly! Do not change your blog name, ever!

I was lame enough to ignore all those articles that have been written about branding & company naming. I started with Gaurav Happy Tiwari –Technically Mad blog name – which literally had no meaning at all. And then after a while, after being inspired (?) by a blog post by a scientist – I renamed it to MY DIGITAL NOTEBOOK. Both the names took place way before I had bought the domain name gauravtiwari.org. After I owned gauravtiwari.org, the need of changing the blog title to something ‘relevant’ came to mind and stuck into it. Well, who does keep their website’s title way different than the domain’s name? I did. And I kept the MY DIGITAL NOTEBOOK title until I decided to make this blog into a portfolio website to showcase my online works. So, ultimately – I was nearly brand-less for more than three years. And believe me, still I think that choosing my name as the primary domain to my main blog – wasn’t a good idea. Despite all of my best tries, Gauravtiwari.org still doesn’t look like a brand at all.

I suggest choosing a great brand name and stick to that. Before making any brand name official, make sure of the following points:

  • Is your brand name unique?
  • Will it be everlasting?
  • Is the domain name for the brand name available?
  • Do you own or can own the usernames matching your brand name on twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, google+?
  • Will your brand name look great in logos and other designs?

Don’t write study-notes…

online books

Education is the highest paying blogging niche. But if you slide even a little from suggesting students to teaching students – you will fall big on revenue. Writing study notes on your blog is more or less like writing essays or supporting essay writing, which in terms of earning makes a great impact as Google Adsense doesn’t allow essay affiliates sites to their network.

If you are willing to write about education niche, understand the gap to which your Adsense candidacy may fall. If you don’t care about Adsense, you can do whatever you want.

Experiment with your blog design but not a lot!

As said, I was using wordpress.com at first and it did come with plenty of cool templates and themes. I enjoyed shuffling between the various themes and customizing them. Actually, I spent more time on altering those than writing blog posts. That was not a good thing to do. Changing themes and templates is a good way to catch the latest web design trends but you shouldn’t waste a lot of time on the same. Switching one theme from the other doesn’t just take a lot of time but also spoils the look of internal content.

If you know CSS & PHP, you could enjoy tweaking theme files for customized look. But are you changing themes regularly? Think about the time you are wasting.

Math blogger? Avoid import-export tools

WordPress’ import tool totally destroyed my $ \LaTeX $ content that I had already published on wordpress.com website before switching to WordPress.org self-host. (Read about the incident here and here!)  If you are math/science blogger and want to move from one self-host to the other, try moving databases instead of using .xml file importers. If you’re blogging about math on wordpress.com and want to switch to other wordpress.com or wordpress.org website, don’t do. Life will be so cruel to you!

Build external backlinks: They are so important

Backlinking is the backbone of all SEO strategies. From the you start blogging, focus more on backlinking instead of just blogging and let go. There are several backlinking strategies that can help you build more engagement and traffic.

Link internal pages well

Just like Wikipedia, make sure to internally link all important articles and pages to each other. They don’t just increase engagement & traffic but also help your readers to follow-up the related articles.

Give proper copyright credits

When we start, we don’t really care about copyright things. But the fair use of the copyrighted content is important. Give sufficient credit to the people who originally crafted the content.

Make your blog responsive and fast

The world is fast paced and is accompanied by millions of internet users manipulating mobile phones and tablets to browse the internet on the go. Your website should perform its major capabilities across multiple devices and almost any screen size. The two options are creating an entirely different mobile website or making your current site responsive so that it has the ability to move and adjust in proportion to the browser width. In addition to displaying on mobile devices, it should be compatible with the top 4 internet browsers.  If your site does not pass this basic test, you are undoubtedly loosing potential opportunities through a reduction in your web traffic.

Don’t keep the content outdated

Your website should grow as your business grows and therefore your content should be updated regularly. This includes pictures, information, links, and pages.  Make sure that your content is informative.  Ask yourself this question – what do you offer on your website to encourage your visitors to return?  Would you revisit the website which seems to offer the same products for sale each time?  Probably not.  And you should apply that same rule to your website, no matter what you are offering.

Search Engines are always on the lookout for fresh content, not text that has been there since the launch of the website.  Content updates continue to have a very strong relevance when it comes to performance on search engine searches.  This is still often missed by web site owners.

Make it a priority to sit down and write a new and engaging homepage.  Or you could consider an active blog.   Think of this as an act of contribution.  When you share your ideas or stories with others, you are enabling your website to reach people with your message.  What a powerful marketing tool!!

Don’t Miss The Point

Always make your website design and content appeal to the individuals that are most likely to buy your services. If you are a babysitting service, don’t make a website that will sell to a baby, make one that sells to their parents. When deciding to start a blog, write posts relevant to your clients, not your competitors.  Don’t be afraid to ask your clients for advice on what they think of your content.  Constructive criticism from your customers can be used as a valuable business asset.

Don’t overdo content

The average user spends 20 seconds on a website – so spend some time analyzing your home page. Make sure that your content matches your customer’s wants and needs.  It needs to offer independent value to those reading your content.  Remember that a bad message amplified in volume is still a bad message…. there is just more of it to read.

Use call to action and buttons as much as possible

Think about whether your marketing message is motivating your customers to take action.  You can start off by analyzing your website’s performance through your Google analytics account.  Compare the visitor numbers you have and how many leads are generated.

So, this is it for now. This list will continue next time.

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2 comments add your comment

  1. Hi Gaurav

    Article is nice, but could not understand about Educational writing. I am running an Adsense ready educational blog. Request you to put some light on this topic.

  2. Hi Gaurav

    Article is nice, but could not understand about Educational writing. I am running an Adsense ready educational blog. Request you to put some light on this topic.

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