There’s never been a better time to start a blog. Blogs can provide a great way of bringing a semblance of control over your situation, whatever that might be.
What you want to blog about is in your hands, and nobody else’s. If done right and strategically, blogging can be an effective tool for boosting visibility and building your brand, which will serve you well, whether you’re a job seeker or looking to finally launch the small business idea you’ve had for ages.
Read on to find out the many benefits of blogging, the best platform for it, and deciding what to blog about. If you already have a blog or have been thinking of starting one, this should inspire you to begin or get going again.
The Benefits of Blogging
There have been many debates about the merits of blogging over the past few years (usually in the form of a blog post), some of which have ended in the declaration that the practice is dead. The 77% of Internet users who regularly read blogs beg to differ.
Blogging is not dead, it’s merely evolved. When done right, blogging is still potentially advantageous and lucrative. It’s just that the way people blogged ten years ago is typically not how people blog today.
You can thank social media for that. While blogs used to be a hodge-podge of a person’s interests — what they ate for lunch on a particular day, with some tips and tips occasionally thrown in for good measure — blogging in 2020 tends to be hyper-focused. These days, social media is for sharing snippets and glimpses into your everyday life. Blogs are where you share your expertise, and what you have to offer that nobody else can.
If anything, the move to focusing on expertise is a good thing. It gives you the opportunity to cut the wheat from the chaff right from the outset, so that you can focus — really focus — on your niche, without any distractions.
If done right, blogging can do the following:
1. Increase your visibility
Building an online presence can seem intimidating if you’re not very active on the Internet. A blog is a perfect place to start. Blog content can be easily shared across multiple channels, so if you’re not sure what to post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, start with your blog posts. From there, you can engage and interact with those interested in what you have to say, and start building an audience. You can even start an email newsletter so that your content is sent directly to interested readers.
By practicing good search engine optimization (SEO), you will become more visible on search engines, too. Using your name, relevant keywords, and creating the best content you can are great places to start. To find out more about perfecting your SEO game, check out this blog post. If you practice good SEO, it will lead to lasting visibility over time.
2. Build your brand
A blog can serve as a great spokespiece for your brand, conveying your personality and what you stand for. In the crowded Internet space where everyone is vying for attention, a well-crafted blog can set you apart as unique and show the world who you are.
Your personal brand can be communicated by everything from your blog’s color scheme and aesthetic, to the tone of voice used in your writing. The topics you choose to write about are also key. If you have any core beliefs or issues that are important to you, you should weave that into your content, whether that be women in the workplace or practicing sustainability. More and more, people expect brands to take a position on social issues that matter.
If you plan on launching a blog as part of a small business website, your blog content should be relevant to what you’re selling, but it shouldn’t be too salesy or simply serve as a means of pushing products. You should offer something of value to your readers. Create informative blog posts relevant to the products or services you’re selling, but don’t forget to include a personal touch. Consumers connect to people rather than products, and this will help build brand awareness and loyalty first, which is key. According to Sprout Social, 76% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that they feel connected and loyal to.
Etsy is a great example of how a brand can blog effectively. They manage to tap into their customers needs and interests while tying in products on the site, without being too pushy about it. The content is still number one.
3. Lend you credibility
A blog is the perfect platform for positioning yourself as an expert in your niche of choice. By consistently creating informative blogs on a specific subject. This will benefit you whatever your goals, whether you’re a job seeker looking to get your foot in the door at your dream job, or a small business starting a website. Job interviewers will have a point of reference to see just how passionate you are, while potential customers will see that you’re serious about what you do.
Touching on SEO again, one of the major ranking factors is what Google calls E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. This means that when users search for a specific topic, they’re not only served with relevant content, but content created by someone who is authoritative about that subject. This is all the more reason to perform your due diligence when it comes to creating content. Do your research and really hone your expertise. Not only will you be credible in the eyes of your audience and future clients and employers, but also Google.
Now that we’ve convinced you of the merits of having a blog, now comes the other pressing question: where should you put it?
Where to Blog
Let’s talk about three popular options for blogging, and which we think is best.
1. Personal blog site
When it comes to creating a personal blog and building an online presence, having your own self-hosted blog is a no-brainer. By doing this you’ll have full control over the look and feel of your blog, as well as how it’s marketed. It’s a little more work at the outset than the other two options on the list (you’ll need to purchase a domain name and sign up for hosting) but we think it’s worth it in the end.
If you’re new to this, it may sound intimidating, but there are many options out there for people who aren’t super tech-savvy, like content management systems and website builders. When it comes to a CMS, we hands-down recommend WordPress. It’s beginner-friendly enough for those just getting started, while having the option to customize for more technically-inclined folks who want a bit more control over their blog. Currently powering 36.7% of websites on the Internet, WordPress must be doing something right.
If you just want to dip your toes in the blogging waters, then Medium can be a great place to start, just to get used to the experience. You can set up and account and share your thoughts with the world practically immediately. However, if you decide you really want to make a go of it, you should create a dedicated platform for you and you alone.
While Medium is great for getting noticed, your own personal website has the potential to show your personality and that you’re serious about the whole thing. With Medium, you don’t have any control over the “look” of your posts. And by posting purely on someone on a third-party rather than your own, you run the risk of losing the content you’ve posted, if anything happens with the site. Your content isn’t really your own. Medium can serve as a great way of getting noticed and maybe gaining some followers, but ultimately it should be supplemental to your blog and not your one and only blog.
LinkedIn has much the same considerations as Medium. It’s a great place to post in addition to your actual blog to get your voice out there to a wider audience, but it shouldn’t be your sole blogging platform. Plus, LinkedIn content is a bit more specific and niche than what you’d post on Medium or your own site, seeing as LinkedIn is a specifically career-oriented site.
So, the answer to the question of where to put your blog is potentially “all of the above”, depending on your niche. Having a self-hosted blog is a no-brainer when it comes to personal branding, having full control over your content, and more options when it comes to monetization. Medium and LinkedIn are great, but should be used as supplemental platforms to expand your reach, rather than used alone.
How and What to Write About
Here’s what you can do to get started with creating quality content:
1. Find your niche
Everyone’s good at something. Whether it be a personal passion or related to a particular job field, everyone has a topic that they’re knowledgeable about. Are you an avid reader who would love to get your foot in the door of the publishing industry? Start a book review blog (read how Allison Hitz of The Book Wheel blog did just that). Are you an industry professional with years of experience? Why not share your expertise with the world.
Still not sure of the right niche for you? We’ve got a blog for that.
2. Create a content calendar
It’s common for new bloggers to start strong and post often, only for their passion to wane after a while. You can prevent this by creating a content calendar packed with ideas for months in advance. This way you’ll always have a point of reference, even when it feels like your creative well has run dry. Here are some tips for generating even more blog ideas.
3. Post regularly
Whatever the volume of your output may be, you should post on a regular schedule from the start so that you get into the habit. You can even start small, posting once or twice per week, and increase over time. For small blogs, Hubspot recommends posting three to four times per week to maximize organic traffic, while one to two blog posts per week should help with building brand awareness.
If you’ve been wanting to create an online profile and boost your visibility, blogging is the perfect place to start. For more inspiration on taking the plunge and your career into your own hands, check out our post on turning your side hustle into a business, and this one on monetizing your blog. When it comes to blogging, the possibilities really are endless.
If you’re itching to get going and don’t have a blog yet, or if you do and you’re not happy with your current CMS, we recommend WordPress. Our managed WordPress option, EasyWP, takes care of everything for you, so you only need to focus on creating high-quality content that keeps people coming back for more. If that’s not for you, our shared hosting plans also come with a complimentary website builder, which you can read more about here.