“How to start a blog” in South Africa? I would like very much to share with you on how to do this from an online marketing perspective. We want search engines to find it after all.
Why Should I Create a Blog?
Please bear with me as not everyone who reads this is convinced yet as to why they want to know how to start a blog. We are going to tackle the how to’s further down the page. For now let’s discuss why you should do this. Of course, if you are very clear on why you want one, then please just skip this and read further down. If you aren’t so sure let me reassure you why you should create a blog!
- Blogging is fun. When done right you can even monetize your blog.
- Blogging is truly easy to set-up. I promise you this.
- Blogging rocks when you have a passion or an interest that you want to share with the world. Maybe you have noticed a niche out there. Maybe you are an authority on a topic that you want to share.
- Blogging really has developed into one of the most attractive tools to spread advice, knowledge, news and to communicate in general – it is a fabulous platform.
- Search engines love blogs and find them quickly and easily – making your online marketing easier.
- You can help other people if you want to via your blog.
- You can grow your business via your blog.
- Improve your search engine rankings by driving traffic and interest to your website.
- It is an awesome means to convey thoughts, even if you aren’t an aspiring writer. You can part all sorts of passions with others cheaply, quickly and easily; and others can find you.
There are important steps to follow that will guide you in creating a blog.
Step 1: What Can I Blog About?
The first step is deciding what you want to blog about. There are heaps of ideas you can write about if you aren’t sure yet of your topic. From an SEO perspective, the trick here is not so much the topic that you choose. It is highly recommended that you choose a topic you are passionate about, one that makes blogging feel like a hobby! Writing about something that you love is much easier to maintain than something you don’t enjoy. This is an important conversation I will have with you later down the line and it is about producing consistent, quality content.
When brainstorming on how to start a blog, you are going to need to look at some popular blogging topics:
- A famous figure
- Mental Health
- Physical Health
- Emotional Health
- Personal Growth
- Social Media
- World Wars
- Motor Vehicles
- Anything free
- South Africa
- Blogging in South Africa
There are many other topics to choose from, more of which can be found at 100 Blog Topics.
Step 2: What Should I Call My Blog?
I have got some tips about this and have also included Neil Patel’s (SEO guru) suggestions here:
What should I name my blog? If your blog is regarding you, like an online journal, then you can use your name. If you are wanting to build a brand, then name the blog after the brand.
Try and make it relatively memorable. Not too weird. Make it easy to say and type. Keep it simple. Don’t use someone else’s brand name. Think about the phrases you will use on your website and use them in your domain name.
Your domain name is essentially the ‘.com’ or ‘.org’ that will be found at the end of your URL. Keep in mind that there are no spaces in URLs. If your blog is called ‘Cooking for Vegetarians’, your URL will become ‘cookingforvegetarians’.
Don’t forget to use your keywords in your URL too, if possible. This can help with SEO. Additionally, you can also use synonyms. So if you want to write a cooking blog, you can also include words such as ‘meals’ or ‘food’ in the name of your blog. Stay away from numbers and underscores.
Having said all of that, don’t stress too much about the name. Rather get going with the blog, read further on how to start a blog. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just good enough, so get cracking.
Step 3: Where Should I Keep My Blog?
Once you have decided on what you are going to blog about and the name, you need to choose where you want to keep your blog. There is a debate around whether your blog should be in South Africa or not if you want to SEO it. Speak to a professional first, please, as this is important. Your choice is either a hosted blog or a self-hosted blog. There is debate around this but as an SEO specialist, it is a no-brainer, there is only one choice.
Self-Hosted Blog or Hosted Blog
What is a Self-hosted Blog?
A self-hosted blog is where you find a hosting company for your domain name and the contents of your blog to live. You are renting space from them to house your blog and you can move it whenever you feel like it. You have complete control and access to the backend. It is your website and domain name 100%. If you want self-hosted, then use wordpress.org. Don’t get confused with wordpress.com. Depending on your hosting company you can easily install it all online in 5 minutes. Otherwise you download it and install it. If you want more guidance on whether to choose hosted or self-hosted then read this article.
What is a Hosted Blog?
A hosted blog is kept on an existing blogging platform. Here are some of the top blogging services out there:
If you choose a hosted option then you need to know that freebie blogging platforms have their limitations:
- They aren’t always as free as you might think. The free urls often have long complicated domain names, which makes it harder for people to remember your blog.
- Bloggers can make money by placing adverts on their website. There are limits on these platforms. You might not be able to do as much advertising as you want.
- You will be limited with the amount of media you put up. It isn’t necessarily easy to edit the theme you choose to use. You need to do this if you want to do any online marketing.
- Control over the backend is super important and you don’t have this on hosted platforms. You cannot just use any plugin for example. These plugins give you functionality on your website and can really help your SEO and online marketing efforts.You will not own your blog. They can shut you down any time, for any reason.They have the final say regarding your blog’s content.
My advice? Self-host a wordpress.org blog with a hosting provider or hire a web designer here in Cape Town to create a custom blog for you.
Step 4: Plan Your Blog
I think this is a great time to think about how you want the blog to look and the structure of your blog. You are going to need to answer these questions:
- Write down why you want to begin this blog. This will help guide you in writing your first blog post.
- Do you know who your target market is? It is important to determine your target audience as this will direct you in creating content for your blog.
- Create some goals. For example, how will your gain followers and how many followers do you want to have by a certain date? How often do you plan on publishing content? How will you continue to improve your blog?
- Always take a peek at your competitors. By doing so, you will get an idea of how you could potentially improve your blog. Looking at your competitors should motivate you. Your blog needs to be better than theirs.
- Create a strategy. How are you going to make a successful blog? How are you going to generate great content?
- What pages am I going to have, and how many pages am I going to have?
- Decide on how you want your visitors to feel when they arrive at your blog. Blog design is important in creating the ‘look and feel’ you want your readers to get when they visit your website. Decide on the layout of your blog and what colour schemes you would like to use. This may be influenced by the content of your blog. Look at the themes offered.
- What images will I use on my blog? Use images that are in line with your text. Decide which images you like to include and whether they are appropriate for the content.
- How many images should I use? Ensure that you are not using too many images in your blog. Your readers are expecting there to be more text than images. It is a blog after all.
- Where can I get these images? Depositphoto provides a large variety of images to choose from, based on your topic.
- Start your first post. It should be a minimum of 1000 words.
- How are you going to be promoting your blog? Through social media platforms perhaps?
- What tools are you going to use to monitor your blog? A good free option is Google Analytics. Or, you could use SEMrush as a paid option.
Step 5: Create your Blog
When you have chosen your hosting options, have an idea of how you want the blog to function, its structure, it’s a good time to open an account with your selected platform or install the software. Creating an account is slightly different between the hosted platforms. Don’t hesitate, just go for it. If you are going for self-hosted, the process is slightly different with each hosting company. They might have instructions on their website or they might help you get the software running.
Now you are ready to start writing!
Congratulations! Now you know the very beginning stages of how to start a blog in South Africa. You have realised that you don’t have to be in South Africa. You have your blog up and you are ready to start having fun! When you compose your articles make sure you sound like an authority on the topic. Google loves that! Use photos, infographics, videos and images in your articles. Depositphoto is an incredible resource for this. Lastly, learn about good SEO practices and promote and market your articles like crazy!