AOB: Choosing a Niche and Free Blog traffic
Blogging is just that, an art, not a science. Socrates was scorned as a radical and was labelled as a corruptor of the youth. He struggled long and hard to clear his name but in the end, he was sentenced to death for his obsession. His obsession to light the world with his then visionary ideals only served to earn him an untimely demise, or did it. The people that put Socrates to death for his work are not remembered but he is remembered as a great philosopher of his time. If you embrace your art, the art of blogging, you too can be remembered throughout the annals of history.
Blogging, like every other art form requires a bit of elbow grease and persistence; put that in and no force real or imagined can stop you. Can you make a fortune blogging? Definitely. How long will it take? That is something only you can answer. This article was envisioned to give bloggers, old and new, a place to look for some of things that nobody really tells you during your career, the things that you stumble upon the longer you practice your craft. The article is full of resources that will make it easier to understand the sometimes complicated path you have chosen to walk. It is a lot to assimilate but it will be more than worth it when you see that you are much farther along than many of the people that started ahead of you.
I ask that you never lose sight of the fact that you are not writing out into the ether but writing for people; to start conversations and build relationships with them. If you write only for the search engines then you will lose, if you write without the search engines in mind then you will also lose. Like all art, there is a delicate balancing act between excess and scarcity, only you can find the balance that is best for you and your readers.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to blogging but in my experience, some things work better than others. Keep in mind that your blog is your canvas and you can paint it any color you want.
Anyways, let me delve into what I want to tell you. So you want to be a blogger right? Have you done any research? Well, what I am about to say may actually go against some of the advice or opinions of what many people are saying but you will be able to decide soon enough whether I am on the right path. Here is my own take on the art of blogging.
1.Choose a blogging platform and host
Before you even go into choosing your niche and audience you need to know where your website (your internet home) is going to be and you need to know the platform you will use. The premier blogging platform on the internet is WordPress, it is completely open source and powers millions of websites. As of March 2015, it was responsible for hosting 34.7% of all English speaking websites. This is hands down the best platform to use when setting up your blog. Most hosting providers have a one click installation process that will make everything very easy and straightforward for you. Do not, I repeat, do not set up a wordpress.com website, that could be the single worst thing you do for yourself when it comes to launching a successful blog.
They can limit you when you want to speak your mind as well as limit your ability to make money. As I stated earlier, your blog is your canvas to do with as you please so why would you allow somebody else to impose upon you?
After you have gotten your platform figured out, it is time to choose your hosting. There are a few recommended hosting platforms for WordPress with the top two being Blue Host and Dream host respectively. It’s fine if you want to go with these, they are not the ones I use personally but I have heard good things and bad things about both of them. The hosting company that I will tell you to avoid like the plague is goDaddy, for some reason, their WordPress hosting is very slow and the tailored wordpress packages they have suck to put it lightly.
I use web hosting hub, they have great customer service and the plan that I am on allows me to create unlimited domains (comes in very handy when I have a new Idea that I want to get off the ground). Just make sure you choose a hosting site that suits your budget and try to register your domain for at least two years. Another thing to consider is that you get what you pay for. If you pay two dollars a month for hosting then expect to get that value in terms of customer service and extensive downtime. That is one of the worst things that can happen when you are trying to build a brand. You will eventually have issues with your site that need to be sorted out quickly and that is just not possible with bargain hosting.
2.Choosing a Niche
I asked you to choose a platform and host before choosing your niche because this may be more important. You need a host that is very flexible since you will more than likely start multiple website before it is all said and done. These websites will probably be in different niches that your interests lead you to. I am not a big fan of really niching down, your blog should grow with you, that is why my blog has such a diverse readership. The three most lucrative topics in the internet are money, health ( eg. weight loss), relationships, and expensive hobbies. All those people telling you to choose a micro inch should be shot in the foot. Why on earth would you want to become an expert in a field that only caters to a thousand people worldwide. Of those thousand maybe only 700 are serious about it and of those seven hundred only 200 speak you language of those two hundred only 150 use the internet and of those 150 only 50-75 will find your site. It does not sound like a very good plan to me but hey, I’m just a simple blogger managing to make ends meet.
Niching down too much is not audacious. I suggest you make a list of all the things that you can blog about from now until eternity. Once you have your list of about 10-15 ideas, go and do some research with the target keywords using the free keyword tool from google.
All you need to sign up is a gmail account which is basically your passport through all of google. What you need to look for are search volume and competitiveness of the keywords. You don’t want to go to a niche that is overly competitive (competing with Forbes would not be fun) at the same time you do not want to choose a market that would not sustain you because it’s too small.
Once you have used this tool to narrow down your search to about five niches (remember I use the term niche loosely), go and use google trends (another free tool).
once you get there, click explore from the dropdown menu.
Type in your target keyword, in this instance I used pets and it shows me the interest over the last decade as well as which region has the most interest in the subject. What you want to do is make sure that there is an upward trend rather than a downward trend in your target niches, this will allow you to further narrow down your choices. At this point you should have one or two solid niche ideas to work with.
The last thing you need to do is compile a list of the major competitors in your target fields and check the page rank (PR) on these sites, you can use check page rank for this. What you are looking for is the PR of each of the individual sites to get an idea of how competitive the market is ( I know I am talking like it is a business and that is because it is, unless you want to be a hobby blogger, you need to go in with your eyes wide open and monetize as soon as possible, preferably with your own products).
If the major players in your industry have a page rank of 1-2 then it may be a sign of your niche being too small. If they have a page rank of 3-4 then the industry is sufficiently large enough and you will derive the greatest work reward balance here. 5-6 is probably too competitive unless you are willing to shell out some decent amounts of cash for SEO. 6+ is way too competitive and you should run from these markets like the plague unless you of course you are what I like to refer to as an SEO ninja.
3.Choosing a domain name
After putting all this work in for your niche we can move on to choosing a name. You name is really anything that you want to make it but you should try and convey something to your audience about what kind of website you are running. Indomitable Audacity is telling you that this is a place for risk takers that are willing to put in the long haul. If you were making a site about pets you could choose a name like pet care or Dr. pets or pet guru. I’m sure you get my point, over time your name will become associated with what you do and it will be the face card of your brand. Just keep it as short as possible, nobody likes typing in sentences as a url and try your best to get .com. If you can’t then .Co is the next best thing either of these two are pretty ok and you will be good.
Here is an amazing tool to help you choose a name, impossibility will help you pick out some nice combinations and let you know if the name is actually available.
All you need to do is start with a seed word like like pets that I used in the screenshot.
This is the interface that you will use and you can adjust for things like length of word, if it appears behind or in front of your seed word, and whether or not it is an adjective.
4. Choosing a theme
I know You were not going to try and get away with using a free theme were you? You should be ashamed of yourself if you were, that is not the attitude of a winner. The themes that come with wordpress will be used by about a million other bloggers and will not allow your own blog to stand out. They also probably won’t be able to integrate with woocommerce.
The themes that you can buy in 2015 are beautiful, responsive, and SEO optimized. This gives you an advantage over the competition and greatly reduces bounce rate. Take a look around this blog, the one you are on now you can notice the difference. It is clean and does not take away from user experience with unnecessary gimmicks. How much do you think that logo cost me or that banner? I’m not saying you should break the bank for a good theme but I am saying that you should definitely buy one. A lot of guys don’t take the time to make sure that their site has good aesthetics and that hurts them more than they know. Take a look at the top websites in the world and you will notice one thing, they are all well designed and easy to navigate. There are a whole bunch of themes and many are good quality. There are themes just for blogging, there are themes for magazines, there are themes for consultants, there are themes for business etc etc. it can be daunting when trying to choose the theme best suited for you but I suggest you keep a few things in mind.
1. Is it responsive (optimized for mobile)
2. Is it SEO optimized
3. Can it integrate with numerous plugins such as woocommerce
4. Do they constantly update it and how much support can you expect to get?
As long as you keep these things in mind, you should be just fine when buying a theme. Make sure you don’t get distracted by all the bells and whistles that some of the different themes are offering like video background and full page slider, they usually only serve to slow your site down and a fast site is important for a good SERP.
5. Free blog Traffic
You have already done four important things
1. Chosen a platform
2. Chosen a host
3. Chosen a niche
4. Chosen a name
5. Chosen a theme
Pat yourself in the back, you are doing pretty well.
1. Define your avatar
The next thing I would advise you is to figure out how you can get your content out there and reach your target audience or did you think that once you wrote it they would come? Let’s say for example that you chose pets as a niche (pets is a large niche though) don’t think that every pet owner In The world, all one billion of them, are your target market. You are sadly mistaken, for one, not everyone in the world speaks the same language as you. There is an exercise that you should do and I like to call it defining your avatar. An avatar is your ideal reader, this is the perfect person that you are writing content for, as soon as they come to your website they will feel as if they are home. You can get the worksheet here, it just a short exercise that I put together that will help you define this person.
Once you have defined your avatar, you should have two or three, you can enter the World Wide Web and find where they hang out.
2. Find your avatar
Where does your target market or avatar hang out? Is it in forums, Facebook, google plus, twitter or a combination of all of them? Facebook probably has a group for anything you can imagine and the same goes for google+ I have about a thousand invites to various groups sitting on my dashboard right now.(snapshot) Choose the one related to your niche and join up. Facebook will ban you for a while if you join too many groups at once ( happened to me before). A word of advice, like all internet groups, they are pretty good at sniffing out people that just came to spread their own content around and they will shun you accordingly if you fall into that category.
3. Social Sharing
There are also a bunch of social sharing sites like redditt, delicious, fark, and stumble upon to name a few. Again, don’t be a total douche and share only your content. Participate in discussions, like other peoples content, and make a few friends; blogging is all about relationships.
As far as the forums go, don’t join up and then go to every discussion and start spreading your link, no one will click on it out of spite. Go to your own personal settings panel, add a picture (this will reduce the chances of your account being marked as spam) and set up your signature with a link back to your website. Anytime you post, your signature will appear below what you said and anyone that is interested will click on your link. Some forums will not allow you to start a thread or even add a signature until you have participated in conversations at least 100 times. After doing that, participate in the conversations in a meaningful way, help people, or just share your unique insights and people will want to know more about you and that will cause them to click the link on your signature that you set up earlier and tada you just got another page view in google analytics.
5. Blogger Pull
This one is a little works quite well and has the added advantage of making you stand out as an authority. There are very popular, high traffic sites in every niche and when they post you should be the first person to comment. Why? These sites get a lot of traffic and a lot of comments and when people visit the site they only read through the first few comments. Now, what you are going to do is read through the article and leave a WELL THOUGHT OUT and informative reply. Instead of putting a link to your home page in the website field, you will put a link to a highly relevant page on your site and solidify your place as an authority.
6. Link Around
If you link to other bloggers, they will probably get a ping and if not you can shoot them an email. They will either share the post on Social media or even link back to you, either way you will get more traffic. Even without the traffic from the link itself, it will help your SERP. Especially if it is a relevant blog.
7. Join Triberr
This is a great community of bloggers that will share your work via twitter and other social media outlets. The key here is to make sure you share back, the algorithm they use only allows users to see people that share their work.
Lastly, you can use paid advertising to get visitors to your site. I do not encourage this unless you either have a product to sell or you are doing affiliate marketing and you have already optimized you site with sales funnels that takes the buyer journey into account.
Remember, there are no rules but the ones you make.
In part two, we will be dealing with SEO for blogging and content Creation