It may be difficult to figure out where to begin when you decide to start a blog. With so much information out there, terms you hear of for the first time, you may wonder if all that rouble is even worth your time. In this article, I will go through all the steps that go into the structure build of a blog. following, I will share my technique and tips for content creation. All in all, you should get a good idea of how to create your blog and how to keep it going.
Start a blog
What resources do you currently have?
Once you have decided on your focus area, it is best to have a look at what others do so you can build a concrete plan and see what resources you have to work with. For me, blogging isn’t competitive because the way I see it, everyone is different and if everyone chooses their own approach to how they create content, then it will be different. If someone was to attempt at copying someone else, it won’t be unique, and the audience will know it. Besides, why would you want to spend all that time just to try and be a copy of someone else?
It is always a good idea to take a look at a range of bloggers in your focus area to get an idea of what could work for you. Use their work as inspiration for your own. There aren’t rules as such, but when it comes to your blog, you should feel comfortable with the way it looks, and as for content, you should feel comfortable in the style you use in your writing. If you decide to be a vlogger and utilize video as a medium instead of writing, you should also come up with your style. Looking into other people’s work is about finding what you like and what will work for you. At this point, it is like creating a mood board. Ideas that will slowly come together in the creation of your unique brand.
Once you have the ideas down of how you would like everything structured, it’s time to look at the resources you have. The number 1 resource which I think is crucial for any blogger is time. For me, the creation of the simplest blog post; which has 800 words and a minimum of 5 images taken by myself, would take a total of 12 hours to create. The time would include idea creation and planning, styling and set up, photography or video recording, research, content writing, media optimization, compiling of all the elements, and proofreading. A post like that is the most basic, and I hardly create posts as such.
So, time is crucial for blogging. It is a resource that regardless of how long you’ve been doing this for and how many of the other resources you may have, is one that is a constant priority. Other resources are more practical skills, such as website upkeep, photography, videography, photo editing, and video editing. These are all resources you either have a good handle on or can learn. Once again, learning new skills also requires time. The bright side is that you can choose if you want to learn these skills or work with someone who already has them. You can choose at what pace you want to learn them and there is no test or exam you must pass.
Your Blog: Setup, Structure, and Content
So, once you know why you are going into this, what you want to focus on, and what resources are out there, it is time to begin building. Your blog is a space for your vision and your vision is a piece of you. How it looks, the words you use, the colors, the structure, every little bit is a clue to a stranger to get to know that piece of you that you are showing to the public. I say a piece of you as you have to keep in mind that although your blog contains your words, images, and your ideas, 1 post or the entire blog is only a fragment of who you truly are. I think this is quite important to understand this, especially when outsiders who have no clue as to who you are, freely judge you as though they know you inside out just because they came across one photo, post, or even your website.
Your blog will reflect what you want to share, but that does not mean that it is all that you are. However, it is your job to try as much as possible to portray a certain message the moment someone enters your website. This is branding. From the colors to the type of typography to the way all the elements are laid out, you want visitors to get an idea of what your blog is about, what it is you do, why you’re doing it, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to be different. Keep in mind that your audience is your visitors and your blog is the space you created, so it should be memorable.
When creating your website, this is the first time you will truly face a reality that may have not crossed your mind before. From the moment your blog will become public, even though it is your space, you have to see it as a brand. It is part of you, but you can’t allow the public opinions to affect you personally. Criticism must be addressed in a business manner. It is a harsh reality that I think every blogger has had to face once going public. And the more you grow, the harsher are the judgments. This is also where point number one of why you want to be a blogger is a good reminder to keep you on your feet.
Now about the technical aspect of your blog. Whether you hire someone to build your site or build it yourself, there are 2 main options for web building, using WordPress or alternative site builders like WIX and Foursquare. Keep in mind that if you decide to hire someone, unless you plan to pay them for the upkeep of your site, you will also need to learn how to upload content yourself. I personally wanted to know it all myself not to have to depend on other people, but it is entirely up to you.
Regarding the structure of your blog and the way you want it to look, there is a huge variety of blog template sites that you can use as a foundation if you don’t have web development skills. There are some basic rules in web development which, regardless of what your website is for, you would need to accept and build by those rules in order for your site to function properly, but otherwise you can do just about anything and personalize your site to your heart’s content.
Every blogger knows that their main aim is to drive the audience towards their website. In order to do this, there are a few technical aspects of how websites get ranked on the internet, that every blogger should be aware of. This will help you to cross all the Ts and dot all the Is and meet search engines’ requirements. Understanding how search engines work, the importance of keywords, optimization, word count, unique content, and even the layout of your site for all devices, will increase your chances for your website to appear on searches. I won’t go into too much detail, however, there is a ton of information online, both basic and in-depth, for anyone who wishes to learn all the rules and look at the recommendations.
Keep in mind that you need to be organized as well as experimental. We all have our styles and goals when creating content, especially in the beginning. You may want to experiment when you just begin to get a feel of what works and what doesn’t. Analyze reader’s comments and reactions, and try to find that middle line between the content you enjoy creating and content readers enjoy reading.
Blog schedule (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.)
Organization plays a key role in making sure people know when to expect new content. You don’t want to randomly put content out there because you will leave those who are interested to have to wait and not know whether or not you’ll be putting anything out there. You may not want to strain yourself with a schedule right away, but once all pieces fall into place, try to have a schedule in mind that works for you and inform people about it. You want them to look forward to your next piece of content.
Method and style of creating and presenting your content (visual and text)
Building YOUR style, that in time people will recognize. Starting from the way your website looks, your logo (branding), your writing style, your final presentation of work, even the styling you use on videos, filters on images (if any), the text and colours or effects you use in your stories and the list goes on. All these are recognizable features that people will in time associate you with. It is something that you may envision as one thing and will in time develop into something different, which is fine. The more you learn and experiment, your style will develop with you. Just make sure to have something stable to be able to build on at the beginning. One thing to keep an eye out for is our technological advances. For example, utilize subtitles on your vlogs and stories. Technology has given us the capabilities to connect with everyone globally, who may not understand your accent or who may be deaf. Such a small difference like subtitles can make such a great impact. We have the tools right in front of us. Use them wisely to connect with everyone who shares your passions and interests.
If you are not sure what it is that may describe you and your content best, have a look around what others are doing and create a list of things you like and don’t like. This will give you a good starting point of creating a style that you personally connect with, and most importantly will give you a vision of certain elements from the view of a user. Make sure to focus on the things you may not like and have some time to think about why you don’t like them, why they aren’t working for you as a visitor. There may be an element, such as the subscription box on a blog that you don’t like, however you do need it. It may be the fact that it is not the element which you don’t like but the style it’s in, or the fact that it’s annoyingly popping up, or covering your mobile screen or it simply doesn’t give you options of categories to choose from. My point is, think about what you don’t like because your opinion may not be about the element itself, but the way it’s presented. This means that you simply need to find a new way, your way, on how to represent that element.
Make your content as precise, easy-going, and accessible as possible.
Since the beginning of time, people go for an easy option. Not everyone likes to read, which unfortunately eliminates a portion of the population who will not bother going through your content. However, all is not lost. It is up to you to make sure that you deliver the information you want to share in a way that won’t have people turning away from your content. Keep in mind that even though users on your blog are readers, that does not mean they have the patience to read through an entire post only to find the actual answer in the very last line. Make sure to mix things up with the use of media or even videos.
When it comes to the actual content writing for a blog, there aren’t rules except for the keywords. In terms of organizing and the style, that is entirely up to you. When the content isn’t tied to a deadline, you are flexible with the timing. It’s always best to have someone else read through your work, but if you are the one proofreading your own content, the next morning will give your mind a chance to see the content with a fresh pair of eyes.
You can get a good picture of how people act and react to your work by looking at the pathway from the side of Google Analytics, Bing Webmaster tools, or any other internal analytical programme on your blog. It shows you the breakdown of which source users enter from, where they click and where do they leave. Whilst on the subject, I’ll go back to saying that people aren’t patient and sometimes not forgiving. Make sure that all your links and buttons work properly on your website. If something doesn’t work, people are less likely to click on it or even go on your site again.
Timewise, you will have your own rhythm once you begin writing. You will be able to calculate the amount of content you can write for a specific type of work and how long it will take you on research and content creation. For me a rough estimate is a minimal post of 800 to 1000 words, having minimal research (up to 2 hours) will take me about 4 hours to compile, excluding the proofreading time.
Knowing the amount of time spent on creating content is essential for pricing your work. I have no issues writing, especially on topics that I am heavily invested in, but at the end of the day, if you are creating content as a job or for a paid collaboration, you need to know the price of your work costs. As brands and companies may approach you to create a content piece for them so you need to know how much time you can spend on that specific work and how much your hourly rate is.
Rate Card estimation for your Blog content
Break down all the steps you take to create content. Mine are as follows:
- Concept creation
Concept building, Planning
Prepare look (makeup, hair, and styling), Location preparation, Set up (photography or/and video)
- Media creation
Photos: Shooting, Editing, Optimization, Stories creation & Social Media images
Video: Shooting, Editing, Optimization, Stories creation & Social Media video
- Content creation
Research and keywords, Writeup, Proofreading
Now, you need to create a baseline for each element mentioned above. I found it easier to look at my past work for any similarities. Being a blogger, my first instinct was to see the word count of those projects. You need to start from somewhere, so I began with the length of the blog post content, for example (1,200 words). From there then I looked at all the other elements. How long did I spend on the concept creation section, preparation, media creation (whether it was just photos or video or both), content creation, and finally the composition of everything. It is important to have a minimum for media. You need to have some sort of idea on the minimum number of photos or the length of a video together with the time you spend on the shooting and editing.
Once you have all that list, think of an hourly rate and create an Excel sheet that will automatically calculate your final rate by multiplying the time of each element by your fixed hourly rate. This technique will help you define a baseline of the physical hours that you spend on a project. Make sure to keep in mind to add any professional rates if you will be outsourcing a photographer or a videographer. Also, make sure to deduct that cost from your equation if the company will be providing that.
Next, you need to get an average of your readership. Normally you take the total of the past 3 months and divide the sum by 3. The reason being is that there are many variables that need to be considered in terms of who gets to read your content. Unlike social media, when you post an article on the internet, that information can get accessed at any time, and sometimes the information picks up readers not instantly but over time. search engines do not index your content straight away but need time to do so, however on the upside your content, if properly built and optimized, can only gain value the longer it is published.
The rate for the average number of users can be done using 1 of 2 methods. You either set a fixed rate, for example, €0.50, €1.00 or €1.25 (whichever you feel is more appropriate, however, you should keep a few factors in mind; such as subscribers and new visitors), and use this fixed rate to multiple by your average readership. Or, you can set a range, for instance, €0.50 for monthly readership between 1,000 to 5,000, €0.75 for monthly readership between 5,000 to 10,000, and so on. I personally opt for the fixed rate as I find it fairer because truth be told if your readership increases, it will be reflected as an increase in the total price.
Next is adding your social media influence to that rate. I personally don’t do this. Having worked and studied the internal workings of social media, I focus my prices purely on my readership and my hourly rate. To me, social media is a method of advertising and from experience, just because a user has a certain amount of followers, does not mean that that number is a guaranteed number that will see, read and engage with their next piece of content.
The methods of adding social media rates are just like for readership, with 1 of 2 options of either having a fixed rate or having set range rates in accordance with followers. Set a rate for the average comments, views, and shares (just like the 3 month period for your blog, social media usually counts the average of the past 10 posts or so). You can even add a rate for likes. Once you have the rates for all the above, add them to the base rate of your blog post and you will have the rate of a sponsored blog post.
Your blog is what you make of it. It is a sphere that you create and it mirrors your personality and intent. Every blogger creates their own little world to which others relate to. Today’s technology has allowed people to express themselves in not just words or photos, but to even create a website which reflects that person and their interests, not to mention that people are now being paid for having to be themselves and to be able to live and do what they enjoy.