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Blogger's Corner Blogging Tips

Top 10 Blogging Tips for Beginners

fHello there! Knowing that’ I’d be nose-deep in work, plus have the grand Durga Puja plans ahead, I still plunged into My Friend Alexa 2020! Sometimes you just bring it upon yourself. Anyways, today after 12 hours of being on fire-fighting mode at office (from home) I decided to relax and write. This is my introductory post of the season and I will begin by discussing my journey of blogging. I hope my learnings, the things I did right and the things I did not, will help fellow bloggers carve their way to success. If not, it will surely give you some “aha” moments when you read.

5 things I did right

Choose a topic that you enjoy talking about

This is important because “success” in blogging takes time. Unless you are already a famous and have a big social following, it is hard to find readers. All creative people want their work to reach the right audience, and it is hard to find that audience these days. This is especially true for written content. Only if you choose something that you are not truly passionate about, can you stay motivated in this journey.

Try out with a free platform but decide soon

Free platforms like Blogger , Wix are great to begin with. It’s as simple as opening a social media account. The problem begins when you try to customize the layout, optimize it for SEO or speed-up the website. If you are not sure that blogging is your calling, you may start with these. But decide soon, preferably within the first year of blogging and move on to self-hosting. I started with Blogger. After reading other blogs I spent humungous amount of time trying to customize the layout of my blog through html codes. It took up so much time that I couldn’t do what I loved the most – writing.

Tip: If you are starting with a free platform , choose WordPress.com. It’s because you can take the advantage of numerous plugins developed only for WordPress. And many hosting providers like Siteground has a free migration tool for WordPress users.

Move to self hosting if you want to take your blog to the next level

Once I moved on to WordPress.org with Siteground as the hosting service provider, I have got good riddance from that frustration of failed attempts of coding. It was initially a scary decision, given the work involved in migration and also the investment. I told myself, “people do buy expensive things for their hobbies, why can’t I get myself a hosting service”? I hired a freelancer to do the migration and after a few initial hiccups my blog in its current form was ready.

If you are planning to move to self hosting I strongly recommend Siteground. It’s the fastest, and has 24/7 customer support. The only problem is that the renewal charges are huge. So it’s a good idea to buy a 3 –year package at once. The second best in terms of performance is Bluehoust. It is also one of the most popular providers among bloggers. Here are a few other hosting providers for bloggers in India and their pricing.

  • FastComet ($9.95 per month – $19.95 per month) – Now available at 70% discount
  • Hostgator (Rs. 99 per month – Rs. 6289 per month
  • GreenGeeks ($9.95 per month -24.95 per month) – Now available at 70% discount
  • Bluehost (Rs. 499 per month – 6719 per month) – Currently available at upto 60% discount
  • Siteground ($14.99 per month – $39.99 per month) – Currently available at upto 55% discount

I’ve mentioned the regular pricing in brackets , but they are often available in heavily discounted prices.

Learn SEO

I can’t stress on how important this is. Especially for someone who is not an “influencer” and don’t boast of a huge social media engagement, SEO is the key. You see, when you publish a new post and share it on your social platforms you get a lot of traction. But within a few days it fades away. To bring readers back you write one more, and you have to keep writing to establish the authority.  But if the posts are search optimized, people nowhere in your social media circle will visit your website looking for the exact information on your article. Who knows, they love it so much that they click through to various related posts , subscribe to your newsletters and become your regular readers. Well, even if that is not so, you at least get readers who you have no social contact with.

If you are into affiliate marketing, you are more likely to make a sale through users coming through search engines , than through social media. Imagine, I shared a post about best shoes for travel in India. You may find it on social media and click it because I have written it. But you don’t intend to buy shoes right now. So you’ll read, maybe take a note of something and move on. But someone who is actively searching for the query, lands in your site. Of course the user will be more prone to make the purchase through your links directly.

Optimize website design for speed and usability

It’s said that a webpage needs to pass the 3 second test. There’s so many sites out there sharing the same information. Why would one wait for my site to load, if it takes a long time? Even search engines penalize slow websites. Which is another reason to choose a fast server-space like Siteground. Now if I remove all colors and pictures from my webpage, of course it’s speed will improve. But what about the reader experience? Who loves to read a travel blog without photos or some byte-sized pictures? What I mean is, one needs to achieve the right balance between utility and style. Everyday as consumers we make the same decisions. Be it a furniture or a car or even a house.

In the beginning I kept an automatic slideshow of my posts on my homepage.  I personally loved it. But I had to let it go for speed concerns. I used an option for related posts or next posts to peek-in at the end of each post. I removed that too for speed concerns. Instead I take the effort to choose the related posts and link them to my post manually. As of now I am happy with the way my site looks and runs. But I keep contemplating whether or not to do away with my sidebar totally. What do you think? 

5 things I did wrong

There’s more to learn from the wrongs than the rights (or things I perceive I did right). Here goes my list of top 5 mistakes.

Choose the right name

This will always remain at the top. Especially because I thought a lot before buying a domain and asked friends. Almost everyone said this is a cool name to go with. But all of them were non-bloggers. In practice the name is just not right for this blog. To begin with, the spelling mistake is not cool. It seemed cool when I started off, but not when brands and even fellow bloggers mention my blog as “Backpack N Xplore”. I have to remind them saying the name of my blog is Backpack  & eXplore. The blog url and all my handles are backpacknxplore. I don’t know why it seemed so cool to me when I started off.

Also, brands assume it to be a backpacking blog, for obvious reasons. Well it’s not. What I really meant is “pack your bags and go out to explore”. Somehow the meaning is not well-conveyed through the name of the blog. But now I have established a reasonably good name already, my posts are ranking well on search engine, and I am afraid of disturbing everything by changing the name.

So decide upon a name that not only describes your blog correctly, but also stands the test of time. The use Namecheap to find and buy domain names at a cheap price. Now they offer hosting services too.

Invest on your blog

In the beginning I wanted to do it all by myself. Coding, designing, analyzing, writing. My computer science background gifted me with an ego that made me believe that if I can do something , I should. It’s wrong. In fact trying to customize blogger blog using HTML codes is a flop idea. Similarly, it’s good to invest in learning. Not just time but money. Most of the free information available on SEO is available to all. Experts don’t share their secrets for free. I decided to buy a book on SEO much later. Similarly I bought Keysearch subscription for keyword research. That indeed helped me choose the best long tail keywords and make SEO work for me. I just wish I made these investments earlier.

Social Media optimization

I haven’t got the time or interest to invest in it yet. I was happy with the traffic I was getting on auto-pilot mode through SEO. Then came the pandemic and all my keyword research went down the drain. People were no longer searching about travel. Many travel bloggers pivoted to recipes and DIY which were booming at that time. Now here’s the problem for me. Google wouldn’t rank my non-travel posts well, no matter how good they are. It’s because this is an established travel blog. Second, even if I try to impress Google with my non-travel posts, it will take time. SEO takes time to kick-off for each blog post.

If I had a massive or reasonably engaged social media following, I’d still have readers for my non-travel posts. There was a talk in the travel community about how easy it is to get travel content viral on Tiktok owing to lack of competition. But I wasn’t in for downloading the app on my phone.

Establish connections

While I have been able to make some great friends within the blogging community I still struggle with brand connections. I must admit I have not done much towards it either. For a long time I refrained from pitching hotels and tourism boards till I reach a certain number of page views per month. The target in my mind was 10K monthly viewership (excluding self-views).  Finally when I achieved that, I started reading about pitching and also ordered a business card. I still kept procrastinating before pitching to brands, when the pandemic hit and my plans were shelved.

My advice: Start early on this. At least read up, join some free webinars and courses to learn about pitching and invest time in finding the right brands to partner with. I have worked with a few brands but that’s just because they approached me through mail or Instagram.

Focus on monetization

That’s a key if you want to take up blogging as a full time career option. For me, it’s still not that. In fact what I make out of blogging barely covers the maintenance cost of this websites. If apply the same hourly rate of effort that goes into this blog as I earn in my current full-time job, then I’ll never break-even. Monetization was never the focus when I started blogging. I never intended to make a full time career out of it. But it feels good to be rewarded for good work. During this pandemic a lot of bloggers earned extra income giving out webinars, e-courses and writing buying guides. I’m yet to pick up on those skills. But that’s okay. For now I’m happy that I can use my presence to amplify the voice of some causes I care about. Be it Amphan relief, or honoring the COVID warriors or generating awareness of responsible travel.

If you want to monetize your blog, I suggest you to try affiliate marketing now. I don’t think it’s worth signing up for ads unless you have a reasonably high stable traffic. Ads in fact slow down the website and affect SEO. Tell me if you think otherwise, and at what point (in website traffic) were you able to make money from ads. Here are a few affiliate networks you should begin with as a travel blogger. 

  • Amazon – The king of all affiliates
  • Booking.com – The King of travel affiliates
  • Cuelinks – An aggregator of affiliates. The best thing about it is the ease of joining and adding links. Unlike Amazon it doesn’t have a target of 3 sales in first 3 months for eligibility.

Disclaimer: I have sprinkled some affiliate links on this blog post for monetization. 

So that was my blogging tips for beginners. Hope you liked it. Please pin the post and share with your blogger friends if you did.

Blogging Tips for BeginnersSo that’s the end of my first blog post for #MyFriendAlexa. Hope to take my blog to the next level through this campaign by Blogchatter.

45 Comments

  1. Mayuri Nidigallu October 18, 2020

    This has to be the absolute BEST post I have read on this subject!. You covered everything that a potential or even an established blogger would benefit from knowing. The post was engaging and enlightening from start to end. Kudos to you for writing this.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 18, 2020

      Thank you so much for your generous comment. Glad you found it useful

  2. Sonia Chatterjee October 18, 2020

    Came here from Mayuri’s TL and I agree with her. You have done a brilliant job of putting out the right and wrong points.

    Reply
  3. Jyoti Jha October 18, 2020

    This is very insightful and informative Sinjana. You have precisely covered all the relevant topics and through citing your own learning experience.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 18, 2020

      Thanks a lot Jyoti for your kind words.

  4. Neha Jain October 20, 2020

    Amazing list. I haven’t done even half of it. Thanks for writing. I leant a lot from this.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 20, 2020

      Thanks Neha. Glad you found it helpful

  5. Radhika Acharya October 20, 2020

    This is such a great post. It’s candid, clear and you’ve kept it simple.
    Even after 3 years of blogging i still make the same mistakes. And i realised this while going through your post.
    I know next to nothing on SEO and i seriously think i need to up my game on that.
    You have a nice easy conversational style of writing by the way!

    Reply
  6. Aarti October 20, 2020

    Good tips. For a newbie like me its really helpful!

    Reply
  7. Nitisha October 20, 2020

    This is very informative and detailed blog, Sinjana. I’ve been putting off learning SEO but this is the 10th time during the #MyAlexaCampaign that I’m reading the importance of SEO. I guess I’m giving in and started an online course on it right away.

    Reply
  8. Harshita Nanda October 20, 2020

    You’ve written it so crisply and well. I have always been a hobby blogger, and think will continue with that, but I know these tips and tricks will come in handy for people who do want to make blogging their profession. The way you have given your examples also makes it more relateable

    Reply
  9. Nupur October 20, 2020

    This is so well articulated. I’m still to understand SEO fully, but from your experience, it looks like social media connect + SEO is what is actually needed… argh! Blogging is not so easy. And hence point no. 1!!

    Reply
  10. Preeti Tiwari October 20, 2020

    These are some amazing points you have mentioned. Being s blogger I found this post really helpful.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 21, 2020

      thanks! great to know you found it useful

  11. Surbhi prapanna October 20, 2020

    Loved your post and you had covered it all. It is really impressive that you had shared our own mistakes too. I agree blogging required various efforts in multiple directions and sometimes it is hard to do it all alone.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 21, 2020

      Thanks Surbhi. That’s true

  12. Kinshoo Agrawal October 20, 2020

    Important tips. I took little longer to move to my own platform but now happy that I did. Trying to understand SEO.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 21, 2020

      Thanks Kinshoo for sharing your story.

  13. Neha October 20, 2020

    I am sure new bloggers will find your tips extremely helpful. I found it lovely that you shared your mistakes as well, to help new bloggers avoid them.

    Reply
  14. Sweta Papaiyawala October 20, 2020

    You have given quite a good insight on blogging and monetization. Will follow the tips.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 21, 2020

      Thanks a lot!

  15. Milan Singhal October 20, 2020

    I read each and every word and might come back to your blog again; for the tips mentioned here are awesome.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 21, 2020

      Thanks a lot Milan ji.

  16. Shweta Suresh October 20, 2020

    These are such great tips. After going through your post, I realized that there are a lot of mistakes that we make.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 21, 2020

      We all make mistakes. The key is to learn from them. Thanks 🙂

  17. Noor Anand Chawla October 20, 2020

    Some good tips Sinjana! Really appreciate your candid honesty about everything. It’s never too late to approach the brands, be creative and even design and sell your own course!

    Reply
  18. Hansa Kajaria October 20, 2020

    This is a very helpful blog for beginners…. while I have done everything you have mentioned but still learning a lot on SEO optimization as I think that’s the main key for your blogs success.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 21, 2020

      SEO is a continuous learning process. I keep learning about it too, though it’s on a pause for quite some time now.

  19. Priya Iyer October 20, 2020

    Bookmarking this. Very useful post.

    Reply
  20. Akanksha Singh October 20, 2020

    Great tips.. I specifically liked the not to do list.. I also messed up with the name of my blog and still on how to deal with it.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 21, 2020

      Thanks Akanksha. Good to know someone is in my team here.

  21. Aditi Kapur October 21, 2020

    I agree that investing in blog takes you far. Thanks for the tips.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 21, 2020

      Thanks Aditi

  22. vidhya Thakkar October 21, 2020

    These are some helpful tips! loved it

    Reply
  23. Archana Srivastava October 21, 2020

    Ultimate guidelines to know about blogging in depth. Though it’s been 1.5 yrs being in the blogging world, still there are umpteen terms that I have no clue about how to do and what to do? very helpful post for all the new entrants in blogging.

    Reply
  24. Shipra Trivedi October 21, 2020

    Like you I have also made mistakes and then fixed them. I too have a full time software sector job and thus I am not much into promoting my posts. During lockdown I even didn’t write. Blogging needs serious efforts and your post is really insightful.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 21, 2020

      Thanks a lot Shipra

  25. Dr. Rahat Sayyad October 21, 2020

    That was a really helpful post about monetization. I am glad i came across this. Lovely suggestion on not waiting it out and not going for ads first as thats the first advice one gets, when they look up monetization.

    Reply
  26. Vashi October 21, 2020

    That’s such a perfect tips & guidance that a blogger can ever need. Complete package must say. Great read & so helpful

    Reply
  27. Suchita Agarwal October 21, 2020

    My favourite point was invest in your blog. Whether monetarily or through time and effort, it’s so essential if you want your blog to go anywhere.

    Reply
  28. Tina Sequeira October 21, 2020

    Very informative, and succint post on blogging tips, Sinjana! #MyFriendAlexa #TinaReads

    Reply
  29. Amritha Srinath October 21, 2020

    These 10 tips are so apt for all budding bloggers. I am a blogger since last 1.5 years but I still believe that tips like these would help one to grow. I am yet to understand all about SEO and use it to my full advantage. Thank you for sharing this.

    Reply
  30. vartika October 22, 2020

    An excellent post on this subject, I think the best one I read so far. inning it to refer it later also. I have been struggling to improve my site’s speed and got two handy pointers from this post already (shall remove slideshow and related posts) Just a query, when you say you added related posts manually, do you mean, you just linked their links within the post? Thank for sharing these useful pointers with us.

    Reply
    1. Sinjana Ghosh October 22, 2020

      Thanks a lot Vartika. Yes, I have links to related posts on the body of my post. That helps with SEO too. I have the popular and recent posts on sidebar which I want to remove, but I havent decided on it yet.

  31. Dixita Agarwal October 24, 2020

    Useful post amd don’t worry backpacknxplore is actually good choice, when i reached your blog till fascinated me

    Reply

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