White screen fear must be real! I know this for sure. It took me months to learn some basics of Word Press, but it’s not the technical side that kept me from writing my first post. It is this text on the first post template Word Press installs by default!
Welcome to Word Press
Instead of writing, I got more and more into technical stuff! I moved from one page-builder to another, from the modern editor “Gutenberg” to the “classic editor”, from one theme to another, and from one plugin to another. Thought that was part of learning more about Word Press, but I was just distracted with those details. However, these are only tools!
I might get back to using old school SMS anytime; it’s not impossible. I believe that the core message has more value than the channel. In my case, I have never tried blogging before and have many questions: where to begin, what to write, whom to write to, when to post, what images to include, how many words to write? After thinking about this for a while, I thought my first post should be about “my first post”! This will help me get rid of that “Hello World!” post and is fun to write.
I will share some thoughts and answers for “first post” questions.
If you are a first-time blogger, please reach out with your questions and comments. I hope the answers provided here would help other newcomers. It is my pleasure to link to your first post and add it here if you think it can inspire!
Download Your First Post PDF & Infographic
1: First time blogging: what to write?
To know what to write, we need to consider three factors: your audience, potential keyword value, and your planned blog categories.
A- Starting point: your audience
Make use of consumer profiles to tweak your blog topics, your writing style and even the image assets you use. Knowing your readers helps you target them better. Your audience is part of your content, and they can be active co-authors sometimes.
Nobody has no audience! You can quote me on that. We all write or create content with some audience in our heads. Regardless of how small that audience might seem to you, they are defining your writing in many ways.
Moreover, starting a new blog doesn’t mean you have no audience. I suppose we all have some social media presence before we jump into blogging, and this can be a gold mine of information and an excellent starting point.
You can check your Twitter profile, click on the “analytics” menu, and check your “Audience insights”. You will find loads of information there about your current tweeps (i.e. your Twitter followers), including their interests, demographics, lifestyle, and mobile footprint.
Another source of information is your LinkedIn profile. You can use it in three different ways.
- The first way to use your LinkedIn profile to select or tune your blog is by checking your connections. Try to filter your first (or second degree) connections according to location, position, and other dimensions. This will give you a good view of your current audience demographics.
- The second step is to check your most active connections on LinkedIn and make a list of articles they post on the platform. Writing on LinkedIn is another form of blogging for a professional audience. If you pay close attention to what is going on there for a reasonable period, you will end up with an interest-map and hopefully some inspiring ideas for your first, or even your 100th blog posts.
- Another source of information on LinkedIn is the discussions and comments you find on other users’ posts.
Tip: Try to use a note-taking application like Google Keep or Evernote (affiliate link) and take notes, bookmark articles whenever you find something interesting on your social media channels.
B- Writing your title
I am sure you have read the “popular” advice of writing titles following what some bloggers call “The Ultimate Headline Formula”. It is a magical formula that usually includes a number of steps to follow or places to visit, etc.
My expectation regarding titles like “ten ways to write your first blog post” or “Five ways to write a no five-ways blog post!” is that they are overused and will lose their appeal (if it is not already).
You would still need a catchy title that can attract your audience. After you have selected your category and have a clear idea about your blog post topic, you can search for “how to write a blog post title?” and check the loads of examples in search results.
Another way is to make a list of 3-5 influencers or established blogs in your field and copy the titles of their blog posts (for the last few months) into a data sheet. This sheet will be more than enough to select yours.
Tip: First thing to do after installing Word Press is selecting your permalink structure (Permalink Settings). After you post content on that website, Do NOT change your permalink structure. Changing URLs can severely damage your SEO.
Based on mere personal observance, I think bloggers and writers fall into four classes:
- The first group starts with a title that inspires the full writing process, and they stick to it. I will call them “Title Inspired Writers”.
- The second group start with a title, then while writing, they find that their flow of thought was going somewhere else, and therefore change their title. Let’s call them “Process inspired Writers”.
- The third writers don’t even start with a title. They select a topic and wait until they complete the writing process. They give it a day or two to get “out of the text” then they reread it trying to get inspired with the best title. I will call them “Outcome inspired writers”.
- Sometimes, I have to say; we don’t choose our topics titles. They haunt us asking to be written! And that will be the fourth group.
C- keywords & some blogging technical details
Search engines use some algorithms to read and test your content. That evaluation determines where and how your website, blog or post will show on the search results page.
Before you publish your blog post, check your search engine for these keywords “blog post SEO”. I will update this post soon with links to some SEO guides.
Let’s say that established companies are targeting one keyword with their professional posts and massive social media reach; then it could be better to avoid competing for that exact keyword. This is simply because our posts have less chance of being shown on the first two or three pages of search results. Moreover, for those wondering what about what that has to do you blogging, let’s answer a straightforward question. Do you remember the last time you kept checking search results beyond the second or third page?
Write your high-quality content, share it with your network and boost it with some work on SEO keyword choice. Also, keep in mind that keywords should flow within the text. Over staking keywords with no real content will take your post nowhere.
Most bloggers use Word Press as their content management system, and if that’s the case, then you will need an excellent modern theme to help with your SEO. It will work like a matrix where content and SEO elements will be embedded. Besides that, you will need an SEO plugin. This plugin will check your website or blog for missing details and show you how to add them. You can also use it to check your blog post language and make it more search engine friendly.
Sharing your post on social media channels is the best way to gain more exposure. Whenever you share something on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, those channels pull some data from your blog. They create a card including an image and some description or post summary. Social media rich cards is another area where you will need to use SEO plugins.
2- Writing Your Article
Do some brainstorming before you write and keep the SEO keywords clear in your sketch. This will help you integrate them better in your article. Select the images & videos you are planning to use in your post. Start with a mind map and even try to embed one in your post. Readers like infographics and mindmaps that users can print out and saved for later, and they also make your article more exciting and consumable.
For grammar and vocabulary choice, don’t use advanced English unless there is a valid reason to use (audience, filed, or other factors). Instead, try to use B1 – B2 CEFR level English. This will give you the best online exposure.
It will help if you use the new grammar checking apps and services before you publish your post. I also recommend sharing your post with friend for all types of feedback.
Alongside the linguistic part of your post, you will also need to pay attention to the media files you will use. Images and videos should be yours, or you will need a license to use them. Many websites will give you access to a vast library of free stock photos licensed for commercial use. You can also use your search engine image search to include only image and video files (or even audio files) with a suitable license or permission.
If you quoted something from another source or website, state that by referring back to the source. This will also help in adding high-value links to your blog.
Keep it simple!
You can reach out to authors you follow and blogs you like and try to communicate the influence their content have on yours. This might be an excellent starting point for making new connections and getting more exposure for your blog post.
3- Sharing your article
Make sure you have your article ready for sharing with rich social media cards and images all set up. Stat by your close network and ask them for their feedback. Expand that list to more connections and more social media platforms, asking for feedback and trying to add value with each share.
If you have a service or a product to sell, wait for your readers to find your content useful and enjoy reading it. Also, try to avoid overselling your service and wait for things to take their time.
The more exposure your content gets, the more familiar you will be to your audience. People buy from people they know, and let’s say you won’t be a total stranger after an article or two.
Give your post few days to make sure it is indexed by search engines. Ask yourself “When is the Best Time to Post on LinkedIn?” then post a summary of your post as a LinkedIn article. Don’t forget to link back to the full post on your blog.
Tip: LinkedIn articles stick to your profile while LinkedIn posts will get lost in the timeline. Tweet your LinkedIn article too & give it a boost.
4- Updating Your Article
People prefer reading recent posts. We tend to think they contain up-to-date information, and this also applies to search engines. Now and then, try to revise your content and update it, leaving a current comment or a timestamp showing latest update date. Update if that will add value to your post, and avoid false updating some bloggers use to trick search engines.
5- What’s next?
- Give your words voice and create a podcast, or a face and create a video. You will find yourself editing the three versions to better ones during this process, and will boost your reach.
- Don’t allow comments on Word Press to be shown without being accepted. And you should also pay attention to the comments you will get on all those channels (including spam).
- All in all, think of blogging as an ongoing process. Don’t track your metrics on a daily basis, but rather keep improving your content with more original ideas. Connect with our audience on social media channels and try to help.
- Finally, leave a comment here if you think you can add a link to an article (or to your content) and inspire new bloggers like me.
6- Always Keep In Mind
- Fight distractions
- Take notes all the way. And use your down time to draft ideas
- Start writing and stop waiting
- Now is the right time. Now is enough. (You can quote me on that!)
- Nobody is perfect, and no post is perfect.
- Get things done!