The Modern Day Guide on How to Start a Blog
Blogging is an effective tool for ecommerce merchants. HubSpot found companies that publish at least 16 posts every month see about 3.5 times more traffic than those that post four or less. And if backlinks are part of your SEO strategy, a blog will increase inbound links by 97 percent.
But the benefits of blogging go beyond just SEO. Your blog is a powerful nurturing tool. When done well, it can drive more traffic and more sales. And that’s everyone’s goal at the end of the day, right?
Let’s go over how to start a blog and use it to promote your dropshipping business.
Blogging for Beginners
Blogging can have tons of benefits for ecommerce stores:
- Good for SEO: More content around relevant keywords means more chances to rank and get backlinks.
- Nurtures customer relationships: You can add to the customer experience by providing content with added value that helps them make the most of their purchase.
- Builds brand awareness: If your content is shareable, users will put your brand in front of their networks.
- Converts customers: Not every website visitor is ready to buy. Giving them a rich content experience builds more trust and pushes them closer to conversion.
- Supports other marketing initiatives: As you grow your marketing efforts, content will play an important role – especially for channels like social media and email.
- Generates passive income: Some blogs even have monetization opportunities, which can be supplemental to your ecommerce income.
If you’re just getting started on creating a blog, it’s a good idea to first define your goals. What are you hoping to get out of your blog? This will inform your overall blogging strategy and ensure your efforts are cohesive and helping your business.
Steps to Create a Blog
- Choose your blogging platform
- Get the design right
- Know what to blog about
- Create content
- Publish and distribute content
Choosing Your Blogging Platform
If you already have an ecommerce store set up, the easiest way to start a blog is to use your existing platform – it’s often just a matter of turning it “on.” This is one of the ways to create a free blog (or at least at no additional cost).
But if you don’t have an online store or it’s built on a platform that won’t support a blog, you’ll want to find a different tool. Some common platforms for brands that want to know how to make a blog include:
The steps for how to set up a blog depend on your chosen platform. Some require merely an account sign-up, and you’re ready to go. Others require more customization and choices as you go through the site builder.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to host your own blog. It’s ideal if it’s at the same URL as your online store or at least a version of that URL. For example: yourstore.com/blog or blog.yourstore.com.
Your website builder might dictate your URL structure. Tattly, for example, has tattly.com/blogs/blog as its web address.
Getting the Design Right
Each platform has its own design and customization options. When it comes to your blog design, you want it to be cohesive with your existing ecommerce presence.
Generally speaking, you want your blog to be legible – this means plenty of white space as well as easy-to-read and simple font. Imagery is also important, especially if you’re a visual brand. In this case, make sure you have lots of room for large photos and big thumbnails.
Remember to add a link to the blog from your main website, too. This might be in the header or footer navigation menu, somewhere on the homepage, and on various other pages throughout the site.
Knowing What to Blog About
Here’s the tough part: What the heck do you say on your blog?
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The real answer is that it depends. It depends on your audience, your business goals, and your resources.
When you’re first starting out, it’s a good idea to experiment with all kinds of content types and topics. This will allow you to see what content resonates with your audience the most, which should guide your efforts moving forward.
Conduct keyword research, check forums in your niche, and look at customer support queries to find out what people are asking. This will help you hone in on themes. From there, you can build content ideas around answering those questions.
Here are some specific ideas to get started with:
- Product updates: If you’re launching new products, making updates to existing ones, or even selling out of a hot item, you can turn these opportunities into blog posts. Talk about what makes your products great and how customers can make the best use of them. Bootea wrote a blog post featuring its new product, Coffeetox.
- Behind the scenes: Show customers what goes into creating the products or even fulfilling orders. Give them a peek into the inner workings of your business. Can you create a gallery from your last photoshoot? What about a graphic representation of how your product’s made?
- Industry news: If it feels uncomfortable to talk about yourself, talk about something that’s going on in your industry. Offer your hot take or unique perspective. This will build authority in your niche, fuel social media, and give users a reason to come back to the blog.
- Round-ups: Here’s an easy way to fill your content calendar. Brainstorm a list of “best of…” round-ups relevant to your industry. You can even incorporate timely themes, like best gifts during the holidays.
- Influencer posts: Influencer marketing is a great way to put your brand in front of a new, engaged, and trusting audience. This can be in the form of soliciting influencers to create the content for you or talking about influencers in your industry. Everyone loves free press! iHeartRaves interviews prominent figures in its industry for featured blog posts, like this one.
- User-generated content (UGC): You don’t have to create your content. In fact, you can let your biggest fans do it for you. Consumers are more willing to trust this kind of content. Repurpose product reviews, case studies, curated social media content, and other UGC as blog posts.
You get the idea, so now let’s bring it to fruition. Writing isn’t easy for everyone – especially when you’re juggling a million other things to keep a business running. It’s easy to let blogging fall to the bottom of your priority list.
But there are a few ways you can create content:
- Do it yourself: If you have the time and skills to do it, create your own content. This is the most cost-effective option but also the most difficult to commit to on a consistent, long-term basis.
- Delegate it to your team: If you have employee(s), consider adding this as a responsibility. It’s well-suited for whoever’s in charge of your social media and email marketing. This can also be challenging to commit to on an ongoing basis, and could take time away from other duties.
- Outsource: Outsourcing is the most costly option but also the most realistic one for many businesses, at least from a time and bandwidth standpoint. There are many outsourcing options depending on your budget. Just remember, you get what you pay for!
Don’t forget about imagery, too. If you don’t have graphic design or photography skills, there are tons of resources online that fit every budget. You can hire a professional to do it for you, or source your own images. If you’re really shoestringing it, check out these websites where you can download stock photos for free.
Publishing and Distributing Content
Posting the content isn’t enough. Today’s most successful blogs also have a promotion and distribution strategy. Your blog, social media, and email marketing should be closely integrated. The blog content will fuel your social and email efforts and give you somewhere to direct users.
Huckberry often uses email to promote its blog posts. Typically, emails have a mix of links that go directly to product pages and blog posts.
Throw a Facebook pixel onto your blog pages, too. This way, you can retarget users who’ve engaged with your content but haven’t made a purchase. Over time, you can warm these leads and drive them to conversion.
How to Start a Blog and Make Money
Want to learn how to make money from your blog? Back when blogging first started, revenue mostly came in from selling ad space. And while this is still a viable way to generate a bit of passive income, the real ROI for dropshippers comes in when you’re intentional, strategic, and committed.
Blogging is a long game – it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s not even a get-a-ton-of-readers-quick scheme. Over time, you’ll gain traction and learn more about your blog’s performance, so you can tweak as needed.
Making money from your blog as an ecommerce seller starts with putting your audience first. The most successful brands take a customer-centric approach, and that trickles down to your blog, too.
For example, instead of talking about how amazing its workout pants are, Gymshark published a blog post with three workouts to do while wearing the pants. Instead of focusing on promotion, the company focuses on adding value to customers’ lives.
That being said, promoting your products isn’t the only way to make money blogging. There are other options:
- Sponsored content: Once you’ve built up a regular readership, you can charge other companies to publish content on your blog. This will typically include links back to their site.
- Digital ads: Sign up for an ad-hosting platform like Google AdSense. You’ll host ads on your blog and earn money for the traffic sent to those ads. Just be weary of creating an ad-heavy, spammy experience – customers come first!
- Affiliate marketing: Like the two options above, affiliate marketing works best when you have a steady stream of traffic coming to your blog. In affiliate marketing, you’ll promote other products/services in your blog posts and earn a percentage of revenue for every conversion sent from your site.
Every blog is different, but there are some universal truths: Put your audience first, be prepared to invest in the long game, and don’t forget to review your analytics to see what’s working.
To have the best chance at making money from your blog, plan strategically. Choose a platform that will integrate seamlessly with your ecommerce presence, create a design that invited user engagement, create content your audience will care about, and put it in front of the right people.
Monetizing your blog as a dropshipper comes down to putting your audience first. Remember, it’s not the place for a hard sell. This is where you build and nurture customer relationships that will lead to conversions and brand loyalty in the long run.