Building a blog

All change! With the current focus shift to more helpful (less self aggrandising) posts I've noticed a big uplift in social shares and new visitors. Therefore, I've decided to completely re-brand and restyle he blog itself. I'll still continue to use examples of what we're doing in the team here at the University of Bedfordshire but will share more useful and pertinent opinions on the latest Digital Marketing industry trends.

With this relaunch, I thought a useful first post would be some tips on how to build and maintain a blog for people who are thinking of setting one up for themselves:

1. Choose a platform (and subject!)

The first thing to bear in mind is that blogging is hard work! Not just the initial build but maintaining it on a regular basis. As someone who is serious about working in digital I think it is essential to have a blog in order to spark conversation with peers and get yourself noticed. 

You then need to choose a platform on which to host the blog. Two of the best and most popular are Wordpress and Blogger (this is hosted on the latter). These are both excellent, easy to use, extremely customizable and free! 

Choosing your subject is vital and by doing a bit of research on what others are blogging about it should spark some ideas and excitement about getting started. You then need to choose a name and URL - I've purchased www.deepphat.co.uk (a more streetwise rendering of 'Deep Fat Fryer!') from my preferred supplier Tsohost and then redirected it to Blogger.

2. Customise a template 

Once you have chosen your platform it's time to choose a theme (or design). Make sure you hunt around as there are some brilliant ones out there and ideally find a responsive one so it degrades nicely on mobile devices. You can also pay to download premium themes which are generally a lot slicker with loads of extra features and technical support.

Historically this blog used a default template which was then coded to resemble our University brand identity. I've found a great free Blogger theme and heavily customised it to suit my content. In order to do this yourself you'll need some basic coding knowledge to change colours and add/remove widgets etc. If you don't have any experience of this then Code Academy is a great way to start learning!

3. Plan your content

This is the most important bit! When writing each post sharing best practice should be at the forefront of your mind. By holding too much back you're not going to be of any use to your readers. Worrying about people stealing your ideas is unnecessary as stealing ideas is one thing but putting them into practice is completely different!

Each post you write should clearly state your opinions to spark debate and you should also vary the focus of each post (e.g. lists, predictions, events, reviews and case studies). it's also a great idea to embed rich media (e.g. videos, tweets, images) into posts to make them more appealing and break up the text.

I find that ideas for posts can occur at any time so it's good to keep an ongoing list. I have my next three lined up already and change my mind about what to write about at the last minute (an impromptu re-skin of this blog has led to me writing this post!)

Finally, it's a good idea to keep a schedule and as time can sometimes be in short supply write up a few posts when you can and then post them at a regular pattern so your readers will know when to come back for new content.

4. Monitor and learn

Blogs are not just a broadcast tool and with any type of online content it's essential to give your audience the content they want and to monitor the traffic and engagement. This will help you grow it from strength to strength. I've now added Google Analytics for more in depth analysis as the free Blogger stats are great but not as in depth as they could be.

5. Get promoting

With many career bloggers gaining considerable income or free products to review, getting out there to promote your ramblings via social media (e.g Twitter and LinkedIn) can pay dividends. I enjoy the extra exposure this blog affords me it's proven a great tool to showcase my skills and knowledge both internally and externally. I have now done some work on SEO to ensure the descriptions on each post are fully searchable and always think about what people may be searching for when tagging up and writing.

This is the start of a new chapter for Deep Phat Digital - any feedback you have on my new design would be much appreciated!
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