One of the best ways to help your local community, is to start a local blog. Not only will it be a haven for local people to find good information, but local blogs are easier to develop traffic, so your site can quickly turn into the best of its niche.
Whereas starting a new international (or even national) blog can be like dropping a needle in a haystack, a local blog can do wonderful good within weeks. You can become an expert pretty quickly, develop relationships with local shops and causes, and because it’s easier to get traffic, it’s easier to earn income.
What Kind of Local Blog To Start?
First of all, clarify the kind of local blog you want. Spend time deciding on this, then you can slowly develop your site to become the best in its field. Ideas include:
- A local area. This could you be your local city, town or village. A city is obviously going to be more difficult to gain traffic. Go smaller, like an area of a city.
- A local niche. For instance, if you live in London, you could run a green blog for that local area. This combines two niches in one. Or go more micro-niche, with say green fashion in London. This combines three niches in one. Your contacts to build are then all the sustainable fashion designers, shops and journalists.
- A local cause. You may live in a county with ‘inner city food deserts’. You could start a blog that focuses solely on building up your local food movement. You could interview, review and promote farmers’ markets and farm shops, organise discounts for your readers with a special code to buy local food, sell local food recipe books on your site and contact the local papers and MPs, who no doubt would be interested in your campaign.
How to Start a Blog
Once you have decided on your niche, it’s time to start the blog. First of all, choose a domain name. This should be easy to spell and pronounce, with no hyphens. You can buy good domains at LCN which also gives one-click WordPress hosting (see below) and free WhoIs privacy (to avoid spam).
The best hosts are hosted WordPress (good for charities as it’s free), Squarespace or self-hosted WordPress. The two latter offer good quality affordable hosting, ideal for small businesses to switch to, if you spend monthly fees now. If you use self-hosted WordPress, set up your site using the Dashboard on the left, and always keep the site and themes updated:
- Settings: Change your name and tagline, and ensure Permalinks says ‘Post’ for better SEO.
- Users: Change your user to ‘admin’ (use a personal email address) to something more secure, then remember to change back to your professional email.
Don’t use too many plugins. Ones to include (just search in the dashboard):
- Classic Editor: much easier to use than new Gutenberg blocks
- Jetpack: Install for free stats and related posts
- Cookie Bot – this keeps your site legal in line with EU law (put it in the dashboard)
- Really Simple SSL: Makes your site secure (padlock in URL)
- Link Checker: alerts you to broken links on your site
- Updraft Plus – free plugin to help keep site secure
- WP Maintenance Mode: work on site until launch
- The SEO Framework (much simpler than Yoast)
- Genesis Simple Edits (removes meta tag, for cleaner look)
- Regenerate Thumbnails (if changing themes, resizes pics)
Choose a Pretty Theme
Next, it’s time to choose a pretty WordPress theme. Most themes are pretty affordable (around £30 or so). If you are on a tiny budget, you can get free themes from Beautiful Dawn Designs, Sculpture Qode and Anders Noren. Some pretty theme companies are:
- 17th Avenue Designs sells feminine themes (you’re looking at one) with Genesis included in the price. These are fab, choose simple or premium themes.
- Restored 316 offers beautiful feminine themes, which sell in their thousands. Many have lovely visual indexes, and the company also offers super support. New themes are released on a regular basis.
- Code + Coconut offers gorgeous simple themes (you’re looking at one!) These run on Genesis framework to make it coded and SEO-friendly (the company offers you a discount on it, if you buy from them). Easy to set up, with wonderful support.
- Beautiful Dawn Designs offers beautifully simple themes, which are very easy to set up and customise. From elegant to bright colours, and lots of help to make your blog brilliant.
- Bluchic sells tens of thousands of their high-class WordPress themes, all beautifully designed. They also specialise in online shops, using free e-commerce plugins.
- Angie Makes creates beautiful feminine watercolour themes. This is a combo of a designer and her techy husband, so together they make for a smashing team. The themes are easy-to-edit with matching pre-made logos.
- Sculpture Qode offers nice minimalist themes, and is run by a couple who live on the South Coast.
- Station Seven is a company offering lovely themes for both WordPress and Squarespace. These themes work very well, and sell in tens of thousands.
Write Your Blog!
When you have a pretty site, it’s time to start writing. People read slower on the the web, skimming articles and looking for headlines and bullet points. The whole point of a local point is to give good helpful information, so choose a theme that has a fairly narrow content area (the wide content area themes are best left for photography blogs). Long articles are Google-friendly, just ensure you break up the information with H2 headlines and bullet-points, and the odd pretty picture (give credit where due). Once you write a post, proofread it, and cut it in half to ensure it’s not too long and rambling. Then publish. Only have 10 or so categories (break up more information into tags, but don’t have too much). Always strive to keep everything simple and consistent, for easier reading.
Keep your sidebar free from clutter. A few sidebar banners are fine, but most readers now use free Adblock Plus, so most people won’t see them anyway. If you are going to earn income from your blog, it’s better to come from a small gift shop or reviews of items that you would review anyway This builds reader trust.
Extra Helpers For Your Beautiful Blog
There are so many people on the web offering ultra-expensive services. Here are a few affordable helpers, should you need them:
- SEO For Food Bloggers is a wonderful e-book that could be used for any kind of blog (most info is generic, rather than just about food). Beautifully written and designed, it’s penned by a former SEO professional turned recipe blogger, who combines the best of both businesses, to offer 50 simple and short chapters. Read this, to get most of your traffic from Google. For recipe blogs, check out The Food Photography Book, a best-selling e-book on how to take good photos.
- Genesis Tweaks is a great little site by an American student, who is a computer geek paying his way through college. He can make tiny tweaks, for a small donation.
- Elan Creative has lots of nice freebies, including attractive free Pin It buttons
- Ramble Road Studios offers lovely pre-made logos at an affordable price. Logos are great to help focus your site, and this company has so many, you are sure to find something you like. Your order includes print versions as well.
- Carrie-Ann Sudlow offers affordable simple SEO services, should you wish to pay for outside expert help. You can also find good tips on local traffic at SEO Mark.
Turn Your Blog Into a Business
- Crafted to Convert is the first online course by a couple of successful theme designers. They have helped over 10,000 people to build beautiful blogs, and run a 6-figure business themselves. This course puts together all they have learned over the last 5 years, to show how to build a local blog that delights, engages and converts. This is run by a lovely friendly couple, who are always willing to help you build your business.
- How To Write Content That Goes Viral is by a very successful blogger. In plain English, Tiffany teaches you how to write posts that help people and get shared on the web, and on social media for those who use it.
- The Blogging Blueprint is a wonderful online course, by the same author. Her blog gets tens of thousands of readers per month and she has over one million views on Pinterest. Over the years, this theme designer has learned all there is to know about running a successful blog, and she can write very well too, so this info is simple and covers the lot. Just sign up and start learning.
- The Blogging Babe Planner is a wonderful e-book by a woman who managed to start earning money and getting traffic, from her own blog within weeks. This book includes all you need to know to write, design, market and earn from your blog (she also has written a specific guide building your profitable blog).
- Dailygreatness sells beautifully designed journals for daily life, but also for business and success. Created to upgrade your thinking, begin and end each day with optimism, using these combination planners that feature undated yearly planners with finance & budget worksheets, goal setting planners and inspirational quotes, all within a simple daily, weekly and quarterly structure. Buy from this page to get 10% discount.