The first post is the hardest. Your website is complete, you are ready to go, so how are you going to start?
Don’t dive into your first post without a plan. Write yourself a manifesto, a strategy, or a content plan — ideally all of the above.
Before You Start
Why are you starting a website? The chances are that you are doing it for a reason. Whether it be to teach people how to play an instrument, or to share your recipes with a paying membership. Make sure your goal is clear to yourself, then write it in a way that makes it clear to your potential followers. It is vitally important that you get your direction right at the outset. It can be really damaging to search engine optimisation if you change topics or dilute your keyword density with a random blog post.
Who are your potential customers? This is an important question for you to get right. If you present your content in a format or style that your customers don’t relate to, then they won’t bother to read it, no matter how good it may be.
Your first post shouldn’t be an all-out attack on the key issues in your niche. It won’t get any respect, if it even gets noticed. You have to build your reader base, build your authority and gain recognition and respect in your area. The first steps to achieving these goals are introducing yourself and your site.
With those important foundations built, it’s time to think about writing that first post.
That First Post
Start with who you are and what you are writing about. Share some relevant and some irrelevant information about yourself. Don’t overshare, but provide enough to be a person rather than a nameless writer of easily ignored words. Show off any awards or qualifications that build your credibility in your chosen niche. Readers will be looking for a good answer to “why should I listen to this person?” — so you had better provide one.
Once they know you, they need to know why you are writing. Explain this to your readers. What do you hope to accomplish? Following this, it is paramount that you make it obvious what visitors stand to gain from visiting your site, and why you’re better than anyone else in your niche. Every business needs a unique selling point. Find yours and make sure readers understand it.
Tell readers what you want them to do, whether that be sign up for a newsletter or follow you on twitter and facebook. Very few will do it if you don’t tell them to and you can’t afford to let potential readers slip through your fingers. Make sure your site has obvious, but not outrageous, links to your social media pages, RSS feed and an email subscription. If you are serious, you should make sure you have all of these as everyone has a different preference.
The remaining thing to do is to tell visitors how often you are going to publish articles. This is why you need a content plan. We are creatures of habit and most people love routine. Commit to a schedule and stick to it. Be cautious not to overcommit — too many niche content publishers start out posting five articles a week, and then run out of ideas after a month or two. It builds trust with readers if you deliver exactly what you say you are going to.
It never hurts to give readers the title of the next post in your latest piece. Anticipation builds excitement and you are more likely to get subscribers and newsletter signups if people are afraid of missing an interesting article.
What do you usually see at the bottom of a post? A comments section. Make sure you include one. They are an invaluable way of engaging with readers, especially if you are willing to build a relationship with them by responding. This will build loyal fans that are enthused by your site, and their interaction with you. They might just tell their friends, who are likely to share similar interests, and so they may join too. Comments can be a powerful tool for growing your authority.
Your first post is an introduction, setting up your site the great content you have planned that inspired you to start your own site. It gets the ball rolling and clearly communicates to readers what you are all about. It also makes that second post just a little easier, as you don’t need to worry about introducing yourself, your site or your expertise.