Are you thinking of starting a blog? Here are some easy to follow steps that show you how to start a blog.
Step 1 – What is Your Blog For?
From the very beginning you should know what your purpose is for starting a blog. Different people have different reasons; some may just start a blog for plain fun as a way to pass the time and put their thoughts into writing, others use it to vent, others want to make money from blogging, some may want to talk about a hobby they are passionate about.
Whatever your reasons are, you need to know up front why you are thinking of blogging.
Business bloggers for instance, or people who want to use blogging as a marketing platform have very specific topics that they want to write about. This is because they have also specific target audiences they want to cater to.
Step 2 – Deciding on a Name for Your Blog
If you have hurdled Step 1 and have a clear purpose for your blog, then choosing a name will be a lot easier.
You can probably think of any random catchy name, but if you are writing to attract a specific audience or market, it would help to use words, jargon or terms that give potential readers an idea what your blog is about, or who you are about if your goal is to brand yourself as a subject matter author or expert.
Step 3 – Free Sites or Self Hosted?
If you are just blogging for fun then it might be best that you just start blogging on free blog sites such as wordpress.com or blogger.com.
If you have any business or branding related goals, it would be ideal to host your blog on your own website, if you do have one. If not, you would need to register your own domain and sign up for web hosting in order to start your own blog under your own domain name. This is certainly more professional and gives you more credibility than just blogging on free sites.
Blogging on free sites of course is free, while getting your own domain and signing up for a web hosting account involves costs, but these are very minor expenses.
The problem with being on a free site is, the posts you publish essentially become the ownership of the site you are blogging on. If they decide to shut you down for whatever reason, they can and they will, and you cannot do anything about it, you will lose all your posts! This has happened so many times in the past.
A blog on your own domain is your own property. You are also able to do whatever you want with your settings in order to further improve your blog and get more visitors. Blogging on free sites have a lot of limitations.
There are several bloggers who first started out on free sites who later became very successful at blogging. They later realize that the limitations set by the site they were blogging on hold them back, and they see the potential for even more features and customization on their blog if they host it on their own domain. The problem here is, it is going to be very difficult for them to migrate content from the old blog on the free hosted site, to their own domain. It would also be difficult getting the traffic on your old blog to your new blog.
Starting a new blog on your own domain, it exactly what it is.. starting new, starting from scratch.
Step 4 – Choosing a Blog Theme or Template
Whether self hosted or on free sites, you can choose a theme to use on your blog which would be most appropriate for your topics or writing style. If you have a self hosted blog, you can even have your own custom theme designed and you can use this on your blog which helps brand you, your company or your blog’s identity. Make sure that the theme you select has a sidebar that automatically posts your recent blog posts as well as blog categories so readers easily find what they are most interested in reading. If it has a search box the better.
Step 5 – Writing Your First Post
The best topic to write about as your first blog post is to talk about your new blog, what it is about and what readers can expect.
You can also opt to create an About page which gives readers an idea who you are.
Step 6 – Create and Use Categories
If you are blogging about various topics, it would be best to organize your posts into categories. This way readers who land on your blog can easily navigate through your blog, and check out posts in the categories you have created. Organizing your posts this way will help visitors navigate your site easily and quickly find posts that they are interested in reading.
Studies show that one of the main reasons why websites or blog lose visitors is poor navigability or ease of use. If a visitor gets confused and does not know where to go next on a page, the easiest things for them to do is hit the BACK button, or leave your site by closing the browser or tab window, or typing in another domain. In order to ensure readers stay on your site and read your posts which you have spent the time and effort on, make sure they can easily find what they want by making it easy to navigate through your blog and jump from one post to the next or check out different categories.
Step 7 – Planning Your Posts
It is always easier to start anything but the challenge is in sustaining what you have started. It is so easy to start a blog, but sustaining that blog with new posts will be difficult.
That is why it would best to plan your posts ahead of time, to write down a list of topics that you plan to blog about and your estimated schedule for publishing these posts.
It is easy to run out of ideas so a few ways to get ideas for blog posts are:
1. Go to the Google Keyword Tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal) type in a word or phrase that best describes your topic and then hit the “Get Keyword Ideas” button below. Google will then come back with a list of related keywords which are actual phrases that people on Google use to find information. You will also find how many average searches there have been for each of those phrases, in your country and globally. Higher search volumes mean potentially more visitors that can find your posts that are about that topic, or contain those specific keyword phrase in your blog post title and blog content.
That keyword tool actually tells you a lot more, but for your blogging purposes, that is all you will need of it for now.
Another way to get ideas for topics is to go Google’s Blog Search Engine (http://blogsearch.google.com/), type in words or phrases that best describe the topic you want to write about, hit search and then you will receive a list of other blogs that talk about that topic.
If you want to get ideas automatically, go to Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) and set up an alert for keywords or phrases. What happens is, if new blogs are posted or recent news are posted which have those keywords you created alerts on, you will receive an eamil from Google informing you of those new blogs or news stories with links to them, for you to easily check out and get ideas from.
Step 8 – Socialize and Promote
Visitors will not simply find your new posts, you need to go out and tell people about it, get the word out. Make it a habit to do the following whenever you have published a new post.
1. Tell friends about your new post by:
- emailing friends the URL to the new post and ask them to check it out
- include a link to the new post on your email signature
- post a link to your new post on your social networking accounts on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Multiply… best to write a quick excerpt of the new post as a way of teasing the reader to get the to click the link and read the full post on your blog
2. Visit other blogs that talk about the same things you are talking about and leave meaningful comments. Do not just leave brief messages, but contribute to the discussion and add something valuable. Leaving a comment on other people’s blogs allow you to create a link that readers on that blog can click in order to go to your own blog.
3. Register your blog on blog directories. There are several blog directories out there that allow you to register your blog on their sites under specific categories. Some of these directories have a special feature where newly published posts also get published on their site, giving more reach for your content, and getting more visitors to read your posts.
The key to successful blogging is consistency. You would really need to make time for it, that is it is always good to write about something you are interested in, familiar with or an expert about because you never run out of ideas and you never get tired of blogging because the topic is something you know a lot of or are passionate about.