How do I start a blog? You’ve come to the right place, if you’re in that space right now, where you know you want one, or your business needs one, and you need to know what to do next.
Having blogged since early 2004, I’ve seen many blogs come and go. Heck if you think about it, I’ve seen many blogging platforms come and go!
I’ve started my fair share of blogs myself, and asked myself the question, “How do I start a blog?” many, many times.
How do I start a blog?
- Do I go self-hosted on this one?
- What domain name should I get?
- Should I get a .com a .net or something else?
- Should I blog privately with password only access?
- Do I use Blogger? WordPress? Drupal? Joomla?
- Do I advertise?
- Do I offer advertising?
- Should I do sponsored posts?
- Am I selling out if I run advertising?
Yes, these and many others are questions that I’ve asked myself a lot over the last seven years.
What I’ve realised during this time, is simply this:
It’s less about the how, and more about the WHY
Sure there are certain ground rules certainly, when it comes to blogging.
Should I go self-hosted? Yes, absolutely, on a .com where possible, and WordPress is *the* one you should use.
Now that we’ve covered the how, I want to get to the WHY
You need to know YOUR WHY
This is Your Purpose.
Are you blogging for business? For fun? For money? For history? For family?
The reason you pick, should ultimately be your PASSION. My passion is graphic design, and helping people with technical things.
Bloggers who blog with passion, have blogs that grow and become successful, because they are brought out with thought and love, and those things resonate with readers.
If your passion is blogging for your business, and let’s say your business is cupcakes, then blog with purpose and passion, about cupcakes.
Post delicious photographs of cupcakes that make people’s mouth water.
Post recipes, and how-to’s and helpful hints that will improve people’s lives. This creates a following, bringing you more customers.
If your passion is blogging for family, then make every post count, make sure you post photographs as often as you can.
A blog is an organic representation of You in Your Now.
Looking back one week, one month or ten years, you should be able to feel your YOU-NESS leaping off the blog post that should take you right back to that moment. Let your kids and your grandkids feel and see who you are, long after you are gone.
Share Your News
There is a reason that WordPress is called a publishing platform – it’s meant to be shared! So get out there and comment on other people’s blogs. Comment, comment, comment. Be real. Don’t leave one or two-word comments, actually think about what you’re going to say, and then say it.
Make it Easy to Follow You
Have a clearly defined social presence on your choice of networks, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and have these links in an easily accessible place on your blog (sidebar top right is always good). Don’t forget to add an RSS icon and link it to your feed so that people can subscribe easily using their favourite reader. If you suspect that your audience are internet newbies, then provide them with step by step instructions on how to subscribe using a feed reader, or offer them a subscribe by email option.
One of the most important things you can do early on with your blogging presence, is to establish a publishing schedule that works for you.
If that’s daily, great! If that’s weekly, super! The point is BE CONSISTENT.
The most important thing here is consistency. Especially if folks are visiting you directly (as opposed to through a feed reader), it allows them to anticipate when you’re going to publish. So if you’re someone who likes to sit down and write a bunch of posts, and then nothing for a week, use WordPress’s scheduling feature so that your posts are at least released to the world in a timely fashion instead of in one big splurge.
If you’re blogging for monetary gain, then do so with integrity. Discreet links and well placed image advertisements are fine.
Flashy annoying pop-ups and a page riddled with contextual advertising are not okay, oh and photographers, I love you guys, you’re some of my favourite clients, but please…never, ever, ever, ever have auto-playing music on your site. EVER.
No, not even Snow Patrol.
Use your common sense, if you make your blog look like a place where even you wouldn’t want to hang out, or where your own voice is drowned out by the hype of your advertisers then you’re doing it wrong. Don’t be afraid to make money, but do it the right way.
Here are my five top points for starting a new blog:
- Blog Your Passion (know your WHY)
- Share your news (comment on other blogs)
- Make it easy to follow you (links, and social networks)
- Be present (be consistent, and consistently you)
- Make Money (don’t be afraid to make money, but do it the right way)
These are the fundamentals to blogging that will set you on a path of blog growth and expansion. Remember, it is not enough to ask, “How do I start a blog” we need to know your why too.
Of course there are technical things that one can do to increase blog growth and reader retention and we’ll get to those in good time.