Welcome to part 2 of 10 in my “Be A Blogger” Series: Starting A Blog! Last week we discussed why you need a blog, now we’re getting into the meat of the issue – just exactly how to do it.
There are a few different things to consider in starting a blog and while this list isn’t exhaustive, it definitely highlights the 7 main points of consideration to get you from not having a blog at all, to setting up a successful one that gets results.
Choose your theme or overall topic.
This is important. Is your blog for personal reasons or professional? Are you going to write about your industry or your hobbies? Food? Fashion? Your ever growing collection of Dave Coulier photos? This is what the majority of your content will be about. I know it seems simple, but it’ often a question that goes over-looked by new bloggers. And while this is just my personal opinion, but “lifestyle” blogs (a blog with no focused theme) are just asking for failure. Readers don’t want a stream of consciousness when it comes to content – they want to know who you are and what they’re getting from you. This doesn’t mean you can’t work the 80/20 rule (80% main theme, 20% personal or company specific) – in fact, you should! Make it personable so people have something to relate to. But decide ahead of time what your blog will be primarily about.
Choose a name and (optional) tagline.
When starting a blog, you need to select a name that will be reflective of what your blog will be about while your tagline can expand on that. If you’re stumped, Google similar topics and see what’s out there or try a name generator. Keep in mind the title should be relatively short, easy to say and spell and if possible, a little clever.
I’m often asked by clients if they should title their website based on their personal name. Blogs that are named after a specific person aren’t necessarily the best choice – what if you brand grows to encompass more than just you? Try to come up with something that has room for growth. It isn’t impossible to change your blog name later, but it will entail some serious re-branding maneuvers which can be timely and expensive.
Choose your platform.
There are a few leaders out there in the blog world and here are my top 3 choices:
1. Tumblr: Great for image sharing and very short posts. Think of this like the Twitter of blog platforms – it’s meant to be fast and micro in length. If you don’t have a ton of time to devote to a blog and/or aren’t willing to hire someone to do it for you, this might be a good option. That being said, it doesn’t allow for a lot of room to evolve content wise. Personally, I think if you’re willing to go the Tumblr route, you might as well just get on Instagram. Or Twitter. Neither of which, by the way, are a substitute for a good blog.
2. Blogger: This platform is very blogger-esque and is a starting point for a lot of bloggers. It’s simple, straight forward and really very much like a plug-and-play kind of platform. It will look like a blog, it will function like a blog, and it will be a blog. But that’s it. There isn’t a lot of room for customization or control which is something you may want in the future. And then you have to worry about moving it over to a larger, more personalized platform. Which again, can be timely and expensive.
3. WordPress: Be still my beating heart… As a Blogger turned WordPress junkie, this is my poison of choice. But before I get into why that is, let’s clear one thing up. There are 2 WordPress’. WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is akin to Blogger – it’s simple, straightforward and unfortunately, has even less customizability than Blogger. WordPress.org, however, is all about making your blog or blog based website yours. It’s not as easy to set up as Blogger but hiring someone to do that for you (or taking the time to learn yourself) will save you time, money and effort later on. Posting is a cinch and there are literally thousands of ways to set up the site and control and track your content and traffic. If you’re serious at all about branding and SEO (search engine optimization), this is where you want to be.
Choose your hosting (if applicable).
If you decide to go with WordPress.org, you’ll have to pay for hosting. This is relatively cheap (around $4.00 – $10.00 a month) and you pay for the full year up front. I recommend BlueHost. For all that is good and holy, stay away from GoDaddy – they’re cheap for a reason. BlueHost has incredible support both via phone and online chat and they will walk you through setting up your WordPress blog. Again, if you want to make this incredibly easy on yourself, hire someone.
Choose your domain name.
There are occasions when a website or blogger produces a successful website while still maintaining the “companyname.blogspot.com” or “companyname.wordpress.com”, but more often than not, it will up your street cred to buy your own domain name. Again, BlueHost is my provider of choice. Besides, you want to promote your brand, not the company providing your website platform.
Think of your blog like an extension of your store front – what do you want people to think and feel when they walk in? It’s key to reflect your brand but also to stay abreast of design trends. If you think you want a lot of flashy animated gifs or that all your images should have drop shadows, it’s probably time to hire a professional. You want to be in vogue but still reflect who and what your brand is. Things to remember: cleaner and leaner, clear navigation, justify your text and make sure your contact info, and social media accounts are very easy to find. More on this later…
Your site is set up, it’s ready for viewing, write your first post. Do so in a way that conveys passion, confidence and authority but also speaks with your audience, not at them. Include them in the conversation the way you would if you were talking in the same room with them. And of course, add value and create great content by providing information or a perspective that isn’t on every other website in your niche already. There’s nothing wrong with covering content that’s already been published (i.e. The 7 main points of starting a blog), but adding your voice and your own perspective and ideas make it original.
What do you think? Do you have some ideas about starting a blog that I haven’t covered here? A joyful (or unfortunate) experience starting your blog? Lessons you’ve learned as a blogger? Questions about what we’ve discussed above? Share it with us below!
In the meantime, read:
- Part 1: 10 Reasons Why You Need A Blog
- Part 2: 7 Easy Steps to Start A Blog
- Part 3: How To Create A Blog Schedule (Free Printables!)
- Part 4: How to Write Great Shit (& Own It!)
- Part 5: How to Build Your Blog Audience
- Part 6: 10 Things your Blog Should Definitely Have (Free Infographic!)
- Part 7: Keep Your Blog Fresh!
- Part 8: What NOT To Do To Your Blog
- Part 9: Beyond Blogging: What To Do Moving Forward
- Part 10: How to Do It: Free Ebook for Entrepreneurs, Bloggers and Brands!