So you’ve decided you want to start a blog, and you know you have something you want to share with the world.
Starting a blog isn’t difficult or complicated. People postpone getting started for a variety of reasons. Some think it’s too technical and confusing, while others talk themselves out of it because they think they can’t compete in a crowded marketplace. Some never get started because they can’t decide for sure what they want to blog about, while others hold themselves back through fear of failure.
None of these self-constructed roadblocks need to continue to hold you back. The blog that you create will be unique and a great way to share information with other people who have similar interests.
You don’t need technical expertise or a ton of money. You just need to overcome whatever has been stopping you from getting started.
Whether this is your very first blog or a new start after other attempts, the best approach is to make the process as simple as possible and just get started one step at a time.
You can start your blog in just 5 simple steps:
1. Choose a topic
2. Name your domain
3. Choose a blogging platform
4. Choose your hosting and theme
5. Plan and write content
Read on for more detailed information about what is involved in each step.
If you are starting a blog to create a web presence for an offline business you already have, the step of choosing your topic is already done. If you're starting from scratch, you may not yet know what you want to blog about.
A good approach to choosing a topic is to get in touch with what you are most passionate about. What are you constantly reading or talking about to the point others wish you would stop talking about it?! What excites you enough for you to want to write about it day after day without getting bored?
If you choose a topic that is very broad, there’s a good chance you can’t compete with bigger websites that are covering the same topic. You may need to narrow it down to a specialty. For example, you are likely to have more success blogging about losing belly fat than weight loss in general, or to blog about cultivating roses rather than just to blog about all aspects of gardening.
Choosing a topic comes easily to some but is more challenging for others. Don’t get hung up on this step too long. If you start with one topic and find it’s going nowhere, you can always start a different blog. The important thing is to get past your reluctance to get started.
A keyword is a word that people will type into a search engine to search for a topic. A simple, memorable title for your blog is a good idea rather than something complicated or difficult to spell. It’s usually better to leave hyphens out of your domain name.
It’s always better to use a domain that ends with dot com (.com) rather than dot net (.net) or dot anything else. If readers remember the name of your blog but not what comes after the dot, they will always try .com first.
There are several different blogging platforms to choose from, and they vary in the amount of experience required to use them effectively. It’s a good idea to choose a platform which is flexible and will allow for any future changes you may want to make.
Some of your choices include:
WordPress.org – This is a self-hosted blogging platform, and probably the most popular of all the blogging platforms. It offers plenty of functionality, themes, plugins and community support.
WordPress.com – This is a free blogging platform that is a great choice for beginners because it is easy to learn while you are first getting started. Like other free platforms, it will run ads on your site, and you never actually own your site, because WordPress can shut your site down if it chooses to.
Blogger – This is another free platform that can get you started if you have absolutely no blogging experience. Like WordPress.com, your blog isn’t actually owned by you and has limited options for tools or support.
Squarespace – This is a user-friendly platform offering drag and drop website building for beginners.
Wix – This is another platform that uses drag and drop tools to simplify the process of building a website.
Joomla – This is an open source content management system. Like WordPress.org, it’s a self-hosted option with plenty of templates but not as much community support as WordPress.
If you do choose a platform that is free so that you can get started and get some experience, remember that there will be ads on your site that will detract from your message. If you do choose this path, you don’t have to purchase a domain name and hosting.
For a professional site, choosing a platform in which you host your own blog is probably your best bet.
Once you have chosen your domain name and your hosting, you will be able to put your blog up online and install a theme. A theme is a template that can enhance the appearance of your blog. Your blog will come with access to some free themes. You can choose one of them, or you may wish to purchase a premium theme.
If you have chosen WordPress as your blogging platform, there are plenty of tutorials available to help you go through the process of installing a theme, and there is also an active and supportive community to help with any confusion you may have.
If you chose a different blogging platform, both your web hosting provider and your blogging platform should offer support to walk you through the technical part of installing a theme.
There are many different plugins that can help improve the functionality of a WordPress blog. Some enhance the experiences of those who are visiting your blog while others help you manage it behind the scenes. Within the WordPress dashboard, you can search for the type of plugins you are looking for, such as a contact form, photo dropper or editorial calendar.
Certain themes may require that certain plugins be installed in order for the theme to work. If that’s a requirement, the theme will make it clear which plugins to install. Two plugins that are recommended for just about every WordPress blog are Akismet, which prevents comment spam from overtaking your blog, and Yoast SEO, which helps you to optimize your blog for search engines.
Once you have set up your blog, it’s time to get writing. An editorial calendar can help you plan your content ahead. Think about your target audience and what they want to read about, and then get started writing content that is relevant to your niche. Whatever you post, stay focused and relevant, or your audience will lose interest.
You can write posts ahead of time and use your blogging platform to schedule content to be posted on the date and time that you want.
While it isn’t necessary to write a blog post every day, it’s a good idea to blog regularly. People who are interested in your topic and find your blog will want to see new content on a fairly regular basis. You will build up a following more quickly if you post frequently.
The more you blog, the more your writing will improve and the better you will get at knowing what to write about. Make a commitment to your blog. Interact with other bloggers and learn all you can about the world of blogging.
Use these five steps to get started as a blogger and make sure to post regularly, engage with anyone that reaches out either through social sharing or posting a comment and keep track of analytics so you know what content is resonating with your audience.
Above all, keep practising and posting and you will continue to improve your blogging skills.