One of the best things I ever did for myself was to get involved in the blog community. There’s amazing friends and within our Houston Bloggers group, there’s a ton of knowledge and expertise that I could not have found without them. But I get a lot of people asking me how to start a blog or just how to blog period.
These tips will hopefully help you whether you have already started a blog that is sitting dead in the water at the moment or if you’re just trying to figure out how to get started blogging.
1. First decide what your message is. What would you blog about if you started a blog? Would it be what is called “niche” blogging where you only blog about a few designed areas such as food, fashion, or parenting of multiples. Or would you be a non niche blogger and basically blog everything and anything. Now matter if you choose to be a niche blogger or a non niche blogger, you need to define the message that you want to give people. Are you trying to encourage them, educate them or is there a lifestyle that you want to portray? What do you want to portray in your blog? Obviously I chose to be a craft blogger but I do not just stick to craft blogging. I cover a lot of different topics but my one goal and message always remains the same; to encourage and inspire others towards living a creative life. That is my message that I hope to spread through my blog. What would be your message?
2. Decide what you’re trying to accomplish with your blog. Are you wanting the blog to make money for you? Are you wanting to become a professional blogger or are you just wanting to share your message with friends and family as more of a hobby blogger. You don’t have to have a definite answer now unless you know for sure that you want to grow the blog into a money making professional level blog. This will be important in step three.
3. Find your blogging platform. If you know for sure that you want your blog to be successful than I would recommend you start a blog on a self hosted platform such as Wordpress.org. Self hosted means that you pay a service to host your blog for you on their servers. (I recommend Blue Host.) All your information that needs to be stored will be stored on their servers that you have control over. This is important if you want to be professional because it means that you will have the most amount of control over your site. You will have to pay a yearly hosting fee and buy your own domain name but it should be less than $100 a year. Wordpress.org is harder to learn and you will have to most likely hire someone to design your theme or figure out how to do it yourself but you can get more professional looking results and also rank higher with the search engines if you are a self hosted site.
If you are just wanting to be more of a hobby blogger or you want to try out blogging before putting money into it you can use the free blogs provided by google, blogger.com. These are very simple to set up and you can find plenty of free designs for them online. There are a few downsides to letting google host your blog. First of all, google controls their servers and owns your content that you put on them. I have known several friends now that google closed down their blog with no warning and it took them weeks to get it back. It’s not under your control. Secondly blogger blogs usually don’t rank as high in search engines unless you buy your own domain name, which you can use with blogger blogs, and work extra hard on your search engine optimization (SEO). However blogger is a great place to start for free, which is what I did years and years ago.
4. Sign up for the platform you have chosen and get to work researching how to set it up. You can search on google or you can call a friend that blogs and invite them out for coffee. If there is a blogging group near you, get involved immediately because they will freely share with you and help you get set up and grow. You will need to design how your website looks using a theme and a header, or logo. Look at blogs that you like to read. How is their blog set up? Is that something that you like and would the layout help you clearly define your goals to others? For example, if you want a food blog with amazing recipes then you need a layout that has a place for amazing photographs. If you want a tips and tricks style blog that would have a lot of content you might want to look into a magazine style blog that will rotate through the posts at the top of the blog. What will work for you and how can you get it?
5. Get involved in Social Media. Blogging is only a piece of being a blogger. You can write the best content for your site and if you do not use social media it’s likely that no one will every get to read it. Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Stumble Upon, and Pinterest are the main social media channels that I use and have found to be successful. Make sure your name and image are the same on all social media channels so that people can easily identify you. When you write something, share it across your social media. But most importantly grow a community through social media. These are the friends that are going to support you and spread your site around to others that go beyond your social media reach. Plus you’ll meet amazing people that you wouldn’t have had the chance to meet otherwise.
If you want to work with brands and companies on your blog then you need to grow your social media as large as you can but you also need as much interaction with people as possible. PR agencies are getting very smart and no longer just look at numbers, they also look at the community and engagement surrounding those numbers.
6. Start blogging. Even if you do not feel adequately prepared to present your blog to the world, start writing and assembling great content. This will help for two reasons;
1. You’ll get practice and get used to the blogging platform that you want to use
2. You will be creating your archives. Archives are blog posts that you have written in the past that people can access when they visit your blog. You really want to give people as much information to read as soon as you can. So go ahead and write it. Then post date it and file it away for a visitor to read one day.
7. And you’re ready! Yes there’s a ton more information about blogging but a large part of being a new blogger is figuring it out, step by step. Next week I’ll post a few tips for new bloggers that will help you go further with starting a blog. But these are all steps that you can take and start working on right now.
There’s no time like the present so if you want to start a blog, do it today. Once you have a blog it’s time to Grow your Blog.
Also check out resources that bloggers need for a great list of tools you can use as you become a blogger.
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