A reader sent me an email recently saying that they loved my blog, loved Domaining, loved startups, but wanted to learn more about blogging. This reader mentioned to me how he really loves reading blogs, wants to start his own, but doesn’t quite know how to put all the pieces together. That’s when I realized…I’ve never really done an introduction to blogging post, and it’s long overdue.
I’ve been blogging for almost four years now (started this blog in October of 2007) and since then I’ve learned a lot about blogging. That being said I never close my mind to learning new things and honestly think I learn something new about blogging just about every day!
Over the last couple of years I have consulted with several new bloggers to help them get started. So I thought now is as good a time as any to share my advice with all of you. Blogging can be an extremely satisfying thing, however it is a real time commitment, and it’s not always easy, but if you stick with it, I think you’ll find it to be an incredible experience and part of your life.
This is the first in a series of Blogging Basics posts I’ll be doing here. I figure that what I share can be useful not only to people starting blogs, but also to those of my readers who already have blogs, or companies who have been thinking about adding a blog to their site. In this first post my goal is to give you the basics of starting a blog so you can first validate if blogging is for you.
Starting a blog can be divided into a few simple steps:
- Pick a topic – make sure you pick a topic that you can write about. Your blog should be about something you find yourself talking and thinking about all the time. I think about startups, Domaining, SEO, etc. all the time so I always have a million different posts I could write. If you love marathons and read marathon magazine and attend tons of marathon events, you probably have a lot of interesting things you can share on your blog. The point is, pick a topic you’re passionate about, not a topic you think will make you money.
- Pick a Domain Name – pick a domain name that is memorable and easy to type. The domain name is the most forward facing part of your blog so you want it to be as strong as possible.
- Setup WordPress – if you’re going to have a blog you really should go with WordPress. The theme and plugin library is huge which makes it easy to get a great looking, feature-rich site using the platform. You can easily install WordPress with a hosting service like Hostgator. Another great thing about WordPress and Hostgator is that you don’t need to know anything about servers or a single line of code – it’s just point and click.
- Install Essential Plugins – I recommend you install the following plugins right-away: secure wordpress, all in one seo pack, bad behavior, Akismet (installed but needs API key). Secure WordPress will help keep your blog secure, the all in one seo pack is great for optimizing your blog for search engines, bad behavior will prevent brute force attacks (bad), and Akismet will get rid of spam. Bam! It’ll take only 2-3 minutes to install these plugins and you’ll have added some serious power and security under the hood of your blog!
- Start Blogging – start blogging – don’t spent twenty years designing the most amazing-looking blog. You can often find a theme that looks good for free, but, if you want to look really professional right-away you can also use WooThemes which has WordPress Themes made by professional designers.
- Blog Every Day – if you really want your blog to take-off, you need to blog every day. When I first started blogging I only wrote a post every few days, sometimes even a week would go by between posts. I spoke to a pro blogger than I knew who said, “are you crazy, if you want your blog to take-off, you need to blog every day!” This is the truth, if you can’t keep-up with blogging every single day you can still have a blog, but if you want your blog to really take-off and grow readership, it’s all about blogging every day. Just think it about why this makes sense. As you develop readers they want to know the next time you post, if it’s ever few days they may check back on your site from time to time, but it won’t become part of their day. Real hard-core blog readers love daily bloggers, they read them every day, and every day there is fresh content for them to read!
- Keep on blogging – the #1 reason why so many bloggers fail is that they lose steam. In the beginning it can be exciting and blogging daily is a new adventure. However if you miss a few days that may soon become a habit and before you know it, you’re not posting much any more and thus people stop coming to your blog. Now I’m not trying to tell you that your blog has to be a huge success, but if you want it to be you’ll have to stick with it! In the beginning it can be discouraging because you won’t have many visitors or comments…but wait, the day you get your first comment will be exciting, and the beginning of the next phase of your blog.
These are the basic steps to starting a blog and one important golden rule to remember – blog every single day. Happy blogging and of course feel free to comment below, this is a blog after all!