One of the most common questions on the Internet is about how to start a blog. There are few better ways to gain an audience and build a community on the web than through blogging. Blogs are either free or inexpensive, and are an incredible tool for people who want to share their passions, explore their interests, and make money. They may seem difficult to manage, but all they really require is dedication and a push in the right direction. If you want to be a blogger, keep reading, and you will be well on your way to making a successful blog with its own captive audience.
1) What is your topic?
This is the single most important question you have to answer. Every guide and instructor starts here, because it is the foundation for everything you will do with your blog. Choose a topic that you’re passionate about. It’s easier to keep your blog fresh and interesting if you genuinely love what you’re writing about. You can see in a person’s writing whether they’re passionate about their blog, or just writing it to get a paycheck. Think about the things you really love in life, your hobbies and your passions. These are the ideal topics to write about.
2) Narrow Down your Topic
Now that you’ve chosen a topic you need to narrow down your focus. Think about a blog that’s about cars. If the topic is just cars, it’s hard to know whether you’re targeting the audience for Italian supercars, off-roading enthusiasts, kit builders, hatchbacks, drag racers, the future of electric cars, or American classics. Trying to write about all of these and more is a daunting task that you’re likely to get overwhelmed by. By choosing to write about just Italian supercars, for example, you can identify immediately what your audience might want to read about and what they expect. An excellent blog about Italian Supercars will stand out compared to a mediocre blog about cars.
3) Choose a Platform
Your platform is the tool you use to build and present your blog. There are a few options that are accessible to new bloggers, each has its own benefit and drawback. There are two groups of platforms, completely free platforms, and platforms that require you pay for your own domain. Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress all offer free domains and are easy to access. Choosing a free platform comes at a cost, though. Free platforms don’t allow you to use your own domain, which will significantly limit your ability to market yourself and expand your audience. Luckily, domains only cost around $10 a year. There are a few excellent platforms that allow you to use your own domain, namely WordPress and Blogger. The easiest platform to recommend is WordPress. It offers unparalleled customizability, and is the most popular blogging platform in the world. It takes a little more effort to get started, but that effort pays off.
4) Choose a Domain
A domain is the address that a reader will enter to find your website, something like www.myblog.com. Finding a domain is a critical step in creating a blog. It can take a lot of thought and effort to find, but it really is worth the time. When choosing a domain name, get something that’s easy to remember and easy to market. Good domains all have these features in common: they’re catchy, short, unique, and easy to remember. Don’t be afraid to experiment and shop around!
5) Choose a Name
You might think that the domain name and the name of your blog should be exactly the same, but that’s not necessarily true. Domain names and titles should be similar, but not every domain name that is available will make a good title for your blog. Use your domain name as a springboard for creating a title. When naming your blog, remember to follow the same guidelines you did when you found a domain. The title should be catchy, short, unique, and easy to remember.
6) Find your Keywords
Keywords are the kinds of things you would enter into a Google search to find what you’re looking for. They’re generally simple, and can be single words or short phrases. Some example keywords are “Tea”, “Price of Milk”, “Jazz Dancing Lessons”, “China”, “How to start a blog”, etc. You will want to find keywords for your blog that have a high number of searches, but a low number of results; lots of interest but not a lot of competition! If possible, include your keywords in your domain and blog name. Choosing the right keywords will help readers find your blog before they find others.
7) Launch Your Blog
This is the step where preparation becomes action. Once you’ve selected your platform, your domain, your keywords, and your title, the real work begins! Launching a blog is as simple as creating an account with the platform of your choice. If you have your own domain, use WordPress.Org instead of WordPress.com. The two operate in the same way, but WordPress.org uses your own hosting space and allows you the freedom to sell advertising and monetize the blog.
8) Customize your Blog
When you use WordPress you gain access to a massive library of themes, and can even make your own or customize an already existing one. It is a versatile tool that allows you to craft your blog to fit your vision. Find a look that will resonate with your readers and catch the attention of passers-by. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but a well-designed blog is more likely to get a person to stay than an ugly one! This is your chance to really express yourself!
9) Use Plugins
WordPress offers a large variety of plugins that will help you in writing your blog. They perform all kinds of useful tasks, from helping you measure traffic to optimizing your articles for search engines. My personal recommendation for a plugin is Yoast. This plugin will help you create a blog that ranks high in a Google search, and rates each article as you write it according to dozens of factors that affect search engine ranking, from the reading level of your article to your keyword density. Plugins are an invaluable tool for running a blog, use them!
When you ask how to start a blog, writing content seems like a given, but all the tips and instructions in the world can’t help if you don’t write! A successful blog needs high quality content, and it needs it regularly. This requires passion and dedication; you grow and tend to a blog in the same way you would a garden. WordPress is your soil and your words are the roses. Speak to your readers, write for a purpose, and write what you love! Consider taking classes on writing, or finding forums of writers to help you hone your skills. No blog can succeed without good content to bring in readers: content is King.
Starting a blog can be a very serious business, or it can be a playful and relaxed exercise. Consider what you want to accomplish when you start, and plan accordingly. Follow these steps, work hard, and your blog will be a success that stands out from the crowd. Blogging is rewarding, straightforward, and potentially very profitable, so have fun with it!