How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps
Having second thoughts about blogging? Maybe you’re not sure where to start. Maybe you’re worried you’ll get drowned out by the millions of blogs already out there. Or maybe you’re just not sure whether you should start Yet Another BlogTM in 2016.
Luckily, even in the oversaturated world of the Internet, blogs are still as relevant as ever. If you ask people in the U.S., for example, 81 percent name blogs as a trusted source of information. Whether you’re blogging for yourself or on behalf of someone else, here’s how to put together a blog that will not only grab eyeballs, but that will also keep them there for the long term:
Find Your Unique Niche
Before you think about what content management system to use, or what website design you want to go for, it’s important to have a unique niche. Blog readers are busy, and if your blog is unable to hold their interest within two-tenths of a second, they’ll move on to the next site.
If your niche has already been done to death — like making money online, health, technology and fashion — but you still want to stick with it, put your own spin to it. Use a lively writing voice for an otherwise unsexy topic like personal finance. Focus on a sub-niche within a general one, such as “traditional Chinese medicine” under “alternative health.” Approach your niche in a way that no one’s ever done before.
Pick a Content Management System
Simply put, a content management system (CMS) is any application or group of applications that allows you to create and modify digital content, usually in the context of the World Wide Web. WordPress is arguably the most popular CMS, with 50 to 60 percent of the global CMS market using it.
Other CMS you can use include:
- Blogger. Formerly known as “BlogSpot,” Blogger is easier to use than WordPress. Unfortunately, its customization options and tech support are limited.
- Tumblr. Tumblr allows you to create, upload and modify content like text, photos, videos, audio, chat, etc. You can also like, reblog and comment on other Tumblr users’ posts, making it a social networking site and blog rolled into one. Like Blogger, however, you can only customize Tumblr as far as the platform allows.
Pick and Buy a Domain Name
Free blogging platforms are OK to use — if you’re a hobby blogger.
But if you’re a professional blogger, having your own domain name is essential. It won’t do to introduce your website name as “yourwonderfulname,” then have something like “.livejournal.com,” “.tumblr.com,” or “.blogspot.com” attached to it.
Come up with as many domain names as you can. Then, narrow them down according to the following:
- Is it memorable? Unless it’s “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and even then, keep your domain name short, sweet yet catchy.
- Is it appropriate? Don’t go too far with the “catchy” part though, or you’ll end up like these 30 companies with inappropriate website names.
- Is it consistent? Does the domain name match up with the website name? For example, if it’s “fantasticwebsite.com,” the website header should also spell out “Fantastic Website” in clear, bold letters.
- Is it available? Now for the tough part. If you’ve already exhausted all the possible “.coms,” “.nets” and “.biz” for your blog name, consider other top-level domains (TLDs) maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).
Choose a Web Hosting Provider
Basically, web hosting providers are like virtual lessors. They give your blog space to exist and be accessible on the Web, as long as you pay them a fixed regular fee. They can also assist you with the technical aspects of managing your website. To find the best hosting provider for you, read up on the best web hosting services of 2016 and what qualities to look for.
Fill It up With Useful, Unique and Engaging Content
This might sound like the most obvious thing in the world. However, if you’ve seen enough of the Internet, you’ll know that, nine times out of 10, bloggers pump out content for its own sake. That’s all the more reason for you, as a new blogger, to make each and every one of your posts count.
You can find loads and loads of “how to blog” articles on Google, but all of them boil down to:
- Write about things you care about. If you don’t care about what you write, why should your readers do the same?
- Make it readable. Albert Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler,” and that applies to blogging, too. Use short sentences and paragraphs. Keep the five-dollar words to a minimum. Break your posts up with bullet points and numbers. Bold/underline/italicize the headings and sub-headings. Make your posts as easy to digest for busy readers as possible.
- Include images. A post with images gets 94 percent more views than a post without.
- Mix it up with non-text content. Your blog posts don’t always have to be in text form. Keep readers coming with visual content like infographics and videos, or even audio content like podcasts.
- Use social media to spread the word. Let people know your blog exists. Create social media accounts specially for your blog and give potential followers a nudge or two. Get the basics of social media marketing down, so all your effort spent promoting won’t go to waste.
- Don’t make it all about you. Just like in real life, online readers are more likely to be interested in those who are interested in them. Share posts by other content creators as well, and reach out to them if possible. The blogging world is a small world. So anything you do for others is sure to come back to you in one way or another.
Master the tips above, and you’ll be ready to take on the blogging world by storm. For questions, comments or personal stories related to this post, send them off to me via [email protected]!