Starting a Blog
The online world is an ever changing place. What is hot today could be gone tomorrow (or at least not nearly as popular). Anyone remember how popular myspace was for a while? One thing that has stood the test of time is blogging. Yes, even with all of the current hype about social media, blogging still stands out as a way to get your message out to the world.
Starting a Blog is Easy
If you don’t have a blog, you might want to consider starting one. There’s never been a time in history when it was so easy for the common man or woman to share their thoughts and opinions with a worldwide audience. All you really need to get started is an interesting idea and the ability to put your thoughts down in written (or video) form. If you’ve got those two things, then you just need to make the leap and consider the actual nuts and bolts of building a blog. Don’t worry. It’s easy to get started.
The internet is a busy place, so it’s generally a good idea to have a clear focus before you start your blog. What you’re looking for is a “niche”. You might want to think of it like starting a club. If you were starting a chess club, you’d focus on chess. Meetings would revolve around playing chess, discussing chess strategies, the history of chess. You get the idea. Well, your blog should have a focus too. Is it about dog training? Country living? Teen angst? Being middle aged? Pick something that interests you enough that you’ll be able to keep the content coming on a regular basis. Obviously, the focus of this blog (at least at this point) is the basics of starting and growing a blog. If I let the focus blur, or make the site too broad by adding a ton of different categories, search engines won’t know what to do with it. It could start to look like a generic article directory and I don’t want that. In order to establish “authority” online, you need a focus. Your niche should be your focus.
More about starting a blog
Besides choosing a topic, you’ll also want to choose a method for building the actual blog. Some popular free choices today are Blogger and the free version of WordPress. By the way, if you already have a Google account, you’re all set to start with Blogger. Just sign into your account, click on the drop down under your name in the upper right of the screen, click on “products” and choose “Blogger”. Although the set up is a little bit different, some people also like using Tumblr. These are all great options for beginners, but the truth is, I’d avoid them if I was starting a blog that I planned on maintaining for the long haul. You see, they are both owned by third parties. In other words, someone else is going to have the last word about whether or not your blog is worthy of staying alive. If you write about a topic that they don’t like, they can simply refer to their Terms of Service and wipe your blog out instantly. I don’t like having that sword hanging over my head, so I buy my own domain name for about ten bucks per year and pay for a hosting plan. (I’ve used both Hostgator and Bluehost with good results).
What will your blog look like?
Fortunately, there are about a bazillion different themes that you can use when you publish a blog. This is like the “skin” of the website… What it actually looks like. Do you want something colorful or plain? Do you want a truckload of widgets in the sidebar showing off your latest posts, tweets, advertisements, and the like? This is something that you can change as your blog grows, so don’t worry about it too much at the beginning. Just choose something that looks good to you.
If you’ve decided to go ahead and start a blog of your own, then the next thing you need to do is make a list of things you’re interested in writing about. Whether you plan on making money with your blog, gaining support for a cause, or just entertaining people, you’ll want to choose something that holds your interest. Go ahead and do that, then stop back here for more blogging tips in the days ahead.