Do you remember a time when blogs didn’t exist? It seems like so long ago. Blogs are a part of popular culture and they’re not going anywhere any time soon.
Everyone has a blog these days. It’s almost impossible to think of a company or person in the public eye who doesn’t have a blog. Blogs are our springboard to the world – they allow us to vent, to create a persona, make a statement or share our world.
But, what if you’re new to the world of blogs, and don’t know what to do, or how to start one?
First things first: Know your topic
What’s your blog going to be about? This is the most crucial aspect of the entire blogging process. Are you a firefighter with a passion for saving puppies? Or do you create awesome sandwiches and love sharing your recipes? You could be a writer who needs to extoll the virtues and pitfalls of the publishing. Point being, blogs come in many shapes and sizes, and you need to know exactly what kind of blog you want to start.
But, when you’re thinking about what you want to blog about, consider these aspects, as well:
- Blog about topics you can keep writing about. Topics shouldn’t be finite. For example, if you want to write about X series of Pokémon cards from 2004 – there’s only so much you can say. But, if you extend the topic to the culture of Pokémon as a whole, you’ve got plenty to work with.
- Another thing to keep in mind when deciding your topic, is to make sure you like writing about it. Why write about Pokémon if Pikachu isn’t your spirit animal?
- And finally to bring it all home: Choose a topic where you can establish yourself as a thought leader or an authoritative voice on the subject. If you’re going to write about Pokémon, you need an angle. As a blogger, you need to offer expertise, a strong opinion on the culture of Pokemon, and maybe some best practices helping others involved in the community.
Second thing to consider: Pick the right blogging platform
There are a lot of platforms when it comes to blogging. But WordPress is the most viable option.
WordPress is simple to use, and it’s customizable. Seriously, there are thousands of WordPress themes ranging to free to super expensive. It all depends on the experience you’re looking to create for your users.
WordPress is also flexible and is supported by a large community of users. But, when you go with WordPress, there are two options you need to keep in mind:
- Hosted WordPress blogs are WordPress.com blogs
- Self-hosted WordPress blogs are WordPress.org blogs
An easy thing to keep in mind when thinking about which route to go when blogging: by going with a hosted option, you’re not allowed nearly the amount of customization as you are with self-hosted. If you’re after pokemonguru.com – you’ll need to go the self-hosted route. Otherwise, you’ll end up with an ugly URL that will take a lot of work for Google to find. Plus, the hosting plans are typically affordable.
(We’re big fans of self-hosted blogs, BTW.)
Number three: Pick a good domain name
Should be a no-brainer, but a lot of folks screw this step up. When you’re choosing a domain name, consider the following:
- Pick a name that’s easy to remember
- Pick a name that’s easy to brand
- Pick a name that will be easy for Google to find
Next up: Start the blog
After you’ve signed up for your blog, got the hosting taken care of and figured out the URL, it’s time to pick a theme. You can spend all day looking at themes. Pick one that speaks to what you want out of your blog and go for it.
Once you’ve installed the blog theme, it’s time to start posting content.
Look on the left-hand side of your WordPress portal. You’ll see a tab labeled, Posts.
Just click the tab, and you’re off to the races. The layout is clean and easy to use. WordPress does a great job at making everything user-friendly. (Check YouTube for How To videos, there are a ton of videos customizing blogs, or just how to troubleshoot an idea if you have a particular thought in mind.)
Finally: Get people to read your blog
Monetizing a blog takes work. Just because you put the content out there doesn’t mean droves of people are suddenly going to discover you. You need a plan, and you need to understand concepts like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and metadata.
Since you’re just starting out, we won’t get into the weeds of what to do when it comes to monetizing a blog, but one critical step that needs to be taken is continually promoting your blog posts across social media. Your social media platform is your greatest strength when promoting your blog—the two go hand in hand. Work across Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram to get folks to read and hopefully share.
And that’s all there is to starting a blog. Blogs, at their core, are about content. If you’re telling a unique story that people want to continually learn about, readers will come. A blog takes dedication and the desire for it to become a place to learn about a topic that you’re passionate about.
Do you have any tips about blogging? Tweet us or leave a comment below and let us know your secret to effective blogging in 2017.
Robert Dean is a writer, journalist, and cynic. His most recent novel, The Red Seven is in stores. He’s working on his newest novel, A Hard Roll. He also likes ice cream and koalas. He lives in Austin. Stalk him on Twitter: @Robert_Dean