Congratulations, you’re ready to start a blog! Like millions of others before, you have something to say and you know the perfect platform for saying it. While the process is certainly exciting, there are steps that you need to follow to make sure that you are successful. Below are six steps to starting a blog – each of which we will cover in-depth over the next few weeks. These simple actions can serve to elevate your blog above the masses, giving you a real chance to shine online.
Step One: Choosing Your Content and Title
Your blog is going to help define who you are in the virtual realm, so you should start by figuring out what you have to offer the world at large. If you look at the really successful blogs out there – blogs like Business Insider or Techcrunch – it becomes apparent that a major success factor is how a blog fills a particular niche. Whether you are looking to create a blog to get your voice heard or to help push your brand identity forward, your first goal has to be to figure out exactly what you want to say.
Your blog’s topic should be expressed in the title. Take a few moments to look at some of the biggest blogs on the planet – they definitely have names that stand out. Gawker, for example, is short and catchy while still giving you a hint that the site is a gossip blog. On the other end of the spectrum is The Huffington Post – a simple name that speaks both to the site’s ownership and to its legitimacy. At the same time, you should remember that your blog’s title is also likely going to be your domain name, so make sure that you pick out something that is a) not already taken and b) relatively easy for users to remember. The perfect title can guide your content, and it is a great way to get off on the right foot with readers.
Step Two: Hosting and Domain Names
Once you have your blog titled and you’ve figured out what it is about, you have to decide on how you want it hosted. Having a site hosted really comes down to a question of how much flexibility you want. If you are creating a blog for your friends, you can always consider free hosting – sites like Tumblr and Blogger can easily accommodate a small blog, though it will face stiff competition from the other blogs on the service. If you want your blog to stand out, though, you’ll probably want to take the time to look into a paid hosting service like Bluehost.
Your domain name is somewhat like the storefront of a business – a sign that tells passersby about what is going on inside. The vast majority of blogs choose a domain name that is identical to the blog title, so you certainly want to spend a bit of time making sure that your blog’s title is not currently claimed. A popular domain option like GoDaddy is your best bet for finding a domain name quickly and easily, and most of the major registering services will cut you a deal for the first year or two of your site’s existence.
Step Three: Content Management
Once you’ve chosen your hosting platform, you can move on to your content management system. For those not already in the know, the content management system is the system by which you actually deliver and update your blog content. While there are certainly several good alternatives out there, WordPress is still the go-to method of updating content on the web, especially if you’re in the initial stages of starting a blog. Not only is it easier for a novice to install the program and use it to create a new blog, but the wealth of information out there on WordPress will make any management tasks far easier for any user. Without a good content management system, your blog is going to be forgotten as a lonely text file – so this step is a very real necessity.
Step Four: Choosing a Theme
Looks matter, especially online. Your blog needs to be clean and easy to read, while still providing something substantially more than a blank page. WordPress offers hundreds of great themes, but it might be wise for you to try to stick with something relatively simple that still fits with the content of your blog.
A good theme will influence everything from readability to content layout, so choose wisely. For those who are looking for something that is absolutely minimal, a theme like Manifest is a great way to stick to the basics. If you want something with a little more flair, a theme like Magazeen or The Morning After can help you to vary your layouts without sacrificing simplicity. No matter what, though, your theme has to work with your content instead of against it.
Step Five: Create Content
Creating content is likely the first thing you thought about when the idea for a blog struck you. Once you dedicate the resources to getting your blog hosted and running, it’s time to create content that people want to consume. Your content can fall anywhere from clever observations to how-to videos, but the content absolutely must help you to bring in readers.
While your readers might think your content is randomly posted, you must rely on careful planning to figure out what makes the front page. Your content needs to have eye-catching titles, must be visually interesting and it has to serve a purpose. Every word needs to help you bring in new visitors and keep current visitors on your page. Your content plan should be in-depth enough to allow you to plan strategies for not only the subjects you wish to cover, but also the images and videos that can make those posts pop.
Also (and this is important, folks), you need to set aside a minute to take a deep breath during this part. This is the fun part of blogging! Even if you are putting together this blog solely for marketing reasons, there’s no reason to branch out and include a little bit of life and personality in your content. Not only will this make life easier on the individual updating the blog, but it is going to make the blog more relatable for the average reader.
Step Six: Market Your Blog
Finally, you have to find ways to bring in more readers. Many of the same SEO techniques that you might use on a business or personal website can be adapted to your website. Using relevant images, careful use of keywords and other SEO mainstays can help you to keep your blog in the public eye.
At the same time, you have to work as your own PR department. Open up the social media floodgates to put you in contact with readers when you can, and make sure that you are willing to use resources like Pinterest or Twitter to add more to your content. You should also spend some time networking with other bloggers to help you gain exposure and to build valuable backlinks. Consistent promotion is the key to marketing a blog, and thus the key to running a successful blog.
As you can see, starting a blog is really a matter of following six simple steps. Each one of those steps has its own pitfalls and problems, of course, and each can deliver its own challenges. Over the next several weeks, we are going to address each of these steps in-depth. By the time we’re done, you’ll have all the tools that you need not only to create a blog, but to stand out in a constantly growing market. You might not believe it today, but getting these six steps down is going to be the key to creating a blog that you can be proud of in the future.
Have you been thinking of starting a blog? What are some of your concerns as you prepare yourself for blogging success? Let us know what you think by contacting us or by leaving a comment below.