There are several articles out there on how to start a blog and they are all pretty good. This one is better. The reason is that a lot of those articles were written years ago and while they give pretty good advice, they are just taking their original advice (which now is outdated) and lumping on addendum’s as the years’ pass….
My article is based on experience within the last year and a half using the latest tools and techniques on my blog www.cayville.ca. So without further ado:
What is a Blog?
Blog is short for “Web Log”. It has gone through a few forms over the years but in it’s current form has been around since about 2002. It is essentially a way to journal online. It is usually kept in chronological order.
Why Have a Blog
- You may have an Interest in something (ie. Gardening, Origami, Photography, etc…) that you would like to share without others. Sharing online is the best way to reach a large audience.
- You also may have had an experience you would like to journal about (A health crisis, how you found a job / retrained, how you lost weight, etc.).
- You would like to use something like SEO as a way to monetize your online presence.
- You would like to attract interest in your new or existing social media presence (i.e Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest)
How Do I Start a Blog?
Decide What you Want to Write About
Make sure you are passionate about what you are writing. It will really engage your audience. It will also help you to keep interest in writing.
Pick a Blog Title Conducive to Your (Title/Tagline)
The actual domain name of your blog is really not that important. Besides it is getting harder and harder to get a domain name that sounds exactly what your blog is about. There are blog managers like WordPress that have a way to name your Blog and give it a Tagline to help search engines pick it up easier. For example, my Blog name is “The Midlife Advice Blog” and the Tagline is “Get Better. Stay Better. Always.”. If you were to Google those phrases, my Blog would come up pretty much near the top of the search results.
Get a Domain Name / Hosting Plan
The good news is if you go to any hosting company like GoDaddy, Host Gator and the like, you will be able to to get both in one shot. Hosting plans are very inexpensive and depending on your needs expect to spend about $100 or more a year to get a hosting plan with a domain name. I am in Canada so I use Canadian Web hosting. I have for years and they have been great.
Choose a CMS (WordPress/Blogger, etc…)
CMS stands for “Content Management System”. It is the platform which you will be running your website on. Your blog is really just a website with dynamic content (always changing) and using a content management system really helps with this. You really have two choices when it comes to a CMS (WordPress or Blogger). I use WordPress because it is more popular, easy to use, it is a default install with most web hosting providers and there are a lot of resources online for support.
Which Social Media you Would like to Attach to Your Blog
After you set up and start producing content for your blog, you may want to build more of an audience using social media. It is a good way to introduce more people to your Blog who wouldn’t normally be searching for Blogs through Google. Funny enough, to a lot of people social media like Facebook is the Internet!! This is probably the best way for them to be exposed to your Blog. Social media like Facebook and LinkedIn are good for your blog where as Instagram and Snap-chat probably wouldn’t be.
Consider an Email Subscriber List
Not all people use social media. Some people still prefer good old fashion email. If you have an email subscriber list for your blog you will be able to get more of an audience though this medium. A good thing about a subscriber list is once you post content anyone who has signed up for your list will be notified via email! There are some great plugins for WordPress that help with your list. This is the one I use.
Write SEO Optimized Content to Attract Readers
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. If search engines do not index your site it is hard to get readers organically. You can just write your content but if it not written with SEO in mind, you will have a hard time attracting an audience. Fortunately, there are plugins that can help with this. This is the one I use. Try not to make it complicated at first. This plugin makes it simple so you can focus on writing your best content.
Consider using Google AdSense for Revenue Generation
Google Adsense is just the opposite of AdWords. Instead of you paying for ads as people click on them you elect to have ads shown on your site. If people click them, you get paid. You just need to set up a Google AdSense account. After that you create what are called “ad units”. Each ad unit then generates the appropriate HTML code which you cut and paste to your site and Voila, ads start showing on your Blog. It sounds complicated and if you were to try and do it from scratch yourself, it would be. However, your Blog will be a dynamically content driven site so there is a plugin for that. I recommend using it if you want to try and generate some income to help run your site. I wouldn’t think it would replace your day job but hey, you never know!
Tips and Tricks for Blogging
Post Content Regularly and Consistently
I call this getting into the groove. Write at a frequency you are comfortable with and then stick to it. If you can only write once a week great! Just make sure you post weekly. Your audience will come to expect that schedule and hopefully they will be so engaged that if by some chance you miss a week they will reach out to you!
Consider Using Caching and Image Optimization for Faster Loading Times
The Internet today is all about speed. Peoples attention is getting harder and harder to capture. If your pages takes anymore than one second to load, they are on to something else. Caching is a way to take a dynamic page like a Blog and render it statically so it loads faster. Using a caching plugin for your Blog will help achieve this. What a caching plugin does is take your dynamic content (which is stored in several places on your website) and puts it all together in one place on your site (cache) so when a user requests your Blog post it is fetched as one static page thus loading faster. Image optimization runs on basically the same principle. If you use images on your website (and you will) make sure you don’t use a large image file (expressed in KB’s) when a small one will do. You can do this through your own photo editing software before you upload the image to your Blog or your CMS will have functionality for image optimization built in (or as a plugin) as you upload the file.
Use Responsive Designs (For Smart Phones and Tablets)
Responsive design is a way to detect what device is viewing the webpage and then rendering the page in the best format for that device. Good news, you don’t have to worry about this since all CMS has this already built in. It is still probably a good to double check that the theme is responsive design. 99.99999% of the time, it will be.
I hope you found this tutorial helpful, I have been running my Blog for a year and half now. This is all the tools I have used over the years, more recently, I have used it on the Blog I am running now. This information has been very valuable to me and I am glad to be sharing it with you. Now go start your Blog!!!