Recently, someone asked me the simple question: “How do I begin blogging?” That question reminded me that sometimes, we get so wrapped up in the details of online marketing that those of us who teach it forget to get back to basics. However, oftentimes those basic building blocks are exactly what our audience needs. Blogging is a perfect example of this.
There is a ton of information out there on blogging tips, how to make money with your blog, how to publicize your blog, how to link up your blog with social media sites and on and on. But what if you just need the bare essentials so you can just get started? Sometimes those basics end up lost in the sea of info. Here’s what you need to know to be on your way. (You will of course find others who say there are other ways to do it. But in my own experience and from helping others get started, these few steps will get you set up right.)
1) Pick a blogging platform. This may sound scary if you are an absolute blogging novice, but there are essentially two types of choices: hosted by you (often referred to as self-hosted), or hosted by someone else. You may have heard of Google’s Blogger.com, which is very easy to use. It may be a good choice in terms of its simplicity, but I recommend going with a self-hosted platform such as WordPress. This can be downloaded for free at WordPress.org. Self-hosted options like this allow you to have a lot more control over your blog and they give you a lot more flexibility, which you’ll want in the long run.
2) Pick a name for your blog. When you are getting started, the only real costs associated with a blog are the domain name and the hosting (which we’ll talk about next.) You can get a domain name from a site like GoDaddy for under $10.00 a year. But first, you need to think about what you will name your blog. A few tips: a .com extension is always preferred over others such as .net or .biz, and your blog’s name should reflect what the main focus of your blog is going to be. Also, try to stay away from really long domain names, or those with hard-to-spell words if possible.
3) Pick a web host. With a self-hosted blog, you will need a web host to provide server space to access your website from. Usually this service is relatively inexpensive for a smaller site; the average cost is around $60-$100 per year. If you already have a website and just want to add a blog to it, then you can remain with the host you have been using for that site. In many cases, people who add a blog to their site simply have their web administrator make the blog another page of the website, accessed from your domain—for example, www.mywebsite.com/blog. If your blog stands alone and is not connected to another site, you would install the blog software on your domain via FTP—I use Filezilla, which is free.
4) Start writing. By this point you will have hopefully taken some time to get pretty clear on what you want to talk about on your blog. Commit to writing your first post–it doesn’t have to be long, the important thing is just to get going. Don’t worry about getting a bunch of readers, submitting your site to directories, setting up an RSS feed or customizing your theme. Those things are important, but can be investigated with time. Continue writing posts on topics that you think will be helpful to your market, and before you know it, the whole blogging thing will be old hat.