Creating a bustling enterprise from scratch is one of the most common dreams alive. You, me and every person within whom the entreprenurial spirit’s flame burns inside wants to create this something from nothing.
Blogging is hands down the best way to do that.
The problem is that starting your own blog from scratch is more than just a simple challenge. It’s a momentous task, – I would know from personal experience.
That’s why I’ve decided to start a brand new section to my blog with a comprehensive guide to blogging. I’ll try to maintain some sense of order and cohesion by grouping every tip, trick and strategy I know about blogging into this series of post.
This post is Frankly Blogging 101: A Guide to Blogging in 2015. You’re going to learn about setting up your first blog, explore your options for setting it up, and discover how to erect the foundation of building a strong blog that people actually want to read.
1. What Kind of Blog do You Want?
There’s two major types of blogs: the kind you host and the kind that someone else hosts for you. The choice between the two is something that you’ll want to make before you even start dreaming about what kind of blog you want to run.
Self-hosted blogs utilize things like WordPress, b2evolution and Ghost. You’re given complete freedom in the type of plugins and themes you install on these platforms and how you use them, but you’re responsible for hosting, backing up your content and ensuring that your blogs stay updated.
If you plan to run a blog in conjunction with a business website or as your primary means of income (at a later date), then you should likely choose this option.
If you don’t yet have hosting, then I highly recommend that you go with HostGator. They regularly have deals, such as $1 for the first month’s hosting, that are extremely advantageous to the thrifty business or individual. They also have an amazing support system that has yet to fail me, even when I’ve had to contact them for technical questions.
WordPress.com and Blogger are two examples of hosted blogging platforms. What you can use on these platforms and even what you say must fall within the policies dictated by the hosts, but this is the option you will want to go with if you don’t have the time or expertise to run your own blog.
Do keep in mind that you will pay down the road if your blog ever becomes a successful hit. Domains, extreme storage and custom themes tend to cost a pretty penny, which means that it’s definitely worth learning how to manage your own blog now rather than having someone else do it for you later.
A Quick Cost Comparison: Self-Hosted Versus Hosted
Self-hosted blogs are incredibly cheap to run int he beginning. You can pay around $5 to $10 for a top-level domain and $5 to $10 per month for the actual hosting. You don’t (and probably shouldn’t) pay any more than that until your blog becomes a bustling hit.
Hosted blogs require quite a bit more. While are free to begin with, they’re also minimal versions of what you could have. Domains can cost $20 to $30 per year in addition to the actual cost of a domain, extra storage can cost $10 to $50 and “premium” themes can cost $50 to $200 or more.
My recommendation is to go with a self-hosted blog. Again, HostGator is my recommendation for hosting.
2. What Do You Want to Blog About?
Once you have the logistics out of the way, the next step is to decide what you want to write about. This is the one step that can change over time, but you should generally try to stick with the topics you choose.
Here’s what you don’t want to do when you’re choosing a blog topic:
- Don’t pick a subject because it seems profitable or just because other people are writing about it.
- Avoid topics that you intensely care about, but few other people are interested in reading about. The rights of marsupials in kitchens, for example, is something that you should probably avoid.
- Don’t choose something that seems boring to you. You’ll burn yourself out quickly and your blog readers will see right through your posts.
- Refrain from jumping around multiple topics. Related ideas are fine on occasion, but big shifts are generally bad ideas.
Pick Your Topic
For your first blog, you want to choose something that you enjoy writing about. You want to choose something that you can create a unique viewpoint on. You want to pick a topic that other people will love to read about.
Take my blog as an example. I love entrepreneurship. I enjoy business. Internet marketing is my thing. I find social media and such fascinating. I love helping others.
So, I made Frankly Making Money. I wanted to offer a unique and trustworthy viewpoint that few other Internet marketers wanted to reveal.
It’s as simple as choosing something you love to write about. You’ll never go wrong when you do that.
What Happens If You Can’t Come Up With a Topic?
There’s going to be times when you can’t come up with an idea that generates traffic. You may flounder about while trying to reach the perfect theme for your blog.
If you’re in that stage, then you might just keep trying things until they work. Some of the best blogs on the Internet were originally personal blogs filled with poetry and feelings about politics that slowly grew into realizations about life and business.
When you pick an idea, just make sure to stick with it. Give it three months before you jump to a new idea.
If you find yourself lacking enthusiasm or visitors at the end of those three months, then try something new. You’ll eventually hit your mark.
3. How Do You Set Up Your First Successful Blog?
When you start your first blog, here are the five things you need to address before you begin writing your first post:
- Your Blog’s Name – This may be linked to your blog’s address, so you should definitely come up with something.
- Keywords – These can change over time, but you should have some keywords to describe your blog. You’ll want these when you craft your first few posts and decide upon things like your blog’s motto.
- An About Page – Every blog needs an “About” page. You can write about your blog, your company or yourself. This allows readers to connect with you.
- Affiliate Disclosures – The FTC now requires websites to have affiliate disclosures where appropriate. If you don’t plan to monetize your blog, then you won’t need to worry about this.
4. Your First Post
Now that you have everything else in order, it’s time to finally craft your first post. It doesn’t have to be anything groundbreaking, and I honestly don’t think it should be. It should be something to let people know what to expect from your blog.
“Hello, World!” posts are ideal for this. You can brainstorm topics while working on your blogging persona.
If you have keywords, make sure to use one or two of them here. Don’t focus on keyword stuffing, but do use them where they’re appropriate.
What Comes Next
In Blogging 102, we’ll cover how to begin working on your first few posts. We’ll also briefly touch upon a few tools that you might want to use while trying to build your blog from the ground up in the year 2015 and onward.
Interested in learning more about blogging? Take a look at my Learn About Blogging page!