Recently, someone asked me a 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, many times 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 publicize your blog, how to make money with 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 going? Sometimes those basics end up lost in the sea of information. Here’s what you need to know to be on your way. (And yes, you will 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 someone else, or hosted by you (often referred to as self-hosted.) You may have heard of Blogger.com, which is a very easy to use option that is hosted by Google. 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 such as 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 will address next.) You can get a domain name from a site like GoDaddy for less than $10.00 a year. But first, you need to think about what you will name your blog. A .com extension is always preferred over others such as .net or .info, and your name should be a reflection of what the main focus of your blog is. Also, try to stay away from extra-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 hosting company 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 on 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 any free FTP service you can find online, such as Filezilla.
4) Start writing. Hopefully, at this point you will have taken some time to get pretty clear on what you want to talk about on your blog. Commit to writing your first post, which can be as short as 200 words if you want it to be. The idea is just to get going. Don’t worry about getting a bunch of readers or comments, about setting up an RSS feed, submitting your site to directories, 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.