Creating a blog is nothing that you need to be afraid of. With a simple blog, there is no elaborate planning required. However, there are a few things you will need to know before getting started and then decide upon. Most blogging service providers give you a lot of choice in terms of templates and color themes, which means you will have some decisions to make. Since only you have the vision for how you wish your blog to look and what functions you most want it to have, it is up to you to make those decisions. BTW a Theme or template is probably the best way to go as it gives you a roadmap for layout. It can also be much more costly and time-consuming to have a designer do this for you from scratch.
The following is a quick guide of the things you will need to consider before creating your blog:
- Theme: Determine what you would be writing about or the nature of the content that you would be sharing with your readers. This depends mainly on your interest. Topics blogging to the field of politics, poetry, arts, current affairs, or almost anything under the sun can be chosen. You can stick to one theme or you can choose to write about whatever concerns you on a day to day basis. Since it is your very own web journal, you can make it as flexible as possible in all aspects. While Women in Ecommerce is currently using a custom theme, we are considering moving to a theme template with lots of versatility that also does not require us to know any programming code. One of our options is an Elegant theme called Divi – and the other is the brand new OMNIPRESS theme built by a Theme Forest Developer. Both are a fully responsive, fully customizable themes with lots of options and a short learning curve. The folks at Redhead Marketing, Inc. will be creating the site for us.
- Blogging Provider: Next you need to decide upon which blogging service provider you would like to use. This depends on the kind of reviews that you get about them from friends and acquaintances, or something about them that you may have read online. Otherwise, you can always try out something and find out if you like it. You can try out one of these popular sites: Blogger.com, WordPress.com, Typepad, Blogagotchi.com, Livejournal.com, JournalHome.com, TheDiary.org, Mindsay.com, Blog.com, Diaryland.com, Blogdrive.com, or Xanga.com.
- Templates: A wide range of templates will be made available on the blogging platform you decide to use. Most are free and are a great way to get started.
- Free Blogging platforms: The advantage of these blogging service providers is that they make it easy to start a blog and can provide you with a similar blogging experience as as a paid blog platform which means the site will be dynamic and interactive. Some of them like BlogSpot/Blogger enable you to install add-on features that include buttons, pictures, tagboards guest maps, guestbooks, comment boxes for readers’ thoughts and views, and other options. The main thing most free platforms do not allow is selling. So no shopping cart, no storefront, no product sales (at least not overtly). You can of course, sell yourself by showcasing your expertise. With a free blog platform you can be up and running in less than 15 minutes, with a hosted version it could take an hour or more.
- Additional Features: If you want or need a lot of additional features, they will likely not be available on FREE blog platforms. While WordPress.org is technically free (the mechanics are free to download), it does require bloggers to have their own hosting (unlike wordpress.com which is hosted by WordPress and is free). Those can include a shopping cart, forums, photo gallery, landing page optin boxes, contact forms and other features that turn a basic blog into a business platform. By paying a price you cantake advantage of options not readily available on a free blog platform.
- Nature of Blog: You must determine who should read your blog-whether you want it to be read only by a select circle, or will it be open to all. This will depend upon the content. A niche blog that has a singular focus will likely outperform one that is all-things-to-all-people.
- Layout: Again, there will be a wide range of options to choose from in terms of layout, design, navigation and color schemes.
- Content: Content should be your primary focus when designing and launching your blog. For without it, there is no blog. Will you write articles, do interviews, create videos, how to tutorials… these are all things to consider when mapping out the type of content you wish to share with your intended audience.
- Other Bloggers: Like most social media channels, Blogging is a great way to come in touch with people from across the globe. You can surf and visit other people’s blogs. Leave well thought-out comments on their blogs relevant to their own content. Build relationships with other bloggers and help one another grow your following.
- Themes: You can customize and personalize your blog as much as you want. Using themes and templates you can create a blog that fits yoor personality and attracts the right audience.
- Publish: Finally, when you have finished selecting and uploading the theme, the colors and writing and adding the content, its time to publish and let people know your blog is ready for visitors.
Once you have started your blog, here are a few tips that will help you stay focused on your blogging goals:
- Update: Update frequently otherwise visitors may stop coming to your blog. As mentioned above, Content should be your primary focus. Think about what you want to share with the world or your audience. Focus your content on your unique message.
- Personalize: Even though you might be discussing general and universal themes, add your own personal touch to make things more interesting and keep your readers’s attention.
- Theme or Niche: If you have a niche blog you can Google for other blogs of a similar kind and build you network.
- Spelling and Grammar: Make sure you proof read your posts. Spelling and grammatical errors can be a major turn-off for many readers. Grammar.ly is a great writing tool for bloggers.
- Advertisements: Monetize your blog with affiliate links and Google AdSense – you can earn money by placing their links on your blog.
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO OF THIS SERIES ABOUT BLOGGING – HOW BLOGGING CAN BE PROFITABLE TO SMALL BUSINESS.