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Starting your blog

Tweet It’s become a very easy process these days to start a blog. There are a number of services that can give you a free blog within minutes – however these are not always the best solutions. Now that you have completed the planning of your blog you will have a firm understanding of what [...]

It’s become a very easy process these days to start a blog. There are a number of services that can give you a free blog within minutes – however these are not always the best solutions.

Now that you have completed the planning of your blog you will have a firm understanding of what you are trying to achieve. For now we are going to assume your primary purpose is to share some understanding you have without having to shell out a fortune.

I am a fan of wordpress, a fantastic free application that powers some of the bigger blogs on the net today. They have both a download version and a hosted solution – we talked about this in the planning of your blog. For the sake of this article we’ll assume the use of a hosted solution.

WordPress.com is the hosted solution and you can set up a quick blog here for free. Yeap that’s right completely $0 down and $0 to pay. The beauty of this is you get in the door and can start writing within 5 minutes. This will result in a URL like “http://myblog.wordpress.com” – all blogs hosted here have wordpress.com as their address. However for a minimal $10 a year you can set it up with your own domain. Their system will grow with you – it’s really solid and highly recommended.

Right so you’ve got your blog and you know what you are going to say.

Start your blog with the obligatory “first post” – this is the “Hi, welcome to my new blog about coffee mugs” type entry where your welcome people to the site. I would recommend on one hand keeping this short, yet informative. Often this blog post will be on your home page for a while – so it needs to have some value.

Writing, Editing & Publishing
Some people like to pre-write all of their content, coming back to it at a later date to edit and check the flow, grammar and spelling before pushing it live. Others (like me) write their posts and hit publish (although for me its often with a later publish time) and forget about the post until a visitor spots an error. I am slowly trying to change my own habit by having a 3rd party (often my wife) read over posts before they go live – but this is not always possible.

Lager sites such as gigaom.com have a full team of writers, editors and reporters. These types of sites are considered media, and must present a professional front. If a spelling mistake or even false information was reported here it can have bad outcomes for them. For a smaller site such as Studiowhiz – it’s not such a life and death event.

You need to find a writing style that suits you, allows you to express your opinion in a form you can repeat regularly, and also allows your readers to understand you easily. Don’t panic about getting it right first time, blogs evolve and if we were to look back to my first posts, well .. lets not.

Images, Links & Media
Today there is a vast resource of media out there for consumption. I love the fact that if you want an image of, or a video of almost anything you can hit up Google and find it. (Check out my tricks for finding music & movies with Google) While you have to watch for copyright issues, adding images to your posts help to break up long chunks of copy. I myself am still learning to put images into my posts (this one could do with a few).

You can (and should) link out to supporting media and articles throughout your posts. This helps build up the linking to and from your site and helps with SEO. However one question you have to ask is will these links open a new window or replace the current page. I’ve not figured that out myself. It seems that today the blogging etiquette says you shouldn’t open in a new window. My old thoughts were if the link is to another site, open in new window, if the link is to a post within my site, existing window. You need to make up your own rules.

Podcasting, Vlogging
These are great ways to extend the reach of your blog, and many blogs from big to small are hitting out into these new media areas. All Mac computers come with all the hardware & software you need to get into podcasting (audio blogging) and vlogging (video blogging) & there are many free/cheap services online allowing you to publish your content. I’m not handsome (certainly no Brad Pitt) so for now, I’ll keep my mug off camera. I might get into Podcasting later this year.

Design
This used to be the area I would spend a lot of time on. My history of course is in web development & design, so I know what I’m doing when it comes to that. However this time around I’m using a free theme, and you can too. To get your blog off the ground you don’t need to invest in design when there are plenty of free themes out there. WordPress.com hosts a number of themes & you can quickly tailor these to match your needs. Skinpress.com is a great place to browser other free themes.

Where to from here?
Get writing! Go and start your blog and get your content on there. My suggestion is that while you are ready and roaring to go, get writing. The more you write now the easier it is to get over the “4 week hump” and carry on. (The 4 week hump is the point many new blogs fail). Write and save your posts to release one a day or one every 2 days so your blog has fresh content every couple of days. This way your blog looks active even if you are not posting. It’s hard (almost impossible) to blog every day if you are not doing it full time.

  1. Go get your blog
  2. Get writing
  3. Set up a free theme
  4. Set up tracking (wordpress.com will track for you)

Once you have your blog happening, include a link to it on every email you send (well maybe not your work ones – unless it is work related), tell your friends & family. Put it in your profile on every website you are a member of. Don’t get disheartened if you don’t get many comments, general rule of thumb is less than 1% of your readers will comment (I have around 50 to 60 daily readers – I get maybe 1 comment a week).

The last thing to add on here, is watch your tracking – this well tell you how people find your site. For example I have a post about my 18 year old truck, and I get a bit of traffic looking for 18 year olds (I shudder to think what sort of traffic). I also get traffic from searches “Looking for icons” – so shortly you will see a post with Icon resources – catering to my audience and driving up traffic.

Summary
Concentrate on writing. Content is King – without content there is no reason for people to visit your blog, there is no reason to click links within your blog and you won’t make millions from blogging. Write, write and write some more. Don’t write and publish it all in one day, write and let the blog publish the posts over the next few days or weeks.

Write, write write.

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2 Responses

01.16.08

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01.16.08

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