In today’s tech-centric world, it seems like virtually everyone has a blog! But if you’re among the minority of individuals who has yet to enter the blogosphere, then the task of setting up a blog can seem like a very intimidating and arduous task. Where do you begin? Well, in this article, we’ll take a step by step look at how to set up a blog, taking you from concept to turning your idea for a brand new blog into a reality.
How to Set Up a Blog: Consider Your Motivations and Goals
The first step to creating a blog is to decide upon a concept. There are lots of different types of blogs and within those broad categories, there are limitless possibilities when it comes to more precise blog niches.
So to begin, you’ll need to come up with a concept. Consider what you’d like to blog about. What are your motivations? Are you blogging for yourself? Do you want to make money? Are you looking to develop your authority on a particular topic? Your motivations for blogging will largely determine the approach that you take as you develop your blog.
A few common types of blog include business blogs, which serve as a complement to an existing business website and exist to help you establish your expertise on a topic; personal blogs are more diverse, as they detail your views and thoughts on a range of topics in a manner that’s similar to a journal; niche blogs are created to explore a specific topic in-depth; hobby blogs provide you with an outlet to discuss a favorite hobby or passion; experience-based blogs such as mommy blogs (which detail all things related to one’s parenting experience), weight loss blogs and travel blogs provide you with an outlet to discuss and chronicle a particular type of experience. These are just a few of the most common blog types.
Take some time to think about your goals and objectives for your blog. And remember, your blog may not fit into one specific category; it may be a blend of a couple blog types, which is perfectly okay since it’s your creation. Just be sure to consider your audience. Will your audience appreciate articles on both motorcycle repair and dog breeding? In cases where you have two very different topics with two very different audiences, it’s generally best to create two separate blogs.
Developing a Blog Content Plan and Concept
Once you’ve considered your motivations for blogging and tossed around some ideas, it’s time to come up with a content plan and blog concept.
This is a great time to think of a few possible names for your blog. Coming up with a name will help you solidify your blog concept. This will also be important when it comes to selecting a domain name, but more on that shortly.
Now, think about your reader. Who’s going to read your blog? What type of content will they want to read? You can’t write to a void; you need to have a specific audience in mind as you write. This will allow you to address the topics and questions that will keep your readers engaged.
It’s wise to develop a content plan with some ideas for articles. Ideally, you should have at least 100 article ideas in order for a blog concept to be truly viable. Many bloggers invest a lot of time and effort only to realize that they’ve hit a dead end because they’ve run out of things to write about after a couple dozen posts. This can be extremely frustrating, so avoid this hassle and aim to come up with at least 100 article ideas.
As you create your content plan, think of the logical questions a reader will have as they read a particular article. Consider the logical progression through a topic, as this will allow you to create an interconnected web of articles. For instance, let’s say you’re blogging about pets. You might begin with an article on choosing the right dog breed for your family.
If someone’s choosing a dog breed, then they may want to read profiles on some of the most common dog breeds, so you have dozens of potential articles there. We can also assume that your readers may be interested in points to consider when selecting a breeder and the benefits of adopting from a breeder instead of adopting from a pet shop.
These readers may also find it useful to read tips on preparing for a new dog (supplies, puppy proofing your home, selecting a vet, picking a dog food, etc.) A new dog owner may also have questions about bringing a new puppy home, dealing with common behavioral challenges like housebreaking and chewing, along with tips for basic puppy training. We could go on, but you get the idea. One article idea leads to another. This is key for a blog, as it allows you to capture and engage the reader as you transform one page view into many through interlinking related articles.
Picking a Domain Name, a Hosting Company and Blogging Platform
Once you’ve solidified your blog concept and you’ve brainstormed some names, it’s time to pick a domain name — your blog’s home address. Your domain name should be memorable and descriptive. It should leave a lasting impression, while conveying your blog’s topic, personality and/or tone.
You’ll also want to choose a hosting company. Most hosting companies, like HostGator, BlueHost and iPage offer basic hosting plans for around $5.00 per month.
You could also opt for a free blog on a site like WordPress.com or Blogger.com, but you’ll find there are lots of limitations. You cannot monetize a WordPress.com blog. Also, you risk spending years developing your blog, only to have Blogger or WordPress.com shut down in the future (it’s happened on lots of other blogging sites.) When this happens, it’s a bit like closing down a storefront without warning and without putting up a ‘we’ve moved to…’ sign.
On these free blogging sites, you’re also subject to their rules and conditions. They’ll also display ads on your site; you’ll have no control over these ads and you’ll be unable to profit. On your own self-hosted site, you rule the roost and you maintain complete control at all times, making this the ideal course of action.
So it’s generally advisable to purchase your own domain and hosting plan. Consider it an investment in your blog’s stability and your freedom. (Plus, it’s easy to recoup these costs with on-site advertisements from AdSense or another ad program.)
You’ll also need to choose a blogging platform.
The two most common blogging platforms are WordPress and Blogger — this is the interface that you’ll use to create your blog. In addition to the free blogs that are available on Blogger.com and WordPress.com, both Blogger and WordPress make their content management system frameworks available for use on self-hosted blogs. So you can install the WordPress or Blogger software onto your domain, using it to create your blog.
Both content management systems are very similar in terms of the process used to publish content. Blogger tends to be easier for beginners, as it’s very user-friendly, but the customization options are fewer. Some find that WordPress is a bit more challenging to learn, but once you’ve learned the basics, it’s just as easy to use as Blogger and it provides you with limitless customization and personalization options.
If you’re unsure of which platform you prefer, you can sign up for free blog accounts on WordPress.com and Blogger.com to see which interface you prefer. Most hosting sites feature one-click installation for the content management system of your choice.
Design a Header and Pick Your Site Theme
Once your site is up and running, it’s time to customize it!
You can create your own blog header and install it on a customizable site theme or hire a designer to create a header.
Like the domain name, your header should be eye catching, memorable and it should leave an impression that conveys your site’s personality, message or concept.
You can customize your site design yourself using a personalize-able theme and custom header. You can also purchase themes or hire a designer to create a one-of-a-kind site design. There are also lots of ready-to-use themes that allow you to simply add your site name to a standardized header.
Unique and custom is typically better for branding purposes, but ultimately, it’s up to you and it depends upon your motivations for blogging. A hobby blogger may be more concerned with writing and less concerned with appearance, whereas a company blog will need to be very concerned with appearance and branding components.
Start Writing and Start Promoting Your Blog!
Once your blog is set up, it’s time to start writing! Write regularly. The more often you write, the better, especially as you’re working to establish your site.
And don’t forget to promote your work! Social media is a wonderful outlet for sharing your work and pulling in new blog readers.
With these tips, setting up a new blog is easy! But beware! Blogs are a bit like chips; most people can’t have just one!