The Internet is a wonderfully diverse source of information. While it can be used for practical purposes, like researching products or services before purchase, it can also provide us with entertainment through articles on topics that interest us, like sports, politics, gaming, food, fitness, or fashion. Often, content of both types can be found on blogs. Blogs allow established or aspiring writers to share their thoughts and experiences with the world, and they have grown significantly in number over the last decade. If you have ever thought about starting a blog, there are a few things to consider before hitting “publish” for the first time.
Are you passionate about photography? An expert on fishing techniques? Whatever your niche, you’ll want to make sure your idea is broad enough to support content long-term, but not so broad that your blog’s focus is unclear. Make a list of possibilities and see if you can come up with a few blog posts or articles from the start. This is a very important step as having a consistent theme for your blog will help its SEO strength.
Here’s where the fun starts!! If you already have a website where you plan on adding a blog, you’ll probably have to stick with something like “My Blog” to make it clear it’s the blog portion of your site, but otherwise, get creative! Keep in mind this will be the domain name people will type into their browser’s address bar to find your blog (e.g. www.yourblogname.com). Make it catchy, interesting, and relevant to your topics, but try not to make the name too long, hard to read, or hard to spell.
One way to narrow down your blog name choice is to see if that domain name is available. Since your blog name will be the same as your domain name, it can’t be an existing domain name (e.g. www.adomainname.com) . A quick way to see if it’s available is to search a domain name registration service like GoDaddy:
If your chosen name is not available (and many .com names are already taken) the service will offer some variations, many of which have a different extension (e.g. .co or .net). But if you can find a viable .com name, you’ll have a better chance of users entering your web address correctly, since that is what people are most familiar with.
Once you have selected and purchased your domain name, you need to decide which provider will host your blog. Many of these hosts also offer templates to help you create your blog. Some of the better-known blog hosts are:
All of these are fairly user-friendly and make it easy for you to get started, with WordPress being the most comprehensive provider since they offer an array of blog optimization features. Visit their websites and determine which one you like using and which has the features you will need for your blog.
After you purchase your blog name (ie. domain name) and decide on a host, it’s time to get started! Your host will guide you through setting up your new blog, from entering your contact information to picking out a theme. When choosing a theme or layout, try to picture how you will want your blog to look. Will you want columns? Will you want your blog topics to be grouped together under tabs or categories? Make sure the theme or layout you choose has those options.
Finally, write your first blog post! You will have plenty of time to tinker with the design and layout of your blog over time. In fact, it will probably change a lot over the next few months. Don’t get caught upon making it perfect – just start writing! Look for a great picture or two to add to your post to give it some visual appeal, and break up long blocks of text. A good source for free images is www.pixabay.com. Make sure that any image you select is truly free to use, because photo copyright violations can incur hefty fines.
Once you’ve created your first blog post, don’t forget to publish it and share it through your social media accounts. People love to read what their friends/family/networking groups have to say. Everyone has a story to tell, so tell yours through your blog. When sharing via social media, here’s two important tips to make the most of your social networks: make sure you are posting at the most popular times and make sure you’re using the right platforms depending on your audience.
Though the mechanics of starting a blog may seem overwhelming at first, it’s really not a difficult process. Barriers to entry are very slim, thanks to simple templates from major web hosts that make it easy to get started. So don’t be afraid to take the plunge into your own piece of the world wide web – dive “write” in!
Erik J. Olson is the Founder & CEO of Array Digital—a marketing agency that enables its clients to achieve their dreams, fulfill their missions, and impact more lives with their services.