Are you thinking about starting a blog?
According to Statista, there are around 31.2 MILLION bloggers in the USA alone. So if you’re ready to start blogging, you’re in good company.
If you’re curious as to how to start blogging then stick around as that’s the focus of this post. We’ll be discussing:
- Starting your blog with the right tools.
- Planning for your blog’s long-term success.
- And the best practices to help you get there.
How do you start a blog?
Before we jump into how to start a blog, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what a blog is.
If you’re like most of the people who reach out to us when starting a blog, you’re probably wondering, “What’s the difference between a website and a blog, and which one do I need?”
Here’s our answer: All blogs are websites, but not all websites are blogs. You definitely need a blog, but not necessarily a website. If your plan is to primarily share written content with the internet-at-large, then a blog will suffice. If your blog is meant to support a product, e-commerce store, or even a nonprofit, you’ll need a website and your blog should be part of that larger website. (Otherwise, where are people supposed to purchase your products or learn more about your cause and donate?)
Starting a blog: The tools you need.
What things do you need to get a blog off the ground ASAP? Depending on who you ask, you may end up with a laundry list of suggestions. We don’t want to overwhelm any aspiring bloggers, so here are the essentials you need:
- A domain name
- If you hope to make money from your blog, sell your products, or grow a cult following, your blog needs to be memorable. One way to do this is with a brandable domain name.
- What’s easier to remember: yourname.someotherwebsitesnamehere.com or yourname.com? You have a plethora of domain extensions available to you, like .com, .blog, .co, .design, and more, which will only serve to strengthen your domain name’s memorability.
- Pro-tip: Your domain name should pass the “radio test.” If someone were only to hear your domain name, and not see it, would they be able to spell it and find your blog? Ix-nay the dashes and creative spellings.
- Website, or blog hosting.
- Your blog has to live somewhere. Your host is where all the files and data for your blog reside, and hosting makes it possible for people to view and interact with what’s on your site.
- A content management system, or CMS.
- A what? What’s that?
- Content management systems give you the power to manage your digital content. They’re what gives you the ability and control to format and publish your posts, videos, images, etc.
- Ever heard of WordPress? It’s a free and open-source content management system, and the most popular blogging service to boot!
- Check out our site, where you can get the perfect domain name and WordPress hosting (and lots of free, mobile-friendly themes) for your blog.
- A what? What’s that?
Those are the three things you must have when starting a blog: A memorable name, hosting, and a content management system.
Now that you know what you need to get a blog started, we should discuss what it takes to take your blog from meh to marvelous. If your blog isn’t good people won’t visit it, and it won’t be worth your time or theirs.
Tip and tricks to plan for a successful blog.
It’s tempting to say, “I’ll feel it out and see what my blog needs,” or “I’ll create a plan next week (or the one after that …)” but if you don’t take the time to plan for your blog’s success, you’re doing yourself a disservice. No one wants to visit a terrible blog, much less website. If you aren’t going to put the time and effort into creating a good blog, why should people spend their time visiting it?
So, let’s talk about what you should consider and plan for to create a good blog.
Best practices and questions to ask when starting a blog.
- How much time can I devote to my blog?
- There’s no sense in biting off more than you can chew. Go into creating your blog with a solid understanding of how much time you can devote to it. If you can only devote a few hours each week, an everyday posting schedule will leave you with too much work to complete in the allotted time.
- What am I passionate about? And how
can that fuel my blog?
- If you don’t care for the topic you’re
writing about, it’ll show. If you have a passion, share it!
- One big caveat: Your passion should be something others have an interest in, too. Unfortunately, there aren’t many people interested in the finer aspects of clown décor so don’t make that the focus of your blog. If there’s no audience for the subject matter then your blog will be poorly trafficked and a poorly trafficked blog is hard to monetize (if that’s your end goal.)
- If you don’t care for the topic you’re writing about, it’ll show. If you have a passion, share it!
- What does my voice sound like?
- We know, we know, no one will actually be able to hear your blog. But
that’s not what we mean anyway. Your writing has a voice: Your word choice,
sentence structure or syntax, and punctuation will all inform how people read
- We’ve got nothing against the passive voice, but it doesn’t really belong in a blog post. Use it in moderation. Instead, write using the active voice. Active voice grabs your readers’ attentions and helps them stay focused on your writing.
- We know, we know, no one will actually be able to hear your blog. But that’s not what we mean anyway. Your writing has a voice: Your word choice, sentence structure or syntax, and punctuation will all inform how people read your posts.
- How technical am I?
- Blogs live in a digital world. While you don’t need a ton of technical knowledge to start a blog, a little does help. If you run into any snafus, you’ll need to know how to address them, or know where to go for help. Many content management systems have tutorials or knowledgebases where you can find your answers. If your CMS doesn’t, you may need to rely on your own technical abilities.
- How will I provide value to my
- When was the last time you willingly spent time on something you considered a waste? Can’t think of a time when that happened? Yeah, we’re having some difficulty with that, too. People don’t spend their time on things they consider to be wastes, and if your blog doesn’t provide value in some way, you can bet they won’t find it worth their time to read and peruse.
- Can you help someone solve a problem? Provide encouragement or respite for them? The value your posts provide will vary based on your goals and subject matter, but always keep value in mind when working on materials for your blog.
- How are people going to find my blog?
- “If you build it, [they] will come.” That strategy was great … for Kevin Costner circa 1989. But now? Not so much. There are a lot of blogs out there all clamoring for peoples’ online attention. You should think about how you’re going to get your blog in front of your desired audience’s face.
- Have you heard of SEO? SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of positively influencing your search engine result rankings, thereby increasing the quantity and quality of your website traffic. Here’s an article we wrote about SEO that explains how it can help get your blog in front of the right audience.
- How will I measure the success of my
- Here at Domain.com, we frequently ask ourselves, “What will success look like?” before venturing into new projects. We recommend asking yourself the same question I regards to your blog. Keeping in mind that success may look different from one blog to another, and that it largely depends on your specific goals. You may want to consider using things like bounce rates, purchase volume, or user engagement as Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, of success for your blog.
Get your blog up and running with Domain.com
Becoming a blogger doesn’t have to be a daunting task. When in doubt, start at the beginning. To get your blog off the ground you’ll need a great domain name, hosting, and a content management system.
From there, make sure you know what your goals are and who your audience is. Write with them in mind, and turn your blog into a valuable resource they’ll want to visit time and time again.
Our last tip? Once your blog is thriving, consider monetizing it to make a little extra income — if you’re already putting the time and effort into it, you should get something in return.
If you have an active blog share it with us in the comments below and let us know what has and hasn’t worked for you!