It’s 2012 and you want to start a blog. Or simply change yours up. Or make money off it. I’m no expert, but after 2 years of blogging I have a bit of an idea of what works, what doesn’t, and what I wish I’d known starting out.
This is my advice complied with others I’ve asked hundreds of questions to. It’s not a one size fits all, but it should point you in the right direction.
Note: Decide how much time you have to give this, and how realistic your goals are. You won’t wake up with 100,000 hits a month by blogging every other week. But there isn’t anything wrong with blogging every other week either – as long as you are comfortable with it. Decide where you want this to go before you do anything else.
Starting a blog:
1. Find a niche. What do you love to write about? If it’s just life in general, that’s perfect. Think of something that makes you unique and run with it.
2. Think of a name. Something that describes what you want to talk about, or who you are. Am I thrilled my blog is called Hormonal Imbalances? No, because for a long time the traffic I got was people looking for menopause help. Fail. I love it more as time goes on, but it wouldn’t be my first choice anymore. So pick a name that you’ll be proud to say at conferences and have on business cards.
3. Consider switching to WordPress.org. You will have a lot more freedom than in Blogger. Why not WordPress.com? One word: Plugins. Read more about the differences here. However, Blogger is a great place to start for newbies and anyone who just wants to write and not be bothered with all the technical stuff. I loved it the 6 months I used it.
4. Get a host. This is the person/company that takes care of the behind the scenes coding/maintenance of your blog. Mine (and I strongly recommend them) is Twenty70 Hosting with Kelly.
5. Buy your own domain name. If you go with WordPress.org, you choose your website name (www.) through your host. Try to match your name as closely with your blog title as possible. For Blogger, buy your domain name through your dashboard. It runs you around $10 a year.
6. Pick a design. Make sure your design is you – something you want to look at, oh like 1,503 times a day. Think about adding a tag line to your blog name that says something about you. My awesome design was done by Designs by Dana/The Vintage Pear. Highly recommend doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel about her.
7. Get on Twitter. Have your posts set to automatically update your Twitter status (you can do this through plugins on WordPress). Use hashtags # you like (#ecofriendly #ppd) to follow people that have similar interests as you. Pick a Twitter name that says something about you or your blog.
8. Set up a Facebook fan page. Post links to interesting topics and updates on it. Use Twitterfeed or Networked Blogsto automatically send new blog post updates. Tag friends, bloggers, and other FB pages when you posts info or links referring to them.
9. Install the Twitter/FB like/Sharebutton on each of your posts. It is possible through your Blogger Dashboard, but much easier with WordPress. This makes it simple for readers to share posts they like with everyone.
10. Be your own reader. Subscribe to your blog through the RSS feed, in a reader, through email on Feedburner (burn a feed for your blog if you don’t have one already), via Google Friend Connect. All these allow you to see what your readers are seeing. You can figure out if it looks the way you want it too, fix problems that come up, and understand a little more about how it all works.
11. Comment. Find bloggers you love and leave comments, email them, like their pages, follow them on Twitter. Branch out. Don’t spend all day trying to comment, but make an effort to check in every so often with the ones you love. We all love lurkers but we also have no idea that you might have a blog.
12. Leave yourself a comment. Many Blogger blogs I comment on take you up to the top of the page once you hit submit, as if you’re done. Unless you scroll back down to the comment form, you have no idea you still needed to enter a word verification for your comment to actually post. And, for the love of all that is holy, if you stay on Blogger – please take off the Word Verification. You really won’t see much, if any, spam. I never did.
13. Install Statcounter. Play around with that to get used to how it works. It comes as a plugin through WordPress. After a few months of this, you’ll have an idea of your stats and can work on advertising if you want to.
14. DO NOT compare to others. I know this is hard. But don’t. If you want this, if you really want to blog and write, just keep going. Everyone has a different definition of success. Everyone’s blog goes at a different pace. There are millions of us out there. Stick with it if you love it.
15. Take risks. For every time I get a yes, there are 10 no’s behind it. No one but you and that company you pitched ever have to know about it, so if you want to do a giveaway, get an ad, have a sponsor – ask. And then move on. It takes a long, long time to prove to some companies you are worth the investment.
16. Ask questions. Ask me, ask your friends, ask a big time blogger that seems to have a good grasp on the blog you love to read. I love getting emails that say “Help! What about this?” and so do all the bloggers who have so graciously answered my never ending questions the past 2 years.
You can do this, and I hope this helps by putting a lot of information in one place! If you don’t know how to install something, where to find it, or just want to vent – feel free to email/Tweet/FB me.
Also, check out my New Mommy Blogger Series:
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