Blogging can be an incredibly beneficial activity on multiple fronts. Not only can it bring attention to your business or topic of interest, but it can become a very enjoyable hobby that can often reap financial rewards.
Many people rule out blogging because they think it will be too complicated to start up, is too costly and too time involved. The truth is that setting up your own blog is much simpler than you’d imagine and is actually very reasonably priced or completely free. Take a look at the following how to guide for setting up your very own blog.
Getting Started with Blogging
The first order of business to take care of when starting your own blog is identifying what you’re going to be writing about. Pick a topic that (1) you enjoy, (2) are knowledgeable about and (3) have a passion for. These three elements are key in being able to produce interesting, useful content and to keep it going long-term. If you know you want to start a blog, but are unsure what to write about you can go through some writing exercises to determine some different topics of interest to you.
Note: We suggest doing a book search online for the particular topic(s) you plan to blog about. Find some of the top-selling books on those subjects and look at the table of contents. Often the chapter list of those books can bring to light some awesome ideas that are relevant and could be a great starting point for blog topics.
Once you’ve identified a solid topic or direction for the blog, you can move on the next order of business, deciding on a blogging platform. There are two different options to choose from when choosing a blogging platform; free or self-hosted. A free blogging platform represents a hosted domain. This means that you are not the owner of the domain and you actually use a sub-domain. A good analogy of this is renting a house. You don’t own the house, you rent it which means you can’t make any major renovations without approval from the owner. Like renting, free blogging platforms limit the user’s ability as far as using themes, layouts and plug-ins. Some of the most common free platforms are WordPress.com and Blogger. The problem with these free options is you really are not in control of your blog. Your blog is owned by the hosting site which means they can use your content or delete your blog without warning. This method of blogging also changes the way your web link looks. A sub-domain (free platform) looks like this: coffeeblogger.blogger.com. A self-hosted domain looks like this: coffeeblogger.com. While free is usually a good thing, it’s very limiting in the world of blogging platforms.
The better option to choose is a self-hosted domain. This sounds intimidating but it’s really not. A self-hosted domain will run you about $50 per year, this includes a $10 yearly domain fee and the hosting service that runs between $4-$7 per month. This allows you the opportunity to choose your own domain name fitting to your topic. There are several different hosting companies to consider at this price point such as: Bluehost, Hostgator, Dreamhost and Web Hosting Hub. Once you have signed up with a hosting company you’re ready to install your blogging platform. We suggest WordPress (not wordpress.com but wordpress.org). WordPress presents the most commonly used, free blogging software. The installation is incredibly user friendly and most hosting sites will walk you through the process as well. WordPress.org provides a step by step installation process to show you how to get their platform up and running in a few short minutes. So now you’ve got a blog, a great design and are ready for content. What are you going to write about?
Creating Interesting and Useful Content
Obviously if you’re writing a blog, you recognize the importance of having interesting and useful content. Without those core requirements met, people will not read your content. Create a posting schedule by determining what and how frequently you will be publishing content. A content calendar is the most efficient way to do this. Great content comes from paying attention to what is going on and gaining ideas from everywhere. It is surprisingly easy to relate current events to your topic. This will help you continue to build great content. Also pay attention to days of the week and times throughout the day to post. If you are posting great content on the weekend or on a Friday you may want to wait to publish until early in the week. This depends heavily on your audience and subject matter, but most businesses publishing content benefit from timing their publications appropriately.
Building a Following
Having followers should be the goal of your blog. You want people to see your thoughts and ideas and gain exposure for your topic of interest or business. With a following you can develop authority and expertise in your niche and begin to establish yourself as a credible resource for information. There are a lot of ways to gain followers. Promoting on social media is one great method. You can also encourage your readers to share your content on their own social media. Using social media calls to action (share this, tweet this, pin this, etc.) are great methods to gain more exposure. LinkedIn represents another great source to tap in terms of finding blog followers. They provide free groups that allow you to network and cultivate subscribers regularly.
Adding Monetary or More Intrinsic Value to Your Content
If you gain a significant amount of followers there may be opportunity to make money through your blog. While that may not represent your initial blogging goal, I’ve never met someone opposed to making some extra cash! Making money off of your blog can come from numerous sources including but not limited to product endorsements, advertising, affiliate links, paid posts, and much more.
The Ultimate Benefits of Blogging
While monetary reimbursements of blogging are certainly a benefit, the ultimate benefit of blogging is the personal and professional gains it can bring you. Blogging offers the opportunity expand your horizons and become a better writer while inspiring others about the topics that interest you most.