You’ve been reading lots about blogs in the news and you think it might be fun to start one. You have things to say! You might even have found the perfect “niche,” that oh-so-elusive thing that promises to rise your as as-yet-unborn blog to the top of the blogosphere. Maybe you’re heading out on a journey and want to chronicle the experience. Or maybe you just need a space to voice your thoughts so that you no longer feel as though you’re talking to yourself.
There’s no one good reason to start a blog. They’re all good. You want to start one. That’s reason enough.
So what do you have to do?
Well, first you need a name.
Yes. First. Because you’re going to get to that first screen and it’s going to ask you what to name the blog and you’re going to freeze. Trust me. So think of a name. A good easy, memorable, and evocative name.
Then check that it hasn’t already been taken by a million other bloggers. Then look for another one.
Got a name?
Now you need a platform.
A platform. A website that will host your blog and allow you to publish easily without having to learn intricate web coding and stuff.
There’s no shortage of places you can start your blog. If you’re like most of us you’re going to want to start off free, which is totally fine. The two most popular free platforms are Blogger and WordPress. For each ardent supporter of one you’ll find an equally ardent supporter of the other. Blogger is a bit more intuitive, WordPress is more flexible if you like to play with your design and offers the option to upgrade to a paying site if you get big. (There are other lesser known/less popular platforms. Feel free to hunt around online.)
If you’re willing to pay for slightly better service you can go straight to a paying WordPress blog or you can go with Typepad. Again it’s a personal preference. Bounce around on the sites and see which feels most like home.
Next it’s time to get your new blog all set up.
Whatever platform you picked will make it easy for you. Undoubtedly you’ll be introduced to a handy wizard who will guide you through the whole process.
Don’t worry too much about sexing up your site and making it uber cool, that’s always something you can do later. But do pick a layout that doesn’t make your eyes bleed or that doesn’t make any sense in regards to your personality. Pink hearts and swirls are great and all, but not if you’re writing about a solemn retrospective trip across the land of your forefathers or something.
A couple things you do want to take time to think over.
The first thing most readers are going to do is click on your “About Me” button. Blog readers are voyeurs at heart. They love to get a glimpse into the lives of the people they’re getting to know. Tell them something. Anything. Who you are. Why you’re blogging. Anything.
The second thing readers are going to do is click through your archives. Make sure you activate the archive option in the wizard.
So? What’s next? Oh, duh. The first post.
And yes it’s cheesy. And yes you might feel silly. And no you don’t have to do it. But it’s always nice to kick off your blog with a longer version of your “About Me” section. (Bonus! When you get more savvy with the techy stuff you can just link your About Me button to the first post!)
So again: Who are you? Why are you blogging? Why should we care?
Or you know, just start talking. Because it’s your blog and really no one can tell you what to do. People like me just like to give lots and lots of advice.
And there you have it. You’re a blogger. With a blog. Which you can choose to share with the world or keep to yourself. Enjoy! But word of warning, it’s addictive. And clicking “publish” at the end of each post can be incredibly heady and empowering.
A few more bloggy type tips.
- Attempt to blog more or less regularly. Readers like it. At the very least once a week. More is better.
- Be yourself. Readers can tell when you’re pretending to be someone else.
- You don’t have to reveal all. It’s your blog. Your life. You can chose to reveal a tiny fraction of it or a whole lot of it.
- There’s no such thing as anonymity online. Trust me. Don’t blog something you don’t want a certain someone reading. They’ll find it.
- Pictures. People love pictures.
- Grammar. Spellcheck. Seriously. It takes three seconds to run it. Your readers will thank you.
- Let yourself go. Dig deep when you write. The best posts are the naked posts. Not as in you write them naked, but as in you bare all.
- Don’t worry too much about the stats (numbers of visitors to your site). But if you do care, I can’t recommend Get Clicky enough. Or if you want to get serious you can check out Google Analytics, but I have to warn you, they’re always a day late, which is only annoying if you become obsessed. Which you shouldn’t.
- Go forth and comment on other blogs. No one blogs in a vacuum. It’s all about the community. It’s a great community, let it embrace you.