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Starting a Blog – Fun and Easy

Starting a Blog – Fun and Easy

The goal for most people who wants to start a blog is to make money, but to be honest the vast majority of people have no clue how to actually set one up. Honestly though setting up a website that can make you money is actually not to hard. The money part, well that will take time, patience and a lot of hard work. Setting up your new blog is actually the easiest part and this can be done with these easy to follow steps.

Blogging can be fun and should be fun. Lets face it. When it becomes a chore or job it just is not fun and you will eventually falter and stop writing. So remember that whatever you are going to be blogging about it should be FUN. So I guess that there should honestly be 11 steps. Picking the topic should be one as well and it should be a topic that you really enjoy and would like to write about. Put that at the top of your list because without it your blog honestly will most likely fail. People know when you are not really passionate about something.

For me web hosting is what I am passionate about. I have spent the past 12 years studying and learning everything I can about it and how to do it right. Your passion may be something else and that is what you should be writing about. Helping others love and understand your passion.

So what is a Blog?

Blog is short for weblog. It is an informational website that allows people to share their interests with others in an almost diary like manner that is available online. Typically these posts are displayed with the most recent post first. This way the most recent material is shown to your viewers keeping them interested in what you are writing about.

While the vast majority of weblogs are written by a single author, since 2010 more & more multi-author sites are showing up. This is a site that has a large number of authors who supply content and share in revenue. These sites are even sometimes professionally edited. A great example of a site where there is a vast amount of articles written, edited and presented to others is Wikipedia. There are millions of articles written in a blog style and constantly edited by people to keep the information as accurate as possible. While this is not the typical way that you would do your site, this does work for Wikipedia and they have become somewhat of an authority site (although they are not always right).

Why should you even start a blog

  • Fun – Blogging is a way to express yourself. Allow others to share your passion through your writing and creative skills.
  • Business Website – Blogs are more then just for writing what you are passionate about. WordPress and other content management systems have evolved from simple places to write about your passions to being the backbone for entire business websites. You get all the benefits of a fully functioning blog with the added benefits of a beautiful website that is easily updated and upgraded.
  • Make Money – Today’s internet world affords you with many ways to make money online. If done right and given some patience and moderate promotion online you will be able to create an amazing income. There are some bloggers out there that make amazing incomes in the 6 figures such as Darren Rowse the founder of Problogger.com and John Chow who have made amazing livings teaching others how to be bloggers and make income online.

What will you talk about in your blog

One thing that is very important when you are deciding what your blog is going to be about is that you need a clear goal of what your website will be about. Talking about to many subjects will quickly loose the interest of your viewers and not allow you focus on creating quality passionate articles. If you are talking about the latest computers and suddenly your next article is about your favorite sports team you have just turned off all those tech fanatics.Before picking a domain for your blog, you should have at least a general idea about the niche.

Some different types of niches that you can write about:

  • Health – People are fanatics about health more and more every year. If you are one of these people this could be perfect for you. In fact you would be able to speak to them with a passion in your writing that would draw a significant number of viewers.
  • Wealth – Lets face it. People love get rich ideas and anything that is written about it. Take the popularity of TV Shows like “Shark Tank” and “The Profit.” Actually write a quality blog about how to increase wealth that people can really use and they will eventually flock to your website.
  • Relationships – The Internet has drawn the world closer. People are meeting online, dating and getting married because of the Internet everyday. Country borders are becoming less of a factor and if you are able to help others make their relationships work better then you could become the next relationship guru.
  • Entertainment – Everyone loves to be entertained. You could write about games, movies or the latest sports craze.

No matter what you decide to write about, you need to really choose something that really brings your creative writing out. There is another good reason for this – You are going to need a lot of quality content. First always write quality and not quantity. Second plan on doing a lot of writing over the course of the first year of your new blog. Writing an article a day is most likely not a bad idea. Make the article well written and well thought out so take your time to do it right.

Now that you have decided on what you are going to write about

Pick a domain name

Many people do not give great thought to their domain name. They simply think that if they build it they will come. This could not be further from the truth. While that works great in the movies – real life is different.

The problem with trying to find a great domain name is that over the past 20 years many of those easy to remember and good domain names have been taken. Don’t worry though. If you take a bit of time and do searches you will eventually come across a domain that is amazing and fits your desired topic. There are also places you should check as well that will help you in your quest to find that perfect domain.

  • ExpiredDomains.net – It is interesting that people will actually register domains and simply let them expire a year later. This website will allow you to publicly search for domains that have recently been deleted allowing you to scoop them up and use them. Unfortunately you will be also competing against some of the big buyers in the industry. However, do not lose hope because even they miss some really good domains.
  • LeanDomainSearch.com – This website is great. Lets say you are trying to find a domain to create your own web hosting company. You would enter your keyword or phrase and it will match you with any available words. Basically it is taking different words and putting them together to create different combinations. Yes many of them are going to be absurd, but I have found many domain names that worked by using this website.
  • NameMesh.com – Good for domain name ideas that are similar, but I would recommend not using the new TLDs such as .xyz, .site, etc. They are mostly used by spammers and scam websites.

Choose your web hosting plan 

No matter what you decide to do with your blog – just write articles for others to read or create a business you will need to choose web hosting provider and a plan that works for your needs.

There are many free options out there such as Blogger, WordPress.com and others that will help you get your content online quick and for absolutely free. That is great if you think about being able to get your articles online pretty fast and easy. However, there are some downfalls to choosing this as your media platform.

  • First they are providing you with a free space and as such they can technically take your articles offline and delete them at anytime. Could you imagine spending months writing quality articles and having them disappear overnight. This has and does happen more then you realize.
  • Second they will make money on your work. They will place ads on your site that generates revenue for them and not you. Why you ask! Because this is part of their agreement with you for giving you a free place to express yourself. The idea is for you to share your work and hopefully make some money for you and your family.

So what would I recommend? For me the choice is easy. I use WordPress for all our business websites these days. Now this does not mean this has to be your choice, but WordPress provides us the best option for our needs. In fact I find it the easiest to work with and build beautiful websites that are easy to maintain. The best part of this is that you will be using the self-hosted software from WordPress. Yes they offer a self-hosted version that you use on your own web hosting platform.

So you might ask how popular WordPress is and that is a great question. As of the most recent stats it is powering over 75 million (Forbes) websites or almost 31% of the web. In the CMS (Content Management System) market it commands a 59.9% (W3Stats) share and they are adding around 500 new websites per day on average. By comparison the next closest CMS Joomla only powers 6.1% of the market. That is a huge disparity and for a good reason. WordPress by far is the easiest to use and setup.

There are a lot of companies who offer you the ability to host your blog. You can choose from a range of plans and they each offer their own reasons to use them. You could choose from Managed WordPress Hosting or Standard Hosting. Each offers advantages and disadvantages, but both would meet your needs. Lets look at the difference between both.

Managed WordPress Hosting – Immediate setup. Login and begin building your WordPress website. No need to install software. It is done for you. All updates to core software are done for you. Daily updates and security monitoring are also included. Optimized for WordPress with build in Caching making your website faster out of the gate then traditional hosting solutions. However, you do lose many of the features of traditional hosting such as the ability to install additional software with a single click and enhance your website easy.

Standard Hosting – There are a lot of things to love about having more control. You get a control panel area that lets you do significantly more with your website then with Managed WordPress Hosting. You will have the ability to easily create emails, add additional software such as a ticketing system and others with the click of a button. There are some downfalls, but they are not to hard to overcome when comparing them to Managed WordPress Hosting. First you will have to install your software yourself, either using the one click installer or uploading via FTP. Next all core software updates will be done by you. Also you will need to learn to optimize your website for WordPress so that it performs at peak performance. This is important as your ranking in the search engines depends on this part as well.

Either option will work and what you will choose should depend on your comfort level and needs. Both are great ways to host your new website, but only you can decide which way you really want to go.

One thing I will give you some advice on is to choose a package that not only fits your budget, but also allows for growth. However, with most hosting providers you will be able to upgrade quite easily as your traffic grows. This will be important if you want to maintain growth and sales. No one will visit a website that is slow. In fact with the high speed connections that we have today people are even more impatient when it comes to their page load speeds.

Now that you have your web hosting sorted out it is time to install your WordPress if you chose to go with a traditional hosting plan. If you decided you better go with Managed WordPress then all you would need to do is log into your admin panel and begin setting up your website. This can found in your welcome email from your hosting provider.

Setup WordPress

If you are nervous that is to be expected especially if you have never setup WordPress before let alone worked with a web hosting control panel such as cPanel or Plesk. The great thing is if you can use your mouse, point and click you are half way there.

  1. Login to cPanel or Plesk (if chose Windows) control panel

2. Scroll down to the bottom and click on WordPress or if you do not see this simply go to the Softaculous icon and click that.

Softaculous

If you have to use the Softaculous Apps Installer it is no issue. Once the apps installer opens you will choose WordPress from the main screen or the blogs drop down tab on the left.

WordPress

Now just choose the WordPress Icon

3. Click Install Now:

4. Select your protocol, (ex: www.yourdomain.com or yourdomain.com) then select your domain under choose domain then enter your directory (leave blank to install on the root (this is your home page when you go to your domain) of your domain – recommended. However, if you are installing this to a different part of your website such as yourdomain.com/blog then you would put the word “blog” in the directory space. The name you choose if up to you.

5. Enter your blog name and description

6. Create your admin account and remember to make sure that your admin password is hard to guess

7. Select your language and leave the other two settings default unless you know what you’re doing

8. Click Search by themes and choose your FREE premium theme by clicking on Select This. Don’t worry you will be able to put a different theme in later if you do not want to use one of the featured ones. This will just help you get setup fast.

9. Click Install & remember to enter an email address where the installation information can be sent to so that you never forget it

10. Congratulations!  WordPress is now installed!  This page will show your wp-admin URL, click on it to login and begin customizing your blog

Installing Plugins

WordPress is amazing. It allows you to customize everything about your website from the admin control panel. Even if you are unable to customize something from the basic admin panel that comes with it, you will be able to find plugins to help you do it.

So what is a plugin?

Plugins help you extend and expand the basic functionality of WordPress. These plugins are available through the WordPress Plugin Directory or right from your admin control panel. The easiest way is to simply search, install and activate them directly from the admin control panel. However, not all plugins are made available from the panel. This is because some plugins are premium only and usually require a one time fee, but let me tell you some of them are worth the money you will pay.

Here is an important point: Try not to overload your WordPress site with a lot of plugins. Use only what you really need. Using to many can compromise the speed and security of your website. So take a long hard look at a plugin. Decide whether you really need to have it and remember to always update them as soon you are notified that there is an update.

  1. Login to your WordPress admin area (wp-admin)
  2. Click on Plugins on the left menu
  3. Click Add New
  4. Search for your desired plugin
  5. Read reviews and details. Also make sure it is kept up to date
  6. Click Install Now by the one you wish to install
  7. Activate after installation and configure additional options if required

Configuring WordPress After Installation

Normally your WordPress installation will be OK with the default settings, but if you need to check the configuration or change some things you might want to watch this video.

Inside your settings is where you change your URL’s to include https or the way they’re structured for search engine optimization.  This is also where you edit your website title and tagline!

Lets Write Your First Post

Again this is easier to show you using a video rather then going through a long bit of writing that you might have a hard time understanding. The ladies over at Sincerely Jean did a great job with showing people how to do their first blog post so why reinvent the wheel. They make it easy to follow and if you take your time to watch this video you will are going to understand exactly how easy it is to write that first post.

 

Schedule Posts – Having a steady number of posts going to your blog at a set interval is great. This means you can create a lot of content, but not publish it to your website until you want it to go live. There is a good reason for this – Google likes to see consistent posting on your website. It makes it more active and gives you more credibility in their eyes. Also your readers love to read new articles at a set rate. To much at once and you will overwhelm them. To little and they will get bored and find somewhere else to get their fix.

Consistent and Useful Content

You should always remember that the content you place on your website needs to be useful for your readers first and foremost. If you are writing a technology blog and suddenly write about your favorite restaurant – well I think you get the idea here.

Also your website needs to provide articles at a set rate or consistency. If you post an article every day and suddenly you go 2 weeks without writing you are going to lose viewers. They will simply think you have abandoned your website and go elsewhere. Don’t let that happen. It is hard enough to get them to start reading your website and if you lose them then you most likely will not regain them.

These are some pretty important keys to growing your website. Make sure that your articles help them solve a problem or entertain them while staying true to your website niche.

Also make sure your posts are detailed. Videos and images are an amazing way to add value to your post. You need to know that your blog post should be at least 300 words long. This is great for search engine optimization and gives your viewers something to truly read that will keep their interest. Now you do not need to go overboard, but a well written article will always go a long ways.

You just need to remember that blogging is like anything else in life. Doing it once will get you no where. It will take consistent, unique and useful articles to grow your website. I know what you will be thinking in a few short weeks – “OMG why am I doing this no one is ever reading my stuff.” The first 6 months to a year are the hardest. It is hard to keep your mind focused and keep a great attitude. Just think how motivated you will be once you start getting those first few readers.

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