If you haven’t yet started your own blog, now is never a better time. Starting a blog is easy, fast, and can cost little to nothing. Many people start blogging for a vast majority of reasons, and may choose to either start a free blog on a service like WordPress.com or pay several hundred dollars for hosting with an elaborate design on private severs. However you choose to start a blog, there are several key things to think about first to ensure your blog is both beneficial for yourself, and achieves the goals you set for the reasons why you want to beging blogging the first place. Here are a few points to think about to help you start a blog.
Decide What to Write About
Blogs are like — well, you know — everyone seems to have one these days. However, many personal blogs quickly become abandoned because people start a blog without knowing what they want to write about and without a dedicated purpose. Before you start blogging, take a few minutes to think about what you want to write about on a continuing basis. Decide what specific topics you will cover, and also who you want to read your blog. While you should never start blogging with the purpose of making money (those who do profit from their blog are rare anomalies), you should consider a target audience to engender a community that will engage with your posts. That said, you may also decide you want to blog only for yourself — and that is OK, too.
Set Up Your Blog
Once you have decided what you want to write about and who you want to read your blog, you will need to set up your blog. Luckily, you have a wide range of options to choose from, including WordPress (either hosted at WordPress.com or as a self-install on a private server that you pay for with a monthly or yearly fee), Blogger, Movable Type, and other options. Tumblr, Posterous, LiveJournal, and other blogging services are also popular choices. Once you sign up for a blogging service, you can choose to customize your blog design by installing themes, and on some services, customizing sidebar options. Some of these options are not free and can often be expensive, depending on your choice of design. However, the more customization you choose, the more your blog will stand out from the rest and truly become personal. Be sure that your blog includes components like the ability to contact you via other social network and the ability to receive your blog via RSS and a newsletter subscription; these options should be as close to the top of the blog as possible.
Create a Routine
Earlier this week, I recently talked with Liz Strauss about how critical it is to set a routine when you start a blog — especially if you aspire to blog every day. Setting this routine is as easy as setting aside a specific time of the day — or even day of the week — to blog. This is beneficial for you to maintain your blog, but also for your readers so they know when to expect your next blog post; if your blog posts are sporadic, your readers may begin to think you have stopped blogging and never return. Google’s algorithm also appreciates consistency, which can help your blog in search rankings. For those who would like more attention to their new blog, this can be helpful.
Comment On Other Blogs
One of the best ways to drive traffic to your new blog almost instantly is by commenting on other blogs. This helps other blogs know that you’re engaged with their content, but will also likely encourage these bloggers to visit your site. While you can’t force anyone to like your blog, let alone subscribe to your blog via RSS or email, encouraging others to visit your blog is a crucial first step in creating awareness of your blog. To find other blogs to comment on that would drive the right kind of audience and attention to your blog, use Google to search for blogs about the same topics and content you want to write about, too. Many blogs often include blogrolls or links to other similar blogs, which can help you find even more blogs to comment on and engage with to drive immediate traffic to your blog.
Tell Others About Your Blog
Finally, be sure you’re telling others in both your online and offline social and business circles about your new blog. Make sure to include your new blog’s URL in your email signature, IM away message, in your social network profiles, and on business cards. This is especially important if you hope to leverage your blog to find new business partners or even a new job.
Have you recently started a new blog? What tips or suggestions do you have for others considering starting a new blog, too? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.