How to Start a Blog

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

How to Start a BlogOnce 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.

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  • http://twitter.com/kylewillis Kyle Willis

    Good tips Chris! Applied these when I started my blog.

  • TechMali

    I blog mainly for myself and my friends, but I’ll keep all this in mind should I decide to expand my blog beyond that. =) Great article!

  • Anonymous

    Some good tips here! I just very recently started my blog back up again. One issue I have always had trouble with is being consistent with posting content at a regular time. Though I have been getting better at it trying to aim for every saturday, I still find it a bit hard as I am easily distracted and I can get discouraged when I just can’t think what to write about. Anyways, thanks for your post, Kelly. I Always enjoy reading your articles on LockerGnome!

  • Anonymous

    Some good tips here! I just very recently started my blog back up again. One issue I have always had trouble with is being consistent with posting content at a regular time. Though I have been getting better at it trying to aim for every saturday, I still find it a bit hard as I am easily distracted and I can get discouraged when I just can’t think what to write about. Anyways, thanks for your post, Kelly. I Always enjoy reading your articles on LockerGnome!

  • Richard Shire

    Invest in a domain ideally .com

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1260047238 Michael Sitver

    Use Google Blogger if you want a free blog. There are no ads unless you want them and they work great.

  • Daniel Johnson

    Have some (your language) under your belt. For example use good grammar.

  • Andy

    One piece of advise I would give if you want to make money with a blog, wait until you have over a certain number of visitors per day, and then apply for money making programs (such as Google Adsense)

  • http://twitter.com/Genford Tim Genford Jensen

    WordPress, joomla or concrete5 or blogger

  • http://twitter.com/HairBoutique HairBoutique.com

    I think consistency is the most challenging part of having any type of blog.  Google does value consistency but that can be difficult without self-discipline.  I really enjoyed this post.  Thank you for sharing.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/karl.entner Karl Entner

    Another thing that you can do as well. And I’ve been a techie for the longest time. The free ones like wordpress for example is where I have my own one that Iblog to. I have as well a computer not being used a spare one which I converted into a web server with ubuntu linux or with a student edition of windows 2003 server. And got everything running that way with IIS, php, Mysql and joomla or wordpress. for creating my own blog site locally. but I am also using dyndns.com for the actual link so people can actually go to it without actually paying for a domain. You can also use a home computer and share it with friends and family that way. And of course usinga word processor to help you with the good grammar.

  • http://raphaellove.com Raphael Love

    Excellent advice… developing the routine is the key through all of this. If you dont have the strength of habit you wont do it. Speaking of strength of habit… I need a blogging GYM membership… Hey now there is a marketing opportunity for someone. I just want 1% for giving you the idea.

  • http://raphaellove.com Raphael Love

    Excellent advice… developing the routine is the key through all of this. If you dont have the strength of habit you wont do it. Speaking of strength of habit… I need a blogging GYM membership… Hey now there is a marketing opportunity for someone. I just want 1% for giving you the idea.

  • Timour Omar Rashed

    The best thing you can do when blogging is read your own posts from the mindset of the audience you are targeting because it will make the content much richer and your readers will thank you

  • Jeffrey Stevens

    I tried a blog once and did it all wrong. But in my defense, I was investigating how much work it was. The answer: a lot.

  • Jeffrey Stevens

    I tried a blog once and did it all wrong. But in my defense, I was investigating how much work it was. The answer: a lot.

  • http://dahcarrot.wordpress.com/ Christopher Baker

    GREAT article, thank you!

  • http://www.AskJamesHolmes.com/ JamesHolmesOnline

    Kelly – Among the variety of ways that I create content blogging is the most effective as you can incorporate almost all other media types… I repurpose my videos, podcast, and embed my live stream in my blogs and it is incredibly effective.

    You have offered some really great advice here and I would encourage anyone who is not blogging to take up the practice and use this post as a guideline to getting your site set up correctly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jessica-Kim/100003497443140 Jessica Kim

    Got to start somewhere. This is wonderful. Thanks Kelly Clay. 

  • Anonymous

    My blog is now thriving in success! And social media made that possible, use tools like Stumble Upon and Reddit! Great to get your posts out there! Oh and Post Post Post!

  • Anonymous

    lots of spelling mistakes in the blog, anyways a brilliant and needed blog post for people like me and dad who likes writing. thanks lockergnome

    • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

      We had spelling mistakes? :)

      • Anonymous

        here – “severs”, “beging ” in para 1

  • http://gygo.getyourgeekon.info/ Weebit

     Blogging is only easy at times.  The biggest question I get asked is how I come up with my topics.  I come up with mine by joining other websites with similar content.  I also subscribe to RSS feeds.  Plus I read the comments left by my guest.  People do not realize their biggest resources are in front of their face. 

  • Jelani Dozier

    Your Articles really have some useful stuff worth reading

  • http://brendon1555.com/ Brendon1555

    Great advice! Thanks Kelly :)

  • Frederik Creemers

    NI

  • http://www.lornepike.com/pikespeak Lorne Pike

    Nice summary, Kelly. I think the routine is the big challenge for most people, especially if they’re doing it for business rather than as a hobby. It’s time well spent in the long run, but at first, especially before you’re seeing any results for your efforts, it can seem like a huge challenge. Hang in there, people, and keep looking for ways to get better. The best days of blogging are still ahead!

  • http://erniecordell.wordpress.com Ernie Cordell

    I agree so much with your comment on a regular rhythm:  I tried a sponsored blog for a while and the support was great!  But I figured more on a schedule like I had at the magazine:  You shoot for a target date and if you’re early, no sweat!  But, oh, _so_ not the case, my friends.  It’s more like a television production schedule, and blog readers love a live event.  Your commenters are involved in your success:  Oftentimes, they offer suggestions and constitute a draw themselves.  Many are bloggers themselves with well-known attitudes, like characters in your script.  People get disappointed when your show gets moved to a new slot and they can’t find it, you don’t have the advantage of a network message that says “We’ve moved!  We’ll be on after Smash!”  It’s a wall time world now:  My magazine thinking was dinosaury and my blog got stuck in the ice.