Part I - For the Beginner
The first decision in blogging is whether you're going to use a hosted solution which is ready-to-go out of the box, or if you're going to do something custom that requires your own hosting account and some level of technical know-how. There are many open-source options for those who are ready to take total control over their blogs, which I'll cover in Part II. But beginners who simply MUST take action now, here you go:
Step-by-Step for the beginning blogger:
- Go to this free hosted WordPress site
- Click "Create a new blog" in the middle of the page
- Enter a username and active email account address
- Leave the default set to "Gimme a blog" and click next
- On the next page, enter the English you want for your blog address for "Blog Domain." For example, if you enter "coolstuff" in the box, your blog address will be coolstuff.hipbloggers.com.
- Enter a blog title. This will be English on the main banner of your blog home page (and all other pages). This should be selected carefully to reflect your main theme. You can always change this later if needed.
- Leave the privacy setting on the default. You want Google and other search engines to index your blog.
- Go to your email and click the link to activate your blog.
Now if you're interested, here's all the thinking behind this recommendation for WordPress. The evolution of open-source blogging software has been very exciting. But for the beginner, a hosted blog solution is most certainly the way to go. They are free, and you'll be up and running in 5 minutes. All that's required is an active email account. This way, you can test the waters a bit and see if you really like blogging before you get into anything that requires serious time commitment or money.
Arguably the most popular blogging platform is WordPress. If you're interested in the history of the WordPress blogging software, read the full history at the WordPress wiki entry. WordPress has a number of advantages over the other choices. The first of which is familiarity and ease of use. There are simply so many WordPress instances running that people are used to navigating them. Why make your users get used to a different interface? You want to minimize distractions so that your users really engage with you and respond to your topics. Right? This is the essence of blogging, isn't it? So here's a step-by-step on how to start a WordPress blog in 5 minutes:
Part II - For the Advanced Blogger
If you've been around the block in blogging, then you know there is an entirely different conversation to have once you've gotten your feet wet. You issues as an advanced blogger come down to Blog Strategy and Blog Promotion.
Here are some really important strategy points for the advanced blogger who is trying to find their niche, build their audience or move their writing further along.
- Post often. No less than once per week.
- Proof read your postings, ALWAYS!
- Write even when you're not sure what to write about, but find your theme
- Try to make things interactive with your audience
- Try to respond to meaningful comments as a way to increase dialog
- Consider a series on a specific topic, this brings people back
- Post meaningful content
- Promote your blog
I find it very difficult to write about things that I don't feel any passion for. It really helps to have an interest in the topics you're writing about. If you don't you need to work extra hard to make your writing express enthusiasm. Research for interesting facts before you write. Read and re-read to see if what you've created is *really* that interesting. Re-write.
Blog promotion is a difficult task. At heart is a the simple concept of high quality content. If what you're producing is not good, you can't expect it to take you that far. That being said, there are a number of ways that good content goes unnoticed on this vast Internet. You need to follow a solid promotion strategy to ensure that you well-crafting product is distributed is far as possible.
- Blogs with consistent themes are more attractive to readers
- SEO is critical
- Keyword selection for your pieces is important
- Tighter blogs index better in the search engines
- Promote your blog in forums
- Links to your blog are incredibly important
- Register your blog in high PR directories