When I started blogging, there were very few platforms from which to choose. I chose Blogger at the time and later converted it to a hosted WordPress blog, then started hosting my own WordPress blog using a shared Hostgator (aff) account (which I still have). That was way back in the stone ages… 2005. The rest is history.
Now, things are a little tougher. There are a lot of things to consider before diving in. I thought I’d throw out some questions for “newbies.” First off… welcome to the game – blogging is a blast when you keep it fun. Here are some questions to ask…
Do I really have the time?
You can write a brief but thoughtful blog post in a half hour or less. But sometimes you’ll need to go beyond that with research and planning. Then there are hosting and backend issues. Then there is the networking you’ll need to do unless you really don’t care too much about the traffic. Then there’s the community management you offer toward your readership. Do you really have the time?
What am I going to blog about?
You can talk about “social media” but you’re going to get swallowed up a bit (kind of like when you blog about blogging…), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. But what if you have a keen and beloved passion for underwater basket-weaving? Blog about it! Find a niche and fit into it. I blog about creative design, ministry and leadership, and of course, blogging. If you start a blog, stay in your niche at least 85% of the time and choose it wisely up front.
Who do I need to connect with to sharpen my skills?
This is where social networking comes into play. You can use directories like Twellow and We Follow to find people on Twitter in your niche. You can peruse facebook fan pages and leave comments on the blogs you’ve been reading all along. The bottom line is, make friends. You need them and they need you.
What kind of blogging platform am I going to use?
Why WordPress of course! Haha, but there are other choices too. There’s also FrogCMS, Joomla, Drupal and a host of other blogging platforms. Do some research. My own recommendation is a self-hosted install of WordPress on a server from Hostgator (aff), or another good host, but that’s only 99.9% of the time – hey, there are exceptions!
What design options are available for the branding effect I want to achieve?
Design matters. The design of your blog will tell readers a story about what you value, about your personality, and about how seriously you take your blog. There are a range of options available from the highest end – custom blog design from the ground up, to premium themes and templates, to all of the free templates available.
What in the world am I going to name it?
Your blog will have at least two identities associated with it – its domain and its real name (which may be both), and in some cases your name as well. For instance, Darren Rowse is known as the Problogger over at problogger.net. And Michael Martine runs Remarkablogger, where he’s just written a great post about how to brand and name your blog.
How in the world will I get traffic to it?
So often, bloggers start a blog with little or no thought for how they’re going to drive traffic to it. The sad part is that great design and content are virtually worthless without proper promotion. You need to have at least a basic knowledge of SEO (and another good link), generating traffic through social networking, and where and how to submit links to your blog.
There are other questions for consideration… will I monetize it? If so, how? Will I incorporate offline promotion? Will I involve others as guest posters? and the list goes on.
What else do you think people need to ask before jumping in? Looking back, what do you wish you’d known then that you know now?
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: http://cmp.ly/3 (the hostgator link and themeforest link)