…Using an Analogy of Building a House
Many people tend to avoid starting a blog because of fear. There is this thing called the “fear of the unknown.” Even those of us who are experienced bloggers can still suffer from the fear of the unknown. It may not be about a blog, but it can hit us in any area and hit us when we least expect it.
Fortunately, we can face that fear of the unknown by approaching it systematically and using process. For example, if you plan out your approach to something and make a list of checklist items (tasks), you are on your way to completing whatever it is that was blocked before you made your list.
The Exciting World of Blogging! (Sharing Something That Gets Me Excited!)
Before we talk about overcoming fear and the steps to start your blog, I want to give you a glimpse of just how exciting blogging can be, even if you are not currently viewing yourself as a blogger.
I found an excellent resource that includes 150 blog post ideas! Yes, that is over one hundred ideas! Can you imagine how much that can help you to create dynamic content for your blog? Even if you only blog once a week (more on that later), that is almost three years of ideas!
Ok, back to our approach…
One approach is to embrace the challenge, using that systematic process, revealing our courage to move forward. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Keep your fears to yourself but share your courage with others.” By following the systematic process, you will be on your way to creating your successful blog, allowing you to share your message successfully with the world.
What Is Your Reason for Blogging?
People blog for a variety of reasons, including spreading their message, marketing something (allowing them to make money), helping other people overcome a problem(s), establishing themselves as an expert, and staying connected with, or finding other people who share a common interest.
The Blog’s Domain (a.k.a. neighborhood / address)
Once you decide what your purpose for blogging is, then it is necessary to choose a domain name. The domain name is the home address for your blog and where it can be found on the Internet. Think of words that will connect with your target audience and consider using them as your domain name. Try to create a list of five or more possible names and then go to a site like GoDaddy to see if those domains are available. There are many different domain registration service providers to choose from and GoDaddy is one example of a site that will suggest additional potential names that may work for you. The best addresses end in .com so concentrate on those names. However, you may want to pick up other endings (i.e. .info, .biz, etc.). You will see those options if you use a tool like the one provided by GoDaddy.
Now that you have your domain name, you need to choose your web host provider. You will end up feeling like your blog is your baby, so it is very important to make this decision carefully. While choosing a domain name is like choosing a neighborhood, choosing your web host provider allows you to build your blog a home. Just like most people would never buy the cheapest home on the market, this is also true of buying the cheapest web host provider.
Read more on the topic, here on DragonBlogger.com:
Look for a provider that offers plenty of ways to contact support because you will eventually need to use it. Make sure that the provider backs up your blog on a regular basis because accidently deleting your blog is like hitting it with a bulldozer and you will want a way to get it back. Find a provider that is up most of the time, because there is no need to spend your precious time to build a blog if no one can get to your home. Look for a provider that allows you to customize your site to suit your needs. The best providers allow you to use WordPress to customize your site.
Read more on the topic, here on DragonBlogger.com:
- Find the Right Web Host For Your Blog or Website.
- Serious Bloggers Need To Look At Web Hosting.
- Finding the Best Web Hosting Provider with UpperHost.com.
- Hosting Your Own Minecraft Server on Servercraft.
The Blog Software (a.k.a. the house)
Now that you have chosen the address, and the provider, it is time to build your home. A great place to start is to install WordPress on your site. After that installation (which is often made easy by your hosting provider), you are ready to go on your first date with your blog.
Clean up by choosing a WordPress theme that goes with the style that will connect with your date. In other words, in explaining our dating analogy, you are looking for a theme that will appeal to your target audience. Choosing a premium WordPress theme allows you to look your best when you meet your date. However, if you need more time to think and/or are limited in funding, you can choose from quite a few free themes available (downloadable from WordPress, within your WordPress installation). Whichever theme you choose, make sure that you stay very attractive, highly functional, and unique.
Read more articles related to this topic, here on DragonBlogger.com:
- Why I Disabled the Triberr Plugin for WordPress.
- Automatically Add HTML5 Microdata to WordPress.
- WordPress Plugin: Dashboard Pending Review – Keep Track of Guest Posts.
- A whole bunch of articles related to WordPress.
The Blog Posts (a.k.a. the rooms)
You are now ready to write your first blog post. It helps to think of it as building the first room in your home. You need it to express who you are and what you hope to accomplish in the room. Furthermore, you need to let others know that they are welcome in the room and how you want them to use the room.
So far, we are talking about overcoming any fears and jumping in and taking those first steps in getting that blog up and running for the first time.
However, you will also need “continuing education” and need to pay attention to content (i.e. writing) and media (graphics, videos, Slideshares) to encourage your readers to pay attention to your articles.
There is a great resource that I found, recently, that covers many of these topics. This one-page resource-rich blogging guide that goes further by digging into topics like how to make money with your blog (not exactly a first step, but likely one you may be interested in reading). The guide also covers the topics we are mentioning here, namely, content.
Back to the topic of content, specifically the written part, you need to have a clear idea of what you are going to talk about on your blog on a regular basis. The posts will change here and there, but the overall tone of your blog needs to be pretty consistent.
When you being, you may have thousands of ideas to choose from, but you must zero in on a few things that are most important to you. You don’t want your blog to appear to have no direction and be a hodge podge of every thought that pops into your head (unless that really is the point of your blog).
The first three or four things you write on your site are going to be very telling, and you need to make sure that those couple things are very well done. You can plan your first three or four pieces before you even write anything, and you can roll out those articles all at the same time (scheduling some to go “live” the following days).
Many times we may feel tired or feel like we have written everything there is to write on the topic of our blog. Of course, we know that that is not the case, but it feels that way. Fortunately, you can obtain some inspiration when it comes to blog post ideas (remember that great list I mentioned at the beginning of this article?). Another great idea is to keep a swipe file and every time you see something that gives you an idea for a blog post, mark it in your swipe file. I use Trello for that purpose – a great tool that helps me “organize everything.”
Read more articles related to blogging, here on DragonBlogger.com:
- Blogging Best Practices: How to Write Blog Posts for Maximum Impact.
- How to Write Better Blog Articles.
- Dragon Bloggers Tips for Starting a New Blog or Your First Blog (oldie, but goodie!).
- Where to Go For Basic Blog Tips.
- Blog Engage and What Bloggers Need to Know.
Graphics for Your Articles (a.k.a. window dressings, etc.)
When it comes to graphics, there are a couple of resources that you should add to your list. One is Canva, a free online tool to create custom graphics for your posts, as well as your social media profiles. The sizes are already determined, so you don’t have to figure it out for yourself. You can also choose to opt for custom sizes. The tool is free, for a one-person account, and especially if you use your own images. However, they also offer images that cost $1 (and possibly more) if you need just the right image. As with most things, the quick way to do it is to pay for a flashy image or design and it takes a little more time and effort for those who want to save their pocket change.
Sometimes bloggers would rather skip the process of creating their own graphics and opt for a paid designer. There is a new concept out there, called crowdsourcing design. This is a process where you can put out a sort of RFP (request for proposal) to several graphic designers at one time, to create your perfect graphic for you. It can be a fun experience, with a graphic design contest so that you get the best design possible!
The perfection of this model is that you choose the custom graphic design that you want and you are not forced to accept the first one that comes your way. Designhill is an example of a site that does this, a graphic design marketplace. You will definitely want to check out the site. Don’t forget, with your start-up blog, you may want Designhill to design your logo so that your blog has a graphical branding continuity (in addition to those graphics for your content).
Listen, as Rahul Aggarwal, Co-Founder of Designhill, explains how it works:
And, Finally… Last, but not Least…
The list of topical areas (a.k.a. systematic steps) that are listed above will get you going and likely help you get past the fear of the unknown. You also have some additional reading, right here on the blog. Some of those articles also give you links to additional resources.
However, if I stopped here, this article would be incomplete. We also need to continue to learn. We need to utilize resources that will keep us sharp. This allows us to be more relevant in what we provide to our readers as well as the opportunity to improve our skills.
Another way to keep those skills honed is to participate in forums. There are some popular ones run by Internet Marketing Ninjas, for starters. Also keep communities like Blog Engage (see article in the above listing, for more information).
Hey, maybe we will see you there!