How to Start a Blog

How to Start a BlogStarting a blog is relatively easy – and in comparison – starting a successful blog is relatively hard.

The thing that makes starting a blog frustrating for most people is that it is important to plot your course BEFORE you begin.

Starting a blog is easy.   You can start a free blog in less than five minutes.  Simply click on a link, choose a user name and password and you’re ready to begin blogging.

Now, comes the hard part.  The answer to the qustion of “WHY do you want to start a blog?” rears it’s ugly head.

In general there are three types of bloggers.

  • Do you want to start a blog because you want to promote your business?  (A blog is a GREAT tool for promoting your business!)
  • Do you want to begin blogging for dollars?
  • Do you want to blog to create community – a blog with lots of comments and communication?

Your answer to the question of what kind of blog you want to start will determine how to start your blog.

As in most things in life – while starting a free WordPress.com blog is the fastest and easiest way to start a blog – it’s not always the best option in the long run.

A few months ago, I was contacted by a woman who had launched a free blog on WordPress.com.   She was a tireless practitioner of the principles of the 8 Week Power Blog Launch course….and she was stunned at how “quickly” her blog gained readership.

In a matter of just a few months – her blog was a raging success.  She had great tightly targeted content – she had dozens of comments and hundreds of loyal readers. Around this time, she got laid off from her job.  She decided to expand upon her success and launch her own business.

She contacted me to help her migrate her free blog onto a self hosted  fully managed hosting WordPress blog.  She wanted to preserve everything from her free blog and just  “transplant” it on her own web hosting account.

Unfortunately, there was no way to accomplish this.  See, she had built a strong presence under the domain name username.wordpress.com.   She had made comments on other blogs – leaving that URL as her “bread crumb trail” back to her blog.  She had incoming links from other bloggers coming to that URL.  (URL stands for Universal Resource Locator.)

To use a real world word picture, she had worked hard laying blocks to build a building which sat on ground she didn’t own.

She desperately wanted to convert that brick and mortar structure into a mobile home – she wanted to put wheels under the blog she had created and “transport” it to a self hosted blog – so her blog could continue to thrive and grow under a domain name she owned for the new business she had launched.

What she ended up doing was launching a NEW blog on her own webhosting account and then putting up a post on the free blog informing readers where they could go to get recent content.

Confucius  said, “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

This woman learned the hard way how important it is to start with the end in mind.

It’s tempting to use one of the many “free” services – businesses do it all the time.  They use their Myspace page as their company web page – they use Facebook as their company web presence – they use free blogs at WordPress.com and blogger.com to promote their business.

It’s free – it’s easy – but in the long run – you’re building a house upon ground you don’t own and most importantly do not control.

Blogging Tips to Develop a Successful Blog

Over the past 18 months, I’ve launched over 100 blogs on behalf of clients while maintaining several blogs of my own.

Because of all the clients I’ve helped guide through this process, I’ve been able to observe impact of blogging on businesses. I’ve watched what works… and what doesn’t work when it comes to blogging.

In finance class, you learned about P/E ratio… which is a price/earnings ratio that tells you whether a stock is fairly priced.. Well, here there are three P/E elements which are essential to developing a successful blog.

1. Passion isn’t Enough

Passion is the foundation but it won’t keep you going in the long run. You’d better have a well defined goal set for your business blog before you begin. Why are you blogging? Part of your definition had better be communicating with people because THAT is what blogging does best… communicate!

2. Planning is Essential

Once you have a goal in mind, then you can lay out a plan to achieve that goal. Simply posting random streams of consciousness won’t help you reach your goal.

3. People are a key Element

This isn’t writing for you, this is writing for your audience. Who are they? Why are they reading your blog? If you don’t know who they are or why they’re here, then you can’t give them what they want.

Don’t pass over these three key elements lightly. They are truly ESSENTIAL to developing a successful blog.

How to Make a Blog Successful

One of the most popular questions new bloggers ask is “How do I make my blog successful?”

Some elements essential to blog success are easy.  Successful blogs

  • Are structurally sound when it comes to the writing.
  • Are written in a personable and engaging manner.
  • Provide useful information to a well defined audience.
  • Speak directly and respectfully to that well defined audience.
  • Are written in a voice of authenticity and honesty.  (No anonymous bloggers)
  • Are a source of breaking news to their community.

When you build a blog on the foundation above, you’ll discover you start getting links from other websites and blogs. Lots of links.

Of course, there are other elements found in every successful blog.  Successful bloggers credit other bloggers when appropriate.   Also, successful blogs follow a REGULAR posting pattern.   Posting once a week is a bare minimum… three times a week would be even better.

At this point, I should mention that the most successful blogs are using a self hosted WordPress blog.  It’s not as easy to set up as a free blog but in the end, blogging on that platform seems to be a significant key to blogging success.

In the end, a successful blog is more than just the sum of its posts and comments.   Building a successful blog takes planning, time and direction.

Begin your quest by defining your blog goals.  Then, determine your blog’s audience.  Who would want to read your blog?

Writing with your blog’s audience is mind may be the single most important factor in determining how successful your blog will be.

Create A Successful Blog Through Tagging

Is your blog struggling? Are you posting and no one is finding you? A basic key to creating a successful blog is to assign tags to your entries.

Blog Tutorials writes in the post Tags for Traffic writes:

So how can tags increase traffic to your blog? Tags can help increase your blog traffic by helping your SEO. Since you will be using your keywords as tags this will help search engines determine the relevance and importance of the keywords for that blog post. Even more importantly tags can help you in blog search engines and social bookmarking sites.

Every successful blog assigns tags to each entry. Those tags help the search engines find your blog but more importantly, the tags help those searching such social networking sites as Technorati to find your blog.

The most successful blog is the blog that is FOUND… DISCOVERED… AND READ!

A great blog with incredible posts that nobody reads is not a successful blog!

I just found such a blog today. It was a great blog that I had literally stumbled upon about a year ago. Today I went back and the last post I saw was the last post on the blog. It was a Typepad blog with great content which was poorly tagged.

It’s been my experience that a great post that is poorly tagged can still get some attention when it’s posted to a self hosted WordPress blog. However, from what I’ve seen, good tagging is ESSENTIAL with Typepad.

Before you post that next entry… tag it! If you’re using WordPress… it’s right below where you type your post!

Tagging is an essential key to create a successful blog.