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.

Increase Blog Traffic with Seach Engine Optimization Tricks in Mind

Increasing blog traffic is important to your blog’s success.  One way to increase blog traffic is to write blog posts and blog titles with keywords in mind. Another way to increase blog traffic is to keep other search engine optimization tricks in mind.

An often overlooked blogging technique which helps to increase blog traffic is internal linking.  Internal linking is them “SEO term” for the practice of linking one post to other posts on your blog.

The reason why internal linking is called a search engine optimization trick is that by linking to your own posts, you are in fact performing an act of SEO (search engine optimization).

See, the search engines are a lot like the character on the  educational television show Sesame Street.  Remember the Count?  He is a character who helps small children learn to count by counting everything that crosses his path.

Well, the search engines share the Count’s passion for counting.  When the search engines come to index your blog, each bot begins to count the number of links to each blog post.  In Google, the number of links counts HEAVILY towards the PR or Page Rank assigned to a page or a post in your blog.

Many bloggers tend to focuson the number of incoming links to their blog without considering that some of the best links are those that come from inside the blog – or internal linking.

Internal linking allows you to not only increase the number of links to a page, but it also serves to highlight your best blog posts for your readers as well.

When creating internal links, you have the added advantage of having control over the “anchor text” used to create those links.

Anchor text is the text which is hyperlinked.  The keywords you use to create your blog post should also be reflected in your anchor text.  Instead of creating a link that says “Click Here” be sure to create your links with the text you want the search engines to use to index the page.  For example, instead of creating a link that says “click here” I’d instead create a link using the words how to blog. The search engines are then created to say to themselves, “Hey – this post must be about “how to blog” since there’s an incoming link to it that says “how to blog”.

This is by no means the depth and breadth of blog SEO – but the journey of a thousand miles begins with just a single step.  Use the proper keywords and then linking to other blog posts within your blog posts are two great steps towards getting more traffic to your blog using basic Search Engine Optimization techniques.

Tips to Increase Blog Traffic

Blogging is easy – but getting traffic to your blog is another story.

One of the best ways to increase your blog traffic is to reach out to other bloggers.  One way to increase traffic to your blog AND reach out to other bloggers is to create an award.

That’s what the MommaWannaBe.com blog did.  A simple graphic, a few rules and suddenly, bloggers are playing “link love tag” with each other.

Dolly’s Daily Diary was a recipient of the award and she was nominated by Ray and outlined the rules for the award in her “acceptance” post:

Uber (synonym to Super) Amazing Blog Award is a blog award given to sites who:~ inspires you~ makes you smile and laugh~ or maybe gives amazing information~ a great read~ has an amazing design~ and any other reasons you can think of that makes them uber amazing!

The rules of this award are:

  • Put the logo on your blog or post.
  • Nominate at least 5 blogs(can be more) that for you are Uber Amazing!
  • Let them know that they have received this Uber Amazing award by commenting on their blog.
  • Share the love and link to this post and to the person you received your award from.

If you don’t post awards on your site, that is ok. I just wanted to let you know I like your blogs all for different reasons. Keep up the good work!

This type of “tag, you’re it” is also known as a Blog Meme.

Some people may call blog memes “silly”, but it’s often a great way to connect with other bloggers and let them know that you’re paying attention to their blog.

I once had a client who was tagged for a Blog Meme – and he didn’t know what to do.  That’s why, if you decide to start your own “award” be sure to do as Jade did and make part of the “rules” posting exactly how to “play” the game!

Blog Traffic Boost Tip: Find a Mortal Enemy

It’s a weird one, but it’s true.  Boost your blog traffic by finding a mortal enemy- preferably one with a blog a LOT more popular than yours.  If you can become a target of a more successful blogger, you can find yourself the “lucky” recipient of some GREAT free PR for your blog.

In the blog post Someone Hates You Online. Try Not To Be Offended, the editors of the Deadspin blog detail their rise to popularity… at the hands of an online mortal enemy.  From their blog:

So when we finally launched Deadspin, we sent an announcement email blast — as you all know, it’s scary trying to launch a new site; you never know if anyone will be reading — and CSTB was one of the many sites to give us some much-needed links. Though his was decidedly less positive; it included the tag “Will Leitch Sucks.”

We emailed him, in our signature plucky Midwestern way, to say hello, and he then posted the email and mocked us. And then we were off. Over the next year, he’d pretty much hammer us every day — including, in our favorite touches, post our phone number and encourage homeless people to masturbate to pictures of our girlfriend. (We’re having trouble locating that post right now.) He slowed down in recent years, but you can read the whole “Will Leitch Sucks” tag right here.

They’re not the only ones to get traffic thanks to a hate tirade on a popular blog.  I found Caroline Middlebrook’s blog because of a BLAST from a popular blog which I stumbled upon who was lambasting her in a video post.  What’s odd is I don’t remember the guy who was unleashing his hatred upon Caroline as much as I remembered Caroline’s blog.  (I subscribed to her RSS feed and not his.)

So as odd as it may seem, an enemy or two is probably a GOOD thing for your blog.  After all, what would Superman be without Lex Luther… or Batman without the Joker.  They’d be guys in tights defending their sexuality… THAT’S what they’d be without their mortal enemies!