If you’re wondering how to start blogging, here’s a quick primer to getting your blog up and running in 8 easy steps. We also just published a new ebook, Blogging Isn’t Dead: Discovering (or Rediscovering) the Power of Blogging for more blogging tips and strategies.
1. Technical Setup: Why WordPress?
First and foremost, you need a place to blog. There are a lot of simple, out-of-the-box solutions that work well, like Tumblr or Blogger. You can even use WordPress.com for a hosted blogging platform. With these platforms, you can be up and running in minutes and you don’t have to do any of the technical work.
But one of the major benefits of blogging is that you own it. But that’s not quite true if you’re using a hosted blogging platform. You may own the words you’re writing, but Tumblr (now owned by Yahoo) and Blogger (owned by Google) have control over your platform.
There are lots of resources to walk you through it, including video tutorials and our Getting Started With WordPress ebook. If that sounds overwhelming, you can find hosts that will do all the setup for you while you still retain some control.
2. Start Writing Your Blog Posts
Once you get a platform set up you’re ready to go. Start writing. Yes, it’s that simple. Certainly there are all kinds of other things you can set up. You probably want to pick a theme or add some custom design elements. Add your logo. Maybe set up your sidebar or write some About copy. But all that junk is extra. What really matters is writing your blog posts. So forget that other junk for now and start writing.
3. Define Your Goals & Strategy
It might seem smarter to talk goals and strategy before you start writing. But that’d be wrong. There’s an immediacy to blogging. You don’t have to wait for the next issue to come out, you just hit publish and your thoughts are live for the world to read. That’s cool. Part of embracing that immediacy is just sitting down to write and seeing what comes out. So definitely write first.
But then you should come back and spend some serious time thinking about your goals and strategy. Hopefully you’ve already done some thinking on this, but now it’s time to get serious. Have a goal in mind, with strategy that flows from there. Create some objectives you’d like to hit and some tactics that will get you there.
Hopefully you’ve already thought about what kind of blog you’re going to have. You have a goal in mind, whether you’re sharing ideas or building a brand. Your strategy and tactics should flow out of that.
4. Keep Blogging
Get back to writing. Your blog is all about the content, so you need to create more.
5. Other Junk
Now would be a good time to come back to all that other junk we said to skip so you could start writing.
We’re lumping this together as “junk,” but it’s important stuff:
- Design – Spend some time on your site’s look. You don’t want to get lost in the weeds here, but do make sure you have a professional look.
- About – Make sure you add some basic about information to answer standard questions. Explain who you are and why you’re qualified to blog. Give people a personality to connect to. You don’t have to share all your secrets, but don’t hide behind anonymity.
- Subscriptions – Set up all your subscription options, whether it’s email, RSS or social media. Give people a way to stay connected once they find your blog.
- Extras – Add those extra elements, whether it’s a plug for your book in your sidebar, a link to Amazon for a little referral income, a page detailing your services or whatever it is you need. While some of this might be secondary to your blog, it might be pretty crucial to reaching your goals.
- Prepare – Spend some time setting things up behind the scenes to pave the way for success. Come up with a schedule and plan to post consistently. Brainstorm a list of topics. Start drafting policies for comments, guest posts and more.
6. More Writing
Time to do some more blogging.
It’s time to tell the world. Unless you’re planning a private library or insider-only history, you probably want lots and lots of people to read your blog. So it’s time to spread the word. You’ll need tomake an effort to get the word out and then let your words speak for themselves. Write good content consistently and people will come.
You’ll want to use whatever other channels you have to spread the word. Send emails, post to Facebook, send a carrier pigeon, whatever works. Tell the world.
As you spread the word about your blog posts, remember to share something of value. Don’t just beg people to come read your latest post. Share insights, ask questions, invite people to a conversation.
8. Even More Writing
You guessed it: back to writing. Sensing a theme here? Getting started with a blog is really about sitting down to write. Not just once in a while or whenever the inspiration strikes. But all the time.
You should now have a posting schedule to follow and that should mean some scheduled writing time as well. If your blog is going to succeed you’ll need to be cranking out the quality content. So write, write and write some more.