UPDATE: Check out our new post – How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps.
If you’re starting out in blogging for the first time it is easy to get ahead of yourself. In this post Aileen Journey from the Problem Solver Blog shares some tips on getting going with your new blog.
Image by candrews
Many new bloggers read everything possible on successful blogs. There’s so much information out there, in fact sometimes it’s way too much information. I find that my blog is not necessarily far enough long to take advantage of all the information. What happens sometimes is that beginning bloggers start to feel overwhelmed and like they’ll never be able to do what’s necessary to have a successful blog. I am a new blogger. I have started and run a variety of other businesses like a retail store and an online store, but the blogosphere is new to me
I went the traditional business route and got my MBA in 1996. The world has changed quickly since then. I’ve been blogging for just over 6 months, but started my only currently running blog at the beginning of December 2008. I only “discovered” blogs about 8 months ago, previously thinking they were all personal journals. The way I see them now is that they are mini-magazines, some more mini than others. They allow people to pinpoint their exact interests and just read the information that they’re interested in.
One: Consider your reason for blogging.
Go further than to “make money” or “become famous.” Those are perfectly good reasons for blogging, but what about them are what you want. What in particular do you want to become famous for, remember John Hinckley, Jr. shot Jodie Foster to become famous. I want to be known as an expert in my field of helping people figure out how to get what they want, personally, with their children and in their relationships. As for making money, are you thinking of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous or are you thinking about enough extra money to go out to eat regularly? What about other motivations? Are you trying to convey some point of view or opinion, do you want people to pay attention to some issues, do you want people to support you in some situation? Every time you consider using a new idea you’ve read about online for successful blogs go back and see if it fits in with your goal. Will it help you get where you want or would it really be better on another kind of blog? Remember, a blog that earns money is a business. All businesses need specific goals or mission statements.
Two: Do your research.
Go through AdWords Keyword Tool or Worktracker and find which phrases and words within your topic are the highest searched and the least used by others. Make a list of them in order. Make sure you only search for terms related to your topic. People arriving at your site from unrelated words will make them annoyed, not ready to subscribe. Use one of the terms you found to use as the title of your site and perhaps as titles for your categories.
Three: Put together a basic blog.
It’s great to try to get every single cool widget and plug-in on your site as the big sites have, but start with the basics. Make sure you have your feed/subscribe information prominent on each page and after each post (feedburner’s feedflare can do it easily), put together an About page. Then choose a theme, set up some categories out of the terms you found through your research, make sure your RSS is working and that’s the basics of what you need to begin with. Down the line you can add more features. Don’t try to do everything at once.
Four: Start writing posts for each of your beginning categories so there’s something for people to find when they arrive at your site.
Don’t worry about making these brilliant. Write them up quickly in rough draft then go over them and edit them. Run spell-checker and grammar checker. Don’t let posts full of mistakes be posted, but don’t try to write it in perfect verse or anything.
Fifth: Get out there!
If you’ve used your research from step two then you can relax about search engines for now. They’ll find you when they find you. Immediately, though, you can get your own site out there. Comment on other blogs (use your blog title as your name), send guest posts to the blogs that you like and read regularly, and use whatever social networking sites you already use to tell others about your new blog.
Sixth: Be patient and keep it up.
This is not my first business and not even my first online business. Things take time. Try to look at your blog every day and see what might need a little tweak. If you can find some truly computer-incompetent people, ask them to look over your blog and figure out how to subscribe. If they can’t do it then ask them what might help them. When everything else is in place, choose the kind of monetizing option you want, AdSense, affiliate marketing, advertisers, etc. and start working on setting those up. No matter what you choose, it won’t do much until your blog has some kind of traction. Keep working on improving and enjoying the writing on your blog while you work to get it to take hold.
Blogging as a business is hard, as any business is. Don’t discount your efforts just because you haven’t made it to the big time in a few months. Instead of getting overwhelmed trying to perfect every piece of your blog business, do the basics to start with and build on it from there.
Aileen Journey writes and manages the Problem Solver Blog as well as writing books, teaching college online and problem solving life with three children.