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Crawl before you walk: 6 Step-by-step Instructions for Starting your First Blog

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.

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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.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Improtant to know your target audience and give them want they want or searching for in your writings.

    Matthew
    http://twitter.com/MatthewSM1

  2. Improtant to know your target audience and give them what they want or searching for in your writings.

    Matthew
    http://twitter.com/MatthewSM1

  3. I like following these steps because they are simple, not complex, and they also apply for a NEW blog, not just your first blog.

    Thanks!

  4. Really interesting article! Very useful, I have started my little blog too about a week ago.

  5. I wouldn’t recommend using your blog title as your name when commenting on other peoples blogs, it just screams out “I’m only commenting to get my URL seen”.

  6. I wouldn’t recommend using your blog title as your name when commenting on blogs, it screams “I’m only commenting to get my URL seen”.

  7. Great article! Simple steps that work..

    Thanks!

  8. I like this, but I have to say that number 5 I have a problem with.

    “Comment on other blogs (use your blog title as your name)”

    I have found many users (including remarkablogger) who do not like this. You may get away with using your Blog name and not your real name once or twice, but normally they will be discarded.

    I think my name is more important than my blog title, so I will always use my name. I am fighting for the number one spot…

  9. Re. “(use your blog title as your name)”:

    I think if you left comments as “Problem Solver Blog”, that just looks spammy; if you left them as “Aileen the Problem Solver”, or similar, that gets your blog name out there but still looks like you’re a real human being.

  10. I ran into the problem of over-reading before I started my blog. I wanted to know “everything I needed to be successful” before I got started. While I do feel that I have a good groundwork laid, I still had to jump in and actually start working. Posts had to be written, a theme chosen and edited, and everything else set up.

    Once I actually got started, everything seemed to move fast. I knew much more than I needed, which cluttered up my thinking at times.
    Learn the basics, which is probably quickest by just doing it, and progress from there.

  11. Some great tips. I started my blog 8 months ago and did it totally the wrong way. I did no research, heck I didn’t even know what SEO was when I started blogging!

    I think the number 1 rule is still to blog about a topic your interested in.

    Commenting on other blogs is a great way of “getting to know” the community.

  12. good advice. i’m gonna use it. thanks

  13. Great information! This would be useful to anyone wanting to start their own blog.

  14. Patience is a big part. And commenting on other people’s blogs. It seems slow, but developing a real relationship with other bloggers will net you more traffic. You can’t just leave one comment and never come back!

    Also, over time, you’ll notice your traffic just improves with age, even if you aren’t doing a lot to promote it.

    @accountingelf

  15. Excellent tips simple yet very useful for anyone building a blog from scratch

  16. I agree with all of your tips, except using your blog as your name. But I think that the most important tip should be to just do it. You’ll learn so much more by getting out there than all the planning combined. Then start tweaking it on a continuous basis.

  17. I went to your blog. It is great. I was interested and read some of your articles.

    This is great advice. My sister and I both blog. We have had different approaches. She has to have everything in place and perfect before starting…this has cost time and money. I, on the other hand I’ve done what your have suggested in #3 and it has worked for me.

    I always use my name when commenting. I will be found by others if I make my comments valid and helpful.

    I also use my name so that I am branding me.

    Thank you,
    Sheila

  18. Excellent article, and I like the others disagree with using your site name as your name. I have read that many, many sites do not like this idea of advertising your site. I always use my real name with the comments I make, and have found that google will still give incoming links to my site for this, not that it helps. None the less, great advice on blogging.
    Dan

  19. JoAnne says: 01/25/2009 at 2:46 am

    Thanks for the tips. I’m toying with the idea of starting a blog, and your recommendations are helping me decide if I really want to

  20. I am going to agree with others about using my blog name as my comment name. I am fairly new to the blogging world and when I see comments by a blog name, it strikes me as desperation. I know it has a history in the blogosphere, it is part of establishing a brand, and there are people like Darren who can sign Problogger and everyone knows him. But they are the exception.

    And if someone signs a comment on my blog using their blog name, I will check very carefully before I allow the comment.

  21. Small correction: John Hinckley, Jr. shot former US President Ronald Reagan, reportedly to impress Jodie Foster.

  22. Proofreading and fact-checking are vital parts of successful blogging. For example, John Hinckley didn’t shoot Jodie Foster. He shot Ronald Reagan.

  23. Excellent post. This post could not have come at a better time! We have just recently launched our blog as well, and I find this post extremely relevant. We will definitely keep #6 in mind as time goes along.

    We will be incorporating some of the tips you mentioned.

  24. Some great tips there, #6 is the most important.

  25. I know that you are speaking primarily to first time/new bloggers; but I think that this is excellent for every time you start a new blog even if you have made some before.

    Sometimes, when I have learned more “stuff”, I feel cockier and forget to start with the basic first steps. Then other times, when I have learned too much “stuff”, I get paralyzed and forget to go back to those first steps.

    As always, you have such good advice and step by steps for all of us, whether new or experienced. Thank you.

  26. The fifth point you mentioned there, use my blog name as my comment posting name. However, I used to get feedback from other reader to recommend me use my name instead of blog’s name. So I was wondering if using blog name confuses others?

  27. Ooopp!!!! I started at step 3. Maybe that’s why I only earned 48 cents in 2008 (I’m hoping to get a piece of the bailout, however). Thanks for the advice for all of the new bloggers.

    Troy
    http://www.dabbyag.com
    Mission to eradicate stupidity

  28. patience is everything in blogging.

  29. Great tips, thanks.
    I hear you arshad, and you’re right.

  30. Keep schooling noobs, like me :D

    Best regards,
    Steven
    http://sites.google.com/site/cashcrateaff/

  31. @Dabbygag – a blogger bailout, that’s what we really need ;-)

  32. good stuff man… i have to admit ive been so concerned with getting viewers and visitors to my site, that I have sort of forgot that my blog has only been around for a few weeks. I just have to keep writing…

    http://www.thebracketbusters.com

  33. haha… interesting choice of picture

  34. Nice Post…

    Step #1. Be Patient
    Step # 2. Be Patient
    Step #3. Be Patient

  35. Thats correct! If you try to do all of this at the same time it just wont work. Blogging takes a huge amount of time in the begginng. These are the steps you should follow!

  36. Wow–that is exactly the message I needed to get today. Thank you.

  37. Thank you! Although I knew most of the things you posted here this post still helped me a little to get my new blog, http://www.niksiv.com, up and running.

  38. How about sum up into 3 steps

    Step 1: Have a Plan
    Step 2: Carry it out
    Step 3: Stick to it!

    Step 4? Stick to step 3

  39. Thank you for posting this article for newbies. Great advice. Keeping it simple will be my focus for now.

  40. Great list! Those are great tips for beginners who are just starting their blogs.

    That’s pretty much what I did and it’s working pretty well for me.

    And also for all the beginners make sure you write about something you really enjoy otherwise it probably won’t work.

  41. I don’t understand what you mean by this:
    “Make sure you have your feed/subscribe information prominent on each page and after each post (feedburner’s feedflare can do it easily)
    I use blogger. I do have their subscribe set up.
    If you don’t want to take the time to explain this, perhaps you could provide a link.
    I don’t know what feedburner is.

  42. Thanks for getting back to the basics. Very helpful.

  43. That’s a nice artikel..like me, iam allways attract the visitor using my user name

  44. good advice. i’m gonna use it. thank you!

  45. the key to be successful blog

    Write blog regularly with useful contents. And the traffic will comes

  46. The post has come in the right time for a ‘starter’ blogger like me. Thanks a lot for helping me focus on the right things. Really appreciate.

  47. I wish I had read this article or one like this when I started.
    When I began blogging, I hadn’t even read a blog before!
    I just thought it might be fun and a good way to make money …
    Well, now reality has set in and I realize that you MUST do you homework!
    Even though I started March 08, my unofficial start date would have to be September … not doing my work ahead of time put me behind that much.

  48. This is a great post for new bloggers. I think you’ve laid out a lot of the fundamentals that take a lot of time to figure out on your own! Great job :)

    I’m gonna be nit-picky for a second, because accuracy is very important in any sort of writing, whether for CNN or for a blog.

    “…remember John Hinckley, Jr. shot Jodie Foster to become famous.”

    John Hinkley tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan, then the President of the United States, in order to get Jodie Foster’s attention.

    And not being snarky, this is something you didn’t really cover in your advice to new bloggers that I believe is more important than most anything else. If you’re going to state something, please, please, research your facts and make sure you’re actually correct. Because it doesn’t matter how wide-spread the word about your blog, or how much time and effort you put into SEO, if you don’t have accurate information in your blog, no one is going to take you seriously.

    Best wishes!
    VG

  49. Great article. I’ve been stuck in gadget mode before. It is non-productive for sure.

    One thing-

    …remember John Hinckley, Jr. shot Jodie Foster to become famous.

    He shot who?

  50. Thank you very much for this article :-)

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