What a Blog Is and How to Start One[Screenshot of a blog]
Blogging is something that a lot of individuals and companies are turning to because it’s a low-cost way to increase the viewership of a site and enhance user engagement. First things first however; we need to go over what a blog is before delving into the reasons for creating one.[blue info button icon]
What Is a Blog?
A blog is a regularly updated series of posts that’s usually presented in chronological order with the newest entries appearing at the top of the page. The majority of blog content is text, but the incorporation of relevant graphics, audio and videos is important too.
The first blogs appeared in 1997 when they were called “web logs.” Individual users started to write basically journal entries about their daily lives. While this is still a valid way of blogging, other formats have emerged. Today, people blog not just about personal matters but about their professional interests, hobbies, favorite sports teams and more. Companies blog about industry news, upcoming product releases, advice for potential buyers and really whatever lies within their corporate purview.[Image of The Thinker statue]
Besides a feeling of satisfaction derived from writing about your passions, there are other, more practical reasons to maintain a blog. If you have a website that you want to drive traffic toward, then timely blog posts can keep visitors coming back regularly. If you have an e-commerce storefront, then writing blog content that’s related to your inventory can drive sales. There are plenty of ways to monetize a blog although most of them require an initial period of growth first before they begin to bear fruit.
Many blogs have a comments section, allowing guests to share their thoughts, and this can be a fine way for businesses and private individuals alike to interact with their fans. Blogs are also useful for connecting with other bloggers in your field. It’s not uncommon for professionals to form reciprocal relationships and make guest posts on each other’s blogs, growing the stature and traffic numbers of both sites.[Icon of “Play” Button]
How to Begin Blogging
Before starting a blog, it’s critical that you define what niche you’ll occupy and the subjects you’ll cover. It’s a mistake to try to cater to everyone and everything because this will mean you’ll basically be competing with every other blog out these, and your chances of success will be minimal. Choose a field that you’re excited by and knowledgeable about so that blogging feels like an adventure rather than a chore.
After you’ve decided upon your area of specialization, it’s time to select a blogging platform. Blogger is a free site offered by Google, but it’s pretty limited, so most users will be better off with WordPress, which is free to use but incurs small fees for third-party hosting and domain name registration. I believe that WordPress represents the best price/performance ratio for most people, but you can read my Blogger vs. WordPress comparison page for more info on both pieces of software.[Image of a server or computer]
Web Hosting for Blogs
If you opt for WordPress, then you’ll need to find a web hosting service. For new bloggers, I recommend shared web hosting as the best balance between cost and functionality. The shared method of hosting websites has its limitations, but it’s quite inexpensive, and you can always upgrade to a more robust hosting solution later on if the popularity of your blog warrants it. You can read about the best shared web hosts in my roundup of the top five WordPress hosting companies.
Overall, I find InMotion Hosting to be the superior choice, but the ultimate determination will depend on your own needs and budget. I’ve arranged an exclusive deal with InMotion to give my readers 56% off the normal price of hosting. You can sign up by following this InMotion Hosting link. The advantages of InMotion include WordPress preinstalled for free by default and a special website builder called BoldGrid that runs atop WordPress and permits WYSIWYG editing.[Star or check mark]
Developing a Successful Blog
As you might imagine, there’s more to blogging than just putting your posts on the web and hoping they attract an audience. You’ll have to be proactive if you wish to garner a mass following. Understanding what your competitors are doing, engaging in keyword research and taking care of your website security are just a few of the things that you’ll have to pay attention to. You can read about these topics and more in my guide to achieving your blogging goals.
Perhaps the most vital component of an enviable blog is relevant, compelling content posted on a regular basis. Whether this involves posting once a day or once a week will depend on your target demographic, the amount of time you have available and the subject matter of your blog. It can be a challenge to frequently come up with unique material, but you can bring in outside help from a content creation service, like CrowdContent, when your creative gas tank appears to be running on empty.
Get Started in Blogging Today!
Blogging can be a fulfilling and profitable endeavor, but you’ll have to put some serious thought into it if you want to become anything other than a part-time amateur. Check out my six-step walkthrough on how to start a blog for further tips and instructions.