How To Start a Blog – The First Three Steps

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I get asked this all the time “How Do I Start a blog?” The first question I ask back is “Do you Like to Write?” followed by “What Do you Want to Blog About?” Because that’s what blogging is, at it’s core, writing…writing about something you are passionate about.

Setting up a blog is not hard, but it does take a bit of learning…using blogging software, uploading photos etc. Again, it’s not hard, you don’t have to learn HTML code or anything like that, but you have to love writing about your topic enough to learn a few new things, like buying a domain name, setting up WordPress and learning how to use the software to write a post. Or you have to love it enough to hire someone to do the slightly geeky stuff for you and teach you how the WordPress blogging software works.

That may have sounded intimidating, but there are so many sites out there with free info on how to set up your WordPress blog on your own domain name, that it is really easy to learn. Really it is! Also, if you go with a WordPress-friendly website hosting company like Bluehost.com or Godaddy.com, they can walk you through the geeky process of getting your domain name, hosting account (this is where your blogging files live on the internet) and setting up your WordPress software.

The Real Answer to How To Start a Blog is That it Starts with your Idea

What topic are you interested enough in to be motivated enough to learn this new stuff. What topic fascinates you, resonates with you, do you spend your spare time exploring, or talking about at parties or networking events? That’s where starting a blog begins…with your idea. Topics that you want to connect with other people about are another starting place for a blog. Is there a “social good” cause you want to highlight, or a disease that has affected your family that you want to talk about, are you an artist who wants to get their work out there, or a busy stay at home mom who wants to connect with other moms, or are you a small business owner who wants to connect with your customers in a more meaningful way?

Focusing your Blogging Topic and Identifying your Audience are Steps Two and Three

There are two main schools of thought about blogging – find a niche topic and delve deeply into it, or find one aspect of a broader topic and explore that. For example if you love black labs, that might be a niche topic – where you blog about all aspects of this type of dog, collect stories and connect with owners and want to be owners. One aspect of a larger topic, if your black lab is a search and rescue dog, or you want to do that work, might be to blog about all things search and rescue dog, regardless of dog breed.

You want to select a topic that is deep enough that you can find an audience to connect with your words, but broad enough that won’t run out of things to write about in 6 months, and that will keep your interest over time. At the same time you don’t want your blog topic to be so broad that you and your readers lose interest. Find one that hits that sweet spot that will keep both you, and your audience coming back for more over time. 50% of blogs are abandoned within the first year. To make sure you are not a part of that statistic, it is worth spending a bit of time at the start, brainstorming your blogging idea.

How to Start a Blog – Refining your Topic Exercise:

  • Select a topic you are interested in
  • Brainstorm 5-15 aspect of that topic that you could write about
  • Pick three that a) appeal to you B) you think are large enough to write about over time
  • Step back and think about your potential readers. Who would want to read about these three topics? Really picture the type of people who would want to read each idea. Let this guide you to the first topic to try out.
    • Ignore the editor within who might want to snear, “no one would read your writing.” That’s just the resistance that many writers have to deal with rearing it’s ugly head. Laugh at it, make faces, give it no power and it will get bored and go away.
    • Refocus back on that ideal reader or group of readers…and that first topic idea. Balance their needs, interests and questions with the information you have, or that you will have fun researching and writing about.
  • Brainstorm 10 – 15 blog post ideas on that aspect of your topic that they would want to read about.
  • Select a second aspect of your topic and repeat the audience and blog post ideas exercise
  • Select a third topic and repeat again.

The topic that was easiest to finish, that got you excited, and where you could best imagine your ideal audience just might be your sweet spot of a blogging idea. You are on your way to starting a blog, The next step is choosing a domain name…but that’s fodder for another post.

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How Do I Find a Blog?

Woman reading a blog on computerShan, a reader, asked “How do you find blogs to read, is there  someplace that lists them by topic?” This post is a longer version of my answer to that question. They liked my first post explaining what blogs are (I used the analogy of a newspaper column or a magazine columnist). So I wrote a quick answer in the comments, then am expanding it here – figuring that she is not the only one with the question: how do I find blogs of interest to me. There are several ways to find a list of blogs on topics of interest: Continue reading
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What is Blogging and Why Should You Do It?

what is a blog - keyboard with ? mark in redThis post idea on what is blogging and why started when I was talking with a local business owner after having purchased their services. Sometimes marketers forget that the process and language and ideas about blogging that we live and breath daily, are new concepts to hundreds and thousands of people.

So What is a Blog? Click below to read more Continue reading

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Why Do We Blog?

Why do We blog - motorcycle vanity license plate "WHY"I’m curious to discover why DO we blog? Why are 1.44 million of us sitting at computers typing 500 to 1500 words on average, in hopes that someone else will sit at a computer and read them. We further hope that people will leave a comment; share our work with their networks, friends and connections; or take some other action on our site. Please let me know your main and secondary reasons for blogging in the comments; I know they can be complicated and inter-related. I’d love to hear your answers below. Continue reading

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Round Up – How to Guest Post

How to Blog - the word how with who, what, when whereWant to write a good guest blog post? Here are my tips and a round up of my favorite articles on the topic, which came up during #BlogChat. This post is in response to a question from @GeekBabe on the chat run by @MackCollier, a weekly discussion Sunday nights on Twitter about blogging.

Why should I write a guest blog post?

The beginning blogger might ask that question- why give my good content away on someone else’s site? … Continue reading

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Checklist – Revamp Your Small Business Blog

Use checklist to go from ideas to success with your blog

Use checklist to move from ideas to blog success

Give this checklist a try if you think your business blog needs a revamp; it’ll help you get started reinventing your site. I’ve broken the checklist down: look and feel and content items. There is not a right or wrong answer, and you don’t have to implement changes all at once…but put yourself in your reader’s shoes (or fingertips) and balance what they want with what business goals you want to achieve:

Look and Feel:

  • Look at your header and tagline – Do they present your site as you’d like? Is it too big, small; the right colors, words images; to busy or too boring? Does it match your current offline business branding (business cards, logo etc)? Continue reading
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An Answer to What is a Blog Anyway?

A Blog is Like A Magazine or Newspaper Column

waht is a blog - character with question mark in hand standing on laptop keyboardDo you get asked, “What is a blog anyway?” I found a new answer to that question (it should work especially well for those over age 30 or so). A blogger is like a magazine or newspaper columnist, and a blog is kind of like a newspaper or magazine column, but on the Internet, instead of a hard copy publication. Instead of having to convince an editor or publication to publish their column, a blogger (i.e.columnist) can put up their own blog online for anyone to read (i.e a column). Like columns – blogs are usually a mix of opinion and facts/useful information. Continue reading

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Building Better Writing Habits

Green Question mark kay on keyboard blogging ideasDo you sometimes have trouble sitting down and writing a blog post? I do too – so I thought I’d share some tips on building better writing habits with you. I am currently involved in a free beta test of a one month group coaching program called Habit Builders by Rachel founder of www.pronagger.com (@Pronagger on Twitter). Rachel is testing her program free on 11 of us Guniea pigs, so far – so good – I’m writing and posting! Continue reading

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What is the Why Do We Blog Project?

Woman with laptop outdoors at sunsetHello, I’m Cathy Larkin and this site – Why Do We Blog – is just the initial foray into an exciting new online project – On this site, I’ll be exploring, through interviews, why so many people sit at a computer and reach out across the internet – through the medium of written words – to find others who want to sit at another computer and read what they wrote, and sometimes to then interact (via comments or posting on social networking sites) – again through an exchange of written words.

Here are two blog posts by others to get you thinking about this subject:

  • Blogger Jeff Bullas recently surveyed almost 400 bloggers asking  Why Do You Blog? Here is his post with the results: http://www.jeffbullas.com/2010/06/07/11-reasons-why-people-blog/
  • Autumn Morris of Ignite.com wrote a post noting that: “BlogPulse reports that 144,275,043 blogs currently live on the web with 57,472 new blogs created in the last 24 hours.” While she notes that not all of those 1.4 million blogs are active, it confirmed my thinking – that a lot of us are doing it – and why is it that so many people are sitting down and typing a way in a room of their own and connecting to something larger via this thing we call the internet, and these tools we call smart phones? Her full post is here: http://www.ignitesocialmedia.com/2010-blogging-trends-blog-growth-statistics/

I’ve always been fascinated by people, and this site is also inspired in part by Studs Terkel’s book “Working: What People Do All Day and How They Feel About It” and by the interviews of Terry Gross, the host of NPR/WHYY radio’s Fresh Air.

 

This site will also have information on how to blog – both beginner and advanced.

 

For more about who I am and about this site – check the about us page as well. You can also find me at my main blog WebSavvyPR.com and on Twitter at @CathyWebSavvyPR and @WhyDoWeBlog.

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