How to Start a Blog | The Essentials

STARTING A BLOG – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU BEGIN:

YOU WILL NEED TO HOST YOUR BLOG ON A SERVER:

hosting-for-a-blogEvery website, blog or ecommerce website is “hosted” on the internet.  What this means is that you sign up with a hosting company like bluehost.com, godaddy.com or hugehost.com and you pay them a very reasonable fee to host your website or blog on the internet.

They then store your website or blog on their servers and this is how your website can be viewed on the internet.

Most hosting packages cost between $100 to $150 for one or more URLS.  A URL is a web address like www.mybusinessname.com.  They advertise for $6.00 a month to as low as $3.00 a month.  The first year will be very inexpensive, but the follow up years will cost approximately $100 to $150 a year.

Some hosting companies, like bluehost.com, will allow you to have ‘sub-websites” that all host under the one hosting plan.  For example, your main website will be www.mybusinessname.com and you can also purchase a second url and assign it a directory file and it will be hosted under the same account.

Not to get too technical, by assigning a separate directory file, you can therefore have multiple websites or blogs under one hosting account.  Godaddy.com is very restrictive in this way, so if you plan to have more than one website, stay away from godaddy.

Deciding where you will host your website is the first step in the process of starting a website or blog.  Below, I will explain why.

YOU WILL NEED A URL/WEB ADDRESS:

http-graphicThe second step in the process is to decide on a relevant url.  Most of the great urls like business.com and recipes.com are already taken.  So you will have to be creative in getting a name for your website or blog.

Before you choose your url name, think about how people will ultimately find you.  If they are using a search engine, it will all be controlled by keywords or key phrases.  For example, if you have a fishing boat that gives tours, no one will find you if you name your business The Wind and the Sail.  However, if you name your business and website Daily Fishing Tours, that would be a much better choice.

If you will be blogging about nutrition and dieting, you might like the name Reductive Eating but a better choice would be something like dietsthatwork.com, or nutritiousdieting.com.  Always try to think what a person would be typing in the Google search box if they were looking for what you are blogging about or what your website is specializing in.

DON’T JUMP THE GUN WITH YOUR WEB URL NAME:

Most of my web design clients show up with their web address.  It is usually something that has not taken keyword searching into account and they have a web address but not a hosting account (because they didn’t’ realize they needed one!) and then we need to transfer the url to another web host or they lose out on the free url when you sign up for hosting.  So remember to get your hosting first and most times you get a free url as part of that package.

If you are planning to have a professional web designer help you, wait until you meet with your designer so you can sign up for the most economical package with them.  The hosting companies offer extras and additional options (all of which cost a certain amount of money every month) that you do not need.  Don’t underestimate how much you can get financially soaked by doing it yourself.  I had one client who paid over $300 for extras, none of which he needed.

YOU WILL NEED TO PREPARE INTRODUCTORY INFORMATION FOR THE FRONT PAGE:

about-me-graphicMost clients forget this part of the process.  You will need to create about me or about us content for your front page.  However, the front page is not the place for a full history or biography.  You want to note the most important or attention grabbing information about yourself.  Are you an expert in the area that you will be blogging about?  Do you have a very comical way of saying things?  Are you blog posts funny?  You will want to give your initial visitors a taste of who you are, not the full story.  The full story goes on your About page.

Every website or blog has an eye-catching, attention grabbing something-or-other on the front page.  Some like graphic sliders, others like a compelling high resolution photograph that portrays an atmosphere or mood, and still others will go to the trouble of getting a fully-branded logo done to give their blog a professional look right from the start.

Look around at other bloggers who have blogged their way to weather and fame and analyze how they chose to quickly present themselves on their front pages.  More on this below.  Take notes and compares styles that you like and also styles that you do not like.  The more you know what you like and don’t like, the better your website designer will be able to hit the nail on the head.

MAKE IT EASIER: FIND ANOTHER BLOG THAT YOU LIKE AND USE IT AS A TEMPLATE:

The absolute easiest way to start a design idea for your blog is to find blogs that you already like.  Start by copying and pasting the urls of your favorite blogs into a word document or a notebook document.  Make a little note about what you like about that blog and also make notes about things you do not like.  All of this information is crucial to your web designer who doesn’t know you and has not idea as to where to begin.  It is best to start with what you like rather than what he or she will like.

Any web designer can take this list of information and come up with a great design that hits on all of your likes and stays away from things you don’t like.  You will be much more pleased with the overall design and style of the blog.

MAKE IT EASIER: DECIDE AHEAD OF TIME WHETHER YOU WILL USE GOOGLE ADSENSE ADS ON YOUR WEBSITE AND DECIDE WHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO PUT THEM:

Many blogs allow space for Google ads.  They sign up for Google AdSense and they can immediately begin to earn money for ads that are shown to their readership.  If you go to any of the big news websites, breitbart.com or cnn.com, you will see many AdSense ads that are fed into those areas through Google AdSense.

It is helpful to know ahead of time whether you want to participate in this program so your designer can design the website allowing spaces for these ads without taking away from the professional design of your web blog or website.

MAKE IT EASIER: DECIDE HOW YOU WILL PRESENT YOUR BLOG ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

Will you be advertising your blog on Facebook?  Will you be posting links on a Facebook Group?  Are you going to sign up for and Google AdWords pay-per-click ads?  If you plan to do marketing, it is best to know ahead of time how this will work because there are ways to build marketing strategies into your blog or website right from the get-go.

IN SUMMARY:

  1. Choose a hosting company first.
  2. Choose a relevant, keyword-related url for your website or blog.
  3. Gather all introduction information for your About page
  4. Find one to five website examples with notes on what you like and don’t like.
  5. Decide whether you will want to add Google AdSense ads to your website. If so, open an account at adsense.google.com.  Record your account number.
  6. Choose an accompanying social media platform to help drive traffic to your website or blog (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)

This list will prepare you to either begin the process of building your own blog or preparing yourself to meet with a website or blog designer.

For more how-to articles and web design packages, visit www.deerfieldwebdesigner.com