Seems these days, everyone knows someone who’s blogging. Whether it’s for fun or for profit, people are blogging. In my previous post, “To Blog or NOT to Blog. That is the Question”, I geared the discussion towards people who want to make money either directly with a blog or by driving traffic to an existing website (presumably where you’re trying to make money promoting a product or service).
Blogging is definitely a great way to promote a product or service and it absolutely has a place as part of an online-marketing strategy but not everyone who blogs is going to be successful monetizing their blog. Making extra cash is always nice but what if it’s not your primary focus right now? Maybe you already have a full-time schedule with school, family and/or work but you still think a blog could be fun. Maybe you’ve recently been down-sized (or fear you’re about to be) and you want to do something online but you’re not sure exactly what. Blogging could be perfect for you. It would add one more skill to your repertoire, you could make new online friends and you could just have fun with it.
Here are three tips to help you formulate some sort of a plan/roadmap to starting a blog. (Roadmaps can be helpful to eliminate speed-bumps and detours down the road.)
Tip #1 – What’s your Passion?
Well, if you’re going to blog and you have any hopes of sticking with it, you probably should pick something that you know a little about or at least enjoy. People blog about all sorts of things ranging from family, humor and politics – to specific people, places or things. It certainly never hurts to write about something that you have a passion about. Maybe you’re passionate about going-green or you have great tips on supporting a family in a down-economy. Bottom line is that blogging is a commitment. The Internet doesn’t need any more abandoned blogs! If you are curious at all about what sorts of blogs are out there, take a spin by Technorati and see what the buzz is about.
Tip #2 – Free Blogging or Self-Hosting ?
Free is tempting. Free often works but in the long-run, free sometimes does end up costing. There are plenty of opportunities out there to host a blog for free. Blogger.com (owned by Google) is one option. WordPress.com (not to be confused with WordPress.org – the open-source effort behind the WordPress software) is another. Basically, you’re hosting for free under their domain name not yours which means that instead of promoting your brand – you’re promoting theirs. An option to seriously consider is to “self-host” your blog
So, what does it mean to self-host your blog? Well basically, you need 3 things:
- A Domain Name: (Figure on spending about $12 a year for a dot-com domain name, including the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) fee.
- A Website Hosting Plan: (Beware of free hosting and really low-cost plans. Expect to spend $5 to $9 a month depending on your needs. You may want to read “Is Website Hosting More than Just a Server?” before selecting a hosting vendor.)
- Blogging Software: (WordPress open-source software is a good choice. Hosting your blog with a vendor that specializes in WordPress should make the installation easy. If they have good customer support and a forum, you would also have an additional support system. BTW – In case you didn’t already know, open-source software is free to use.)
Tip #3 – Why Not Start Now?
Making decisions like using free blog hosting, self-hosting and even which hosting vendor to go with should not be taken lightly. Yes, you can always move your blog but instead of paying now… you may end up paying later. And the cost of your time, aggravation and possibly lost-opportunities may be worth more than the (relatively) minimal investment now. Just something to think about! Free blogging is definitely an option especially if budget is a deciding factor. Whatever you decide, try to not let “analysis-paralysis” get in the way of starting today. 🙂
As always…. please feel free to offer your thoughts, ideas and experiences. Your two-cents is worth a lot more these days!