It a real challenge to get your own website going these days, especially when you’re clueless about the website ‘stuff’. Gone are the days of just creating some HTML pages, put in some graphics, and linking the pages around. These days you’ll be bombarded with so many acronyms and technologies you probably don’t even know where to start.
So what do you need to know if you’re planning to start a blog site?
Should I install and run my own blog or use a free hosted blog platform?
As you may know, there are plenty of good hosted blogging platforms available for you to sign up with. The most commonly known ones include blogger.com (which is run by Google), wordpress.com and many others.
Signing up with a hosted service is probably the easiest thing to do, and within minutes you can start writing your stuff. It’s absolutely free, and the platforms gives you a ton of options for you customize how your blog looks like. This is definitely the option to take if you’re new to blogging and you want to give it a try.
However, there are some plus points to running your own blog software, like WordPress. Foremost is the ability to customize it absolutely anyway you like it. On top of that, there’s a vast range of plug-ins you can use within WordPress, thanks to the large community of WordPress developers. Anything you are likely to think of, someone probably would have made it into a plug-in already. The catch here is that you need to have some idea about setting up your own domain, getting yourself a web hosting plan, and installing the software yourself. All this can be quite involved and full of frustrations if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
Should I have my own domain?
These days, it’s impossible to find any single dictionary worded domain names (without paying an exorbitant amount of money for it) , close to impossible for 2 worded names, and forget about getting anything obvious. So, if you happen to find a domain name that you like, I would recommend you just register for it, before it’s gone.
Having an internet domain is a way for you to personalize your site with a certain identity, if that will help you ‘market’ your site more easily then it’s worth the money getting one. If you have chosen to have your own web hosting environment, then this is likely to be a must.
Alternatively, if you’re signing to a hosted blog platform, they normally provide you with a sub-domain. Something like ask-about-php.blogspot.com, where blogspot.com is the domain and ‘ask-about-php’ part is the sub-domain. This is quite a common arrangement in the blog-o-sphere. All you have to do now is think of a cool, and easy to remember sub-domain name.
What should I write about?
If you are just setting up your own blog now, you have a real uphill challenge because any kind of subject matter you can think of, someone is already blogging about it. If you want your blog to be noticed, you need to bring something new to your chosen subject – so think about what you’re interested in, what you can write easily about, and what your perspective brings to the subject.
When you have decided on your subject(s), you should Google and find out who your competitors are, critique their blogs and work out what you can do better than them. Then do it!
How long does it take before my blog is noticed?
Never, if you don’t actively market your blog site. The only way to really get your blog noticed (without paying for ads) is to get it listed inside search engines, and to do that you need to have content, and you need to tell the search engines that you have content.
Ideally, you should beef up your site with at least 15-20 posts of sufficient length (about 3/4 of a A4 page) and quality before you go tell Google that you have content. And, try to promote individual blog posts that you think will have value to other bloggers so that they will link back to you.
Even after you have done this, you might still need to wait for a good 3-6 months before you start appearing inside Google listings. My advice here is not to worry about it – take that time to continue to post to your blog so that when you do get listed and visitors starts coming your way, your site will be full of interesting posts for them to read.
How do I make money from my blog?
There are a lot of ways of making money with your blog, but they don’t come easy. The simplest way is to display ads on your site. To do this, sign up with one of the many ad providers, like Google Adsense or Yahoo Ad Network, or anybody else. Place their ads within your site, and continue to write enticing content to increase your traffic. Hopefully you have enough volume of traffic that a very very tiny percentage of your visitors will click on the ads and help make you some money.
The last thing that new bloggers always forget is to measure the blog performance. I know most bloggers don’t really care about this kind of thing, but it’s one of the best way to track your blog’s success (or failure).
There are also plenty of web statistic providers out there, but the best (and free) one is Google Analytics. Get your site setup with it and watch it grow.