If you're not yet sure about whether you want to start blogging, read Passion is why you should start and maintain a blog.
For those of you who are sure, it's time to start your blog. But how?
You don't know the first thing about how to start a blog, you just know what you want to. You'll do the research, but where do you even start?
Good news, this is the low-down you need. It will not be the most comprehensive instruction, however. This is a breakdown of the basics to get you going. "How to start a blog" is really how to understand "blogging" enough to make your own, context-driven research.
What is a blog?
At its most simple, blogging is a diary or journal you write specifically to share with other people. If created for the sake of just sharing your experiences, you can talk about anything you like, but unless you're a stunning woman showing constant photos of yourself half dressed or a rich guy who wanders the world in his yacht, you won't like generate many followers.
A blog with an effective reach is mostly likely to address a specific niche topic, such as a blog on the vegan lifestyle, becoming an outdoorsman, biased political commentary or something that, at its core:
- Engages a reader's interest through well crafted content
- Provides valuable content that enhances reader's lives, even if only by entertaining
- Addresses a specific niche or topic
- Tone remains consistent enough to trust, variable enough to inspire
- The personality flavors, but doesn't overwhelm content
- Posts are made on a regular, trustworthy pace
What's described above is consummate with describing a good meal. While qualities might be universal, how you prepare, cook and present your meal will be as different as you are. You only need to present your content with the same consistency anyone might want from a good cook.
What should I blog about?
What is a topic you love to talk about? The kind of topic you could talk about to complete strangers? The kind you would talk about while in the shower?
That's what you should blog about.
But what if others already blog about that?
My eternal answer to such a question is: Have you ever had a burger from McDonald's? How about Five Guys? Sonics? Five Guys? Home-made on the grill?
Everyone makes a burger differently, and most make them well. Some people don't like the Whopper but love Five Guys, and yet the ingredients are essentially the same.
People will look to your blog for YOUR TAKE on your particular topic. Your responsibility is researching, not how to blog BEST about your favorite subject, but how best to represent YOUR TAKE on your favorite subject. Keep that in mind as you research your topic: What is YOUR perspective? Let that dictate how you plan to present your content.
How do I make great content?
You must consistently prepare good content for your readers. What makes content good? Ask yourself what kind of information makes you want to stop and read a blog? They give value in every post, present it in an easy-to-understand way, possibly pepper in images, videos or instructions, and might even share other sites when what they find adds to the point of their post.
When you realize what makes content great for you-as-consumer, turn around and start doing that research and practice delivering it for others so they can enjoy it from you.
Part of this will require you finding the formula that fits your personality and tone. Whatever you choose, consistency will be important to build an audience.
How often do I need to post?
This one will offer you no satisfactory answer, because some bloggers micropost every few hours, while some put things out every other week. What should dictate this for you is, first, how often would you want fresh content as a consumer? Second, what is the subject material and how often might a reader want to get fresh content?
If you're making recipes, putting new ones out every day might overload your readers. They can't try new recipes every day and may stop following you if you outpace them. With cooking, once a week offers readers a chance to try, question and comment your post.
With your topic, what makes the most sense for you and your reader? A news or political blogger would post constantly, especially with politicians who might be active on social media. A car repair or tech blog should probably post a minimum of once a week.
As a safe starter, plan on once a week. This will give you time in the beginning to research one topic at a time, prepare your post and, most importantly, build your inner discipline to generate content.
The good news? The more you stick to your discipline, the more your subconscious will constantly generate new content ideas. I've generated more than 2,000 posts over the past ten years, and the more I do it, the more new ideas come to me without much effort, and the more resources I have due to previous research to generate that post quickly. You will to, IF you stick to it.
What kind of blogging software should I use?
"Alright, how does one even blog online? I hear about blogging, but where do people go to blog?"
I will write a post one day illustrating the basics of the internet (no kidding, starting a draft post right now so I can come back to it later, another blog hack for you), but today, I'll tell you that every website in the world is probably using one of less than a dozen of softwares. A few are designed specifically for blogging, and to get started, several of those are completely free.
Here are three of the biggest blogging softwares:
You could google any of these, visit the site, start a free account and blog, and post your first post within five minutes. You would have created your blog. Boom. Done.
However, you should do some research on your blog focus before you look at software. Get an idea what and how you want to talk about your passionate topic. When you have a clearer idea, then start your blog research.
You can even research things like: "Best software for cooking blog," or "best site for nature blog." Forums (websites where people talk about topics) are stock full of people asking questions you've wanted to ask, and tons of others give answers on what may or may not have worked for them. You don't have to know which forums to search, just use Google. It searches all the forums for you and gives you their content.
Your greatest skill in blogging, next to generating ideas, is researching the information as-necessary.
How much does blogging cost?
You could start a very successful blog and run it for the rest of your life without spending a dime from your wallet. However, it WILL COST YOU in time, effort and energy.
Now, most free blogging softwares offer various types of upgrades that you can pay for, such as hosting packages (you'll learn more about that as you research), having your own domain (i.e. www.myblog.com), plugins that enhance your content or share your data, or serves which run parts of the blog for you.
I recommend only that you plan on starting with a blog that costs nothing. Right now it's time to learn about posting, crafting, researching and familiarizing yourself with the finer features of websites and blogging in general. As you get to learn more about blogging, you'll understand better where you want to take your blog and what it will cost you.
For now, stick to the free accounts.
How much does a blogger make?
As a beginner, making money blogging shouldn't be a concern. That doesn't mean you might not find a way to make money in the next three months and change your life and you can quit your job. It's happened before, but usually be experts in their fields who already knew how to craft great content and needed only to learn the venue. If that's you, GREAT! Good luck! But chances are, you're like me when I started -- I just wanted to learn and experiment.
On the upper end, some bloggers do make lots of money, many make some money, but most make nothing more than a small notoriety among their readers. Find out if blogging is even for you on the long-term before you worry about earning anything. Check back with Royal Vagabond to find out ways you can make money with a blog.
Here's a simple bullet list you could follow:
- Choose your topic
- Develop a simple brand you would use to present info on that topic (Could be your name, could be something more organized Just pick a name and run with it, don't develop an entire branding scheme)
- Sign up for a blogging software
- Write a post
That's it. However, here's a few things you could expect.
- You will close/reopen your blog more than once
- You'll false start a few times as you get your topic and rhythm down
- You'll want to change your format a few times when you find someone who already does it how you want to
- You won't be an instant success
The last thought I will leave you with is that blogging on a topic you're passionate about should first start from your inborn desire to share this passion with others. Choose THAT as your topic, the focus of your blog, and it can carry you from the infancy of blogging into creating a dedicated readership and possibly monetize it. Ultimately, blog because you believe the topic helps others in some way, even if only making them small at cat videos. I don't believe you owe others or that they are the reason for our existence, but as social creatures, we don't blog so we can store up those posts for ourselves, we blog to share. So choose something you love to share more than anything else.
Get started today, and as always, JOURNEY WELL!