Monday, July 29, 2013

Your First Day Blogging

How to Start Blogging

How to start blogging
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Congratulations!  You've decided to become a blogger and are ready to start blogging.  What should you do next?  What should you do on your first day as a blogger?

Choose a Topic for your Blog

Your first order of business as a blogger should be to decide what topic to blog about.  The old advice "write what you know" applies to blogging as it does to other forms of writing.  Make a list of your hobbies and interests.  Consider what you like to read about.  What topics are you considered an expert at?  It shouldn't take long to come up with 2 or 3 topics.

Being an expert is not a requirement if you are willing to do research and learn as you go.  If there is a topic that you are interest in learning about, that would probably make a fine topic for your blog.  If you  pick a topic that you already know about, it will be easier to write about.

Your topic can be very specific, in fact this works well for many blogs.  The term "niche blog" refers to a blog with a very specific focus.  Since your audience is everyone in the world, you can still draw enough of an audience to have a successful blog even with a very specific topic.  Plus choosing a very specific topic will eliminate a lot of your competition- there will be few other blogs about the same topic as yours.

Blogs work best if they are focused on a single topic.  If someone were to ask you "What is your blog about?", you should be able to give a simple answer.  If the answer is something along the lines of "whatever I feel like writing about" then you should probably refine the scope of your blog more.  Having a focused topic for your blog will help you in the search engine results.  Especially since the Panda updates, Google rewards blogs that are focused on a topic by ranking them higher in search results- this means more traffic and more revenue if you have a focused topic.

What if you want to write about lots of topics?  I would recommend having lots of blogs then.  But your task for your first day as a blogger is to pick a topic for your first blog.

Pro Blogging Tips- Choosing a Blog Topic

  • Choose a topic you know something about
  • Choose a topic you want to learn more about
  • Choose a topic to write about that excites you

Choose a Name for your Blog

After you have a list of a few promising topics and pick the topic of your blog, next choose a name for your blog.  The name of your blog should describe what it is about.  You will get more traffic from search engine results if the name of your blog contains some good key words.  For example, if your blog is about coffee, you'll want the word "coffee" in the name of your blog.

You'll want to pick out a few potential names for your blog.  Then try searching for these in Google to see if there are already blogs with similar names.  Keep your list handy- when you actually start your blog, you may need to work down your list if some of the best domain names are taken.  The domain name is the web address of your blog, which you want to contain the keywords for your blog.  

For example, I have a blog named "Coffee Maker Journal".  The domain name for this blog is "".  Notice that from both the blog name and the domain name, you can tell what the blog is about and it contains keywords.  You want the name of your blog to give search engines confidence that the material on your blog is relevant to what people are searching for.

If you will be hosting your blog on Blogger (which is free), you will get the "" included in your domain name.  In the example, "" is the domain name and "coffeemakerjournal" is the subdomain name.  If you go the Blogger route for free hosting, you will need to find a blogger subdomain that is available.  If you register a domain name, you can make your domain name any .com address that is available.  You can use a domain registration tool to see which domain names are available.

Pro Blogging Tips- Choosing a Name for your Blog
  • Your blog name should describe your blog topic
  • Your blog name should contain keywords people would use to find your topic in a Google search
  • Choose a blog name that is somewhat distinct from other blogs
  • Try to pick a blog name that has an available domain name to match the blog name

Business Plan for your Blog

Think of starting a blog as starting a business- because starting a blog is actually starting a business.  If you were starting a traditional business, you would write a business plan outlining:
  • How your business will operate
  • Expenses and operating costs your business will have
  • Revenue sources you will have
  • Your competition and how you will distinguish your business in your market
One of the main purposes of a traditional business plan is to help raise money to start a business- either from banks or from investors.  Fortunately, starting a blog is very inexpensive or even free.  So you can skip writing a formal business plan for your blog, but you should spend some time thinking about the elements of a business plan for your blog.  Here are some questions you should think about on your first day and develop answers at least in your own mind:

Q: Do you intend to make money with your blog, or is it just for fun?  
There are 2 major reasons that writers write: 1) to make money and 2) to have an audience of readers.  Which of these is important to you?

Q: Do you need to buy any equipment?  
Developing your blog, you'll need a computer, a place to work, and likely a digital camera (or cell phone with a camera).  You'll also need internet service, either at your home or you can work in a coffee shop with free WiFi.

Q: Are you willing to pay for a web domain and web hosting, or would you rather start off using free services?  
Since many people will try blogging and decide not to follow through with it, I recommend starting off with free services such as Blogger or starting your blog on a revenue sharing site that is free.  If you find you like blogging and want to grow after a few months, then move up to paid servces.
Q: How much time will you be able to commit to developing your blog?
One great thing about blogging is that you can spend as much or as little time as you want doing it.  If you want to develop you blog quickly, it will take a significant time commitment.

Find some Role Models

On your first day, you should do some research and find a couple blogs to use as role models.  Blogs are very individual creations- I am not suggesting you copy anything.  It helps to have goals, and finding a couple successful blogs to follow in your area of interest will help give you ideas and motivate you.  Sometimes just seeing that something is possible is more than half the battle.

You don't need to pick large successful blogs as your role models.  I like to follower new bloggers to watch how they progress.  Some bloggers have a burst of activity during the first few weeks, producing a lot of posts... and then they burn out.  Other bloggers can sustain their creativity and ultimately succeed.

Find a couple blogs that you would be proud to call your own, and start following them.  Read new posts, explore older posts and see how the blog developed over time.  Study the length of posts and frequency of posts to get ideas for your own blog.  Check out monetization methods used- advertising, affiliate programs.  What do you like (or not like) about the look and feel of the blogs?  Is it easy to read, or is the layout distracting.  Is the writing focused and interesting, or is it difficult to finish reading some of the posts?  Start picturing how you want your own blog to look and feel.

Launch your Blog

Tomorrow, you'll make it real.  You'll start your blog and publish your first post on your chosen topic.  The more you learn today on your first day, the easier it will be to launch your blog and write your first post on Day 2.  As you look at blogs in your topic area, start thinking in the back of your mind about the topic of your first post...

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved. Pro Blogging Journal

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