WHY SHOULD I START A BLOG?
There are several reasons that people decide to start blogging. For some, it is a way of showcasing their writing talents, for others a way of sharing their life experiences, or raising awareness of issues they face. For businesses, it is a great way of engaging with new and existing customers.
WHICH BLOG PLATFORM SHOULD I USE?
The first thing you need to decide when starting a blog is what platform to use.
The most common platform is WordPress, which is popular for a number of reasons.
First of all, it is very easy to use, with a WYSIWIG editor enabling users to create and manage posts easily.
Secondly, it is very easy to customise, with a range of third party plugins, which can add an almost limitless amount of functionality, without the user having to possess any programming knowledge.
Other platforms worth considering include Google’s Blogger and the recently-launched Ghost.
SHOULD I HOST MY OWN BLOG?
Bloggers have the choice of a self-hosted blog on their own domain, e.g. joesblog.com or a blog that is hosted by their blogging platform of choice, on what is known as a sub domain, e.g. joesblog.wordpress.com.
The advantages of having a self hosted blog are as follows:
Recognisable, memorable domain name.
Easily customisable design and features.
More credible and attractive to potential advertisers.
The disadvantages of self-hosted blogs are:
Require a certain amount of technical know-how to set up.
More likely to experience down time than blogs hosted on platform.
Cost of domain and hosting.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HOST A BLOG?
Self hosted blogs will incur the following costs:
Blogs hosted on a platform such as WordPress.com are the easy solution for those looking to get started for free, but they do have some limitations:
Restricted customisation options.
Less memorable than self-hosted blogs.
Less attractive for advertisers/partners than self hosted blogs.
CHOOSING A SUBJECT FOR YOUR BLOG
Successful blogs have a clear subject and theme. In most cases, this is a subject that the writer is very familiar with and passionate about. Choosing a subject that you love is a great way to ensure that you will have plenty to say and find the motivation to update your blog regularly.
POSTING ON YOUR BLOG
When posting on your blog, keep in mind the following golden rules:
You may want to consider creating an editorial calendar to ensure you have a plan for what to post and when. This will ensure that you post consistently and you don’t miss out on any seasonal events.
IMAGES AND FORMATTING
Remember, people skim read online, so be sure to break up your posts with headings/sub-headings and use small and easy to digest paragraphs. Summarise key points using bullets and bolden/italicize text to add emphasis.
You can find images and other media that you are free to publish by using Creative Commons. Some of this media comes with rules and restrictions, which you should check before you publish.
HOW CAN I PROMOTE MY BLOG?
Having a blog is great, but if you want it to be successful, you are going to have to promote it. The following are some of the methods of doing this:
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) - This is the process of optimising your posts so that they appear in searches on Google and other search engines. When writing, consider the words and phrases that people would search for to find your posts. Include these terms in your meta data, header and alt tagsand where relevant, within the copy of your posts. There are several plugins for WordPress which can help you with this.