Five Steps to Getting Started with a Blog

You’re a business owner. You know you need a blog (or want one), but with everything else on your plate, you also can’t have it take too much of your time.

The universal cry for help of every new blogger:

I need a blog and I need it now. It has to look professional but I don’t want the set up draining my mental resources down to zero!

Let’s break down the five must-do steps that it will take for you to get everything you want out of this business blog that you’re undertaking.

First, Pick a Platform

A blog is more than just text on a page. It has to have a web address (URL), a structure (a way for people to navigate your pages to find old and new content), and a pretty face (site design).

The platform you choose will influence all three of these decisions:

  • WordPress This blogging software/site/platform is considered WordPress as a blogging platformby many to be the industry standard. It is free to use, but requires a few decisions:
    • Use the wordpress.COM site to host your blog (like I have done). WordPress creates a domain name for you, e.g., mysite.wordpress.com. (You can upgrade your WordPress account for a fee and, among other upgrade features, use your own domain name, e.g., myblog.com.)
      Or,
    • Purchase a domain name and a hosting plan elsewhere and install the WordPress platform from wordpress.ORG. (Sometimes the hosting company offers to install WordPress with your account, which is maybe a little easier than you installing it from WordPress.)
    • Decide between a free theme (this controls the look of the site) or, for a slight fee, a premium theme–which may give you a more custom look and more options in the design.
  • Blogger.com Google’s answer to wordpress.com is another free option, with lots of goodies and a smaller learning curve. Blogger as a blogging platformPersonally, I don’t think it’s as robust or powerful when it comes to future customizations and taking the blog to the next level.
    • Again, Blogger “assists” with the domain name.
    • Choose a template and configure the site options for appearance, navigation and search engine optimization (SEO) in order to achieve the desired results.
  • Custom built site The only way to get a custom built blog in any other framework is to hire a web developer (or to be one yourself). Some developers prefer to use platforms such as Joomla to achieve the most customization possible for the look and feel of your blog.

My advice? Pick one of the options above that fits your budget, timeframe and end goal. Options 1 & 2 above can theoretically have a blog site up and running for you in under an hour. It may not be as pretty or as search engine friendly as it could be, but it would be live.

Second, Configure Your Blog

  1. Choose and configure a template (even free templates usually have a few configurable features).
  2. Create a site title, tagline and brief description.
  3. Decide whether to create a static home page or to let your most recent blog posts be the first page of the site.
  4. Unless you already have a web page, create a few informational pages (About Us, Contact, Our Locations, etc…).
  5. If you’ve installed WordPress, choose a structure for post URL’s. This is found under Settings > General. This is also known as setting custom permalinks. Deciding to change this later can be difficult.
  6. Choose the comment moderation settings. Unfortunately, blogs are highly susceptible to spam. Don’t let a comment be posted live until you review it or you may have a spam comment wrecking any purposeful conversation that might happen.

Third, Plan Your Content

Having a blog that never gets updated is a waste of all the time you just invested in the first two steps. Plan your blog contentSo plan right now the topics you’ll be using to create enough posts for your first month. Consider these questions:

  • How often will I post?
    • I’d recommend at least once a week…
  • How long should my posts be?
    • Go for at least 350 words…
  • Where am I going to get new ideas for my blog?

Fourth, Source Some Images

Blogs are a visual medium, and great images help them stand out and keep a reader Source images for your blogengaged. However, don’t copy images from other websites and blogs, because that’s plagiarism!

I recommend the following sources for great images for your blog:

  1. Public image collections like morgueFile, Flickr , or Microsoft’s Clip Art site for photos and illustrations.
  2. Your own pictures. (Read up on how to prepare images for your digital publications.)

Adding an image is also essential for the last step in getting your blog out to the world…

Fifth, Post and Promote!

Let’s not hide our light under a bushel. Your reasons for blogging likely include getting new exposure for your business. Promote your posts through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other social media sites you subscribe to. Mention it in your newsletter. Have a link to your blog from your website.

If you’ve given it a compelling title, you’ve written great content, and your featured image Provide your readers with award-winning contentis interesting and clean, then promoting the post is going to be infinitely easier.

Give the blog time to build an audience and to make its mark on the search engines.

Persistence is key. The longer you blog, the easier it will be and the more skills you will acquire. Your audience expands as you build credibility and reputation as an expert in your field who creates interesting and engaging blog posts.

Help is Here

Of course, if all of this has given you a headache and you want someone to please handle the technical details of building a blog, I’m here to help. I also know some ghost writers that can help you with content, if necessary.

In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about starting a blog?

Tell us about your blogging experiences, good or bad. (Leave your comments below.)

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About solutionmaven

Improving your online presence through new or redesigned websites, mobile websites and QR codes, customized blog pages, email marketing, and e-commerce. We know this stuff so you don't have to!
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