So, you would like to start a blog so you can share your own ideas, recipes or whatever it is you are passionate about. That is awesome!!
I am going to be honest – brutally honest and fill you in on what I have learned along my blogging travels. Make sure that you take the time to read all of this before you get started as you want to know everything BEFORE you jump in with both feet!
HOW TO GET STARTED
The first thing is to select your hosting platform. The most common are blogger (totally free), wordpress.com (completely free) or wordpress.org (also called self-hosted). Keep in mind that wordpress.com will NOT allow you to monetize (i.e. – none of your own ads that might make you money).
Once you have decided WHERE you want to have your blog hosted, you then need to find a name. I personally would recommend jumping right into wordpress.org, but if you are strapped financially, you can start with blogger and then eventually change over (but that can be more of a hassle than it is worth).
First of all it is rude to piggyback off of another blogger’s site name (which can be detrimental to your growth). In addition, should you use that name, you could potentially be shut down. Why? Many site names are trademarked or servicemarked. This means you can not use any form of their name. Doing so could result in receipt of cease and desist order and your site could be shut down before it even gets off of the ground. There are thousands of names and ideas out there. Take your time, do ample research and make sure that your name is original.
Once you have your name, purchase your URL (that is your site name). Your site will be more trusted if it is www.myname.com vs. www.blogger.com/myname (for example). Make sure that your layout and site design are user friendly.
I would recommend BLUE HOST if you are just getting started. That is the simplest platform and it is extremely affordable. You will pay them to help you purchase the domain name you want for your site and then they have easy to follow instructions to get your wordpress platform up and running!!
FULLY COMMIT YOURSELF
If you are going to start a blog, know before hand that this will require a LOT of your personal time when getting started. In fact, remember spending upwards of 7 – 8 hours a day when I first started (and also worked some weekends too). This is not something you can just decide to do willy nilly. You have to be able to commit yourself to actually providing fresh content be that daily or even weekly. Without content, your site will die a quick death.
Fresh content also does not mean finding another site and doing the same articles, posts or features that they have. I have seen so many sites which do nearly everything another site it doing. They will take article ideas and tweak them to make them their own. They do little spins on features. Bottom Line – you need to be original.
There is an “unwritten code of ethics” when it comes to blogging If you really want your site to grow, you will want to follow these. Otherwise, you can be frowned up by bloggers and not get links and credit, which helps your site to grow. Here are some to keep in mind:
Original Site Name: I mentioned this above, but it really is true. If you use the same type of name as another blogger, it is frowned upon HIGHLY and may result in your site being shut down. Make sure you keep your site name original.
Do not steal content: Most bloggers never mind if you share something with your readers, however, you should share via social media share buttons. If you want to do a post and include the details of their recipe, you need to ask permission first. If you find a deal you want to share, you can usually do that, as long as you give credit where it is due.
Do not hyperlink photos: If you find a photo on a blogger’s site and want to use it, in most cases you can (ask your blogger if you are unsure). It is important that you copy the photo onto your computer and then upload and link it through your own photo hosting service. When you hyperlink a photo, you are in fact, stealing bandwith from that blogger. That in turn can cost the blogger more money.
SITE DESIGN / LAYOUT / CODING
Make sure that your blog has a user friendly layout and site design. You don’t want the background neon yellow or someone will come, go blind and never come back again. Look at the sites you like to follow and determine what it is you like about their site. That can give you inspiration for what it is you want do do with your own website.
You do not need to even hire a designer to get started. There are many themes you can download for free, so that you can get busy posting. Customized themes and layouts can always come later on, after you have started to make some money from your website. When you are ready for that step, you can find designers by asking other bloggers or even doing online searches.
When it comes to learning how to incorporate different features on your site, you may want to hire a programmer. This person will take care of technical issues for you. If you can not afford to hire someone, there is a video or post on pretty much every topic out there. You can also search to find blogging groups on Facebook to connect and learn from others.
MONETIZING YOUR SITE
I have had several people ask me how I am making money on my site. First off you can place ads on your site. Keep in mind that many ad networks will not be willing to work with you out of the starting gate, so you may have to wait for a while before you add them to your site. The most commonly used network for newer bloggers is Google Adsense.
If you plan to make money, you will need privacy, disclosure and disclaimer pages on your site. You will also need to disclose the affiliate link details on all posts where you place links. This is required by the networks and also the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Do not use someone else’s policy to make your own. You may need to pay to have it generated for you. This is one area where you just can’t skimp and try to do it for free. You have to make sure you have all details properly outlined.
Another way to make money is through affiliate marketing. This is where a blogger posts a link to a brand or product. That link includes tracking details and if the user makes a purchase, the blogger makes money. These can be used on recipes where you share your favorite mixer, art pages where you talk about some of your favorite paints or even book reviews where you link to other books of a similar style. The ideas are endless! If you have questions on how to use any of these sites, check their FAQs or their contact me section for assistance (as if you email me, I can not guarantee I can help you):
Linkshare (use for commission based advertisers)
Commission Junction (use for commission based advertisers)
Share a Sale Network
I know that this was short and sweet, but this is really pretty much it in a nutshell. As you get into blogging more and turn it truly into a business, there is more you will learn. I’d try to find bloggers in your same niche with the same average experience and grow. Without a tribe you may lose focus and determination. Those people will help answer your questions and lift you up as you continue to grow.