What you NEED to Know BEFORE You Start Blogging!
You read blogs, you love blogs, so why not start your own right? Can’t be that hard, just type up some articles and recipes and you are good to go right? WRONG! There is so much more to running a blog than just writing. In fact, that is just a very small piece of what having a blog is about. Now, don’t get me wrong, you can get a free blog and write every once in a while, but honestly, only a very few people will find it and read it. If you really want to reach out and influence people, there is much more you need to know. That is why I wrote this article (part 1) of What You NEED to Know BEFORE You Start Blogging. I hope you find it helpful!
What you NEED to Know BEFORE You Start Blogging!
First, you need to ask some basic questions:
- What do I want to blog about?
- How much time do I want to spend blogging?
- Am I willing to invest money in my blog?
- Is this strictly for fun or for profit? (**VERY IMPORTANT**)
- Do I want to do this on my own or partner with others?
There is a lot of information out there when deciding what to blog about. Be sure it is something you are passionate about, as you will need to find a lot to write about. I have heard that “niche” blogs are the best for gaining dedicated followers, but if you are in this for profit, you will need to consider blogging on a broader platform to qualify for more opportunities.
What do I write about?
For example, when I started Busy Vegetarian Mom
, it was a hobby and just healthy vegetarian recipes. But as I grew and wanted more than just to record my recipes, I had to expand into family, home, travel, etc… to qualify for review and giveaway opportunities. If I continued with only recipes, the chance for many reviews would be lost.
How much time do I want to spend blogging?
This is a very important question. If you only want to put maybe a few hours a week into your blog, then you should definitely choose a free blog platform like “Blogger”. You will likely only make pennies with this much time and have a small but loyal following.
If you are willing to put in many hours (10+ hours per week) and are in it to make money and get free stuff… well then I highly suggest buying your own domain and self hosting your blog through “WordPress”.
Am I willing to invest in my blog?
You gotta spend money to make money. That is the bottom line. If your answer was no, then a free platform like “Blogger” is the way to go. If you are serious, you will be looking at an initial investment of up to $400 to get started. Is it worth it to do it right away? ABSOLUTELY!
Is this for fun or profit?
This goes right back to the previous two questions. If your goal is to eventually make money at blogging, then it is much easier to start in a paid platform than transferring later. I have done it both ways and highly suggest you invest in your blog up front if you know you want to do it long term and make money.
Do I want to do this on my own or with a partner/partners?
I have done both. Most people start their own blogs to have full control and keep all the money they make. Fair enough.
As the sole writer, If you don’t write- well nothing gets published.
If you partner with others (we have 11 writers here at Daily Dish) then your time contribution is substantially less, your blog gets a ton more exposure with multiple people promoting it, and you can easily produce a lot of quality content which is key in a blogs success.
How to succeed:
Simple- Post meaningful content often. Uhhh…nope. That certainly is part of it, but to really get seen and gain followers, there is so much more you need to do.
This is where the paid hosting comes in handy. With your own domain and host, you can build a website that is SEO (search engine optimization) friendly. This means sites like google and yahoo can find your website easily.
I chose to use Blue Host as my host and have been very happy. I can have multiple websites and they have an easy way to build your WordPress blog.
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Now… That being said. Once you have your host and website domain name, you need to install WordPress (which is just a platform). You will also need to find a “theme” to install. The theme is what your website will look like. There are a lot of free themes out there to choose from, but if you really want to customize and have unlimited possibilities. I suggest you also look at investing in a custom theme. I chose “Elegant Themes” Aggregate for both Daily Dish and Busy Vegetarian Mom.
Once you have all that set up, now it is time to add your plug-ins. This is what really makes WordPress the platform you want to use. There are literally thousands of free programs that you can install that can do all sorts of very cool things for your website. These are the plug-ins I use and LOVE.
Plug-ins you must have:
Akismet: Protect your blog from comment and trackback spam.
Alexa Claim and Verify: Make an “Alexa” acc0unt and easily verify your site. Companies will want to see your Alexa Score
CommentLuv: Reward your readers by automatically placing a link to their last blog post at the end of their comment.
Easy Recipe: Makes it easy to enter, format and print your recipes, as well as automagically doing all the geeky stuff needed for Google’s Recipe View.
Floating Social Media Icon: An easy way to add your social media on all pages of your blog. Highly visible.
Hotlink Protection: stop external web servers from linking directly to your files.
Jetpack by WordPress: *A MUST have. So many things this plug-in does from stats, notifications, sharing buttons, etc..
LinkWithin: is a blog widget that appears under each post, linking to related stories from your blog archive. http://www.linkwithin.com/learn
NoFollowr: Simply click a checkmark in a published post to toggle between a link’s nofollow status.
Pinterest “Pin It” Button: Add a Pinterest “Pin It” Button to your posts and pages allowing your readers easily pin your images. Includes shortcode and widget.
Print Friendly and PDF: PrintFriendly & PDF optimizes your pages for print. Help your readers save paper and ink, plus enjoy your content in printed form. Readers can choose which parts of the page they want to print and which ones to delete!
Related Posts and Images by Zemanta: Easy drop in photos and links that relate to your posts. Your links will also be made available to other bloggers via this plug-in. I LOVE it!
SEO by Yoast: **Another MUST HAVE** A handy little tool to take the guess work out of SEO for your blog posts.
Simple Social Buttons: Allows others to easily share your posts via social media
Ultimate TinyMCE: Allows you to add editing tools to your Edit Post screen. Add fonts, colors and text size plus so much more.
What would Seth Godin Do? Allows a “Call to Action” on your posts and pages. Write a custom message for new users and return users. Use it get more fb, twitter, rss or email. Or just to say thanks! Message can appear on top or bottom of posts and pages.
WordPress Amazon Associate: Quickly and easily monetize your website through the integration of Amazon products and widgets tagged with your associate id. This plugin makes it SO easy to use your associate account! Love this one!
WordPress Editorial Calendar: Makes it possible to see all your posts and drag and drop them to manage your blog.
WP Post Signature: This plugin allows you to append a signature after every post.
This is just a partial list of helpful plug-ins that I use. If you are looking for more help with any blogging questions and a more complete list of helpful plug-ins, Bloggy Girls Club on Facebook is my “go to” group. They truly are awesome!
I hope you found Part 1 useful. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I share what I know about writing, sharing and networking!
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