Jul 10


How to successfully start a personal or business blog

WRITTEN BY: Ralph Hilborn

Blogs, and the platforms bloggers use, have become an integral part of the marketing strategy of many successful businesses since they first gained popularity in the mid-1990s. Individuals and businesses have been using blogs to promote themselves, and to share their unique stories with the world, for over 25 years now. (See ‘A Brief History of Blogging’ for more history.) Right now, blogs are more popular than ever!

Despite their popularity, many people still don’t know the best way to set up a blog, or what is needed to cultivate and grow an audience. Whether you are looking to start a blog for yourself or for your business, we can help!

What do I need to know before I start?

So, you want to start blogging right away? Great! Before you jump right in, there are a few key decisions you’ll want to consider before you start putting all your thoughts out there. The very first step is to have a clear idea of what your blog is about.

Two simple questions you can ask yourself are:

  • “Who do I want to read my blog?”
  • “What do I want to accomplish in my blog?”

A similar question concerns what topics you want to address in your blog. Either way, maintaining a clear purpose and a commitment to tend to your blog regularly is extremely important! It is especially important to stay motivated in the early stages of establishing your blog. Without clear purpose and dedication, many new bloggers find they quickly lose interest in maintaining the blog and creating new entries before they develop a faithful reader base.

Do not worry about your initial results. It will take time to build a group of regular readers and establish your rapport with them. Moreover, as your blog develops, you can easily highlight your strongest, or most appealing, blog entries so that those entries are at the tip of your reader’s fingers. So, do not expect immediate results and you won’t be immediately disappointed and lose interest, yourself. Blogging, whether for personal or business purposes, is a marathon, and not a sprint.

Ok, I’m motivated and I know what I want to blog about! Now what?

Now you need to decide what to call your blog. When creating a personal blog, you have the freedom to name your blog anything. Therefore, it is not essential that the name you choose directly reflects your purpose or its content. However, branding your blog with a name that directly engages your target audience can be much more beneficial when creating a blog for your business. In other words, a light-hearted title might be fine for a personal blog, but it is probably not appropriate for a business. If your business already has an established web presence, or an existing domain name, consider tailoring the title of your blog to that website or domain name.

As I alluded to above, once you have determined what to call your blog, it’s usually best to acquire a domain name that matches, or at least complements, the name of your blog. After all, calling your blog “What I love about Web Development” and using a domain name that doesn’t reflect anything about Website Development would cause confusion with your audience.

If you’re unsure of how to register a domain name for your blog, we can help you with that.

What blogging “platform” should I use?

Now that you have identified the name of your blog, the topics about which you intend to write, and a domain name where readers will find your blog, what is next?

Your blog needs two more things to actually exist: A platform and a host.

Your platform is comprised of all the physical files that makes your blog actually work, and your host is where these files live on the internet.

There are several different platforms from which you can choose - some which come with additional costs, and some which are absolutely free to use (see “How to Choose the Best Blogging Platform” to learn more about the different types of platforms).

Free services, such as Wordpress.com, Wix or Tumblr, may be great for an individual starting out, but they do come with their own limitations. Most free blogging services offer very little, and sometimes no ability to customize the look of your blog. If you want to use that great domain name you just registered, many free blogging platforms still require you to pay an additional fee, and some won’t allow you to use your own domain name at all.

Additionally, these sites will typically display the platform’s logo (and even their ads) on your blog which may be especially inappropriate for a business-related blog. For someone creating a personal blog, on a tight budget, that might be ok. But for a business blog, you will want full control… Imagine finding ads for your competitor running on your blog! If you’re going to have advertisements on your blog, you want to make sure YOU are the one selecting those advertisements and receiving the revenue from those advertisements - and not someone else!

There are many other pros and cons to consider when comparing free blogging platforms to having your blog hosted professionally. We can help you determine which will be the best for your business blog and for your dollar.

I need a professional blog presence and full control over my blog… Tell me more about web hosting?

Choosing a web hosting service is just as important as choosing the blogging platform you want to use. Some web hosting companies even have built-in ‘wizards’ to help easily set up certain blog platforms on their servers. However, just like the blog platforms themselves, there can be pros and cons to each type of web hosting. We have in depth knowledge of the various web hosting options out there and we can help you choose, and set up, the hosting package that will work best for you and your business needs.

This is all great, I’m on board… But what about my blog’s design? How do I get it looking the best?

Once you have identified the name of your blog, the topics you will address, and where it will live, the last thing you will need to determine is the look or design of your blog. You don’t need to be an expert in graphic design or web coding to have a beautiful blog, or even a fully-functioning website, that will captivate your readers. All of the most popular blogging platforms come with pre-installed ‘themes’, and there are plenty of other free ones available on the internet. However, just like the free blogging platforms, employing free themes for the design of your blog come with lots of limitations. Further, there could be hundreds of other blogs using the very same theme.

If you decide you don’t want your blog to look like anyone else’s, especially not like hundreds of others, we can help you. With our expertise in graphic design we will help design your blog for you and even maintain it, if need be. We will guide you, step-by-step, throughout the entire setup process - providing important industry tips to assist you in reaching more visitors, converting them to regular readers, and even monetizing your blog if that is one of your objectives.

Let’s go!

Whether the objective of your blog is to present exciting and useful information to your existing clients or to monetize the content you provide (or even both!), rest assured that you do not need to possess any technical skills to start your own blog. Just know what you want to write about and we can help you with the rest!

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