A blog is a lifetime companion. Here’s is what you need to know to get started
Have you ever thought about starting a blog? If you did or did not, please read this page. It brings me joy, and I like to share this joy with you. Every aspect of writing and keeping a blog can bring you lifelong fun and joy. Take it to heart and will change your life. Written words are the most powerful thing in the universe.
Writing a blog is a lot of work too and not always fun – sorry I lied. Blogs won’t give you instant gratification, but that is also one of the great benefits. Let me explain.
A blog will not only give you an outlet to express yourself, but it will help organize your thoughts so you become a better writer. If you are not good at writing, you will be once you get going. In the beginning keeping a blog can be confusing and frustrating; you don’t know what works.
If you simply continue writing, everything falls into place. You’ll find your voice, you’ll find a direction, style and ultimately find yourself. The experience of writing is always evolving and changing; after a while your blog will begin to have a life of its own. But what am I going to write about?
If you are passionate and knowledgeable about something; that’s it, pick that. On the other hand, if you like something but don’t know much about it don’t worry, you will once you start writing and researching.
Start a blog about anything. You’ll soon figure out if the subject you picked is right. The trick is to just keep doing and watch people’s responses as you go along.
Keeping a blog is like watching a tree growing; it takes a long time, and you don’t really see it growing. But the simple exercise of being patient and persistent will give you lot’s of gifts. There are millions of blogs out there, who will bother to read mine?
Yes there are a million blogs out there, but there are also many more millions of people then there are blogs. Most bloggers give up within 3 months because they can’t see fast results. But if you just write and focus your attention and have fun creating great useful content – the rest comes naturally. Success is in great part, the ability to remain standing while everyone else have fallen to the way side.
#1. Helping other’s
When I first started with this blog I had no idea why I was writing, or what I was supposed to write. I just knew I wanted to do it. I was attracted to the possibility of maybe making some money on the side. Nothing wrong with making a buck or two. And if you stay in the game long enough you’ll make some money.
A few people actually make a living with their blog; It is possible for some. But if you just want to start a blog for the money, you’re making a mistake. Making money with a blog is a consequence rather than something you plan on. When starting a blog, do it for the sake of these 9 items I’m listing bellow. Some things are worth more then money.
Helping others is the best way to engage and create traffic. Think about yourself and the way you use the Internet. You search for things because you’re looking for a answer or looking to solve a problem at work or at home. Have that as a frame of mind, while creating your awesome content.
When finding purpose to your content, try imagining yourself searching the net – think of the content you would like to find in order to solve your problem. The last thing you need is one more crappy page that leads you nowhere. There lies the whole gazebo.
The moment you start adding value to your content, you’ll begin to notice traction. Nobody cares what you think or do; people want to find something that includes them. To help others is a noble pursuit.
#2 – Become an authority in something
Once you start focusing on something; knowledge begins to happens around this something. Attention is like magic, the more you plug in, the more you get back from it. Information you need about your focus will begin pouring in as people voluntarily give you more and more of it. With time, you’ll create a large library and a journal of what you are focusing in.
This in turn will be an asset for not only for your readers but for others who are looking to augment their own blog content. After a few years you’ll look back at some of your older posts and see how you’ve progressed. Not only your ideas will progress but your writing skills will too. As you continue to write, it will also become easier to come up with new ideas for new posts.
In the beginning, I had to scratch my head to come up with new ideas for posts. Now I have over 200 draft posts in my draft bin. I can be busy for the entire year without having to think once on what to write. The more you do it the easier it gets – isn’t that the same with anything in life?
#3 – Improve your writing skills
Writing is the most difficult part in any language. First comes: (1) listening, (2) talking, (3) reading, (4) writing. We usually write quickly and use abbreviations, texting is often composed of emojis and some other strange things. Writing is a complex skill, often neglected by a lot of us because it is hard.
If you practice writing on regular basis, you’ll also communicate well to others. Some people make a phone call and have no idea how to ask a question because communication requires a bit of structure. This kind of structure is what you’ll need to develop a good blog. We learn how to express our ideas using text, pictures and videos and the Internet as a canvas.
Writing is an art and it takes practicing everyday to get better at it. Not only there are a lot of grammatical rules, but there are also syntax and language structure rules. Communication is one of the most important skills you can develop in this life. Since I’m not a English native speaker I struggle and it’s a never ending learning process. So, if I can do it you can do it too.
To came up with a raw idea and communicate to others is not as simple as it seems. This is what set us apart from animals. Writing is a skill that will always be valued no matter how much our world changes and no matter where you go.
#4. Keeping a journal
Scientists, writers, and great thinkers of all times kept journals. Your blog is a form of journal because it ultimately reflect your thinking and keep a track record of your ideas. We as humans have uncanny ability to think and create, but we also have the talent to completely forget what we’ve learned. We can even forget who we are; strange but true.
If you keep writing a blog consistently, it will start leaving footprints of your thinking through time. Blogs are like time capsules. No matter what your blog is about, as long as it’s online it will leave a message to the future. Provided someone pays for the hosting bills, your message can go on after you’re no longer living. This is kind of interesting and spooky.
#5. Become a better communicator
Communication is a complex art. We need to be able to listen and we need to be versatile when we speak. We need to first assess the ability of others and figure out how they understand things. We need to deliver the right mix of language and elements so our message is understood. Bad communication is the same as speaking to a wall.
Communication is an art a few know well. Good communicators bring advantages to your life. For once you might have more friends, as well as a better relationship at work and at home.
By writing a blog you’ll be practicing your communications skills every day as you write and create content. These skills will eventually migrate to your daily life. You’ll learn by knowing what works and what doesn’t.
You’ll start noticing people’s reaction to what you say. Some posts get a lot of visits and some others are dead in the water. On a web page, everything can be used as a form of communication. Pictures, graphics, videos, tables, and all else you organize to convey a message. Even your web design will tell a story or set up a mood. This, will give you the opportunity to get creative.
#6. Internet knowledge
You browse the internet everyday but know little about what’s behind the screen. To know the inner workings of the Internet is a valuable skill today. We shop, read news, watch shows, communicate, find relationships, sell things on the net. We need the net 24/7. No internet no work, no fun.
By keeping a website you’ll learn the basic building blocks of the Internet. What’s needed to run a blog reveals some aspects of how the net works in technical terms but also in other areas. For example, have you ever asked yourself why some websites are on the first pages on Google search? This is called, Search Engine Optimization or SEO. I’ll love to talk about SEO but this is stuff for an entire new post. By becoming more net savvy, you’ll also be better able to detect scams and what is fake on the net.
Becoming a blogger will make you an internet insider. You are now on the dashboard of the net. You don’t have to know HTML or know how to write code. Today, anyone can have a stunning great looking website without knowing one iota of code. You’ll do your learning from thousands of blogs that address these issues.
#7. Develop consistency
If you want your readers to find your blog, you’ll need to be really nice to Google. Wanting or not, Google is the boss of 77.43% of all net searches. That is a number not to be tempered with. Just look at this graphic to get an idea.
Google will promote your blog or not. Google’s has three main standards: (1) content, (2) content, and (3) content. The other ones are value, value, and value. So before Google promotes you, they want to know if you have any value.
But they also what to know if you’re going to be there after they promote you. So Google will not look at you for a while, they are waiting to see if you’re in for the long run. It takes about 2 years for Google to start paying attention to you, unless you’re already famous – then is love at first site.
Consistency and persistence are the building blocks of your blog. Your blog’s success depends on your staying power. Google likes staying power. Nobody from Google is reading your pages and saying “hey look, a great site here let’s put this guy on the front page”.
Google send an army of little robots called spiders who search the net 24/7 to do this job. They track every little thing you do (scary but true). If you update a post, if you publish something new, If you have not written anything in 3 months; this will be all computed in Google’s algorithms and grades will be given. Determinations of what to do with your site are based in these grades.
Google is constantly changing their algorithms so that good content is promoted first (great news for bloggers with content). Google will rate up your site on your content, consistency and for how long you’ve been posting. They are more encouraged to promote you because they know they can count on you to be there when readers are sent your way.
#8. Discover the world
As you discover the joys of having some traffic, you’ll also discover Google Analytics. A Google free service that lets see in detail – the visiting statistics of your site. There is a window letting you view your visitors in real time.
This can be quite addicting. A map of the world will light up circles showing what part of the world people are logging from. To me it is a real trill to see people logging in from a remote Pacific Island I never heard of. And I see it happening in every continent on the planet. I realized how many places in the world I’ve never heard of. I became curious about these places.
So, from time to time I have fun looking at the circles lightening up. I simply look at the names of the cities in the bubbles and Google the pictures.
I am blown away that my posts are being read by someone in remote places. Some of theses cities have population in the millions and they were unknown to me. I realized how limited my idea of the world was. So I started to learn about these strange beautiful places.
#9. Make the world a better place
Most people don’t realize how powerful written words are. Spoken words are also powerful, but they can only influence others while someone is talking, and others are listening. Written words on the other hand will go on forever influencing, teaching, and changing people’s minds into the future. As long as the medium is intact; the message will be as powerful and fresh as when it was first conceived. Internet pages never get old.
If you put your heart to it, people will read what your write. You have no idea who might be reading your pages. A young person; someone in need of help; people about to make a make a bad decision. What you say can change someone’s life. There is a lot of responsibility when you write to others.
What you write can empower and help to create a better world. You can literally change the world with your writing. Is up to you to you to do it and decide you want to change the world to a better place. Not a bad idea.
Writing a blog is not just writing a blog, every post is like sending a message in a bottle. It will drift through cyber space and eventually land in some distant cyber shore. When opened, might change someone’s life for the better. Wouldn’t you like to change your life for the better?
Getting started & a few other points
How to get started
- Open an account with Blue Host
- Register a domain name
- Download WordPress
- Pick a free theme
- Start writing
- Create a better world
Why Blue Host? There are other hosts out there, I give Blue Host credit because they worked well for me for years. To name a few: you can have multiple websites at no extra cost; they offer a lot of flexibility and have a great tech support too. Oh, and they are cheap.
Why have a domain name? Once you have an account with Blue Host, register a domain name with them. Now your domain name(s) will live inside your internet host for your convenience. It only cost $10 dollars or so. This is another way you can show Google and your readers, you are serious. Don’t use a free web host. They will put a bunch of adds on your pages and there is no guarantees of anything. Free web hosts are not a solid foundation in which to build your blog.
Why WordPress? WordPress is a revolutionary tool that put the power of creating and managing your web site at your fingertips. Without WordPress you would need to be a web developer, or else shell out a lot of money.
Download the free software WordPress from inside Blue Host, choose one of the free skins and write your first post! That’s it.
WordPress is great by itself but you can also install a framework onto WordPress and add more power and flexibility. Frameworks are not free but well worth the price.
What is a framework?
We can call a framework a added structure that replace or modify some of the basic function of WordPress. The three most popular frameworks are Thesis, Genesis, and Elegant Themes. A framework add functionality and a wider choice of skin designs. Here’s a few other benefits:
- Better font control
- Wider choice of skin designs
- SEO ready and capability
- Allow more site customization
A framework price range roughly around $150 – $300 to install, and skins may have to be purchased separately in some cases.
My framework choice
I use Thesis because it offers interesting features. A clean code; build in SEO features. Clean code is important because Google loves clean code and will give you points. Clean code is also faster; another point earning item for Google. Thesis also have fonts that look great and are easy to customize.
On the down side, Thesis has a steep learning curve. Thesis customization are somewhat easy depending on the skin you’re using. If you want to make big changes to your design, you’ll need a web developer or do a lot of head scratching. So keep it simple.
It took me years to fully appreciate the value of Thesis. Today I see that what really matters in a web site stability, clean code and speed. Thesis design is simple, clean and basic so you can put all your energy into content. People don’t care about the design so much, they care about content and functionality (i.e. speed).
Every page is a web site
When you think of a website or a blog, think about writing one page and one page only. The reason being is that people will search your page and not your website per se. Your website is just a repository of all your pages. If the collection of your pages support one another, great. This is something you can work on as you go. But your pages will have a life of their own. Starting in this way will make your task a little easier because it will give you more freedom to write different subjects.
So, start with one page and make this one page count as the best page of your blog. One single page can have a large percentage of your traffic if is a good page.
Updates and editing
Once you finish a page or a post, you can always go back and make changes. In fact, my posts are always evolving and changing. You write a post and decide is good to publish. Months later you go back and see that it could use some changes; you’ve learned new things and you want to add them. You just keep polishing your texts and they get better and better.
How to write
Focus on consistency. The best way to write is by doing a little every day. Writing in that way is best because your attention level is high. If you write a lot on the same day; only the first hour of that writing will be good, the rest will require too much editing.
Make a schedule for yourself. Publish a posts at the same day of the month and do it every month. Work one hour every day. If you have the stamina to publish a post every Monday, do it every Monday.
You work one hour every day of the week, and by Sunday you should have a post ready to publish. A post that had 7 hours worth of work! The idea is to keep a daily consistency and publish every time at the same day. If anything this will help you write and not burn out. A little bit everyday goes a long way.
Image credit: Pixabay