How to Set Up a Blog
People often approach me asking about blogging: how they should do it, how to set it up, and so forth. I actually offer this as a service, but I wanted to make some of this information available to everyone.
Now before you get ahead of yourself and start picking out blog names, having the Wordpress vs. Blogspot argument, and buying hosting for the next three years, you need to 1) stop, 2) sit down, and 3) consider what you’re about.
1) WHAT Do I Want to Blog About?
What is the purpose to your blog? Is it a wedding, pregnancy, or mom blog? Foodie blog? Business/entrepreneurship blog? Whatever it is -- weight loss, Lord of the Rings, whatever -- you need a purpose.
Word to the Wise: If you don’t have a purpose to your blogging, then there’s no point.
2) WHY Do I Want to Blog About It?
Why is the topic you’ve chosen important to you? Why do you want to share your thoughts in blogging form specifically? Be honest.
Word to the Wise: Figure out the why, and it’ll add fire to the what. (Marshawn Evans)
3) Are You PASSIONATE About It Enough To Be CONSISTENT?
If you’re not passionate about the blogging topic you’ve chosen, then you won’t be able to maintain your consistency. Then you’ll be laughed at just like that man who tried to build a tower and didn’t first count the cost. If you’re just going to quit, why bother building a blog to begin with?
4) Do You Honestly Have the TIME to Be CONSISTENT?
Some people may be clear on the what and the why, and even passionate about the topic. But you may not honestly have the time to be consistent.
Also, don’t be overly ambitious. Start with one post a week. Then two, maybe on Tuesday and Thursday. (I do this on my own blog.) Then, if it’s realistic, you can move up to three or even posts per week. Whatever you do, don’t exceed seven posts a week. That’s just too much.
Word to the Wise: Be realistic with your schedule. If you’re not, you’ll only be fooling yourself.
If you can pass answer these questions with the conviction that you’re ready to do this thang, then you can move to the next phase which is setup.
ACTUAL BLOG SETUP
This is where we get down to the meat of things and start scouring the Internet or just following my advice, since I’ve already scoured the Internet for you. *wink, wink*
1) Free vs. Paid?
This if the first question to ask yourself in this phase: are you willing (and able) to pay for a blog or do you need/want to go the free route? The question is usually phrased as do you want a self-hosted blog (paid) or a hosted (free) blog?
Word to the Wise: Figure this out before you do anything else so you won’t be ill-prepared (financially) later.
2) FREE: Wordpress vs. Blogspot?
If you’ve decided to stick with the free route, that’s perfectly fine. Maybe you want to test the blogging waters first before diving in headfirst with your pocketbook or plastic.
Now to answer this specific question, I have experience with both Blogspot and Wordpress, and I recommend Wordpress.com hands down (not to be confused with Wordpress.org). I’ve set up several blogs this way, most prominently, my wedding blog: DA Weddings. I’ve found it very easy to use as well as Google Search Engine-friendly which is always important.
Word to the Wise: It’s totally up to you, but Wordpress.com is WAY better, in my opinion. Just sayin’.
3) PAID: Who Hosts?
If you’ve decided to go the paid route and set up a full website (blogsite), then the first thing you’ll need is web hosting. And you may be wondering what on earth web hosting is and understandably so. Consider your website a garment, let’s say a dress. Well, your hosting is the mannequin the dress sits on. Another analogy would be that your website is a house and the hosting is the foundation the house is built upon.
Disclosure: Yes I’m a Bluehost affiliate. Yes I’m a Bluehost client. And yes their 24/7 service is AMAZING. I honestly don’t have any complaints about them.
Word to the Wise: Pick hosting that is 1) excellent and 2) affordable.
See Related: Launch a Self-Hosted Wordpress Blog in 20 Minutes or Less! [Newly Updated] (by Michael Hyatt who persuaded me to choose Bluehost)
4) Capture Emails?
Whatever type of blog you set up, selecting a program through which to capture email addresses as well as send emails is going to be key to building up your readership. I love using MailChimp, they’re super easy to figure out with their Help Searches and video tutorials and are free for up to 2,000 subscribers. You can also create apps like this one (also for free) on Facebook Pages to make signups easy! There are other options like Constant Contact, but I feel MailChimp is the best for the job and, again, super easy to figure out.
Disclosure: Yes, I’m an affiliate and client of MailChimp, and I adore them! But you don’t have to take my word for it...
Word to the Wise: Missing out on capturing emails -- and sending them -- is missing out on progressing your blog and the purpose behind your blog. Don’t ignore it.
5) Social Media?
Along with establishing your personal platform (blogsite), you’ll want to set up Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest accounts as well if you haven’t already.
For Facebook, create a PAGE (professional), not a PROFILE (personal).
For Twitter, you can choose to use your name as a handle like mine, @DesireeMondesir, as a hub for all of your Twitter (which I obviously recommend), or you can set up a specific account for your website/blogsite.
Personally, I feel that if you set up a Twitter account for an entity (not a person), then it should only be when you are at the place that you have an assistant, social media consultant, etc. to manage that specific account. Managing more than one Twitter account just seems like too much work.
For Pinterest, once you get past the sheer addiction of it all (if we ever get to that point…), then we can utilize it for business and in this case, blog promotions. ALWAYS POST A PICTURE WITH YOUR BLOGPOSTS!!! No picture, no pin. Period.
I also recommend you either 1) create a Pinterest Business account so you can have your website at the top of your profile for all to see and visit, or 2) transfer your personal account to a professional accountlike I did.
Word to the Wise: You don’t have to use every social media platform out there; pick what works for you and stick with it!
Once you’ve got all this figured out and in place, all you need do is write! Start writing and be consistent. Happy blogging!