“Starting a blog is kind of like buying a house: you decide what neighborhood you want to live in, pick a house, and fill it with your stuff. For a blogger, that means deciding on a blogging platform, picking a theme, and publishing posts. ”
I assume if you’re here, then you must own a blog, or intend to own one (or just want to see what this person has to say).
I’ve been an active (hopefully) member on the blogosphere for a little less than 5 years now, experimented with a couple of things and learned lots more. Today I’ll try to explain some of the most basic rules beginners/prospective/dissatisfied bloggers could use to get their sites running.
Like the quote above, starting a blog is a lot like owning a house. You need to pay attention to your needs and that of your visitors too.
I’ll be keeping each point raised as simple as possible (each one could fit into an individual topic), so if you need further explanation don’t hesitate to let me know.
NOTE: Everything here is based on personal experience/experiments with my own blog
So let’s get started:
1. Know why you are here:
People blog for different reasons. It could be for financial purposes, community building, rendering your quota of help to a dying race, advertising your company etc.
So the first thing you need to ask yourself is, “why do I need a blog?”
Do I want to pursue excellence, create something for myself, become more visible on the web, or just because Jack owns a blog too?
If you don’t know why you’re here, then we don’t know either.
2. Choose a suitable platform
Once you’ve successfully figured out the ‘why’, the next step is to find an appropriate location to help you actualize your goal. There are so many platforms that allow you create a blog for free. Most common in this part of the world are WordPress.com, and Blogger/Blogspot. If you want a more professional feel and full control over your site, then you can find a suitable web host who charge meager fees annually.
Make sure you study the proposed environment before pitching your tent. Some common questions you might like to ask yourself are: How interactive is this platform? Is it easily assessable? How much control do I have? Is it reasonably safe from hackers? Do I feel at home here?
Once you’ve gotten the nitty-gritty down, you can pitch your tent and choose a unique address for yourself.
3. Content is everything
Or so the saying goes. Remember you’re here for a reason, be it connecting or just plain gossiping to/about the human race. Pay adequate attention to the things you write and how they are presented on your site. Last I checked plagiarism was still an offence, so if you are not going give visitors original content, then have the courtesy to give credit to “Mama Emeka” who was kind enough to cook it up.
If and when you do decide to create something of your own, then be proud enough to display it. Proof read for typos because no one wants to be hit by roadblocks at every paragraph. I believe there’s a writer in everyone, and something must work for you. Find your voice and stay true to yourself.
4. Find your voice
Have you ever heard someone speak, or the sound of their footfall and even without looking, you could tell exactly who it was?
If your answer is yes, then you can create the exact feeling on your blog. Every writer has a voice even though it might take a while to find and hone it. Most times we spend our time trying to sound like someone else–that’s a lot like living another persons’ life. Finding your voice is like finding yourself, a very unique you. If it helps, you can try free-writing for a couple of minutes (first draft) and do that without editing. When you read aloud to yourself, what does it sound like?
Your readers want you, so give them the authentic version of yourself. There’s no point lying to score cheap points–practice honesty without full disclosure if you must.
5. Content loves design
Your theme is your colour book and the one thing that makes your content shine. One rule of thumb is to keep your design as simple as possible, using only very necessary widgets to create the best user experience (including loading time). Remember, your purpose of blogging is for people to pay attention to what you’re trying to communicate, not ooh and ahh over your struggle with the rainbow.
Most themes come ready made with template options–headers, widgets, so tweak and play with everything until you find something that feels comfortable and easy on the eyes. Otherwise you could purchase Premium themes to give more options if what’s available is unsuitable, or just pay someone to tell you want you need. Also ensure to choose a theme that allows for a cluster-free mobile/tablet view.
If memory serves me well, I tried our over 10 different themes within the course of 8months all the while publishing posts before settling for what’s currently in use.
If you want, you can pick one theme now, start publishing, and then revisit themes again once you have a number of posts on your blog. This will help you see just what is suitable for you keeping your content and readers in mind.
Don’t hold back. Your blog will be your home for as long as you decide to keep it running. Choose a suitable design and love it.
P.S There’s more to this than I actually said (eg fonts, colour palettes, images etc.) so we can further discuss it if you want.
6. Interact with the blogosphere
If your purpose of blogging is to create a diary or make money, then please jump to 7. If you are interested in community building, please read on.
There is something extremely boring about living in housing estates: Nobody wants to see their neighbors, or feel the need to see them to begin with. If that’s the kind of environment you want–a blog without comments or life–then by all means be a loner.
Otherwise you can get out of your hole and find people.
It’s a rich community out there, and if there’s something I’ve learned, it’s that people want to talk. Seriously. It might be difficult to find one blog in a sea of a million, but when you start getting those likes, shares, comment and appreciation mails, it’s accompanied by a warm fuzzy feeling.
Chances of people locating you are really slim, but you can speed things up by visiting others sites and leaving meaningful comments. And by “meaningful” I don’t mean ‘nice one’, ‘cool’, ‘ok’….no. Say something that tells the author you’ve actually read their post, you understand exactly what they are talking about, or that you don’t get what’s going on but you wish things will go well for them in the future…or share your story too.
Emotions is a universal language and people connect through it (something our politicians have on lockdown)….take advantage of that and you’ll see people–authors and their guests– returning the favour by visiting your site to get more of you. Life is give and take. And so is blogging.
7. Take advantage of social media
When the stats monkeys on WordPress sent my annual report for 2014, I found that my top referring sites were Twitter.com, WordPress.com Reader, Facebook.com, go.nlinevideos.com, htdocs and of course other blogs I’d visited. This tells me there are people out there who are curious enough to click on links, like what they see and share with their community too. It’s basic networking and you can get that to work for you. Just add those share buttons to your site and encourage your readers to share whatever they like. They might not be saying much but at least you know they’re coming. Also remember to tell your friends about your blog and request their support. You can only be so good to attract people like bees, but you also need to make them feel needed.
8. Find support
You are not all-knowing and the epitome of supreme knowledge. Even after following these, you’ll still need a second and third opinion, beta readers and explanations for all the techie stuff that’ll improve your site. Best way to approach this is by seeking help from people who are more knowledgeable and don’t mind extending a helping hand.
When I started my blog I got super confused at some point that I had to ask some WordPress bloggers for help. What I got in return was priceless.
If you don’t know where to turn, find someone from the webmaster section of this forum, create a thread stating your difficulties, consult search engines or contact support from your host platform. The world is filled with people who want to extend their knowledge and skills to others.
9. Be patient
We all like to believe miracles happen–and sometimes they do–but they don’t always come when we want it. The best gift you can give yourself is patience. It can be a bit daunting waiting for something big to happen, but it will happen if you stay true to yourself and work a little harder. Everything comes with a price and yours will be time and dedication. If you put in effort to improve your site, content and relationship with people, I bet you’ll see results.
10. Remember how small you are on the web. There will always be people who write better than you, communicate better and are way better at blog-hopping. When you see those stats displayed at the bottom of their page, or the 50-200 comments, you will wonder when and if you’ll ever be as big as they are. But never forget how big you can become. Push yourself, experiment, have fun, steal ideas (duh!), buddy up and for goodness sake love your blog. If you can’t love it, then neither can we.
May God Bless Nigeria, America And Israel And Take Care Of Us; May God Make His Face Shine Upon Us, And Be Gracious To Us; May The Lord Lift Up His Countenance Upon Us, And Give Us Peace, In Jesus Christ Name, We Pray! Amen!
May The Grace The Lord Jesus Christ, And The Love Of God, And The Fellowship Of The Holy Spirit Be With You All. Amen!