About to start a blog? Some things to consider beforehand.
Blogging can turn soon into a very satisfying sharing experience. It can help you learn, get new friends, and —why not?— make a small side income as well (sometimes not that small). If you have a writer inside you, begging to come out, and you feel time has come to make it happen, you just need to make a few decisions before starting:
The first decision: one blog or more than one?
When people surf the Internet, they usually face two kinds of websites, and they are used to that: those which focus on one single topic, and those which are a lot more varied and speak a little bit of this and a little bit of that. This is the first decision you will need to make. Going for a single-topic blog can surely help you bring more visitors interested in the topics you are to write about; but multi-topic blogs can bring you a larger audience. Choose carefully, as it will be quite hard to change what you chose later.
If you opt for developing a single-topic blog, you can always create a second or even third blog for the other topics you have in mind. Just remember that having three blogs requires more maintenance than having one; but if you are OK with that, then go ahead!
The second decision: Your own domain name?
When people start a blog, they usually choose to do it under their own domain name. It is pretty safe to do it this way, but it also forces you to pay for a domain name registration, a hosting server and to learn a bit about server configuration. These are not hard things to learn, but some people find it troublesome and try to avoid them altogether. You can always hire someone to set up the blog for you, but bear in mind you will need to call him again should some difficulty arise.
The second path is using a blogging platform which already exists. Many will advise against this because it appears to be less “brandable” than having your own domain name, but there are very successful blogs which rely completely on generic domain names such as Bob Hoffman’s The Ad Contrarian, which uses Blogspot, or Seth Godin’s blog, which uses Typepad. Choose what you find more comfortable for you. If you choose a free platform, you can certainly move to your own domain name later.
Which takes me to the third decision…
The third decision: Will you blog alone or not?
Pretty self-explanatory, but something you also need to think about. Sometimes, bloggers fly alone; sometimes they get together and create larger projects, like virtual magazines. What path will you take?
The fourth one and last one: Your blogging platform
Nowadays there are dozens of blogging platforms, but let’s keep things simple and go for the most popular ones:
- WordPress. Famous for being simple to use, customizable to the bone, and for being pretty friendly for search engines.
- Blogger. Famous for being one of the first (or was it the first?) free blogging platforms opened for everybody. Google bought it years ago, giving it hardware support to run all over the world.
- Tumblr. Designed from scratch, they offer users perhaps the easiest ways to create new posts and customize the design. Tumblr is way more popular than its rival Posterous (which by the way, is closing this April), but unfortunately is full of adult content too. Be a bit wary about that.
Most blogs usually choose one of these three platforms. My advice to you is to take one of those three too.
To create a blog you need:
- An e-mail address to create an account.
- To create your sub domain, which will be your blog address.
- To start using the editors both to customize your template and start publishing.
Alternatively, and especially if you choose WordPress, you can:
- Buy a domain name.
- Set up your blog to use your own domain name (this includes installing WordPress if you are to use that platform).
- Customize your blog and start writing.
Either way, you will start blogging and reaching new people in very short time.