People start blogs for a variety reasons. Some start a blog to generate an income, some do it out of passion and many businesses create blogs to engage their existing customers. Blogging, which is an integral part of any social media marketing strategy, can do wonders for a business, whether it be brick and mortar or virtual. The first question a potential blogger should ask is what are their motivations and expectations. Determining this will make choosing the correct blogging platform much easier.
Do you plan on creating an income generating website, or do you simply want to share your life, talents, expertise and opinions with the world? If the latter sounds more to your liking, then I would suggest checking out Tumblr or Posterous (a great mobile blogging platform). Simply sign up for an account and you will be blogging in less than two minutes. Seriously! However, these types of platforms have their strengths and weaknesses. See below:
- Strengths: Simplicity, ease of use, ease of cross-platform integration (facebook, twitter, etc.) and a built in audience. These platforms are built more for “lifecasters,” which many predict to be the future of social networking.
- Weaknesses: A lack of flexibility, they are very difficult to monetize, they don’t optimize well with search engines, they don’t have very much design potential and they lack features and add-on applications. These platforms operate in giant, semi-closed networks of fellow bloggers that interact with one another, but have minimal contact with “non-bloggers” that are just surfing the net.
Now for everyone else out there that wishes to venture into the wild (the wild web that is), I would suggest checking out WordPress. WordPress is a blogging platform that requires more work and effort, but offers a lot more flexibility and potential. Here’s a simple breakdown of what you need to do to create your own self hosted blog:
- Choose a hosting service. I use Godaddy, but there are a lot of these types of services out there. I like Godaddy because they’re a one stop shop for everything, they offer WordPress specific hosting plans and they have good customer service.
- Choose a domain name. I think people over emphasize choosing a name for their website sometimes. Create good content and people will find it no matter what. Food for thought: Myspace was actually a furniture website before becoming a social network and Google was supposed to be spelled “Googol.” They messed up the spelling when registering the domain. Oops!
- Install WordPress. If you don’t use Godaddy, you’ll have to install WordPress. Go here for simple installation instructions.
- Choose a theme. This is the fun part. WordPress is incredibly flexible. Check out Themeforest, Rockettheme or WordPress Themes. You can choose any theme you want for your blog and it requires no programming and little design work on your part.
- Get some plug-ins. WordPress has thousands of free plug-ins / add-ons that range from creating a chatroom on your blog to adding a shopping cart to automatically optimizing your site’s SEO.
- Start writing! – And that’s it. Check out Mary’s post, Blogging 101, for great tips on how to successfully engage your readers.
For a great comparison of different blogging platforms, check out this article as well. It’s clear and concise.
Now get out there and start sharing. And if you need any help, don’t forget I’m always just a click away.
(You can also find this article at MoreThanMary.com as well as more very helpful articles on life, fashion, fitness and travel.)