I was completely clueless when I first created a blog–simple terminology meant nothing to me. While I am no expert by any means, I have learned a lot through the course of the past year and a half. Anna Marie, a blog reader, emailed me with questions about creating a blog, so I put together a post with some tips.
Choose your blogging platform. When I first began blogging, I created a blog through Blog.com. Every few months, my blog would be suspended as it was incorrectly marked as spam. After about four months, I eventually created a blog through WordPress. If you are a beginner, I highly recommend WordPress as it is extremely user-friendly and simple to navigate. WordPress also has an iPhone and iPad app, making it easy to access my blog when I’m not near a computer.
Create a unique name. A creative name is essential to creating a unique blog. In my opinion, blog names with a variation of three different verbs or nouns are difficult to remember and a bit repetitive (there are way too many healthy living blogs that incorporate “eat, live, _____” in their name). Instead, choose a name that accurately depicts your purpose without limiting yourself. Some bloggers create new blogs as their focus changes–there’s nothing wrong with starting over, but it can be a lot of work.
Properly assign a URL to your blog. When you create your blog, you have the ability to create and assign a domain to your website. Make your blog’s address as close to your blog’s name as possible. (My blog name is “Jimmy Choos on the Treadmill,” so my domain is jimmychoosonthetreadmill) However, if you are using a free service such as WordPress or Blogger to host your blog, then your website’s address will contain “.wordpress.com” in its URL. For a nominal fee, you can purchase your domain name if it is available. I didn’t purchase my domain until I had been blogging for about eight months because I didn’t feel that it was necessary at the time.
Take the time to design a header and background. When you use a free service, your options are limited in terms of design. You are able to upload a custom header (you can create one in Photoshop or on a photo editing website) and choose a background from the blog server’s selection. You can choose a free template, or purchase one for about $50. I used a free template until I switched to a self-hosted site because I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted.
Include an “About Me” section and category pages. When I visit a blog for the first time, I want to know who is behind the website. I almost immediately click on a writer’s “About Me” section before reading the content on the home page. Visuals are always helpful, so include a picture of yourself. As your content grows, you’ll want to categorize information by pages–these can always be added later, though.
Broadcast your blog on social media. I don’t think that blogging for the sole purpose of gaining readership is an effective way to run a blog (unless it is associated with a business), but it’s likely that you want your blog to be read. Post links to Facebook and Twitter, and interact with other bloggers.
Be cautious of your audience. Remember that as soon as you post something, it is available on the Internet and can be accessed by anyone. Be aware that future employers, friends, family, and even professors may be reading. Know that once you create a public blog, you are susceptible to a lot of risk–use it to your benefit. In the past, I’ve been offered two different positions without being interviewed, only because both employers found my blog and used it to “pre-screen” me.
There is so much to know about blogging, but it’s a continuous learning process. Feel free to ask questions or offer any tips of your own if you are a blogger!