Creating Your First Blog

Wordpress You’ve heard the stories, you might have even read the book, you know the ones I’m talking about “how I started my blog and earned $1000 in a day!” Let’s get one thing straight from the start; these people are liars or blessed with super powers, you decide which.

I am not here to make you empty promises; in fact I am not here to promise you anything but what I will offer you is a beginner’s guide to blogging for money. Before you hit the back button just hear me out, I am giving you this information for free; what have you got to lose? If you want you can spend hundreds of dollars on dubious information then regret it afterwards; we’ve all done it so don’t beat yourself up. I’ve done it, read it and learned nothing other than I was easily parted with my money because I was looking for the golden ticket.

The Basics

Blog is short for “weblog”, did you know that or have you learned something? Don’t feel bad we all start somewhere, more importantly what you need to understand is that a blog is a platform to convey a message, share information, make a stand, sell something or just document a bit about you. There is little point in getting hung up on the ins and outs of a ducks arse  just accept that blogs work, they have been around a while and they really do work.

Have You Got What it Takes?

To be fair that’s the million dollar question, who knows? I am writing this and I have no idea if anyone will ever read it but I have to believe they will otherwise I might as well just give up and accept that blogging isn’t for me. If you can type and have something to say then you have the basics of what it takes, if you are looking at a blog as a quick way of earning money then you are already onto a loser, give up now and do something else. Blogging for money isn’t easy, it isn’t quick and it can be soul destroying but the basics are what they are:

  • Writing Content
  • Attracting Visitors
  • Writing More Content
  • Attracting More Visitors
  • Writing More Content
  • Building Relationships
  • Repeat All of The Above

In about two years you might have the making of a good blog which can translate into a money-making business. If that’s put you off then “no” you haven’t got what it takes, if you are thinking; if that’s what it takes; so be it then yes you stand a very good chance of building a profitable blog.

Where Should You start?

Here’s the best advice I can give you “Start”, that’s it just start doing something, don’t wait. Start writing, start planning, start investigating which blogging platform you want to use, start thinking about what you want to achieve etc….. you get the idea, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, start today as tomorrow may never come. If you need some encouragement and I always find this works for me, write your first 5 posts no more no less, if at the end you are itching to write more you know you could make a success of this, if you run out of ideas maybe you need a different blogging plan. I have used this exercise so many times and it’s saved me from wasting my time on a subject that just didn’t have the legs to keep me interested.

Now What?

Assuming you’re still excited and raring to go “now what”, to save you pondering on it for too long I will help you out, “I am nice like that”!  If you have completed one of the options choose another one.

Option 1 – Choose a blogging platform

Option 2 – Write an “About Me” page for your blog

Option 3 – Register a domain name

Option 4 – Design or buy a logo

Option 5 – Write another 5 posts

Option 6 – Subscribe to my newsletter

Sumarketing is all about helping you become an established blogger, it’s got an ever growing database of articles, tips and advice all designed to help you succeed but here’s the thing; I like to practice what I preach. When you’re first starting out as a blog owner it’s too easy to get inundated with useless information, you will find a plethora of gurus all trying to tell you how easy it is and how much money you can make if you just buy their eBook or course.

I don’t work that way, if I want you to buy something; I make sure it works first and that’s why I have decided to teach you how to build a blog from scratch. Please interact with me here,  if you are unsure; ask, if you are starting a blog share it with me via the comments section, if what I am saying doesn’t make sense for god’s sake tell me and don’t forget about my newsletter. Without further ado let’s build a blog.

Preparation

This is the hardest part, you may remember I said in other posts that most people fail before they start or don’t get started. Preparing yourself is the starting point, this is your road map, this is the plan you can fall back on when you run out of ideas, and this is a step in the process that you can’t afford to miss out! At this point if I was you I would get a pen and paper or open a word document and start making notes, oh and coffee is a good idea too!

What’s Your Blog About?

What’s it about, you may be thinking it’s about sharing information, let me tell you there are a million blogs out there sharing information and you will have to compete with them. Think about why someone would want to come to your blog instead of one that’s been established for ten years, has 5000 articles on it and is authored by an industry expert. What makes your blog so special?

With this in mind you have to think about where your strengths are, what can you offer that’s different, it doesn’t mean you have to find a competition free niche it just means you have to be confident in your ability to write with authority in your niche. OK here’s my thinking when I started BB:

What am I interested in? = internet marketing and making money

Am I an expert in IM? = not for me to say!

Have I got information useful to others? = yes, ideal for beginners

Can I write about it? = yes

Do people want this information? = yes

Is there competition? = yes

Can I compete with the competition? = yes, if I differentiate what I am offering

What’s my USP? = I can target beginners and cut out all the useless information out there, I can concentrate on the people who want to learn

Is that enough? = no, I can teach as well as tell; I can build a relationship via email

Have I got the staying power? = yes

I now have some ideas for my business; the list above helps focus my mind of where I stand a chance of success. My business will be about helping new internet marketers, it will be written in a non-technical way, and it will sift through the noise and deliver the facts, warts and all.

If I am able to translate the tirade of information out there into a logical process, who knows it might just work. Why don’t you make a list and see what you come up with. Warning, one of the hardest subjects to blog about is blogging, it’s easy to do so people think “I can do that”, it is also very easy to do wrong so I would avoid it as your first project.

Who Are You?

You may have arrived here with a clear idea of what you want to write about, if not I always find this exercise helpful, often it will throw up ideas I hadn’t thought of. What it does is help you explore blogging opportunities that hadn’t occurred to you, it’s effectively word association, try it!

What sex are you – women, daughter, mum, girlfriend, wife, trying to get pregnant, lesbian, single, married?

Man, dad, son, gay, granddad, impotent, petrol head, football mad

Where are you from- where were you born, where do you live now, what’s interesting about where you live, do you own or rent, can you build a house

What’s your name – what’s the history of your name, have you got any famous relatives, does your name say anything about you

Where did you go to school – was it a grammar school, was it a boarding school, what were your teachers like, what subjects did you like, who were you’re friends, what are they doing now

How old are you – what are your age group interested in, what problems they have, what you wish you could do but are too young or old

Have you got children – what are they interested in, what problems do parents have, what are they good at, what help do you need

Have you got any pets – can you train your pet, how do you keep them, what do they eat, what problems do they cause

What are your hobbies – sport, knitting, skydiving, dancing, maybe something unusual

What’s your job – how did you get it, what training did you need, what’s your dream job

What are you interested in – politics, dating, making money, food, cooking

What are your goals – retiring, a holiday, a new home, better health, losing weight

What problems do you have – low confidence, quit smoking, stain removal, public speaking, disciplining children, finding a partner, local issues, poor health

Hopefully you get the idea, blogging is about asking questions, find out what matters to you and others and you have a basis for a blog.

Who’s it For?

Who are your audience? This is a prerequisite of any blog as without an audience it’s just a load of words on a screen. If you identify your audience in the early days you can adapt your writing style to suit, be flexible here as it takes time to understand your readers bit it’s worth it.

Develop Your Voice.

When I read anything online I want to connect with it, I want to feel that the author is talking to me and when they do I am hooked. Over the years I have read and written millions of words, the minute I feel it’s going over my head or is just a repeat of what I have seen before I switch off! There is no way on earth every person who lands on this site or reads my newsletter will connect with it, there will be the plumb gob type who think my style of writing is crude and littered with poor grammar; here’s my response “sorry” but I write to convey a message not please academics.

I’m a Scouser, I like to tell it as it is and I like to get straight to the point. My writing follows a similar path, if I can read it, understand it and take something from it then I am happy, if not I hit the delete button. As you start blogging consider what I have said and develop your own online voice.

Take a Breath!

I know you are desperate to get going, impatience is a trait of all entrepreneurs but it’s important you go through the exercises above. In order to start your journey you need to know where you’re going, why you’re going there and how you will get there.

Preparation is the key, figure out what you want to blog about, who you are writing for and what your audience want from you, only then will you have a solid foundation to work from. Don’t be afraid of competition, it means there’s money in your niche, befriend them and learn from them as you never know how you can help each other in the future.

The Mechanics of Blogging

I am not telling you what to do but before you get in the car it’s best to learn to drive first. In this section of the post I want to deal with the mechanics of building your blog, you’ve got the desire, established your niche and you’ve developed your idea, now you need to get the blog set up to start sharing your content with the world.

Domain Names

The first thing you need is a name? It used to be a simple case of finding a domain name registrar and buying one. Sadly those days are gone; if you have spent any time trying to find a suitable name you will have found that most good names are gone. Don’t worry; forget that for now you will find a suitable name eventually.

What extension do you want, I recommend .com as it’s a worldwide extension, of course you can have your country extension if you like .co.uk, .com.au, .de etc…What do you want to call your blog, what will your name say about your blog, will a brandable name be OK or would you prefer an exact match? The exact match for BB “Blogging for Beginners” had gone so I had to think outside the box.

I wouldn’t bother using your own name unless you are already famous in your niche and check with the social networks to see if your potential blog name is taken as you really want to have the name for marketing purposes, use this tool to check social networks.

Always check the name isn’t trademarked, if it is stay away from it; you’ll only lose it down the road. You can check global trademarks on Trademarkia  or for UK trademarks use IPO.

Get a few name ideas down on paper, say them over and over, do they roll of your tongue, are they easy to remember, and how easy is it too spell. Run them past your family, does the name make sense, what does it say about your blog?

There is much debate about choosing a name, brandable vs exact match with pros and cons on each side, is “Google” much better than” list of websites” for a domain name? There are many aftermarket platforms where you can buy names previously registered, you will pay a premium for these so in the early days avoid them if you can, try to get an unregistered name first, it’s cheaper.

If you want to know more about domain names there is tons of information for UK domainers here on Acorn Domain Forum or for the rest of the world here on DN Forum.

Choosing a Registrar

Once you have an idea for a name you will need to register it, I prefer , 123-reg
or GoDaddy, both are easy to use and offer support, website building software and an email facility.  What you will find is that registrars are all competing for your business; they often have discount codes, add on’s and freebies so explore their sites to get the best deal.

If you are worried about registering a domain name, it simply means you own the rights to use that name exclusively for a specific period of time, you can renew it, sell it or cancel it if you wish, don’t get hung up on it. There are literally thousands of registrars, over time you will find which one suits your purposes, I was concerned when I started buying names but to be honest I have never had a problem with the three I’ve mentioned.

The Blogging Platform

This is the easy part; you need blogging software in order to have a blog. I prefer to usewordpress.org because I am comfortable using it, you can use other blogging platforms if you wish.

The reason I use WordPress instead of one of the free platforms is because it’s flexible, has plenty of plugins to add functionality to my blog, has hundreds of free themes and has a great support network. Don’t worry if you are not familiar with these terms, it’s all explained on their site. I would be here forever trying to explain how good WordPress is, visit the site and you will very quickly learn how easy it is to use.

 Hosting Your Blog

In order to use this version of WordPress you will need to host it yourself, which means you find a host and your blog will be on their servers. Again there are millions of the buggers, the registrars above all offer hosting for a fee, in the UK I use Evo Hosting because I can pay monthly and when I break my blog they fix it for me without complaining. For my blogs that are aimed at the rest of the world I use Bluehost again because I can pay monthly.

Another reason I use Evo and Bluehost is because they have a 1 click install for WordPress which is great when you haven’t got a clue what you are doing, at the time of writing both offer a free domain name with a new hosting plan. They also have a knowledge base which runs you through how to install your blog.

Which Theme?

I generally like a clean looking site, wherever possible I use a white background, obviously not on here. In my opinion a blog will stand or fall on its content not on how fancy it is, this is where WordPress excels. You have literally hundreds of themes to choose from.

The best advice I can give you is experiment with the free one’s before you start buying premium themes. If you don’t know how to code that’s OK but if you want to change the functionality of your theme you will need to learn a little HTML and CSS, here are two great resources for beginners W3Schools and HTML Code Tutorial . Having no knowledge of code will not stop you building a blog, down the road when you want to get fancy it will come in handy but it’s not needed to start.

If you are still unsure or even nervous (I was in the beginning) about using WordPress then all of the resources I have given you so far have plenty of information about getting started, especially Evo Hosting. If you still need help take a look at WordPress support and installation.

Get Writing Content

So there you have it, you have a name for your blog, you have a platform to blog on, a host to store it and a nice theme, wasn’t that easy. I remember when I first started all of the above was a foreign language and quite scary. Honestly and you will have to trust me on this; it really isn’t difficult. The best way to learn is to do it; it won’t break and even if it does come back here or use the support and together we will figure it out.

We are now at the final hurdle when it comes to becoming a blogger, the most important part bar none; writing content!

A blog isn’t a blog unless it has content, not just any old content but unique, engaging and useful content. If you think anything less will do then your blogging career will be short lived and very frustrating. If you have a look around the net you will notice successful blogs (money making blogs) have fantastic content and lots of it!

Content can come in many forms, text, pictures, videos, info graphics and so on…the point is it needs to bring something to the party. If your content is boring, copied, pointless or padding out the page it shouldn’t be there. If you find yourself struggling to write engaging content try the exercises I mentioned earlier or consider whether you are in the right niche. I am not encouraging you to give up but I urge you to only ever publish content you are proud to put your name on.

I would be lying if I said I have never hit a wall when it comes to content, certainly not on SUMARKETING but on many other ventures I have simply run out of ideas, those ventures are no longer with us; RIP!

Try these simple exercises if you are struggling for content ideas it may help:

Use a keyword tool – widely used by bloggers Google Keyword Planner is a great starting point; in short you are able to see what people are searching for in your niche. Set the search criteria to your country and the “exact match” setting on the left of the page, this will give you a list of words people are searching for and the amount.

Visit forums – this is a brilliant way of finding out what people are talking about in your niche, forums. It never ceases to amaze me how many ideas for content you can gain by interacting with your audience and forums are a real time way of doing it.

Let’s say you have a pet training blog and have written all the usual basic training posts then what? You visit a pet forum a find many people are having problems with flea treatments, nail clipping, fireworks etc… Well how about using this information to write a post about training your dog to have his nails clipped or stop firework fright. OK these are off the top of my head ideas but you understand the point, go where your customers go, find out what they want and give it to them.

Use your blog – this is your secret weapon for soliciting content ideas. If you are writing content that provokes, challenges or informs you will inevitably receive comments from your readers. Your comments should be a breeding ground of ideas, so use them. If someone doesn’t agree with what you’re saying ask yourself why? Ask them why? Maybe they are right, maybe there is another side to the story you are trying to tell, if so write about it.

Another way of using your blog for content ideas is polling or surveys; ask your reader’s questions, you could even ask what they want you to write about. How about guest blogging, I am not talking about you writing for others but others writing for you. If someone has a good understanding of your niche and wants to offer free content, take it!

Final Word on Content

The main point about content is your blogging success will stand or fall on it! Far too many blogs are started then abandoned because the owner runs out of ideas, you should know before you start if your niche has longevity.

Content writing is difficult when you are scraping around for something to say, it’s easy when you are passionate about your subject, when you are excited about your message and when you have confidence in the content you are putting out there. Take Sumarketing, I have to write about stuff that has been written about a million times, possibly even better than I can write it. I am bursting with ideas, virtually every paragraph I write gives me another idea for a post, I have a list of over 100 articles ready to be written which means if I write one a week I am good for two years, that’s not including the ideas I pick up during that time.

Ask yourself has your niche got that kind of potential, if it has start writing and don’t stop. Don’t worry if it’s not the best just keep writing, I promise you the more you do it the better it becomes, anyway the best barometer is how your readers respond, let them be the judge and jury.

Summary

I have just looked at my word count and it’s at 4081 words, I can’t help thinking I have missed something out. I wanted this post to be an introduction to blogging, to help you develop ideas, to show you the mechanics of blogs and to inspire you to get started; only you know if I achieved it?

I have made a point during this post of explaining how important interaction is and here is your chance to interact with me, tell me what you thought of the information, what did I miss, what did I do right, what did I do wrong, was it useful, has it helped and most importantly did it make sense?

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