On Friday, I wrote about why you should consider creating your own gospel-centered blog. Today’s article is a beginner’s tutorial on how to create a blog.
Choose a Blogging Platform
A blogging platform is the website, service, or software you will use to write, publish, and host your blog. The easiest option is to use a blogging service like Blogger.com because it provides the software and also hosts the blog. It’s also free and easy to use. More advanced bloggers may want to download their own blogging software and host their own blogs.
- Blogging services with hosting provided: Blogger, Tumblr, WordPress.com, Squarespace, TypePad
- Self-hosted blogging software: WordPress.org, Movable Type, Expression Engine, Joomla, Drupal
Choose a Domain Name
This is the web address people use to access your blog. (The domain name of this blog is LDS365.com.) Ideally, the domain name should be the same as the name of your blog. The shorter the domain, the better, because it is easy to remember and easy to type. You will have to pay an annual fee to register and use a domain name. You can use 1and1.com to check a name to see if it’s already in use, and then register the name you choose for $9 a year. If you use Blogger.com, you can use their domain blogspot.com free, like I did for my lighthearted blog RichmanRamblings.blogspot.com.
Design Your Blog
Visual appeal is important to attract and keep readers. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to hire a web designer. The blogging services listed above offer thousands of attractive templates you can use, with options to modify them with your own colors and images. Many are free and others can be purchased.
- Free WordPress Themes: Best Free WordPress Themes, WordPress.com’s Free Themes
- Premium WordPress Themes: Market Places (ThemeForest, WooThemes, Mojo Themes, Rocket Themes), 50 “Hand-Picked” Beautiful Premium Responsive WordPress Themes, Top 50 Premium WordPress Themes for Personal Blogs
If you want more design flexibility than the templates provide, you could consider a drag-and-drop design tool, such as Headway Themes, which is what I used to build TalkAboutSavingMoney.com.
Blogging isn’t just about writing and publishing your posts. You also need to analyze how many people are reading your blog and which articles they find interesting. Below is a list of basic tools you may find helpful:
- Google Analytics – free statistics about where your visitors come from and how they interact with your site
- Akismet Plugin – tracks spammers and helps keep them off your blog
- WordPress SEO – provides a great all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis and XML sitemaps
- Redirection – manages your 301 redirects and monitors 404 errors
- WordPress Database Backup Plugin – easily backs up your WordPress database
Create quality content
A well-designed blog may entice visitors to linger for the first visit, but quality content is what will keep them coming back. Writing for a blog is different than writing for a newspaper, magazine, or book. Write with short sentences and paragraphs. Provide bulleted lists. Use as few words as possible without sacrificing quality. And write as often as you can. If you need help coming up with topics, you may get ideas from these resources:
- Google Alerts – sign up for emails with the latest content on keywords of your choice
- Reddit – see what readers are ranking as top stories
- Digg – discover and share content from anywhere on the web
- Pinterest – see what interesting things other people are collecting and organizing
- StumbleUpon – discover websites based on your interests
- Flipboard – create your own magazine on any topic imaginable
- Alltop – see an online magazine rack of popular topics
Your writing can’t help others if no one reads it. Two of your most powerful marketing opportunities are search engine optimization (SEO) and using social media. SEO is all about getting your articles to show up on the results pages when people search for the topics you write about. Social media can be a great vehicle to help people see your articles, comment about them, and share them with others. Be sure to share your blog posts on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Here are some resources to learn more:
- Google Keyword Planner – Discover which keywords and phrases are searched for the most. You can then use those words in the titles and articles you write.
- Social Media Posting Guide – A handy 1-page guide with suggestions on how, when, and where to post.
Learn more about blogging
Keep learning more about how to write and promote good articles. Here are some blogging tips:
- 151 Blog Post Ideas Guaranteed to Blast Off Your Blog
- Timing and Blogging – the Science of Social Timing
- Copyblogger – copy writing tips for online marketing success
- ProBlogger – how to be a successful blogger
- The Moz Blog – marketing and SEO
- 16 Top Tips from Blogging Experts for Beginners
- 50 Can’t-Fail Techniques for Finding Great Blog Topics