In the first of my series on kickstarting a blog I covered how spending time in the planning stage and answering questions about what when and why you will blog will help you to start well and keep on track to more easily meet your blogging goals. In the final part of the series I will look at how to sustain your efforts and enjoy your successes over time.
Why not use WordPress?
With the increasing popularity of WordPress, the most popular blogging platform, any technical concerns needn’t be a barrier to you starting a blog. With options to host a blog on wordpress.com, or a simple installation process for self-hosted sites at wordpress.org, you can get started easily and the web is awash with tutorials as to how to get started.
If you are serious about building your brand online, then you should look at the self-hosted wordpress option. Once you have purchased your chosen url and hosting platform, the wordpress install is a straightforward process and you can set up your blog simply and quickly.
You will want to also set up a series of plugins from wordpress, many of which are free to use or available in return for a donation, and which will enhance the appearance and performance of your site.
You could add an infinite number of plugins, but keep in mind that a higher number of plugins will adversely affect the speed of your site, so balance the usefulness of each plugin against the effect it may have in slowing down your site – readers will not hang around waiting for your content to download, no matter how good it might be.
Four key plugins
At a minimum you will want to look at plugins to cover the following areas:
- Akismet, which really does filter spam and prevents abusive or offensive comments being posted on your blog
- Google analytics, like this one by Yoast, that will give you essential information about how your blog is performing and allow you to improve its performance over time
- An SEO plugin that will help you to refine your content and make it show up better in search engine pages. I use WordPress SEO plugin, again by Yoast, which seems to work well for me.
- And finally you will be wise to install a plugin that will allow you to easily and frequently back up both your content and your database so that if the worst happens you will be able to restore your site – such as Backup WordPress.
With these four plugins in place, you can also browse the extensive library of plugins at wordpress.org which will allow you to easily add contact forms, connections to social media sites, allow you to schedule posts to publish when you want them to, and many more that will help you to customise your site to serve your own particular goals.
How does it look?
Once you are happy with the technical set up of the site you can focus on the appearance and design, and again there are many free or premium themes that can be installed as they are or adapted to suit you.
Again, the tools available make this a simpler task than it may appear – you should be able to customise how your blog looks and get it to appear how you want to with a little effort.
What about the content?
Before you start to publicise the site, make sure you have a number of posts prepared – probably about 10 – so that you can start to tell people about your site and give them a substantial reason to visit, revisit and share with their own contacts.
However valuable your content is and however much work you have done in the planning, you will need to push the content out and tell people about it – or no-one will know it is there.
Because of course publishing the content and preparing the look and functionality of the blog is only a very small first step – the real work starts after this!
Spreading the word
You should make use of your existing network to publicise your blog and get people reading and commenting; add the url to your email signature, add the blog to various directories, network with other bloggers.
Above all, be original, think of your reader, respond to comments and share your insights as you develop your tone of voice. Be consistent with the times and frequency that you post, and keep going – there is nothing worse than a blog that has been started and then neglected.
Kickstarting a blog will take effort and enthusiasm, you will learn lots of new things along the way, but this effort and enthusiasm is nothing compared to the stamina you will need to sustain and continue your blog over time, as you may not immediately see signs of success.
In the final part of this series, I will look at maximising and sustaining your efforts, and what you will need to do repeatedly and consistently to ensure your blog is seen and heard.
What are your best tips to look at when starting a blog? Are there any concerns you have that are stopping you giving this a go? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.