Everything you need to know about starting your own blog.
This is the first article in a series of informational posts about blogging successfully.
"I want to start my own blog."
Your blogging journey begins with this simple idea, the thought of expressing yourself. And as this idea takes root you may begin to wonder where to start. A million questions may pop up in a jiffy and you could feel lost before you even start. But don't worry, we are here to help you get started in the best way possible.
So, let's begin with the first question which a blogger should ask themselves:
The idea which becomes a successful blog is rarely a novel one. You need not look for a subject that is so unique that no one has ever heard of it. What you need is an idea which you can justify through your writing. You will gain readers and recognition for your voice and the individuality which you bring to them. Try answering the following questions to zero-in on a subject matter:
1. What is it that you are most interested in - Are you interested in sports? Are you a movie buff? Are you interested in technology or does the environment interest you? Do you like telling stories or are you a poet with words to share? What piques your interest the most will help you understand what inspires you the most.
2. What do you talk about often - Imagine you are at a party where you've met some new people. Now, which is the topic you would be most comfortable speaking on? Which subject drives you so much that you can't stop talking about it? Is it cars or the latest fashion accessory? Do you often engage in political discussions or debate on financial conditions and business? Do you initiate a conversation with a book you read or do you know everything about a new TV series? What you speak about most comfortably can help you decide the topic you are most confident with.
3. How do you speak about the said topic - Suppose you love politics. In a conversation, do you get passionate and emotional? Do you remain rational and logical while discussing politics? Or do you crack jokes and find humor in the reigning political climate? The way you speak naturally is the ideal way for you to write as well. Be it emotional, rational, funny, or something else, the way you speak reflects your individuality and your blog needs to possess the same quality to stand out.
4. Who else talks this way - Now that you know what you want to write about and in what way, you need to find out who else likes talking about the same subjects and in similar ways. Research the topic and read more blogs on that topic to understand who else has a similar point of view or the opposing one. This could help you fine-tune your own ideas and help you structure your thoughts.
Once you have done a bit of brainstorming and a bit of research, you would find yourself in a much better position with respect to the subject of your blog. But there are a few more questions which can help you refine your thoughts even more.
a. Will I be specific or generic - If you are writing about baseball (for example) you can write general articles about the games and the players or you can dig deep into each innings and dissect the game thoroughly for your readers. Writing in 'specific' terms would reflect expertise on the subject which your readers would prefer over generic content.
b. Am I writing for myself or others - If you are writing for yourself, you can easily get a journal, a notebook, or open a word doc on your computer. There would not be a need to create a blog at all. So, a blog is definitely meant for an audience and that is who you are writing for. Bring your flair into the writing but write with a specific audience in mind.
c. Is it even relevant - You need not write on a new topic but you do need to write about things that are relevant for your readers. For example, if you write about Egyptian history and your audience belongs to American suburbs, you would only find a handful of readers who would ever read your blog. Yes, you may build a relevant audience with time but it would be preferable to start writing on subjects that can have a larger reader base. You can narrow down into a niche but start by casting a wider net.
That being said, you are now in a position to identify the subject matter better and create a road map for your content. You know who you will be writing for, what would you be writing, and how would you be writing it. The next logical step is to think about the blog name.
The name of your blog is as important as the content within. The name you choose should ideally be short, memorable, and relevant to your content. You cannot have a blog called FinanceNow (for example) and write about kittens. It is important to understand that the aim for you is to have readers keep coming back for more. If your readers cannot remember it, feel the name irrelevant, or confuse it with some other blog then you miss out on readers.
Explore the domain name providers for available names (more on this as you read along). Play with words and try finding alternatives if the name you wanted isn't available. Try shortening it, using numbers, or using abbreviations. Suppose you are a poet and want the blog domain name to be 'mypoetry' but it isn't available. Try 'mypoems', 'poemsandme', 'ipoet' etc. Stick with simplicity and you'll have a great blog name in no time.
This leads us to the next question in our blogging journey.
You can buy a domain name (name of your blog) from domain name providers like GoDaddy, Namecheap, etc. and you need to pay a small fee to register the name, which depends on the providers. But once you have bought the domain name (Say iamapoet.com) you will need a hosting platform where you can build your blog or the website.
PubNinja, for example, can be your hosting platform as it is designed keeping every need of a creator in mind. PubNinja is a platform intended for all kinds of creators and is ideal for a blogger developing their own website. As a blogger, you would find every tool available on the platform from the text editor to sharing tools. The greatest advantage that PubNinja offers is that you can host your blog for free and would get access to PubNinja's creator tools at no cost to yourself.
You can port (transfer) your domain name to PubNinja easily and quickly and start writing your first post in less than 5 minutes. Compared to other similar sites like Wordpress, PubNinja offers you a distinct advantage of plug and play. You need not spend any time in customizing your website, adding plugins, or hiring a website designer to run your blog. PubNinja provides you with a dynamic website that you can start on immediately.
That's it! You have a blog ready for content and all you need to do now is start writing. And as you write more, you may need to find ways of coming up with new ideas for your content. Read this next post to learn more about content idea generation.