To many people, starting a blog or website is intimidating. They imagine HTML and programming, server management, SEO jargon they don't understand, and revenue sources that require thousands of visits each day.
That used to be me about 7 years ago and I was afraid of the “technical” aspect of building websites. Looking back, I don’t even remember exactly why. Maybe it was a fear of failure or just the unknown. What if my website crashed – how would I handle that? How would I make money? How would I get people to visit my blog?
All these questions created more self-doubt, until I looked around at other bloggers, read their “About Me” pages and realized there wasn’t anything more special about these people. The fact that just about anyone was able to figure it out gave me the confidence to take the plunge. And as they say, the rest is history.
Nowadays, I’m an entrepreneur with the means to create things people can appreciate around the world. I make a living online, enjoy a flexible schedule although people call me a workaholic, run my own business, and my boss gives me a full bonus every year. There are challenges, of course, and I didn’t get here overnight, but I earned it with blood, sweat and tears, and no one can take that away from me.
So the question you need to ask yourself is – “should I start a blog?”
Why Do People Blog?
The answer to this question depends on who you are, the purpose of your blog, and what you hope to achieve. Because the barriers-to-entry are so low, authors, teachers, stay-at-home parents, freelancers, and business owners, just to name a few, have flocked to the internet for personal, professional and financial reasons.
I started blogging because I wanted to build something, help people improve their lives with educational content, have a voice, and make money at the same time. But each person has his own reasons.
For example, as a business owner, blogging presents an incredible opportunity to market your business, build relationships with industry insiders, communicate directly with your customers, and take advantage of e-commerce to grow revenue. This is how many consultants, financial advisors, insurance agents, and freelance professionals are marketing themselves to new clients.
However, most bloggers don’t start because they own an existing business they want to market. In fact, blogging actually becomes their business. This group is pre-dominantly comprised of work-at-home moms (WAHMs) and career professionals looking to augment their household income by blogging about personal finance, fashion, food, etc. This is because earning a part-time income online is very feasible, and who can complain about the flexible schedule and independence that comes with making money from home.
Finally, some bloggers do it strictly as a hobby. At its core, blogging is all about expressing yourself and helping others. Whether your goal is to create a sense of community, promote a social cause, or share your knowledge to improve people’s lives is up to you.
Ultimately, the one commonality between all these groups is that, to build a loyal following, bloggers must offer something of value that encourages people to come back, even if it comes in the form of entertainment and humor.
How To Start Blogging Today
If you’re a great cook and your family and friends have been telling you to start a food blog, then just do it. If you have a passion for discussing money and personal finance, create a blog detailing your journey to financial freedom. If people are constantly approaching you to compliment your fashion sense, share it with the world. Here are a few steps to get you started in the right direction.
The first step to starting an online business or hobby is to find something you are passionate about. Don’t pursue the money from the get-go or your passion will feel like a job. As they say, find something you love and the money will follow. As your audience grows and your business matures, you will come up with creative ways to monetize your blog.
Free vs Paid Hosting
This is where many potential bloggers get a bit confused because they opt for a free option when a self-hosted solution would better serve their needs and long-term goals. While Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress.com all offer free blogging, these online platforms actually limit your ability to control, customize, and make money with your blog.
If you plan on making money blogging, you will need a self-hosted WordPress blog. To start a professional blog and be credible, you must buy hosting from a credible company. Most web hosts will provide a free domain, a $15 value, when you purchase hosting. In regards to hosting, the cost is generally $3 to $5 per month.
After buying hosting, you’ll need to install the WordPress blogging software, which comes from WordPress.org, not WordPress.com. WordPress is by far the most popular blogging software in the world and because of its popularity, most web hosting companies offer 1-click installs. However, if you need help with the installation process, check out a step-by-step guide on how to start a blog that will walk you through a setup.
Tips on Growing Traffic
Fortunately, setting up a blog is the easy part; getting traffic and growing it is more of the challenge. Below are a few content development and search engine optimization tips worth keeping in mind as you begin to build your website.
· Write great titles and headlines
· Make a name for yourself by producing educational, useful, entertaining or inspiring content
· Blog often and on a consistent schedule
· Use list blog posts because they tend to get more traffic
· Make sure you discuss the topics that are important to your readers
· Leverage social media platforms to increase your online reach
· Network with other bloggers in your niche to build relationships
· Guest post on other blogs and publications to grow exposure
· Interlink your blog posts to keep readers on your website
In the end, just try to have fun and enjoy the journey as you learn things, make new friends, refine your writing skills, make some money, help others, and build something that represents you!