Do you want to grow your business this year using social media? Do you want to boost your content and SEO?
A better question is.. who doesn’t? Blogging can help you grow your business in a number of ways, so I’m going to help you basics on getting started blogging.
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1. Figure out what you want to write about
This might seem simple, but you can’t just write about “business” or “fashion”, necessarily. Go beyond those broad categories and develop your own niche. For example, in my personal lifestyle blog, I write about timeless style that often incorporates easy but effective DIY projects, as well as recipes that I believe draw style back into your life, without taking up too much time or money. Style for less, essentially, see? My tagline is “Put the style back in lifestyle”, which leaves me with plenty of room to expand my content around that simple concept. Indeed, I recently started posting my social media blogs that are aimed at solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and hopefuls, since I think this relates to the overall stylish lifestyle setup.
Choose a general category, then go further. Try to find a unique angle that separates you from the rest of the blogosphere. As another example, I recently helped my fiancé develop his new sports blog. There are so many sports blogs out there as part of newspapers or radio shows, but they all focus on the actual facts and academics of sports. I encouraged him to write about the sports, but to always include the emotional aspect I see in him and all fans, that’s so rarely written about.
2. Do some research
Now that you’ve figured out what you’d like to write about, start researching other blogs that talk about the same things. If you’re writing about management solutions for the tech startup industry, Google that! It doesn’t hurt to add “blog” to your query. You’re looking for two things here.
1) Who else is writing about this? How many people? If there’s loads, you might consider the niche saturated. Your competition for search terms and readership loyalty will be high. If you think you truly have a unique voice, go ahead with it, and really hone in on that perspective or voice. Otherwise, you might consider a different niche.
2) What are their titles? You want to pick something that’s slightly different but not so different that it doesn’t seem to fit within the niche.
3. Pick a name
Ah, yes, the name-selection process. The bane of so many bloggers’ existence! Your title needs to be four things:
If the name isn’t catchy, you won’t seem clever, and the title won’t be memorable. If the title isn’t memorable, you’ll be relying entirely on search results for traffic, readers who remember to add your RSS feed to their reader, or business cards (and people who actually use them).
What’s a catchy name? You might come up with something great off the top of your head. If not, try to use these guidelines:
Before I came up with The Stylist Quo for my lifestyle blog, I spent a couple days agonizing over title-selection. I was using alliteration–the repetition of the prominent sounds or syllables in words–to come up with names like Red Velvet Victory, The Starving Stylist, etc. It wasn’t until one day in the shower, the accidental brainstorming location where I’m considering installing a shower-friendly whiteboard, that I thought of The Stylist Quo. I blame some of the idea on the fact that the 2012 election was nearing, and the term ‘the status quo’ was rampant on televised politicians’ lips. As soon as I came up with the name, though, I knew. It allowed me the freedom of content I desired, was catchy, and, well, made sense! The status quo is ‘the state of what is’. The stylist quo is, loosely, ‘the stylist of what is’!
Before I wrote The Stylist Quo, I wrote a food blog that chronicled my experience during the first year of law school. I titled it Legally Eating, another instance of wordplay around “legally speaking”. It made perfect sense in my blog’s marriage of food and law.
The title must also be
– easy to spell
If the name is at all difficult to spell, expect whoever runs a site similarly titled but easier to spell to get a lot of your traffic! You don’t want to have to be wasting your time explaining “Q as in Quebec, U as in uniform, O as in Oscar”; you want to spend your time talking about your actual blog!
Again, if the name is difficult to spell, you’ll be relying on those three elusive readers: search traffic (often unreliable when first starting a blog), RSS feeders, and business card-readers.
Lastly, the name must also be
– not taken
This may actually be the most complicated step of all.
Be prepared to be frustrated. Most of the names you think of will be taken! Keep trucking, though, and you’ll come up with something.
IV. Pick a platform
Now that you’ve picked your topic and your title, it’s time to choose a platform. Many people use Blogger, but I’ve never personally been a fan. I recommend using WordPress. At the very least, a familiarity with WordPress is an extremely useful skill to have, as many websites are built using the platform. Indeed, my social media management and marketing site, www.SQmodernmedia.com, is based on a WordPress theme.
For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll be using WordPress. If you choose Blogger, there are other tutorials out there for getting started with the platform.
V. Self-hosting or WordPress-hosting
If you choose WordPress, there are two options: WordPress.com and WordPress. WordPress.com uses the WordPress blogging platform and allows you to choose from themes and theme options to customize your site. For free, you can get a blog name like www.thestylistquo.wordpress.com. For something like $30 a year, WordPress.com will host the blog for you, meaning they’ll host your domain name, allowing you to use WordPress.com to write a blog like www.thestylistquo.com.
WordPress essentially provides the application WordPress for use on a website that’s hosted elsewhere. Without hosting, a domain name does you no good. Hosting allows you to save information on their servers and mount applications on your domain name so you can create a website.
The application WordPress allows you to alter the code for a more customizable blog. However, you can get away with plug-and-play themes on WordPress.com if you have no coding experience or wish to stay out of it.
If you already have a website, you’ll want to mount the application WordPress on your existing site. If your blog will be your site, you can consider WordPress.com.
If you go with WordPress.com, you can get started now! Just go to their site and sign up for a new blog. If you have a webmaster, ask them to set you up with a WordPress application on your domain.
If you need to do it yourself and want to use WordPress the application, I’m your only hope! I’ll show you how to do both…
But for now, get started on your homework!