How to Start a Blog (And Why You Should Do it Today)
I started this blog because I want to help aspiring writers like you — people who know they have the words inside them but need help in all phases of building their online writing career. This includes the writing itself, building consistent habits, marketing, and technical aspects.
I conducted a few surveys and was surprised to find out many of you don’t have blogs and are complete beginners. In focusing on the motivational aspects of writing — encouraging you to do the things I thought you already knew how to do — I failed to realize how early in the process many of you were.
So, to those in the community who have a decent amount of knowledge, I apologize, because we’re going back to the beginning.
Bit by bit, I’m going to discuss everything you need to know about writing online. Hopefully, by doing this, we’ll all be on the same page moving forward.
Today’s post will be about starting a blog and why it’s important to have one. We will soon hone in on picking a subject, writing post themselves, and building habits, but the blog starts first.
Why You Need Your Own Space On The Internet
Before we start, let’s make sure we’re clear on who this post is for.
If any of these sounds like you, you’re in the right place:
- You have dreams of becoming an author
- You’re in a non-fiction niche (sorry, I’m not a fiction guy)
- You have an interest in having fans and making money off your writing in the future
The first step in having a real writing career is having your own “home base” on the internet in the form of a self-hosted blog.
A self-hosted blog means you purchase your own unique domain name and hosting, which means you own the website.
There are some free platforms you can blog on, but it’s important you have your own space for several reasons.
- It’s professional – If you have a blog labeled johnsmith.blogspot.com or janedoe.tumblr.com it screams of amateurism. Having a blog with that type of title makes it seem like writing is just a hobby to you. A self-hosted blog with your own unique domain name shows you’re serious about your craft and about making it a business instead of a hobby.
- Control – Beware of digital sharecropping. Digital sharecropping means you rent space on land you don’t own, which makes you subject to the terms of the owner. For example, I republish my work on Medium, which is a popular blogging website. This gives me tons of exposure and it’s a great strategy, but I make sure to keep my posts at home base. Reason being that sites like Medium can change on a whim without giving you notice. They could change their algorithm and adversely affect where your posts show up. Facebook made a change to their algorithm that drastically decreased the reach of fan pages because they wanted to promote their advertising services. Those who relied on facebook for their platform suffered. Keeping your entire blog on rented land leaves your neck on the line, better to own it.
- Audience – I advocate a two-pronged approach to blogging. You can build your audience through republishing your work on bigger sites and through guest posting. You do this by sending your readers to a landing page, where you can entice them to enter their email address in a variety of ways (I’ll explain later.) A landing page is a stand alone and helps aim people toward your email list, which is actually more important than sending them to your blog. You can, however, use links in republished work and guest posts to send traffic to your website, which when done right, can gain you ever more fans through the strategic use of email sign up forms on your blog. In future posts, I’ll show you how to set up a blog that catches new readers like a fish net.
How to Choose the Right Domain Name
Yesterday, we went over the process of discovering a topic to write about. Once you have that down, you can work on choosing a domain name.
I have one simple rule for choosing a domain name — don’t get cute.
If my name weren’t complicated to spell, I would’ve chosen ayodejiawosika.com. I went with ayothewriter.com instead because it spoke to who I was and the message I was trying to portray.
You want your domain name to relate to your niche. It doesn’t have to necessarily, e.g. Google, but you’re not Google.
There are a few techniques you can use to choose the right domain name:
- Browse other websites in your niche – Not to steal ideas from others, but to get an overall feel for what readers in that audience resonate with. If you see a theme that overlaps, use it to guide your thinking.
- Brainstorm 20 domain names – Let it fly here. Come up with as many names as possible. Sit on it for a bit, come back and narrow it down to three. You’ll want to make sure each domain name is available before choosing the final one. Searching for domain name availability will help eliminate choices too.
- Use your full name – This is a great option for 80 percent of writers.
Start Your Blog Today & Get FREE Coaching From Me
To set up your blog, you need to work with a hosting company.
I use Bluehost for my blog.
I am an affiliate for the company, which means I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you choose you to create a website using my link. If you decided to google Bluehost and went directly to the site, it’d be the same price.
To make the decision to use my link a no-brainer, I have a special offer for you.
Starting next month, I’m creating a free monthly coaching group for anyone with their own self-hosted blog. I will cover an important subject and have a Q & A session to answer everyone’s questions.
If you already have your own self-hosted blog, you’re in. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add you to the group.
If you don’t have your own blog yet, sign up through my link, and I’ll add you to the group.
I created a page showing you exactly how to start a blog. Follow the directions shown, and you’ll be up and running in minutes.
This is the first of a series covering the nitty gritty you need to know to build your writing career. If you have any questions you want to be answered or topics you want covered, let me know in the comments.