Sunday, February 24, 2013

How To Start A Blog

So you probably have been wondering how every one claims to be a "blogger" and oh, does it sound so impressive. All those people who seem to assert their thoughts and opinions in the most effective way. Now every one can be a blogger! It does not require complicated steps or even any charge in most options. So I put THE question up front and let you decide:

Would YOU like to be a blogger?

If you're answer is "yes" then you have come to the right place. Here are a few simple points you need to consider before starting your new blog.

1. What writing topic appeals to you?

What is it that gets your motor thinking? This step is what your entire blogging activity will focus around and the best part is, it doesn't necessarily have to be a big shot topic. You need to find out what is it that appeals to you. It can be anything from home making to teaching, from politics to home gardening, from fashion to health oriented topics, or simply a place where you jot down your creative ideas; short stories, poems, etc or plain updates. If you run your own business, a blog can be the perfect fit to communicate any news/updates about your product with your customers. My personal suggestion: whatever topic you choose, make it authentic by adding your own personal touch. That way people can relate to you more. Make it yours!

Some popular blogging topics are:
- Food
- Health tips
- Weddings
- Fashion
- Parenting
- Technology
- Personal or small business
- Gardening
- Creative writing, i.e. poems and prose
- News and politics
- Current affairs
- Entertainment blog, e.g., music, movies, celeb blogs etc.
- Art blogs, e.g., photography, painting, etc.
And many more.

2. To host or not to host

This is one of decisions you need to make before starting your new blog. You can either opt for a free blogging service or sign up for self hosting.

Free blogging platforms:

While this is easy to learn and ideal for beginners, free blogging platforms offer less flexibility and certain limitations. A free blogging platform like Blogger uses its own domain while you use their platform for your blogging purposes for free. However, you can choose to buy your own custom domain and redirect your URL to this new custom domain with no charge to Blogger. We will discuss in detail using a custom domain for your Blogger blog in later posts.

Hosting Options:

There are several very good hosting options available on the Internet like Wordpress that offer good self hosting options for a small annual fee. Though these hosting options take some time for beginners to get acquainted to, they are very flexible and will give the owner more benefits in the long run. Since this blog is all about how a free blogging service, Blogger, works, we will not focus on self hosting options till in later chapters.

3. Choosing a Platform

There are many blogging platforms available, both free services and hosting facilities that charge a small fee. Based on your needs, you can choose which platform suits you best. In a snapshot, here are some of the most popular blogging platforms you can choose from:
- Blogger :- Free blogging platform with all basic facilities, focusing on free options for controlling blog layout and design. There are many other reasons why you should choose Blogger as your blogging platform which we will discuss later on.
- Wordpress :- Free (with partial paid services) blogging service that offers limited layout and design features when used for free and more features and control when used as paid hosting.
- Tumblr :- For image based blogs
- Typepad :- Similar to Blogger, but with less flexibility. Ideal for beginner level bloggers who are more concerned with their content for now.
We will explore more on how to choose the blogging platform of your choice, based on your needs.

4. Blog title and optional tagline

This can be anything of your choice but one thing to keep in mind is that it shouldn't be too arbitrary or dull as to lure off a potential reader. A blog title should be short and preferably unique as well as loyal to the whole concept of your blog. For example, a gardening blog can have the name "The Love Of Gardening". Similarly, if a gardening blog were to have the name of "Home Making", which is a wider term, the reader will not instantly know what area of home making this blog is about. On the other hand, if you own a personal blog, you can use your own name as the blog title. For example, my personal blog has the name "Mehreen Farhan". I use my blog space to write creative pieces or just random things I come across. If it were a gardening or a news update blog, then naming it "Mehreen Farhan" would not only be misleading, but also off the whole topic, unless I was already some known personality.

In short, keep in mind the following:
- Blog title should be short and unique
- It should highlight the concept of your blog
- You can use blog tag line to further illustrate the purpose of your blog.

A good practice is to decide on a blog title and stick with it. Most readers will naturally associate your blogs through your blog title and may Google it up frequently to stay connected. So it's best to stick with a title and make it easier for people to find you on the Web.

5. Blog URL

Just like a blog title, a reader might associate your blog with its URL so its important to come up with an easy to remember blog URL and stick with it. While there are options where you can redirect your blog URL to another URL, if your source URL changes, you can lose a lot of readers unless they are informed off the record e.g. by email or any other notification process. So in order to minimize any risk of readership loss, think through a good blog URL and keep it. Your blog URL appears as: <your blog URL> in case of Blogger URLs. For example, my gardening blog "The Love Of Gardening" can have that the URL This will help my readers find my blog more easily if they happen to remember either the title or URL.

Here's a small checklist to keep in mind while deciding on a blog URL:
- It is a good practice to match your blog title with your blog URL.
- It is best to use symbols such as underscores "_" and dash "-" as less as possible.
- Use readable words like "" in your URL instead of word combinations like "" which make it almost impossible for a reader to keep in mind easily.

Once you are done with these five simple steps, you are half way done to starting your new blog. This was a general thought process to set up your blog. We will move onto see how to set up a new blog on Blogger in the next post.

Stay tuned!