So You Want to Start a Blog?

[tweetmeme]I love blogging and, if you’re a regular visitor to my site, you know how important I think a blog is to a company’s social media strategy. Lately, because they know I’m a blogger, several business colleagues have approached me about how to start a blog and what’s involved.  So let me give you my first, and most important tip:

Starting a blog is easy. Continuing to blog is hard work.

Here is my story: At the beginning of 2009 a friend suggested I start writing a blog. She had just begun and was having some fun with it. Blogging hadn’t been on my radar screen, but I thought I’d give it a try. I went to Word Press to register for a wordpress.com account. This is what I would call the plain vanilla blog. It’s quite easy to set up. You can upload your own image for a masthead, and they make it easy to resize. You go into the dashboard and start writing. Push a button and – voila! – you’ve written and published your first blog. Seemed simple enough and I wrote a few blog posts and really liked it.

Learning the mechanics

But the plain vanilla blog has its limitations – like no plugins (these are thingamajigs that add functionality – for example, if you bought a stripped-down car you would want to add basic things like a radio, air-conditioning, and automatic windows). So I decided to switch to a self-hosted blog and went to Word Press.org to download a template. For a larger selection of designs, you can also buy a premium template for about $79 at ithemes.com. Instead of the Word Press organization hosting your blog you pay for your own host. I use HostGator.

Are you with me? This is where it gets a little complicated. By sheer coincidence, just about this time, I was having coffee with a friend who mentioned that she had just finished a blogging course online and said it had helped her greatly. The new course was just starting and I decided to register.

It was a life-changing experience, as I’ve said many times.

I finished the 12-week webinar and have since taken other courses with my blogging coach Bea Fields. If you’re starting a self-hosted blog, unless you are super technical – and I’m not, I didn’t know a plugin from a vacuum cleaner when I started – you will need help to learn the mechanics. A blog is a content management system. That means you can go “under the hood,” as I like to say, and fix things yourself – add new copy, insert hyperlinks and images, move copy around your sidebars, add widgets – but you need to know how. It’s a commitment. And I’d like to recommend to you the course I took.

Become a Blogging Maniac

You can find tutorials online but, trust me, you will not find a better, or more reasonably priced course than Become a Blogging Maniac. The three-week Jump Start Program (to get you up and running) starts, Monday, April 4th. The 12-week intensive program follows. Don’t worry, if you miss a program they are all recorded and you can watch when you have time.  (I am not an affiliate and do not receive any money for this recommendation). The cost for both?  $117. The best money you’ll ever spend.

I just want you to become the best darn blogger you can be.

Remember how I began this post? I told you starting is easy, but to become a proficient blogger you have to work hard at learning the “trade.”  If you want a blog to greatly enhance your business and burnish your brand, then you need to be writing at least weekly. But a blog is also your springboard to other social media sites. You can automatically distribute each blog post to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and a bunch of other locations. Plus it’s a portfolio of your points of view on important topics and where you can promote your business.

Blogging has been hard work, and continues to be. But, I wouldn’t change a minute of the last 2-1/2 years. It’s been a great ride. I love it and I hope you will, too.

 

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Comments

  1. I tell people that they need a blog if they are going to start with social media because it is your “Home Base” – your Online Business Card where your prospects can learn about you. A good blog provides valuable content that positions you as an expert in your field. Nice job on your own blog!

  2. You’re right on the money. Setting up a blog is easy. It’s another great tool in the arsenal of social media that, when used correctly, can elevate the company’s (or the freelancer’s) status. An employer, especially one that is selling their expertise, cannot afford to miss out on creating one.

    The key is consistency; otherwise you lose the audience who no longer sees you are dependable for producing regular content.

  3. I agree with you about Bea’s training. Having been through an extremely long, disorganized blogging program at 15 times what she charges, I can honestly say she’s the queen of blogging programs. And yes, there’s a lot more to it than setting up the blog.

  4. Debbie — I’ve used the exact term “home base” when describing why a blog is central to a company’s social media strategy. In a previous post I wrote, “Think of your blog as your home base. It’s important to get runners on first, second and third base but they need to cross home plate for you to win. From your home base, you can feed important information directly to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other social media sites where your customers are forming communities.” By the way, I looked at your blog and it’s terrific – loved your Twitter blog post.

  5. Thanks Yvonne and Dolores. Yes, Bea is the best. And I’m glad, Yvonne, that my blog may be helpful to your client. Better not to start one then end up with an orphan!

  6. Hi Jeannette,
    A contact on LinkedIn recommended having a look here; I would like to compliment your site. Enjoyed the style; content, great! I am also a fan of WordPress! I agree, it’s interesting to tie it all together through the networking media (LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, etc); Google Analytics helping with feedback.
    Thanks & regards.