The process to begin blogging can seem overwhelmingly technical; and parts of it can be. To help make it easier, I’ve broken the process down into seven steps.
Go to Godaddy and see if the domain name you want is available and register it. You will need to register for an account at Goddady, if you do not already have one, then it’s only $10.19 to register a domain name. That fee is due each year, or you can register for a lower per year rate if you register for multiple years up front. Either way, it’s well worth securing your brand and having your own domain name.
HostGator is one of the best hosting companies on the web and very reliable in their service. They have a variety of packages available, depending on on your needs. Before you signup for an account at HostGator, contact me and I can get your first month of hosting for only .01 and only $9.95 per month after that with unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth and unlimited domains all hosted for that one low price!
WordPress is the blogging platform of choice from amateur to professional bloggers alike. If you use HostGator, they are a cpanel enabled web host that offers Fantastico and you can easily install a WordPress blog in just a few MouseClicks with no html or technical experience needed. It sets up your MySQL databases for you and everything. The fastest and easiest way to get a hosted WordPress blog up and running.
*Configure Your WordPress: log into your /wp-admin area and I highly recommend you set your Settings > Permalinks to Month & Name, as this is a much more Search Engine (SEO) friendly option.
*Also, my recommendation to help control comment spam: Settings > Discussion > tic the box next to “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”
*Go through and check other settings and adjust as you feel necessary to suit your needs.
Deciding on a WordPress theme is probably the most difficult part to getting started in blogging, because there are so many choices! A Google search for ‘free WordPress themes’ will return thousands of choices. Choose a theme that best suits your blog topic: personal, professional, fun, whimsical, cooking, etc… Just make sure the navigation is clear and easy to follow and the text easy to read. I highly recommend that you use only widgetized themes.
*Widgets are used in the sidebar of your theme for navigation, such as categories, pages, recent posts, as well as,
other plugins you may want to add to your blog. The beauty of widgets is that you can drag and drop them to
move their position in your sidebar without having to mess with any html coding at all. Text widgets allow you to
paste html code into them for ad banners, for example, to appear in your sidebar. Widgets are excellent for the
blogging novice and pro alike.
Plugins are add-on components that extends the capabilities of the core features of WordPress. Widgets are a type of plugin; but not all plugins are widgets. One plugin that comes built into WordPress is Akismet, and it’s sole purpose is to control comment spam. Generally I recommend that you search for and install plugins if you find you have a need for a function or feature within your blog. It’s better than installing a slew of plugins that you do not know what their purpose is or you don’t really need or use. That said, I do have a few plugin recommendations I find highly useful:
* All-in-One SEO Pack
* Comment Redirect
* Twitter Tools
* WP Related Posts
I recommend you publish pages, which are static pages of contact such as an ‘About’ page that tells something about you or your company, a ‘Contact’ page with a contact form and any other contact information you wish to display and then start publishing articles, also known as ‘posts’ within WordPress. Posts are dynamic, meaning they are automatically archived by month and year and the latest blog post will display first on your web page, unless you have chosen the option to display a state page on the front page of your blog (not recommended).
Now that you have your blog up and running, you need to get the people to come read it. Contrary to the ‘Field of Dreams’, it is not as easy as the ‘build it and they will come’, you need to let people know you have a blog to help drive the traffic to it. Social media networking is one very effective traffic generation method: Facebook, Ning forms, Yahoo groups, online message forums, your email signature and Twitter are all forms of social networking where you can let others know you have a blog. Put your blog in your email signature on your business card, letterhead or online profiles across the web. The Twitter Tools plugin mentioned above is an amazing and highly effective tool that will automatically send a tweet to your tweetstream announcing whenever you publishing a new post on your blog! There’s also banner advertising on other web sites and blogs, pay-per-click advertising, article marketing (such as with ezinearticles!), BlogTalk Radio interviews and so much more. Be creative in ways to promote your blog – just remember to avoid spam tactics.