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Crawl before you walk: 6 Step-by-step Instructions for Starting your First Blog

If you’re starting out in blogging for the first time it is easy to get ahead of yourself. In this post Aileen Journey from the Problem Solver Blog shares some tips on getting going with your new blog.

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Image by candrews

Many new bloggers read everything possible on successful blogs. There’s so much information out there, in fact sometimes it’s way too much information. I find that my blog is not necessarily far enough long to take advantage of all the information. What happens sometimes is that beginning bloggers start to feel overwhelmed and like they’ll never be able to do what’s necessary to have a successful blog. I am a new blogger. I have started and run a variety of other businesses like a retail store and an online store, but the blogosphere is new to me

I went the traditional business route and got my MBA in 1996. The world has changed quickly since then. I’ve been blogging for just over 6 months, but started my only currently running blog at the beginning of December 2008. I only “discovered” blogs about 8 months ago, previously thinking they were all personal journals. The way I see them now is that they are mini-magazines, some more mini than others. They allow people to pinpoint their exact interests and just read the information that they’re interested in.

One: Consider your reason for blogging.

Go further than to “make money” or “become famous.” Those are perfectly good reasons for blogging, but what about them are what you want. What in particular do you want to become famous for, remember John Hinckley, Jr. shot Jodie Foster to become famous. I want to be known as an expert in my field of helping people figure out how to get what they want, personally, with their children and in their relationships. As for making money, are you thinking of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous or are you thinking about enough extra money to go out to eat regularly? What about other motivations? Are you trying to convey some point of view or opinion, do you want people to pay attention to some issues, do you want people to support you in some situation? Every time you consider using a new idea you’ve read about online for successful blogs go back and see if it fits in with your goal. Will it help you get where you want or would it really be better on another kind of blog? Remember, a blog that earns money is a business. All businesses need specific goals or mission statements.

Two: Do your research.

Go through AdWords Keyword Tool or Worktracker and find which phrases and words within your topic are the highest searched and the least used by others. Make a list of them in order. Make sure you only search for terms related to your topic. People arriving at your site from unrelated words will make them annoyed, not ready to subscribe. Use one of the terms you found to use as the title of your site and perhaps as titles for your categories.

Three: Put together a basic blog.

It’s great to try to get every single cool widget and plug-in on your site as the big sites have, but start with the basics. Make sure you have your feed/subscribe information prominent on each page and after each post (feedburner’s feedflare can do it easily), put together an About page. Then choose a theme, set up some categories out of the terms you found through your research, make sure your RSS is working and that’s the basics of what you need to begin with. Down the line you can add more features. Don’t try to do everything at once.

Four: Start writing posts for each of your beginning categories so there’s something for people to find when they arrive at your site.

Don’t worry about making these brilliant. Write them up quickly in rough draft then go over them and edit them. Run spell-checker and grammar checker. Don’t let posts full of mistakes be posted, but don’t try to write it in perfect verse or anything.

Fifth: Get out there!

If you’ve used your research from step two then you can relax about search engines for now. They’ll find you when they find you. Immediately, though, you can get your own site out there. Comment on other blogs (use your blog title as your name), send guest posts to the blogs that you like and read regularly, and use whatever social networking sites you already use to tell others about your new blog.

Sixth: Be patient and keep it up.

This is not my first business and not even my first online business. Things take time. Try to look at your blog every day and see what might need a little tweak. If you can find some truly computer-incompetent people, ask them to look over your blog and figure out how to subscribe. If they can’t do it then ask them what might help them. When everything else is in place, choose the kind of monetizing option you want, AdSense, affiliate marketing, advertisers, etc. and start working on setting those up. No matter what you choose, it won’t do much until your blog has some kind of traction. Keep working on improving and enjoying the writing on your blog while you work to get it to take hold.

Blogging as a business is hard, as any business is. Don’t discount your efforts just because you haven’t made it to the big time in a few months. Instead of getting overwhelmed trying to perfect every piece of your blog business, do the basics to start with and build on it from there.

Aileen Journey writes and manages the Problem Solver Blog as well as writing books, teaching college online and problem solving life with three children.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I know there are many affiliate opportunities in regards to blogging, but what about selling products directly?

    Let’s say I’m an Amazon type merchant — do you think a blog can help sell my products directly, as opposed to having bloggers linking to me?

    If that makes sense…?

  2. Great article! Simple steps, and easy to follow. Thanks.

  3. I agree you must have a plan , and the fortitude to stay focused.

  4. Beth Bridges says:

    You’ve definitely put first things first: “Consider your reason for blogging.” I agree, too many people put one up because everyone is doing it, or they think they are going to make money.

    It’s too long of a process and too big of a commitment for the idea of big bucks to keep you slogging along at it every day. Instead, you’ve got to have a bigger reason. Something that supports other goals, so you don’t feel like quitting after a month.

    Personally, I started blogging to get better at writing and less shy about putting it out there. Seems to be working so far!

  5. One, thanks for all the comments.

    Two, sorry about the mistake about John Hinkley Jr. and Jodie Foster. I looked up to make sure I had the right person shooting, but forgot to make sure I had the right person who was shot!

    Three, I hear many of you about how to sign your blog comments. I had read a lot of comments and made many before I started my blog. I liked seeing the blog names as user names just because if I liked the comment I could quickly see where the person was coming from. I think that whatever makes you comfortable. I think bloggers commenting on other blogs is part of what makes the blogosphere go ’round. I think it’s fine to comment from your brand as long as you have something interesting to say.

    Four, Feedburner is at http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/home. It has many resources for bloggers and I know they work with Blogger.

    Aileen at ProblemSolverBlog.com

  6. Tom B. says:

    Aileen,

    I agree it is nice to know where the commenters are coming from. That is one reason I like site that use the CommentLuv plugin. Right there is either the commenter’s latest post or the one he wants to put out for folks to see.

  7. Patience is the biggest key in blogging. Most bloggers when they start out, always have loads of josh and post 3 times a day and then the frequency keeps tailoring off day by day till they see, they post once a week and eventually they are off. They don’t have patience. Blogging as most believe is surely not a get rich scheme.

  8. barb gary says:

    Love all the pointers except like everyone else; I think the name should be there not the title name. People want to know who you are that is posting not where you work.

  9. Jim says:

    I’m glad I read this now; I jumped out there without going through most (or a bunch) of the ProBlogger posts. Now I can go back and apply your simple steps; I’m sure the results will be better!

    Jim
    http://www.jimkirkwriter.com

  10. mike says:

    I use to have every kind of widget on my blogs at first. I have none now and it looks much cleaner. Never put too many on if you are going to use them.

  11. Geoserv says:

    As already said, good post, but #5 is a blatent spam attempt. You should know this already.

    DO NOT do #5, it’s enough to use your nickname or whatever and fill out the URL field in the comment form, don’t spam blogs using your blogs name.

    Experienced bloggers will block you for spamming, then all blogs will if they are using reCaptcha or something similar.

    Getting blocked really helps, eh?

  12. reflux says:

    I am focusing on making money online….., now, I am waiting the result of my effort with patient, of course ……consisten making new post every two days, thanks for sharing

  13. TechMata says:

    I agree with mike. Too much widget annoys the readers.

    ExpatBoy

  14. OutdoorMike says:

    In my case the biggest hurdle I’ve found is not the technical, writing, or even marketing aspects. Its the fear of success, or maybe you could say the commitment of it all. What if people actually come to read my blog? What if they even make comments? What if some actually subscribe via Feedburner…geez…then I’m really committed. It gives you sort of a panicky feeling.

    But I have to say, its a feeling I could get used to. ;-)

  15. Fletch says:

    “I wouldn’t recommend using your blog title as your name when commenting on blogs, it screams “I’m only commenting to get my URL seen”.”

    Isn’t that the main reason why people comment on blogs anyway.

  16. Thanks Aileen! That is some good advice. I need to do #5 & #6 much more!

  17. Great guide Darren, thanks, I would also add to pick a theme with more than one sidebar, eventually you will need the space and it is difficult to alter existing themes without paying a designer.

  18. That was a useful article indeed.

  19. Mark says:

    @Fletch

    I would like to think people comment on blogs because they want to add to the article/discussion/debate, people who just comment for comments sake…well whats the point.

  20. Blogging to express your unique vision still seems like the best reason to me. Not everyone who wishes to make money will do it. But anyone can speak their truth successfully.

  21. MJ Ces says:

    Hi Darren,

    You wrote WorkTracker under Step no. 2. I’m quite sure you were referring to WordTracker. I am just concerned that some new blogger might start looking for the wrong keyword research tool.

    :)

  22. Aaron says:

    This post was just what i needed. i thought everything was going to change overnight…but no. Gotta keep writing and be patient. The traffic is building slowly.

    http://www.movienottingham.co.uk

  23. seth says:

    Great article and a lot of great comments. I think the reason blogs are great is the contribution of the visitors not just the post author. Thanks!

  24. I like this idea. I will recommend this article to my friends. Thank you