So as I've been preparing for my website launch and working on the functionality I'd like my new blog to have, I thought I'd share a few tips on how to stake your claim in the blog world. Granted, this is something I'm right in the middle of - but a few tips nonetheless.
And the best part about this process? It can be FREE if you'd like it! Want to guess how much I spent on THIS blog? $0. (the soon-to-benew blog - not so free - but again, its all your choice!)
Step 1 :: Open a Blog account ($0)
Blogger and WordPress are the two biggest blogging platforms out there. Both offer free accounts, but WordPress has many more capabilities than Blogger. WordPress also offers a Premium Account that includes ad-free blogs, more storage and VideoPress for those really cool video bloggers out there.
Step 2 :: Point your domain to your blog ($0 - 10)
Cost here depends on whether or not you own the domain where you'd like your blog to be found. If you don't own the domain you'd like - purchase it at GoDaddy and point it to your blog. See here for Blogger instructions and here for WordPress. You either need a direct domain "YourGreatBlog.com" or a subdomain like "YourGreatSite.com/blog" - steer away from "YourGreatBlog.blogspot.com" and "YourGreatBlog.wordpress.com" - Thanks Lara & Jeff for pointing this one out!
Step 3a :: Make your blog PRETTY ($0+)
Mk, this can be free or costly. But in the beginning, find a good DIY blog design that you're comfortable with (even something simple... like all white, here). Check out Ellie at Rainy Day Templates ($), Ross at FloSites ($$) and my own designers, Kendra & Amanda at HiDesign ($$) for professionally designed blogs.
Step 3b :: Remove that Ugly Blogger NavBar ($0)
If you're using Blogger, get rid of that ugly Blogger bar at the top. Here's how.
Step 4 :: Make sure the right info is easily accessible ($0)
Make sure your (real) name, photo, email address, Twitter link and website (if you have one) are easily accessible on your blog.
Step 5 :: Add important widgets ($0)
Widgets like the "Etsy Shop" widget, link lists, biography, etc are very important to making your blog as comprehensive as possible. Remember your blog is a brand in itself and should represent you. Also think of adding advertising (coming soon here!) options to your blog as you begin to grow your readership.
Step 6 :: Read Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuck ($10)
Do this. I could talk forever about this book. Oh wait, I did! Follow his exercises. Have an open mind - and be ready to work hard. Gary writes about monetizing social media and exploring your passion as your life's work. A game changer.
Step 7 :: Write down 50 blog topics ($0)
Sounds hard, right? Try it. Sit down with a piece of paper (that coffee and blanket from the last two posts - grab 'em) and write down 50 topics. Even if they're all over the place, write them down. Watch as your themes emerge.
Step 8 :: Write (or RECORD!) ($0)
Write and write often. Use good photos and images (not like this one. I cant think "images" right now... too many product images...!) Connect with other bloggers through Twitter and through THEIR blogs. Bring value as a resource to other people. Explore different types of blogging - through written posts and video blogs. Find what makes you most comfortable.
Step 9 :: Watch your blog grow ($0)
Use Google Analytics to watch your blog's growth. Potential advertisers will want to know the traffic coming to your site. Dont be too crazy about watching this constantly - but watch overall trends in growth and decline. You'll find the obvious - readership grows as you blog often and drops as you have lulls in your posts. Find a happy medium here depending on your topics and goals for your blog.
Step 10 :: Evolve and grow ($0)
Let your voice emerge and develop. You'll find blog topics come naturally and writing them becomes second nature. Be open minded to the shape your blog begins to take. I initially started my blog to share ONLY my thoughts on Southern Lifestyle and weddings I adored. Granted, that will be part of the blog - as they're a deep rooted part of me - but not all of it. Business ownership and the triumphs and tragedies that are found along that road are becoming my passion to write about.
On that note - and this is just "the world according to Emily" - but I'm finding it so important to keep that same open mind with your business. ELP is growing from an online stationery boutique to include custom design services, branding services and this little blog - as a business resource.
Never close a door and take a peak down every side road as you continue your journey.