Here are some tips for people starting a blog. Please enjoy my tips and add a comment if you used any of these tips.
Buy the Domain first!
Spend a lot of time thinking about a good domain name for your story. Make it short. Make sure it is two or three words. It should end in .com (although .org and .net are okay, just stay away from .info and .biz) and it should never have hyphens or underscores or any punctuation in it. Think of telling someone you have a blog. “Oh, hey you should check me out online. I’m at TheDrop dash NYC dot US,” is a surefire way to get exactly zero people accurately getting to your site. Your primary goal when starting should be to build your name. Don’t spend your first few months building someone else’s name. Like WordPress. They don’t need more page views. They already have a stellar page rank. Just CONTACT US or visit Name.com and just buy the dang domain. You don’t have to use my affiliate link, though. Just go anywhere (except that one, with the boobs and the Superbowl commercials) and get your own domain.
Some say you shouldn’t get hosting from the same place you buy your domain. At least, don’t use the one with the boobs and the Superbowl ads to host your blog. Andrea says they install malware. I use Host Gator, and I’m happy with them, but if you want a really great deal, you should use Nuts and Bolts. You’ll get hosting for $5/month, and you get support that is second to none. Tell them I sent you their way!
Set a schedule. I know at the beginning you will want to post six times a week. I certainly did! And I didn’t think I’d ever run out of things to say, ever. But this is too much. You aren’t adding value when you add so much content all at once. Furthermore, nobody is seeing it. You’re going to have to let some posts sit for a few days. Experiment with this. When you do start writing, please don’t start any blog post explaining why it took you so long to post. I guarantee you, no one cares. If it helps get your writing flowing, go ahead and say, “I am sorry it’s taken me three days to post, but I have been so busy!” but then make sure to cut that line before you hit “publish”. And make your posts meaningful to you. Remember why you shelled out the cash (other than my forceful words!) to get this thing started in the first place. Your heart’s not in 39085 ways to save 25 cents? Don’t write that.
Don’t be confused!
Show Full Posts, Avoid Snippets, Don’t Captcha
Especially when you’re starting out, you want to make it stupid easy for people to connect. Show full posts in your blog’s home page. When you set up your RSS (and you really should do that!) you will have the option to show a snippet or the full post. Consider yourself lucky to get people subscribing. Don’t force them to click through their Google Reader! I will almost always (nay! always!) unsubscribe from an RSS once I find out that it’s just the first 50 characters and “continue reading this” link. Also, I have to admit something. I have 20-20 vision without glasses and I am HORRIBLE at figuring out Captchas. 75% of the time, I get it wrong at least once. Please don’t make me write “3jq4x7″ while squinting. Wait until you start having a problem with spam comments before installing an anti-spam thing.Confession: when I first started, I had not one, but two anti-spam things. Nothing says “please don’t say anything about this post” quite like that.
Be Easily Accessible
I write at TheDropnyc.com. I tweet @Thedropnyc. My Facebook page is TheDropnyc. My feedburner is TheDropnyc. My email is TheDropnyc. I’m remarkably easy to get in touch with. When someone thinks, “oh, holy cow, I found something funny I should tell Kathleen about,” they don’t curse me trying to figure out how to connect. Instead, they simply tweet or email. I think it’s really important to make it easy, especially at first. I use BufferApp to schedule tweets, and it’s a really cool way to give some Twitter love to my friends on the internet. However, they don’t auto-populate the person’s @handle, which means that I’m only getting it right about 50% of the time. Make it easy for me to share your posts and I will!
Proofread, then Proofread Again
This goes for everyone, not just beginners. The internet makes it very simple to publish your first draft. But don’t make that mistake. These blogging platforms make it very easy to edit your posts, even weeks after they’ve been published. A typo or poor grammar weakens your point, and when you’re trying to help people, you want to make as strong a point as possible. My trick is to subscribe to my own RSS feed (you do have one of those, right?) and read through the post when it gets published. This is often days after I write it, so I’m able to be objective and fix things. But I’m not afraid to do this on posts that are months old, nor should you be. People will land on all parts of your blog via search engine (I promise they will!) and you want your first impression to be strong.
Don’t Make People Opt-In to Comments
I filled out all of my information on your site, wrote a poignant and meaningful comment (as usual), then I clicked a button that I thought meant, “when the owner of this blog reads this, and has a reply, let me know!” Instead, often, it’s communicated as, “even though I have an anti-spam thing on my comments, I’m going to send you an email right away that makes you double confirm that you want to hear back from me, and when you do, expect no fewer than 38 follow-up emails.”
Don’t Believe in Writer’s Block
Keep a notebook handy so that you can write post topic ideas when they strike. In personal finance, there is no such thing as writer’s block, because everything that you do, everything that you see, every person you meet, can be the basis for a great post. Writer’s block is often used as an excuse for not creating. You don’t need that crutch. If you’re really at a loss, contact me (I’m so available!) and I’ll give you a prompt or five. Remember, you do not have to create new content all the time. You can be a curator of information. One great way to break the block is to interview someone you like, someone you met on the internet, or someone you’d like to get to know better. I love reading those, and I love getting to know people I would otherwise not have any knowledge of.
Connect With Others
MeetUp.com is filled with a bunch of really nice people who want you to succeed. They know about having a story and a voice, and they’re on the other side of the hurdles you’re facing now. When I signed up, I was absolutely blown away by how nice these people were, and they continue to surprise me. Sure, you’re not going to get along with everyone, but name a situation where you do! You’ll find kindred spirits, and, really, friends. Act like a friend. Help out where you can. Ask for help where you need it. You like someone’s style? Find their contact page or reach out to them on Twitter. Everyone is a writer, and everyone likes to hear when their story resonates with someone else. It doesn’t cost anything to join, and you get out what you put in. Go to conferences, too. That’s where you will really connect. At the NY Business Expo, there were some people I met in person who I knew were my friends. After ten seconds of meeting them. They know who they are. It’s incredible.
Don’t Try to Make Money…
If you can avoid it, don’t attempt to make money. Just keep posting 2-3 times a week and spend the rest of your time connecting with people. Add an SEO plug-in and update your keywords and your meta description for each post. I use WordPress SEO by Yoast, and I like it. I will fiddle with it until it gives me the green light, and then I will stop messing with it. The keywords that I’m ranking for are not necessarily ones that will turn “those that Google” into “those who subscribe” and that’s okay with me.
…But When You Get Approached by an Advertiser, Ask Someone!
You’ll find out pretty quickly that there is money to be made on the internet. The problem is that most of that money, at least at the beginning, feels shady, like doing business with someone in an alley. Remember those friends you made? Reach out to them. Get a number of opinions. And, for goodness sake, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Add Meaningful (not Stock) Images
Take pictures. Draw Pictures. Or leave them out. Images add something to your blog posts, to be sure, but not if they’re the same picture of a dollar bill or a piggy bank or that one with the girl and the shopping bags that we see everywhere. Please note: I am the worst offender, but I’m in recovery, and I know it’s better to have decent images. Or at least SOME pictures that I took myself!
None of the rest of this matters if you’re not enjoying yourself. Relax, have fun. Be yourself. Write the way you speak, or if you’re like me, write a little less sailory than you speak. Be nice. I have been known to unsubscribe from blogs that make me feel bad. Be nice to your commenters, even those who disagree. If someone’s mean on your blog, remember, it’s yours, and you have every right to put that meanie in your trash, or block them from commenting altogether. Don’t be “that commenter” who’s just looking for a fight. Engage. Respect people in this space. Remember that we are all people, none of us are robots, and we’re all learning as we go.
IF YOU NEED HELP WITH THIS PLEASE CONTACT ME.