WOOT! It’s great you wanna blog and it’s way easier than you might think.
Right off the bat I recommend WordPress for your first blog. Yes, it’s a subjective view but from my years of experience muckin’ with other platforms and WordPress, it’ll be one of the easiest ways to get going and it’s rock solid. It’s a major reason why WordPress powers a large portion of the blogosphere.
First, a couple quick exceptions:
- If you’re more into what some folk call micro-blogging where you prefer to post tweet-style updates I heartily recommend Micro.blog. (You can micro-blog with WordPress, too if you prefer) They have a great community and are very helpful. What’s unique is they have a shared timeline of all micro.blogs in their network so your posts are more likely to be discovered by fellow Micro.bloggers. A caveat – they charge a small monthly fee. IMO it’s well worth it and you’ll be supporting a much needed alternative to the commercial web.
- If you have a technical bent and like slinging bits ‘n bytes around, you’ll want to search around for something you can host on your own. There’s tons of choices out there, far too many to list here. Try searching for “self hosted blog” and “static blog.” Github is also a great source for more self-hosted blog software. Of course, you can also self-host WordPress.
Now on to WordPress.
The quickest way to get rolling? Go to WordPress.com and click the “Get Started” button.
They’ll walk you through the steps. I recommend you start with their free plan, it’s more than adequate and once you feel like you’ll keep at it you can always upgrade later/migrate to professional hosting if you desire.
WordPress.com also has a huge community of fellow bloggers. One of the brilliant things they did is to embed a universal blog “Reader” into their system that lets folks in the community browse stories from the thousands of blogs in their ecosphere. This means your blog posts will show up on their Reader, giving it fast exposure and lots of help if you ask for it (hint: use tags in your blog posts to show up in specific Reader categories).
If you find WordPress doesn’t tickle your fancy, here’s a few alternatives you can easily try:
- Tumblr (free)
- Ghost (free if self-hosting)
- Blogger (free – caveat: Google owned)
- Write.as (free)
- Medium (free – caveat: They keep changing their model)
- Blot.im (blogging via Dropbox!)
- Any others?
There’s no “The One” in blog software — pick whatever works for you and has the least amount of writing friction.
The important thing is to get started banging away on your keyboard and share your thoughts with the world. You never know who might be reading. Just get going!
Ah, what to write about?
Whatever quivers your heart or tickles your brain. It can be as personal or as technical as you like. Anything that makes your keyboard sing!
Avoid the common mistake of writing for the audience. Write for yourself and only yourself. One way to do this is to view your blog as your online journal/diary. Those are great blogs because they’re unvarnished and real, whether it’s about upgrading motherboards or forever lost loves or how fast yer grass grows.
Don’t worry about monetizing your blog (if that’s what you seek) – it’s way too early for that. Just keep doing that voodoo you do and the rest will come later. Build your baby up first.
SEO (search engine optimization)? Ugh. Don’t write for Google. Write for you and your people. The best bloggers I’ve read don’t give a shit about SEO. They focus on sharing consistently and organically building their own community of followers (quite smart ‘cuz it keeps their blog from being at the mercy of Google’s constantly changing algorithms).
Which is why I recommend opening your comment sections up. It’s how you build community. Yes, comment systems can be a pain in the spammy ass, but it’s well worth it. Don’t be afraid to moderate and prune out the jerks. It’s your town square – you set the tone. Make your comment area a warm and inviting place to chime in.
Engage with your readers! Reply to them, at the least say thank you. They’ve made the effort to visit to your blog out of millions out there and rarer yet, they’re writing back to you. Never take that for granted. If they have blogs too, reciprocate by visiting theirs and commenting on something you like.
Do have patience. It takes time to build a following. Keep at it — each word you type brings you closer and closer. Make sure you have fun with it too. That’s the whole point, yeh?
Any questions or thoughts? I’d be happy to help — hit reply below.
P.S. It goes without saying — pretty please put a blogroll on your blog listing your favorite blogs for others to find.