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Friday, May 1, 2015

Three steps to consider before you start blogging

Getting started with blogging has become easier than anyone can even imagine. At one end, blogging can be at zero cost (of course keeping apart the intellectual effort ;)) or it could be a costlier effort (when you consider hosting, premium themes, plugins, writing resources and so on).
As I mentioned earlier, creating a successful blog is a tough job and it depends essentially on three factors - technology, content and consistency. In this post, let us discuss further about the technology aspects - these are the three foundational steps that you do to have a head start.

Step 1 - Choosing the right blogging platform

There are plenty of platforms available for you to start blogging - blogspot, wordpress, tumblr on the free platform sides to wordpress.org and custom designed hosting on the other end. If you are inclined towards creating a website cum blog, we have platforms like weebly, wix and the likes apart from wordpress.org. Obviously thus two questions arise
1. Whether to go for a free platform or choose a hosted platform?
2. How to choose between various platforms like - blogspot, wordpress, weebly, wix etc.?
There are plenty of resources to help you make this decision; but I guess the key is - what's your objective of the blog - is it a personal log or is it for a commercial purpose? While this line of difference is also getting blurred; I would consider a free platform if you are just experimenting or if it is just kept as a personal log. Another factor you need to consider is - what sort of customization are you interested in? Free platforms offer minimal capabilities; while premium, paid ones offer complete customizability.The catch there is - if you choose a paid option - customization is completely at your own risk. Here are some useful links to make this decision

Step 2 - Implementing performance measurement

How is my blog doing? is a question a blogger must keep track of from Day 0. The bright side of it is that you get a sense of whether you are getting traction and how I can improve my blog readership? The darker side of it is that you may get disheartened untill you get a decent viewership. The import aspect here is that - there are plenty of completely free tools available to help you with measurement. I would recommend tracking your blog through two tools apart from the standard statistical capabilities each platform provide - Google Analytics and Webmasters Toolkit (Google and Bing). While you may think implementing all these is cumbersome; Google and Microsoft have made it so simple and easy to use that you can gain the benefits immediately. Here are some of the resources that will be useful for you to get started --

[Update, 2018] -- With Google Tag Manager becoming more easier to use and a must have for any website, here is an easier method of installing GA using GTM for Wordpress
Step 3 - Taking care of hygiene factors - directories, RSS feeds and social sharing

This step helps you to expand the reach of your blog. One of the important things in this step is to submit your blog to few blog directories.This helps you to gain interest in your blog and also showcase/publicize what you are going to write about. I would include also things like Google Local Listing if applicable.Some of the directories are geography based and some are domain specific. Here are some resources that will help you to identify the directories you may want to list in.

Then create a RSS feed for your blog. This will help readers to subscribe to your blog updates (Check this guide The Complete FeedBurner Guide with Some Cool Enhancements)
The third one is social channel sharing. This has become a must-to-have feature in any blog. This helps readers to share instantly any of your blog posts that they like.Similarly providing options for social bookmarking. Here is a good blog post on this topic. Finally, add your profile and let know the world that the blog is managed by a person and not a robot. Here is a good how-to guide about adding your google + profile. Recent changes to search algorithm gives importance to authorship verification like these.

So what are you waiting for? get started with your blog now!


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