Blogging 101: Getting Started
Within the last few weeks, I have received over 20 emails from MBA readers asking questions about starting a blog, gaining readership, social media tools, how to become successful, how earn ad revenue…well you get the idea. Since I am pretty much a one man band, I have a hard time keeping up with emails and since these responses can be lengthy, I thought I would just start answering some of these questions right here on the site.
Disclaimer: I certainly do not consider myself to be an authority in blogging, there are many individuals far more qualified to respond to these topics, BUT I do try to assist readers when they have questions, so let’s start with the basics.
Should I start a food blog?
Well, I cannot answer that question for you, but I do have some tips to help you answer that question for yourself. First ask yourself the question, “Why do I want to start a food blog?” If the answer is to earn an income, you may want to rethink your quest. Sure some food bloggers do earn a substantial income from their sites and parlay into Super Blogdom, but trust me, that is not the norm. We’ll get into ad revenue in another post.
If you want to start a food blog because you are passionate about food, writing and sharing your recipes and kitchen adventures with the world then I wholeheartedly suggest you take the leap. Blogging can be a lot of work, but if you are passionate about it, it will never really seem like work. In my opinion, blogging is a commitment, and most blogs that considered to be “successful” are updated with quality content on a regular basis. That’s not to say that you can’t have a blog and only update it once month, I just feel that consistent posts are what helps gain regular readership. However, not everyone is interested in having thousands of followers and that’s okay too, again this is something that you have to evaluate on a personal level.
What platform do you recommend?
This question comes up a lot, I have only had personal experience with two blogging platforms, so I cannot comment on the others.
There are quite a few choices here: Blogger, Typepad, WordPress, LiveJournal, etc., but hands down without a question, I recommend WordPress. Not only is it user friendly, it’s highly intuitive and insanely customizable. Once you decide on your platform, you’ll need to choose a template.
Why do you use Thesis?
When I moved to WordPress, Thesis was recommended by my web developer. I’ll admit, I was lost and yearned for my generic blogger template. In fact, there were brief moments when I thought I had made a huge mistake by changing to WordPress. But, I caught on fast and within about a month I turned into a WordPress and Thesis convert and couldn’t imagine blogging with anything else. There are definitely other templates out there, so I recommend doing your research and finding the template that best fits your individual needs. It is worth noting that Thesis is known for its SEO (Search Engine Optimization) capabilities. SEO is basically the process of improving the visibility of your site, which will in turn help search engines (Google) find and rank your site. If being found is something you are interested in, you will definitely want to research the dos and don’ts of SEO. I may cover this down the line, but as of now I’m still learning.
Should I hire someone to build my blog?
Again this is a question that you need to answer for yourself. Some of you may be completely content with an “out of the box” template. I used such a template for the first year I blogged on Blogger. It was simple, although generic, but it met my needs at that time. As I became more comfortable with blogging, I decided that I needed an upgrade. I knew I wanted My Baking Addiction to have a sleek, modern feel to it and most importantly I wanted it to be simple for my readers to navigate. So, after reading a lot of information on the web, I decided to make the move to WordPress.
When I decided to move from Blogger to WordPress, I knew I needed guidance and assistance- this was a no brainer. There was no way in hell that I would be able to create a site on my own. I had barely any knowledge of coding anything aside from bolding text. Pathetic I know, but hey at least I was honest with myself. I did some basic research and found a web developer that was a.) within my price range and b.) could build the site that I wanted at that time.
Hiring a web developer can be pricey, so set a budget for yourself before you start making contacts and getting estimates. Make a list of blog features that you want versus those that you need. If you have Cristal dreams on a Bud Light budget, ask if your web developer can complete the work in phases and/or allow you to make scheduled payments.
My Baking Addiction will never be a finished project. I have a list a mile long of features that will eventually be added, but I have these features added according to budget. I have an ongoing list of components to add that are organized by priority. This helps keep both myself and designer on track and allows me to stick to my allotted budget.
I hope this answered a few of your questions, I am really excited about this series and have some wonderful bloggers ready to share some great information with you. Next on the agenda, I’ll cover some must have WordPress Plugins. Have a topic you want to see covered in this new series? Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org