Tips on Starting a New Blog – Part 1

Posted on August 15th, 2005 @ 10:39
Filed Under Blogging | 8 Comments

No, I’m not starting a new one myself; this post actually got inspired by the questions Darren Rowse posted on ProBlogger, and I wondered about how many things exactly would’ve to be taken into account when starting a new blog. Even though I haven’t many years of blogging behind me (I guess you could say I really started in the spring of 2004 only), I think I’m now able to put the finger on tips centered on this theme—I may not always have followed them myself from the start, but now I sure know them.Please note that I’ll be posting these tips in two separate entries, as it is quite a long read.Why blogging?First of all comes the aim of the blog itself. Blogging just for the sake of blogging isn’t going to get you very far, so one should question why they’re doing it. Is it to give news to friends and family by keeping a place easy to update as well as to check? Is it to promote a book, a product, freelance services? Is it to share knowledge and reflexions about a specific field (what one could call “niche blogs”), or to simply gather news about said field? Will the blog have a professional orientation, or a personal one? There are many purposes to a blog, and depending on what you want to craft here, much of what’s going to follow will have to be planned in a different way. One shouldn’t write on a business blog the way they write about their families on a personal page, unless they want their professional readership seriously wonder about what they’re up to.Make also sure that you will know what to write about for a long time. Granted, this isn’t a problem in the case of personal blogs: life will always provide you with events. Things are different for niche/professional blogs: if you’re not sure that in a few weeks from now, you’ll still have material to post about, perhaps focusing on a narrow topic isn’t a good idea to start with. So, make sure that you’ll know what to write about in order to publish at least two or three times a week.Domain nameWhile it’s not mandatory for a purely personal blog, in the case of a business blog (or at least one that you intend on being known by more than a handful of people), this is a detail I’d strongly advice to take into account before starting to advertise your blog. A blog changing URL once a year due to being hosted on a different service each time will confuse people; moreover, doing so will surely make you lose part of your readership. Not everybody will immediately follow a redirect link, update their feeds or care about keeping in touch every few days to make sure nothing has changed. A set domain name will at least ensure you 1) that your readers will always know where to find you, even if you decide to switch from a blog provider to a standalone platform (see next point), and 2) that you get an easily recognizable URL for your blog (don’t choose some obscure domain name! It should reflect the theme of your blog, or at least its name). For business blogs especially, it’s likely important to have “your” domaine name. With services selling domain names for around 10$ nowadays, getting one is not very expensive anymore.Blog provider or standalone platform?This step depends on the very first point I listed, as well as on the means one is ready to invest. I myself tend to prefer use a standalone platform, such as WordPress, MovableType, Expression Engine or whatever other tool strikes my fancy (platforms such as WordPress are quite good and free, it can be an effective way to start). It’s all about “control” here: control over the database holding your posts, about how and when to save/restore it, about being the real master on board. Platforms also offer more features. When I plan a blog that is supposed to hold for more than a few months, I want to be sure that in one year, two years, three years, it can still be around if I want it so. Hence my advice about a domain name, and about hosting your own blog, which can be more expensive in the beginning if not already owning some usable webspace, but gives you way more freedom.If not tech-savvy enough at the moment, or not feeling like installing and tweaking such a platform “just to try and start a new blog”, there are quite an amount of services around here to help a new blogger start: Blog*Spot, BlogCity, TypePad (if you don’t mind paying)… For more personal blogs, LiveJournal or Diaryland can be way enough too. Simply keep in mind that the day these services decide to shut down (nothing’s really carved in stone when it comes to websites), or change in a way that doesn’t please you, it’s going to be hard to retrieve the content of your blog in a simple and timely fashion; the same goes for the comments attached to each post. Also, let’s admit that a professional blog hosted on Diaryland address simply wouldn’t look very… professional, period.With that, you’ll be ready to get to the core of things: design, content, and getting the word about your blog out.Y Tags:

Comments

8 Responses to “Tips on Starting a New Blog – Part 1”

  1. cube on August 15th, 2005 8:22 pm

    You make a good point. I think most people blog to be heard. I put something out there & then enjoy the feedback my point of view incites in people all over the world.

  2. 31 Days to Building a Better Blog - Day 16: Blog Tips - ProBlogger on August 16th, 2005 4:09 pm

    [...] Yzabel wrote – Tips on Starting a New Blog – Part 1 [...]

  3. Yzabel on August 16th, 2005 5:35 pm

    Exactly, cube. We all have different reasons for blogging, that’s a fact, but “being heard” is probably one of the most universal, if not the most. Else I’m not sure why so many people are doing it!

  4. Kurt on August 16th, 2005 5:42 pm

    Being heard is also important, but I think that blogging is also the vanity press of this decade; some people just get a rush from seeing what they thought put into words on a page (or a screen, in this case).Also, for hosting services, I can’t recommend Dreamhost, my own service, enough for the people who don’t want to bother with the hassle of a platform; they offer a one-click install of the latest WordPress, and the cost is fairly reasonable (I was paying it for a year with no visitors on my own, just to have my own domain, email, and plenty of online storage space).

  5. Yzabel on August 17th, 2005 8:33 am

    I’ve never tried Dreamhost (truth be told, I’m still on Ipowerweb–I must be one of the lucky people who’ve never had any problems with it!); however, their packages sure look pretty interesting, and I’m keeping them tabbed in case I come to need more space than I have now (among other things). Is their WP install really fast, by the way? (I ask, because I find it already really fast as it is on a “non-click installation” — although it may be because I know by heart how to perform it now.)

  6. Elvira Black on August 27th, 2005 8:14 pm

    Thanks for the great post (parts 1 and 2). I have been blogging for 4 months now on Blogger (Blogspot). I might be interested in moving to a standalone platform as you suggest in the future. What worries me most is that I’m at the mercy of the service provider, and, as you say, nothing is etched in stone in cyberspace. Is there any way to back up the contents of a blog, or move the site over to a standalone blog or website in future? One of my worst fears is to log in one morning and find that my blog has vanished into thin air. Any advice?

  7. Yzabel on August 27th, 2005 10:55 pm

    Well, I used to have one blog on Blogger, then moved it to WordPress… Unfortunately, I didn’t find any backup solution better than saving every post with its comments on HTML pages, then reposting everything on my newly installed WP. The whole process was tedious, even if I was hosting the blog on my own FTP, and thus already had the files. There may be other solutions, but then I honestly don’t know them.That’s what I like with a standalone platform–I’m the only master on board. If I want to move the blog, I just have to upload a backup of the database to the new host, and so on. Even if I were to change blog platform, as long as it uses a database too, I could probably find a way to reinsert all the data quickly enough thanks to this.

  8. Elvira Black on August 29th, 2005 9:31 pm

    Yzabel:Thanks so much for this and all the other useful info.

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