Building A Blog
The term ‘Blog’ has developed into a generic and very general label. The earliest blogs were simply text journals which were subscribed to via ‘RSS’, writers produced content on a wide variety of topics – often of a personal and specific nature.
With the emergence of more sophisticated web tools, site building platforms and the huge growth of online traffic, blogs have become very impressive web platforms able to present video and graphic, audio as well as textual content – more significantly the capacity to commercialize content is now very powerful. Individual content producers can potentially build their own audiences and generate significant revenues.
There is a vast desire to participate in the online blogging world. The low barrier of entry invites dabbling, low quality blogs are being published each day – but the market determines the outcome, and the maturity of the online consumer is now such that only those sites which offer genuine value and information are going to have a chance of success. The days of people reading poor quality blogs is well and truly over.
The production of a blog involves many different moving parts, it also demands ongoing production of content, promotion and advertising.
WordPress is the platform of choice for many people, whether for blogging, or any type of site. We will be using WordPress in this section, if you wish to learn how to build a modern, successful blog you will need to know how to use WordPress.
The very first step in building our blog is to select our topic. This is the stumbling block where many people get stuck. To produce something of quality we need to be able to devote a lot time and energy on it, therefore the topic, or niche, needs to be an area you have some skills, knowledge and interest in. This might seem very obvious, but is actually the critical part of the whole deal.
Before we even begin with the technical details of getting our hosting account, purchasing the domain name and installing software we should have our topic, niche, area all decided on.
Only you can decide this, for many people out there it seems ‘Health’ related topics are the most popular. This is going to determine how we go about building our blog, site, platform so make sure you take some time to select yours.
If you are aiming to produce a professional, high quality blog you need to own it. A lot of people make the mistake of using the free public resources where the platform is provided. If you want to be a true business owner you need to have complete and absolute control over editing policy, advertising, and content production. It makes sense.
To build any website you need these items:
- A Domain Name – the online identity of your site, usually a .COM, but these days you have many options. Many digital experts claim the dot com is the only TLD worth considering, this is because most people out there are most familiar with this, and people tend to just automatically search for the .com of a business name. However, it is up to you, and there are successful sites with all kinds of TLD’s these days.
- A Hosting Account – The online service that actually provides the technical environment for you to publish a site, this most usually comes with an interface tool called ‘CPanel’ that allows you to mange the server space where your site is built. There are many options, Bluehost is a good one, Amazon AWS is a great one, WP Engine is fantastic.
- Web building software – we use WordPress, an open-source software available since 2003. You could build a site from scratch if you know how to use PHP, HTML, Java, JQuery and other languages. WordPress content management system allows us to build professional quality sites, use page building tools and themes, plugins to produce just about any type of site, without needing to know coding. WordPress sites are easy to make ‘Mobile Friendly’ which is very important today.
- Promotional Services – To get your new site actually seen, and reaching your intended audience you need to invest in advertising, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media. This is what you need once the site is published, otherwise it simply won’t be noticed on today’s busy, noisy online community.
Once you have the first 3 of these items in place we need to install WordPress. This is the engine of our site, the back-end framework which powers the site, allows us to publish pages and manage the content, graphics & videos. The ‘Theme’ we choose is the top-most level, it produces the CSS, appearance and overall look. Choosing the right type of theme for our purpose is very important.
Many beginner WordPress site builders choose from the many free themes on offer, it is appealing to use one of these and there are a few decent ones; you need to be careful with the free themes as they can be buggy, and even have hidden links and affiliate connections in them. If you want to produce a good job I suggest a couple of sources: Elegant Themes, Woo Themes (some free ones), Genesis Framework, the twentysixteen theme (free) which is available from the administration on your WordPress site.
Building your blog, or site is the beginning of the story, not an end in itself. Once it is published your blog now needs to be developed, content produced and published, the site managed and maintained, backed up regularly.
Blogging is essentially a scheduled publication process – the site is static, but your content is being added to regularly. There are blogs with thousands of pages, so the eventual size of your project could be very large over its lifetime. We each have the potential to be media companies, this is the age of personal publication.
The success of your blog will depend on how well you can provide an interesting source of information, entertain as well as inform your readership. The foundations are critical to your site’s success, using the right tools, plugins, high speed hosting. The quality of your publication will determine its acceptance and readership.
The other major influence on your blog’s success is your promotional efforts, and your SEO skills. Yes, it requires investment – people have built successful blogs without great expense, but these are in the minority. If you can develop good SEO skills you can save yourself money, but time is needed in lieu of funds. You could of course outsource all of this, it just depends on how serious you are and how far you want to take it.
Quality should be the objective for your blog, if you decide to always produce high quality writing and information you can’t go wrong, everyone is scrambling to produce instant results so there is a lot rubbish being produced. If you produce quality it will immediately stand out, there is no magic trick involved in building a successful blog it is all down to how you approach it, and most importantly execute it.