More and more professionals are starting their own blogs. There is a growing realization that blogging can help advance a person professionally, or market a business. It helps establish them as thought leaders, create relationships with people they wouldn’t normally connect to, and increase search engine rankings for their corporate sites.
But it’s hard to know where to start. Here are some tips that can help you start off on the right foot, so that you can grow as a blogger and head in the direction of becoming a “really professional blogger” (RPB):
- Really professional bloggers have self-hosted blogs. A self-hosted blog is a blog that is hosted on a person’s own hosting account, as opposed to a blog that is hosted for free on WordPress.com or Google’s Blogger. To self-host your own blog, you need to install one of the blogging platforms on your hosting. This means an investment of about $10 a year for a domain name, and about $8 a month for hosting. So when I say investing, we’re not talking thousands. But it shows that they’re taking their blogging seriously. This also means that they are not at the mercy of WordPress.com and Google’s Terms of Service, and they also avoid the risk of being blocked in certain countries that block entire social networks like WordPress.com.
- Really professional bloggers have their own domain name. This means that the domain name of their blog is not something like miriam.blogspot.com, but is www.miriam.com, or www.company.com/blog. If the idea of hosting your own blog makes you nervous, but you do want to have your own domain name, sign up for a blog at www.wordpress.com, and then upgrade to their paid service that allows you to have your own domain name. This will also make it easier for you to move to your own self-hosted blog with that domain name in the future. (We just did that for a client and the move went really smoothly. All their URLs were preserved.) But just note that people will still know that you are using the WordPress.com hosted blogging service because their favicon appears next to your URL in browsers. That just means you can’t personalize your favicon, but it’s not the end of the world.
- Really professional bloggers use WordPress as their blogging platform of choice. Some may argue with me, but many if not most of the leading bloggers (except Seth, maybe) use WordPress for their blogs. Bloggers love WordPress because: 1. It has a large user community; 2. It is really flexible and many cool and wonderful things can be done with WordPress; 3. It is pretty optimized for search engines out of the box, and can be optimized even more by WordPress designers and developers. If you don’t want to invest right now in your blog, and you’re just getting your feet wet, it’s a good idea to get started with a free blog at WordPress.com. This gives you a few advantages: 1. You can easily migrate (move) your blog over to a self-hosted WordPress blog when you feel ready; 2. You will be used to the WordPress user interface and features, since the admin is basically the same for the hosted and self-hosted versions of WordPress; 3. You look much savvier than a blogspot blogger. (Ok, that’s very subjective, but at least I’ll think you’re cooler!)
- Really professional bloggers have customized blog designs. This is a serious investment in your blogging career, but in a world of millions of blogs, it’s important to find a way to differentiate yourself and show people you are serious about what you are doing. But you don’t have to worry about that right now – WordPress makes it easy to change your blog’s appearance at any time. It’s like putting a different dress on your content: the content all stays the same, but it’s now wearing its fall wardrobe.
So if you’ve been bitten by the blogging bug, and want to get started on the right foot, I think the above tips can help you start a blogging career that lets your blog grow with you, and vice versa.