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10 Things I wish I knew and did before I started blogging

Sep21

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2009/09/21 10:58 AM RssIcon

blogging Every blogger, whether your are a professional a-list blogger, or a casual blogger, had to start somewhere. But like me, many just jumped into blogging without even a thought as to what blogging is all about. There are things I wish I had known before I started. Things I wish I had done before I started.

If you are starting a blog or your blog is relatively new. Make sure that you follow these simple rules. Even if you are an established blogger, these rules can still apply.

I’m not saying that this is the be all and end all of blogging start-ups. But it sure is things that I missed and should have done, which would have made my blogging life a whole lot easier in the beginning.

This was going to be one big post. But there is so much information That I have decided to split it up.

1. Decide if blogging is actually for you.

Although I encourage everyone to start a blog. Especially for business. Sometimes blogging is not your cup of tea. You need to know this before hand. There is nothing more discouraging than deciding that you have failed three months into something that you do not enjoy.

2. Decide what niche you want to service.

There is nothing more frustrating as a reader than a blog which does not fit anywhere. A blog which has a fruit salad of themes and topics. You have to choose a niche. Your niche can be as wide as you like or as narrow as you like. But stick to the general theme of that niche. If your niche is pets and animals, don’t blog about cars, then sport, then technology, then the weather etc.

3. Know your goals.

What do you want to achieve with your blog. Is it to drive traffic to your website? Do you want to make money from it? Is it just social? What is your target market? If you don’t have goals for your blog, then there is nothing to strive for, nothing to attain. Sure your goals can and might change over time. But you need to have a goal before you start. Create short term and long term goals. Most importantly, make sure your goals are attainable. Nothing like saying, I’m going to earn six figures through my blog by the end of the year. Possible, but probably unlikely.

4. Choose whether you want to be hosted or self hosted.

Generally a hosted blog makes use of one of the many free blog hosting services and blog platforms out there. Services like Blogger.com and Wordpress.com offer free hosted blogs. This is normally termed as a hosted blog or remote blog. A self hosted blog or stand alone blogging platform, is a blog in which you host yourself on some ISP’s servers or even on your own servers that you have or on servers that you own at some ISP. There are pros and cons to both. Things like costs, ease of use, technical issues, etc. Make sure you understand them. Do some research.

Here are some nice articles on the subject:

5. Choose your blogging platform or software

This relies a lot on your choice in the point above, whether you are going to choose a self-hosted or remote hosted blog. Choosing the right platform for you is very important. Are you a technical savvy blogger? Do you want ease of use? Do you want your blog to be a part of you company or personal website? Do you want to go for Wordpress, Typepad, Movable Type, Dasblog, etc? What operating system does your host cater for? Windows or Linux? Commercial or open Source? So many questions. Deciding now which is the best platform for you avoids endless headaches should you wish to change in the future. You do not want to go there.

If you are going to just have a plain blog then there are blogging platforms that offer different features.

If you want to integrate your blog into your website or CMS. Then the correct software is essential. Can it be skinned to look like it is part of my site. If it is a CMS, you need to remember that the blog is just another module of that CMS. Therefore it might not carry all the features of a dedicated blogging software.

Open Source CMS’s

Here are some great articles that cover the subject and hopefully make your choice easier.

Here are some sites to visit to find out more about the top Content Management Systems (CMS)

6. Do some research

If you are new to blogging, it can be very overwhelming. What to do? What to write about? How to set up? Pitfalls to avoid? How to promote my blog? etc. These are all questions you need to understand. There are probably hundreds more that you need answered. You don’t need them all answered right away, but knowing the basics before you starts is a good thing.

Do some research on blogging. Start following the top bloggers on blogging. Yes, shameful self plug, follow my blog.

Follow blogs in your niche. Even start reading the blogs of your competitors. You will be amazed as to what you will learn. For instance, I follow blogs about programming, .NET, Visual Studio, Web development. You can then apply that new knowledge to your new blog.

Here are some of the top bloggers to follow in the blogging niche

Problogger

Copyblogger

Daily Blog Tips

Bloggers Blog

Blog About Your Blog

Build A Better Blog

Blogtrepreneur

And a list of the top 25 blogging blogs: Top 25 blogs about blogging

It’s all about networking. Network with other bloggers.

7. Muster up some social networking followers.

Once your blog is up and running, you need people to read it. You need to promote it. A good thing to do before you start blogging, or even once you have started, is to build up a nice social network. Using tools like Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook, Gatorpeeps, you should build up followers and your social network. That way, when you start your blog, or make posts, you can promote them amongst your followers, who will hopefully turn into loyal readers.

8. Choose theme for your web site

If you are using Wordpress or any other publishing platform, as in most cases, choose a theme that speaks about you, your content and matches your topic/niche. This is very important. Your theme should look nice to your readers and the fonts should be readable. Try to get some search engine friendly themes. Do some research on the anatomy and physiology of colours. Make sure you have proper and good navigation. The look and feel of your blog is the first impression visitors and readers get. It will make or break your blog.

9. Write at least three articles you are going to post

You should write three posts. By doing this you can have more time doing some promotion work and interacting with your visitors. Ask some of your close friends to review the articles you have written.  You don’t have to limit to three, you can write more if you want. The point is to have content before you start.

10. Understand the time commitment

One thing I underestimated was the time commitment in writing a blog post and managing that blog. I thought that it would take me about 20 minutes every morning. I was totally wrong. Know before hand your time constraints. Determine how many posts you would like to post a week. Make provision for research, networking, commenting, emailing, report backs, etc. Make sure you are comfortable with your schedule. It will and can always change.

You don’t want to stress out in the first three months of your new blog. You want to enjoy it, not hate it. If you understand the time commitment and have planned for it, life will be a whole lot easier.

Conclusion

These are not, by any stretch of the imagination, the total or complete list. But it is there to help you get started, and as a lesson of things that I have learned, and hopefully you can learn as well.

Next we will be looking at things to do and look out for once you have started your blog. There was too much to include in one post, so I decided to split the post up. Keep a look out for  the next post.

What are your experiences as a new or established blogger? What lessons have you learned? Share them with us in the comments below.

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12 comment(s) so far...


10 Things I wish I knew and did before I started blogging

Every blogger, whether your are a professional a-list blogger, or a casual blogger, had to start somewhere. But like me, many just jumped into blogging without even a thought as to what blogging is all about. There are things I wish I had known before I started. Things I wish I had done before I started.
# ZillionsB.com

By TrackBack on  2009/09/21 12:32 PM
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Re: 10 Things I wish I knew and did before I started blogging

Interesting - I have a similar post in draft at this very moment, which is "8 Things you should do before you start a blog." It covers some similar points. Fascinating that we both ended up covering the same subject but from different directions. I'll save mine for a few weeks, then link back to this one with it, as it's a good one and with lots of good resources. Thanks!

By Mike CJ on  2009/09/21 11:37 AM
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Re: 10 Things I wish I knew and did before I started blogging

@mike - As they say, Great minds think alike :)

This is a very well written resourceful post.
Interestingly enough, someone was a bit confused whether to stick with Blogger.com or go for Wordpress.com?
I will point the person to your post on this.

By Johnluffa on  2009/09/21 12:29 PM
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Re: 10 Things I wish I knew and did before I started blogging

@mike,

That would be great. Let me know, then I will trackback to your new post from this one.

By Robert Bravery on  2009/09/21 12:33 PM
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Re: 10 Things I wish I knew and did before I started blogging

Hi Robert,
I'm enjoying your posts about blogging more and more.

I think you forgot to mention Wordpress as a open CMS platform.

By Gordie Rogers on  2009/09/21 12:46 PM
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Re: 10 Things I wish I knew and did before I started blogging

@Gordie,

Thanks for the vote of confidence. I really mean that.

As far as Wordpress is concerned, the jury is still out on whether belongs in the CMS camp. There is much debate about the topic. Although it does have CMS functionality, it still lacks a lot of default CMS functionality that separates a CMS from other types of software.

I'm more inclined to put it into the Just for Blogging camp

By Robert Bravery on  2009/09/21 01:22 PM
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Re: 10 Things I wish I knew and did before I started blogging

Very well articulated article on the topic,currently using blogger.com but intends to migrate to wordpress.com(African job vacancies at your disposal)

By Dan on  2009/09/21 01:27 PM
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Re: 10 Things I wish I knew and did before I started blogging

Good article. Wish I had been able to read it about 5 months ago when I started bogging. Definitely some good information. Thanks for sharing.
Wishing you a scent-sational day!

By Patty Reiser on  2009/09/21 05:56 PM
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Re: 10 Things I wish I knew and did before I started blogging

Excellent article Robert. When I started blogging I also had no idea what I was getting myself into to...I love it!!!

By AntonRSA on  2009/09/21 06:21 PM
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Re: 10 Things I wish I knew and did before I started blogging

You ought to make that post a sticky Robert because there's some seriously good advice in there.

By Kevin Tea on  2009/09/21 07:39 PM
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Re: 10 Things I wish I knew and did before I started blogging

this are nice pointers but i think that one of the most important things is to develop initiative and start one and learn from your mistakes as you go along. In as much as research and everything is important there are things that you will learn as you blog. even the niche to service. take me for example, the thought of blogging came to me as i was lazing around in my place. i didn't have any particular interests and knew absolutely nothing about blogging. so the next time i was online, i googled how to start a blog and i went with the first choice that came up. it was a blogger blog(a false start if i might add) i wrote a few non sense posts that i think only two people read but i continued researching and soon started another on on wordpress. in my web trolling i realised that i liked reading tech news and so i started doing small posts on them. a few months later i found that finance fascinated me and i should blog about it. and the rest is history. i have learnt how promote the site, a lot of things about blogging and a wealth of info on finance and investment. but all that started with initiative. its a great post btw. if i had read it before i started blogging things could have been a little easier

By kenyantykoon on  2009/09/22 10:30 AM
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Re: 10 Things I wish I knew and did before I started blogging

Interestingly no one ever seems to find useful advice like this until after they've been at this blog game for a while. Great resource. Only thing I'd add to this is to write, to write as often as possible about everything and anything until you find your voice. We all have something to add to the blogosphere if we're willing to put in the hours and pay our dues.

By Michael on  2009/09/23 01:13 AM
 
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