So you’ve decided to start a blog! Congratulations! Chances are you’re really excited and you want to jump right into everything (I don’t blame you, I did too). But there are some key things you’ll want to have in place before you start your blog. Let’s talk about a few of them.
4 Decisions You Need To Make Before You Start Your Blog
1. Purchase Your Domain
My guess is that since you’ve decided to start a blog you probably have a good idea what you are going to be writing about. You probably have a stellar blog title too! And if that’s the case, you don’t want to waste any time purchasing your blog’s domain.
The domain is the official website of your blog. It’s the address users will type into the search bar when they search for you are online. For example to get to my blog you would open up google (or whatever search engine you are using), click on the browsing bar, and type in lotanner.com. Lo Tanner is my domain.
The thing about domain names is that they are given on a first come, first served basis. Whoever pays for it first, gets it. So you may have a really great name-+ for your blog, and may (like most people) plan to use that name as your domain name, but if Suzy Q in west Texas registers her domain name before you do, and you both had the same name in mind – Great for Suzy Q. Bummer for you. What’s the lesson in all of this? Don’t procrastinate when it comes to purchasing your blog’s domain. Even if you don’t plan to immediately launch your blog, take the time to secure your domain name.
How To Purchase My Blog’s Domain Name
There are several options when it comes to purchasing a domain name. I recommend Go Daddy to all of my blogging friends. I have used them for three years and love their quality service. Plus their prices are affordable. I also loved that I could get everything I need to get my blog off the ground from GoDaddy. So I did it all in one painless swoop.
There are multiple websites that you have the option of purchasing a domain name through. A simple google search will show you all your options.
2. Pick A Platform
So you’ve got your domain name. Now what? Now you want to start building your blog. Before you can launch a blog you’ll need to decide what service you want to build your blog through. There are tons of options out there but the one platform I know and love is WordPress.
WordPress.Org vs WordPress.Com
WordPress comes in two different forms; wordpress.org and wordpress.com
My personal preference and that of most bloggers and business owners is to build my blog through wordpress.org. With wordpress.org you own 100% of your blog and its content. That puts you in a great position should you ever decide you want to build a business from your blog, sell products from your blog, or participate in any sort of affiliate marketing.
You have control over your blogs layout and more options when it comes to customized themes, menu’s, pages, and such. That freedom gives you the ability to present yourself and your material almost any way you want to. The con (if you want to call it that) is that a .org site requires you to either provide website hosting yourself or pay for it. But there are some really great and affordable website host services that you can use. We’ll cover that in just a few moments.
The other option available to you is WordPress.com.
The advantages to using wordpress.com are that it’s free; meaning you won’t have to pay for web hosting like you would have to if you used wordpress.org. It’s easy to learn and easy to use and there typically aren’t any additional costs associated. If you’re a hobby blogger, someone who blogs just for fun and don’t plan to monetize (make money from) your blog this could be a good option for you.
3. Choose Your Blog Host
A host provides your blog with all the technology and back end services it needs to be seen and accessed on the internet. If you are a tech-savvy person you might be able to handle this on your own. But if you don’t want to risk it or simply aren’t at all tech or code savvy (like me) before you start your blog you should consider getting someone to host your blog for you.
What to Look For In Web Host
There are three things I require from a hosting service before I commit to partnering with them.
1. They MUST have a glowing recommendation. I don’t allow the internet to sway me on this one. If I am looking for a website host I find best practice is to talk to other bloggers about their experiences with the hosts that they have used. If the recommendation isn’t great, I don’t give it a second thought.
2. They MUST have an online chat service as a part of their customer service. If an issue does come up, say you have a post go viral and your blog can’t handle the traffic, you don’t want to have to wait for a phone call or an email. You want to talk to someone ASAP, and a chat service can help guarantee that.
3. They MUST have a decent renewal rate. Hosting is something that you will need to pay for annually. Some host companies like to give you an extremely “discounted” initial rate and then rack up the price of their hosting when your renewal date comes up. I’m not a fan of that approach. When picking your host, make sure that you research the renewal price.
4. They MUST have decent upgrading options. As your blog grows your hosting needs with change. Having an idea of the upgrade options before hand will help you decide what web host you should go with.
I count of GoDaddy to do my web hosting (I was serious when I said I did it all with GoDaddy in one painless swoop).
4. Choose Your Email Marketing Service
You’re probably wondering why you even need an email marketing service. Don’t worry. I wondered to for my first year and a half of blogging. This is a blogger’s best-kept secret. It allows them to build an email community (also known as a mailing list or a subscriber list) in an organized and effective manner.
The Advantages of Using An Email Marketing System
They know the regs. Most email marketing services are set up to help you meet all the legal requirements that come with having a mailing list. You may not know all the regs, but they do, and most services are designed to help you uphold them
Organization is easy. These systems can manage hundreds and even thousands of contacts at one time. That means as you grow, you can keep all of your contacts in one place.
It Keeps Building Your Community Simple. With email marketing, you can easily create sign up forms (in their various forms) to attract community members and gain subscribers.
The Automation. Systems like Active Campaign allow you to create email automation. This is a great way to connect with and provide resources to your audience. Say you have a freebie you want to give away to new subscribers. All you have to do is plug that freebie into an email and set it to send to anyone who signs up. You can cater to your email list without being glued to a screen all the time.
This tool is KEY to building a successful blog or online business. I’ve used a few different email marketing programs over the past few years and my all time FAVORITE is Active Campaign. They are actually the third email marketing system I’ve tried and I wish they were my first. The automation is spectacular, they customer service is excellent, and since using Active Campaign my open rate (the percentage of people opening my emails) has actually increased, AND their tracking system allows me to see how people are interacting with my emails and other linked content.