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How to Set Up A (Good) Blog

How to start a good blog, step by step. If you don’t start with a plan, I hope you’re happy when you’re blog becomes just one of the other 500 million or so! 😉

I wrote this post as I got my blog assembled–partially to clarify for myself what to do. I  have started blogs in the past, but they haven’t been consciously strategized as this one has (one of many differences). And on that point, I’ve done more planning since then with the help of the rational Melanie Heisey.

  1. Do you know why you want to blog? Do you know what your goals are? Do you have at least one clear reason? Do you have the feeling that you simply have to? To get above the 99.9% of blogs with hardly any readership, I would be surprised if some kind of obsession weren’t needed. Or at least a really good plan, focusing on the frequency or quantity of posting (and to a lesser extent the quality).
  2. No, seriously, think about your blog first. The word “blog” can mean many different things. What I mean by it is an other-directed tool for focus in self-improvement, friendship, and a chronicle….  I’ll explain this a bit more in tomorrow’s post (most likely).
  3. Pick a domain name. This stems from your blog goals. If you’re serious, you’ll definitely want your own domain name rather than, say, a .wordpress.com blog. I hear that using your Name.com (first and last) is a good idea.
  4. Register for WordPress, or a similar setup at Blogspot, etc. You can move to a domain name later! You can also do it now, but it’s not a priority (you just need to think about it now).
  5. Think about and decide how you want it to look. This is a big topic and deserves its own post. For now I’ll just say 1) look at the layout of your favorite blogs, 2) look at the WordPress themes and see which ones you like, 3) pick a color scheme using Kuler.Adobe.com. I’m assuming you’ll realize that a WordPress theme just isn’t going to fit your vision and you’ll have to hire someone to do it for you (it needn’t cost most than $100), but if a theme suits your needs, all the better!
  6. Pick out a theme and customize the look. If you choose to hire someone for a custom layout you should still get started while he or she is working on it.
  7. Figure out how posts will connect to each other, including any pages. Namely, the site navigation. Is there a landing page? Is there a highly visible archives? (One idea is to list archives yourself instead of using the default by-month side widget.) Will you be using tags and categories? This topic will also get its own blog post.
  8. Make a list of 50 blog ideas. It doesn’t matter if they’re good or not. I found it gave me confidence to realize that I had plenty of ideas to work with. It may take you awhile to come up with 50+, of course.
  9. Decide one or two things about your “brand”, or what you are specifically going to stand for and mean. Hopefully you’ve already done this but it may be more precise now that you’ve thought more about it and see patterns in your blog post ideas.
  10. Decide what the first post will be about. Put off an About page. Do change the tagline of your blog though (so it’s not “Just another WordPress.com site”)
  11. Tell people about it. Facebook is one good way.
  12. Start interacting with other bloggers in the very first week. Comment on their posts, try to get a conversation going, and try to leave links to posts you’ve written that are relevant to the conversation.
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