Setting up a blog can be a complex mixture of art and technology that can take years to truly master. Fortunately for those of us who don’t have weeks to spend on a science project, there are tools and services out there that do all the heavy lifting for you in setting up your blog, leaving you with the fun stuff.
Content Management Systems (CMS)
The easiest way to get up and running with a blog is to use a little something called a content management system or CMS. Like most other tools for blogging, you have a choice between free and paid CMS…and there are pros and cons to each of them. Let’s go over your options, shall we?
There are a few reasons why you might want to splurge and go for a paid CMS. For one thing, they are made to run smoothly–many of these services can turn making your own website feel like a walk in the park. For another, they let you focus on what you really wanted to focus on to begin with: the blog of course! Writing and engaging readers can be your primary focus instead of server maintenance and updates which, let’s be honest, are rarely all that pleasant to deal with. The main downside is the obvious one: you have to pay. There are often monthly fees to use the services as well as special functionality locked behind a paywall.
In fact, many of the free CMS services work this way as well. They will let you get started for free and proceed to upcharge you for more advanced features. For a lot of blogs, this is ok. Some bloggers won’t need premium themes, increased storage, custom plugins, or dedicated support. If you just want to write, you can write for free or for very cheap (~$10/month).
You can get away with this model by using any of the following:
*Note that GoDaddy is actually just another way to implement a WordPress website.
Truly Free CMS
All in all, we are pretty big fans of WordPress here at Tymbal. Going through WordPress.com is going to make you pay for incremental upgrades (which, we’ll be honest, could get pricey after a while), but you can implement your own version of WordPress core entirely for free! It is open source code and when you build your own WordPress installation you can go a long way with free plugins and themes. Ultimately you will still be paying for your web hosting and domain registrar, but those costs can usually be cut down to less than $10/month and you wind up with virtually unlimited functionality. For a more detailed guide on how to install WordPress core you can read their instructions here. WordPress is incredibly well documented and the community is always around to help. Don’t be afraid to post questions!
Designing Your Blog For Success
Once you have selected your blog’s platform, the next step is to make it shine! This is one of the most fun and rewarding parts of setting up your blog. Now that you’ve settled on your CMS, you get to focus on making it look good and work well. The most straightforward advice we can offer is to keep it simple. Find a blog or website that you gravitate towards and draw inspiration from it. Keep your colors, your tone, and the rest of your style simple and consistent.
Less is always more in good design.
Keep in mind: making your blog resonate with readers is going to be 90% about your writing and personality and 10% (or maybe even less!) about the website itself. That being said, that is an important 10%. It is essential to make sure that the basics work and that the site is not frustrating to use–nothing makes for a bad experience like a broken website–but the bulk of the value comes in your content and presentation. You know that quote “dress for the job you want, not the job you have?” This applies to your blog as well! Outfit your blog with a design that will be attractive to your target audience, even when you’re first starting out.
To get a more in-depth look into how to design for your site, stay tuned for our upcoming Guide to Good Blog Design.
Get the Word Out!
Alright, so you have your branding locked down. You’ve got the domain to match and a killer design ready to go…what next? You’ve got to get your blog out there! Lucky for you, we live in the 21st century and communicating with people has never been easier. You’ve got to use the technology at hand! Hit Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and all the rest. Make new pages, new accounts, new hashtags for your new blog and brand. Don’t be shy! Go out and like, comment, subscribe on every big page in your niche and engage with the people already there. Use the places where your audience hangs out as your intro to the community. It takes time, but with good hustle you will start to get people’s attention, and with that you will get visitors to your blog.
Write For Your Blog’s Audience
Once your delivery channels through social media are all set up, you can start cranking out blog posts! Remember to write what you know, but that’s not all there is to it. Before you get started, be sure to check out our article on SEO Basics for Blogs. Trust us, it might save you a lot of time and frustration.
It Takes Time
And with that, you are all set up to find your voice! From here on out, it is all about staying consistent with posts and finding your footing. Keep writing, keep posting to social media, and keep engaging with your audience. If you stick with it, your blog will soar!
What are you waiting for? Get out there and blog!