There is no doubt that creating a blog is essential building your platform for your business. No one is really asking (at least they shouldn't be) if they need a blog any longer. The question now is what you need to do get started.
I do a lot of work for clients who are bloggers. And I also get a lot of questions about the different things you need to do to get the ball rolling. There is a lot of information out there about blogging, but I wanted to boil things down to what I think are the essentials you need to have to start your blog.
1. What is it?
You really need to have a good idea regarding what you want to blog about. And it needs to be something you're really excited about, because if you're going to have any kind of success doing it, you need to love the subject enough to push through the challenging times of writer's block and low motivation.
2. Domain Name
It's a good idea to have your blog concept figured out before you buy your domain name. Having a solid idea for your blog theme will help you choose your domain name. If you've already got a domain name for your business then you can secure an additional domain name to point directly to your blog.
3. Blogging Platform
Don't put the cart before the horse. Choose your platform wisely. Most times WordPress will be the way to go, but there are other platforms available that are also open source that may fit you better. Take a look around and see what you like. There are also premium platforms available like Expression Engine that may be a better tool for you than something else.
You don't have to have a custom-designed theme from day one, but you also don't want to have your blog look like everyone else's blog by using the stock themes that come with the platform. You can get awesome themes for WordPress starting under $100.
Start a list of all the possible things you could blog about and keep it somewhere you can find it. Brainstorm as many possible ideas that you can come up with about your topic. Then try to make a list for each of those topics. Having a list of ideas is absolutely essential because you're not going to know what you want to blog about each time you sit down to create content.
Use your ideas list to start to compile categories. I love John Saddington's philosophy on this. He says that you really shouldn't have more than 5-8 categories for your blog. Otherwise it can be overwhelming. This is obviously not a hard and fast rule but it's a great guideline to help you focus your thinking. You'll notice that this blog has adhered to this advice.
This may be the hardest part, but it's also the most important. You'll refine your craft as you discipline yourself to constantly create content, but you have to make sure you're committed to making it happen. Discipline yourself to write for 30 minutes a day if you have to. Make a commitment to write at least one post per day or per week. Work with another blogger to hold you accountable. Consistency is talked about so much and for good reason. I've learned this lesson the hard way.
There are a lot of other things you'll learn about and will need to do at different times to build your blog, but these are the basics that you need to have to get started.
Did I miss something or is one of these not an essential? Let me know about it in the comments below – I'd love to hear what you're thinking.
image by Library of Congress (I love the retro look!)