So you have some interests, maybe one area in particular that you are truly passionate about, whether it’s saving the environment, saving money, or saving teenage girls from a spectacularly heinous fashion faux pas. And you’ve decided that you want to share your love and knowledge of this subject matter with your fellow man. Luckily, you don’t have to be an expert, have a background in journalism, or know someone who can provide a forum in which to air your thoughts. All you need is a personal blog these days in order to connect with an audience. Well, in truth, there’s a little more to it than simply signing up with a web host. Here are few essentials that every blogger needs to get started.
- Peace and quiet. When it comes time to sit down and write your first (or next) amazing blog post, you’re going to have trouble concentrating if there are roommates or kids running around, the TV or stereo is blaring, or the gardeners are noisily trimming the yard. Most writers require an atmosphere that is free of noise and distractions so that they can focus on the task at hand: turning their deepest thoughts into a coherent, engaging, and hopefully even enlightening offering for their readers.
- A niche. You might love celebrity gossip, but TMZ has pretty much cornered that market. Perhaps you prefer to blog about sports, but unfortunately most people already hit up ESPN. In truth, just about every broad topic is already being covered by someone else (and probably someone better, smarter, or at least more famous than you). But don’t despair; you just need to specialize. That doesn’t mean you have to get uber-specific and write a blog about the joy of wearing jeggings, the many benefits of adding quinoa to your diet, or the mating habits of grubs. But you should try to find a happy medium with a topic that’s broad enough to interest a wide audience but focused enough to compete.
- Incredible content. Your readership is bound to be a fairly savvy bunch, especially if they’re already interested in your topic. This means you have to work hard to wow them if you want to convince them that you’re the better than the rest. You need to write posts that are interesting, engaging, and thoughtful. And you should provide added value with up-to-date facts, and opinions that aren’t a reworking of what others have already said.
- A reliable web host. Do your homework here and you won’t be sorry. If pages load slowly (or not at all) your readers might head to more reliable competitors. And when web crawlers can’t find your pages due to unscheduled downtime it could undo any work you’ve done to raise your page rank with search engines. So find yourself a fast and reliable host site to begin with and avoid these common headaches.
- Layout and design tools. While many web hosts will provide you with a variety of templates so you can quickly set up your site and get to the important stuff (that would be the writing), you can also go for a Gimp download to create graphics for your site and even try a free version of Quark for a limited time if you want to slap together some pro layouts. While your audience will come back if the content is good, you want the layout and design to be intuitive and appealing enough that they stick around and start reading in the first place.