From the Archive: Things to Consider When Setting Up a Blog

Blogging

Last fall, I briefly experimented with a separate blog dedicated to writerly things. Within a couple of weeks, I decided I wanted to just included everything over here at Being and Formulating and abandoned that idea. For that short-lived blog, I included a couple of posts about things to consider when setting up a blog. I had forgotten about these posts until recently when a friend and fellow writer started his own blog and had some questions about the process, so I decided to repost them here. I would also recommend checking out his new blog, because SEATravelZombie.

Here’s Part One:

One of the nice things about having a blog is that making changes along the way is pretty simple. As I mentioned before, my blogs have really evolved in unexpected ways and I have made plenty of alterations. That said, there are a few things you probably want to decide on before getting started.

Personal Vs. Professional Blogs

One thing is the nature of your blog. Do you want it to be a personal or professional blog? The main distinction I make between these two types is that a personal blog is less audience focused and doesn’t necessarily revolve around a particular theme. This can be a good way to get started with blogging. You are not committing yourself to much of anything and aren’t concerned about finding and maintaining an audience. It can serve as a landing page if anyone conducts an Internet search for you. I would suggest still being discriminating about what you post but this type of blog is more about showing the world you are an interesting person.

Professional blogs are more thematically focused. Here, you are more concerned about finding and maintaining an audience. Having a specific topic and posting about that topic regularly gives people a reason to follow you. Part of the evolution of my blogs has been to removed some of the topics that came up on my personal blog and spin them off into their own. Thus this writing and blogging specific blog and my co-authored food blog. People interested in reading about food and drinks might be put off by posts about writing and blogging and vice versa.

Helpful links:

Hosted Vs. Self-Hosted 

You will also want to decided whether you want to have your blog hosted or self-hosted Having a blog hosted means that you are using a service to provide space and to manage software updates. Often, you are limited in the options you have, but you don’t have to worry about the technology end of things. Hosted blogs are free. WordPress offers both hosted and self-hosted blogs and I have liked using both. Originally, I used Blogger but that was so long ago that I my experience won’t reflect much about the current iteration.

Self-hosted means that you find a service to provide server space for your blog but you are responsible for keeping the software up-to-date. This is not as intimidating as it might sound since many hosting sites have built in tools to assist with this. With a self-hosted site, you have more control and have more options. Also, many hosted blogs do not allow you to have ads on your site. I have been using Blue Host for many years and recommend it. My sites have never experienced any downtime and I find their service generally intuitive.

There’s a cost involved with self-hosting. You have to pay to have it hosted, which will probably be around $100/year. You may also want to consider paying for a domain name. Domain names cost around $10-$12/year.

In the past, I have moved a blog from a hosted to a self-hosted platform. WordPress makes this pretty simple with a tool that allows you to export your posts and categories from the old site and then import them into a new site. Although moving blogs from a hosted to self-hosted service can be done, it is best to give this serious thought before you begin to avoid any potential confusion among your readers.

Helpful links:

Name and Tagline

Deciding on a name for your blog is definitely something you need to decide on before getting started. Even if you are having your blog hosted, the name of your blog will appear in your url (e.g. http://yourblog.wordpress.com). You want to be consistent about your name and have it appear the same in your title and your domain.

Your tagline is also important. It gives your readers and search engines a better idea of what your blog is about. Unlike the name of your blog, taglines are not associated with anything and you can tweak them at anytime.

Helpful links:

Theme

The theme for your blog, that is the design, can be changed at anytime. Start simple. I tend to like the default theme that comes with WordPress installations. They usually are very clean and easy to read. There is a lot of bad design out there and it may be tempting to do something flashy, but it’s best to err on the simple side.

On to Part Two!