How to build a blog!

If this is the first time you build a blog I would like to start saying -Congratulations!-. This page will help you take your first steps. You are now part of a very progressive and innovative community. The nights (or days) ahead of you will be filled with a lot of discovery and you will learn new skills and maybe even develop a new passion.

But before we start I would like to add. I was there where you are just a few years ago and 2 years after I started building a site I decided organize myself and become a business. I was thinking "Too many people are asking questions and too little people are answering them".

All websites you are to create share the same basic requirements, you need a web hosting plan, a domain, content and motivation. What sets a blog apart from other kind of websites is often simplicity, community, pricing and platform options. And we will cover those separately in the next few sections.

Why would you want to build a blog?

Blogging is an effective way to communicate your ideas and to voice your opinion, on a public forum. For businesses it is also a way of building strong relationships with customers, by developing transparency and trust. At a personal level, it helps you to finely tune your writing skills and creativity.

Personally I believe that the most important aspect of writing a blog is the possibility to help you develop a critical skill for society, the ability to debate. The ability to structurally present a logical argument, which you believe to be valid and can defend through facts or propositions.

So what do people write about?

This question does not come up very frequently. Most people who want to write and maintain a blog know what their blogs are going to be about. But if you are looking for inspiration, here are a few good ideas!

TLDR; People write about things they care about.

  1. Make things different/better:  Frequently people start blogs to increase awareness around a topic or to promote and support an organization.
    • Help with purchase decisions: Blogs like this are often called affiliate websites. They find a niche which has been overlooked or misunderstood and provide guidance on what products and services to acquire. To give you an idea, I have personally not seen a website that is tailored towards the review of online purchases of musical instruments. Our articles page is an example of this.
    • Promote a non-profit: Maybe you feel people should donate/volunteer more time for their communities. Maybe you are excited about ending world hunger and implementing clean energy! Whatever the case, a blog provides a way for advocating in the name of your chosen field.
  2. Voice your thoughts and explore your passions and then one day wake up to the realization that you have followers. This website did not start as a blog, originally we simply intended to list the products and services that WebsiteCraft offered. We didn't have in our view to communicate to world-class public, but as we built the website FAQ area we realized there were questions our visitors would have that did not directly relate to our offerings.

Ready to build a blog? It's time to choose a blogging platform and web hosting!

There are many popular platforms and web hosting plans out there that can be used to build a blog. Thought it they can all be grouped in two:

  1. Relatively "Free": There is no such thing as truly free on the internet when it comes to web hosting environments and blogging websites on the Internet. Which is why through this article we refer to those environments as "free". One way or another profit is being made for at least one of the parties involved. This is because it costs money to keep any environment alive and running.
    • WordPress.com: WordPress is used by roughly 51% of the websites built on the entire Internet using a content management system technologies (Updated 11/01/2016). You can confirm the most up-to-date percentage by heading to "BuiltWith" and also compare to "W3techs". WordPress itself is more like a brand that represents two things at the same time:

      (1)
      The name of the application used to build websites (which you can download from wordpress.org).
      (2) The name of a hosting entity that lets you host a free WordPress-based website (namely wordpress.com). Which exists under a company called "Automattic".

      The problem with the free hosting offered by wordpress.com is that it is also very limited:
       
      (1) 
      First off it forces you to append ".wordpress.com" to any website address you make. Which takes away from your personal image. You are no longer your own persona, instead you are beneath the wordpress.com shadow. Every time you tell someone that your site is "mywebsite.wordpress.com" it is promoting wordpress.com for free instead of you -> ergo at your expense, and makes your domain long and tacky.
      (2) They have the ability to advertise their products, and probably also their affiliates, directly on your website. But you don't get a portion of the profit.
      (3) You don't get to add your own advertisement which cuts down your profitability even more.

      However, WordPress as a tool for building websites is great! Our site websitecraft.xyz was built using WordPress, but WordPress is only great if it is self-hosted. Good news is we can host it for you!

    • Blogger.com: Formerly blogspot.com. Blogger is a hosting-and-blogging package. It is "free" both for using your own domain or using a "mywebsite.blogger.com" extension which once again promotes Blogger.com instead of your actual website, and it also comes with it's own share of limitations.

      (1) Content ownership: You are not able to move your blogger website anywhere. You can download the posts but not the pictures, and you cannot bring any of the design you created in this environment anywhere else. Other than the idea you have in your mind about it. The same thing applies to the free hosting from WordPress.com.
      (2) File Access: This directly ties to content ownership. You are unable to download the files that make your website work so you are forced to stay with your "free" providers permanently.
      (3) Limited Design: Blogger gives you very few options for the design of your site, moreover, because it is proprietary software you cannot bring your own design to Blogger.
      (4) Limited Functionality:
      Blogger has is limited to blogging specifically. But blogs are more than just a page were you spit information. You cannot create a paid membership websites, or add shopping carts, you don't have a lot of freedom regarding advertisement either. Blogger does not let you easily integrate with social media either or create your own community.
      (5) Uncertain Future: Once again, blogger is proprietary software, Google determines the future of the application. If Google finds there is no longer a community sufficiently large behind Blogger or any cause to pull the plug on Blogger it will simply disappear, just like many other Google initiatives. Just use Google to search for "Failed Google Products".

  2. Paid & Self-hosted: Self-hosted environments have been the preferred environment for any blogger that is or aspires to be a professional. These environments have taken the weaknesses and threats of their "free" counterparts and effectively turned them into opportunities and strengths. At WebsiteCraft we provide you with both website design (we build a blog or website for you) and web hosting (you build a blog or website yourself and host it with us). The benefits of both options are as follows:
    • You own your content whether your designed the website yourself or hired someone to build it for you your content belongs to you. And you have the freedom to take it wherever you decide to host your website with.
    • You have access to your own files and no one should ever take that away from you! File access allows you to make changes to the internal aspects that make your website operate.
    • And thanks to your file access your design options are limited only by your imagination (or by the one belonging to your chosen designer). The people you chose to have the ability to modify your website at your will without restriction.
    • You can tailor the website's functionality to match your needs: As we studied before other tools come with a pre-packaged set of functions that cannot be touched. A self-hosted software will allow you to add functionality that did not exist out of the box.
    • You can monetize your site however you want if you want to join an add network, or amazon affiliates or otherwise promote someone's business and get paid by referrals, self-hosted environments are the way to go.
    • Your future is at your hands: You own your content, design, functionality and the ability to modify everything and take it wherever you want. The future is IN your hands. 

Final step! It's time to login to your new blog and start blogging

For the first few minutes after having you environments setup you really want to focus on getting comfortable with your new tool. But this should not sway your focus away from content generation. A good initial topic to test the waters is talking about your experience on why you are starting the blog.

A few final recommendations before closing this post.

  1. Don't start writing your page/post by editing your choice of words. First lay down everything you want to say as it comes to your head.
  2. Do research on your thoughts, statements and their validity. See what others think, check what the facts are, and feed on that.
  3. Do proofreading! Typos, punctuation and other errors tarnish your veracity.
  4. Have someone else other than you do proofreading (an unbiased friend works) or find an editor.
  5. Be receptive to constructive feedback and acknowledge your readers.

Best luck to you and see you in the trenches.

Leave a Reply