Competition grows every day, and any website owner knows that if they don’t keep up with the latest techniques, ideas, and news, they are at a serious disadvantage. What is now becoming a wide spread phenomenon, blogs are sweeping the Web, as almost every SEO friendly website has one in one form or another (you’re on mine right now!). Creating constant original content is key to any website’s success in the rankings, and one can achieve this through creating and maintaining a blog.
First things first, you need to know where your blog is going. Are you going to self-host it, or are you going to get a free blog on blogger.com or wordpress.com? If you’re going to self-host, which CMS are you going to use? Are you going to be a layout? Or, for bigger websites, are you going to feature the blog on the same URL as your site? And how will you be able to do that? Truly, there are so many questions you need to ask yourself before you even start, because these are the biggest questions that will either build up your site or tie you down.
The big question some of you might have is how much each costs. If you are using a blogging site like wordpress.com, in which your blog is at yourblogname.wordpress.com, it is absolutely free. If you host your blog on its own URL, you have to buy a domain name and hosting (I use Go Daddy, but I didn’t look into it that much, as I found it to be well priced). If you want your blog to be on your own site (i.e. yoursite.com/blog), it won’t cost a thing if you use a free CMS like WordPress or Joomla. Now, for those who do not want to you a CMS on your own site, there are other options, but a lot more costly. One of my client’s websites uses HubSpot, an internet marketing site, to provide blogging assistance. HubSpot is a monthly charge and costs $3,000/year and up, so if it’s not in your budget, don’t even think about it. There are other non CMS blogging options, but I suggest using one. If you’re concerned with it not being professional, then you are mistaken. Some of the top blogs in the world use a CMS (i.e. techcrunch.com, roytanck.com, etc.). It’s cheap, user friendly, and very customizable.
From personal experience, I decided to start my blog initially on blogger.com. I didn’t want it to cost anything, because I didn’t know how dedicated I would be to up keeping it. I also thought that blogger.com was a better choice than all the other free blogging sites, but if I had to do it over again, I would of chosen wordpress.com (after self-hosting WordPress, I know it’s capabilities and have been thrilled by the outcomes, but that comes later). I then realized I wanted my blog to be taken seriously, and self-hosting was the only way to achieve this. I signed up with Go Daddy for a domain and shared hosting (you might of heard bad things about Go Daddy, but it went decently smooth and didn’t have anything more than a few minor issues), and decided to use WordPress for my CMS (Content Management System). I again started blogging on a free template, then finally I transitioned to a $30 template I bought that has the look I wanted (you’re currently looking at it), and then the real blogging began.
My blog isn’t huge, it isn’t for a big website, it’s actually more of a hobby that I do out of pure enjoyment, but even though this is true, did you see how many big decisions I made in this short period of time? (All of this went down within a 2 week period). You NEED to have a game plan, because if there is money on the line, you can’t be as indecisive as I was. This is critical because if you get tied down to a free blog and want your blog to either be on your site’s URL or on its separate hosting, you’re in for some serious trouble. I don’t know how much I need to emphasize this, but hopefully you now understand on how big those questions above are.
So, if you are thinking of using a free blogging site or a self-hosted CMS, here are a few to choose from.
Free blogging platforms to host your blog on:
Paid blogging platforms to host your blog on:
Self-Hosted blogging platforms:
Personally I only know people that have used WordPress or Joomla for self-hosting, and I’ve gotten fantastic reviews from both. Look into at least the top 3 to see which one is right for you.
Also, if you are using a CMS, you have the fortune of having the option of finding your own personal template. The more professional ones cost money, anywhere from $25 to $100, but the only downside is that the same templates are sold to many bloggers, so you might come across others with the same template (so far I haven’t found anyone with mine). You can buyout a theme for a few thousand dollars, so only you and whoever else that already bought the theme can use it. I don’t suggest doing this, unless you are the first one to buy the theme and you are willing to fork out the money to be the only one out there like it. If you truly want your own personal theme done professionally, there are many WordPress web design firms willing to make you your own.
If I could list any last minute advice, I would say do your research so you know what you want, because nothing is worse is to start blogging for a few months and to want your blog on a different URL. Lastly you want your blog to be unique, so if it’s worth paying for a template or customizing your settings as much as you can to make this happen, then it’s well worth it.
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Would you have any tips for anyone wanting to create a blog, or are you using a CMS or free blogging site not listed above? I’d love to hear from my readers, so leave a comment below!