Blogging for Beginners

Below is a question from a travel writer and blogging beginner. In answering his questions, I hope I can help you with some of your blogging queries, too.

Q

Hi Ellen,

I have been writing for many years with no outlet for expression, and so blogging seems ideal. I want to blog about my passions: travel and spirituality. I also want to use blogging for business, to convey a sense of who I am and why people should work with me.

My questions are:

  1. Are there specific blog sites for different genres?
  2. Is there a charge for them?
  3. How do people get to read them?

Thanks,
RK

A

Thank you so much for your questions! Here are my answers – I hope they help.

1.    Are there specific blog sites for different genres?

Not really! There is no specific blogging platform for one type of website or another. Each platform has its own pros and cons and deciding which to use really a case of personal preference. However, most business owners favour WordPress for a whole heap of reasons.

Here is a brief guide to some popular blogging platforms:

  1. WordPress.org is the world’s largest self-hosting blogging tool. What makes it brilliant? Its wealth of available templates (themes) and functions (plugins), and its emphasis on written content, which is great for SEO (see below).
  2. WordPress.com this is the free option. WordPress takes care of hosting and security for you. You can set up a blog for free and upgrade it in various ways, but there is less flexibility in terms of style and features. You cannot set a WordPress.com site up for e-commerce (online shops).
  3. Blogger is another well-known blogging platform and is part of the Google family, which means that it integrates easily with Google tools.
  4. Tumblr is a great sharing platform and, like Facebook, it is geared towards sharing visual and audio content. It looks good but is not as flexible as other blogging platforms when it comes to widgets and plugins (extra features). You cannot self-host a Tumblr blog.

2. Is there a charge for blogs?

Most blogs can be started for free and you can upgrade your blog in a range of ways as you go along – by paying for a proper domain name, hosting, email marketing and dedicated email accounts, for example. Generally, the costs are very low.

Starting your blog

The first thing a blogger needs to do is start writing – but you already do that – perfect! Blogging is all about frequency and, once a regular writing habit is in place, you can work on quality and popularity.

Remember, writing for the web is not like writing for printed media.

You need to grab your reader’s interest within 3 seconds, or risk losing her. The internet is a distracting place! The way your website looks is very important. I would recommend crafting your blog posts around big, bold, beautiful photos from your travels.

3. How do people get to read blogs?

People find your website through 3 avenues – Content, Social and Search.

Content refers to the words on your website – all the words, including the ‘About Me’ page, blog posts, and image captions. Images, film and audio files are also classed as content, but for the purposes of this question let’s focus on words alone. Ensure that your content is valuable to your readers in some way, and search engines will favour you.

Social refers to Social Media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. These provide a way for you to share content with readers who may not have discovered your blog yet. When your beautiful posts are shared by your readers on Social Media, it acts as a sort of recommendation, telling search engines that your content is valuable. Use Social Media to share tasty morsels of content that link back to your blog – this is sometimes known as link bait.

Search refers to search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Clearly, if you want your blog to succeed, people will need to find it when they search for related search terms through search engines. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is used to attract more readers through search – and for bloggers, the process is relatively simple. It is about choosing your words carefully when you write your Content – and writing copiously.

Good luck – I can’t wait to read your blog!