How to Create a Blog - Find Hosting and Get Started

Tips and Resources for Starting Your Blog Today

How to set up a blog
Use a blog to promote your home business. Esolla | Getty Images

Learning how to create a blog is a great way to promote your home business, boost interest in the products or services you have to offer and build traffic to your website. It can even become its own or an additional income source.

Benefits to Starting a Blog for your Home Business

Blog marketing can generate more traffic for your home business website through several methods.

1) Blogs can improve your site’s search rankings through search engine optimization (SEO) technique.

 

2) Social media can increase awareness of your blog from others who share your content.

3) If your blog is popular, other sites may link to it, creating more traffic and improving SEO.

Getting started, however, is often the biggest stumbling block many home-based business owners face, some of whom may still be asking, "What is a blog?"

While it might sound like a daunting task, the simple reality is that blogging is one of the most cost-effective and even enjoyable marketing tools home-based business owners have at their disposal. Better still, learning how to create a blog doesn't have to take a lot of time or effort.

How to Create a Blog - Getting Started

Getting started involves nothing more than following a simple step-by-step process.

  1. Decide which blogging platform you want to use
  2. Decide what you want to do about blog hosting. and buying a domain name.
  3. Register with the blogging service if you are not hosting the blog yourself
  1. Set up your blog layout with blog templates, which you can customize
  2. Start posting your content

1) Selecting a Blogging Platform

There are a number of really good services out there that make blogging a snap to set up. Two of the most popular choices include Google's own Blogger and WordPress. Both offer free blog hosting on their domain, as well as a number of blog templates you can use to quickly set up your blog.

If you want to host the blog on your site, these platforms offer wizards that help you do that. Both platforms allow for domain forwarding to your free site (send your bought domain URL to the free blog's URL), and easy to use drag-and-drop features and functions. You can obtain additional templates on the web and you can customize a template to match your home business branding by using logos and color schemes that tie into your website.

However, free isn't always good, especially in business. If you already have a website or online presence, adding a blog to your existing site is more optimal than creating one on another platform.

If you don't have a website already, your blog can become your site, including offering e-commerce and a host of other features. The best way to do this is through WordPress or other content management platform offered through your web host.

2) Blog Hosting and Domain

If you already have a website, odds are you have a domain (unless you're on a free web host such as Weebly.com). For the most control and customization, it's better to purchase web hosting, especially since most web hosts now have easy to install WordPress and other blog platforms.

Free and self-hosted blogs will serve the purpose of getting your message out and can increase traffic to your website, but for search engine optimization reasons, it’s generally recommended that your blog is housed on your host.

It's easier to give a straight domain name (i.e. mybusiness.com) versus a domain name on a free site (i.e. mybusiness.blogspot.com). Additionally, some businesses see a branding benefit to having their blog hosted on their domain with an address like blog.mybusinessname.com or www.mybusinessname.com/blog. Either way, if you have a website you want to link to your blog and link your blog to your site.

Getting your blog hosting on your own account requires buying a domain name and hosting services. 

3) Registering with the Blog Hosting Service

Free blog hosts:

Most blogging services are fairly easy to sign up for and start using. Just complete an online form, verify your account and you’re ready to create your blog.

Both WordPress and Blogger offer a user interface that allows you to switch between code view and WYSIWYG – What You See is What You Get.

The WYSIWYG view generally has the look and functionality of Microsoft Word, with buttons you can use for underlining, changing type fonts and inserting links. In essence, you don’t need to know anything about HTML in order to use a blog. However, it can be helpful for bloggers to know some HTML in order to better optimize your posts for search and for correcting formatting problems that just don’t seem to want to get corrected in WYSIWYG view.

You might consider registering for an account with both WordPress and Blogger and see which platform you find more to your liking. If you’re planning to use a pre-built blog template, you might also want to base your decision on which provider offers the templates you like most that fit with your home business.

Don’t set up your permanent blog name while you’re testing. You can always handle that later and delete your test blog. Whether you host the blog on your website, with its own standalone domain, or on the blogging service’s platform, you’ll use the blogging service’s interface to create and manage your posts.

Self-Hosted Blogs

If you want complete control, the best option is to buy hosting (if you don't already have it). To do that you need to choose and buy an available domain name. While many hosts offer a domain name free with purchase, it's better to keep your domain registered at a different place so there is no question of ownership  and it's easy to move if the host turns out to be a dud.

Once you have a domain, seek out web hosting. Check that they have 99.9 percent uptime as well as WordPress or other blog scripts in their library.

Setting up a WordPress blog requires more steps than the free version, but it's not hard and well worth the effort for control, customization and projecting a professional image.

Using Blog Templates to Set Your Blog Layout

Next, you’ll want to create your page layout or design scheme. For beginners, selecting any of the available “pre-cooked” blog templates is the easiest way to go as you can always customize it later and then start writing. If you need a professional looking blog, you can also outsource the design of any blog templates you want to use with an independent graphic designer.

As mentioned on the previous page, Blogger allows you to drag and drop page elements in order to create and edit your page layout. Experiment to see what works best for you. With Blogger, you can even customize your blog templates by including Google AdSense ads within your blog – offering you the opportunity to make some money with your blog over the long haul.

Blog Post Writing

After a blog is set up and ready to go, all that is really necessary to tap into the power of this tool is a willingness to sit down and write. Many who get into blogging for home business do their own blog post writing. Some companies choose to hire professional copywriters to ensure their blogs are content rich and search engine optimized. The choice is really up to you. Both can work quite well as long as the content is engaging, optimized and updated on a fairly regular basis. Since the goal of blog marketing is increased awareness and promotion of your home business, your blog post writing should be of sufficient interest that it will attract incoming links, resulting in increased traffic and search ranking power for your blog and/or website.

Your blog post writing can be identified and categorized through “tagging” or labeling your individual blog posts. Doing so can improve search ranking power for your posts and can also help your visitors find what they’re looking for when they visit your blog. Don’t overdo blog labels when you are writing your blog posts – use only those that really pertain to the post you just created.

Post often. After all, if someone happens upon your blog you don’t want them to find the latest post written 6 months ago. Exactly how often is considered a best practice in blog post writing is a matter of widely differing opinion, but one to three times per week are good goals. Writing new blog posts every day is even better.

Edited by Leslie Truex