Starting a blog is always tedious especially when you are new to it, But when you get the tricks of trade you will start enjoying it. In this post I will try to write as much as I know about these stuff and the things I have learned from my experience with blogs. This will be useful for readers who wish to start their own blog.
There are 3 popular CMS (Content Management Systems) that are used widely by bloggers.
- Blogger by Google (Hosted by Google).
- WordPress.COM (Hosted by Automattic)
- WordPress.ORG (Self Hosted)
I will explain the differences between each of them and what is preferred.
1. Blogger (Hosted by Google)
Blogger is a Free Blogging platform provided by Google Inc. this is the very basic version that anyone can start for free and get used to it pretty easily and quickly.
How to Signup
Signing up for Blogger is a simple process, Just go to Blogger.com and sign in with your Gmail Account (Google Account).
After that create a New Blog by Entering the Title, Domain (Subdomain) like ‘myfirstblog.blogspot.com‘
Then start posting your content or change the Templates (Blogger Theme).
Pros of Blogger –
- It is Free.
- It is Newbie friendly.
- No need of Intense Optimization.
- Many widgets to choose from, Ones provided by Google as default.
- Setup, Spam , Security of the Blog is taken care by the Blogger Team at Google.
Cons of Blogger –
- Optimization of the blog can be done only to an extent.
- Customization is also limited.
- Cannot add extra features like Plugins.
- Performing Search Engine Optimization of Blogger is a bit tricky.
- You cannot generate Meta Tags for each and every post automatically.
2. WordPress.COM (Hosted by Automattic)
WordPress is provided by ‘Automattic‘ developed by Matt Mullenweg. There are two versions of WordPress, WordPress.COM and WordPress.ORG many people get confused between the two (Even I was when I was new to this) I will explain the WordPress.ORG later in the coming points.
How to Signup
To signup on WordPress.COM head on to wordpress.com , Click Signup in the Top bar
Enter your blog address that you wish to create (subdomain) like ‘myfirstblog.wordpress.com’ [Just like Blogger provides .blogspot.com as subdomain, WordPress provides .wordpress.com]
Fill in the Username, Password,Email and click Create Blog.
In the Dashboard Click Posts > Add New to make a new post in WordPress. Publish it to make it appear on your site.
Pros of WordPress.COM
- Easier and Free to Setup.
- Setup,Spam,Security is taken care by the Automattic Team.
- Blog going down is highly unlikely as its managed by Automattic.
- Uses SSL Security at login (Free).
Cons of WordPress.COM
- You cannot add Custom Themes, You have to be satisfied by the ones given by Automattic though they add 100s of them daily.
- You cannot edit the Blog Code in any manner.
- You cannot add Plugins to enrich the blog.
- Same as Blogger, Customization and Optimization is limited.
3. WordPress.ORG (Self Hosted)
WordPress.ORG is from the same developers of WordPress.COM, Though there is a huge difference. Unlike WordPress.COM script which is hosted on Automattic servers, WordPress.ORG gives you the Raw Script in your hands and tells you to do what ever you want with it. It means you can Hack,Edit,Code the script and use it to your liking.
How to Signup
There is no Signing up part, Head over to WordPress.ORG and Click ‘Download WordPress xx.xx.xx‘.
Let me explain you what all consists a Self Hosted Blog.
A Self Hosted Blog has the following components.
#1 Domain Name (eg: www.hacktabs.com)
Domain name can be called the address of the site on the Internet, WordPress.COM and Blogger provides you with domains but they are called sudomains since you get to configure only part of the domain name like ‘blahblahblah.blogspot.com‘ the .blogspot.com always remains the same for all blogger registrars (Exceptions when you add custom domain)
A Domain name as you read above are of two type Top Level Domain (TLD) and SubDomain. Eg. www.blogspot.com is the Top Level Domain and www.blahblahblah.blogspot.com is the subdomain. A subdomain is usually free and is created on a Top Level Domain but a Top Level Domain is not Free (Excluding Giveaways and Offers) and needs to be bought from Domain Registrars.
Top Domain Registrars include NameCheap,NetworkSolutions,GoDaddy,Name etc.
#2 Hosting Space
Hosting is the Computer on the Internet where your WordPress.ORG script will be kept in, You need to buy a Server Space to keep your files and make them available for the world. Just like your own computer has an IP Adress, The Domain will be the IP Adress of your blog which is kept on the Hosting.
A domain name is connected to the Hosting by changing the NameServers of the Domain to the IP of the server.
Top Hosting Providers include Hostgator (Hostgator Review) , Blue Host etc.
#3 Blog Script or CMS
Blog script or CMS is the platform on which you will be blogging. In our case it will be the Zip File downloaded from WordPress.ORG
Pros of WordPress.ORG –
- Ability to upload custom Free/Premium Themes.
- You can upload Free/Premium Plugins.
- Top to Bottom Customization and Optimization possible.
- There is no file that cannot be Tweaked/Hacked/Edited and make them according to your liking.
Cons of WordPress.ORG –
- Setup and Security of the blog is to be done manually (Setup takes maximum of 5 Minutes.)
- You have to rent Hosting Space and Domain, Hence not Free.
Some more important information about Blogger and WordPress.COM
Consider this scenario, In case you registered this subdomain on Blogger and WordPress ‘myfirstblog.blogspot.com or myfirstblog.wordpress.com’ and of you later wish to make it a Top Level Domain like myfirstblog.com then you can buy the Domain from any Registrar (NameCheap etc) and use the Top Level Domain on Blogger and WordPress.COM without having to buy hosting, You will have all the Pros and Cons of the respective sites but only the Subdomain can be changed to Top Level Domain keeping the rest of things same.
In the case of Google Blogger, it can be done for Free via the Settings but in case of WordPress.COM if you wish to change to Top Level Domain you have to pay $12 per year (Excluding the Domain costs) for domain mapping.
Also if you currently have no interest in Investing then you can go with Blogger or WordPress and the posts you made,comments you got etc can be easily migrated to Self Hosted WordPress Blog later when you think of investing and starting a Self Hosted Blog. Though I highly recommend starting with WordPress.ORG because there might be many issues you face later when migrating.
After blog setup, Content for the blog is the next big issue that new bloggers face. The first thing they do is to go out to their favorite blog and copy its post and paste it on their own blog. My first word to them “Stop It & Remove any copied content”. Web surfers want new and unique content to read so if you copy a post from another big blog then it possible they have already read that and when they see the same on your blog they are sure to skip the whole blog and never return.
Another issue that you will face is with Search Engines (Read Part 3 to get more details), They dont like copied content and might ban you if you indulge in the Plagiarism.
So Where to get content from?
You can search Forums related to your Blog Niche (Blog Topic) and get ideas for new posts eg. if someone has a problem with any software then you might write the solution to it if you know etc. Brainstorm for new Title for posts, Ask your online/offline friends for what they would like to read and write on similar topics.
The following flowchart will get you some ideas:
Now you know all the basics of blog setup and you no longer remain a Newbie in Blogging (High Five , Chest Bump :D)
Many beginners think that making a blog and posting your content is all you need and the people all over internet will read them. That is NOT the case at all, Your blog readers will be 0 (Z-E-R-O) if you do no promotion of your blog. Think of this there are millions of Blogs and Sites over the internet and how do you think people will reach your blog when you are lying as the millionth blog owner?
Getting people to your blog is the Toughest part of the whole Internet Marketing and Blogging. The whole Internet world and webmasters come up with many ideas everyday on increasing Traffic (Word used for visitors) to ones blog.
When you get both the first and the second part correct, You can be called an Expert in the field (of-course experience matters).
There are thousands of ways to bring in visitors to your blog, I will list some of the main categories. This flow chart should give you a rough Idea of the Traffic Types.
So in short these are the main traffic methods
Free Traffic –
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Promoting via Social Networks (Social Media Optimization – SMO)
- Commenting on other Blogs
- Guest Blogging on other Blogs
- RSS Subscriptions etc.
Paid Traffic –
- PPC or Pay Per Click Advertisement.
- Examples are Google Ads or Facebook Ads.
- Hit based payments – NEVER Use this because you wont get real visitors, instead they will be spam bots visiting your site.
Among these SEO is the best method to get Free Visitors because you will be listed in Search Engines. People searching for a specific term in the search engine will visit your site to find the solution so they are the most relevant visitors you can get.
Search Engine Optimization involves making your blog stand Higher in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for a particular Keyword (The input term that a searcher uses in the Search Engine).
To perform SEO you need to understand how Search Engines rank pages or inshort their Algorithm though finding their algorithm is almost to impossible as they keep it a secret. But we do have enough information to perform SEO. From the point of view in Google, Pages are ranked using a variety of components broadly categorized as
- On Page SEO
- Off Page SEO
On Page SEO
On Page SEO is the factors that a webmaster can control directly this involves structuring of the pages, Use of Heading,Bold,Underline Tags for the Keywords.
Off Page SEO
This is the most tricky part that most people fail to get correct, Off Page SEO involves the parameters that is upto an extent out of control of the webmaster, To find the Authority,Usefulness of a webpage Google uses the Backlinks parameter. Backlink means the link that another website has placed on their page which links back to your site. This need not be done by the other person intentionally, You can create your own backlinks by Commenting on their blogs/Guest Blogging with a link back to your blog etc.
That is it for this part of the series, There will be more on this in the coming posts. The next part of this series will focus on Advanced methods for Blog Promotion and more interesting information.
This is Basic Guide to Blogging that can be understood by even a Newbie to this field, So share this post with your friends and make them aware of the topic. Stay subscribed for the Second Part in this Series.