This blog post is part of a series of blog posts focused on how to blog more effectively.
I recently got a message from Regina, a reader of this blog in Kenya. She asked:
Tell me, how does one start a blog? I can see you have a very nice blog and I was wondering how to go about starting one. Also, can one earn from adverts on one’s blog… And how does one determine what contents to put in a blog?
Thank you Oluniyi…
With Regina’s kind permission, I am answering the questions publicly so others can learn from it instead of writing me privately. I receive a lot of messages similar to the above and would thus point all future inquiries on the subject matter, to this blog post.
For a start, I need to point out that it is impossible to explain all the intricacies of blogging in this single blog post. To master the art of blogging, you would need to read widely and then adopt blogging strategies that suit your circumstances. I would give a broad overview of the basics, in this blog post.
How can one start a blog?
Starting a blog is the easy step. Free blog hosting platforms abound. Leading the pack are blogger.com and wordpress.com Signing-up is the easiest part and only takes a few minutes. It is okay for a newbie to start on the free platforms, to see if this blogging thing is really for you. You loose nothing if later loose interest in blogging.
If you are confident that you are going into blogging for the long term however, then you might want to invest a little cash in starting-up since your motive is to make money from blogging. Investing a little not only puts you on a higher starting point, but also gives you some sense of responsibility since your “investment” is likely to commit you to blogging.
So you are ready to take blogging seriously? Follow these steps:
- Buy a web hosting account
Web hosting accounts paid for annually are typically bundled with a domain name these days. Between $35 and $50 should take care of the web hosting and domain name for a year. Compared to what you can earn from blogging in a month, about $40 is a small fee to pay.
- Install WordPress
WordPress is easily the best blogging software available today. You can either install WordPress yourself or ask your web host to do it for you. Be sure to check if this web host supports WordPress even before you order.
- Install a WordPress blog theme
A blog theme is what gives a blog its look. Though WordPress comes with 3 default themes, none of these would win an award for design. There are thousands of visually-appealing free WordPress themes on the web. Search till you find one that meets your needs in terms of functionality and fits your persona in the looks department. Start from the official WordPress theme directory at http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/ or do a Google search.
- or… take things even further and give your blog that unique look
The ultimate would be to invest a few hundred US Dollars in a unique blog theme. Example: my personal blog that you admire so much is using a custom blog theme design exclusively for me by Web4Africa, a web design & hosting firm in Accra, Ghana. Having a web design firm handle your blog design ensures that the blog fits your needs tightly, since you would have discussed your specific requirements even before they start work.
– If the above list is too much trouble for you, simply register a domain name and map it to your free blog. Read Effective Blogging: How to blog under your own domain name for full details.
How does one determine what contents to put in a blog?
It would a good idea to decide on the subject matter of blog, even before you start. Look inward, identify your strength and core competences. This should form the main subject matter. Also, read widely: not only from the internet but from books, magazines etc. There is no lack of topics to blog about: motherhood, technology, relationships, parenting, driving, politics, the environment etc. Note that the art of blogging goes beyond merely putting words together. Read: Effective Blogging: Blogging is beyond just writing for more details. Whatever you do, stay away from lifting whole articles from news websites or other blogs. It is very bad.
Can one earn from adverts on one’s blog?
Ads placements is one of the ways to monetize your blog. Mastering the art and maximizing revenue from your blog is not a day’s job, though. For a start, you need to focus on building a steady traffic to your blog. You can earn a respectable daily traffic by offering unique and compelling content, on a regular basis. It is only when you have a steady traffic that the real money would roll in.
The location and sizes of your advertisements are crucial, as well as their relevance. Your readers are more likely to click on those ads if they are relevant.
When you have some sizeable unique content on your blog, approach Google Adsense. Once your application is approved, they would guide you through the starting process. It is important to always stick to their guidelines so you don’t get banned from their network.
You can later consider other ad networks (that do not compete directly with Google Adsense), to supplement your income from Adsense. You can even earn from dealing with advertisers directly, in your locality.
I would delve into more deeply into finding content for your blog and how to monetize your blog, in future. For now, I hope this basic guideline would be of help to Regina and everyone else reading this. You can also read the Related Posts below for more information.
Best wishes with your blogging… As always, suggestions and questions are welcome in the comments area.