So You Wanna Be A Blogger | Beginning Your Blog Journey
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After weighing the benefits of blogging against some of the negatives I have listed in the previous posts, I hope that there is still a faction of readers remaining that indeed want to take the next meaningful steps in becoming an actual entrant in the blogosphere.
There are many points to consider even before your first post goes live on the internet.
One of the most comprehensive guides out there to starting a blog can be found at: How To Start A Blog The Complete DYEB Blueprint (2018+)
I consider this blueprint to starting a blog a must read for every individual about to enter the blogosphere (unfortunately in my case I had discovered it after I had already gotten further along in the process).
Taking time to address these steps will give your blog the best chance to gain footing in a virtual world full of wannabe bloggers.
I will try and highlight some specific steps and potential pitfalls which I had to experience firsthand, with the intent of making your journey into the blogosphere go as smoothly as possible.
Step I: What’s In A Name?
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”- William Shakespeare
Unfortunately the great bard’s advice would be ill-suited for the blogging world.
Many a blog has failed because of a name that did not connect with its target audience.
The best blogging names are the ones that are most memorable and tend to share similar characteristics:
- Taking a common phrase and employing a play on words or use of a pun that fits your blogging niche.
- In the financial blog niche, for example, substituting cents for sense has been successful for several bloggers.
- One of my favorite name choices for a blog highlights such a play on words: MissFunctional Money
- Crispy Doc is another well thought out name which I feel conveys his topics of Physician Burnout brilliantly.
- Using an “impact word”immediately conveys to the reader what your blog is about.
- Frugal, Wealthy, Millionaire are several successful ones previously used.
- Are not overly wordy or employ unusual symbols that a target audience member has to painstakingly type in to find you.
“Xrayvsn! The name of your blog pretty much ignores most of these rules! What gives?!?!?”
You have every right to think that.
I admit the name Xrayvsn I chose for my physician FIRE blog niche does not convey much about my blog’s focus.
The reason I went with that name was I had branded myself as Xrayvsn long before I even considered starting a blog.
I had been a frequent commentator on White Coat, Physician On Fire, and numerous other areas, both online and in the real world, going by the persona Xrayvsn.
I felt that this was indeed my identity/brand.
For the astute viewers who saw my Doctor’s Bag Sleep Number post, you may have noticed that the sleep data I provided had Xrayvsn as the person listed.
I did not change that name so I could post it anonymously on my blog.
That was the actual name I inputted in the Sleep Number setup, months before I even knew I was going to start a blog.
If you have already developed a significant online persona through comments on other blogs, etc., it would be wise to consider going with that name as the title of your blog (or incorporate it somehow in the title).
However if you are starting from scratch, give yourself the best chance to succeed and consider the above suggestions.
Take your time on this all important step and it will likely lead to greater dividends down the road.
Step II: Finding Your Host/Domain/Platform
“Thought, like any parasite, cannot exist without a compliant host.”-Bernard Beckett
Now that you have come up with a name, the very next step is to see if it is available.
Fingers crossed your name is indeed free to register as a domain.
Having your website end with .com is a big plus.
A lot of hosting sites offer free domain registration when you take advantage of a hosting package (the initial hosting service I used, Bluehost, did this) and I found this to be the most economical way to go.
A hosting website essentially gives you storage space for your content and bandwidth to handle the hopefully growing traffic to your site.
As a new blogger there is no need to go for all the bells and whistles right away as you can upgrade as you go as traffic increases.
As previously mentioned, I initially went with a three year plan at Bluehost (Prime Web Hosting) for $4.95/mo.
The $11.99 domain registration cost was waived as part of this plan promotion.
As my traffic increased and my posts tend to be graphics heavy, I explored other options on how to improve the performance of this website (page loading speed, etc).
After much research, I decided to transfer my website to Siteground, another well-respected hosting plan, starting January 1st.
I have been incredibly happy with the transfer (Siteground offers free professional transfer leaving you with just a couple of simple steps to complete) and have noticed an improvement in the performance metrics of the site.
Most bloggers use WordPress as their platform.
WordPress is by the far the most popular and if you choose Bluehost, it is essentially a one click installation.
This is the platform that I use for Xrayvsn and although there is a slight learning curve, it quickly becomes second nature.
Step III: Web Design
This is where you can be as creative as you want.
There are some basic free themes that come with your hosting package however these have a lot of limitations.
There are paid premium themes available in the marketplace which can give you more creative control and a lot more options and typically cost under $100.
I really had no background in web design and a lot of this was like learning a foreign language in the beginning.
- Although it was an expense, I chose to join WordPress Live support for $150/mo which gave me live unlimited phone support with the ability to share my screen so that they can talk me through whatever it was I wanted to accomplish.
- The great thing was I could cancel at any time (I only needed them for one month).
- I took full advantage of the unlimited phone calls (they limit them to 25 min/call but you can call right back to continue where you left off).
- There was a lot of stuff I would not have discovered on my own if it was not for the helpful live agents walking me through it.
- An added bonus was you got half off any premium theme price in the marketplace (1 theme/month during plan)
WordPress Live agents do not actually design your website for you, but rather walk you through what steps you need on the particular item you are trying to accomplish.
By this method of teaching, I started picking up the lay of the land fairly quickly and soon my dependency on them vanished.
Before I discovered WordPress Live I really was struggling with the way I wanted my website to look and it was creating a lot of headache for me.
It is very easy to get disenchanted with blogging early on and there are many points you will think to yourself if this is indeed for you.
More than once, in the beginning of this process, I was getting frustrated to the point that I almost pulled the plug on the whole experiment.
WordPress Live agents helped me address my weaknesses which then allowed me to concentrate on the stuff I found fun, actually creating content.
They also have less expensive plans which give you help via chat or email if you do not want to go all in just yet .
Take your time before your site goes live.
When you buy a domain/host plan, your website will be in the “A Coming Soon Page” for you visitors if they happen to stumble upon your site.
My advice is to not feel rushed to go live right away.
I planned the launch of this blog on my 47th birthday (April 23, 2018) and had purchased the website March 27, 2018.
I used the intervening time to not only design the website to my liking, but to try and create as much content as I could so that I would have a reserve of posts.
By doing this I would not feel pressured to create something out of thin air once I pushed the launch button.
I highly suggest building up as much reserve of content as you can because there will inevitably some fires you have to put out when a blog goes live that take away from writing content (I had a few the first day that was a bit embarrassing especially when I announced my launch on the WCI forum and then had technical issues crop up immediately).
You certainly do not have to go to the extent I did (I created I believe 25+ posts prior to the first one being published), but the more buffer you have, the more relaxed you will feel as your fledgling blog takes its first baby steps into the blogosphere.
Create a set posting schedule that you feel comfortable with.
I started out with a 2x/wk posting schedule (Tues and Thurs) and once I got more comfortable that there was still some ink in my creative well, I added a 3rd day (Sunday).
The more days you post a week, the more traffic comes to your site, however it is a doubled edge sword as you blow through your content reserve that much quicker.
Do plan on posting at least 1x/wk at a minimum to maintain audience interest and so that they don’t forget about you, but the higher you can go the better.
Building Your Audience:
This can be the most challenging aspect of blogging.
Jim Dahle of White Coat told me that you can write the best content out there but if you don’t have any eyes on it, it really doesn’t matter.
Sometimes you are lucky, like I was, and have an established presence in the blogosphere get your foot in the door by announcing it on twitter or other social media forms.
Visiting blogs in your particular niche has several important effects:
- You get inspiration from their content by reading their posts
- They have an established audience that likely has the same target demographic you hope to attract.
- By commenting on their blogs with hopefully thoughtful insight, some of those visitors may be inclined to visit your site to see your material.
- You start developing a camaraderie with other bloggers as you visit each others sites.
Persistence and Patience:
This is probably the hardest one to negotiate.
It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort before you start to have people willing to subscribe to your blog or even visit in the first place.
Most long term bloggers say you that it is around year 2 of blogging that the tipping point occurs so there is indeed a need to curb your enthusiasm.
A plugin is essentially an application or code that someone has developed that can add features or help customize your website.
There are 10s if not 100s of thousands of plugins to choose from, the majority of which are free with a premium option available for a cost.
The best thing about plugins is that they are easy to use for a trial basis and can be installed and uninstalled in seconds.
The following are some of the ones I rely on heavily:
If you have a series with a certain template, this allows you to make clone copies of that template so you don’t find yourself retyping the same thing over and over again.
Allows you to organize your content any way you want and place them in folders for organization.
I created a template folder (contains templates for each of my recurring series), a staging folder (content already written out but needs graphics), and a ready to schedule folder (my reserve of posts that I can plug in if for some reason I have a day open up).
I was unfamiliar with search engine optimization but it is a very important step to ensure that the big name search engines will start finding your blog and having your posts show up in their queries.
This plugin walks you through the process of getting all your content optimized which it signals by giving you an actual green light.
This wonderful plugin gives you the option of seeing your scheduled posts in a standard calendar view (I found this incredibly helpful to visualize and confirm that my upcoming posting days indeed had a scheduled post ready to go live).
Before this plugin, I was presented with a laundry list with post titles and dates (no mention of the day of the week) and had to always make sure I didn’t accidentally put a post on the wrong day.
There are so many nuances to blogging that it is impossible to prepare you for it all.
The best thing is to have that initial trial by fire, make your mistakes early on, learn from them, and keep plugging away.
If, after all of this, you do decide to take your first step into the blogosphere, let me be the first to welcome you.
As mentioned above Bluehost was my original hosting service.
If you do click on the link below or right sidebar I do receive some compensation.
I have not had any issues with Bluehost and think there are reasonable plans for anyone (the reason I switched to a different host was because of improving performance as my traffic grew):
Siteground has now been hosting my platform since the beginning of the year.
I have to say that I have been incredibly impressed with their customer service.
Originally inertia prevented me from switching hosting plans because I thought the process would be quite onerous but nothing could be further from the truth.
SIteground offers free professional transfers of your website and only required 2-3 steps on my end that were accomplished in less than 5 minutes.
The performance metrics (page loading speed, etc) have improved dramatically since the switch which was the intended purpose for this transfer.
If you are considering a website from scratch, starting with them from the beginning could certainly be a valid option.
If you are in search of financial help, please consider enlisting the service of any of the sponsors of this blog who I feel are part of the “good guys and gals of finance.”
Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
If you find yourself enjoying this blog, please add to Xrayvsn’s superpowers by subscribing (your email will be kept private and you will get up to date emails regarding the latest posts and bonus material like the net worth spreadsheet template I created).
As my email subscriber list grows it validates my decision to start this blog and to continue to try and provide worthy content for your eyes.
NOTE: The website XRAYVSN contains affiliate links and thus receives compensation whenever a purchase through these links is made (at no further cost to you). Although these proceeds help keep this site going they do not have any bearing on the reviews of any products I endorse which are from my own honest experiences. Thank you- XRAYVSN