A blog can be an amazing career builder for you. It was for me.
Although I’ve had my site since 1998 and posted my old newspaper columns to it, I started seriously blogging in 2006. Through my first professional blog, I went from a relative no-name in my career field to being extremely well-known in less than a year. I was interviewed in newspapers and other media outlets, asked to speak at industry conferences and had an influx of new job opportunities search me out.
So I wanted to take a moment and give you a step-by-step guide on how to start a blog for your career.
Quick note: Although you can get a free blog going in 5 minutes from WordPress.com, I don’t recommend it for those serious about blogging (especially for your business or career).
Thus, getting a blog is going to cost you money. But it’s an investment, like business cards, or printing resumes, that will be well worth it for you.
Here are the simple steps for starting a great blog:
1. Purchase your domain name and hosting.
A domain name tells the world where your blog is located. Hosting is the actual server where your data resides. You need both.
Here are some suggestions for companies that offer both conveniently:
- BuildaWebsite.com - you get domain name + hosting + WordPress automagically installed
- HostGator - I’ve used HG for years and love their hosting (you’ll need to install WordPress)
2. Install WordPress.
WordPress is open source software (meaning it’s free to use forever) … and THE best blogging software on the planet. You can use the one-click installations with most hosting companies to install it easily (or like in the BuildaWebsite.com experience, it’s installed for you).
For the most part – to login to WordPress, go to: http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin/
3. Tweak your blog settings.
You will want to tweak some basic settings in WordPress. Once you’ve logged into your WordPress Dashboard, here is what you’ll want to look for:
- Tweak your Permalinks – Under Settings > Permalinks, click on “Post Name” that will change it to this: http://yourdomain.com/sample-post/
- Check Privacy settings – Under Settings > Privacy, just make sure your site is NOT being blocked to the search engines.
- Check Discussion settings – Under Settings > Discussion, beside “Before a comment appears” make sure “An administrator must always approve the comment” IS checked. I moderate comments on ALL my blogs. You want to filter what goes on them. After all, you’re the one paying the bill!
4. Pick your theme.
Themes are just your blog’s templates that determine the look and feel, aka the design. There are thousands of free WordPress themes available as well as professionally support ones like from my company, iThemes. The best starter theme is the one provided by default with WordPress (i.e. Twenty Eleven).
But at some point you may want to customize and expand it, or want professional support along the way. Or maybe you want a custom design. That’s what our team is here for.
5. Install these plugins.
Plugins add features and functionality that isn’t already a part of WordPress by default. They are the bells and whistles.
Here are some essential plugins that I use on every blog I setup:
- Askimet – believe it or not your blog will get spam – this is spam protection (free; installed with WP)
- ContactBuddy - allow people to easily contact you via a simple web form (free)
- BackupBuddy - every WP site needs a complete backup strategy in place (paid)
- All in One SEO Pack - tell the search engines what keywords you’re talking about (free)
- Google Sitemap Generator - tell the search engines you exist and serve your content up on a platter (free)
6. Start writing TODAY!
Blogging is about writing! These steps should get you started blogging for your business. But ultimately, you need to get to writing as FAST as you can.
Here is a brief snapshot of writing good blog content:
- Write good, useful content for your readers.
- Lists of anything are always a great blog post.
- Plan series of posts.
- When writing posts, think about your target audience, and specifically, one of your typical customers. (Often, I would think about emailing a particular person and even fired up my email client to get the writing flowing!)
Now … GET BLOGGING!