The first thing you need to do is to choose a good domain name for your blog. The domain can have as much importance as the content with search engines and visitors. Choosing the wrong domain can hurt you before you even begin. I suggest descriptive domains that assist in your marketing message, like blogwizard.com, as an example. I also recommend no more than two word domains, or if you have to use three words, one of them being two letters or less, like myblogrocks.com for example.
By choosing a short descriptive name, you are ensuring your name is easier to remember. The are some great sites that will help you with domain suggestions, such as Whois.net and GoDaddy.com. Whois.net has a deleted domain search feature that has some pretty good recently expired names. GoDaddy’s tool is more of a suggestion tool where you enter keywords and they offer domains based on them.
After your domain is selected, you need to decide whether you are going to use a free hosted blog or will be using a CMS solution (CMS is the acronym for Content Management System), which will require you to purchase your own hosting. Your goals should depend on the goals that you set, whether you have plan to have a personal or professional, recreational or paid blog. If you plan on going the professional or paid route I would get a paid hosting account using a CMS. Most people start on a free hosted solution and then move to a paid solution using a CMS like WordPress. If you are in it to win it, I wouldn’t bother wasting my time and start with a paid solution. Ths way you’ll get your feet wet faster and won’t have to worry about exporting content later, which can be a headache!
There are TONS of CMS and hosting options about there, that all cater to different audiences. For CMS, WordPress remains the most popular and dominant option out there. There are tons of plugins, templates, guides and tutorials available for it which makes it an applealing option for you. Although not considered a “traditional” blog CMS, Joomla is an excellent option for you if you would like to create a more robust and complex blog. It has more customizations and options available and integrates very easily with many third-party apps, such as gallery2, and phpbb.
You need to write down a “wish list” of capabilities that you need for you blog, to assist you in choosing a CMS. If you jump in and choose a CMS based on popularity, and then need a feature that isn’t available for that CMS, you’ll eventually get very frustrated. Thats why you need the wish list. Once its created you can assess the different options out there to see which one meets your needs the most. You also need to figure out how you will acquire and edit your graphics. There are many “clipart” or “stock photo” sites on the internet that provide great graphics at a low price.
You need to subscribe to one of these services if you want to use images without being sued! You also need to figure out how you will create custom graphics for your blog, such as logo’s, header images, buttons and minor template edits. Your choice needs to reflect your budget, goals and level of expertse. Programs like gimp and paint shop pro are free and low cost options for beginners not looking to do anything too fancy. If you know you want cutting edge graphics and effects then photoshop is by far the way to go!
When planning a new blog I use the following worksheet to access my technology needs, which makes it easier for me down the road:
Technology Plan (example)
By using this simple worksheet I leave no room for surprise. Everything is laid out in plain English so I won’t lose sight of my goals. My budget is set, my goals are set, and I know what I need. Thinking through this stuff will take a lot of the guesswork out of your blogging.
Tune in tomorrow for part four in the series, where I’ll go over the legalities of blogging and whether you might be putting yourself at risk with the law and/or your employer.
Mike Wayne (me!) is a Serial Entrepreneur residing in New York City. I created this blog to provide tools, advice and tips to help Entrepreneurs understand the world of Online Business. I’m also the Founder & Lead Developer at MediaCraft Marketing, a New York Based Internet Marketing Firm that reeks of Awesomeness =)
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Why Your Blog Needs A Business Plan
Setting Goals to Improve Your Blog Part Seven: Networking and Relationship Building
Setting Goals to Improve Your Blog Part Four: The Legal Aspects of Blogging
Setting Goals to Improve Your Blog Part Five: Learning SEO and Setting Traffic Goals
Setting Goals to Improve Your Blog Part Six: Creating Revenue Streams, Sales Plans and Forecasting
The Really Simple Guide to Building Your Own Website