How to Roll Your Own Blog – Lesson 1
When you start a blog, you aren’t actually trying to make money off of it – although there is a way to do this, an arduous and convoluted way – but it can be done. For most of us, just give that idea up. The phrase “throwing good money after bad” comes to mind.
The goal is to help people change their minds. To educate, entertain, enlighten – that’s what the most effective blogs do.
Once you have the basics of blogging down, you really understand the bulk of what needs to be done to get your own business up and running. And this essay with its 10 lessons will take you to the point where you know what you need to and have a blog running.
1. A place to stand:
The first step is to get a blog by any means. You can actually pick almost any platform which gives you a free blog and work from this. The larger US corporate-sponsored free blog sites (Google’s Blogspot, and WordPress.com) are known for being subject to pressure from outside. While Google will generally suspend your site with some warning and allow you to export your files, WordPress.com is known to just suspend your account entirely without explanation (happened to me twice.) So make sure you can get all your hard work back if you need to move it. Better is to pick a stable free blog host to begin with (like off-shore).
I recommend you get a WordPress blog platform, since this is both the easiest and most powerful blogging software out there – because it has far more users and a huge community out there. If you run into trouble or have a question about anything, someone has already answered or solved it. (WordPress.com is the commercial application of the same software available for free at WordPress.org – a wide difference.) Once you get familiar with blogging and with WordPress, this will make it easier for you to set up your own site with it.
I’ve done some research on various free blog hosts. Almost all of these are WordPress-based, but some are not. All are free. All are relatively easy to get started with.
I previously published a list here – but as things change, platforms and hosts come and go. Some favorites of mine closed to new subscribers or simply disappeared.
See http://mashable.com/2007/08/06/free-blog-hosts/ for a maintained list of top free blog hosts and a short review of each. Another site, with longer reviews is http://www.webhostingsecretrevealed.com/blog-hosting/23-must-see-free-blogging-platforms/ – search for “best free blog hosts” and you’ll get these and more. And be sure to read the comments on these pages…
There are more than this, but these are more than enough to get you going. (And unless you want to spend days finding these sites like I did – just pick one of the above.)
One advantage to using a WordPress blog is that you can get a desktop client to save time (and bandwidth) by writing these locally and then uploading them. Windows Live Writer can access more blog platforms than many others, but I also use Blog-Desk for just the WP blogs I have. (And while I've moved off Wordpress as a platform for personally hosted blogs, I still use it for remote blogs to host the content which directs traffic to my main hub-site.)
A search found a video (below) on what what seems to be a good start – even though the author is describing how to set up a WordPress.com blog, it’s applicable to any free WordPress blog host site.
This is nearly an hour long (51:04 – and fairly boring), so you may have to slot some time for it. He’s got a whole thing of setting up a domain name which you don’t need to do – it’s right in the middle. When I have time to find something better – or a shorter series of them, I’ll update this section.