Blogging Bootcamp: What's a Blog & How Do I Start One?
A few weeks ago, I held my first
Blogging 101 Blogging Bootcamp class in Jenks. After the success of that class, we're planning to hold a Blogging Bootcamp 1 and 2 in May so be on the lookout for that.
In the meantime, I wanted to start a Blogging Bootcamp series here on MoneySavingQueen.com to help those of you who might not be able to make it to a workshop. Bookmark this link, Blogging Bootcamp and you'll be able to come back and check it for updates and posts.
I started my first blog in early 2008 and I have learned so much along the way. One of the most important things I learned was how to take my blog and turn it into a business. Not sure how to do that? Don't worry, this series will help you!
We're going to start with the basics:
What's a blog: A blog is essentially a website but it is designed to be personal, easy to manage by anyone and super easy to update and tweak. It isn't a hardcore website with thousands of products like Amazon, it is a friendly, personal website. This will connect you with your audience directly if you're a business and take you from being a brick and mortar store on the corner to a real person relating directly with your customers.
You can sell products on your blog as well though but if you're planning on being Amazon, then you need a website not a blog.
If you're not trying to use it as a business, a blog can be used to relate directly to family and friends to or act more like an online diary for just yourself. Really, the possibilities are endless and you can start with no money whatsoever.
What do I use? The current site you are looking at right now is actually a website built to act and function as a blog. We had to move off the blog platform because of a certain form of technology we use to communicate our content and segments with news stations across the country. BUT, obviously, the majority of people do not have to do that and other than the back end of our site, everything about it functions just like a blog.
Here are the two major blog websites:
Blogger: As 918 Coupon Queen, I used Blogger.com. It is SO simple and almost everything about it walks you through the process step by step. There aren't as many plugins and capabilities as Wordpress but if you intend on having just a blog for friends and family or something on a bit of a smaller scale then Blogger.com is perfect.
If you're just beginning and want to start small and easy, you can start with Blogger then move to Wordpress later which is what I did.
If you would like a professional design or even some cute freebies, I would recommend Aqua Poppy Designs.
Wordpress.com: The mother of all blogging websites. Wordpress will walk you through a 10 step process of setting up your blog. If you already know you want to have a large audience and you may want to actually make money from your blog, then go with this option. You may even want to pay someone to set it up for you.
Wordpress has tons of plugins available which can help your blog run smoothly and also give you the ability to reach a large amount of people and function similar to a professionally developed website with little or no money involved.
You also will want to get your own domain name like I have http://www.moneysavingqueen.com. You can do that on GoDaddy.com. It's cheap and easy. They'll give you the option to buy the .com, .info, .co and so forth if your name is available. I would encourage you to purchase the .com, .org and .co if you can the others are not so important.
This way if you do get big, someone can't come along and purchase another version of your domain name. For example, I've purchased the .org version of moneysavingqueen.com so you couldn't create moneysavingqueen.org. Can you see how confusing that would be if someone did that?
You want to purchase those other common dots so no one else does and believe me, if you get big enough, they will.
If you are super serious and your plans are to launch a business then you may want to purchase variations of your site so other people can't get those either. For example, if you were JcPenney, you would purchase JcPenney.com and JCP.com (which is what they did) so other people couldn't snag those up. You would also purchase the misspelled version JcPenny.com (which they also did) so anyone who didn't know how to spell their name would still end up on their site instead of a spam site.
You may think to yourself 'oh I'll wait until I'm big to do that.' Well, if you have the hopes of a large audience then you want to do it now. The second you look like you're going to grow, other people (called 'squatters') will buy the variations of your domain then when you want them, you'll have to pay MEGA bucks to get them back. Believe me, $10 to GoDaddy.com is way better than $10,000 to some weirdo who stole your name.
There you have it. So, go get your blog started and keep coming back for more tips and tricks to take your blog to a new level. My plan for this series is to be very open and honest, I will tell you my mistakes and what I've learned from it. I will also tell you the good, the bad and the ugly about blogging...which does exist.
My goal is to let you in on the things I had to learn the hard way and the things I wish someone would have told me. So, buckle your seat belts bloggers, we're going on a ride! :-)