I’ve been doing this for about 15 years now, which makes me one of the longest-lived and most under-read blogs on the interwebs when it comes to the topic of preparedness. The secret to that longevity? Well…not really having any other hobbies.
But…no doubt you have some ideas you want to spray around the internet and get all the accolades, babes, endorsement deals, and big bucks that come with blogging, right? Any yahoo can string a couple sentences together and develop a readership, right? I mean, if that goofball in Montana (me) can do it, how hard can it be???
Ok, if you want to get into blogging, this one is for you.
It’s really simple. You need:
- A domain name
- A host for that domain
- A blogging platform
- An email account
- PayPal account (optional)
- Backup software (optional, but a really smart idea)
Domain name – Something short and catchy. You’ll be surprised at how many names that you think no one would have thought of are actually already taken. Pretty much anything with ‘survival’ in it probably already has someone using it. Whatever you pick, make sure you like it…you may (or may not) be using it for a long time. And the shorter names are easier to remember and easier for people to type. “Holycrapwereallgonnadieinanuclearapocalypse.com” is, probably, still available. And it’s probably still available for a reason – who the heck wants to type all that? Look at some of your favorite blogs and see how they dealt with the name issue.
Hosting – there’s a handful of ways to go. Personally, I went with Yahoo for a number of years and it worked out well. Then they did some changes and things went screwy for a while. I had heard good things about Bluehost and I went with them. So far, been pretty pleased with them. I recommend them, although I’m sure there are other hosts that are just as good. I can only tell you about what I’ve done. Wherever you go, though, try to have the same outfit do the domain registration, hosting, and email.
Blogging platform – the two biggies out there seem to be Blogger and WordPress. I really like WP for all the ways you can modify it, the third-party support is tremendous, and many hosts are already set up on the back-end to support it. When I was shopping for hosts one of the things that appealed to me about Bluehost was that they had WP already installed. It was about as close to -click-n-play as it could be. You literally can be up and blogging in minutes.
Email account – Again, I wanted all my eggs in one basket..hosting, email, domain registration, etc, all done through the same company…this makes a lot of stuff seamless. If you already have a cool domain name registered elsewhere you can usually ‘port it over.
Payapl account – if you’re going to pass the hat around, or sell an item or two on your blog, you’ll want a PayPal account. Get it AFTER you get your domain and mail set up…that way all that annoying registration nonsense goes to the blog email address.
Backups – Dude, we’ve heard it all of our lives – backup your software. There is nothing more frustrating than watching years of posts vanish in a server migration or somesuch. I use Updraft, and I paid for the upgraded version. It backs everything up a couple times a week and dumps it to Dropbox (or wherever you want it..email, Google, wherever). It is absolutely worth the money. Bluehost offers backups as well and if you’re the suspenders-and-a-belt type, you’ll want to take advantage of that as well.
That’s the basics. After that, the rest is up to you. Maybe you want to monetize things with an Amazon Affiliate account. Or you want to be subscription only. Or you just want a place to rant and rave. Whatever. But once you’ve got everything set up, it’s time to get people through the front door. Do not promote your blog by spamming message boards or other blogs. I had some loser do that a few weeks ago…he posted worthless comments to dozens of posts and used his comments as a platform to link to his page. That is extremely bad form in the blogosphere. Go to some blogs that have a list of other blogs and ask to be added to that list. And then make some actually good, quality, readable posts. Blogging is a great example of the free market – put out a good product and you’ll get rewarded, or a bad product and you’ll be quickly forgotten. You want to make the kind of posts that someone will read and send an email to a buddy saying “Hey, check out this blog.” Or, better yet, you want something that a better-read blog will link to. I link to other poeople’s blogs from time to time and they link to mine. (And, theres no two ways around it, if you can get ,Rawles to link to you..well…thats your fifteen minutes of fame and your chance to shine.)
All of this, by the by, also applies to any other type of blogging….gunblogging, in particular. But whatever you decide to do try to stick it out….it’s easy to start off strong and post every day and then slack off and the next thing you know your’re posting every other month. I’ve watched several blogs I liked suddenly stop posting and remain static. Or, worse, come back as 404 or ‘this domain for sale’.
Oh..and don’t be a dick.
ETA: Blogs I check daily: