Things to Consider Before You Start a Blog

I was recently asked by a friend “what are the top 20 issues, technical or otherwise that someone might face who is learning to blog?”  While he wasn’t looking for a lot a details, I decided that I would give him the details, and now I figured that I would share it here.

Twenty issues huh?  Well, that’s and interesting question, and would be a long list, but let me try.

First of all, not many of my answers will address technical issues.  I think that this is primarily because most blogs are pretty easy to use.  Not much different than and email program.  But it could be that I am more technically savvy than most people, and I just don’t get too bothered by technical problems.

1 – Getting people to read it
If you are going to blog, you obviously want people to read it.  The best way to get people to read your blog is to comment on other’s blogs.  Be sure to leave your blog address when you do, and I am sure you will get a few readers.

2 – Finding time to post regularly
This is more closely related to the first one than many may realize.  But if you aren’t writing regularly then readers aren’t going to come.

3 – Which host site to use
While there are several free hosting sites.  The two biggest are blogger.com (or blogspot.com) and wordpress.com.  I personally recommend wordpress.com.  It seems that there is a lot more available to the user.  However, blogspot is amazingly simple.  And thus easier to use.  But you lose out on a lot of features.  I would take the harder to learn over the easier to learn just so that when you learn the ropes, you will have all the features you might like.

You can also have a blog at your own site (i.e,. http://www.readmythoughts.com).  This is far more complicated to opperate, but people with some Internet publishing skills can usually figure it out.  Again, I reccommend the blog freely available at www.wordpress.org (note that it ends in .org and not .com).

4 – Dealing with mean comments
I would often just stop posting when people were belligerent.  But now, I have a better understanding of what works for me.  No real advise here, I think this is different for everyone.

5 – Spelling and grammar errors
While most programs offer spell check of some sort, it will miss something.  And they all miss grammatical problems.  So, you are going to have to reread your post again and again.  I don’t do that.  Hence, all the errors.

6 – What to write about
Some of this is personal preference, but I struggled with how much politics, how much personal, and how much misc.  I have gotten over it mostly.  And I have a very eclectic blog.  But I like it that way.  Some blogs are very specific.  For example, they talk only Utah Politics, or the LDS Religion.  Some are strictly personal, almost like a journal (the original concept behind blogging).  And some are eclectic like mine.

7 – Whether to tell friends and family
This may be more of my issue.  But for me there are probably only 4 or 5 of my family members (actually they are all my wife’s family) who know about my blog.  But for me, I really don’t care to share it with them.  At first, my wife didn’t know about it, but eventually I told her, and now she reads every post.  I know, because she always corrects my grammar.

8 – How to follow stats
There are several stats counters out there.  I use statcounter.com, but there are others.  Which one is the best, I really don’t know.  I just want some data, and statcounter.com provides me with what I want, so I never really looked at anything else.  With WordPress you have stats provided to you, so you may not want a separate counter.

9 – Putting too much emphasis on stats
Some people worry too much that there stats are too low.  Then they use this as a reason to stop writing.  But it isn’t a popularity contest.

10 – Protecting family
With young children in the home, I try to keep my kids IDs somewhat hidden.  For example, they all have nicknames (PandaMae, Miss Jo, BO, Miss Kay, Capt. Z, and Flash).  Also, I try to avoid saying much more than I live in Riverton, UT.  But I slip up sometimes.

11 – Learning how to promote the site
You don’t have to pay anybody to promote your site.  Just link to a lot of stuff, and encourage people to link back to your.  This is the number 1 way to get your site listed higher in the search engines.

12 – Understanding trackbacks
This is a feature available in WordPress and some other blogging programs (not blogger/blogspot).  If more people understood this, they would use it.  It’s a way to comment on another’s blog while posting on your own blog.  This way people who are interested in that topic, will follow a link to get you take on the same topic.

13 – Learning the software
As with all software there can be a learning curve.  I will repeat that blogspot is pretty easy to learn, and wordpress harder.  But the features come to play.

14 – Understanding etiquette
If you have a private conversation with someone, keep it private.  The Web is the public.  Watch what you say about others.  There are other ettiquette rules, But you can search for them.

15 – Writing for writings sake and not fame
A lot of first time bloggers write hoping to make a lot of money and become famous.  It probably won’t happen.  So forget about it.  Enjoy the process of writing and you will have fun blogging.

Well, that’s 15.  I know that there was at least one more.  But I am drawing a blank on it.  Hope this helps.  If you are asking because you are considering blogging.  Let me know about your site, and I will link to it.

Since I sent that email to him I remember the other item.  That was read other’s blog.  Basically that give you ideas of what to write about.  Also it can be a great place to promote you blog.

Anyway, these are just what I came up with.  Are there any more that you could add to the list.

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