Having considered, in a previous blog, the various options available for blogging, when it comes down to it we will encourage you to just get on with WordPress. It really makes a lot of sense for most people, not least because you have such control over where it lives and what you can do with it.
- your Twitter feed
- Sign-up forms
- Online shopping facilities
- Forums even
You have complete control over what you can do with your blog/website and how it looks and feels. You control your terms of service (within any that your host providers define, of course) and are not at the mercy of other free providers (not that we are suggesting you could be, but…).
On the downside – you do have to maintain your WordPress, carrying out updates to the theme, plugins and software as it becomes available. This is rarely hard work if you do as you’re told and certainly all JDI blogging members will be reminded when notable updates are due.
Hosting your WordPress is not free – you have to pay for the domain name – a few pounds each year – and the hosting – from £45 each year. For the £50 or so it really is worth having the ability to do whatever you want with your blog.
So – that is our recommendation – off the fence and suggesting you “just do it” with hosting your own WordPress.
One thing you do need to be sure of with your host is that they are capable of running your WordPress. We use Ezpzhosting as they include an easy-install few-clicks system which is no fuss at all. But if you want to stick with your own hosting, ask them the following:
I’m interested in running the open-source WordPress <http://wordpress.org/> blogging software and I was wondering if my account supported the following:
- PHP 4.3 or greater
- MySQL 4.1.2 or greater
- The mod_rewrite Apache module
Give us a shout if you’re not sure about any of this, if you want more guidance, or simply want us to set it up for you – we do this for JDI Bloggers from £30.
Headline writing is something you will spend a lot of time on when writing blogs, for good reason Headlines don’t just get blogs read or retweeted, they also get emails opened, they get customers picking up the phone.
You can make it easier on yourself though. Start a swipe file and add to it often.
A swipe file is a fab tool for people just starting to blog. It helps you focus in getting things done.
It is a file on your desktop with links and free reports and ebooks that you can ‘swipe’ inspiration from. Remember swiping is not copying. It’s being inspired and adapting what you see around you.
Create a new folder (right click on the desktop), then start checking out the links I mention. As you are searching through the great stuff listed here, you will find other resources you think are fab. Add them too.
- A good headline
- Good, strong content
- Calls to action
So I will share some of the contents of my swipe files with you. Go and take a look. Unless I state otherwise, they are free.
No matter what people say, they do not click on a dull, factual headline.
You will need a headline swipe file, here is what is in mine.
How to write a Headline
This is a great starting point. This post breaks down the types of headlines that there are, and then gives and example of how it is used. If you are completely new to headline writing, this is the place to start.
Magnetic headlines, a Copyblogger post
The Cheaters guide to great headlines, again another Copyblogger post
Chris G’s 102 Headlines PDF. I recommend taking some of the titles he suggests and start playing with them and adapting them to your own blog. I used this to help with some ezine articles that I wrote. They were very effective.
Problogger has a fab post about letting your blog go, have a click and take a look at the image, now you know why you need an image swipe file as well.
Constructing a good headline means it can be used to bring you search engine traffic and if your blogs are good, then they become regular readers. John Chow has a how to use adwords for headlines post. It’s worth adding to your swipe file.
Lorelle has an in depth post on creating headlines and titles. It may be a little too in depth at the moment, but I would add it as one day you will look at it and it will all make sense.
Sean D’Souza has a fab giveaway if you sign up to his newsletter. He doesn’t spam you to death and if you are focusing on writing blog posts that will get read, then you will enjoy getting his newsletter. Add the giveaway to your swipe file AFTER you have read it. It’s possibly the best thing in the file on headlines, so read it. I am a big fan of his work, you will see me reference him often.
Interested in the science behind headlines and why they work? Then take a peak here. This is also a great newsletter to get, and I have their posts delivered to my inbox. Digg is a social bookmarking site that can help you create good headlines, just by reading what people are clicking.
Headline writing, art or science is a newer find, I have added some nice articles from the writers here in my swipe file.
Did you watch the video above? Michael Martine shows you what to look for whilst you are out and about. Add it to your swipe file.
One thing you may have noticed a lot of – how numbers are used in headlines…
Bloggers need links. Links to and from each other and social sharing (twitter, Facebook, stumbles etc) and a great way to get links is a list post or a post with a number in the title, this post is a must read on how a number in your headline can look, again with examples.
Headlines don’t just get blogs read or retweeted, they also get emails opened, they get customers picking up the phone.
PS I mention images for your swipe file. A picture can paint a thousand words… have a trawl around Google images and see what inspires you. Add them to your swipe file. Remember if you use them in a blog you need to accredit the source after you have checked to see if you can use them.
- 2,897 Words on How to Create Viral Content (The Key Element Behind Every Successful Blog) (viperchill.com)
- Inspiration on Demand: Create a Swipe File | Write to Done (writetodone.com)
- Headlines Mean Nothing If You Don’t Deliver (blogworld.com)
- 10 Killer Titles That Will Provoke Your Facebook Fans (allfacebook.com)
- How to Choose a Headline Using 3 Little Known Secrets (famousbloggers.net)
- 5 Traits of a Great Headline (searchenginepeople.com)
Once you’ve decided to blog, you also want to consider what you will use for your blogging.
You have a number of options, some totally free and others for which you pay – though not a huge amount, and even less if you get stuck in and do a little light geekery yourself.
Posterous is free, a very simple, just-get-on-with-it platform with which you can start blogging immediately. It is so simple that there’s no point in outlining what you need to do here – the website guides you perfectly.
WordPress.com is the free version of WordPress – again very powerful and great to get you started and may be more than enough for your needs. You don’t need to worry about upgrades or the hosting – it’s all sorted for you.
Now these can work perfectly well for you, within their limitations. Your other option is to be more independent and host your own blog – which means having your own website address and hosting, and then installing and setting up WordPress yourself. This actually is not as techie as it might sound, truly, and over at the Blogmistress there is plenty of help to be had.
What it generally boils down to is just how much you want to be able to do with your blog. If you want it all, or think you probably will pretty soon, go with hosting your own WordPress. If you want to have a simple outlet for your posts – go with one of the free options above.
And if you’re really not sure – have a chat with us – really, just ask below or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hmm, well I did say that I’m a novice! I have been advised to set up some social bookmarking accounts. My first question was “what?” as in “what on earth are they?” Then I twigged (oooh is that’s a good name for another one?) that it’s like Twitter and Facebook. Now those I can play with all day, but this was beginning to sound a bit serious.
My timing of my questions was probably good as neither Sarah nor Babs was around at the time, so in the spirit of JDI, I looked up the first one that had been suggested – www.tumblr.com – and all it asked me to do to start with was to set up an account, pretty much as I had done with Twitter, so I did. Simple enough, so I went on to www.posterous.com and did the same. Next I’ll move on to www.stumbleupon.com, now that sounds more like me.
The big question now was “why?” Well from a business point of view, these social networks are helpful in “spreading the word” about you, what you do and what you have to say. So, even I can figure out that the wider your word is spread, the more chance there is of getting “hits”. (I will use inverted commas when using these new words and phrases…for now at least).
So is it really necessary? Well, it can’t do any harm and by using a similar one like www.amplify.com you can co-ordinate all your accounts in one place…I think! Fine, as long as I don’t have to go copying and pasting links all over the place, I’ll go with it. Plus the good thing is that you can tell when you go into your own site where the hits have come from so if needs be, in time, you can tailor to the one that is most receptive to your business.
I’ll let you know how I get on with them all once I’ve got to grips with them!
Starting out blogging means you need to choose the central theme that you will blog about. This blog’s theme is twofold, blogging and getting it done. Or blogging and productivity if you don’t like getting it done.
- Work related humor
- Work related professional
- Interest / grand passion
- Thought outlet
- A blog because people said you need one
Working out the central theme or topic may take a little while, in the mean time you can work on some posts. this may seem silly, but when you are actually writing the posts, you can see where they lead you and this will help ratify what type of blog is will be.
Choosing a topic to blog on will take up most of your life, if you let it.
Truly it will.
It’s also flexible, if you are blogging about art you can blog about art related things. If you are selling art, you can blog about the work you have in stock, your artists, your inspiration. You can go further and add tips on looking after your art, cleaning it.
If you called your blog art cleaning tips, it would seem a little bizarre to have a post about your inspirational artists, so being generic in your theme is not a bad thing.
If you specialise in one aspect of accountancy, then being generic would dilute your blog.
Choosing your topic is vital for the tone of your blog, the next step is to set out your about page so you can inform your readers about your blog.
All the things you wanted to know…. but never knew to ask! Well ask them now and the ladies that know this stuff will get back to us!
From the start, what does “blog” stand for?
What is its purpose? (in plain English!)
How do I, or other people, benefit from reading or writing blogs?
How do I start writing?
Do I need a website?
If not, who do I go to to get my blog published?
Where should I publish it? Do I need to do market research? Agh!
Who am I aiming my blog at?
Other than being helpful and informative, is there anything in blogging for me?
Can it earn me an income?
If so, how does that work?
I’ve seen on things like Twitter articles abbreviated into links, how do I do this? Do I do this or does someone else do it?
How do I know if anyone has read my blog?
How do I get “followers”?
Do I get followers??
If my blog is published through a website other than my own, who owns the copywrite?
Can I publish it anywhere else or would I need to get permission?
How often do I need to do a new blog?
What happens if I’m out of inspiration?
Do I need to be a Tweeter to have a blog?
That’s for starters. Please add your question here (we’re not after the answers on this blog post).
Starting to blog is one of the most fun things; I love setting up a new blog. I could lose a year tweaking a theme or playing with plugins but none of those are actually going to help me when it comes to writing the first post.
You may think, wrongly, like I did when I started blogging, that there is no room for what you have to say. Of course there is. You didn’t start your business or hobby by saying there are too many accountants… or too many quilters… or too many startups. You offer something unique in your business, it’s how you are known and now you are sharing that uniqueness in your blog.
A blog would need (in my experience) around 5 posts on it before it is launched to the world. So you can have 4 practice posts and one official post before you launch.
I would start with the 4 practise posts first. What are the four most common things when asked about your blog’s topic?
These posts are probably going to form the cornerstones of your blog, so start by explaining the problem. Assume nothing.
Writing those first few blog posts.
Writing the first few blog posts can be both challenging and exhilarating. Starting on the first post and choosing the title is one of the biggest steps you will take. The title could be a question, it could be a statement, it could be a teaser. The choice is yours, and it’s not set in stone. Unlike a book you can go back and edit the title after you have written the main content (in the body area of the blog post section).
I didn’t assume that the reader would know where the content actually goes and I explained that the title can be changed. Think of them as working titles, that they will be changed as you progress through writing your blog.
As I progress down the post I can give solutions to the problem that is described.
….One thing a lot of people worry about when blogging is that they are giving away their secrets and that they will not get any customers from their blog, as the customer will read that solution and do it themselves. Let me reassure you, the very few that take your advice and leave without a word… they are not your potential customers and never have been. You may know the theory of how your car’s engine works but when it breaks down you still call the AA.
Making your blog useful is a very rewarding part of blogging. I wrote a post a while back on Blogmistress about being useful in your blogging.
When you have finished your blog, you need to decide how to end it. Do you sign off? Put in a call to action?
I suspect for your first few blog posts you will just sign your name, as you build up your blogging you will slowly add your calls to action. Luckily blogs are editable after publishing and you can correct typos and add a call to action later.
Get writing! JDI
Really, what is it? In my case, that’s a really good question because although I’ve heard about it, read some, even written some, I still have no idea what they are, what they’re for, their purpose even.
Is it just the ramblings of a random person? Well according to good old Wikipedia
“A blog (a blend of the term “web log”) is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. …”
Come again?! So to the average person, it’s like a diary of specific events. Ah, that I can understand.
So why do it then? Another good question and one that, again, I have asked myself. Well, you can barely turn on your pc or laptop without some reference to blogs or blogging. Should you dare to venture into the world of Twitter, you will see that it is chock-a-block with them. And yes, many of them are interesting so there must be something in it.
But why me? No, not said in a whiny voice, lol. Why NOT me! I have plenty of interest and value to tell the world. No, not my life story (though that may happen one day), but my skills, abilities and experience that may help other people.
So does this mean that I have to have a website then? Well, no actually. There are plenty of websites around that look for regular bloggers to contribute interesting articles for them to publish. Believe me, as a novice, I did get a huge buzz out of having one of mine in “print”. Right, but who does that? On this one you’d need to refer to the Blogmistress – well it is her domain (yes, pun intended!).
OK then, what next? Ah…..just do it!
Do you blog? It was Ian Dury who sang about reasons to be cheerful. I am sure he would have included blogging as a good reason to be cheerful if he was still alive.
100 reasons to blog
A regularly updated blog will do all the things that I list below. So if you haven’t got a blog here are 100 reasons why you need one.
- To consolidate your thoughts - the very act of writing makes you focus and enables you to think on the point you are hoping to make.
- To boost your business
- To build your business email list
- Static pages are so last season… you blog changes and adapts and is constantly up to date
- To inform your customers, keep them educated
- To keep yourself educated and up to date
- To win new business
- To boost your brand recognition
- To have more pages available to Google/Bing/Yahoo
- To communicate to other members of your team, a big team can easily be kept up to date on company changes through a blog
- To remind you how to do something - a how to blog is a great memory prompt for both you and the reader
- Demonstrate your capabilities, or as they say on the Internet – demonstrate your expertise.
- Blogging prepares you for report writing, blog posts can become free reports for your readers – check out our free reports section
- Blogging can help you create a free or paid for ebook
- Blogs are better than a newsletter
- Blogs compliment your newsletter to drive traffic to your website
- Easy to take your newsletter offline – print and send your customers a blog post you have written and invite them to subscribe
- Blogging builds trust between you and your reader, who in time may become customers
- Blogging connects you with people – invite the connections with your social icons in your header or sidebar
- Blogging builds relationships – did I say that before? I hope so – it’s an important one
- Blogging builds friendships
- Blogging creates luck
- Blogging generates opportunities and joint ventures
- Blogging helps you stay in touch with friends and family
- It allows you to express your opinion
- It allows you to have a rant…
- Allows you to revel in your grande passion
- You can create a change
- You can make a difference
- You can sell products
- You can make money
- You can giveaway products
- You can share customer testimonials
- You can solve your customers problems
- Reduce your time on solving problems by blogging FAQs
- Direct customers to your blog after you have helped them via email or phone. Not only does it help reinforce what you have explained, it shows them what a great resource your blog is
- Inspire others
- Challenge others
- Blogging is for sharing - link out to other interesting industry related blogs
- Tell your story
- Share your businesses story
- Share your customers stories - sometimes called case studies
- Share you supplier stories
- It allows you to channel the desires of your customers into a sale
- Blogging allows you to test products
- Blogging allows you to test ideas
- Blogging allows you to gain ideas for new products
- It improves your writing
- It improves your communication
- Blogging allows you to contribute to your community
- It’s a quick way to distribute useful information
- Blogging is philanthropy
- Blogging is leaving your footprint and knowledge for others
- Blogging shows you as a leader- if you want it to
- Blogging can prepare you for a book
- Your blogs can become a book – think Belle du Jour and Problogger, two diverse blogs that became books
- Your blogs can become a TV series
- You ramp up your social media activity – blogging helps you hone your skills in the social arena too
- Blogging builds community
- Blogs can be your CV or Resume
- Blogs are a way of showing your customers how wonderful you are without saying you are wonderful
- Your blog can touch people in unexpected ways
- Your blog can make you famous
- Your blog can make you infamous
- Personal development on steroids? Try blogging…
- Blogging is therapeutic
- Blogging allows you to break industry news and share your personal opinions on industry topics
- Blogging makes you accountable
- Blogging allows you to grow
- Blogging allows you to develop new skills
- Track accountability amongst your team with your blog
- Blogs help you get feedback
- Blogs allow you to explain your actions to your critics – if you choose too
- Blogging shows commitment
- Blogging demonstrates your eye for detail
- Blogging can get you the sack enabling you to start your own business
- Blogging can help you get a job
- Blogging can get you promoted
- Blogs build credibility
- Blogs engage potential customers
- Blogs engage existing customers
- Blogs connect customers
- Blogs entertain
- Blogs encourage interaction
- Blogs allow everyone a voice no matter whether they are a customer, competitor or casual reader
- Blogs can help create a buzz
- Blogs help maintain a buzz
- Blogs can remind you of the buzz around a product
- Blogs create product desirability
- Blogging makes you confident
- Blogging makes you easier to find, it increases your visibility
- Blogging increases your chance of a speaking gig
… if speaking is your thing
- Blogging allows you to create value
- Blogging is fun, everyone should have some fun in their life
- Blogging stops you from quitting
- Blogging shows you have staying power
- Blogging creates your social media voice
- Blogging establishes a written record of your business growth and interests
- Blogging helps create recognition
- Blogging is a big part of your social media ROI as it’s so easy to track
The Blogmistress made me stop there, however that does not stop you adding your reasons and thoughts below…
What have we missed? Why do you blog? Or what other reasons do you think there should be for blogging?
I’ll leave the sexy, awesome blog posts and titles to Sarah – she’s far better at it than me, and as she’s on the team here, I can be more boring and to-the-point with less fluffing and faffing. Phew!
Now when we suggest to most people that a blog may be a very good thing for them and/or their business, we are often met with a glazed look.
What on earth can a blog do for you? How do you even go about starting to blog? Well that second question we’ll get to later, but the first – well certainly for any business to show that they know what’s what and that they know what they’re doing, a blog can be ideal. Not only are you showing what you can do, your reader – your new customer, gets to know you and your style – they get to like you and to trust you – really – and we all know how much that can help any business.
For more personal endeavours, it can be a great outlet, a way to share your passion with the world, with your friends and your family – get it out there.
Well , the myriad reasons will follow in a couple of hours – Sarah’s made a list (yes, and checked it twice) – suffice to say that if there is even an inkling of a thought that a blog would be good for you, for whatever reason – professional or personal – this is the place to Just Do It. So welcome and prepare for results!