How to Start a Blog

A blog can be a great way to help people by sharing information, insight, and inspiration with others who share your interests.  A blog is also one of the best ways to attract new visitors and links to your website.  But blogging is not for everyone.   In this article…

- Find out if blogging is a good fit for you
- What you need to know before starting a blog
- The biggest blogging decision you’ll ever make
- Tips for making a blog great

Is Blogging for Me?
A blog can be a great communication tool.  It can be a great way to build the reputation, content, and in-bound links to your website.  But blogging isn’t for everyone.  Many people have started blogging with high hopes only to find frustration because it consumed valuable time and did not producing the hoards of visitors expected.

Last year, Pam wrote a great article about why to blog and how to decide whether blogging is for you.  If you’re thinking about starting a blog, you definitely want to read Who, Me?  Blog?

What you need to know before starting a blog
Periodically, I get a message from someone saying something like, “I’m hearing a lot about blogs these days.  I think my company needs to start a blog.  How do I do it?”  Or “Blogging sounds like a great thing for Christian ministry.  Where do I start?”

It doesn’t take much time, effort, or experience to start a blog, but if you want your blog to be successful you have to know the difference between a good blog and a bad one, and you have to know what makes a good blog good.  There are two things you can do to help give you a good feel for how to blog.

  1. Become a regular reader of several different blogs.  Examine the topics covered and where they get their subject matter.  Note the length, frequency, writing style, text formatting, linking, and archiving structure.  Investigate what blog software or service each utilizes.  Read the comments people leave, and take note of which articles get lots of comments and which get few or none.
  2. Become a regular commenter.  Once you’re familiar with a variety of blogs, what makes the interested and unique, and once you’re familiar with they way readers of these blogs comment, become a regular commenter yourself.  As you comment, take a step back and ask yourself, “What is it about this article that caused me to want to comment?”  After commenting, check back and see if people responded to your comment and if so how.

The biggest blogging decision you’ll ever make
Once you’ve decided blogging is a good fit for you and you feel confident you have a grasp on what makes a blog compelling, you have a huge decision to make:

Do I create my blog by installing and configuring blogging software into a web hosting account or do I create my blog by going to a blogging service like blogger.com where the blog software is already installed and hosted there?

This is a big decision because once you create your blog it can be very difficult to switch. There are pros and cons to both options.  WebProNews recently produced a nice Blog Hosting Options video which explains those pros and cons and helps you evaluate which option is best for you.  For those of you who have trouble with video because you’re still on dial-up, there’s a transcript available below the video.

Tips for making a blog great
If you’re interested in learning more about blogging or interested in helping other people become better bloggers, also check out the Blogs Discussion  in the OurChurch.Com Christian Forums.

Next week we’ll talk about tips to making a great blog.  Are you an experienced blogger?  Know what it takes to make a great blog?  What are your top 5 blogging tips?  Post them here in the comments and next week we’ll post the best of the best next week.

Also, don’t forget about Blogs Month.  Please give us your feedback in our blog survey.  And post your nominations for the Christian Web Trends Awards

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

16 Responses to “How to Start a Blog”

  1. I am minister in cathedral coptic church in cairo so wish to write about bible study,history of church coptic,councel of church,dogmatic of christianity,religions,old father of church ,news of coptic church…etc

  2. I can write every day

  3. that your response

  4. This is a great topic and I agree, for the most part with what you are saying. It is good to start by reading blogs, then begin commenting, plus I also agree that deciding to go with a hosted blogging service or to host it yourself, with your own domain is important.

    However, one thing I have learned is that feedburner is a great thing to use. If you let feedburner create your feed, then your subscribers will subscribe to your feedburner feed. Then, if you do happen to change your blog url for any reason, you can do that thru your feedburner.com feed and your readers don’t miss a step. It’s pretty cool. I have done this, going from blogger to my own domain and I have seen others doing the same thing.

    So, I agree that it is important to really consider your platform, but by using feedburner, you do have an option to start simple, then take it up a notch if and when you decide to.

  5. Jim, thanks for your comment and your suggestion concerning feedburner. It certainly does make moving your blog a little easier.

    Keep those tips coming!

  6. Good article. There is much to be done for Christianity with blogs.

  7. I would suggest using wordpress.com if you are starting off blogging. It is free and robust.

    Two of the advantages are tag-surfer and my-comments. This has led so much more visitors interested in the same kinf of things to my wordpress.com blog than any of my other blogs.

  8. (Sorry, am I allowed to comment again so soon?)

    Following on from the points in the post on comments. While is is good to comment on other people’s blogs, it is also really important to respond to the comments people make on your blog. If they have taken the time to do so, you owe them a response. This is especially true if you are trying to start a conversation.

    Another point from me (sorry): On your blog, keep on topic. If you are blogging about church stuff don’t stray. I hate it when I am following a blog on Christian type topics and every other post is, ‘ooh my stats’, ‘subscribe to my feed’, ‘yesterday I got this much traffic’. Of course the odd personal post on family life for example is welcomed as this can bring a reader in.

  9. David, thanks for posting your comments/tips. I think I’ll take your advice here respond to your comments. BTW, post as many comments/tips as you like. We don’t try to limit good advice around here. :)

    Thanks for the info about WordPress.com and the tag-surfer feature. I have not taken the time to explore the various hosted blog options, so I appreciate you sharing your first-hand knowledge. Can you tell me how the tag-surfer feature gets implemented? Do you have it on your blog somewhere?

  10. Hello Dear Ones,
    Does my Our Church website http://www.ourchurch.com/member/i/iam/
    have its own blog built into it? It has a guestbook, so I was wondering if it had its own builtin blog. I thank you very much in advance Paul for answering my question.
    love and blessings,
    In His Service,
    RFev Dr Marla

  11. Rev Dr Marla, OurChurch.Com’s Beacon web builder does not have a blog component right now, but that is under development.

  12. I agree with David about WordPress. Having started out on Google in 2003 and suffered through TypePad, I have to say WordPress is the most accessible and user-friendly application out there for the money. Whether you’re using the free version or subscribing to the additional features, WP is in my estimation one of the best programs available (and certainly for the beginner).

  13. My blog is for 12 step recovery from overeating compulsively. I am a Christian and find that these steps have drawn me even closer to the God of my understanding. Hope you will enjoy your time at my blog! May God bless you all!

    Hugs…Cindy in WV

  14. Sorry for the tardy reply to your question Paul.

    More on the tag-surfer can be found here.

    What happens is that you make a post and assign as many tags as is applicable. This means that your posts will appear in the wordpress.com tag system.

    But more than that, on the logged in admin panel is a page entitled ‘tag-surfer’ and posts on wordpress.com tagged with the same tags that you tagged your post with are shown (in order of date). You can then add tags you want to follow, and remove tags you don’t want to follow.

    What I have found, is that for new bloggers, getting that initial interest can be very hard and demoralising. But with tag-surfer your posts keep coming up in other peoples admin panels. (Especially if you ise tags like; religion, Christian, church etc.)

    As well as showing the post, it shows the number of comments. Meaning that if people see that no comments have been made against your post they are encouraged to do so.

    Another point, is that bloggers on wordpress.com are not allowed to place advertising on their blogs (unlike blogspot), which means there is not the abuse of the system or manipulation to get traffic in the hope of revenue, so I haven’t yet found totally irrelevant posts tagged at random appear.

    (Paul if you do make a blog post on blogging platforms and therefore post on wordpress, you’ll need to make it clear what the difference is between the free server install version and wordpress.com free but controlled hosting).

    I want to end this comment, but I am compelled to note a couple of other advantages of wordpress.com blogs;

    Support: the support is outstanding. Quick replies, honest answers, excellent forums. They take note when you flag a blog as a splog.

    Stats: the stats system is mature but not burdensome, pageviews from spammers and spambots are excluded as are pageviews from the blog owner. So stats are not inflated.

    Comments: while logged into wordpress.com, if you visit a wordpress.com blog, you can comment without having to enter any details. This encourages commenting. But more than that, in the admin panel (dashboard) your comments and any replies are shown, in reverse order, with the newest replies at the top. This certainly facilitates the conversation.

    Apologies again, this time for length.

  15. Nice blog here! Also your website loads up fast! What web host are you using?
    Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my web site
    loaded up as quickly as yours lol

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