With the rise of social media, a lot of people are asking: is blogging dead?
Should you still start a blog in 2018?
While blogging has indeed changed in the last ten years, I can assure you: it is far from dead.
Even as social media becomes popular and the internet becomes more and more crowded, there are still many benefits to starting a blog in 2018.
If you have been thinking about starting a blog, here are some reasons why you should go ahead with it and how to get started:
Why Start a Blog in 2018?
As I mentioned earlier, there are still many benefits to starting a blog in 2018. Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons to do so:
To build a personal brand
Having your own blog where you share your thoughts about a specific subject is one of the best ways for you to build a personal brand.
Having a personal brand online will make it easy for you to access new opportunities.
For example, if you are in the market for a new job, you will be able to leverage on your personal brand online to get the job.
Your online blog can even be a showcase of your skills, acting as a digital resume. This will give you an added advantage compared to other applicants who don’t have an established personal brand.
Other than that, you can even use your online personal brand to launch a speaking career, books, online courses, workshops and even grow your freelance career.
To earn extra money
You can use your blog to make money on the side by selling ads, selling physical or digital products and even affiliate marketing.
The money earned from your blog can be used as a supplement income or even replace your full-time income if it happens to be large enough.
Lim Hong Kiat of HongKiat.com has been successful at sustaining himself using his blog for more than a decade now.
To form warm relationships with people who share a similar interest
Having an established blog is also one of the best ways to get to know people.
People who read your blog tend to feel a sense of closeness with you. So even when you meet them for the first time, the meeting will be less awkward and a bond would form more easily.
The best thing about a blog is that you can write once, and many people can read it over and over again.
To build on a platform you own and control
In 2018, it has become possible to build large communities on social media platforms such as Facebook.
Through its Groups feature, Facebook has created a useful suite of tools for anyone with a Facebook account can use to build an engaged community.
And many people have become quite successful with groups like this.
The only problem is that none of us owns Facebook.
As such, it’s up to Facebook to make any kind of changes it wants without first asking its users.
Changes made to the Facebook algorithm can turn your business from a success to a big failure overnight.
This was exactly what happened to publishers who were dependent on Facebook to grow their business when Facebook decided to make to its algorithms without consulting them.
Although this does not mean you should completely avoid using Facebook, adding a blog to your business can help reduce the risk of your business completely going under when Facebook makes changes to its algorithms.
To get customers to your business
Finally, having a blog in 2018 is also one of the best ways to get leads for an existing business.
The reason for that is that it is pretty easy to form a relationship with your potential customers using a blog compared with other methods.
Your customers will be able to see how good you are at your job when you showcase your skills and work done on your blog.
How to Set Up and Grow Your Blog in 2018
Now that you know how having a blog will be useful for you, let me show you how you can get started.
Step 1: Determine what your goal and niche will be
Before you even start a blog, the first thing you need to do is determine what your goal and niche will be.
Why is this important and how can you go about doing it?
Let’s take a look:
A goal will determine the direction you will take your blog. It will determine how motivated you stay at updating your blog and what you will do with your blog in order to achieve your goals.
Before you start your blog, you need to ask yourself why you want a blog.
Do you want to become a thought leader on a specific topic?
Do you want to make extra money with your blog?
Do you want your future employers to see what work you have already done?
The last thing you want to do is start a blog first and then decide what you want to do with it. Without a goal, you will likely lose your motivation to blog over time and your blog become another dead blog on the internet.
Your niche will decide what you will write about.
In 2018, you cannot afford to use your blog to write about random things you think about. It has become important for you to pick a specific topic you will be writing about or your readers will get confused and leave.
Without a niche, you are unlikely going to be able to grow your blog.
By picking a niche, you will be able to produce focused content that makes readers want to stay on your blog and your blog will grow.
So, before we proceed, make sure you already know why you are starting a blog (your goal) and what you will be writing about (your niche).
Step 2: Choose Your Blogging Platform
Once you have decided on your goal and niche, the next most important thing you need to do is choosing your blogging platform.
There are many tools out there for you to blog on but my choice is WordPress.
WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) that is very easy to use, even for people who don’t have any coding skills.
It is also very widely used (more than 19 million websites in the world run on WordPress), making it pretty easy to find resources to help solve your problems when you get stuck on something.
WordPress provides two kinds of tools: WordPress.org and WordPress.com
The main difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com is that:
WordPress.org lets you host your own website and control everything from how you will build and design your website and how you will monetize your website. While the WordPress.org software is free, you have to pay for external hosting and domain for your website.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, will host your website for you. However, there are more limitations on how much you can design and monetize your website, but with WordPress.com, it is free to start with a domain name ending with .wordpress.com. Only when you want to upgrade to your own domain name do you need to start paying.
There are pros and cons to each tool but I personally prefer using WordPress.org because I like having control over every aspect of my website.
Even though you can easily get started for free with a .wordpress.com site, I don’t recommend it.
First of all, not having your own domain name will reduce your credibility. Ask yourself: would you trust me more if my website was www.entrepreneurcampfire.wordpress.com or www.entrepreneurcampfire.com?
Secondly, having a free site can make it easy for you to procrastinate on working on your blog. Since you did not spend any money on it, why would you work so hard? Investing money in your blog will create urgency and motivate you to work on your blog as you will need to pay for your domain and hosting every year.
So if you are serious about blogging, I would recommend you going for WordPress.org instead of WordPress.com.
The only hurdle you need to get through to use WordPress.org is buying your own domain name and hosting and then installing WordPress.org on it.
The good news is: it’s not as hard as it sounds.
Let’s take a look at how you can do it:
Step 3: Setting Up Your Website
Once you have chosen your blogging platform, the next thing you need to do is to set up your website.
The first step in setting up your website is buying a domain and hosting plan.
The domain is your address online, like www.entrepreneurcampfire.com. This is where your readers will find you online.
The hosting provider is where the files of your website are stored. So everytime someone types in your domain name into their browser, your files are loaded from where it is stored on your hosting provider.
So, how do you buy your domain and hosting?
There are a lot of domain and hosting providers out there, but as a beginner, I would recommend you get started with Bluehost.
For a first-time customer, Bluehost is very cheap. For hosting and a free domain for one website, you only need to pay US$3.95/month, roughly RM16/month on a 3-year plan or US$4.95/month, roughly RM20/month on a 2-year plan.
Normally, you would need to buy your domain and hosting separately. A domain can cost anything between US$9 (RM36) – US$15 (RM60) a year. Other than that, regular hosting would you US$6.99 – US$12.99 a month.
In terms of cost, Bluehost is one of the cheapest ways to get started.
For a website with low traffic, Bluehost’s basic plan is reliable. As you are just getting started, you will unlikely get a lot of traffic in the beginning. So the basic Bluehost plan will be a cost-effective and reliable solution at its price point. When your website grows very big, however, you will need to switch away from Bluehost as it can get very pricey.
For now, you can sign up for its 2-year or 3-year plan to take advantage of the cost savings.
It’s easy to get started with WordPress on Bluehost. With Bluehost, you only need to go through a 1-Click installation to get started with WordPress.
To sign up, click here and follow the instructions to get your hosting and free domain.
Once you have bought your domain and hosting, you will need to install WordPress. The video below from Bluehost shows you how you can do that. Once you have installed WordPress, you have successfully set up your website!
You can customize your website as you like by changing the website theme and plugins.
Step 4: Make plans for your blog (how frequent to blog and topics)
Once you have set up your website, it’s time to start planning how you will work on it.
Having a plan in place will allow you to build a routine for updating your blog. When you don’t have a plan in place, it will be easy for you to forget to update your blog or update only every once in a while when you feel like it.
The plan will ensure that you know what to do every day or week that will help you to grow your blog.
You need to decide:
How often will you update your blog? Will you update once a day? Once a week? Twice a week? It’s important to be realistic about how often you can update your blog but at the same time, you should update often enough so your blog can grow.
As a start, I would recommend updating once a week or once every two weeks. What you don’t want to do is update once a month or once every few months. Even if your content is good, your readers will leave and look for an alternative blog to read.
What topics will you blog about? Once you have decided on the frequency you want to update your blog, the next thing you need to do is to plan the topics to update. You can plan this weeks or months ahead. This will make it easy for you to follow through your plan rather than having to plan every single time you want to update your blog.
Once you have the plan and topics ready, you have to follow through with your plan and start updating your blog based on that plan.
Of course, that doesn’t mean your plan should be a rigid one. You can modify it as you go along.
Step 5: Promote and Grow
Once you have your plan ready, the final but one of the most important things you need to do is to promote your blog.
This means getting your blog articles in front of people who will read them.
The last thing you want is to write on your blog every single day or week and find out that nobody is reading them.
No matter which method you choose, I would recommend focusing on one method first and then when you have grown your blog to some size, add a new promotional channel. Especially when you are working by yourself, you would want to focus your resources so that you can get the best results for the least amount of time and effort.
As an example, for Entrepreneur Campfire, I have decided to focus mainly on SEO until I reach 100,000 UVs and then add Facebook to the promotional plan.
That’s it – the 5 step process to start your blog. If you have any questions about this process, feel free to leave them in the comments below or send me a message.
There are many good reasons to start a blog. You can use it to build your personal brand, earn extra money, form warm relationships with people or get leads for an existing business.
To get started, you need to first determine your goal and the niche you want to be in. These will help keep you motivated as well as give your blog a direction.
Once you have decided on your goal and niche, you will need to choose your blogging platform and set up your website.
Once your website is ready, the next step is to decide on your blogging frequency and plan your topics.
Finally, you need to decide on how to promote your blog to put it in front of the right audience.
Once you have followed these steps, you should be able to grow your blog as you continue working on it from month to month.
Have you started your own blog? Comment below and let me know how it has changed your life!