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Got something to share? Learning how to create a blog takes literally just a few minutes, and gives you the power to broadcast your thoughts across the Web at the touch of button. See just how easy it is to create a killer blog, and you’ll be a publishing pro before you know it.

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A Guide to Designing a Blog Website

It seems as if every person, every industry, and every cause has a blog these days. A blog is important for many reasons. At the very least, it is an opportunity to express yourself and tell the world what’s on your mind. Blogs are a platform for whatever you need them to be, though. They can be so much more than an online diary and a family photo album—that is not to say that those are not legitimate blog types. The ability to share information about any topic at any time can have a great impact. You can build a business (or take an existing one to the next level), share a recipe with friends, or inform the world about the latest movement (social, environmental, political, economic, or religious!). In short, a blog can be anything that you need it to be; and creating one is easier than you might think. After reading these three simple steps, you’ll know how to create a blog all by yourself.

What is a Blog?

A blog, or weblog, is an online journal that is typically written in a casual style and updated frequently. That is a very broad definition, to be sure. Perhaps that is what makes blogs so versatile. Blogs can be used for expressing a broad range of ideas to an even broader audience--an ideal forum for anyone to voice their opinion. Little, if any, technical ability is needed to learn how to set up a blog, making it all the more inviting.

Some blogs are personal, where writers share their thoughts and passions. They create connections to their readers. Personal blogs can be simple bulletin boards where writers announce their family’s current events or they can be sounding boards, generating support for a particular cause. Writers of these types of blogs tend to be driven by their passions and their postings are full of emotion, energy, and enthusiasm.

An increasing number of weblogs are business blogs. Designed specifically to increase revenue for the company, business blogs achieve this a few different ways. Primarily, business blogs help to establish expertise. The blog should deliver expert information pertinent to the business’s industry. The blog can increase customer engagement by starting a dialogue with its readership. Visitors are encouraged to provide feedback in the comment section. Finally, the blog is a vehicle to build traffic for the company’s main business website. A regularly updated, well-written blog will give customers a reason to return—and more opportunities to purchase your products.

Non-profit organizations use blogs to spread their messages, too. Like personal blogs, they are fueled by passions and form familiar bonds. Some aspects of business blogs can be incorporated, as well. The ultimate goal is to build support of the cause. As with any blog, non-profits use this platform to educate the public about a particular issue. It serves as an online community outreach program, connecting visitors to the organization.

Don’t let your idea of what a blog is be limited to these three types. Perhaps the best thing about a blog is that it can be anything you need it to be. As the blog creator, you call the shots.

8 Reasons Why You Need to Build a Blog

As you can see already, blogging is an activity that anyone can undertake for reasons too many to name. If you don’t have a bunch of ideas running through your head, here are eight reasons why people blog. Keep reading so that you can learn how to make a blog today!

Express Yourself: Having a blog is your chance to show off your creativity. The only rule is that there are no rules. Blogging gives you an outlet to tell your story to the world. Take chances. Be opinionated. Be yourself.

Grow a Business: Business websites can be static and sterile. Incorporating a blog gives them life and a personality. By offering experience and expertise, you will be rewarded with credibility and trust. Providing industry-specific content in your business’s blog will attract search engines. You can generate engagement and feedback through the comment section, as well, resulting in return visits and social media shares.

Connect With Family: Stay in touch with your loved ones by creating a family blog. Post pictures of family vacations. Tell stories about holiday parties. Recap the shenanigans of family reunions. A blog is a great way to connect with your loved ones through the Web.

Make Money: There are so many ways to generate income with a blog that it could make your head spin! Of course you could sell products and services; but that would more commonly be done on an e-commerce website. Instead, you could take advantage of affiliate marketing by linking to products or services relevant to your blog’s topic. Google AdSense provides income by selling ad space on your site. When visitors click on a link or view a page that they were directed to by your blog, you get paid. Beyond that, you could sell memberships, exclusive access, sponsor posts, or do paid reviews—just to name a few.

Write Better: Practice makes perfect. Having a blog is a great way to improve your writing skills. You can try out new voices, personas, and techniques and see how your readers respond. Many aspiring writers use their blog site as a portfolio, of sorts, to showcase their abilities for would-be employers.

Improve Mental Health: Writing can be very cathartic. People pour their souls into journals and diaries every day. Putting something on paper is one thing, sharing it with the universe via the Web is a whole other level of letting go. Not only can you grow a business with a blog, you can improve your personal happiness.

Help Others: Sharing your experiences, tips, emotions, and life hacks can help other people in ways that you may have not considered. Your blog may help someone get through a tough time in their life, learn a new method of doing something, or discover a hidden passion.

Build Online Skills: Making a blog is an easy thing to do! With very little technical know-how, you can create a great-looking, highly functional blog page. The platforms upon which blogs are built are often free; there are usually a wide variety of blog templates to choose from and then it’s basically point and click. Hosting plans are also pretty straightforward and can be very inexpensive. You can easily build some basic web development skills without having to learn any complex code or take classes.

Whatever your reason, blogging can be fun, lucrative, and beneficial. Create your online persona and then start posting.

3 Simple Steps to Creating a Blog

A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. You never know where your blog will take you, but you can get it started with three simple steps. Basically, all you need to do is figure out what you want to focus on, decide how to build the blog, and tell people how to find it. Too easy, right? Each step is just slightly more involved than this simplified example. The point is the same, though.

As with any hobby or passionate undertaking, the first thing that you want to do is find your niche. Figure out what it is that you want to write about. While you’re at it, get an idea of to whom you want to tell your story.

After that, you’ll then begin the creation phase. Your blog will be built on a platform designed to house the content. Very intuitive website builders will help you construct your vision into a sharp, readable Web page. Once built, you will then choose a hosting provider who will breathe life into your blog by publishing it to the Web.

The final step is promoting your posts to the world. Social media, search engines, and other devices make this much easier than you might think. By focusing on content and connections, you can attract more visitors than you might have ever imagined. Here’s more detail on each step:

Step 1: Picking Your Niche

Remember a few paragraphs back when you learned that there are no rules in blogging? Well…there might be a few loose guidelines. The Web and world of blogging is a wide open field and your posts can take advantage of every inch of it. However, you might do a better job attracting consistent readers if you focus your topics a little bit.

Find a niche before you start building your blog site. Do some soul searching. For some this might not be hard to do at all. In fact, your passions might be what are pushing you to start blogging. The main point, though, is that your blog needs direction. You can certainly write about whatever topic is grinding your gears or tugging at your heart strings at the current moment; but your readership may lose interest if you jump around too much.

Instead, write with your audience in mind. Try to deliver a consistent message across a constant theme. Your readers will return to visit your site time and again if you give them something unique and interesting to come back for. A lack of focus or inconsistent messages might send them searching elsewhere for what you were once able to provide them.

The same holds true for business blogs. Find a central theme and stick to it. Jumping from topic to topic add little value or establish expertise. Instead, your blog would be representing you as a jack of all trades and a master of none. Visitors don’t return for Jack, they follow masters. Let your blog reflect your mastery.

Also, as you continue down the blogging journey, you will learn more about the topic on which you are writing. By sharing this new knowledge with your readers, it only serves to strengthen the bond of trust that you have built through your blog. Just as personal bloggers need that emotional connection, business bloggers rely on trust. Anything short of legitimate trust is salesmanship. Readers are not going to voluntarily return to be sold to; they want to learn and be entertained.

You can write about whatever you want. But the tighter the focus, the better your chances of growing a strong following. You can later leverage that following to monetize and promote your site. As your blog grows, so do you and other opportunities. All of this emanates from a simple, focused theme.

Step 2: Choosing a Website Building Platform & Getting Hosting

This article is not intended to promote or endorse any product or service over another. There are multiple available options that will help you create your blog site. Some are more popular than others; that in and of itself does not make them better. You are encouraged to do your homework before deciding on a platform package, consisting of the platform itself, the website builder, and the hosting provider. Use this article as the starting point for your research, not the final piece of the puzzle.

The first phase of this step is to select a platform for your blog. The platform is the software framework upon which your site will be built. Unlike a business site where you would use an e-commerce platform, blogging requires a content management system (CMS). Popular CMS options are WordPress, Drupal, Tumblr, and Blogger, with WordPress being far and away the most popular. Content management systems are specifically designed to showcase your online portfolio, whether that’s blog posts, photos, multimedia files, or a combination of all three. Most CMSs are very user-friendly and many can be installed automatically as a part of the website builder or hosting component of the platform package.

The website builder is the tool that you will use to make the actual Web page. It is your blog creator, if you will. Most of the more popular options like Weebly and Wix are very easy to use, requiring little or no Web development knowledge or experience. With a very intuitively organized layout, you simply point, click, and drag your content into place.

You will find hundreds, maybe thousands of blog templates or themes from which to choose. Pick one that matches your blog’s niche. If you are creating a business blog that is a separate entity from the business’s main site, make sure to replicate its look and feel.

The website builder will allow you to incorporate non-content items called widgets into your blog page. With widgets, you can create a comments section, add social media links, and even ask a poll question. You can move items around, add and delete areas like sidebars and headers, and set up multiple pages. Switching color schemes is a snap, as is changing fonts and cropping images.

Once your blog page has been built, it’s time to find a host. The hosting provider stores your site on a server so that it can be accessed through the Internet. There are three main types of hosting services: shared hosting, virtual private server (VPS), and dedicated server. Most personal blogs can be run on shared hosting, the most affordable of the three. If you are anticipating a significant amount of traffic, check the hosting plans capabilities; you might need to bump up to VPS. Don’t worry too much about a dedicated server unless you are dealing with extremely sensitive information (the price tag might scare you away, anyway).

There you have it; those are the three components of the platform package. In the three phases of this step, you will determine the foundation, building tools, and storage facility for your blog. Again, use this as a guide for your research, not the final say-so.

Step 3: Attracting Visitors & Promoting on Social Media

Now that you have built your blog and filled it with quality content, it’s time to tell the world about it. But how do you do that? What methods of work the best?

The most important component of attraction and promotion often gets over looked: adding great content. Perhaps this is because this part of the process actually happens before you start telling people about your blog. You need to have something for them to see when they get to your site. Without quality content, all of the promotion in the world is for naught. Always create content that makes the visitor’s time on your blog page well-spent.

A function of quality content is the generation of SEO (organic) traffic. By including keywords and phrases into the body of your blog, you will be attracting search engine spiders. Search engine algorithms heavily reward pages that have substantial amounts of relative, pertinent content. In other words, focusing on that specific niche that you selected before you constructed your blog will pay dividends in attracting visitors. The content that you create may be valuable to other sites on the Web, too. If those sites link into your posts, it makes your blog look even more attractive to those SEO spiders.

Using your amazing content to attract visitors is part of the equation, and promoting the blog rounds out the formula.

Did you include social media widgets when you built your blog? If not, you are missing out on some of the best promotion that money “can’t” buy. When visitors to your site like what they see—and they inevitably will--they are going to want to tell their friends and followers. The new word-of-mouth recommendation is no longer an aside by the water cooler, it’s a social share. With a simple click of the mouse, guests can promote your blog through their social media channels. Let their interest in your blog promote your site for you. Another benefit of social media is that every like, share, and tweet is more bait for SEO spiders. Give them food to find!

In addition to passively using your visitors’ social media, you can actively use social media on your end, also. Set up Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media accounts for your blog. Steer users of those tools to your blog page. Give users on those channels a link to your site. When you release a new post, make an announcement on your social media accounts. When you use these social media profiles, make sure that you are mirroring the same topic, niche, and focus of your blog page, too.

If you have time, you can get a little crafty with your promotion, as well. Forums and hangouts are a great place to talk about your blog site. It may take some effort to find like-minded people, But you can try tactics like submitting your blog to discussion pages like Reddit or StumbleUpon.

Conclusion

Hopefully, by now you’ve realized that there are no limits for you and your blog. It can be anything you want it to be. It can be a vehicle for you to express yourself, a way to make money, or a showcase for your interests. The best part is that it’s easy to do! Discover your niche, select a platform, and invite the Web to read your posts.

Remember to home in on a theme. Focus on an issue or topic that fires your imagination, and then start writing about it. Use your blog to connect with others who share your interests.

Find a content management system that will support your vision and begin to create a solid platform for your posts. When you’re behind the controls of the website builder, have fun, be adventurous, and tap into your creativity. Select a host that can deliver your page to the Web without breaking your budget.

Finally, keep writing great stuff. Focus on your content—always. Your content will work for you by attracting visitors, search engine algorithms, and link-building opportunities. Build a family of followers. Supply them with great content and they will, in turn, supply you with loyal readership and social media shares.