There are a lot of blogs out there that suck. Do you want to know the easiest way to find one? Search Google for “*.blogspot.com.” Most of what you find will be trashy or non-unique looking, not regularly updated, written with bad content, and be full of irrelevant, personal stories that no one else cares about. Extend the search to WordPress.com, Posterous, and Tumblr and you start to think that maybe it is too easy to start a blog.
There are many wonderful blogs out there too. You don’t have to compete with Gawker blogs, like Lifehacker and Gizmodo, or superstar bloggers like Darren Rowse, Ramit Sethi, Tim Ferris, Chris Guillebeau, Seth Goodin, Matt Cutts, and a long list of others to be good. You can start a blog that doesn’t suck pretty easily. You just need to know what to do to get started.
Pick a Topic You Love
I’m sorry to tell you, but not many people care about your life. Other than your mom, few people care about your day or what you had for breakfast. You can easily share that kind of information on Twitter in 140 characters or less. You don’t need a blog for that.
Unless you are going to add value or interesting content, your blog will suck. Pick a topic that is not overdone and is incredibly interesting to you. Unless you can come up with 20 post ideas in a sitting, it is not going to last. Unless other people somewhere in the world also care about the topic, it is not going to be read. That is the ugly truth.
Copyblogger has a great post on picking a niche that you might find interesting.
Pick a Unique URL That Doesn’t End With majorfreebloghost.com
When I picked on blogspot.com, wordpress.com, and the rest of the gang, it was not out of hatred. I got started blogging using Blogger, and I learned a lot of valuable lessons there. One of the first lessons is to avoid Blogger hosting. A bigger lesson is to avoid a blogspot URL.
Think really hard about it, because your domain has to be unique, definitive, and memorable. If I were going to start over today, I would probably have picked a different name for Narrow Bridge Finance, but it has enough SEO power and name recognition that I am not going to change it now.
The best domains in the world are sites like Problogger, Techcrunch, Lifehacker, and Consumerist. These are names that are short, memorable, and relevant to the topic. Speaking of Problogger, Darren wrote a great post on picking a domain, so I am not going to regurgitate it here.
Suck it up and pay the $7 per year to get your own domain if you want to be the opposite of sucky.
Get Your Own Hosting
This is the part where you have to lay down a few bucks to not suck. I pay about $100 per year for hosting. That is 100% worth it. I own my content and the site and have full control of it. Blogger can’t shut me down. WordPress can’t lock me up for violating terms of service. I control everything.
You have to be a bit more techy to handle this, but it is not rocket science. You can use an auto-installer to get WordPress going in about three minutes if you know what you are doing.
My opinion, and the opinions of many other bloggers that I respect, is including in a list of the best hosting companies for bloggers at the Car Negotiation Coach.
If you really need help with this, send me a note through the contact form and I am happy to help you get started.
Make It Pretty
Design is huge when blogging. You really don’t want an ugly design. You also want a design that is unique. If your site looks like every other site, people are not going to trust that your content is unique and will probably leave quickly. If it is ugly and non-functional, that is even worse.
I use the Thesis theme on all of my blogs. It is not free, but has proven to be well worth the cost. If you want The Thesis Theme for WordPress, please consider buying it through my affiliate link so I can make a few bucks too.
I like Thesis because it is easy to use and very quick to customize to your needs. Other popular themes include the premium Genesis Theme and the free Atahualpa theme.
Pick a Schedule and Stick to It
While I need to follow my own advice on this one, I can say that when I stick to a regular schedule on my finance blog, my traffic goes up. When I don’t post for a few days, or long, traffic plummets and it takes some time to make it back up.
Pick a schedule that you can realistically stick to when starting out. You can always adjust it over time.
Only Write Quality, Original Content
This speaks for itself. As the famous blogger saying goes: content is king. Write quality, grammatically correct posts. Include pretty pictures. Give readers something useful. If you are going through the steps to make your blog awesome, follow through.