When we started Zerothreetwo in 2011, we had no idea what we were doing. Each step in our blogging journey was riddled with mistakes, but we found a way to make it work.
Today, Zerothreetwo boasts a regular readership, brand awareness in Cebu and a budding clothing line. All these through our blog.
We want to share how we do it, so you can blog too.
It didn’t take much for us to get a decent readership. When we started, many other blogs in our niche weren’t very good. Some weren’t updated consistently enough, others had really bad web design, the writing read like it was coming from a robot on a typewriter, or they just didn’t know how to spread the word about their site.
We want to help you.
The more quality blogs out there, the better it is for everyone.
Every Thursday for the next two months, we will be releasing a chapter from the Zerothreetwo Blogging Guide (Don’t miss out by subscribing to the newsletter).
We’ll go step by step on how we were able to do it. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide, but a good starting point for anyone who wants to blog.
Here’s the rough draft of what the guide will look like:
(1) Introduction – Getting started (this post).
(2) What to blog about? – Determining the purpose of the blog.
(3) How to blog? – Looking into the minutia of blogging; Tone, style, SEO, etc.
(4) How to promote your blog? – It’s more than just sharing it on social media.
(5) Making money – Yes, it is possible.
(6) Where do people go wrong? – The Don’ts.
Each chapter is designed to talk about a specific aspect of blogging. All in all, I’ve got six chapters (this might change as I continue writing). We don’t want to dump everything all at once and overwhelm you.
Let’s get started.
What is a blog?
It’s not as complicated as you think.
It doesn’t have to be a full-fledged website with html and all manner of nonsense that you can’t understand.
A blog is a regularly updated web page.
It’s that simple.
By this definition, a blog could be as simple as an Instagram or Twitter account.
If social media is the best medium to spread what you want to blog about, then go ahead and use that. But if you want a space that you can call your own, then create a fully functioning website.
Here are the first steps to making a blog:
- Choose a platform.
- Get a Domain name
- Design your blog
It’s easy to go overboard in explanation for this part. We’ve provided helpful links all through out if you want to dive deeper. But know this, making the blog is the easy part, keeping it going is the difficult part.
1. Choose a platform
There are many platforms to choose from. For Zerothreetwo, we use WordPress (self-hosted). The self-hosted option means you’ll need to pay for hosting (more on that below).
You have the option to choose a free platform, but there are a few pros and cons. For a look at what else is out there, here’s a blog post comparing the different blogging sites.
But if you want to be serious about it, use WordPress. According to this infographic, 48% of the top 100 blogs, ranked by Technorati, use WordPress. As of March 2012, 72.4 million websites around the world use WordPress. That makes it the most widely used and popular content management system (CMS) in existence.
It’s a good place to start.
*Again… if you missed it, there are other choices for a free blogging platform. Here’s a list.
Self-hosting? Or free?
WordPress has two versions.
WordPress.com = the free hosting.
WordPress.org = paid hosting.
There are a few downsides to the free option:
- You won’t be able to get your own domain name. – Your URL will probably look like this.
- Limited customization
Depending on the platform, you won’t be able to do certain things like have full access to changing the design, to Google banner ads, etc.
If all you want is to try out this blogging thing, then go for the free option. But I’m willing to bet that you’ll soon find the limitations suffocating.
2. Get a domain name
After you’ve chosen your preferred platform (assuming you went with a self-hosted platform), you’ll need a domain name.
For Zerothreetwo, we use hover.com. It’s simple and stays out of the way. Once you register your domain name, you’ll never have to go back to their site again (until you have to renew).
Choosing a domain name can be a bit stressful and in many cases, it can make or break your search engine optimization (SEO). For Zerothreetwo, we decided to start a brand. So we broke a few name choosing rules (and it sounded cool). Before deciding on a name, best to read these tips on choosing a domain name.
When we first launched Zerothreetwo.com, we used a crappy cheap hosting service (it rhymes with yoladdy). It was frustrating to find the site down 30% of the time. That wasn’t acceptable. Whenever we got a huge spike in traffic, the site would crash.
Then we moved the site to Media Temple. It’s a bit more expensive than what is out there, but it’s worth it.
Another service to try is Bluehost. Many other blogs that I follow use and recommend them.
4. Design your blog
We were lucky to have a website designer as one of the founders. The first site was a customized work of art. Although it looked beautiful, every time we wanted to do a small change or update, we had to consult with him. This proved to be a tedious problem.
I was forced to either learn how to code html or search for customizable themes. Since I’m not too smart (code?), we looked at the different available themes.
That’s when I found Elegant Themes.
They have a theme called Divi. It allows you to customize the design and makes changing things very easy for the non-html person.
WordPress also has plenty of free themes to choose from. Many of them work fine for most people. For blogs on a budget, I suggest you start there.
5. A few more resources
With a little knowhow and research, you can do almost anything with a WordPress site. That said, there are a few staples that most any blog needs.
*Remember to always update your plugins and themes. This will help keep your blog secure.
Here are a few more resources you should add to your blog:
This shows your blog statistics. It can answer questions like how many users are visiting your blog, what are the most visited posts, and where the traffic is coming from.
About page/Contact page
The whole point of a blog is to share a piece of ourselves. Start with your about and contact page.
Be Social… Media
Is your blog difficult to read? Choose a design that optimizes well for readers. A good starting point is asking yourself, “What blogs do I like to read? What makes it easy to read?” Look at things like the kind of fonts, font size, spacing, sidebars, etc.
We’ll talk about this more in succeeding chapters, but it’s worth mentioning as soon as possible. Start collecting emails for a newsletter. This will be one of your most important resources as a blog.
On the next…
Next week, we’ll be releasing chapter 2 of the Zerothreetwo blogging guide – What to blog about? Determining the purpose of the blog. That’s when it starts getting interesting. As mentioned above, the easy part is getting started. The hard part is keeping it going.
Till next week.
PS – If we missed out on anything or if you have any questions or if we should elaborate more on something, feel free to send us an email.
*Some of the links in this page are affiliated links. At no extra charge to you, Zerothreetwo earns a commission if you decide to make a purchase. This helps allow us to continue serving you by providing helpful content. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them.