Do you fancy starting your own blog? You may have a lot to say about a particular topic, feel like you need to hone your skills for work or simply want to have a little bit of fun. Whatever the case may be, a good hobby blog can be an interesting way to catapult you and your interests into the forefront of web interest.
For that reason, here are some of the biggest considerations you need to make before embarking on the creation of your hobby blog for real:
Why Do You Want to Blog?
Blogging can actually be a lot of hard work, so first and foremost, you need to decide if blogging is really for you. Well, at least if you want to take it seriously and perhaps make money from the enterprise.
If you want to have a blog simply to explore something you are passionate about, then consider a slightly easier option of having it on a paid blogging platform. Something like WordPress.com (not to be confused with the CMS version of .org), Medium, TypePad, Blogger and the like may be the simpler option which suits you best.
Of course, you might be a market professional who is looking to showcase your expertise. Or you might be looking for a way to sell yourself or your skills online. In which case, blogging can actually be a very valuable business venture and not just an expensive hobby you might eventually grow bored of.
If you want to start a hobby blog solely for money purposes, then consider the fact that this can take a long time to actually achieve. You need the traffic to make the most of blogging revenue - which can take months or even years to build to a good enough level to profit from. And, even then, you rely on people actually clicking on ads on your site in order for you to be paid. Unless you charge people to have a permanent banner on your site or something to that effect, but even then you have to be able to offer them proof of your website being worth their while.
Think About Hosting
Hosting is a big consideration and a sign of how seriously you want to take your blogging. As, if you opt for a self-hosted solution, then likely you will have a much more customisable and better blogging experience on your hands. But, it is also more expensive than, well, free hosted blogs. It is, it must be noted, necessary if you want to eventually make any kind of revenue from your blog, however.
Paid hosting offers more storage, a secure site, technical support should you require it and simply lots more customisation. You can also choose to have a customised domain for your hobby blog. So, yourblog.com rather than yourblog.bloghostingplatform.com - which looks a lot more professional and a ‘legit’ site.
If you are looking at becoming a professional blogger, then a paid self-hosted blog is absolutely the best option for you.
Without concerns over whether or not you appear as a ‘professional’ blogger, then free hosting is a good option. It also means you will not require any additional HTML, coding or other skills that might be outside your remit. This is the best option overall for casual hobbyist bloggers.
Consider the Domain Name
If you are taking your hobby blog seriously, then your next serious consideration needs to be the domain name. The domain name is like the front door of your website on the internet real estate market. It is the first thing people see, what they are likely to remember and as such it is extremely important. You may also want to consider the long-term, as turning your domain name into an app with the help of app developers may be something you want to consider doing in the future.
For that reason, here are some really important things to keep in mind when choosing a domain:
A domain name needs to be memorable.
It needs to be easily searchable (for branding purposes).
It should have a recognisable extension (.com domains look more legitimate than .xyz ones).
A domain name can affect SEO as if you include your keywords it can make your site much more searchable.
Avoid copyright issues by using other brand names in your domain.
Consider buying similar domains to avoid chances of cybersquatting.
Buy your domain for a long period of time, as your domain expiring can cause you a lot of issues down the line.
So long as you keep in mind all of the above when choosing a domain name that works for your hobby site should be much easier.
Now Design for Your Hobby Blog
As you have the hosting and domain now fully considered, it is time to consider the actual design and look of the site. This will concern itself with WordPress design, as that is one of the most adaptable platforms for design.
For a hobby blogger, it is much easier to take a ready-made theme and adapt it to your needs rather than creating one from scratch. Especially if your overall skills aren’t fully there yet in terms of HTML and coding. If you use a framework then you are almost guaranteed a working website relatively quickly with little work necessary to ensure basic functionality (important when you just want to get your hobby blog up and running).
You can also simply buy an already customised theme and implement that on your site - there are a lot of theme stores on the web for you to choose from. Just be careful you are not just buying a copy/paste theme, as then it won’t be unique to your website.
The bottom line is that you don’t have to be the most tech-savvy person in the world in order to start your own hobby blog, not by a longshot.
Plan Your Traffic
Marketing is one of the biggest things you will need to engage in as a hobby blogger, at least if you want to get traffic. And if it’s not your forte then it can be incredibly difficult - at least at first. But, once you get into the habit of marketing your blog on a regular basis it can actually be one of your biggest draws. For that reason, you should consider the following in order to grow the traffic to your hobby blog:
Optimise for SEO - so do some keyword research, pepper it across your site and try to get ranking on Google!
Produce good long-form content to get you noticed.
Update your new blog regularly, the more populated it becomes better!
Start to grow an email list. The more emails you have, the more likely you will be able to pick people back up and perhaps even sell something to them!
Ensure social sharing is possible on every blog - code those buttons in there!
Ask for comments and try to engage users even once the blog is complete. Otherwise, you may have a great blog but very little else.
Try and get people to link to your posts. Either by creating really good posts or by reaching out and offering content of your own (which may give you the opportunity to place a link).
Reach out to your audience in the places they gather the most. So, track down the right Twitter hashtags, online communities, etc. in order to find your audience help find you.
Of course, even experts and businesses struggle to gain online traffic in some instances. So, don’t feel disheartened if you find any of the above techniques do not work for you. It simply means you have to do a little more research and try to pull in traffic from another source.
Ultimately, starting your own hobby blog can be a really fun enterprise - whether you want to take it seriously or not. So, in order to get started, you simply have to choose what level you want to participate at and how much work you are willing to put into it. And if you do want to start out as you mean to go on - as a professional blogger - then domain name, hosting, design and marketing should be at the forefront of your blog planning!