Although you can technically build a blog using nothing more than Notepad or your preferred word processor, a far easier and more efficient solution is to use a content management system (CMS). As the name suggests, a content management system is designed to manage your blog’s content. You upload the core CMS files to your server and perform the installation, at which point you can log into your admin portal to publish new content or edit existing content.
Powering over 82 million blogs and websites, WordPress is the most popular CMS. Its free to download and use, features a vast library of themes and plugins, an easy-to-use interface, and it’s updated frequently.
If you’re serious about blogging, you should invest in a domain name for your blog. Some blogging platforms, such as Tumblr and the hosted version of WordPress, allow the use of free subdomains (e.g. www.yourblog.wordpress.com), but they aren’t as effective as using a dedicated domain (e.g. www.yourblog.com). Using a dedicated domain will give your blog a boost of credibility, making it easier to rank in the search engines for your target keywords. Besides, ask yourself which on the following is easier to remember: www.yourblog.wordpress.com or yourblog.com?
In addition to a domain name, you’ll also need a web hosting service (the server on which your website’s files are hosted). There are typically three different types of web hosting services:
- Shared Hosting — with shared hosting, you share a server with hundreds if not thousands of other websites. Shared hosting is the cheapest route, although it’s more prone to cyber attacks.
- Virtual Private Server — you are allocated a specific amount of resources.
- Dedicated Server — you rent the server; there are no other clients who use it.
While a CMS, domain name and web host are the most critical elements of a blog, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of choosing a niche. Far too many bloggers make the mistake of trying to go “broad” with their topics, covering every topic under the sun. This tactic may work for large, established blogs, but it’s a recipe for failure for up-and-coming blogs. A smarter approach is to choose a narrow niche, focusing the bulk of your content on topics related to it.
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