I got several emails the last days asking me about tips on how to start a blog or improve an already established blog which in the end led to the post that I'm currently writing. I sometimes hear the argument that it does not make sense to start a blog because there are so many blogs out there that already cover all topics that one can write about.
While this is definitely not true for all topics you will face serious difficulties if you want to create just another gadget or technology blog unless you can provide something that the other blogs can't. While it will probably not be worthwhile to just copy and paste what established sites like Gizmodo or Engadget write it could be worthwhile to write about the same topics from a different point of view.
This leads to the most important aspect of a successful blog in my opinion unless you want to create a auto blog that simply posts lots of topics a day by copying articles from other sites getting some visitors from search engines for a few months. You either need expertise, a great writing skill or other skills that distinguish your blog from hundreds of similar blogs that write about your topics.
I personally like to find niches that I'm interested in. This ensures that I like to write about the topics and will be more likely to continue writing. I tried several blogs that covered topics that I was not that interested in and I slowly found out that I was not motivated at all to write for them.
The next important step is to think about domain names, web hosting and scripts that you want to use. You could begin with a free hosted account at Blogspot or similar services but I would suggest to start with your own domain name right away. Getting a domain name plus hosting for a year starts at about $20 a year which should be affordable by most writers.
The advantage is that you are creating a visible brand by having your own domain name. People will recognize you and your blog by that name far better. I'm not in the position to suggest a webhost or domain broker but I had good success with Godaddy for domains and take a look at WHReviews for some good reviews of companies that offer webhosting.
This is just a one time process so make sure you take your time and select a good suited webhoster for your needs. You don't need a big package at the beginning, 50+ megabytes of space (unless you plan a site that hosts it's own videos or big images), 5+ gigabyte of traffic, one mysql database and php support. You should contact them however and ask them directly if it is possible to upgrade to a bigger plan when your site reaches it's limits due to traffic increases. (you will be making enough money at that point that you do not have to worry about hosting costs anymore, they are only a fraction of the earnings in general)
I recommend WordPress as the blog software. I'm using it here at ghacks as well for instance. WordPress can be easily installed and administrated through an web interface and more than thousand plugins make it ideal to offer a wide variety of services.
To sum up what I have written in the first part of the successful blog series:
The next part of this series will give you insight in setting up the blog, choosing the right theme, customizing it, adding plugins and writing the first articles. The last part of the series will give you information about traffic building and monetizing your blog.
If you have tips or something to add leave a comment ;)
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.