Four Weekends to Launch

02 Jun

One of the hardest things to do when starting a new blogging endeavor is actually starting the blog. (I’m resisting the urge to use a cliche here about the first step on a journey).  While you can create a blog very quickly with a service like Blogger or WordPress.com, creating a self-hosted blog takes a little more time. The benefits of having a self-hosted blog more than justify the  time spent creating it.  Many people complain that they don’t have time to create a self-hosted blog. Here’s a formula that I suggest following to launch your own self-hosted blog.

Weekend 1 – The technical aspects of the blog

  • Buy a domain name –  Do a quick search for “GoDaddy Discounts” before buying your domain and you’ll probably find some good e-couppns for 20-30% off. GoDaddy will suggest some alternate domains like .org and .net variants of your domain. You can buy these if you think that your domain name is one that others might want to capitalize on in the future. That’s why I’ve bought the .org and .net domains for FreeTech4Teachers
  • Select a host and change nameservers – This might sound complicated and technical, but it really isn’t that hard. I use MediaTemple for hosting because they offer great assistance if you get stuck on this part. The act of changing name servers takes about 15 minutes, but the transfer and populating of the domain may take up to 48 hours (those are not labor hours, just time for data to move).
  • Install WordPress on your hosting service. Again, MediaTemple offers good directions on this process. This process could take you an hour or so.
  • Choose, install, and modify a WordPress theme. This is where the fun begins as you can explore thousands of options for designs to apply to your blog. There are plenty of free WordPress themes available at WordPress.org. Alternatively, you can buy themes from professional developers like WooThemes, DIY Themes, and StudioPress. I’ve bought themes from all three and been the happiest with WooThemes.

Weekend 2 – Plugins, widgets, feeds, and first posts

  • Social media sharing plug-ins – you’re probably going to want people to share your posts on their favorite social networks. Add a plug-in like Share This or Add This to make it easy for folks to click one button to share your posts on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Pinterest.
  • Sidebar widgets – let people know that you’re on social networks by adding links in the form of social media icons to the sidebar of your blog.
  • RSS feed and email- Create the RSS and email subscription options for your blog and add those links to your sidebar widgets too. FeedBlitz is the service that I recommend for offering RSS and email subscriptions.
  • Write your “About” post and page. This is the post in which you say a bit about who you are, your background, and why you’re blogging. This post should also be turned into a permanent “about me” page.
  • Generate a list of ten post ideas and put them into a Google Calendar.

Weekend 3 – Draft posts and beta testers

  • Create five posts and share them with trusted people as “beta” testers. You can publish the posts and not tell anyone or you could publish the posts and password protect them until you’re ready for the world to see them. 
  • Test your RSS feed email and social feed by publishing your first test posts. You should subscribe to your own RSS and email feed to make sure that it is working correctly and not losing any formatting.
  • Add five more blog post ideas to your Google Calendar.
  • Settle on a posting schedule that you honestly can maintain.

Weekend 4 – Launch party!

  • Unleash your posts on the world!
  • Politely tell people about your posts.
  • Reply to comments and emails.
  • Add another post idea or two to your Google Calendar.
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