Blogging advice

I’m thinking of starting a blog, and wanted to get some advice from the great minds of the Dope. I’m pretty much a novice - I know what they are and the general idea, but that’s about it.

Firstly who do I get to host it? I know there are free sites that do this? What’s the best one? I don’t really want to shell out at this stage. Then, apart from just being interesting writing, are there any ways to get people reading / market the blog?

Secondly any advice on subject matter. I’m not wanting to go down the diary entry route. I’m a published travel writer so there will be a lot of travel stories. However I’d also like the freedom to put in other things. For instance science and sceptical thinking stuff (I’m also retraining to be a Physics teacher, so there might be a bit of that as well). Is this spreading myself out too much? Should I stick to just one thing?

Lastly, how much to write. I have a lot else going on (and generally like to be paid for my writing!), so I was thinking of a 2-300 word post weekly or maybe fortnightly. Sound reasonable?

Any thoughts gratefully received.

PS I should add my main reason for doing this is to promote my writing, rather than just a friends and family interest thing, if that makes sense.

I recommend Wordpress. They have a lot of features to help you promote your blog. It’s free. Go to the home site and there’s a big button to click and you’ve pretty much instantly started a blog. (You do have control over when it actually publishes; don’t worry!)

They have a feature called Freshly Pressed where they feature about 10 blog posts a day. If you get picked for that, you’ll get lots of visitors. You can also post comments to other people’s Wordpress blogs and a link to your blog shows up with your comment.

I have found it easy to use. You have to poke around a while before you get the hang of what widgets are and whatnot, but if I can figure it out, anyone can.

Good luck!

You might want to also get your own domain name. 1and1 and GoDaddy offer cheap easy ways to get domain names. I like 1and1 a bit better.

1and1 also has cheap plans that include a blog.

The key to making a good blog is UNIQUE content.

Think about what you are going to write about. Then google those thoughts. Do they come up in a Google search? If so will that make your blog unpopular? Then read some of the results that came up. Do you have different content? Unique information, a different slant on the topics?

You want people to come back to your blog so the best way to do it is supply daily (at least five times a week) of unique content.

Start with a one topic blog. You can always expand it by adding another blog (with possibly another domain name) or by adding links.

Remember uniqueness is the key. It doesn’t have to be a unique topic, as long as your take on it is unique

I recommend a site meter (free one from works great). It’s nice to know how many people visit your blog and where they are from, but I find the greatest value is knowing how they got there, which is in the referral url info. Did someone add you to their blogroll, mention you in an online article, or in some other way promote your blog? Good to know.

I agree, frequent posts are much better than occasional long posts. That encourages readers to check your page every day until it is a habit. Some people squeeze their blog reading in between other tasks. Posts that aren’t too long allow them to do that.

On the other hand, posts that are too short may not feel ‘worth it’ to your readers. If they are short enough to tweet then posting via Twitter is better.

I also agree that sticking to one primary topic is best until you get a loyal readership. I suggest including other topics only occasionally and as ‘bonus’ posts – on a Sunday for instance.
BTW: Happy birthday Markxxx!