Let’s take stock of what I knew going into my first blog project. That is, if I’m going to start a blog from scratch, what does “scratch” even mean?
At the very beginning of my blogging project, I’d say that my knowledge of blog technology was solidly in the “beginner” range. I mean, I do live with the internet every day and am forced to interact with different parts of it on a nearly continuous basis. So that’s got to be worth something, right?
This basic familiarity means that the baseline fundamentals aren’t actually too foreign or scary. This is true for all of us. If you’re reading this blog, you know about as much about the technical side of blogging as I did at the very beginning.
Things I Knew When I Started My First Blog
- My Blog’s Topic – I didn’t do any niche research or keyword research to develop my special corner of the universe. The topic evolved organically, and my decision to start a blog came as an extension of me wanting to talk about the topic.
- “Niches” and “Keyword Research” Exist – These are things someone who wants to blog, but doesn’t already have a topic in mind, could do to try and identify good areas to enter. This has to do with how expensive it might be to drive traffic to the blog (a reflection of competition), how much money can be generated by content related to the topic (a reflection of market size), and other things like that.
- WordPress Exists & I Want to Use WordPress – I came to the project with a very basic understanding of how WordPress works. “Worked” is probably a better way to put it, since all of my experience with WordPress was about ten years old when I started blogging in a serious way. I knew about themes (to change how WordPress looks) and plugins (to expand what WordPress can do).
- How Hosting Works I knew the blog needed to be hosted, and how (kind of) hosting worked. Basically, you pay somebody some money and they agree to give you some space on one of their computers. That space is where your blog actually lives. They also agree to take care of the actual computer hardware for you. There are different levels of service you can pay for (more disk space, more data transfer, faster processors).
- A Little About Google’s Ad Services – Google has ways to let you either buy ads to promote something (a product, service, or site) or sell space on your blog/website to display other people’s ads. If you choose to sell space on your blog, the ads that Google places there should match, or be related to, your blog’s overall topic or the topic of whatever specific page the ad appears on. If people click on those ads, you get some money. Noice.
- Affiliate Networks Exist – I know you can sign up with different companies who try and link you with advertisers who might want to put ads on your website. You get paid for letting them place these ads. This affiliate relationship can also be a one-on-one thing, where you decide that you like a product and want to promote it in exchange for commission. In this case, you can go to someone and create your own affiliate account directly, without the middle man.
- How to Register a Domain Name – I’ve registered domain names before and have used networksoluions and godaddy. I always register with the privacy option (it costs a few extra dollars) so that my personal information doesn’t show up when people try to find out who owns a domain.
- How to Type – Even as a super beginner, I suspected that being able to type might actually be worth something. I can type about 60wpm. My mom forced me to take keyboarding class during my freshman year of high school. It was broken into two classes (Keyboarding I & Keyboarding II) and lasted the entire year. I hated it. It was super nerdy. But I sure am I grateful to her for making me do it. Being able to type at a decent rate has helped me a lot over years. Thanks mom.
- A Teeny Tiny Bit About Techy Web Management – I hesitate to even add this, because it’s such a meager knowledge base. But, for the sake of completeness, I will say that I’ve run small websites before. I’ve actually purchased hosting, logged into it using the control panel they provided, and uploaded files to my hosting account using FTP. I think I also created some email addresses using the host’s control panel and set them to forward to my real email address, which was not part of my hosting. You seriously can basically erase this part, because it was a long time ago and, even at the time, I basically only knew how to click on the icons contained in the host’s control panel.
So there’s a list of a couple of things I already had under my belt when I started the blog. It’s a little bit of pre-knowledge, but certainly not something that would put me in a totally different realm than any other person interested in getting their own blog going.
Even if you would describe yourself as someone who knows “nothing” about this “blog stuff,” I bet you can look through that list and pick out things that you actually do know. You might not know them in depth, but that’s ok, I don’t either. Yet.
Moving Forward & Paving Your Own Road
In the very beginning, I figured that whatever I needed to know, Google could tell me. That turned out to be partly true, but it also turned out to really let me down. It’s tough to find good, detailed information on Google. It seems like most blogs about blogging all cover the same handful of topics, in the same way, and don’t really tell you about the important stuff.
So, even though there are a lot of resources available via Google searching, there aren’t always a lot of good resources. It’s more like ten people say the same five vague things and I come away from an hour of reading feeling like I don’t know much more than when I started.
Incidentally, BlogReactor is designed to be the antidote to that experience. I want you to leave here smarter and ready to take action on your own project.
Make A Plan
Even though I knew a few things starting out, I went into my blog project with the idea that I’d need to know a lot more to really get things going, and my plan was to pick it up or figure it out along the way. That’s an easy, actionable plan that anyone can follow.
Breaking this blog building into small, actionable parts has been important, because it’s so easy to get locked into “decision paralysis.” Decision paralysis is what happens when you think so much about what you have to do, the options for doing it, and the million things you don’t know, that you never actually find a point to jump in and start getting things done.
This happened to me, and I had to actually sit down and make a list – like the one above – just to convince myself that it would be ok and I needed to get cracking, instead of sitting around concentrating on problems I couldn’t solve yet.
So, figure out what you know, write it down, and be done.
You’ll have plenty of time to figure out what you don’t know and then work those things out. You have to jump in somewhere, and it’s not worth worrying about step ten when you haven’t done step one.