My Advice to Beginning Bloggers

Recently, my daughter Marissa asked my advice on starting a blog. What I told her is very different from what I would have said a year ago. Many experienced bloggers might disagree with me, but I thought I would share my advice here.

A Toddler Learning How to Walk - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/melastmohican, Image #11478658

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/melastmohican

Many people get excited about blogging. When they start exploring the options, an entire world opens up to them. There are so many choices to make. For example:

  • Should you go with a hosted blogging platform WordPress.com or a self-hosted one like WordPress.org.
  • If self-hosted, which hosting service should you use to host it? There are literally hundreds of services available. (I recommend BlueHost.)
  • And which theme should you pick? There are thousands of free themes, not to mention the premium ones like StandardTheme (which I use).
  • What about a name and logo? And who will you hire to design it?
  • What commenting software will you use? Will you go with native WordPress or a third-party system like Disqus (which I use)?
  • Will you include ads or go add-free?

The number of decisions can be overwhelming. But I think they put the cart before the horse. They are not the questions you should ask first.

People often decide to jump immediately to self-hosted WordPress. (This is what I use, for example.) It is what most of the big bloggers use, with the exception of Seth Godin, who is still on TypePad. (And, oh, by the way, it seems to be working fine for him.)

WordPress.org is enticing, because the basic software is free and you can get space on a server for as little as $6.95 a month. And then you can customize it to your heart’s content.

But don’t be deceived. While the basic WordPress self-host software is free, it is like a crack cocaine sample. It is designed to get you hooked. Once that happens, the expenses begin to mount.

I spend more than $1,000 a month on my blog. I know: this is shocking to most people.

This amount includes hosting, server administration, custom programming, software services, trouble-shooting, and more. Sometimes, I feel like it is a black hole.

For me, it is worth it, because of the traffic I generate and the income it produces from ads affiliate commissions. But it has taken me years to get to this place.

The truth is that most people who start a blog quit within a few months. (Re-read that sentence again and let it sink in.)

Setting up a blog is the easy part; actual blogging is the hard part. Once the initial enthusiasm wanes, it is difficult to keep posting. Most would-be bloggers post less and less until they simply quit and abandon their blog.

I am not trying to discourage you. Honestly. But before you invest a bunch of time and money in self-hosted WordPress, you need to answer two questions:

  1. Can you generate high quality content on a regular basis? (And by “regular” I mean at least three times a week, minimum.)
  2. Will my content attract a loyal and growing audience? This might not be your goal, but you won’t generate enough income to cover your costs unless you do.

In my opinion, until you can answer these questions with a resounding “Yes,” you have no business investing the time and money on self-hosted WordPress.

Instead, here’s what I recommended to Marissa, as a beginning blogger. It’s what I would also recommend to you if you are thinking about starting a blog:

  1. Set up a blog at WordPress.com. It’s simple and free.
  2. Upgrade to the Premium version. It is only $12–$17 per year. It will allow you to map your unique domain name to your WordPress.com site (e.g., michaelhyatt.com vs. michaelhyatt.wordpress.com).
  3. Select a theme. WordPress.com now has over 100 to choose from. You can upload your own logo if you want, and do some other customization. This is way cheaper than paying a designer the $2,500 to $10,000 they will charge to create a custom design.
  4. Start writing. Anything that stands between you and this is a distraction.

Too many bloggers I know spend way too much time tweaking their design and fiddling with plugins instead of writing. If you write compelling content on a regular basis, you will build an audience. You will then be able to monetize your traffic and upgrade to a different platform. In the meantime, stay focused—and write!

Update: Many of the most popular blogs in the world are on WordPress.com. Here is a list of the top ones. Also, as your blog becomes successful, you can migrate it to WordPress.com VIP. It is for uber-bloggers who don’t want the hassle of creating a self-hosted site.
Question: What advice do you have for beginning bloggers? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to a self-hosted WordPress blog? It’s easier than you think! Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it, step-by-step. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com Patricia Zell

    I designed my blog all by myself and kept it real simple with no ads. My purpose was to write my book through the posts and now that book is close to being ready for market (self-published). Since I’m a high school teacher, I don’t have time to both write posts and work on the marketing end of getting my book noticed. The funny thing is my blog is maintaining a steady audience with me doing nothing. It seems every so often, a group of people in a city will discover my blog and visit it a lot. This brings me to my advice to first-time bloggers–use site analytics if at all possible because they are fun to watch.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like watching the site statistics, too. The nice thing is that WordPress.com has these built in.

      • http://twitter.com/wyclif wyclif

        Google Analytics is also good for stats, and it’s free.

      • http://twitter.com/dbonleadership Dan

        I watch my site statistics and monitor the traffic. It helps me see what people are reading and motivates me to keep posting.

        • http://profiles.google.com/pollywogcreekporch Patricia Hunter

          I know you love WordPress, Michael, but Blogger has site statistics built in, as well.

      • Anonymous

         http://michaelhyatt.com/my-advice-to-beginning-bloggers.html

        • Anonymous

          The pandora warm autumn wind, air mixed into the firecrackers fire taste; 

    • Karl Mealor

      I notice this as well. It’s amazing which articles get targeted. Sometimes it’s a matter of the picture that I used for a particular post.

    • http://twitter.com/BobEwoldt Robert Ewoldt

      Patricia, I love using the site analytics. I actually just installed Google Analytics on my site last night (after reading another post on MichaelHyatt.com). It can be a little addicting… how many people are coming to read the post I just published? Where are they coming from? It’s also interesting to see the ebbs and flows of the site traffic.

  • http://www.melmenzies.co.uk Mel Menzies

    Great advice, Jennifer. I’ve been blogging now for nearly three years and in that time have built up a Google rank of 4 on my home page and consistently come in the top 5% of Wikio blogs. Though I began at the rate you’ve advised, I’m actually posting less frequently nowadays because I have a new book underway. One thing I found out early on was that professional bloggers advocate niche blogging. However, because I’m an author and write on a number of different issues – faith, family, drugs, death, divorce etc – I made a conscious decision not to be a niche blogger but to be myself. For me, that’s key to keeping up the momentum, and it’s what I’d advise anyone else to do.

    BTW, I take it that you are a relative of Hudson Taylor? His biography, many years ago, was instrumental in my walk of faith. I also know, personally (he’s in my writers’ group) the author of the latest biography, Roger Steer.
    Mel Menzies http://www.melmenzies.co.uk

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m befuddled by your comment, Mel. You addressed it to “Jennifer.”

      • http://www.melmenzies.co.uk Mel Menzies

        That’s because, on Twitter, someone called Jenniffer Hudson Taylor put up a comment with your blog URL at the end of it. I felt equally befuddled to find a Michael Hyatt here but assumed that you must be associate bloggers. Clearly, I am wrong, and I apologise. If I can find any explanation for this, I’ll let you know.

        • http://twitter.com/snyderc Christopher Snyder

          Many people on Twitter will share links to articles they find useful, even if they themselves did not write the articles. That is my guess as to what happened here.

  • Timothy Fish

    My blog is hosted on Blogger. It is free and it will work fine for 99% of the people who blog. Sure, that prevents me from using DISQUS (or at least I haven’t taken the time to figure out how to do that if I can), but even though I like how DISQUS makes it easier to read the conversation, it seems to me that most of the blogs that use it cause problems. If you are hoping to respond to comments from behind a firewall, it seems to cause even more problems. That may not be a problem if you aren’t writing stuff that people will find useful while they are working or on their lunch break, but Blogger seems to keep things simple enough that companies don’t try to blog the stuff they are trying to do.

    For the beginning blogger, I would say stay away from all the extras and if you build an audience then you can worry about whether you want to mess with the problems for the benefits the extras provide.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good advice. TypePad, Blogger, and WordPress are all comparable. My only caution is to see how easy it is to convert them to self-hosted WordPress. If your blog takes off and is successful, you might want to do that. When I converted from TypePad three years ago, it was a real hassle. Perhaps it is easier now.

      Disqus can be used on self-hosted WordPress (as with my blog here), Blogger, and TypePad. Apparently, you can’t use it with WordPress.com. Probably because the company that owns WordPress.com also owns IntenseDebate, Disqus’s primary competitor.

      I am curious, what problems have you experienced with Disqus? I have not had any complaints and the number of comments I get has almost doubled since I started using it. Replying by email is such a killer feature for bloggers. It really helps me engage.

      • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

        On the transfer-issues, I’ve been using Blogger since I started, and my custom domain actually maps to it, but I also have a free WordPress blog. Since I do all of my blogging in either my word processor or another 3rd-party tool, like Windows Live Writer, I put every post on both sites.

        All of my interaction goes to the doughibbard.com website, which is the Blogger blog, but if I ever convert to self-hosted WordPress, I have either source to build from. Based on the WordPress stats, I’m not hurting myself in terms of traffic!

        I see it would be a problem to do it this way if I linked back to previous posts, but I don’t do much of that.

      • http://bladeronner.com Ron Dawson

        I think the reason WordPress.com doesn’t allow Disqus despite the same company owning IntenseDebate, is that you can’t have any kind of embed codes or anything like that on wp.com sites. They haven’t even incorporated IntenseDebate into their platform. But, the commenting feature is still pretty rich. Commenters can subscribe to comment threads, you can have nested replies, you can reply to a comment via email, it catches spam, etc. Pretty much all the main features you have with Disqus.

        • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

          True Ron! We do have a pretty rich commenting feature there

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          The value of their approach is that they maintain more control and better up-times. Once you start letting people plug code into your system, anything can happen. I’ve brought my own server down dozens of times.

          • http://bladeronner.com Ron Dawson

            What’s nice is that there are more and more “safe” ways they allow for rich
            content. YouTube, Vimeo and Blp.tv all have special codes for embedding
            videos. You can integrate with PollDaddy for polls, etc. Their site stats
            feature is pretty nice too. Unfortunately they don’t yet have the ability to
            track unique visitors. just referring sites and total views. But I’m sure
            they’ll work that in soon.

      • Timothy Fish

        Mike,

        The one thing that I know I can attribute to Disqus is that from some machine setups I can’t leave a comment. I hesitate to call it a problem because it is from those machines that I have a very limited amount of time to leave comments anyway, but it is something to think about.

        I’ve noticed other things. For example, as I am typing this comment, the text seems sluggish. By that, I mean that I press a key and there is a slight delay before I see the result on the screen. I’ve also noticed with some blogs that use Disqus that Internet Explorer tends to die ungracefully. And I had to quit following one blog because it was causing Google Reader to hang up. But it may not be Disqus that is causing the problems. I’ve noticed that the people who use Disqus tend to load their blogs down with other stuff too. It could easily be some of that other stuff that is causing the problem.

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      Mine prevents me from Disqus as of right now…I do know that they r trying to incorporate it. I’m on webs though. You might should try that company out!

  • Carinealicia

    Excellent advice and thank you!

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    I have just begun to blog. And, thanks for your advice to beginners like me. I am currently using blogger from Google. Rightnow, I am concentrating on providing quality content and building up my audience base. It seems it will take substantial time to to accomplish those.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You are focused on the right thing, Uma. Writing is what it is all about.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Mike! In fact, the idea of blogging germinated in my mind after I started following your blog. And now, I love writing posts for blogs which is making me a better communicator.

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      That’s right! I really like your blog…I’m gonna subscribe! But in reply to your last comment, I personally find Disqus to load a lot slower than other commenting systems?

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I measured it before I switched. It loads faster than IntenseDebate (it’s major competitor) but not as fast as native WordPress comments.

        • Anonymous

          I find Disqus to be faster than intense debate also, and I’ve had no glitches since I installed it.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            I haven’t had any glitches either. With IntenseDebate, I was having problems on a regular basis. Tech support was responsive, but I kept having problems. I don’t think I have had a single one with Disqus. It just works.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Thanks Brandon. I am just a novice blogger. I am in the mode of learning to blog.

    • http://twitter.com/BobEwoldt Robert Ewoldt

      Uma, I just checked out your blog, and I found it very interesting. You’re right that the actual content is what will bring people in. Having a nice-looking site or a good domain name are pluses, but there’s no substitute for good, consistent writing.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Thanks Robert! I am a novice blogger. I am trying to improve myself day by day. I am in the learning curve.

      • http://francesbigadventure.blogspot.com/ Fharrison55

         Robert, I find I get a lot of visits from folks looking for good quality visuals/photos. I’d like to think a few of them stay to read the content too from time to time. Frances

  • Kristy Ensor

    Great advice! Thank you…just what I needed to read this morning. I’ve been so focused on re-vamping my logo and site design details that I have been neglecting the content. Time to kick it in high gear and WRITE!!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Go on Kristy! Focus on content and building audience. Everything else will fall in place.

  • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

    I’d advise this: write 10-15 posts before you fire up the blog. Preferably some that are basically timeless, to hold in reserve as you get going. The presence of those will help you in the weeks that your creativity fails you and you’re having trouble getting anything written. You pull one up, read it, re-edit it, correct it, and send it on. Then, as you go, on your more creative days over-produce content and rebuild your stockpile.

    15 might be too much, that might need to be 5-10. It may help your blog from languishing when your life gets a little more chaotic than you expected.

    And yes, I do this as a church pastor with sermons. I intend to write all 3 sermons I need every week in the time leading up to them. However, there are just weeks that this doesn’t happen. So, something comes from the file, it’s not in the same series as the others, but it may take only a few hours to re-visit and adjust.

    And yes, I should have done this with my blog. So, no more commenting for me today. I’ve got a blog to write.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is great advice. I agree completely.

    • Karl Mealor

      Thanks for this idea (for both the sermons and the blog).

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Creating post bank is a good suggestion. It always comes in handy in times of need.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      I didn’t start out this way. However, I have found it incredibly stress-relieving to have several completed or near-completed posts in my file.

    • http://twitter.com/DanielBecerra Daniel Becerra

      Yes :) I have made the mistake of announcing a blog when I just had the welcoming post. Never doing that again.

    • http://twitter.com/BobEwoldt Robert Ewoldt

      I like this idea, Doug. I’m going to suggest this to my wife, who is in the process of starting up her own blog.

    • http://profiles.google.com/pollywogcreekporch Patricia Hunter

      Excellent advice!

  • http://modernservantleader.com/ Benjamin Lichtenwalner

    Where is Your Passion? I believe answering this question drives the rest of the decisions. For me, I am passionate about servant leadership and technology. As a result I prefer to self-host to keep me in the code. My day job no longer includes programming but as I enjoy this, I get to do more of it on my site. In addition, as I am passionate about spreading servant leadership awareness, frequency of posts and traffic is less critical. In fact, i write as much for myself – to clarify my own thoughts, wirk through leadership issues and hold myself accountable, as fir anyone else. Therefore, I believe your advice is spot-on for anyone pursuing blogging for profit. However, if your pursuit is only for your passion and personal motivation, you may find other answers to the same question.

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      Very nice!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Ben! I am with you in the same boat. I really started to blogg as a hobby. Not with intention of amking money in first. To me, blog is a beautiful tool to express myself. ” I write as much for myself – to clarify my own thoughts, work through leadership issues and hold myself accountable, as for anyone else. ” – when you say these words, I am fully concurring with you. I do agree with you that many blog for passion and personal motivation. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

      • http://twitter.com/BobEwoldt Robert Ewoldt

        Blogging for me is basically a way for me to stretch and strengthen my creative muscles. If I don’t write, they’ll atrophy, and I’ll decline as a writer (and thinker, too).

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I started out on a much slower schedule, once a week. After I got the hang of it, I stepped it up to 2-3 per week, and after maintaining that for a while, went to wordpress.org, and a fully customizable theme.

      But one of my first steps was to identify my passion. What did I want to focus on?

      Thanks for the insights into a similar process as mine.

      • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

        I started much the same way. I didn’t know too much what I was doing, and was really doing it for fun. Then I upped it to twice a week as I got the hang of it. I am only at 3 times a week for now, but that is all I can handle as a working, full-time college student!

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          If you can keep that up, you are doing great!

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          I’m seriously considering a slight increase per week, but I’m stuck on how to schedule stuff. I have about five categories, and have been writing on one subject on Monday, another on Tuesday, etc… But it seems choppy to me, with so much other stuff in between each post on a given topic. Anyone have any suggestions on how to resolve this? Michael?

          Thanks!

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            After my reader survey, I thought I would do this: rotating subjects on a predictable basis. But then I had a bunch of folks say that they like the unpredictability. Frankly, that works better for me, because I get interested in a given topic for a few days and want to give way to the muse.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            That makes sense, but I’m not sure it’s me. I think not having a regular schedule may drive me crazy. On the other jand, it might just be what I need to do. I’m still relatively new enough to not know exactly how I want to accomplish what I’m sure I want to accomplish. Thanks for the input! I may give it a shot like you do and see if that helps spark my creativity or creates writer’s block.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            The key is to experiment and find what works for you.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Thanks for the input!

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        If I had to prioritize them, I would suggest that consistency is more important than frequency. In other words, once a week every week is better than four posts this week and then none for a month.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          I agree. Sometimes the hardest thing for me to do is sit down and write when I don’t feel like writing. But I’ve committed to posting at a certain frequency level, even if only to myself. And I intend to keep doing so.

        • http://www.backyardlifeblog.com Raun Lauterbach

          I agree.  I use the WordPress Editorial Calendar to schedule when posts are released.  It allows me to write a bunch of posts at once and plan when they will be released.  It is also a visual tool to see how your post topics are laid out.  You can drag and drop them into differrent days if you want to move them around.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      Frequency has been a real learning curve for me. I started out with thinking that I would blog 2-3 times a month. As I have learned more (though I am still really a newbie at this) and experienced the art of blogging, I have decided that twice a week is my goal. Trying to post more than that would consume too much of my time.

      Of course, that realization came from figuring out why I am blogging. Even though it is intriguing, I realized that I am not blogging for profit. I am blogging to pass on what I learn (which solidifies for me what I learn and will hopefully help others along the way).

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        The other thing to factor is that you get faster with practice. When I started, it would take me three hours to write a single blog post. Now I can do it (usually) in an hour.

        • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

          This is true.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          An hour per post is what I budget into my schedule as well. Sometimes it takes me a little longer, but I’m becoming more proficient all the time.

        • http://twitter.com/DanielBecerra Daniel Becerra

          When you started blogging, Michael, did you sit down to blog daily? I ask because I don’t see that anywhere on your post.. so pardon if it hasn’t been addressed already :)

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            No, I didn’t. I was very hit and miss initially. I eventually committed to once a week, then twice a week, then three times a week, and now daily.

  • http://twitter.com/JessicaNTurner Jessica Turner

    I would also advise that if bloggers are looking to generate income, that they read savvyblogging.net and follow the #savvyblogging stream on Twitter. It has a wealth of information on it.

    Blogging conferences like Blissdom and TypeA Mom are also great ways to network and learn best practices.

    Regarding monetization, it is important to disclose, disclose, disclose per FTC guidelines!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for the tip on SavvyBlogging.net. I just subscribed.

    • http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/ Geoff Webb

      I’d also recommend http://www.copyblogger.com/ and http://www.problogger.net/ (though I have to say if you’re reading these comments you’ve already found an incredible resource!)

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Thanks Geoff! I am subscribing to them!

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Both of these are excellent resources!

    • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

      Yes! Love SavvyBlogging.net! These are the peeps I go to on Twitter. :) #SavvyBlogging. :)

    • http://twitter.com/modernreject Nicole Cottrell

      Not sure if you have heard of tentblogger.com, as well. It is a how-to-make-money blog by John Saddington and is also practical, straight-forward, and fun to read.

    • http://twitter.com/BobEwoldt Robert Ewoldt

      Thanks for the suggestion, Jessica. I’ll check it out.

  • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

    I can understand how many bloggers begin and then quit. Blogging is time consuming and requires thought and planning if done correctly. I think it is important for a beginning blogger to really decide WHY they want to blog. What is the purpose for their blogging? Once they have a purpose then they have a motivation to blog. For example, the purpose of my blog was and remains to POINT people to Jesus through the ministry that He has assigned to me. That helps me create content rather than just random words on a blog page.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. I think answering the why question is essential. It will keep you going when you want to quit.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Agreed Leah! Creating content is important rather than just filling with random words

    • http://twitter.com/BobEwoldt Robert Ewoldt

      Yes, blogging can be so time-consuming and monotonous, if you don’t have purpose. If you’re just doing it for numbers (or money), 99% of the time you’ll be disappointed.

      • Carrie Starr

        I could not keep blogging if money was my motivation. 

        I launched my blog seyen months ago and have consistently been posting 4 to 5 times a week.  It has become a growing passion and an enjoyable hobby. 

        Keeping my focus on my goal, as Leah suggested, is key.  My heart is to encourage readers, particularly young adults, to see how their financial decisions impact their personal relationships. 

        My audience is slowly but steadily growing.  My writing is improving.  When I am tired, I remember the core group of people who subscribe, comment and look forward to reading what I have to say next. 

        Someday if I see my blog really take off, I will invest in more blogging bells and whistles.  For now I will keep it simple and focus on what matters most.

        Writing.

  • http://LiveIntentionally.org Paul Steinbrueck

    Mike, I agree with your advice to get the blog up and running as quickly as possible & get to writing posts. Personally, I still advise people to start by getting their own hosting account for $5-$10 month, installing WordPress, and getting a domain name, for two reasons.

    1) You won’t have to migrate from WordPress.com to a hosting account later on and risk problems with the migration of the content or the domain name.

    2) After you’ve been blogging for a while, your posts will be indexed by search engines and hopefully you’ll have lots of links to your posts on other sites. If you make a mistake while migrating, you run the risk of losing those links and search rankings.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      These are valid reasons. My only complaint is that 95% of the people I talk to have no idea how to setup a hosting account, install WordPress, and link a domain name to it. It sounds easy to tech-types like us (and it is), but when I try to explain that to my wife, daughter, or non-tech type, they are overwhelmed. They end up spending money to hire someone t help or end up spending (literally) days trying to get it to work.

      I would much rather see them use the head of steam they have built to actually write. Just my two cents. Thanks.

      • http://LiveIntentionally.org Paul Steinbrueck

        I understand what you’re saying. I guess companies like mine (http://OurChurch.Com) need to do a better job of communicating how easy we make it. When someone orders web hosting from us, we do the domain registration & set up for the person. We even pay the cost of the domain registration if the person pays for a year of hosting up front.

        Most of our accounts include Fantastico which can be used to install WordPress in 3 steps that take less than a minute. Otherwise, a person can use WordPress’s “famous 5-minute installation” http://wordpress.org/download/

    • http://successcreeations.com/blog/ Chris Cree

      Heya Paul! Unless they already have a business which they are blogging in support of, I tend to agree with Michael about starting on WP.com first because the barriers of entry are so much lower on the technical skill level side.

      If their blogging takes off and they start to build an audience, it’s not too hard to find someone who has the skill to move them off of WordPress.com properly to set them up with their own self hosted site where they have more control and flexibility to monazite, etc.

      In fact I often advise people just starting out to go that route if I gather they are more hobbiest-testing-the-water types, even though I could sell them on one of those custom packages that Michael mentioned.

      The thing is, most folks who are just testing the blogging waters end up not sticking with it unfortunately. If they go the WP.com route then that’s one less site that ends up turning into a spam factory because the software on the abandoned blog doesn’t get updated and gets hacked.

      • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

        I agree, it is not difficult to move. I did it myself and learned a whole lot in the process since I had never done it before. But there were other things that were challenging to me (and there still are!) If I had questions I would ask the tech people at my hosting company, I’d ask on twitter, or I would Google it.

        Honestly? I am still learning a lot. And for me, I would rather learn to do it myself then pay someone to do it. Maybe down the road, after all this self-education, I can become a consultant, eh? :)

        And having said all this, if you are not a patient person with learning or if you don’t have the funds to hire someone to do it for you, it can be discouraging!

        I blogged on homeschoolblogger, than blogger, and finally moved to WordPress.com. After blogging on wp.com for a year, leaving blogging and coming back, I jumped in almost full force into getting my own domain/hosting–only because I already had that experience.

        One problem with buying a domain and hosting is that if you don’t stick with it, a perfectly good domain name sits there dormant. When I came up with the name for my blog, I did a Google search on it to make sure no one else was using it. I found a dormant WordPress.org blog with the name as a dot com. Since the dot com was already bought, I couldn’t use it–even though it was sitting there dormant. I had to go with a dot net.

        I wouldn’t suggest investing unless you know you’re gonna stick with it :). It is a good deal of work if you’re wanting to build a community and/or make money from it.

      • http://LiveIntentionally.org Paul Steinbrueck

        Chris, I think it comes down to how serious the person is about blogging. If they are really just experimenting and don’t a hosting account for an existing website, then wordpress.com is good option to consider. In that case, I strongly emphasize Michael’s second point – pay to upgrade and set up your own domain name with wordpress.com. That way all the links and search traffic are directed to your domain name instead of wordpress.com if you do decide to move.

        • http://twitter.com/clarerea Clare Rea

          Hi I’m jumping in on blogging conversation a little late but just one question – Mike talks about upgrading wordpress.com to set up your own domain name. With doing that do you only need to buy a domain name and then link it with this upgrade or do you also need to organise hosting etc. Thanks…

          • http://LiveIntentionally.org Paul Steinbrueck

            If you use wordpress.com and upgrade to use your own domain name, you just need to buy the domain and configure it for wordpress.com. Hosting is taken care of by wordpress.com.

      • http://www.charmhandbags.com Charm Handbags

        i’ve visited this site a few times now and i have to say that i find it quite great actually. keep the nice work up! 

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      Where do you suggest getting a domain name? I still have to get that…

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I use GoDaddy. However, if I didn’t have so many domain names hosted there, I would use something else. I hate their constant up-selling and relentless marketing. I also don’t like the subtle way they use sex to sell their product. I intend to switch when I get a little time.

        • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

          Yeah…that would be the reason I would not go with them if I had the choice.

        • http://twitter.com/wyclif wyclif

          I switched from GoDaddy to NameCheap for this reason. GoDaddy’s upselling is painful in the extreme. If I were their CEO I would change the way they do business and limit partnerships so as not to annoy and drive away business like that.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            Agreed. I think he is being very short-sighted. He’s killing the golden goose—his customers! I will check out NameCheap.

          • http://www.facebook.com/ScottEdwards33 Scott Edwards

            it does not matter, they are all owned in the end by one entity. all of them are under go daddy and go daddy is yet under another where the entire internet is stored in a mountainside in west virginia. the marketing of them is just an illusion. in the end, its all the same.  jus sayin’

      • http://LiveIntentionally.org Paul Steinbrueck

        Brandon, I recommend eNom.com. My company buys all our domain names for clients through them.

        • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

          Ok. I will check that one out! Thanks!

      • http://twitter.com/BobEwoldt Robert Ewoldt

        Brandon, I use GoDaddy as well, and I haven’t had a huge problem with them. Other than receiving a “special offer” from them once a week, I really don’t interact with them all that much. I actually go to their website to maintain my site less than once a month.

  • http://successcreeations.com/blog/ Chris Cree

    You are absolutely right, Michael, when you recommend folks focus on creating their content first. Growing an audience is the most critical component of blogging. Content is the biggest part. Then comes marketing your blog, which is also huge. Once a blog is up and running it’s a good idea to spend as much time marketing your blog to reach more visitors as you do writing new content.

    About the only way endless tinkering pays off is if it turns into a business with a heavy emphasis on WordPress support. If it does, as it did in my case, then the challenge becomes finding enough time to write because you are so busy working on other people’s WordPress sites. :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You are so write. I have wasted hours tinkering!

      • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

        Me too! I’m so disappointed when I fix little things for hours!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Chris! Thanks for your inputs. As a starter, I am concentrating on quality content . I think marketing component could chime in later.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I understand completely what you’re saying. But for me, I love the tinkering. I’ve tweaked my own site all on my own,with a little help from the Standard Theme forums…. ok, a lot of help from the forums.

      But now I can do a lot of things on my own. It’s helped with my learning curve, and it’s something I love to do. End result? Lots of saved money, but it’s probably not a route for everyone…

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I link doing this stuff too. It is a great stress reliever. But, trust me, we are in the minority!

      • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

        I love the tinkering too…and the accomplishment of creating something or making it better. I am also one that usually wants something slightly different than an out-of-the-box product – so, I am always looking at how to do something a bit better.

        The hard part is not letting this take too much of my priority time. It is so easy to get lost for hours in trying to make one little thing work the way I want it to.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          I agree. But sometimes I think it’s ok to lose myself in it. It helps me blow off some stress.

          • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

            So true. Creating stuff, tinkering, solving a problem…is energizing to me – especially if it is something that I am wanting to do and on my own timeline.

  • http://theperkinsblog.net MichaelDPerkins

    I tell people often that if they start they should just go with wp.com and upgrade to their own domain. I think too many people jump into blogging and think they want to to do it on a regular basis. Only to find out later that it’s not for them. So then they are stuck with a domain and host that they don’t need.

    I would also add have fun. As silly as that sounds, if it’s not fun or becomes a job, then they should reconsider doing it or not.

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      True…I come across so many blogs that stop with the 3rd post!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Michael! Many just start to blog without any objective. And, as s result they back off after certain posts. Consistency is a key factor.

  • Prem

    very nicely said Micheal..i agree 100%. I used to be that person who jumped to a self hosted blog and left halfway twice!!! I spend so much time on the layouts and add ons of the blog that once i was done with it, i actually did not what i was going to write.
    Now im on blogger, just writing on my personal thoughts, horning my writing skills while taking some time to think about where i would like to specialize at. I can totaly relate to what you said.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you. No one comes back to a blog based on great design alone. The content must be compelling and the updates must be frequent. This is job #1.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Prem! Writing for hobby and personal motivation is altogether a different proposition. I am loving that. Blog is a good platform to share our thoughts and ideas. Hope you enjoy the process

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Mike, I agree with your synopsis. Very few people have the time or the motivation to keep a blog going after the first couple of months. I usually give the same setup advice, but many of the people that ask me already have a website, so for them it’s usually just a matter of having their web person install WordPress.
    The problem I have and I’m sure many others too, is the vast variety of themes. Back when I started blogging 6 years ago, there were a dozen. Now there are literally thousands to choose from. Then the fun really starts with plugins, widgets, and now frameworks and child themes. Give me a handful… I can pick. Give me thousands and my mind explodes in frustration.

    Currently I’m looking at a redesign, and while it is fun to look at all the toys, the reality is it takes a LOT of time to get a new theme right. For example, I’ve been trying to convert to Disqus on my blog. It took 20 tries to get all my old comments exported to them, but the commenting system still doesn’t work right. I’ve e-mailed them, tweaked the settings, but have given up for the time being.

    Your last line is gold… “Too many bloggers I know spend way too much time tweaking their design and fiddling with plugins instead of writing.” My problem exactly! Unfortunately I’m addicted… I need a WordPress Anonymous!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think WordPress Anonymous would be hugely successful!

      By the way, if you upgrade Disqus to their first level of paid support (which is what I have), you will get priority attention.

  • http://www.whatsthislifefor.posterous.com PastorT

    Not to disagree with you, but I would just add that we’re not all in this to make money or get comments.

    Nothing wrong with that…..at all. I enjoy this blog and many like it, but my blog is more of a journal. I’ll never make a dime off of it, I don’t keep track of analytics, commenters/readers come and go. It’s just for me…..and that’s ok.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      No problem. I think this is even more reason to go with a hosted solution like WordPress.com.

  • Mikhen7

    This is definitely good advice. I use blogger and enjoy it but it does take a lot of time and effort to get something going correctly. I like what you sated here:

    “Can you generate high quality content on a regular basis? (And by “regular” I mean at least three times a week, minimum.)”

    I think that is the real bottom-line question new bloggers must ask. It really does take a lot of time and effort and it can come between you and your spouse (if married) if he/she is not on board with the extra time needed.

    God Bless

  • http://twitter.com/alexcostabh Alex Costa

    Completely agree. Good content and consistency is what makes a blog, the rest is pretty packaging (which in time is also important). Can’t help but think that I should suggest you make this into a series… what next? SEO, analytics? Like an advanced beginner’s guide.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I would also benefit from a series like this.

      John Saddington has done a lot of this on tentblogger.com, of course, but I would love to hear your thoughts too, Michael!

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        John is really doing amazing work on his blog. He is MUST-reading for any blogger. He provides a great balance between inspiration and how-to.

      • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

        I have gotten a lot out of John’s stuff on tentblogger.com. His series on “The Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog” (http://tentblogger.com/launch-wordpress-blog/) has covered some great material for those that are ready to take that next-level step in their blog.

  • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

    In addition to writing, I would highly recommend building a community within your readers and those who comment. It is important to create that circle of community so that it will expand as they share about your blog with their readers and so on. Show your readers you care about them by interacting with them. :) Obviously you won’t be able to answer every comment or email that comes through, but set aside some time each week to focus on it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Participating in the community also virtually eliminates trolls and spammers. It’s kind of like graffiti. It usually only happens on abandoned buildings.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        And that’s one of the things I love about your site: community. I really enjoy the conversations that spark here, and then continue on other websites as well.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    Great tips, Michael! I have my site still through the webs.com company. I really like it. Although I do not like that the commenting system does not allow visitors to plug in their own blog (it just has name and email…), I love how fast it loads! It’s very easy to manage!

    Also, I agree with what you are saying about the traffic. I only drew a little over 800 unique visitors last month (it is a lot better in stats for this month though). So for me, it is not really necessary to spend a lot on my blog. If it brings in a lot more, I will though.

    One idea that I stole from other blogs that has been working well is giving away 2 free ads per month. I do make sure these ads are ones that promote Christian blogs…. but it has been bringing a lot of traffic to my site and others!

    Another thing that has helped me recently is a premium theme. I did purchase a premium theme for my site, and it has been great!

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    This might be a good question for anyone here:
    Can you install Disqus or some other commenting system on a non-wordpress site? I mean that sitebuilders that allow very few HTML…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I don’t know, but the Disqus web site has a list of all the systems they are compatible with.

    • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com/ Gina Burgess

      I installed it on my Blogger. It works great.

  • http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/ Geoff Webb

    Again, great post, Mike. Thanks for opening up the hood a little.

    Important question for would-be bloggers: Which do you want more, to “have a blog” or to write several short articles a week—every week, every month, every year?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It reminds me of what I often hear book authors say, “I like having written, but I hate actually writing.” As for me, there are days I enjoy it and days I don’t. It can certainly be a cruel and temperamental mistress.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      That is a great question to ask! And sometimes it just takes experimenting with it to see who we really are and what reality really turns out to be.

  • ShannanP3

    Thank you for sharing this. I have had people ask me for advice on this topic in the recent days. I decided to forward them your words today. Sticking to it is key. Realizing your thoughts matter and can be a positive influence for generations – if you so choose.

    Thank you for passing on your knowledge, so we too can grow and pay-it-forward!

    ~Shannan Parker

  • ShannanP3

    Thank you for sharing this. I have had people ask me for advice on this topic in the recent days. I decided to forward them your words today. Sticking to it is key. Realizing your thoughts matter and can be a positive influence for generations – if you so choose.

    Thank you for passing on your knowledge, so we too can grow and pay-it-forward!

    ~Shannan Parker
    ShannanParker.wordpress.com

  • http://aboyandhisgod.blogspot.com/ a boy and his God

    I made it about 14 months of consistent blog posting before I stopped.

    A lot of things happened at the same time. I finally got a full time ministry job the same month my firstborn daughter was born. It came down to, ‘do I want to hold my daughter, or write?’. So I post 1/4 as much as I did before she was born.

    I still have a lot of ideas brewing, so I’m still not finished.

    But I used blogging as a bridge to get from part time work to full time ministry without going crazy.

    This was a very thought provoking post for me. Thanks for writing it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You bring up a good point. I think it is important to understand the season of life you are in and then plan your activities accordingly. I could not have been a regular blogger when my children were young and I was trying to launch a new business.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I agree with your comment about seasons. And Iwould add a bit about priorities as well. any time it comes to my writing versus my kids, my kids win. I want them to remember that Dad was always there for them, not busy with somthing else. I can always write later. I only have them for a short time. I want to experince that time fully.

      • http://www.thequietquill.blogspot.com DJ Hughes

        I wish I could have read this article two years ago when I first started with blogger. I’m a writer, not a techie, so I know I have some necessary “upgrades” to make. (I envy those of you who are both.)

        I have, however, focused my efforts on producing quality content. I post at least twice a week, and while I know it’s not as frequent as a serious blogger should be, I am consistent. And I really appreciate the acknowledgment made here that we are all in different seasons of life. I’m a mom with young children, so for now, I need to focus on quality and consistency more than frequency.

        I am committed to it though. Prior to blogging, the vast majority of my writing experience represented a formal academic voice for my post-graduate research. Blogging has provided, among other things, the opportunity to find a more natural voice through the practice of writing more fluid prose.

  • http://bladeronner.com Ron Dawson

    Excellent advice Michael. I consider myself an “expert” blogger and I still go with premium hosted wordpress.com site for my personal blog. It’s simple, flexible, offers great SEO and social media tools, and most importantly awesome up time. This cannot be overlooked. I’m sure someone of your stature is on a very solid hosting platform. But many of the inexpensive hosting platforms will put you on shared servers. I’ve been on three different services and each one at many times during the year suffers some kind of outage or extreme sluggishness (usually right when I’ve done an email campaign or my traffic grows). I just got tired of it. The people who host the WordPress.com sites host literally millions and are expert at keeping them all running. That was paramount for me. And now they’re offering premium templates by the same companies make templates for self-hosted sites.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is a hugely important point. This doesn’t sound like such a big deal until you experience the down-time. I have upgraded servers three times this past year. I had 15 separate outages in February. As a result, I am switching to a different server with backup redundancy. It will be great (I hope), but it ain’t cheap.

  • Karl Mealor

    I especially appreciated the advice about upgrading to the premium version. I wasn’t aware it was so affordable. The initial start-up cost has been a hurdle I haven’t been willing to tackle. Thanks for making us aware of this. Great advice.

  • Angela Hays

    I’m still stuck on the “why” portion. I love to write but have never set up a blog. Between being a stay-at-home mom to three kids, a small business owner, a mentor and coach to a dozen women, and an active participant in church and community life, I’ve never found a reason to take the time to blog. It sounds very appealing to me, but I’ve never found my “why”. Any suggestion in that area?

    • Joe Lalonde

      Angela, I’m right there with you. I would love to blog and write about things. I just don’t know what to write about. I think one WHY you should have is that you feel you have something that people NEED to hear.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt
  • http://www.confessionsofalegalist.com Jeremy@confessionsofalegalist

    I started blogging just 3 months ago and have found these to be true. I spent hours trying to understand how wordpress works and making attempts to customize it. Several weekend were lost just trying to set up the blog.

    Statistics are dangerous as well. I have found myself being obsessed with the rise and fall of my numbers.

    The point of blogging is to write, to express something that is on your mind and heart. It is easy to get caught up in the issues mentioned here, but they distract from the main purpose. Like all things, focusing on the work makes the work better and more enjoyable.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Amen and amen!

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      I love your words – ” The point of blogging is to write, to express something that is on your mind and heart. It is easy to get caught up in the issues mentioned here, but they distract from the main purpose.” — I can relate to what you say. Thanks for sharing Jeremy.

  • http://bentune.blogspot.com/ Ben Tune

    I was one of those people who started and stopped. I started blogging again recently, but wish I had read your post first. Now that I have started again, I would recommend a few things to help beginners.
    1. Start writing and build a pipeline before you start posting. Get into the routine first – before the pressure is on. I didn’t do this, and I am struggling to post once a week. I was totally shocked to read your three times a week statement – I have some work to do.
    2. Don’t worry too much about making the look and feel perfect at first. There’s plenty of time to tweak that later.
    3. Have some fun.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Ben! Thanks for your advice. I am taking them.

    • http://www.3hatscommunications.com davinabrewer

      ITA with having fun, great advice.

  • http://www.makingmyownwork.blogspot.com Marly

    Question: I started my blog in blogger.com four months ago, and it keeps shutting down on me for a week or so at a time. Instead of giving me my dashboard, it keeps wanting me to start a new blog. Then for no explicable reason, it works fine, until the next time it does it, and I can’t even connect with the people who could fix it at Blogger. Enough is enough.
    Is WordPress.com more computer idiot friendly? If I switch over from Blogger.com, how would you recommend I let readers know where to go to find the new one? Can I use my same name, makingmyownwork, considering it will be wordpress instead of blogspot? Do the “stats” tell me how many repeat readers I have, rather than simply telling me how many people read something? In other words…. HALP!!!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’ll let someone who is actually using WordPress.com chime in.

  • Chris Shaughness

    Michael, you summed it up beautifully. I have been writing a blog for about a year and wasn’t seeing the traffic I had hoped for, until I wrote a post that was a little edgy and was crossposted on Facebook. My blog has taken off all over the world. Prior to this post, I was going to stop blogging because it truthfully is time consuming. It is a huge commitment. One piece of advice I give to beginning bloggers who hope to be publishered authors – make your writing impeccible. Editors and agents will be looking at it!

    • Chris Shaughness

      Ha-ha, that would be “impeccable”!!

  • http://j.hn/ John Dyer

    The only change I’d make is that instead of 3 posts per week, I’d say *3 posts per month*. I rarely can keep up with blogs that post more than that.

    And it worked for me. I only post a few times per month, and I got a book deal out of it.

  • Michael

    Great post Michael. I can definitely relate to struggling with consistently blogging, as I have had a blog for about three years and there have been months where I haven’t posted a thing!

    I use Tumblr, which is mapped to a custom domain (thischangesnothing.com) and uses the Disqus commenting tool. There are also 100’s of themes available, some are premium (the one I use cost me $19) but many are free. Also, the nice thing about Tumblr is there is a free iPhone app that allows me to blog, vlog, quote and post links on the go. Additionally, there are many sites with social media bookmarking tools that incorporate a Tumblr API that allows you to post links to other blogs, sites, etc. to your own blog with the click of a button.

    My reason for blogging is more from a desire to create a sort of online scrapbook/journal. I don’t have a goal of thousands of readers, maybe one day, but with two small children, a one-car family, a more than full-time job, etc. it is one thing I cannot fit into a regular schedule right now. So, I use it to curate interesting items and from time to time I post on things that I’m passionate about.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Tumblr is a great platform. I don’t use it myself, but I have several friends who do and swear by it.

  • http://todaymade.com/blog Garrett Moon

    Good advice Michael. I think you are absolutely right. Learning to write consistent content is an absolute must. For me, it was key. Once I had that, I could a nailed down my core topics and then finally find my blogging home. I was always on self hosted wordpress but didn’t really customize much until I had my feet under me.

  • http://twitter.com/HelenLeeAuthor Helen Lee

    I launched my website/blog (www.themissionalmom.com) in the fall, a couple of months before my book came out. Here were the steps I took:

    1) Domain name through GoDaddy.com (yes, feel the same “ick” factor as many of you but the cost won me over)

    2) Purchased a webhosting account at InMotionHosting.com for $5.95/month (covers two domain names)

    3) Purchased a theme through OrganicThemes.com for $70, which uses a WordPress platform. Followed their instructions for how to upload the theme onto my site. I’m not a heavy tech person, and there was a learning curve, but I think it’s important to be able to become comfortable with the technology piece in order to have control over what you are doing in the blog. InMotionHosting.com had great tech support–you can just online chat with a technician any time you want, and they were very helpful with my initial questions. (OrganicThemes.com support was not as easy–you have to post questions on a forum board and wait for responses, but those were also helpful)

    4) One those elements were in place, I played around with the theme template to get the look and feel I wanted on my page. So although I use a template, there are enough customizable elements to help the site feel as though it’s not just a cookie-cutter replica of other sites.

    5) When I reached the point where I could no longer do what I wanted to on the site, then I outsourced the more complicated programming to tweak the site. I have used BigOceanStudios.com and have really appreciated Marc Miller’s work. He is very reasonable cost-wise, helps me find other cost-efficient solutions as I do not have tons of money to put into the website, and is someone I can bounce ideas off of.

    6) Total outlay to build my site has been less than $1K, perhaps about $800? My monthly fee is just the web hosting through InMotion. I hire Marc when I need on an hourly basis but now that the site is up and running that hasn’t happened much.

    Now it is really all on me to keep generating the content! I will think about upgrading the site once I hit traffic numbers that justify it. I’m glad I didn’t go a more expensive route to start, as I was initially thinking about doing. This way has taken me a little bit of time in terms of getting through the initial set-up, but learning to do so has helped me have the confidence to know how to work the admin areas of the site, which I think is good for any blogger to understand.

    Thanks for the great post as always!

  • http://www.jdeddins.com JD Eddins

    This is some great advice. I would add that you don’t need to publish everything that you write. I have a set of Moleskine notebooks that I keep all of my blog thoughts it. It has titles and summaries for future posts, outlines, and drafts of things that I may want to include on the blog some day.
    Before I went live with the blog I had approximately 100 posts ideas written down. Some of them became posts, some of them got combined because those ideas could not stand on their own, and some are still in development. But doing this gave me the confidence that I could keep a steady stream of content on the blog.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is a great suggestion. I keep all my blog ideas in Evernote: one note per idea. That way I can add content as I think about it. When I get ready to write, everything is in one place.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      I have been doing something similar as well. I use Microsoft OneNote to collect information and ideas. This is becoming a great incubator. Some of the ideas I have written may never make it to the blog; but, when inspiration hits, I have found that the key is to get the idea or concept (and any basic supporting information) written down before it fades.

  • http://www.worddazzle.com Wendy Scott

    Another terrific post – thanks! I would add that deciding between a hosted vs. self-hosted option depends in part on the purpose of the blog. I blog to promote my freelance writing and editing business, so I went self-hosted WordPress because I wanted my blog integrated with my website using my own domain, worddazzle.com. If you’re planning to blog for family and friends, for self-expression, or plan to just have a blog and not a full website, then a hosted option might be better.

    One of the things I’ve learned is that while it’s tempting to try to do everything yourself to get it done quickly and inexpensively, sometimes it’s just better to focus on the content and let a pro do the design and techie stuff. I’m tech-savvy and had no trouble setting up my site on BlueHost (they make it really easy to install WordPress). But, I’ve spent countless hours trying to customize themes and tweaking things from design to plug-ins to sidebar code, that in retrospect would have been better spent working on refining my blogging strategy and goals and creating content. I learned my lesson and have hired someone to redesign my site since I’ve never really been happy with the look of it. The moral of the story is to stick to your strengths and outsource the rest of it.

  • http://seniormusingsmoments.blogspot.com/ Glenda

    I love all the advice I’m reading here – a big help for beginning bloggers like me. Google’s free Blogger works fine for me at this stage of my blogging. I started blogging for two reasons. 1) to fine-tune my writing skills and get feedback from some fellow writers, and 2) journal writing has always been my passion and this is a quick way to give my family and friends a glimpse of a side of me they don’t know about. The only problem with Blogger is you have to sign in to leave comments and a lot of people don’t take the time and effort to do that. I know they are reading my blogs faithfully by the “page views” stats, but they either don’t like it enough to comment, or they’re too lazy (grin) to sign in.

    • Glenda

      Sorry – it’s not blogger.com, it’s blogspot.com.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have found the sign-in process to be a big deterrent to commenting. It creates more “friction” for your readers.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FJRLITL5IEFHDDFURAESLXOOZ4 Jim Whitaker

    I have to admit that this is some compelling advice. When I started blogging, I was not doing it as much for attention and hits as much as something that would allow me to express myself and meet a goal of setting up a blog. It has lost its luster for me now and again, and I think that is because I have been caught up in the social medial buzz (it is a lot easier to post 140 characters or less than 3 or 4 paragraphs. I have been spending time praying about where or not this is even something to continue, or if I need to revamp and move it into a different direction. You post today has really given me some insight and things to think about. Thanks for thought provoking insights.

  • Joe Lalonde

    I really appreciate the advice given in this blog! I’ve been thinking of starting a blog, I just have no idea what I would want the blog to be about. I think I’ve been more overwhelmed with all the choices out there!

    The 4 recommendations that you give seem like pretty solid advice. It gives specifics so people can get up and running fast. Once you’re running, you can decide on what solutions may work best for you.

    I’m going to keep this article handy for when I do take the plunge.

  • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com/ Gina Burgess

    Thank you for this insightful post, Michael. We are discussing this very topic right now in my group on LinkedIn: Christian Authors, Editors, Publishers, and Bloggers. It is so interesting to see how each person extols the virtues of their chosen blog host.

    Since it is such a huge pain to move a blog the decision is crucial. I chose Blogger and have been very happy as Blogger has “grown with the times” with stat counter and spam blocker, and no ads. Plus there are hundreds of blog themes because you can easily add your own photo background. The sky is the limit.

    I recommend setting up TweetMe for automatic updates to Twitter, as well as Networked Blogs for Facebook updates of your blog entries. That has helped build even more traffic to my blog.

  • http://twitter.com/AndreaAresca Andrea Aresca

    I am so happy to read that I did almost all you suggest! I just need to update to a Premium Version.
    Thanks for your encouragement to WRITE. It’s so easy to loose time in less important things…

  • http://blog.christophercarter.com Christopher Carter

    Michael, another great post and observation. I’ve been blogging since before it was called blogging. We called it newsletters then albeit it was only slightly different. Electronic publishing and the web has been a boon for all of us. I’m a bit of an odd man out. I self host and use an open source product called blogengine.net. It’s free to download and uses Microsoft’s .NET technology. It’s very easy to set up but can be customized too. It also has plenty of themes to choose from. I’m a veteran of the tech business so it was a good option for me.
    Your most important comment was about remaining focused on the writing. It is a commitment. Perseverance is required. If “writing is in you” then you will be unable to resist doing it.

  • http://twitter.com/jennyarnez Jenny Arnez

    I just started going through Problogger’s “31 Days to Build a Better Blog”. I’m finding it very helpful as it’s giving me a road map to follow. I wish I’d started with it. http://www.problogger.net/31dbbb-workbook/

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      I have seen that article too…I just haven’t jumped into the challenge yet. I may have to try it. Sometimes we just need that little bit of guidance.

  • http://www.StephanieLJones.com Stephanie L. Jones

    Michael, thank you! Just last week, I posted a question on fb asking for WP advice and help. Only about three people responded, and they didn’t tell me much!

    I desperately need a new website and I noticed that a lot of people are using blogs instead of traditional websites. My question there and still today is what is the benefit of having a (WP) blog vs. a traditional website? Blogs can be managed by the owner, but so can traditional websites today. Help me out, please!

    Also, your post sent me researching WP.com vs. WP.org, which I knew nothing about. I found this (http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/) explaining some differences. I see that I can’t add plug-ins or change code with WP.com, but they handle back-ups and spam. However, I am responsible for spam and doing my own back-ups with WP.org. For a ZERO-tech person like me, that’s frightening. What’s are some of the greatest benefits of going WP.org? Is there a company that you’d recommend to set-up my WP blog?

    THANKING YOU SO MUCH!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      If your content is going to change frequently (and it should if you want to attract a growing audience), then you need a blog rather than a static site.

      The biggest benefit of wp.org is the amount of customization you can do. You can basically make it do anything you want.

      In terms of set-up, I would recommend MilkEngine.com.

      • http://www.StephanieLJones.com Stephanie L. Jones

        Thank you so much! You just helped me with 1 of my 6 goals for 2011 (Re-launch my website and brand). Agape!

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Thanks Gina! I am too part Networked Blogs and I find it useful

  • http://twitter.com/douggamble douggamble

    excellent advise. I’m approaching my 4 year anniversary of blogging and what you suggest is pretty much how I started. I’ve had heavy writing seasons and light writing seasons and the thing that has helped me the most along the way is continuing to ask, “What’s the purpose?” I understand your advice is for the technical side of things but until I answer the purpose question everything else is pointless. I know you address this in other blogging advice related posts, but wanted to throw it out there. thanks!

  • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

    The most important thing for would-be bloggers? Only do it if your PASSIONATE about it. Otherwise, it becomes a relentless obligation.

    For anyone who IS serious about it, here are some great resources I’ve found:
    1. tentblogger.com – great advice and resources on blogging, and he has a terrific startup series that is packed with valuable information and how-to’s

    2. Hosting: mediaTemple.net – They are a little higher-end than some people may need, but if you’re serious about your blog, this is your answer. They host NBC, ABC, Starbucks, etc. They also host two great blogs called joshuamhood.com and michaelhyatt.com. ;)

    3. Use Social Media – If you’re serious about getting your message out there and growing your blog, USE SOCIAL MEDIA. It’s a great way to connect with people, spread your message, and generate traffic to your site.

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    You have really changed my blog/how I blog! As always, great advice.

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    You have really changed my blog/how I blog! As always, great advice.

  • Anonymous

    I bought my domain name thinking I had to use it. If I had to do it all over again, I would have started with WordPress.com or Blogger. I did spend a lot of time tweaking it. Writing is important & you need to set realistic goals. I have a demanding full time job with lots of travel. Posting everyday was unrealistic for me, but I tried. I looked at blogs I liked to read and found out the plug-ins or themes they used. I spent the first year learning and writing. Then I realized there is always something new to learn.

    I didn’t intend to advertise, but Forbes Woman was starting a blogging network and part of joining was allowing advertisement. I had to change themes when I joined. I use Thesis but plan to change this year. I’ve used it for 2 years now.

    When I started I didn’t know what the RSS button meant. I stated by paying a company to design and help me learn. I got ripped off. I found “my” original design they created in the free templates on WordPress.org. They changed the colors and fonts.

    Problogger.net was a valuable resource as well as your blog. The forums on WordPress.org are great. Most theme designers have a support forum. I always join those to find solutions.

  • http://worldofmusick.wordpress.com Ashley Musick

    Thanks for these tips Michael! I actually signed up and created my own wordpress blog last week. I didn’t go the wrote of self-hosted. I’m a broke missionary, so free is best… especially when this is just a trial run for me. I want to know if I can create content that benefits others, shares a story, and generates influence to fight some of the problems in the world.

    As I was researching how it all worked, I saw that you could probably drop a load of cash on this stuff, but that you could also make a load as well. I’m not planning on doing either of those right away.

    I think something that has motivated me to start blogging more is reading other blogs on a consistent basis. One of those is your blog Michael. Thanks for writing!

  • http://worldofmusick.wordpress.com Ashley Musick

    Thanks for these tips Michael! I actually signed up and created my own wordpress blog last week. I didn’t go the wrote of self-hosted. I’m a broke missionary, so free is best… especially when this is just a trial run for me. I want to know if I can create content that benefits others, shares a story, and generates influence to fight some of the problems in the world.

    As I was researching how it all worked, I saw that you could probably drop a load of cash on this stuff, but that you could also make a load as well. I’m not planning on doing either of those right away.

    I think something that has motivated me to start blogging more is reading other blogs on a consistent basis. One of those is your blog Michael. Thanks for writing!

  • Jack Lynady

    I would ask myself, how much do I currently write (I.e. Journal, post on FB, text, tweet, etc.)? To blog is to bring a message and you should see that pattern already existing.

    • Joe Lalonde

      That can be a good point Jack. If you’re not writing right now, will you write when you have a platform?

  • http://shortansassy.blogspot.com/2011/03/my-heart-breaking.html Jncutright

    Excellent post, Michael.
    I am enjoying reading your blog every day – though when I take a week off I feel overwhelmed. You certainly have gumption – blogging every day.
    I am an avid journalist (not by profession) and am finding blogging to be another ‘outlet’ for my ‘need to write’. Sometimes I find myself burdened with a subject that I want to tell others about and my blog gives me that area to do so. I only blog about once a month and feel a little like I might drive my 9 subscribers away if I blog more than that. I never expect to make any money (I use google’s blogger – and don’t have ads), nor do I expect to amass a following. I just like to get myself out there. If I can reach or touch one life with my ‘inspirational (hopefully) writing’, then I am satisfied. If I can reach more, then that would be fabulous, but I don’t feel a need to ‘try’ at this point in time.
    I blog for enjoyment. I can’t imagine having a deadline or a schedule – another reason I use when I think of being published someday. I’m terrified of deadlines – and letting people down.
    Maybe someday – I’ll feel called to commit.
    Until then, I refer folks over to your blog for daily motivational reading – and mine for once a month ‘gouge-your-heart-out, in-depth, too-long, emotional and passionate writings’.

  • http://familiesmakingfortunes.com Terri

    Great post Michael!
    The only thing I would add as advice for new bloggers is to write out a plan for posts. Decide what days you’re going to post. If you’re going to post 3 x’s a week, put it on your calendar. Otherwise it’s too easy to forget to post and before you know it four months have passed. I also sat down and wrote a list of about 25 topics I wanted to write about. When I am staring at the blank screen and can’t seem to think of anything to say, rather than saying, “I can’t think of anything to say,” (yes, I have seen a few posts like that) I can pull out my list and simply choose a topic for that day, or even a series on that same topic.

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com womenlivingwell

    I’ve been blogging for almost 3 years in Blogger – ugh! lol!!!

    I JUST emailed a designer TODAY to start the process of migrating over to WordPress! I was told by another bigger blogger that the host Blogger sometimes crashes when you get too big of a following (and you lose everything – scary) and my numbers are growing steadily – so it’s time to move. (I’m at 123,000 pageviews a month according to google analytics)

    Thanks for the great advice above – I can’t wait to become a little more “professional” with my non-profit blog!

    Courtney

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Those are fantastic stats, Courtney. Make sure you use VaultPress. It backs up everything automatically every hour. It is made by Automattic, the same people who created WordPress.

      • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com womenlivingwell

        Thank you for the recommendation of Vault Press!! I really really appreciate it!!!
        Courtney

  • http://kristenmarble.com/ Kristen

    Thank you for this. As a relatively new blogger, I decided awhile back the best thing I could do would be to just put my head down and write. How would you suggest finding our audience? My blog is a mishmash of posts about parenting 10 kids, 7 of whom are internationally adopted; ministry thoughts coming out of being a ministry leader and seminary student; devotional posts; homeschooling and more. Maybe it’s too broad to consistently interest anyone. Maybe I need to focus and narrow down. I just know I’ve got a message in me, but haven’t yet found my audience!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I would analyze your stats and see which posts are resonating the best with your audience. I would then narrow the focus to those kinds of posts. Be a student of what works.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Something I would recommend is committing to a specific time frame as you start out, such as 6 months or a year. That way you can evaluate more objectively instead of emotionally after your emthusiasm stats t wane.

  • http://twitter.com/katdish katdish

    My advice to new bloggers would be to give yourself time to find your voice. For months I felt like I was only talking to myself and a few occasional visitors (which I was, actually). There’s a temptation to try to be like (insert successful blogger’s name here), but I hope you won’t. If you write well and write passionately, you will find an audience.

  • http://twitter.com/drrandywillis Randy Willis

    Good advice!

    I started out with TypePad a number of years ago but switched to a hosted WordPress.org a few years ago. Like some others, I’ve also spent too much time, at times, tweaking.

    I will say, though, that while design isn’t the most important thing, poor design is a real turn off for me (I prefer minimalist designs, myself). Conversely, good/minimal design (I know it’s subjective) keeps me on the page a little longer and gives the content a chance to catch my attention.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Less is more. Great design won’t save weak content. But bad design can work against great content. I think starting with a minimalist design is best, too.

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com womenlivingwell

    I also recommend going to blogging conferences. They cover so much great stuff while getting to network!

    I am speaking at The Relevant Conference for women bloggers this October in PA:

    http://therelevantconference.com

    It was a great time last year! I LOVE my community!
    Courtney

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have never been to a blogging conference, but I am planning to attend BlogWorld this spring. I can’t wait!

  • http://twitter.com/jeremyers1 Jeremy Myers

    One reason new bloggers quit is because it seems like no one is reading. To help with this, I recently created (one week ago), a free blogging community at GraceGround.com. Each person who joins gets their own category to write in, kind of like Beliefnet or Patheos, except without the requirement to be a published author.

    It is a Christian blogging community, so there is a real basic doctrinal statement people have to agree to, but for anyone thinking of starting a blog, this might also be a good way to give it a try. We use WordPress and the Standard Theme.

    There are only a few of us right now on the site, but are always open to other bloggers joining us. Until we get too large, I am personally committing to reading and commenting on every single post, and encourage the other bloggers to do the same.

    • Karl Mealor

      Will blogs become obsolete soon? Do twenty-somethings and younger read blogs?

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I don’t think so. My blog traffic just keeps going up. I think people are reading now more than ever.

      • Joe Lalonde

        I feel 20-somethings read blogs. I’m at the tail end of being a 20-something and I’ve just found a passion for reading them lately.

      • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylereed

        i am a 20 something and I read blogs all the time

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Group blogs are terrific. That is how many of the biggest ones work (e.g., Lifehacker, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, etc.)

  • http://www.fbcgallatin.org Larry Yarborough, Jr.

    Thanks for the advice. I’m new, not sure if I can create a loyal base – or even high quality content – but am trying. Your “prophesy” about consistency waning is a good encouragement to me. Plus, I’m fortunate to have some close specialty helpers on my team for feedback and encouragement.
    LY

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  • Jennifer

    This is a great post and one that I have gained much from. I started my blog on blogger and have been seriously considering kicking it up a notch. Thanks for the post!

  • http://twitter.com/writingmomof3 Mary Parker Bernard

    I believe this is absolutely the best advice. I would just add that clarity about WHY you want to begin the blog is key. Is it a hobby? Or do you want to start a business? Begin with the end in mind. A blog hobby requires very little monetary investment and a more relaxed approach. A blog business can still be begun low-cost but will have a different strategy moving forward.

  • Anonymous

    I made the move from Typepad to wordpress.org just over a year ago. I didn’t think the transition was extremely difficult, however, I did invest in having someone smarter than I make the move. I am very pleased that I made the move.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The tools may be better now. When I converted three years ago, I had real problems.

  • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylereed

    I usually like to say, before starting. Write a blog post a day for a month or two without ever hitting publish.
    This will help you develop your voice, find your niche and see if you want to actually blog.

  • Angk

    Hello Michael, I have learned a lot from your tips on blogging. I appreciate all the work you do to help us all improve. I did exactly what you suggested in your blog today – about three years ago. My blogging purpose was to keep connected with friends. We travel, via motor yacht, on the west coast of North America, so our friends are scattered far and wide. In the process, we learned that many people are intrigued by our lifestyle and are following us – living vicariously through us – via the blog. So, my blog is growing a little at a time, as the word gets out. I know my next step is one you keep talking about and that is to post more often. That is my goal for this year. Just a note to newby bloggers, it takes time to set up a blog, even one that gives you all the basics. So, be prepared to take it a step at a time, and tweak it as you grow in blogging. I am still fine tuning mine, and am considering a new theme. The more I learn the more I want to improve.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I understand that! I often get blank looks when I talk about improving SEO, or tweaking some CSS… It’s actually kinda amusing.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I understand completely what you’re saying. But for me, I love the tinkering. I’ve tweaked my own site all on my own,with a little help from the Standard Theme forums…. ok, a lot of help from the forums.

    But now I can do a lot of things on my own. It’s helped with my learning curve, and it’s something I love to do. End result? Lots of saved money, but it’s probably not a route for everyone…

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    100% agreed!

  • Anonymous

    You have to be devoted. Also, you HAVE to be patient. You don’t just start gaining readers overnight. It’s a process.

    • Joe Lalonde

      I think that’s the hard thing for a lot of bloggers. They want all the readers overnight. It can be a long and hard process to gain readers.

      • Anonymous

        Yes it can. And if you persevere through it, the readers will come.

  • http://www.thechristianmanifesto.com C.E. Moore

    I think you’re so right on this. I began The Christian Manifesto 3 years ago and the key has been consistent content from day one while also knowing my limits. That built our audience, which brought ad revenue, which brought the ability to upgrade, which brought our ability to spin off a secondary site, which we’re hoping will wash, rinse, and repeat.

    Another thing to remember about blogging is that this is the world through your eyes, whether you’re blogging about being a single mom, riffing on pop culture, or reviewing music. There is often a lot of pressure to conform to a certain mold when it comes to blogging, which I believe squelches a person’s unique voice. And let’s be honest, there are a million blogs out there. What makes you unique is going to be one of your top selling points in a congested world.

    That’s my two cents.

    C.E. Moore
    The Christian Manifesto
    http://www.thechristianmanifesto.com

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Agreed. Having a unique voice is key. It too me several years of writing to find mine. Once you do, you can really write—and comment—quickly.

      • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

        Have you written a blog post about that (finding your voice in writing)? I think a lot of struggling writers could benefit from that idea…

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          I haven’t, Josh. I’m not sure I have the expertise. I’ll have to think about that. Thanks.

          • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

            New York Times best-selling author, #1 ranked leadership blog in 2009… I
            think that qualifies as expertise enough. ;)

  • Dave Fessenden

    Michael, that is a great post! Wish you had done it sooner — I started my blog (concepttocontractbook.com) a couple months ago, and wow, is it hard to keep going with it! But I’m determined. I was able to buy my domain name through Lime Domains for $10/yr. and got access to WordPress.org through that — quite a deal.

  • Anonymous

    The best advice is to create memorable, useful content. Mike does a great job of that here, which is why all of you amazing people keep coming back.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Mary. You are kind to say so.

  • http://twitter.com/tanyaott1 Tanya Ott

    I, too, am a new blogger. We just started our family food blog http://www.necessarypleasures.blogspot.com in January and have found it’s a lot like birthing a baby — so many choices, so much writing — my sleep quotient’s gone down dramatically!

    I like the suggestion of one of your commenters (Doug Hibbard) that new bloggers write 10-15 posts before they actually launch their blog. I think many people launch before really knowing how much work it is! In my day job I’m a public radio journalist/editor. I have community members and other print journalists ask about trying NPR-style feature reporting. I train them, but they often do only one story then decide it’s just too much work. I think blogging – long term – is much the same… though once you do get down a rhythm it gets easier.

    My question for you: you talk about staying focused, writing compelling content, and building an audience before you worry about self-hosting, etc. When do you know you’ve hit the tipping point?

    As I said, I’m on blogger right now, but I have lots of people pushing me towards WordPress self-hosted and other options. I don’t think there’s anything preventing me from sharing my stats (esp since I’m not “monetized” yet). In just 7 weeks of blogging we’ve written 62 posts, are up to 4,500 pageviews (wish I had unique visitor stats!) and 100+ comments. How do I know when I should seriously think about a world beyond blogger?

    Thanks much! Appreciate your advice.

    Tanya

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Tanya, I think it has to do with whether or not you are willing to invest in your site or want to pay as you go. 4,500 pageviews is great, but not enough (yet) to monetize. I think BuySellAds, for example, requires that you have at least 40,000 unique visitors a month before they will accept you into their network. At that point, you can usually generate a couple of thousand a month.

  • http://katieax.blogspot.com/ Katie

    I began blogging my freshman year in college and had only a handful of posts a month until my junior when I became obsessed… I’ve now toned it down to three or four posts a week. I’ve seen my writing improve dramatically since I started. It keeps me focused on producing well-written, relatively short (that’s still up for debate) pieces. It helps me sort out my thoughts and, most importantly, has helped me grow spiritually. Producing three to four posts a week, over half of them are about my walk with God. The need/ desire to talk about what God’s been teaching me keeps me accountable. It also requires me to make sure the other half of my posts are consistent with what I’m saying.

    Katie

  • http://www.cdenning.com Chris Denning

    You’re right, great content is king. And right behind that, consistency is key. That’s catchy.

    Content is king.
    Consistency is key.

    And I think your hidden nugget here is that this will not happen over night. It takes time, building trust and patience. Good post.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It definitely takes time. That’s the dirty little secret. There are very few overnight successes.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidSchober David Schober

    Perfect timing as today I launched mine! It’s basic and a work in progress, but due to the comments of my twitter posts, I needed to get some content out and get the widgets going later.

  • Lisa

    Love the picture and your advice. Will share with others who ask how to get started!

  • http://twitter.com/KempEquine Lisa Kemp

    I fully agree! I’ve been blogging for about a year now, but wrote about horse industry marketing for about 5 years before that in print. I’ve got a WordPress.com hosted template (free), and my URLs point to the WordPress URL. At first I used the URL gripper function, but turned it off because I wanted to be able to direct people to certain posts using social media, and couldn’t if it was always the same URL. Even though I wrote for years about the same topics (e.g., primarily improving horsebiz marketing with use of technology and word of mouth) I spent some time finding my blog’s ‘voice’ before I started regularly sharing posts. I’ve got a small but dedicated and interactive readership, and my analytics are going in the right direction – up. It can be easy to get discouraged, but in the case of blogging, I think ‘slow & steady’ wins the race. I’m in it for the long haul, so as long as there’s forward progress I’m happy. Thank you for an excellent post and some very worthwhile points, good job!
    Lisa

  • Mike

    Hey Mike…appreciate your insider’s info on blogging. Perfect timing! Just started one about a month ago and need all the help I can get. See ya on the Create cruise. Mike Harris

  • Anonymous

    Great post, as always! I appreciate that you consistently cover the basics….of leadership, technology, blogging, etc. As a new blogger, this perspective is fabulous. Very convicting to understand that the fundamental element of success (as with almost anything) is the least glamorous | easiest to overlook. But affirming in the same.

    We can rationalize our need for bells and whistles, but they’re really a distraction from the core tenet. Content.

    I agree with the comment on keeping 5-10 posts in the bank, ahead of you, so that the pressure is never paralyzing. I am working on 4-5 posts per week, and have this weeks uploaded and scheduled to auto-post. Keeps me accountable, but provides breathing room for creativity of the next week’s batch.

    Would love for you to post on the elements of building an audience, Michael. Commenting on other blogs | guest posting | cross-social media presence, etc.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I will keep your post idea in mind, Laurie. There is some stuff in the archives, but I will consider an update. Thanks.

      • http://www.lauriebaedke.com Laurie Baedke

        Appreciate it, Michael!

  • Anonymous

    Michael, I’d even get more basic. Content is key, so before even figuring out how to publish it, figure out if you have it. Start by setting up an Evernote account, create a notebook for “blog posts” and get at least 10 in there before moving on to publishing platform.

    I’d vote for Posterous over WordPress.com as the best place to start. Why put learning the WP interface between you and publishing while still a testing the medium? You can post to Posterous from email and never touch the backend. But if you do, the dashboard is simple and has some great intro analytics tools.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Tumblr is another option. You can post via email on all of them, including WordPress.com. The first question I would ask is how easy is it to export my posts and then import them into self-hosted WordPress. If you are successful and want to upgrade, this is a must.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks Michael. I didn’t know email was an option in WP. I just know that I gave up on blogging after getting wrapped up in the admin of WordPress. It’s helped a great deal in training clients on the platform, but not for furthering my discipline to write. This time around, my approach has been your “Step 4″ and little else.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          You might double-check me on that. I have never tried it myself.

  • http://twitter.com/storylinewriter Gary Hackney

    Michael,
    This post is so awesome. I have followed you and some others who offer good blogging advice, but there are some many options and variables, it is still daunting. For someone like me who is almost ready to launch, this step 1,2,3 process is very helpful.
    Thanks so much

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    $1,000/month??? I’ve had a self-hosted WP.org blog for almost two years, and I spend exactly $4.99 /month on the hosting fee, plus $11.99/year for my domain name. True, I designed my own theme and I do all the maintenance tinkering myself, but there are plenty of free themes to choose from that require no maintenance.

    I agree that frequent posting is important (which I don’t do), but irrespective of how frequently one creates new content, I see no reason for spending more than five bucks a month using the self-hosted version unless one buys a 24-karat golden keyboard for writing one’s posts … are you using a golden keyboard?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      What’s is your traffic load? Mine didn’t start out costing that much either.

      By the way, the $1,000/month is not just server costs. I pay $150 a month for basic hosting at MediaTemple. That is a virtual dedicated server with as much RAM as they offer. (The next step is a dedicated physical server.) In addition to that (as I mentioned in the post), I have other costs: server administration and maintenance, design work, newsletter management, analytics, software licenses, etc. It adds up.

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

        My traffic load is EL (extra light). Are you suggesting that once I cross the 100 hits a day threshold, my expenses will soar?

        Of course, if your traffic load is such that it warrants splurging on dedicated virtual or physical servers, you’re obviously serious about blogging and the extra expense is worth it, but I don’t see how that has anything to do with whether you use hosted or self-hosted.

  • Joelstaylor

    Michael, you really summed it up nicely here and helped me see that I don’t need to jump in as I am a father of two, husband and busy account executive. As much as I want to get in all of this, the time and desire is simply not there and your article absolutely cemented this for me. I figure go the free wordpress route now, should it continue strongly, I can always move up. Thanks for your two cents here, very helpful.

  • Duke Dillard

    Thanks Michael, this answers one of the questions I wanted to ask you at Catalyst West. Sorry we did not get to connect. This is right in my wheelhouse. Well done. I have a much better idea of how to progress.

  • http://twitter.com/ThatGuyKC K.C. Pro

    Such a great post! Thank you for calling out how addictive blogging can be and how the expenses can mount.

    Better to create quality, sustainable content than go off like a roman candle and burn out.

  • http://www.dadlife.net kevin

    I think, for me, it’s been important to have a plan. I’m not naturally a planner and, after starting/writing a dad blog for a few months, I was totally lost on what I was doing. I took some time off (ok, a long time – 8 months), consulted with some different people and re-started the blog under a completely different name. I feel like I have a much better idea of where I’m going with it and a much higher commitment level.

    It has also helped to make it more of a community, but encouraging guest posts. This depends on your platform, but it helps take some of the pressure off and generates more of an “ownership” or sorts among readers.

    Good stuff!

  • Anonymous

    I think this is definitely the way to go… I started out on Blogger (and blogged there for two years), building my writing habit, html/css skills, and audience little by little. I’m finally getting ready to make the jump to WP this month, but because I started “free” I was able to save up enough money to make the transition without having to pay anything “out of pocket” for hosting and domain registry costs.

    I would highly advise making your blog pay you before you pay to blog.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    I don’t spend anything on mine, but I definitely put some time in it. I’ve been told. Too much!

  • http://www.katieganshert.blogspot.com Katie Ganshert

    I keep hearing how WordPress generates so many more hits than Blogger. I use blogger. I have an okay following – nothing monumental – but a good start since my first book won’t hit shelves until 2012. Do you recommend making the switch from blogger to wordpress? I’d hate to lose the followers I have!

    Thanks for the advice.

    It was interesting to read your comment about three times a week minimum. For a while now, I’ve post 2 x a week. My life was getting too crazy and I had to downsize. Since I wasn’t willing to downsize the time I spend on learning the craft of fiction and working on my novels, I decided to let go of my Wednesday posts. I felt like it was the right thing for me to do at the time. I figured I’d rather do two quality posts a week, than three not so good ones.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think if you can be consistent with two posts a week, that is a great start. Consistency is more important than frequency.

      I don’t think you have to lose any followers. You can start a new blog on WordPress and then post one last time on your old blog, directing them to the new one.

      • Katie Ganshert

        Thanks!

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    The price of a blog is not coming down on the traffic…No matter how much traffic you have! One can have a free blog and receive just as much traffic as a $3,000 per month blog.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    What your link?

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    Yes. I was turned down for my amazing traffic of 800 per month. I don’t know why they turned me down? haha…I didn’t know that was required when I signed up though! :)

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    You have a great name for your blog!

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    Do you (or anyone here…) know of any CSS codes that could make my comments display larger? I’ve been trying to find one that will do that…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m sorry, I don’t.

      • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

        Oh I’m sorry. I meant to ask if there are any CSS codes to make the comment button show up larger than just a small text reading “Comments:___”

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          It depends if the text is a graphic or actual text. If the former, CSS won’t change it.

          • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

            It is an actual text. What do you suggest I should try?

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            Honestly, depending on what tags are being used, etc., it could be any number of things. I’m afraid I can’t help you. Sorry.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    I’m a teenager, and I read blogs… I have many friends that do as well. I don’t think it is on the decline at all with any age group.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    Is Vaultpress a free service? I might be interested in that…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Nope. I think it’s $50 a month.

  • http://twitter.com/jonwellman Jon Wellman

    I am on WordPress.com and am so thankful for it. I know that if I went self-hosted that I would obsess about the minute details of the design and upkeep. The .com WP is just fine for me. I have no intention of selling ads, as I consider jonwellman.com a ministry that corresponds with my vocational calling (music and outreach pastor). And if it goes down, it goes down for MANY other people. I don’t have to foot the bill for a fix.

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  • http://www.thedailywalk.net Adam

    #1 is to just have fun doing it.
    Also, do not go into blogging thinking you will create a super blog over night. It takes time for a blog to grow.

  • http://www.walkwiththewise.wordpress.com Gail

    Thanks for this post Michael. My blog is just 3 weeks old so it’s very timely for me.
    Thanks also for everyone’s insight and comments. I’d prefer to learn from other’s mistakes than make my own :)

  • Anonymous

    You touched on it, but if you’re going to start a blog – have something to say, and have fun. Don’t worry about the ads and fluff right now. Settle on a design and start writing.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this post Michael. It would have been nice if I received this advice when I was still starting out 2 years ago. :)

  • Anonymous

    For me, the hard part is balancing what subjects to cover. If you are too narrow, you will likely run out of things to write about. If you cover too broad a range you run the risk of not doing anything really well.

    I agree with what you wrote and would also suggest that new bloggers pick a favorite topic but also ask the question, “what other subjects make sense for the blog once I start to run out of things to say?”

    I found your blog when I searched on a subject having to do with productivity software for macs. Then I realized how helpful the other subjects you cover are to me as well. You have managed the balance well.

  • Live with Flair

    Thanks so much! I’ve been blogging at Live with Flair for nearly a year (www.livewithflair.blogspot.com). As I study blogging, I’ve learned that readers appreciate short posts (250 words). And don’t underestimate the power of great titles! Simple, I know. But this sort of advice made all the difference in how I gained a following.

  • TNeal

    I don’t blog but you’ve given me a practical road map, roadblocks included, to begin. Your advice is clear and concise. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/dbonleadership Dan

    Thank you Micheal for the advice. I have been blogging about leadership for about 1 1/2 years now and use blogspot but have been really wanting to switch to my own platform. But have not yet due to being frustrated about setting everything up. But know that it would be good when I have a bigger audience. Thank you for the post.

  • http://twitter.com/Sonita_Lewis Sonita Lewis

    My best tip-blog about what you love and the rest will fall into place a lot easier. And consider how popular your topic is if you want to make money off it.

    My first 2 blogs were for small business owners. It was something I’m fairly knowledgeable about and enjoy a bit as well. I loved featuring other small business. I liked helping small business owners figure out things like branding and pricing, etc.

    My current blog is mostly for homeschooling. It’s a smaller niche to work within but so rewarding and so much fun to write about something I’m so passionate about. It’s taking much longer to grow my readership, but that’s okay, I love writing my blog, so it’s getting me through as I build my readership.

  • http://charlesjaymeyer.wordpress.com Charles MEyer

    I remember when I first started “blogging.” It was back in the day when LiveJournal and Xanga were very popular. After my friends slowly stopped blogging, I started to also. Than for the last few years I tried to keep a blog alive but have failed. Recently I have decided I will get back into blogging.

    So my advice is to keep pushing away at it, even it is a only a few times a month. Also, find a good community of bloggers to connect with. I think that is what help my Xanga “succeed”; having a community of friends that I interacted with while blogging.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Janneke-Margaret-Jobsis-Brown/1277866011 Janneke Margaret Jobsis Brown

    I like that no matter what advice we writers receive, it always ends with the same, WRITE. Write, a lot, write as many times a week as possible. My tip to a beginning blogger, which I still am, BTW, is – Before you go live with your blog, have quite a few blog posts ready to go, then you are not overwhelmed as you go along. Also, of course, don’t be discouraged in the early stages. Not too many people are checking my blog yet, but I’m having a great time, it does help my writing, and any one who wants to see the quality I can and do produce, can check it out….and again, I’m having fun..

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m afraid you’re right. There is so substitute for just WRITING! Thanks.

    • http://www.plaingraces.com/ Plain Graces

      I love writing and I am using the blog as a tool to help me work on finding my voice and practicing. It is definetly a motivator. I don’t have many readers, but I enjoy seeing my stats.
      http://www.plaingraces.com/

  • Warren Carswell

    Not sure if you subscribe to Ben Arment’s blog. I just read an interesting perspective on the future of blogging that you might enjoy.

    http://www.benarment.com/history_in_the_making/2011/03/a-new-age-for-blogging.html

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Very interesting …

  • Hayesstw

    I think your advice is generally good. I prefer externally hosted blogs, like WordPress.com or Blogspot, because then you know it is a blog. Also, if one gives up blogging, the blog is still there and the links to it still work. So many self-hosted blogs just take you to spam sites advertising the domain for sale.

    I find the native commenting systems easier, and would say that for starting bloggers, the simpler the better. Use the “off the shelf” version, and fiddle with it later, if you want to. The more cancy things, the more there is to go wrong.

  • http://www.plaingraces.com/ Plain Graces

    Hello! I really enjoyed your tips. I am just beginning to blog and I am trying to find my voice. I tend to blog about everything and anything I find interesting. I need help on organizing pages and my posts so they don’t just run together. Any suggestions?
    http://www.plaingraces.com/

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Listen to what your readers are saying via your stats. What kinds of posts have the most traffic? What kinds generate the most comments. Start doing more of what works.

  • http://ragamuffinpc.com/ PC

    Thank you for this post. I have a few friend who are wanting to begin a blog, and these are the things I have been trying to communicate to them…you just do it much better. Consider this post “SHARED”.

    ps I loved your lab at Catalyst West Coast. It was a refreshment to my HEART.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, PC. I appreciate that!

  • http://www.thecouponexperience.com Katie

    thanks so much for this article. found it by way of savvyblogging.net and it definitly helps for a new blogger like me. it is VERY overwhelming with logos, themes, layouts, comments, monetizing, etc. i can see why people get frustrated. i’ve been posting for a month now, at least once a day. i use blogger right now for the ease and to develop a reader base. i’ve learned as a small business owner, not to dump money into something until you see that there is a demand and you can recoup that money. that is how most small businesses fail, starting off fast like the hare and not slow and steady like the tortoise. i read blogs to see what others are doing and it is more apparent to me to write what I know, and stick to good articles. i never considered myself a writer ( i hated english in school), but this has given me an outlet for sure.

    now, to read the rest of these great comments and get back to writing!

  • http://bloggingwithamy.com/categories/ Amy Lynn Andrews

    I have to disagree with you on this one.

    I recommend starting on a self-hosted WordPress blog straight away. I’ve been blogging for years and I’ve had self-hosted WordPress blogs, WordPress.com blogs and Blogger blogs. True, you can definitely spend a lot of money with a self-hosted blog, but for the first 6 1/2 years of blogging, I spent about $8 a month total. You can *easily* build a successful, profitable blog for the price of a registered domain and $7/mo. hosting.

    For $8 a month (really, the price of a couple of fancy coffees!), having complete control from the get-go, as well as the functionality and expandability a self-hosted WordPress blog provides, it’s totally worth it.

    I understand, though, that even $8 a month might be a stretch for some. Also, I recognize some might just want to dip their toes into blogging using a free platform at first. If so, I recommend Blogger over WordPress.com. WP.com is so limiting compared to Blogger. The main advantage of using Blogger over WP.com is that you can monetize a free Blogger blog and you can’t monetize a free WP.com (you have to upgrade to do so).

    True, migrating a Blogger blog to a self-hosted WordPress blog can be a little tricky, but if you’ve monetized your Blogger blog first and built up a little profit, you can pay the $150 for someone to do it for you, no hassle.

    Just my $.02.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great. I’ll refer all my friends who want to start a self-hosted WordPress site to you for technical support. ;-)

      • http://bloggingwithamy.com/categories/ Amy Lynn Andrews

        Send ‘em on over! :) I’ve tried to to lay it out as easy as can be.

  • John

    I wonder if you would give us some advice about setting a price for ads on our blogs/sites? From time to time I have inquiries about putting ads on a few of my sites, but I don’t really know what price is fair to both parties! I wonder if I am leaving money on the table.

    What suggestions do you have for people in this situation?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You might check TentBlogger.com. Search for ads. He has some guidelines. Thanks.

      • John

        Michael! You’re fast! Thanks. I’ll check it out. Really appreciate how you share your wealth of knowledge and experience with us! It’s invaluable stuff. Peace!

  • http://growinggrace-full.blogspot.com/ Chris Donato

    Good advice here.

    I’ve been blogging since 2005 on blogspot, and I post on the average once a week (but my posts are often not short and pithy). I just started using analytics two weeks ago. One major question that I think was assumed in the above post that must be asked before starting a blog is (correct me if I’m wrong), what’s the intent/purpose/point? That will no doubt shape the direction one will take re: your 4 points of advice above.

  • http://www.3hatscommunications.com davinabrewer

    Some amazing comments and discussions here Michael. Still agree with your original advice to “beginning” bloggers: start with the writing, worry less about the technical mumbo jumbo.

    It will depend on the blogger if the technical hoodoo of a self-hosted blog is too much work or not. If it is then by all means, a WordPress.com or Blogger account would work; if you are tech savvy, like CSS or want to learn more about WP, then self host. My advice is: stop. Stop tinkering and changing. Limit your time searching for free theme, pick one that works then stop. Quit trolling for plugins you may not need; stick with the basics for SEO, spam blocking, commenting, sharing and stop.

    The rest of my advice echoes many other comments: Write what you know, like, love. With purpose and strategy. Writing for a blog that’s for money (ads, etc.) is different than a company blog is different than a personal blog. Different goals, different strategies. Have fun, enjoy yourself or then yes.. you may become another blogging statistic. Have goals and deadlines to keep you on schedule, focus on quality over quantity.

    My last advice to a beginning blogger: read and comment on other blogs. It’ll help with your own writing, build relationships and a community, give you ideas, help you figure out what it is you want from your own blog. FWIW.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is great advice, Davin. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

  • Anonymous

    What I gleaned from this post is the notion of intentional blogging. To date I have not taken on a blog for many of the reasons you have sited. To build anything great you first have to be dedicated, educated and committed to nurturing it along. Much like a child or garden, it needs your attention, time and money.

    Great advice so others will not set themselves up for failure

  • http://twitter.com/marissahyatt Marissa Hyatt

    I LOVE this post. Extremely helpful!!

  • http://www.momentsofgracelotr.com Anne Marie

    4.Start writing. Anything that stands between you and this is a distraction.

    This is the best advice that I am finally beginning to head more fully as I write my book and it’s wonderful to feel the progress being made and the peace that comes from doing what you are meant to do!

    God bless, Anne Marie :)

  • Susan Wilkinson

    I’m not sure what you would have said a year ago, but it’s what I expected you to say and I think it’s good advice in general. Of course, if you have a daughter who can host you for free and a friend who can design for free and you know how to run a wordpress.org site well enough that you can mostly do it on your own or find friends to help, then I think the flexibility of wordpress.org is hard to beat. I’m on .com now and really find it terribly limiting and most of the designs far from what I want. Thankfully, I am finding cheap ways to go with .org.

    And oh… $1000 a month? That nearly sent me for an inhaler, and I don’t even have asthma! ;)

  • http://twitter.com/DanielBecerra Daniel Becerra

    Thanks so much Michael! I was completely unaware of the Premium upgrade on WordPress. I have been hosting a blog on blogspot.com, not with the goal of customizing much, but with the goal of building the discipline of writing. I am now glad to read your point on this.

  • http://twitter.com/AdamsOrganizing Elise Adams

    Thanks so MUCH for confirming so much of what I’d guessed after diving into this blogging world a little less than 6 months ago. While I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by everything there is to learn I was guided to WordPress in the beginning, thankfully. The main point you make, to KEEP WRITING and to focus on the quality of the content and writing itself, I find to be SO important. While I’m sure it’ll take me quite awhile to find a large, loyal following I’m taking every post very seriously–for one thing they’ll be in my archives for a good long time! And I’m clear that my market is my message which is my mission. Thank you for putting the writing front and center in this bloggy world!

    Thanks again!
    ~Elise~

  • Lorentransom

    Michael, great advice. I’ve been thinking if doing a blog for a while, am this helps make the first few steps concrete as well as give me a realistic picture of what it takes. Thx!

  • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

    A great reminder that you’ve been at it for years and to not stop. Consistency!

  • TNeal

    Michael,

    Thank you for providing the forum for ideas and the platform to exchange them. I’ve gotten a lot from your initial post and from the responses of others. The one clear next step is to write as if I’m already posting. I’ve written two posts and I’m seeing a theme develop. Kind of like writing a book. You find yourself going in a direction you never imagined at first.

    Tom

  • http://www.antwuanmalone.com Antwuan Malone

    This was the exact problem I am in now. I’ve spent way too much time on the design of my site and not enough on content. But lesson learned, content is next (and getting people to that content). I’m going to pour pretty much all I have in it. Thanks for the tips. I’m really trying to build a platform so that I can I have a leg to stand on when I present this book idea I have to some agents.

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  • http://www.inspiremuse.com Peter Hoppe

    So true! Thanks, Michael. I have been “off and on” with my blog, but am now working on consistency.

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  • http://kimmslittles.blogspot.com/ Kimm

    This was helpful, thanks!

  • Dcollings

    I would like to know more about blogging. I have never really been involved in blogging but believe it is an important part of promoting my writing and speaking endeavors. Can you recommend some resources to help me get started?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You can search my archives on the topic. I have written a great deal about it.

  • http://twitter.com/toddburkhalter Todd Burkhalter

    The best advice that I received early on from you is to “write for yourself”. Often times people focus on the stats and early on it may prove discouraging. Additional advice I would suggest is to allow guest posting, but agree with your philosophy regarding having tight rules around that area. That seems to allow for content to stay relevant, if you can’t post as frequently for whatever reason.

  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    Cheers, I did stumble a bit last year, but I’ve pretty much found that writing alot, and getting into the craft of writing is the best part. I’m on a WP blog too, love it. I think when people see that the blog will represent them to the world, they can decide where they want to go.

    I believe Dan Schawbel once quipped, “Your blog should be about the dream job you want, not the job you already have”… eg. this blog will evolve and it can be the vehicle for your self development. Very empowering. ;)

  • http://www.indianetcraft.com/ web hosting india

    I agree with you, I am using wordpress.org as it is better and more secure for me.

  • http://www.thenerdynurse.com The Nerdy Nurse

    Good post with useful information.

    FYI your blog is impossible to comment on when using an iPad and viewing in mobile safari… at least for me anyways.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. We will check it out and see if we can fix it. Thanks.

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  • http://abisomeone.blogspot.com AbbessBrown

    I started blogging in the fall of 2007, using Blogger because it was easy and handy. My past two years have been challenging, but I find that my foundational content from my first few years are things that I continually “point” to — both in more recent comments as well as in comments that I post on other blogs … which brings readers over to some of that foundational content.

    I blog because I have things I want to say … and clogging the comment sections of other blogs is just not the right thing to do. (Lessons graciously learned from the blog communities of Scot McKnight and Alan Hirsch.) I think that I will get back to it more, but the current stage of life at my house is just not right for weekly blogging. I am in a bit of a contemplative time, and I’m sure I’ll come out of it with more things to say … and time to day them!

    I have done some things where I have content worked out ahead of time … but I think that some bloggers are more spontaneous than others. If you have a “reason” for your blog, it will find a way of being expressed. That is certainly my experience with my blog: http://abisomeone.blogspot.com/

  • monica

    I’m planning to start a wordpress.org blog. (I already have a website and am paying for hosting, so I’m opting to self-host rather than use wordpress.com.) I want to use a free theme, but I have no idea what I’m looking for besides just a general design I like. What should I be looking for in a theme besides design? And where are the best places to look?

    • http://www.thedailywalk.net Adam

      Tentblogger over at tentblogger.com released an awesome free theme yesterday. It is sort of a mini version of his standard theme. You should check that one out. Link below.

      http://tentblogger.com/content-wordpress-theme/

      • monica

        Thanks, Adam. I looked at the theme right away, but I’m slow to respond to your comment. :) Thanks for your help!

        • http://www.thedailywalk.net Adam

          No problem…glad I could assist.

  • http://twitter.com/BobEwoldt Robert Ewoldt

    I started on WordPress.com, and then quickly (within a couple of months) moved over to a self-hosted WordPress site. I’ve been very happy with it.

    I have to agree with you, Michael, that blogging can quickly start sucking your money… I’ve tried to keep the costs of my blogging down, but I’ve been tempted to pay right away for a premium theme, and get a professional logo designed, etc. I decided to give myself blogging goals. After each goal is met, then I’ll allow myself to invest a little bit more money in the blog.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s a fantastic way to do it, Robert. I think too many people get ahead of themselves and abandon their blog after making a big investment. I think it is better to start small, figure out if you like to write and can attract an audience, and then begin to invest.

  • http://www.paulbevans.com Paul B Evans

    “I spend more than $1,000 a month on my blog.” Love that advice. I know when someone gets started they often feel they want to do this as cheaply as possible. I’m sensitive to that. But investing also brings uniqueness. A few dollars allows you to look and feel different.

    If I can be stereotypical for a moment…

    Not once have I met a woman who went to the salon and said, “Just do whatever, I don’t care. Just make it cheap. Free if possible.” Nope, they spend the money to look good. To feel good.

    If we’ll do that for our hair, we should do it for our blog. :)

  • Bloop

    Oh.
    I have blogger & don’t really worry about this kind of stuff……
    I recommend blogger more though, just because it’s more user friendly for those who are just blogging for their own friend’s amusement.

  • Ray

    Hi Michael, Do you recommend having a fixed home page or your most recent post on a blog?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Look at my own blog and that will give you the answer. I display snippets form the last 10 blog posts on my home page

  • Anonymous

    It is very nice topic. Find very intersting. I always try to enrich my blog http://www.ichinda.co.in with rich contents so that i can get my audience back….

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  • http://www.absolutelynarcissism.com Sandra

    Terrific advice! I’m currently deciding whether to make the switch to WordPress, and this cleared a lot of things up for me. Thank you! 

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  • Dewitt

    Michael, what advice do you give for selecting a domain name to new bloggers. Using your personal name or something memorable?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It really depends on your goals. It’s a complicated topic. I think Tentblogger.com has some thought on this. It would be worth searching his site.

  • http://profiles.google.com/pollywogcreekporch Patricia Hunter

    I’ve used blogger (free) for about four years and have appreciated the improvements they’ve made to be more competitive with other platforms. I’m also self-motivated and willing to invest the time to learn to do as much as I can to create the look that reflects my passion and personality. BUT, I’m a frugal freelancer with the time and flexibility to do just it. It might be more cost-effective for someone with less time and flexibility (and a wider audience) to invest in a more features.

    Thanks for this post, Michael. 

  • Motmob.wordpress.com

    I just started last week.. I read your post and it’s exactly what I did.. (sigh of relief) it’s been fun so far.. Although I’ve only posted 3.. Number 4 is ready and waiting in the wings. It’s an exciting new adventure and I can’t wAit to see what God does with it..:)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you!

  • Carrie Jones

    great advice – thanks!

    I have been blogging for about 8 months with ‘blogger’ – do you recommend that I switch over to wordpress or should I stay with blogger?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I can’t really say. I think you need to set some goals and then use the blogging platform that will enable you to accomplish them.

  • Nes Baluja

    Thank you for posting this. I have a WordPress.com blog and I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now and I’m looking to put Ads on my wordpress. I was thinking about doing the upgrade you mentioned to get my own domain, but will this allow me to put ads on it? I want to put Amazon ads on it.

    Here is my blog in case you’d like to visit
     http://seedlingsofexpression.wordpress.com

  • Debojyoti Chakraborty

    nice

  • http://lifewithlessmoney.com Sharon Hodge

    Great points that you mentioned. I just started a blog and have been blogging for only about two weeks.  It is definitely exciting for me right now.  I hope that I can hold the excitement and not be at a give up point after a “few months”.  I do understand that it takes a while to get a following and the importance of quality information.  I am truly trying to keep that in mind as I continue to write each day and not focus so much on how many people are reading my blog as of yet. 

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  • http://www.deiricmccann.com Deiric McCann

    Michael, yopu’ll have seen me comment on several mof your blog articles before.  I’m re-reading them now to see if there’s anything that means more to me 6 months into blogging. 

    These are a great resource – you should consider making them a small ebook or ‘special report’ – I know I’d pay for them.

    Can you suggest a good hosting service?  My current service has deteriorated from 3-5 seconds response to often as long as 2–30 seconds.  At first the hoist were responsive and would sort it immediately -they no longer try.  They’re suggesting VPS – which is a non-tech’s nightmare (and expensive).

    Any host servcies you’d suggest?

    Thanks, Deiric 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Deiric, unfortunately, I can’t. I am using a private system that is managed by my web developer. You might check out this article from WPBeginner. Thanks.

      • http://www.deiricmccann.com Deiric McCann

        Thank you Michael – very much appreciated

        Cheers
        Deiric

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    I began using blogger, and can attest to how much better I have found wordpress to be!

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  • http://www.legendfx.com Webdeveloperlegendfx

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  • Anonymous

    Came across this post in the archives.. I think the hosting scene is constantly evolving.. It is getting much easier to setup WordPress with a hosting company, 1-click installs etc.

    Perhaps the time is good for a tutorial on basic do-it-yourself WordPress install for non-techies  who want to bild an online presence ;-)

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  • http://rumpydog.wordpress.com/ Rumpydog

    I’m glad I found your post, because you answered some questions for me.  Thanks!

  • http://filsupport.com/web-design-outsource/ Web Design Outsource

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  • Beth Anne Saves

    The hardest thing is to keep focused. It is SOOO EASY to get overwhelmed and try and figure out how to “make money” but I’ve realized I just need to figure out how to “create quality content” and then the rest will come.

  • Mike

    If you start with WordPress.com, how easily can you later migrate to WordPress.org if you choose to?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It’s very easy. Really a no-brainer.

  • http://twitter.com/lafemmeroar lafemmeroar

    I write a humor blog on WP. My audience is growing, and I do post 3-4 times a week. But I’m afraid that I’ll lose my subscribers if I self-host. Do you have any advice on transitioning?

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  • http://twitter.com/TheModHomemaker TheModernHomemakers

    Thanks for the share! I have lost count of the $$$ I have invested in my blogs. I am new to all this. I am not making any $$$ at all instead I keep sinking $$$ in. But I really enjoy writing and sharing. So I think I will stick to this sunken hole for a while. And hopefully I will see some light at the end of the day. :) 

  • http://www.joseluiszapata.com Jose Luis Zapata

    Very nice and useful information. I am actually in the process of starting my blog (for the third time) and everything you mentioned here hit the nail in the head. While I use to do my own coding and designing, I now have my site hosted through WordPress.org.  It has allowed me to invest my time in creating posts rather than be tweaking this and that on Dreamweaver. 

    Thanks for sharing this :)

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  • http://twitter.com/hotelstvEDI Hotels.tv Edinburgh

    I’ve been blogging for about 8 months now an things are really starting to pay off. I’m luck that my site is about something that changes all the time – the city of Edinburgh – so there’s always something to write about.

    My advice is to not tinker too much but do try different things. Also, when you write aim it at novices to your subject – just because you know all about your topic, doesn’t mean others want thinhs explained to them in simple terms first.

    All the best,

    Ian

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003118089444 Masha Zunich

    I was looking to switch my blog from wordpress.com to org but you made some great points you made!Bloggers should focus on writing more than on programming..very true! I do have a question how did you get started with your first adds, did you pitch them or did they find you? What would you say brings you most profit and why if I may ask? Thank you you are welcome to visit my still wordpess blog at http://mashazunich.wordpress.com/ ;)

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    I have been doing some serious thinking about where to go next with my blog. I was thinking about upgrading to the Premium Version but was not sure if that was a good move. Thanks for this post!

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  • http://twitter.com/blacknewfie Peter Walters

    Michael,  thanks for this.  I am going to begin my blog next year and all the reading I am doing to prepare is sometimes mind numbing.  You taught me the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org which I was not sure about so I think I will begin with the .com and build from there.

  • Anonymous

    Hello Mr. Hyatt,
     
    Thank you for this excellent advice. I’m a very new blogger, just since August of 2011 infact, and I read a little bit before I started my wordpress.com blog. As you mention in your writing above, I too was very excited to start a blog and couldn’t think of a topic. But then in August I took up flying lessons to obtain my private pilot’s license and I’m blogging about my own experiences and challenges of this training. One thing I always wanted was to have ads on my blog only to find out later that I can not have ads on the .com version but can on the .org version of wordpress. However, it was too late (or at least I think it was) for me to change to the .org as I had posted a number of posts and the complexities of transferring the data and the costs and time involved deterred me from doing so. Now, although its  not a popular blog at all by any means, I’m enjoying it for just the sake of blogging, regardless of whether anyone reads it or not. The whole thing has been quite an experience which I will use in my next blog. That’s one thing I can say to any beginning blogger like myself is that, try it out first and if you’re enjoying blogging then once you get serious  you can move on to bigger things.
     
    Oh I also had a question for you. I’m thinking of having my own domain name i.e. changing it from wordpress.com to just .com version, but I’ve read that there are a probable problems with privacy as your personal information needs to be declared when buying a domain name, and wordpress charges and extra $8 for protecting your personal information. Is it worth doing that? How secure is my information even after paying the $8 ?
     
    Thank you for your help and anyone else that answers my question.
     
    Tiger Singh
    http://www.adventureinthesky.wordpress.com

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The only information they will have is what you give them. You can use a business name or even a “DBA” (i.e., “doing business as”) and a P.O. Box. The only time anyone will see this is if they look up who the domain administrator is. Thanks.

      • Tiger Singh

        Thank you very much for your reply! :)

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  • Snicolaou2011

    Instead of plunging ourselves newbies to a self-hosted WordPress.org, why don’t you recommend Typepad. How appropriate is Typepad for beginners and a beginner such as I? Please explane

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Actually, I didn’t recommend WordPress.Org to newbies. The entire focus of the post was to recommend WordPress.com. The reason I recommend that is that you have room to grow. If you want more control, you can migrate to WordPress.org with a minimum of fuss.
      However, this is not true of TypePad. (I was on TypePad for four years before I migrated to WordPress.org.) It may be better now, but it was a nightmare for me.

  • Leah

    Really great article. I just started a blog and I’m having so much fun. I went with wordpress.com and then bought a three month trial hosting service. When I saw how complicated it was going to be to use wordpress.org I jumped ship and I’m sticking it out with wordpress.com. My blog is about learning photography and I’m sharing my journey and all the tips and tricks I learn with other would-be photographers. Between learning photography, and writing who has time to learn how to program as well. Thank you for letting me know I am on the right track! Oh and if anyone is interested in learning digital slr photography my site is 
    http://dslrfairytale.com/ (I had to do it) :)

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  • Poornimababu

    Hello,
    I like your advice. But I have a doubt. I am using wordpress blog. My blog is 7 months old and Iam not getting much traffic. Can you help me.

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  • Penny

    Hi Michael, 
    Thanks for your advice. I am just starting with blogging and I better change to wordpress.com before I start deep into it. Already I am spending too much time tweaking things instead of writing. 

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  • http://www.vinfotech.com/solutions/social-network-design.htm Sam Daniel

    Nice post  for a newbie blogger and I appreciate it. I do have a blog on WordPress and experience with this is amazing.

  • danielcuroda

    One question, if you purchase your domain name with wordpress.com while setting it up on their service would it be possible to transfer that to a GoDaddy in the future if somebody wanted to or not possible?

    Would it be better to purchase the domain name with GoDaddy.com and just host my blog with wordpress.com?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Unfortunately, I am not familiar with the process of registering a domain through WordPress.com. All mine are registered through GoDaddy.com. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/kp_halloran Kevin Halloran

    Hey Michael, thanks for the tips! I want to purchase the Standard Theme like you have….is there any way to give you credit for referring me?  Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for asking. If you click on the ad in the right-hand sidebar, it will give me credit. Thanks.

  • http://www.defineyourmoment.org/ Tasha

    I Just started Blogging, I have one on WordPress.com. I want to inspire others, and I love to write. I hope to help others thru my personal challenges. I dont know If I am going about it the right way. I want to build  a following… I dont know how long I need to wait or if I am doing any of it right or not.  Any extra advice would be awesome, thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/jonwellman Jon Wellman

    I use WordPress.com PRECISELY because I don’t have to worry about the way #NoCamo looks or operates. Someone else maintains the server, the OS, the backend,  etc.  

    I am prone to obsessing over minute details, and I’m sure that an online entity with my name plastered all over it that I have to PAY to operate would be exhausting financially. I map my custom domain and that is all for which I pay.

  • http://twitter.com/kellystilwell Kelly Stilwell

    Could someone explain why Blogger is so bad? It’s been great for me with my limited experience, but just about every blogger I know who started there moved to WP. Just would like to understand the benefits. I have my own domain, and hosting through BlueHost.

  • http://www.facebook.com/EchoohcE Marilyn D’Auria

    Thank you for the insights. http://www.withthiskissitheewed.com/blog/

  • http://gmcwherter.posterous.com/ Glen McWherter

    Michael, I use posterous for my blog and it’s actually the homepage for our church. As the pastor, I try to keep it relavant and personal to churchlife. Do you have any suggestions for me to either improve my use of posterous or migrating to wordpress? Thanks.
    Glen
    http://NewChurchWhittier.com

  • http://janbierens.com/ JB

    Hi,
    I started blogging 1 1/2 years ago – first on blogger and moved in 2012 to self hosted WordPress. Own a domain, and do everything myself, because I’m able to do so.
    What I am interested to hear about is how in this world your blog costs you around $ 1000.00 a month, like you said?
    That’s an awful lot of money!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That is a lot of money, but I more than pay for it. If I were a retailer, I would have to pay rent. This is like that. It is my interface with my customers.
      Also, understand that this is a bunch of stuff you won’t need until the cost justifies itself. Most of it is the cost of having two servers (because I have so much traffic) and a huge mailing list.
      You can get started for as little as $3.95 a month with BlueHost web hosting.

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  • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    I would keep everything on one Site. One blog is challenging enough to manage. I don’t too many people who can manage two. Thanks.

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  • Guest

    What about Tumblr? Surely that’s one of the the easiest platfrms to start with?

  • Charl Diener

    What about Tumblr? Surely that’s one of the easiest, most user-friendly platforms to start with?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yea, but it is more difficult to convert to WordPress.

  • http://mytributaries.com/ Irmgarde Brown

    I agree 100%. I have been blogging for several years but I know and understand that this is my proving ground for writing. In fact, I have more than one blog, much like Doris Lessing’s Golden Notebook: each suited to my need at the time, each targeted. But the key is writing and writing and writing. Blogging has its own persona as well. Content and ultimately people passing the blog posts around are the best way to get started. I also link my blog posts to my social network.

  • Michelle Soto

    thank you! I have attempted several times to start up a blog. Feeling overwhelmed with all those very same decisions you just mentioned, I gave up feeling defeated because I really just wanted to write.

    Am definitely taking this advice and giving it one more try!

  • Bola Ogundeji

    Thanks Michael. Food for thought for me. I am the one you describe fiddling with plugins and widgets on my website instead of writing. I am going to change from today. Thanks a lot!

  • http://tropicalnomad.com/ Adam Finan

    I used WP.org Hostgator, free theme.. Works fine.. If you are new to blogging then just keep at it.. Write, promote, network, share…

  • http://lifeoflu.com/ Luis O. Miranda

    Great article and thanks for sharing. I just launched my blog at the beginning of August and I fell into the trap of trying to update my blog. I’ve spent close to $300 already trying to get it to where I want it to. Thank you so much for sharing your tips!

    http://www.lifeolfu.com

  • http://www.fivefoldfatherhood.com/ Ricardo Butler

    Amen! I think starting a blog is the online version for us Christians is like starting a church. Purpose, Passion, a Vision all needs to be there along with the people and the finances to sustain it. Believe it or not, I started my blog by reading Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church. I followed all the steps that applied there. lol!

  • brandonstarnes

    I just entered the blogging world about five months ago. I am learning a lot as I go. To be honest I can’t believe I have stuck it out this far writing doesn’t come naturally for me. I have grown to love blogging.

    I loved the tip about three articles per week. I have been wondering what the sweet spot was. I have been posting one per week so three will be challenging. I have done the self hosted site through bluehost and the cost hasn’t been bad for me. Do you recommend the WordPress.com for a financial reason or audience builder? Lastly do you have a article on a process for creating great content that you find successful? Thanks for all you do ! Have a great Thanksgiving!

  • Dawn Renee Rice

    Michael, this article came at the perfect time for me! I’ve been struggling with the idea of switching to self-hosted but your article has given me a reason to think twice and seriously consider staying right where I am for now. Thank you!!

  • danieltroutman

    This has to be some of the best blogging advice I have EVER received. I’ve read so many posts on blogging that I’ve lost count. But this cuts straight to the heart of successful blogging (and really any topic in life). Thank you for (re)sharing this advice with all of us. I’m going to bookmark this and refer to it often in my blogging journey.

  • Sheri Riley

    I’m launching my blog in the 1st quarter 2014 and the reminder “just write” is so helpful. There’s so much info it is overwhelming but focusing on the “1 thing”, compelling content is the main thing. Thank you for the timely reminder

  • Nancy Diaz

    I am running few technical and fashion blog now. Ia ma planning to start my own personal blog very soon to share my personal life experience. I usually like to use wordpress CMS. Most of the time I buy themes from http://wpthemetuts.com/.

  • http://wehaveadd.blogspot.com James Napier

    I really have found some good advice in this comment fourm. And I have got some good ideas on what to do, and what not to do.
    my new blog
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  • Danielle Kaye Agustin Flores

    I have a blog, and it’s new. I hope ya’ll could visit it and leave comments. I want to learn so your comments would really mean a lot so I could improve. Thank you!

    http://www.misskaye.weebly.com (haven’t upgraded to premium yet..)