Open Response To Blogging Start-Up Questions

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, September 27, 2010 at 04:00 AM with 2 comments

Recently I heard from a friend who had questions about starting a blog. As their questions were not personal in nature, and could benefit others as well as them, I have decided to respond in an appropriate manner, in an open blog post. Here are the questions and my responses.

Q – How did you come up with the name of your blog?

A – The name “The Hot Iron” is a play on the term “strike while the iron is hot” and is something I had thought of a few years before I actually started the blog. The idea for the name being I would write about not only topical items but would write while something was fresh in my mind.

I registered the domain name thehotiron.com right away, and it was ready for me to use when I decided to start blogging.

Q – What are the top 3 things I need to think about as a new blogger?

A – Audience, promotion and time.

Where you could be simply writing a personal journal out in the open, ideally you are writing for the benefit of others as well. Keeping in mind your audience, not only as you start but on-going, will help you focus on what topics to write and how to present the information.

If you write it, people may not necessarily come and read it. You will need to spend time to promote your blog. Whether it’s emailing all your friends, getting links to other sites or any other method, you will need to spend some time to do so.

And as you can guess, writing for and managing a blog take some time. However much you decide to spend on it is up to you, but keep this in mind with everything else you have going on.

Q – Are there any mistakes you made that you learned from when you were just starting out that you would pass on to a new blogger?

A – Are you asking about mistakes I made in the past, or continue to make?!

Whenever you start a blog, you have energy and excitement. Over time, this can change, and usually will decrease. You will need to motivate yourself to maintain a consistent blogging schedule.

You may also write something that will tick off someone, as I have done before. They may contact you offline to make a change to what you wrote. Don’t do it. I have made a couple of small tweaks to posts over time, showing goodwill to these people and in return asked them to comment on my posts, but they never did. A cease and desist letter form a lawyer is one thing, but in general your blog is your opinion, and you should be true to your convictions.

Q – Do you think there is a life span to a blog?

A – As someone said to me moments before he got married, “nothing is forever!” Everything has a lifecycle, and a blog could as well. When you get to the point where you think it’s over, you may have options to either shut it down or transfer or sell to someone else. But you’re just getting started now, so nothing to worry about regarding this now. Oh, and that guy has been married for almost 20 years now.

Q – What are your suggestions for evaluating hosts?

A – As I build blogs for a living, I recommend hiring my Web consulting firm Dunkirk Systems, LLC to build your, including offering and managing your hosting! However, there are many options out there. You could have your own hosting and then manage your own installation of a blog platform, like WordPress or ExpressionEngine. Or you could go with a hosted platform, like WordPress.com or Blogger.com.

However you go, I strongly recommend you do 2 things. The first is use your own domain name for the blog, and not use the default URL that may come with the host or hosted solution. Also, use Google Feedburner to manage your blog feed and not the default feed URLs that come with either. By doing these, you have flexibility to move to a new platform or host and not lose users or feed subscribers with a new URL for each.

Q – What blogs do you read regularly and would send me to view as I begin this process?

A – I subscribe to the feeds of over 200 blogs. This does not mean I read all of them, in some cases I simply skim the headlines or titles. I recommend setting up a Google Reader account, and then begin subscribing to the RSS feeds of various blogs, from ones in the same vertical of which you are planning for your own blog, to news services or blogs in different categories. Some blogs do all things well, many do some a few things well, and some do most everything poorly.

One blog I will recommend is ProBlogger – it is a tremendous resource for blogging, whether for someone new like yourself or a seasoned blogger like myself.

Good Luck

Good luck with the launch of your blog! As I wrote these questions out in the open, I welcome anyone to comment on these, and make any recommendations they may have for getting started with blogging.


Did you enjoy reading this? You are welcome to subscribe to The Hot Iron by RSS feed or by email.

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