Should You Start Your Own Blog Or Website?

If you have something to say, the Internet is the place to say it.

Have you ever thought about starting your own blog?

Now, let me start by saying that I use the word blog as a substitute for website. Technically, blogs are a subset of websites, but many websites use blogging software as a means to maintain the site. Don’t let the term blog fool you. There is nothing less professional about a blog as opposed to a website. Now that I’ve got that over with (for now at least-maybe)…

Why would you want to start a website (or blog – see how silly this can get)?

Here are a few very general reasons for starting a blog:

  • To advertise a brick and mortar business you already have.
  • To promote a charity.
  • To express your views on religion or politics or anything  (maybe your views on telescopes).
  • For a hobby or craft group.
  • Because you like to share.
  • Because you like to help others.
  • To make money.
  • To bring awareness to a cause.
  • For fun!

The fact is, a blog can be a very effective means of communication.

A blog (or website – there we go again) can actually be the most effective means of communication. Think I am exaggerating? Blogs have already shaped United States Presidential campaigns, having a major effect on polls. Some truly startling new items have been exposed by bloggers (as well as lots of fraudulent items and stories). In fact, in many cases, the traditional news media is finding itself playing catchup with the new blogging news sites. This is just the start, blogs will pay an even more important part in coming elections not just in the USA but throughout the world.

A small business (or charity) can use a blog as an extremely inexpensive base for advertising.

Using a blog as a way to create a community, a business can form a clientèle (I’d never spell that word without a spell checker) that brings repeat customers and referrals like no other form of advertising. It can work as the basis of other advertising forms directing interested parties to a website (or blog-where will this end) where they can learn more about the business or non-profit organization or discover a whole community that is interested in it.

Can’t you just use a Facebook page or one of the other social network blog-like options?

No, especially with Facebook. Facebook (and many of the social networks) claim ownership to all the content produced on their sites. In other words, you create content for them and don’t actually have the right to do with it what you want. While this may seem minor, it can really come back to bite you (as some creators of Facebook applications and games have discovered).

This is what a WordPress.com page looks like
A Free WordPress.com Blog

It would be really awful to create a site (or blog) that becomes really popular and then have Facebook change the terms of service in a way that you cannot continue there. Worse would be to develop some kind of income and find yourself out of business. While WordPress.com  and Blogger do reserve the right to remove sites for editorial reasons (anything they might find objectionable and WordPress.com has rules about commercial use or running ads on their blogs) you still own the content you produced and can move it somewhere else should you want or need to do so. Better yet, a self-hosted blog (or website) will give you complete editorial freedom (true freedom of the press)! This site is run on self-hosted WordPress blog.

In other words, make sure that whatever you create, you own. It is even better to have full control where the domain and hosting is also under your control, but draw the line at serfdom where your work is all for someone else. Freedom of speech starts with owning your own speech first.

How much does it cost to start a blog or website?

You can start a blog for free. In fact, there are two very good free options : WordPress.com and Google’s Blogger. Both are free and can be extremely effective. My recommendation would be to invest the $10 a year it costs to get your own domain name right at the start, but it is not an absolute must have (unless this is going to be a business or money making venture-then it is pretty much about the most inexpensive investment you could make for a business). While I say it is not a must have, it is probably the best decision you could make when you start a website (or blog) and not something you should skip unless there is just not an option when you start.

Blogger and WordPress.com provide a level of quality (and ease of use, even for someone with absolutely no experience) in a free website that were not available in the past. Both provide options for your own domain name (an extra fee for WordPress.com) and moving to your own hosted blog can also be done from both. Again, if you do not start with your own domain name there is going to be a problem when you do move with keeping your traffic, but it can and has been done.

An example of what a Blogger blog looks like
A free Blogger or Blogspot blog.

The ideal starting blog (or website as I keep repeating) will have it’s own domain and hosting. With a domain at $10 a year and decent hosting at much less than $10 a month for a self-hosted WordPress site (this is different from WordPress.com but uses the free open source and exceptional WordPress software used there). That is not much cost considering that your blog (or website – sorry) has to potential to reach billions of people all around the world and deliver your message to them. You may need some help getting it set up (although it is not that hard to do yourself and I will eventually have complete instructions on how to do it on this site) and costs for that can vary from almost nothing to a few hundred dollars.

It is hard to start your own blog?

No, it is very easy to start your own blog and blog’s software makes them easy to use. It is not complicated at all. If you can use a word processor, you can write and format on a blog. You don’t need to know anything about programming. Personally, I find running a blog easier than figuring out Facebook. WordPress.com is probably the easiest of the free options to use but blogger is not too hard either.

It is an amazing feeling to write your first blog post and realize as you press the publish button that nearly anywhere in the world, someone could and might read it.

I still get that feeling now, after years of blogging (or running websites) when I publish. Of course, a completely different problem is making it so nearly everyone can know about your post, but that is something to consider later.

Again, I ask the question: Should you start your own blog or website?

Only you can answer that question. Do you have something to say? Something you wish to tell the world. Do you have a cause that needs exposure? Do you have a business that needs a better form of marketing?

If you do, start a blog.

Or website. :mrgreen:

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