3 Must-Have’s For Your Blog

January 28, 2010

And how optimystical does overwhelm.

Let’s face it, the blogosphere is a big and intimidating place when you’re just starting out. The internet provides us access to soooo much information.  It can be overwhelming.

The best way to deal with overwhelm is to break my steps down into ever smaller steps. This helps my focus & clarity. Once I can see, I can generally start moving again. I become still, quieter. And inspiration… the energy to take action, comes flooding in.

We can all find ourselves in anxiety-stuckness when it comes to building your web presence. With all the great stuff to read, workshops/events to participate in and learn from. Often, the idea of doing all these things somehow supersedes actually doing anything. Which is unfortunate. Because the real awarenesses begin at the experience-level. It’s our experiences that truly inform us. About what’s next for us. And if what we’re doing, actually feels good to us. Sometimes, just-doing-it will show us more about who we are & what we want, than all the thinking “pre-work” we imagine we need to do before we even begin.

I’ve prepared this post to help remind us both to get back to simple and easy. Three easy places to start and grow from. Because your web presence will grow. It’s the nature of everything.

Must-Have #1: Domain Name

If you are the type that needs it explained for you before you can move forward, I get that. I’m kinda like that too sometimes. It’s like my questions or non-understanding of something prohibit me from moving forward, no matter how much I try. So if you need a full explanation of what a Domain Name is, you’ll want to check out this post.

A Domain Name is going to help you feel like your web presence is more real & legitimate. Even though you can get a sub domain name for free when you create a web presence on a free services like Google’s Blogger or WordPress.com (which I recommend for new-new-newbies who think they’ll never be able to do anything more than email). Many people simply can’t hang with the http://yourwebsitename.wordpress.com.

Your free sub domain works just like a regular domain name except there is no way around the required …wordpress.com part. That’s why it’s free. Because WordPress is advertising. For some people, this feels not as legit or real or professional than if it just simply said http://www.yourwebsite.com.

A Domain Name is one of the most inexpensive parts of creating a web presence. For as little as $10 a year, you can have that professional, more legitimate feeling for your web presence by purchasing a domain name. I recommend and use GoDaddy. You can purchase as many domain names as you like and point them all at a single web presence.

Once you have purchased your domain name, you can apply it over the top of your WordPress or Blogger web presence & even use it with you when you’re ready to set up your self-hosted WordPress blog.

Must-Have #2: About/Contact Page

The next most vital part, when you are just starting out, is an About page. Typically the about page might contain some biographical information about you, the web presence owner. Some like to include their credentials or education and on the less formal side, just a short write up of who they are, in their own writing voice.

If you’re not sure where to begin and what exactly to put on your About page, start with simply providing your contact information. Think about the ways in which you’d prefer to be contacted by people on the web visiting your website or blog. Do you prefer email over phone calls? Tell them! Outline it. It’s best to help your visitors do that thing you want them to do.

We have a rule in the designing/usability world… it goes “Don’t make’m think!” You know what happens when we have to think too hard to figure something out? Yep, we end up bailing on the process altogether or telling ourselves “I’ll do this later!”

So make it super easy for people to know how to be in touch with you by using an About or Contact page. And combining them into one page is a really great start for beginners.

Must-Have #3: Email Subscription

Last but not least is an email subscription feature (or link). Email subscription is a way that readers of your blog can receive your posts by email. This way, readers don’t have to remind themselves to go check out what you’ve been up to because every time you write something new, it appears in their email inbox.

By default, your blog will come with a built-in subscription service called RSS. I will try not to go all scary on you here. But this is good information to know.

RSS is typically for intermediate to advanced web users. It’s for people who don’t want to increase the noise (the amount of emails they receive) in their email inbox. Instead, they use a free online service called an RSS Reader (Google has one, and Bloglines is another).

When you sign on to your RSS Reader account, BINGO, all the blogs you’ve ever subscribed to show up in reading panes (think online newspaper), making it easier to digest the information you’re interested in.

The good news here is all blog platforms by nature include this link invitation to have your readers subscribe by RSS. So there is nothing you really need to do. However, not all blog readers (including your blog readers) may be as technically sophisticated and will probably prefer receiving an email from you instead.

Providing an email subscription link in addition to the already provided RSS link helps you cover your blogosphere booty for more of the web-reading population: the tech-savvy & the getting-their-tech-savvy-on.

Adding An Email Subscription Feature Using Feedburner

So how do you add email subscription to your blog? The service you’ll want here is called Feedburner and it’s free. You’ll set up the account, and Feedburner provides you HTML code to install as a widget on your blog. I’ve already written about RSS Feeds and Feedburner and the post also includes a short 5-minute video tutorial on using Feedburner.

That’s it! The 3 must-have items for any beginner blog/blogger.

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  1. bindu wiles says:

    RT @myndemayfield: Blog Item! – 3 Must-Have’s For Your Blog http://bit.ly/a26pTN

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