Geeky Like Me: How to Start Your Blog (and Why)

Geeky Like MeI joke around all the time about what a geek I’ve become, since I write for multiple blogs now (in addition to my website.) The truth is that I love writing, and internet technology has provided a fun platform that allows me publish instantly and affordably. Also, no trees were harmed in the writing of this article. That’s not just geeky–that’s smart!

People often ask me how to get started. This usually occurs after they read one of my blogs, but especially after I tell them how happy and relieved I am that I don’t use Constant Contact anymore for my newsletter. Don’t get me wrong, I think Constant Contact is still the best typical email newsletter service, but there were a few drawbacks that really started to wear me down:

  • Writing 3-4 “formal” articles per monthly issue became laborious. It took 8 hours to write and format each one.
  • Inserting photos and formatting wasn’t all that easy.
  • Anyone with a GoDaddy-based email account, couldn’t receive them. I couldn’t even receive my own! (They block Constant Contact emails at a server level.)
  • “Open rates” dropped to about 40% overall. It’s not just GoDaddy, many ISP’s consider all Constant Contact mail to be spam, even when people legitimately sign up and want to receive your list.
  • Posting past issues of my newsletter on my website was really difficult.

So I was getting frustrated by the technology, even though I loved writing and developed a strong readership. In short, I was ready to dump the system I was using. Blogging was on the rise at that time, and new technology started making that easier.

It’s been a year since I switched, and I’m thrilled with the results:

  • Blog-style writing is more informal and freeing.
  • I write about 7 posts a week (over 3 blogs) and it’s fun, not hard.
  • My articles are posted instantly, with very little formatting (unless I want to get fancy.)
  • I get listed in the top 3 on Google all the time because I write quality content.
  • My blog posts are converted into a weekly email newsletter automatically.

Bottom line: I thing that blogging is a lot easier and more effective than sending email newsletters.

Ready to look into it for yourself?

I’m going to tell you the key resources I use for my blogs. It’s so easy, you should be able to figure it out from this list.

1. Buy a domain name for your blog.
It’s not a requirement, but it’s much nicer if you do give your blog it’s own name.
Resource: NameCheap.com
Price: Approximately $10/year

2. Use blogging software.
For me, it’s all about ease-of-use right now. I like Typepad, where you build/author/host online. There’s no software to download, and you don’t need a website. You can write articles ahead of time, and save them as drafts to be sent out later. Sometimes I write a few a week, but when I can write more, I save them. Then when I’m traveling or busy, I still have new blog articles appearing automatically.

There are 3 different levels at Typepad, and I strongly recommend the mid-level Plus Plan. With that level, you can add a custom domain name (like I mentioned in step 1) and also make your blog look nicer. The Plus Plan has nice-looking predesigned templates, as well as flexibility to pick custom colors and fonts. You also get up to 3 blogs included, in case you’re really geeky like me.
Resource: Typepad.com
Price: $8.95/month for the Pro Plan

3. Use a feed delivery service.
Blogs can be read online like a website, but they are really meant to be subscription publications. After you write a blog article, it goes out to subscribers in a “feed.” A feed delivery service converts your blog articles to a format that people can read in “feed-reader” software. You need this service, but the best one is free. They have some other neat add-ons and features as well.
Resource: FeedBurner.com
Price: free

4. Use an email delivery service.
This is the magic step that allowed me to switch from Constant Contact to blogging. I use a blog-to-email service called FeedBlitz that receives my “feed” (as in step 3 above) and sends it out to my email subscribers. Most of my readers prefer email, so they can save & read my articles at their leisure. Once you set up the service, with a customized look and import your subscriber’s emails, the rest is almost automatic.

Weekly, daily, or monthly (you choose) your email delivery service will check for new blog articles you wrote and send them out in a newsletter. I love this. All I do is write articles now, the rest “just happens.” The only exception is we still have to manage the customer list, but I have my super-smart executive assistant Debbie doing that part for me. (Thanks, Deb!) I write–that’s it!

Note: There is a free version, but it’s not suitable for business. You want to get 2 upgrades. Turbo allows you to schedule your email frequency (I choose weekly.) Pro allows you to customize your email template with a logo and signature. To be professional, you want both of those features.

One caveat: I’m still unsure how FeedBlitz delivery rates compare to Constant Contact. My stats report that they all get delivered ok, but I suspect that a lot of them still get caught in spam filters. In any case, even if delivery rates are as low as Constant Contact, the process is so much better in other ways that I’m very happy that I switched.

Resource: FeedBlitz.com
Price: $8.95/month for Turbo + $4.95/month for Pro. Total cost: $13.95/month.

5. Spice it up with photos.
Not every blog post needs to be a long article! In fact, it’s a lot more interesting if you break up blocks of text with pictures. There are a lot of free and inexpensive websites where you can buy clipart. But why settle for generic when you can take your own digital photos?

One of my favorite blog tools is Flickr, where I can store and host an unlimited amount of digital photos. Flickr has some easy tools to insert your photos into your blog with just a couple of clicks.
Resource: Flickr.com
Price: Free – $24.95/year for unlimited photos

That’s really it! It’s not very hard. If you’ve already been creating your own email newsletters in Constant Contact, then you know enough about inserting photos and formatting to start a nice-looking blog!

If you decide to take the leap and join me here in the blogosphere, please send me a link to your blog!

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About the Author

Jaya Savannah - Chief Inspiration Officer. Strategy Coach for Holistic Businesses. Trainer, speaker, and writer. Spiritually aware, yet street smart. Elephant lover.

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