Jon Symons operates Ninja Blog Setup (http://www.ninjablogsetup.com/) a blog setup service that offers fully tricked out WordPress blog installations.
Most people dive right in and setup a blog without giving it much for-thought, but actually some pre-planning can save a lot of headaches, increase your earning potential and get you up and running much faster.
What follows are the 5 main questions that need to be considered before launching into your next blog.
My apologies to The Bard, but this is the most important question and the easiest one to mess up. The biggest regret of experienced bloggers is that they started out on a free blog like Blogger.
The reason? The better your blog gets the more limitations you'll encounter by being on a free blog. Domain names and web hosting will cost about $6 a month, but will be a very good investment if you stick with blogging for any length of time.
Bottom line: try a free blog (I prefer WordPress.com to Blogger.com) for a couple weeks just to see if you like blogging, then pay the money and get a real hosted WordPress blog on a domain name that you own and like.
There are two main reasons that bloggers don't make as much money as they would like. The first is that they choose a topic that just doesn't have enough money in it, and the second will be covered in the next question.
How can you tell if your topic has money in it?
The easiest way is to take your topic and put it into Google and count the number of "Sponsored Results" that show up on the top and right hand side of the results of your search. Look for a topic with at least 20 or 30 ads.
The theory behind this quick way of testing profit is that if there are people willing to purchase ads, then there is money to be made with this topic.
The exception to this market research method would be "pop culture" topics. Do a search for the latest hit TV show and there may not be any "Sponsored Results" but these kinds of topics can still make money due to the high volume of people searching for them. You can use Google Trends to spot high volume topics.
Bottom line: choose a topic with either lots of advertisers or very high interest levels.
The second biggest cause of low earnings is choosing a topic that you aren't in love with.
There are two reasons why this is important:
If you don't love your topic, chances are you will lose interest long before you make any money at it. My acid test is: would you still blog about this everyday even if no-one read it, or you never made any money at it? If yes, then you've got a good topic.
The second reason is the blogging for dollars can be competitive. Only someone who is in love with there topic will have the determination to get to the top of a niche, which is where the money is. If you don't love it, set backs can seem like road blocks.
Bottom line: keep a notebook and write down everything you do in a week. Order them by your enjoyment level of each item, and choose a topic for your blog from as close as possible to the top of the list.
If you've answered the first three questions you're almost ready to start blogging. The next step is to pick a domain name for your site.
Here's my crash course in finding a great domain name for you blog.
If you follow those guidelines you'll avoid most of the common blog domain name mistakes.
The last tip is, once you pick your name; wait a couple days before you commit to it. If you still love it after the initial buzz has worn off, then it is probably a keeper.
Bottom line: follow the guidelines above, and pick a name that's easy to tell someone in a conversation and have them find your site.
The last step if finding a hosting company to
For basic hosting there are really only a few things that matter. There are 7 or 8 established and reputable blog hosting (http://www.ninjablogsetup.com/blog/wordpress-blog-hosting/) companies that all offer perfectly acceptable hosting for your site at about the same price.
The only real hosting decisions to make are how many sites you'd like to host and whether to pay month by month or for a year up front. You can save money if you pick a hosting plan that allows you to host only one site, but most people will end up starting 2 or 3 blogs so an account that allows multiple blogs, or any kind of site, is often the best choice. Most hosting companies will offer a decent discount if you pay for an entire year up front.
Bottom line: find a well known site that you like and see who their hosting company is. Don't spend too much time obsessing on finding the perfect hosting company. All the reputable ones are quite similar.
Congratulations you're ready to start blogging. All the most popular blog hosing companies offer easy installation of WordPress, or if you want to get on the fast track and have a blog installed and fully configured by a professional, you could use an WordPress installation service (http://www.ninjablogsetup.com/blog/our-service/).