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5 Easy Steps to Build a Blog 

Do you want to have an online presence?  Do you want to start an online business?  Do you have something that you want to share with the world?  If so, these 5 simple steps will get you on your way.

Don't worry if you are inexperienced, because I'll walk you through it.  With these steps, it is simple and inexpensive to get online!

Steps 1 and 2:

Right off of the bat, you have a choice.  I guess if these were 5 completely simple steps I'd make the choice for you, but I think this is one you should make on your own.

How comfortable are you with technology?  

Option # 1:

If you aren't at all, I recommend that you select Squarespace (free trial) to host your blog.  Squarespace is a fully hosted, completely managed environment for creating and maintaining a beautiful website, blog, or portfolio.  It includes complete social network integration, apps for iOS and Android, seamless blog importing, and intuitive editing.    Plus, they have 24/7 customer support and, when I've had questions, they've been amazingly responsive.  This site is hosted by Squarespace, so if you like the look and feel of this site, then you'll be happy with Squarespace, and you can try Squarespace for free for fourteen days with this link.  When I say "free," I really mean it.  They don't take any credit card information or anything, so it is a great way to try out their fantastic service with absolutely no obligation.

If you like Squarespace and you want your own unique domain name (without Squarespace embedded in it), you'll need to register a domain name (e.g., my domain name here is http://livetheneweconomy.com).  I recommend Hover.com for domain name registration, because their site is clean, they don't try to rope you in for a bunch of extras, and they have been rock solid for me.  I used Hover.com to register Live the New Economy and I'm not a Hover affiliate, so my recommendation comes without any financial benefit to this site, and is based purely upon my regard for my experience there.

Once you register your domain name, you will need to tie it to your Squarespace blog.  To do so, follow these instructions.  Trust me, this is the most complicated part of the entire process.

One note on selecting a domain name:  web sites live or die based upon the traffic they generate.  This is especially true with e-commerce sites, niche sites, or other commercial ventures.  One way to get a leg up early on is to select a domain name with the keyword that you are trying to target in the actual domain name.  For instance, I was targeting "adjustable dumbbells" when I registered our niche site www.adjustabledumbbellscenter.com.  But how do you know which keywords to target?  Well, as I detailed here, I didn't do this well at all early on, trying to use only the Google Keywords Tool, and I had two failed niche sites as a result.  For this reason, I highly recommend that you invest in Market Samurai (free trial) prior to registering your domains, so that you do proper keyword analysis.   Market Samurai is the premier keyword analysis tool that allows you to discover the best keywords for your sites and exposes your competitors' weaknesses.  Already it has shown me how foolish I was to select my early niches.  It is remarkably easy to use, and I can't imagine going back to the Google Keywords Tool (free) alone. Trying to be cheap when I first started ended up costing me more in the long run with poorly-targeted sites.  

Option # 2:

If you are a little more daring (no, really, only a little), then you might want to opt for a Wordpress site.  Wordpress is a little less user-friendly than Squarespace, but in selecting it you get the most commonly used blogging platform and, therefore, a TON of already developed plug-ins, add-ons, themes, and other useful things that will give you a massive amount of flexibility.  if you intend to register a domain name and host a Wordpress site, I recommend that you select BlueHost.com for your domain registration and hosting.  They are inexpensive and they will set up your WordPress blog for you!  BlueHost will also give you a free domain name when you sign up for their hosting, which is a great deal!

Step 3:

With either option, you'll need to select a theme.  Squarespace has dozens of themes built into their service.  If you selected Wordpress, then I recommend the Flexibility 3.0 theme (free), which I use over at one of our niche sites, www.adjustabledumbbellscenter.com, and you can go to visit if you'd like to see it in action.   

Step 4:  

At some point, you are going to want a way to collect email information from your readers.  Why is that?  Well, you are going to want to contact them periodically to let them know what is going with your site, extend offers to them, but most importantly to give you a proactive way to engage with your readers and get them to return to your site.  

Squarespace offers a basic email collection widget, but as your site grows and your readership increases, you are going to want to invest in something much more powerful.  For that, I recommend AWeber ($1 first month!).  AWeber provides professional email signup forms and powerful auto responder services to stay engaged with your readers.  Plus, you can sign up for their services for just $1 here for the first month.  

Step 5:

Now, create quality content!  The moment you begin to read about blogging, niche sites, or any other new economy enterprise, one of the first things you'll hear is "create quality content."  Let's be honest:  blogs are a dime a dozen.  You need to find a way to set yourself apart.  

I'm probably breaking some sort of cardinal rule with this, but I'm going to refer you off-site to a fabulous post titled "10 Things to Do on Day One of Your Blog."  As I pointed out here, I arrived at most of these on my own after several weeks, but I would have loved to have this sort of blueprint on day one.

Those are the five steps!  Congratulations on the creation of your new and interesting blog!  Feel free to leave a post here with your new site's address so that all of us can come and check it out! 

A note on ads:  Some of you will want to try to generate some revenue off of your site early.  Google AdSense is the 500-pound gorilla of internet advertising and it is a great way to generate revenue without much effort on your part.  That said, Google is absolutely inflexible about their terms of service and they can pull your account with no explanation FOR LIFE with little to no recourse on your part.  Therefore, I highly recommend that you read my own lessons learned about Google AdSense and abstain from using them until you truly understand what you are doing.  As a newbie, I wish I would have had someone tell me the same thing!  Oh, and even if you do decide to use them, diversify early and often, as too many people have found themselves without a backup plan if they lose their AdSense!

Please check out our Tools page for more information on other tools that we are using at Live the New Economy.