There is a lot of information out there about how to start a blog — but don’t click that link. The following instructions are a lot easier and you’ll get the same result:

1. Ignore buzzwords.
RSS, SEO, AdSense, Technorati, Digg. If you have a buzz word buzzing in your head and you’re not sure if it belongs on the ignore list, assume it does.

2. Pick a topic — you can change it when you know what you’re doing.
This is like dating. Pick something that seems good, and if it isn’t, try again. Don’t get hung up on topic. As in dating, you’ll know when you’ve found one that’s the right fit. There are some obvious things, like pick a topic you have a lot to say about, pick something that interests you, pick something that will help your career. This is great advice, but you already know that if you look for a perfect match you’ll never actually go on a date.

3. Spend two seconds choosing software.
Ignore the fact that there are lots of choices. I will give you two: Blogger and TypePad. Pick one. It doesn’t matter which one. Click on the home page where it says open an account. Don’t worry about what you click during setup. It’s very hard to do damage that you can’t fix later. Finding good software to host your own blog used to be really complicated. But sites like Hosting Facts have taken everything you need to know about hosting your blog and put it all in one place.

4. Post something right now.
Don’t tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow. Blogging is about courage to say something. Don’t worry about being stupid because trust me, no one is reading your blog. Post anything. You can nix bad posts later. For now just start writing.

5. Practice, practice, practice.
Post, post, post. Soon you’ll find the link button and make a link. Maybe you’ll find a category button and make a category. Maybe you won’t find those buttons for weeks. Don’t worry. You’re practicing. And if you happen to write something really good you can feature it later, when people are reading.

6. Ignore your lack of readers.
The hardest part is sitting down to post on a regular basis. Don’t distract yourself with blog promotion until you’re sure you can actually do the writing. If you can blog regularly for a month, you can be a blogger.

When you get to number six, and you’ve made it through a month, go back over this post, and click all the stuff I told you to ignore.

140 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. littlepurplecow
    littlepurplecow says:

    Great advice Penelope. Exploring other blogs was incredibly helpful to me when I got started… giving me a view of what’s possible, what works and what doesn’t work. Technorati (a blog directory) is helpful in uncovering some good examples. I like the ability to search blogs by key terms.

    It’s fun to see how your voice unfolds post after post… the more you blog, the more comfortable you become. Sort of like breaking in a new pair of shoes.

    P.S. Should we tell them how addicting it can be?

  2. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Yes, you make a good point about watching your voice unfold. I think there is intrinsic value in seeing who we are through what we write. And this growth and self-knowledge is independent of the amount of mistakes we make or the amount of traffic we have.

  3. Gwenn
    Gwenn says:

    Penelope,
    Just found your blog thru the link on Amazon for Steve Fox’s book. It is now 4:00 am (had to get up at 2:30 to let the dog out, good thing I love my dog)couldn’t go back to sleep, so I went on Amazon for “5 minutes” I have been sitting at my computer reading thru your site for over an hour now. Your are the best. Thank you for your very useful, interesting and sound advice. I will visit often. Gwenn in Michigan
    P.S. Thanks for keeping it simple. I am starting a blog, have been “reviewing software” I am taking your advice and have decided on Type Pad-will follow your suggested steps.Should of done it 2 months ago-thanks for your help in my decision making process-too much information out there.

  4. adla
    adla says:

    GOOD DAY PENELOPE,
    * Glad to find your site.Your knowledge, ideas , and advice,really deserve to be spread and shared with people to touch their lifes .
    Your articles are helpful,useful,simple and easy to understand by every one. Thank you and Good luck ..

  5. Girish
    Girish says:

    The best instructions I got in a long, long while. Your article has just inspired me to take the plunge. Here goes…………

  6. Anton Samrai
    Anton Samrai says:

    Very interesting article, Penelope. I was just curious about how people attract readers to their blogs? What channels do they use?

    * * * * * *

    It’s a question with endless answers because there are so many possibliities. I learned about stuff like this by reading a lot of blogs to understand how I chose what to read for myself. But also, I read a lot of blogs that desciribe how to run a blog business. My favorite is Problogger.net.

    –Penelope

  7. Wealth Building Lessons
    Wealth Building Lessons says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I blog on my favorite topic – making money – and i’ve made a ton of friends who like reading about it!

    we don’t always see eye-to-eye, but thats no problem at all.

  8. Amruthraj Belaldavar
    Amruthraj Belaldavar says:

    Have been trying for sometime now to keep up with my blogging; but after reading this article, am sure will be back at blogging! thanks!

  9. Alok Kolekar
    Alok Kolekar says:

    Penelope:

    Wow!! Have been browsing your blog for a couple of hours now. Very interesting and informative career advice. Just curious on how you can think of so many informative articles to write about?

    * * * * * *

    Thank you, Alok. I really care a lot about the topic. I think that’s what makes me able to come up with posts. I spend most of my time trying to figure out how to make my own career and my own life work well together. This generates a lot of ideas for things to write about.

    –Penelope

  10. Gonzo
    Gonzo says:

    Thanks Penelope for this great tutorial ;)
    I admired it that much, so I translated it into German (and put it into German context)

  11. Karen Eaton
    Karen Eaton says:

    Thanks for the great article. I’ve been reading blogs for at least a few years in my field, without ever starting one. Finally, after reading your post, I’m giving it a shot.

    The final tipping-point for me in deciding to create one: a desire to change practice areas as an attorney. I’m hoping my blog will help me to increase my reading in the practice area I hope to enter and will help me to gain some expertise in the area.

    As you noted, no one is reading yet, but I hope to start gaining some readers as I learn more and converse more with others interested in the same topic.

    My new blog: http://povertypolicy.blogspot.com

    Thanks again, Karen

  12. James W. Beane
    James W. Beane says:

    Read your article on networking. I will agree it can be important but I think working on your qualifications is more important and should have been noted as such. The world is full of con men who think they can network. Hardworking people who have documented qualifications are more scarce.

    * * * * * *

    Here’s why working on netowrking is at least as important as your qualifications:1. A wide body of research — for example Bob Sutton
    (Stanford) or Tiziana Casciaro (Harvard) — shows that people would rather work with someone who is lacking skills but is likeable. Sutton even has a cost benefit analysis that shows dealing with someone who is unlikeable is not worth the cost.

    Networking is the act of being nice and making yourself likeable. If you think it’s something else, you don’t know what you’re doing.

    2. The best way to get an interview for a job is not to have the perfect skills, it’s to have the perfect network. How many times have you heard someone say they were perfect for the job advertised and didn’t even get an interview? The reason is because someone who is better at networking got the interview.

    Penelope

    • Bashful Dodger
      Bashful Dodger says:

      Mr. Beane (and Ms. Trunk, if you’re still reading comments), I’m only 15 and not at all skilled at “networking.” I’m extremely introverted and hate going out and “schmoozing” because it just seems so fake. I know people say “life isn’t fair” but it just, well, doesn’t seem fair that someone who’s a more dedicated, diligent worker gets passed over for his/her ideal spot in life because s/he isn’t an effective “networker” (aka elbow-rubber).

      I know this article is over five years old by now, but I’m feeling lost when it comes to “networking” advice for people like me, who more than not are told to simply “get over it” and “push out of your comfort zone.” Can you offer some practical, but also compassionate, advice for the most extreme of introverts who hates “social networking” in all forms (online and off) but still wants to extend his/her message to the rest of the world? I just hate how one’s chances of success nowadays are measured not by performance but personality! :(

      • scarlit
        scarlit says:

        you are an adorably intelligent fifteen year old (please dont take that condescendingly, you remind me of myself 10 years ago)
        when the rest of your peers catch up to you, it’ll be a lot easier to let your hair – and your guard – down.

      • Sarah Rolph
        Sarah Rolph says:

        The best networking is not fake, it’s when you’re being yourself. The problem is that so many of us are uncomfortable being ourselves in a social situation. That’s why people act in ways that seem fake–we put on a persona that we think will help us to be accepted. Also, the most uncomfortable a person is the more likely we are to use behaviors that help us to cope–talking too much, making jokes, hiding, incessant smalltalk, clamming up, etc. So I understand why it seems fake, one does see a lot of this.

        To learn to network, learn to be confident just being yourself. Make a plan in advance of what you want to achieve at the networking event and how you are going to do so. For introverts, it’s often a good idea to plan out some specific things to say.

        Arm yourself with a short answer to all the standard questions, so you feel more prepared. People tend to ask who you are, what you do, why you are at the event, maybe where you are from, where you went to (or go to) school, etc. You don’t have to give standard answers or long answers, and you can turn the questions around to take the spotlight off yourself once you have answered politely.

        For example, if someone asks me what I do, if I haven’t rehearsed I might say I’m a marketing consultant with a background in software and technology but I spend more time writing now because…. and I might go on for a long time because I am an extrovert, but I just turned you off in our networking conversation, right? So I have learned to say “I’m a writer.” (And then shut up for a minute, which is something most people appreciate, especially you introverts, who would like a moment to process the first bit of information before receiving the next thirty-eight.)

        Most people think writing is interesting. Nobody thinks marketing consultants are interesting, and everyone is pretty sure you are selling something, so they shy away. So that change of plan made a big improvement in my networking.

        If I were an introvert, my planned answer might be: “I’m a business writer. What do you do?”

        Then keep asking questions. Learn to ask them based on what the person has said. For example, if the answer was “I run a software company,” your questions might be “How long have you been doing that?” “How did you get into the software field?” Etc. That particular question, how did you get into this field, usually generates a nice long answer and tells you a lot about the person. That should give you a lot of material to work with. Most people will talk for a long time about themselves and the things they are interested in. There’s a saying that the person who talks the most is the one who remembers that interesting things were said…. Keep them talking!

        The most common mistake in networking is to be overly goal-directed. It’s not appropriate, or necessary, or helpful, to think in terms of what you are trying to get from other people. Nor should you be worried about what you have to offer. You never know what will be interesting to others.

        Instead, focus on learning who people are and giving them some information about who you are. You don’t have to “schmooze,” you can just converse. Be straightforward and clear. “I’m here because I’m interested in math and was hoping I might meet someone who uses math in their profession.” Or whatever. People like to help people, usually, so once someone knows what you are interested in, they are likely to say, oh, that lady in red just told me she is a statistician, they use math. The networking thing to do is then to go introduce yourself to her and say “that gentleman mentioned that you’re a statistician — I’m interested in speaking with people who use math in their profession, do you have a moment to chat?” She most likely will be delighted to chat, because you have shown an interest in what she does.

        Then just share your enthusiasm for whatever it is you are interested in and you will find yourself in a real live non-fake networking conversation.

        If your goal for the networking event was to practice networking, you’ve just met it. If you want to meet new people or make professional contacts, ask for their contact information. Say something like “I enjoyed speaking with you, could we keep in touch?” They will probably give you a business card or something. (You can have business cards made for yourself, too, even if you dont have a business, just put your name and contact information on there. Email and phone is enough.)

        Go at your own pace, pick venues that match your interests, and try to have fun!

  13. Ward Campbell
    Ward Campbell says:

    3/2007
    Relationship development and how we treat other people determines the level of success we have in life.

    Getting beyond getting to get adds a demention to giving that is hard to explain.

    But here goes:
    Getting to get is fine. It helps us move towards giving because it is benificial to the people we help period.

    Also it’s easy think we are helping others when in fact our help is neither necessary or wanted.

    So some simples rules apply:
    Any time you can work through a 3rd party agency to help others, do it. When we can’t, be carefull because we think we are helping when we are just making things worse for the people we are helping.

    Example: Most poor people are poor for a reason or many reasons. and giving them money might seem good on the surface. But we run the risk of having them think: That was easy I’ll just do that. I’ll just be a person who depends on the genorosity of others.

    Now when people are hungry, and they have children who are hungry then all bets are off we need to do what ever we can to help.

    Helping others is very important (for us) irregardless of why we do it.

    Ward Campbell
    Thermopolis, Wyoming USA

    • Jim
      Jim says:

      I’m an internet neophyt of the “old school”of books. They were people’s ideas printed on pages. You could hold them in your hand and go back to them again and again. They used to take time and thought. The greatest part about these things was the access it gave to someone elses thoughts, feelings, ideas, and general experience of their lives. And low and behold you sometimes found an uncanny similarity to things you are feeling. It united you with not only the living writers but also the ones who have passed. I would like very much to see these same connections through a “blog” but it seems that most of the stuff you read is about the mechanics of it all. I’m not sure if our forefathers spent a lot of time discussing the wonders of various paper stock. I am more interested in what they told me about on the paper. I’ve been discovering an unbelievable source of pure love in the hundreds of notes and letters that my recently deceased wife of 42years, a “pack rat” of epic proportions, has left. I spent almost 42 years complaining about it and now hope to spend the next several enjoying revisiting those incredible experiences. Do you think a “blog” would be the place to express this?

      • Michelle Howe
        Michelle Howe says:

        Jim,
        Incredible choice of words that flow so fluid with your thoughts. I enjoyed your blog and agree that it can open a creative forum for expression, thoughts, and ideas of many kinds for many people. Here, we can explore so much of others and open our minds to what the rest of the world has to offer.

        Sounds like you are learning a lot in your own confides about cherished relics that your deceased wife had kept. What once seemed like a burden is now the cherish articles that defined her.

        How life can complicate what is really important: love, life, and wabi sabi!

        Look it up!
        :)
        Michelle Howe

  14. Andrea Gibson
    Andrea Gibson says:

    I am trying to find out how to start my blog and am still not sure what to do. I have so many thoughts i’d like to put out there but am a little in the dark still. There seems to be so much to do. I feel the need to say things that I think are insightful and would empty my head of so many thoughts. I will continue to try to understand and hopefully will find (and be able to accomplish) my wish. Sincerely, proud grandmother from NC Andrea Gibson.

    * * * * * *
    Hi, Andrea. You are right in thinking that a blog is a great way to empty your head of thougths that keep coming. That’s a big reason I like to blog. What would I do with all my thoughts otherwise?!?!

    It’s very easy to start. You just write. Go to wordpress.com and you can click start and just type and then publish. Don’t worry about making mistakes. It’s very very hard to make a mistake at the beginning. Maybe impossible.

    Good luck!

    Penelope

  15. barry hariperad
    barry hariperad says:

    read comments re: your blogg.First, how do I get onto your blogg.I like the idea of blogging,however, I do not fully undersatand the concept.If it is O.K for you to drop me a line it would be much appreciated. barry.

  16. Biodun
    Biodun says:

    Useful Post! Thanks for the tios.
    Blogging is being a huge commitment most especially at first. Its depend on how you define success for yourself.

  17. Jan Richards
    Jan Richards says:

    So love this post.

    You describe the “blog with training wheels” or “learning lab” approach I’ve used to quietly and persistently practice, experiment, learn, experiment some more for a while now. It’s helpful to see it summarized here, with some other ideas to try.

    The rest of your blog looks great, too.

    Thanks so much!

  18. FIBer
    FIBer says:

    I really appreciate this post. I think it will be helpful to a lot of people. I have linked to it at the blog I started partly by the influence of it. Thank you for your help.

  19. anita mcants
    anita mcants says:

    Great Advice! I’m always looking for useful information to share with others. I will email this link to my family and friends. Even if they are not interested in blogging, they may know someone who is.

  20. Karen
    Karen says:

    Thank you very much, Penelope, for writing this post, so long ago now.

    I’ve been using it as the very basic post of my own blog:”How To Start Your Own Blog From Scratch” since almost a year ago. It is a Spanish blog, so I translated your post. And it has helped a lot of Spanish spoken people to start.

    I did not ask for your permission then, I’m doing it now… :-) Thanks a lot again.

  21. joe
    joe says:

    after that, you guys should really try adbrite to make money. I think they're even better than adsense and they do send you your money. you can make about 200$ a day if you really work on it and have a good strategy.

  22. Shriniwas Hemade
    Shriniwas Hemade says:

    O Penelope ,
    thankx a lot . your way of furnsihig and enriching someone is really excellent. You have given correct and apt information. It is very important that you have rightly noticed the begginers mind setup. I have started my blog and committed few mistakes as well ! But as u said thankx for the fact nobody reads it !
    Thanx again and i will fallow the tips u hv given

  23. Laurie
    Laurie says:

    Haha.. this is the BEST! I don’t know if I have ever left a comment on someone’s blog before (unless they were a friend) but this article was sooooo good I just couldn’t help it! I’m going to go RIGHT NOW and start my blog (after I bookmark this page!) :-)

    Thanks again!

  24. Sam
    Sam says:

    Great advice. I just started my own blog on Personal Finance. It is a little discouraging having so few readers, but I am hoping it will pick up in the future. I’m going to go through those links now, I know I will hang for a month. :)

  25. Mike
    Mike says:

    Excellent post. You really hit the point, that blog is really about content, and less about everything else. Great content will make your blog.

  26. Suzie Harfnan
    Suzie Harfnan says:

    WordPress and blogger offer free blogs that are easy to setup up and quick (about 4 minutes or less). The only downside is you don’t get much functionality or control over your blog’s javascript and look. But it is free and fast and therefore perfect for the beginner blogger.

  27. Rita Wingfield
    Rita Wingfield says:

    Thank you!! I’ve been researching for days on how to start a blog but I have been overwhelmed by all the information. I also have been hesitant to start because I don’t want to make any mistakes I can’t fix. So thank you for making it ok to just start! I am going to take your advice and see what happens.

  28. kasey
    kasey says:

    how do I find a nice template for typepad I want one with tabs on top and I cant figure it out. Your instructions are great

  29. samantha
    samantha says:

    hi..i need some advice..my boyfriend gets hateful really easy and gets a temper..he says hes trying to change and that he really loves me and he wants to be with me forever..hes never hurt me or tried to hurt me i believe he really does love me..he gets really jealous easy..but to him its like if i do somethin he does im the bad guy and hes done nothing wrong..idk..i really am in love with him..and we have so much fun together but i hate how upset he gets if i tell him he did somethin to bother me because he doesn’t think he did anything wrong and he gets sarcastic all the time with me..am i just thinking to much into it or what..

    -Samantha

    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Hi Samantha,
      I came across your request for advice. My response will be a first for me, addressing someone that I have never met or have no idea about who you are. I realize too, that you posted your request seven months ago.

      Let me say first that I have met people like your boyfriend, someone that is easily angered when they feel that they are not in control. The problem is that this individual will never be comfortable so long as someone besides you and he exist on the face of the earth. He must control to exist, and will find fault in everything and anything. Ask yourself if you truly feel comfortable when he is around. Do you breathe easier when he is away? Do you tense up when you know when he will return? I think you know where this is going.

      Find someone that you feel comfortable with. Love is kind of tricky and confusing. It also kind of comes and goes. Make sure your “love” isn’t really fear of what will happen to you if you don’t react properly. I hope that when you read this, you will have already made the choice that is right for you.

      Mark

  30. Becky H
    Becky H says:

    Samantha, You say he doesn’t hurt you (YET) but what about your feelings? This guy is a bully, who doesn’t give a damn about how you feel, and he is just a step or two away from being a physical abuser! I bet that he doesn’t like your family or friends either and is moving you away from them. That is typical abuser method! Get away from him as quickly as you can!!! Yeah, I know you “love” him, but how can you love someone who uses his “temper” as an excuse to belittle and berate you? Have you no love for yourself? Someone who loves you does not hurt your feelings! Dump him!! You can easily find a real man who respects your feelings!

  31. Michelle Howe
    Michelle Howe says:

    You have to start somewhere and this is simple advice for the new timers…like me. I hope that no question is stupid. At least we are trying to understand.
    Sincerely,
    Michelle Howe

  32. Chris Cruden
    Chris Cruden says:

    ccruden@erinet.com I opened one blog, Nedurc, and now I have five and I have no idea why or where they came from. It is impossible to ask questions of Blogger.com and I have many. How do I find a more helpful service or is that such a descriptive word?
    Background: I have a problem due to military service simply described as Nerve Damage. It manifests itself as confusion, in addition to this delightful disfunctional compromise I am older than Moses (77years to be more accurate)with more to publish than is maybe wise but at this age and my unique experience “they” will never catch me. I know more that “they” do.

    How did Michael Howe get in on my request for help??

    • Chris Cruden
      Chris Cruden says:

      Great system this, now I answer my own question and and request for help!!!! I wonder if I can get back to the military and counter terrorism, terrorism was simpler.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. IndianPad says:

    The Easiest Instructions For – How to start a blog ?

    The Easiest Instructions For – How to start a blog ? posted at IndianPad.com

Newer Comments »

Comments are closed.