One of the first things we putted in practice after deciding to advance with this project was to build a blog. We never had a blog before, although I tried several times to write one (I've always loved to write about everything!), but this project definitely needed one! Of course we are just beginning our blog, but we already discovered so many things that we have decided to share them with you.
Step #1 - Choose your project name
Your project name will define the entire blog, from the domain name (www.yourproject.com) to the theme, format and organization. Whatever is your blog about try to choose a short and easy to memorize name. And of course it has to do with your project idea. It is a travel blog? A blog about food or health? Our blog is about sharing while travelling and that's why we've found the word KONIGI which means SHARE in Esperanto.
Step #2 - Host and register your address
This was a confusing part for us. Fortunately in internet you can find several websites and videos that show you how to do it on an easy and quick way. I specially liked the Tyler website that explains how to do a WordPress blog or website step by step (including the domain and the hosting parts). Hosting means renting a place on internet to have your website there. You can do both things, hosting and choosing/registering a domain through BlueHost. They have good monthly and annual plans and the service and assistance works pretty well. For the domain registration and one-year hosting we paid around 30 dollars.
Step #3 - Choose a Blog platform
To build our website we used the WordPress software. It is a well-know way to create websites (60 million people have chosen this software, including companies like CNN and The New York Times). Because it is so popular you can find several tutorials online that can help and give you some tips and ideas. WordPress is also an easy and cheap way to build your blog and you do not even need to know code to do something nice and attractive (of course that you can also use code if you want!).
Step #4 - Choose a theme
WordPress has several free themes for you to choose. It has also thousands of paid themes (premium) and you can easily spend hours and hours trying to find the perfect theme. For paid themes I will recommend the ThemeForest platform because they have a huge amount of themes with prices between 20 and 5o dollars. Despite that, we decided to choose one free theme since we found some that had almost everything we wanted (at least for now!). Do not forget that choosing a theme has everything to do with your project and idea. For our travel/social blog we wanted something where people could easily access to the menu categories, last posts and ideas, and something that was colorful and organized enough to be attractive to other readers and bloggers. It could be useful to see other blogs and websites to have a better idea of the final results and the appearance you can get.
Step #5 - Add useful plugins
There are thousands of free (and paid) plugins in the WordPress software. Some of them come directly with the chosen theme and others you just need to download them through the platform. We found really useful plugins for our website, specially the Akismet, WordPress SEO and Social Media, but we are still discovering new plugins that could be useful to improve our website. We will try to keep you updated!
Step #6 - Create pages, categories and tags
This has been in constant change in our website. We created something in the beginning but then we decided to change it for several times. The thing is that a blog or a website is a WIP (Work In Progress) project, specially in situations like this one. We will be travelling around South America visiting several cities and countries and collaborating with startups and nonprofit companies. Of course any idea we have about the website today will change through time. We started with some pages and categories we knew we will be using for sure based in our project idea and other travel websites/blogs.
Step #7 - Add awesome photos
Your website or blog will be much more attractive if you add good, original and different photos and images. It is proved that an image attracts much more than a text and that's important because you want people to see (and read!) your blog. So it is time to start taking some good photos and add them to your blog. There are no limits for the kind and number of photos you can add to your blog but try to choose the best ones!
Step #8 - Social media is a must
Using social media is the best way to get traction for your blog. It is a requirement for anyone that want to build a successful travel blog (or other kind of blog!). Do not forget to share the posts you write in your blog through your social media accounts. For our project we created accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. This does not mean we are not thinking about other social media accounts, because it is an area that is constantly changing over time and we need to be always updated.
Step #9 - Pick a niche
This is something we read in several websites before starting our own project. In our case we've decided the niche before building the blog because our idea was something more specific than just travelling and we knew we wanted to develop our Skills2Help platform during the trip. Our niche and our blog main focus can be summarized in 3 concepts: Travelling, South America and Social Entrepreneurship.
We found other interesting niches after reading several blogs, for example Food Travel, Travel & Photography, Long-term Travel, Lifestyle Travel and many others. If you have no idea about your niche, try to think what is your travel goal. Why are you travelling? What are you passionate about? It is much easier to write about something that interests you. Also, make sure your niche provides enough content to write about or you will have nothing to write about after a few articles.
Step #10 - Post often
One thing we have been learning is that a blog should be updated regularly. In fact, the blogs that attract most people are the ones with frequent updates. So if you are thinking about writing your own blog take into account that you will need to spend a few hours a day writings posts, editing photos and updating social media. I am a passionate writer (since I was a child!) but even for me it is hard sometimes to find something to write about or choosing and editing the best photos we got. Do not forget to include in your blog the possibility of sharing your posts through social media - it helps you to have more visitors and traction in your website (and makes you feel more motivated too!).