One of the world’s greatest teachers and innovators once said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”. I’m talking about Albert Einstein.
The thing is, and with no disrespect to this genius, awakening creative expression and knowledge doesn’t need to be a supreme art. In fact, it can be as simple as starting a blog.
Blogs are an incredible medium for creating and sharing quality content (knowledge) with hundreds (or if you’re really good, thousands) of geographically dispersed people. Through blogs, teachers across the globe are able reach the attention of potential learners and expose them to their courses, learning materials, and teaching services, provide samples of products, and create a space for constructive collaboration and learning.
So, what’s the catch, you’re asking? Well, there isn’t one. Actually, it’s pretty easy to do. In fact, it’s so easy that I’ll bet that you can set up a blog in less time than it takes you to drive to your nearest Maccy D’s, order yourself a Happy Meal, and take that first juicy bite.
Yes, I’m talking about just 4 easy steps that will enable you to setup your first blog in 20 minutes. Ready?
Step 1: Pick your platform
The first step to beginning that blissful blogging journey is to choose your platform. The platform is where you build your blog, and there is no shortage of options!
So how do you, the ‘inexperienced blogger’, possibly make the right choice? It’s simple.
Think about shopping for that new pair of shoes. You’ll need them to be a snug fit, the right price, and the right look. Well, choosing a platform is not too far off.
The best platform is secure, simple and easy to use, free (or priced to suit your budget), and customisable enough to give it your own flavour.
Most bloggers will argue that WordPress meets all of these criteria. WordPress is hugely popular, user-friendly, includes hundreds of different themes, and can be cost free.
And wouldn’t you appreciate some in-store assistance when you find that perfect pair of shoes? Well, WordPress offers a support forum for any questions along the way.
Step 2: What kind of a host are you?
Now, the question is whether or not you should be paying for your platform.
WordPress. Com is free, and a natural choice for those leafy-green bloggers who are too new to the game to start investing any bucks. While this is definitely an option, you may also want to consider the alternative to a free platform.
Self-hosted platforms are independent platforms for your blog, and usually come at a small price.
So why would anyone choose to spend money when there is a free alternative? Good point. Let’s continue with our shoe metaphor.
How would you feel about a brand new pair of shoes… for free. They fit snug, they are just your style. Great, right? Wrong. You can wear the shoes, but you don’t own the shoes. And at any given moment I can snatch those shoes right back, leaving you bare footed and disappointed.
Well, that’s more or less the case with free platforms. You don’t own the blog, because it is hosted on somebody else’s web property. They can delete it, limit your uploads and functionality, and even tag their own ugly name onto the end of your URL.
This makes your blog appear altogether less professional.
So, take the plunge and consider using WordPress.Org. The software is still free, but you will pay a fee of about $3 per month for hosting. You will have access to loads of themes and other customisations, a sexy URL, and most importantly, you will own and control your blog.
So, let’s assume that you’ve made the smart choice to self-host. You’ve also decided to use a custom domain. What next?
- Sign up with your chosen domain. A domain is connected to your blog URL. Google.com… that’s a domain. Simple. Your domain should be fast, reliable and offer unlimited storage. iPage, HostGator and BlueHost are safe and affordable choices, although iPage is least costly. All offer great technical support should you need it.
- Next you will need to decide on your hosting plan. The most simple, beginner plan is more than enough for your first blog (for now, anyway). Plan for between $2 and $5 per month.
- Go ahead and choose the URL name that will make your blog appear professional, will be easy to remember, and will describe what your blog is really about. This will cost between $5 and $10 a year.
- And finally, install WordPress. This is usually a one-click button in the admin panel, but can be done manually as well.
Step 3: Add your personal flare
Now comes the fun bit! This is your chance to make your blog not only catch the attention of readers, but keep their attention too.
Choose from a variety of themes, and install the one that you like most. So many choices, but none to your liking? No problem, check out ThemeForest.net for even more options.
Further customise your blog by installing plug-ins, like photo galleries, or sign-up forms for newsletters – remember to activate your plugins once installed. Or, use other free resources like Canva to create your very own infographics, buttons, videos, and images, and upload them to your blog.
Remember to allow your personality and passion to shine through in your design, but also to create an easy-to-navigate, intuitive space for readers to enjoy and explore your blog – including logically placed navigation tabs, and a clear and minimalist colour theme.
By including your best and most recent content ‘above the fold’ (any content that is visible without having to scroll down), you will draw in interested readers. And by creating a linking path from one article to another, you will keep interested readers hooked (also referred to as a “sticky” blog).
Step 4: Start writing!
You are 20 minutes into this article, and it’s looking like I won that bet, huh?
Your blog is now setup and ready to go, like a blank canvas waiting for that first swoosh of the paintbrush. So where do you begin?
Find your niche (your passion), and hit your readers with an attention grabbing, quality piece of content that keeps them coming back for more!
Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from those who went before?
Tips and tricks for setting up
- Domain privacy – Consider using domain privacy protection, like the Whois database, to keep your details private. This will be an optional additional item when buying your domain & will prevent pesky spam calls & unwanted junk mail.
- Control spamming – To prevent spammers from tagging onto your blog, make sure to head to your settings tab and enable moderation for your posts. Alternatively you can enable the Disqus
- Other hosting platforms – Besides WordPress, there are other hosting platforms, like SquareSpace, Wix and Weebly. Squarespace is easy to use, professional, and offers a range of themes and plugins. However, it tends to be more expensive ($8-24$) than the alternatives, and is possibly a larger offering than necessary if a simple blog is what you are after. Wix is much the same as Squarespace, but does offer a free subscription. Weebly is typically less popular, and has less than half the number of users compared to Wix. This platform is also pricier, and less flexible. The lesson? When looking to start a simple but professional blog, choose WordPress.
Step 5: Moneta-what my blog?
Okay, now it’s probably safe to assume that you have been looking into blogs, or at least heard about blogs from that friend of a friend. In doing this you will likely have come across the term “monetize”.
Your blog’s primary purpose is to act as a promotional mechanism for your teaching products and services.
By creating a membership site where loyal followers can subscribe to your newsletters and updates, or by writing posts that highlight the need for your learning materials or teaching services, you attract potential clients and customers to the real sale. And, you build your reputation as the go-to guru on your particular blog topic.
This not only boosts new and returning traffic, but also shows your clients that you know what you’re talking about and are respected in the industry.
Of course there are other, more direct ways of monetizing your blog, like commission for affiliate promotions, banner ads, or sponsored posts.
In fact, make your blog popular enough and someone might even be interested in buying it!
But, be warned the taboos of ads and sponsorships…
When someone (or something) other than you has a say in what you display on your blog, you risk your reputation, your blog’s attractiveness, and even the loading time of your blog.
Ads also tend to distract readers from the quality content in your blog, ultimately directing them away from the articles that will lead to the real sales… all for the sake of a few lousy cents for every 1000th user. I say, NO THANKS.
Stick to methods of monetizing that keep you in control, and your readers getting the quality, fast-loading content that they’re there for.
Want some other ideas on how to make money online as a teacher?