How to Start Your Own Tech Blog


how to start your own tech blog

Solveyourtech.com is a tech blog running on the WordPress content management system. It was created in 2011 as a personal resource to help me in my day job, which is IT support. I have been a freelance tech writer for almost ten years, and have been doing freelance support for longer than that.

I started this tech blog as a resource for myself where I could create articles that I could reference later, or that I could point clients, colleagues, or customers to when I was helping them troubleshoot a problem. Over time it built into a rather large collection of articles about a number of different consumer electronics and desktop software programs, and it started to rank well in the search engines for some search terms.

In the years that solveyourtech.com has been online, I have made some bad choices and mistakes, but I have also made some good choices that have allowed this blog to continue to grow each year.

Starting your own tech blog is easier than you think, even if you don’t have a lot of experience building or designing websites. The first few versions of this site were a little embarrassing, in retrospect, but I learned what was and wasn’t working, which I will share in the article below.

Overview

This guide is going to provide some overview of the characteristics that you will need to be successful in running your own tech blog, as well as help you to lay the groundwork for your own site. This is going to involve buying a domain name, setting up Web hosting, and installing WordPress.

I will also discuss some of the information I have learned, such as the types of articles that can help to improve your traffic when you get started, as well as a general idea of what to expect as you begin your tech blog journey.

 

Characteristics You Will Need to Start Your Own Tech Blog

characteristics that a tech blogger needs

Solveyourtech.com has been around since 2011, and has experienced a lot of ups and downs in that time. Currently this site gets a decent amount of search engine traffic, and earns enough from the advertisements on those pageviews to be self sufficient, while also allowing for a minor profit.

But your new tech blog is not going to be successful overnight (at least, in 99.9% of cases) and it is going to take some dedication and hard work before you start to see results. That is why there are a few characteristics that are vital to any aspiring tech blogger.

1. You have to love writing about technology

It might seem cliched, but it’s what is going to keep you going. The first couple months might only see a few pageviews, and the lack of response can be a little depressing. This is the point where a lot of your competition is going to be weeded out.

People often turn to blogging as a get rich quick scheme, but it’s not. There are a lot of people writing online, and the barrier to entry is getting smaller and smaller as it becomes easier to start your own website. It only costs a few dollars to buy your own website domain and set up a hosting account, and you can install WordPress without ever needing to know a bit of HTML or CSS.

So if you can keep pushing through the tough times, where it seems like you are only writing for yourself, then that will make you appreciate it even more when you start to attract an audience. Hopefully by then you will have built up a solid body of work about devices, applications, or branches of technology about which you are passionate. Google will start to acknowledge your site in its search results, and other bloggers and websites will start linking to you as the authority that you have become.

 

2. You need to be able to evolve with technology

New iPhones come out every year, apps get updated, and programs get new versions. You might be the most knowledgeable person in the world about the current version of your favorite program, only to have a new version come out that invalidates much of what you had previously learned.

So what’s the solution? Learn everything about the new version, of course!

A lot of the content on this website is about iPhones and iOS, but there is a limit to the amount of information that you can create around one version of iOS. Toward the end of an iOS version’s life cycle it can be really difficult to find something to write about.

But then the new version comes out, and changes up a lot of core menus and features, giving me something to write about. Sure, the articles that I wrote about for the previous version might lose some page views since they are not as relevant anymore, but I have a whole new list of articles to write. It’s important to be able to embrace the way that technology changes, and use that as a catalyst that allows you write more, and offer more to your audience.

 

3. You need to have access to the things you write about

I have read a lot of how-to guides and troubleshooting articles that were clearly written by someone that had never used the program or device about which the article was written. It’s frustrating as a reader, and I’m sure it’s frustrating as a writer, too.

Not only is it difficult to write about something that you can’t reference, it’s difficult to write about something if you don’t know anything about it.

I use a ton of screenshots on this site, and I create them all myself. Fortunately my day job puts me in a situation where I have access to a number of different devices and programs, and I use those to write my articles.

Whatever you are planning to write about in your tech blog, it should be something that you are familiar with, or something that you can become familiar with. There is already a lot of information on the Internet about almost every subject, so you need to stand out from everything else by offering the best (or one of the best) options.

 

4. You need to be able to write so that people understand what you mean

Not every tech blog is going to be the same, or have the same subject matter, or the same audience. Eventually you will find your “voice” and see what type of writing people are responding to. But one thing that will remain consistent is that your audience has to know what you are saying. I am not a great writer, but I am better now than I was when I started. I also chose to write how-to articles, which are shorter, and generally don’t require me to write outside of my comfort zone. In fact, this is easily the longest article on this site.

My approach has always been to err on the side of caution. Does everyone know that you need to have Microsoft Excel open to delete the contents of a cell? Maybe they do. But the worst thing that happens when you include “Step 1: Open Microsoft Excel” is that someone skips over it, or chuckles at its simplicity. But maybe there are a few people that didn’t realize that, and you just helped them.

 

5. You need to be flexible, and willing to take risks

The eventual design, layout and navigation of your tech blog is going to be different than it is when you first set it up. Unless you have been building websites for years, and already know exactly what your site’s content, theme, and direction is going to be, then it’s unlikely you will get it right on the first try. That’s to be expected.

But if you find that it’s difficult for you to find something on your own site, or you think something looks weird on a mobile device or a tablet, then other people are going to think that, too. You are going to be working on, reading, and generally thinking about your tech blog more than anyone else on the planet. If you think something is wrong, or needs to be changed, then do it. Experiment with different kinds of content, and don’t be afraid to get really specific with your topics. Some of the articles on this site that get the most traffic are focused on topics that I never would have guessed had an audience that big.

 

6. Patience

Owning and maintaining a website requires a lot of patience. Google won’t index all of your new content immediately, people aren’t going to come to your site overnight, and profitable opportunities aren’t going to fall into your lap the minute your domain goes live.

Some changes can take weeks before you see any effect. You might see that an article you wrote is ranking for a specific search term, but that you could make improvements to that content which might make it more relevant. But the search engines may not crawl that page again for a few weeks, and it might take another few weeks after that before the article’s position in the search results shows any movement.

 

 

OK – You’re Ready to Get Started. What Do You Need Now?

how to get started as a tech blogger

If you are determined to start your own tech blog and you have an idea for a topic, then you need to get your own website. In case you are unfamiliar with what goes into hosting a website, we are going to use an analogy that compares a website to a house.

Your website is going to consist of three basic parts:

  1. A domain name (Your home’s address)
  2. A Web host (Your home’s foundation)
  3. A content management system (Your home)

The domain name (Your address)

One of the best ways to think about your website is by comparing it to a house. The domain name for this site is solveyourtech.com. You can think of this like your street address. If someone wants to send you a letter, then they need to include your address so that the letter gets to you.

But an address is just a location. An empty field of grass can have an address, much like you can own a domain name without a website. Once you have picked the address where you want to build your home, then it’s time to pour the foundation.

 

A Web host (Your home’s foundation)

Before you can start building your home, it needs to have a support system in place that will always be the framework on which it exists. This is your hosting provider. You are going to be putting all of the files and content for your website on your Web host’s servers. If your hosting provider’s servers go down, your website goes down, too. Fortunately, though, it’s much easier to get a server back online than it is to rebuild a home’s foundation.

A good Web host is going to be reliable, deliver a fast website, and ensure that your website’s content reaches as many people, in the easiest manner possibly. Ideally, you won’t ever think about it at all.

 

A content management system (Your home)

The final piece of this analogy is the actual website itself. Like a house, this is going to be what all of your visitors see and experience. For most webmasters, the appearance of your site will be dictated by your content management system, which is where you adjust the settings for the site, write and edit your content, and generally manage the site.

There are a lot of content management systems from which you can choose, many of which are free. But the most popular one (by far) is called WordPress.

WordPress itself is free, and requires a “theme” that controls the general appearance of the site. This includes items such as the fonts, colors, general navigation and layout. You can certainly modify any (or all) of these settings within a theme, if you so choose.

Note that what you want, if you are going to be owning and running your own website, is the self-hosted, or WordPress.org option. There is also a WordPress.com, which is the same company. The difference is a little confusing at first, but almost everything cool, unique or interesting that you are going to want to do to your site is going to be done on the self-hosted WordPress. It’s better to just start with that one than worry about making the switch later.

 

Expenses That You Can Expect When You Start Your Own Tech Blog

Domain names and Web hosting accounts aren’t free, but they are pretty cheap. You can usually get a domain name for free when you sign up for a hosting plan, or for less than $10. Web hosting is also usually available for under $10 per month, and can be considerably cheaper than that if you pay for an entire year up front.

But, assuming that you want to have the lowest possible startup costs, you can expect your expenses to be something like this:

  • Domain name $5 – 10$
  • Web hosting $10 – $15 per month

So if you have between $15 and $25 dollars, you can buy a domain name, purchase a hosting account, and start your website in about 20 minutes from the time you finish this sentence.

Visit Hostgator now and search for a domain name for your new tech blog. (this link opens in a new tab, so you can visit it without losing your spot in the article.)

 

Additional Expenses That You May Eventually Need as Your Site is Growing

additional expenses as your blog is growing

If your website is getting popular and you have some visitors, then you might find that the entry-level Web hosting plan is struggling to keep up with the demands of your site. Hopefully you are also starting to see some income at this point, whether it’s through ads (like Google AdSense) or through affiliate commissions (like Amazon Associates.)

You can fix this issue by either reducing the load on your server, or by upgrading the specs of your server.

You can reduce your server load with the help of a CDN. Some popular CDNs include Cloudflare and MaxCDN. Cloudflare has a free plan, which is one of the greatest things available to aspiring webmasters. They also have a Pro plan, which is $20 as of this writing.

MaxCDN’s beginner plan is $39.95 per year, for 1 TB of bandwidth. Unless your site is getting over 500,000 views per month, or is hosting some really large files, then you shouldn’t have any problem staying below that bandwidth cap.

While there are many great free themes and plugins, some of the best and most useful ones cost money. For example, this website uses the Genesis framework, and the eleven-forty theme. These are both made by Studiopress, a company that is widely recognized as one of the best theme designers around.

 

Our Recommendation for Getting Started With Your Tech Blog

We have written several other articles on this site extolling the virtues of Hostgator as an ideal option for new webmasters. They are easy to work with, their servers are fast, they have accessible customer support, and their services are inexpensive. That is who I started with, and is usually who I go with whenever I start a new project.

View Hostgator’s plans here

  1. Search for available domains until you find one that you like.
  2. Buy that domain.
  3. Set up a hosting account.
  4. Point your domain’s name servers to your hosting account.
  5. Install WordPress on your hosting account.
  6. Install a new theme, and modify your WordPress settings.
  7. Start writing content.

Start Today

Mistakes That I Have Made

mistakes that I have made as a tech blogger

Every move that you make with your website isn’t going to be correct. But you have to try new things and take new risks if you’re going to grow. Below are just some of the mistakes that I have made.

  • Not upgrading my hosting account fast enough
  • Not checking my site’s analytics enough
  • Not embracing networking opportunities
  • Not focusing enough on social media
  • Being too slow to fix user experience issues
  • Not experimenting enough
  • Focusing on difficult keywords

While I’m still not very proficient with social media, the current state of my accounts is better than it was a while ago. I also used to ignore outreach from other websites and writers that reached out to me. Don’t get me wrong, though. Most of the contact form submissions that I receive are spam. Like 99% of them. But there are some real, well-meaning people that can get mixed up in the sea of spam submissions. I’m a little more careful when I’m filtering those submissions now, and some good things have come from relationships formed through there.

One big problem that I had when I first started was trying to write articles that ranked well for difficult terms. If you use some tools to investigate search volume, then you might discover that some terms get millions of searches per month. You might see that and think that only a portion of those searches could bring in a lot of advertising money, and you would be right.

Unfortunately the results pages for those terms are typically dominated by large websites that have been around for a while, and it is very difficult to compete with them. The better option is to go after a much more specific keyword that has less competition. So instead of writing an article targeting the keyword “blue widgets”, you might want to write something about “how to fix a blue widget if you are having this problem.” Not only are you more likely to rank well for that term, it is a more targeted search term that is likely to be more beneficial to the searcher.

 

Things to Make Sure You Do After Settings Up Your New Website

tasks to complete as yu set up your tech blog

These are some of the services and accounts that you will eventually want to have, so it’s a good idea to set them up early so that you can gain the most benefit from them.

 

Note that some of these won’t be applicable right away. Google AdSense and Amazon Associates approvals often require an established website. You won’t need to have a lot of traffic,  but you will need a functioning site with content on it. There may also be geographic factors that come into play when creating these accounts, as it seems to be much easier to get approved if you are from the United States.

 

Non Website-Related Tools That I Use

tools that you need for your tech blog

I use a bunch of other programs to keep myself organized, and to help create the content on this site. Some of these programs include:

 

Conclusion

Hopefully I have provided some additional insight to you if you are thinking about starting your own tech blog. I know that it can be intimidating if you have never done it before, but the best thing to do is just dive right in. You will have the opportunity to learn while you are doing it, and it is incredibly rewarding to have your own site. You are going to learn a lot, and many of the skills that you gain by creating and managing your own site might even be applicable to your job. If this is something that you are already considering, I highly recommend buying a domain name and hosting and giving it a shot.

Start Today

 

Related Articles

Read our comparison of Hostgator and Bluehost and see which host will provide a faster experience for your visitors.

Or read our Hostgator setup tutorial here

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