I know that there are a lot of you who read this blog and have already made it through the first parts of you blogging journey but I also know that there are quite a few of you out there who are wanting to start a blog but nervous about jumping in! If there is anything you can learn from my story, it is you should just jump in and see where it goes! Be encouraged, every blog has a journey of its own – some blogs start out with millions of followers or some blogs start with 5 friends back at home to comment occasionally… for years… before anyone else discovered it (I am the latter!) If you love what you do, you will keep doing it no matter what. Perseverance, dedication, and real passion makes a blog worth reading.
WHERE DO YOU START WHEN YOU WANT TO START A BLOG?
Start with a brainstorm session. Take a Saturday afternoon to write down your blog thoughts, names, themes, ideas, and dream away. Then just start! Read other blogs, reach out to bloggers you admire, and try new things. Blogging is an evolution – if you went back and looked at the first post from all your favorite bloggers I am sure you will notice a difference! It is something that you learn and grow in while you are in the midst of it! You cannot perfect your blog before you start so just dive in! Here are somethings to check off as you start your blog:
PICK A NAME
Picking a name is an exciting thing but before you slap the first thing that pops into your head all over the internet, here are some things you should do first:
- Figure out what you want your blog purpose or mission statement to be. Find a name that represents that and at the same time is timeless.
- Google said name and see if any other blogs are using it. If your blog takes off, you don’t want to not be able to own a custom domain name because www.abeautifulmess.com is already taken. Also, you want your readers to easily find you – not search through a list of “Whatever is Lovelies” when they are looking for you. I would also encourage you to think of copyright issues or things of that nature that may come up. “Disney Girl” might cause some issues if you start monetizing and growing. Best Practice: be careful and unique. Do something different to protect you from copyright but to also make you stand out.
- Pick a name that is unique but simple and easy to remember. When you are blogging you are starting a brand. You may end up huge or your may have a smaller influence but either way, it is always important to treat yourself as a brand. Value the work you do and take time to pick a name that can stay with you.
- Be able to explain your name in a couple sentences to others. This does not mean your title has to be deep and thoughtful, I just think it is important to be able to articulate what your blog is and why it is named what you choose.
- Buy a domain. You can get domains on GoDaddy or Bluehost for an affordable price. It is worth it to get your domain early so that you can keep it forever without worrying about someone else taking it.
PICK A PLATFORM
I don’t know much about this but you will need to chose a platform to blog on. Some of the most popular are WordPress, Sqarespace, and Blogger.
WordPress: I moved over to a self hosted site to help with SEO and content management but blogged for years on blogger. Now that I have moved over I recommend it 100% – if you have the chance, you should start here! Grab hosting with Bluehost and you are good to go
RELATED: Five Tips for Your Blog Redesign
Squarespace: This is a really fun site for begingers or those who want a lot of structure already there!
Blogger: I started with blogger years ago and felt like it was just easier to keep up with it because I knew it so well but I recently decided to switch to WordPress
MAKE IT LOOK PRETTY
I think it is so important that you make your blog look nice. People will be more interested in the work you do and the things you have to say if your blog is inviting and pretty. Some of you know a thing or two about html and can create this on you own. Others are super creative but still learning all this digital design stuff – you can google tutorials and teach yourself how to make the blog you want. And there are even others who are like me and love blogging but never have opened Photoshop and do not want to take the hours to teach myself how to do all these things. For those people I highly encourage you to look into working with a designer. I tried to design my blog for a while and it was way too overwhelming! I am a writer, not a designer and that is totally okay. I think that when we all come together and do what we are good at, GREAT things can happen! There are tons of options out there for designs & designers. From really affordable pre-made templates to custom designs & brand development one-on-one meetings! Look at your budget and shop around for a design or designer you want to work with. do not be afraid to ask for quotes and tell people you are looking around. The one you love most might even offer you a discount to keep your business! Also, new designers are always looking for a way to build their profile so they might give you a really good deal!
PICK WHAT YOU BLOG ABOUT
This is not a “make a list of the three things you will blog about and never stray from that list” kind of thing but you do need to have a general idea about what your blog does and represents. Take a day and think about this. What do you like to do? What inspires you? Why do you get up in the morning? What things can you not imagine your day/ life without? It is okay if you have a lot of things you want to talk about, they call those blogs “Lifestyle Blogs” and yes, I have a lifestyle blog! Make sure that you blog about what you WANT to blog about not what you feel you NEED to blog about and also be YOU! There are so many blogs out there but there is only one (or maybe more) written by you! That is what you have to offer. Say you love healthy living and also sweets – then blog about how you live healthy and still enjoy eating delicious sweets. OR maybe you love to bike to work but also look cute – show us your outfits that travel well and look fab! You can combine your loves into your blog and that is so unique!
Readers can connect more with you and your blog when they know what they are getting into. They like knowing that they can go to your blog for fashion advice, baking, and kids activities. I have several themes here on Oak + Oats but I’ve worked on refining them to what is most important. A good rule of thumb is to make sure every post fits in one of the categories. If it doesn’t, ask yourself why you want to publish it and if you need to publish it. I can blog about all the things but that doesn’t mean I should blog about all the things!
This is so important for blogging. We are in a community and the way to grow is to reach out! Comment on other blogs, find blogs that are similar to yours and follow them, and make friends! Send out emails asking to work with people, swap buttons, guest post, or work with you on a blog project! When you reach out you may be rejected but you also make create a wonderful partnership!
These five things will really get you and your blog started! Feel free to ask questions below! My encouragement to you is: Be you, keep learning, comment on other blogs, and enjoy it! The only blogs worth reading are blogs that are written by people with passion and purpose!