Y’all know I love the blog life. I could talk about blogging morning, afternoon, and night and never get sick of it. But I think my friends and family would disown me if that’s all I talked about, so I’m glad I get emails and questions to do just that… talk about it! I happened to get two emails just yesterday with asking how to start a blog, so I figured I would share the wealth with everyone!
Starting a blog is easy. It’s the maintaining a blog, building an audience, creating content, etc that can get more difficult. But don’t you fret, I’m going to break it down for you today. From where to start and how to maintain it. Now of course there are no “proven” methods when it comes to blogging; each blog is different and so is the audience. So remember these are just guidelines when it comes to starting a blog.
1. Choose a platform. I started on Blogger and transferred to self-hosted WordPress last year. Why? A few reasons; I wanted to own and control everything on my blog. Blogger and the free WordPress sites are hosted and controlled by their servers, so they can limit ways to advertise, SEO, layouts, etc. These also come with a .wordpress.com or .blogspot.com attached to them, which doesn’t look as professional as owning your own domain. However, you can still have a Blogger account and own a domain (I purchased mine through GoDaddy) so if you’re not ready to throw a ton of money in yet, that’s always an option.
But down the road, I would say self-hosted is the best route. I host through Bluehost and for the most part have been pleased with them. You can host for as little as $3.95 a month but be warned, you do have to pay up front. Caught me off guard so just be prepared!
2. Choose a name. Pick something that reflects you and the content you plan to share. However make sure not to limit yourself. Of course you can rebrand down the road but you risk the potential loss of readers, followers, etc. I’ve rebranded three times because of the names I chose and the direction I went with my content. You’re going to grow, evolve, and change as a blogger overtime. So just choose your name wisely!
Once you choose your name, obviously check to see if it’s taken. Don’t just check the website! Check social media handles too and secure them ASAP. Try to keep everything consistent throughout; remember, you’re branding yourself. I purchased my domain through GoDaddy but I believe you will get a domain once you sign up with Bluehost. But if you’re not at that step yet, at least drop the .wordpress/.blogspot.com as soon as you can.
3. Choose a design. Don’t skimp here people. If you’re not good at design, purchase one or pay a designer. There are economically friendly designs for both WordPress and Blogger and they come with instructions on how to install them. You can look on Etsy but I’m obsessed with Creative Market. But if you really have no idea what you’re doing, hire a designer. I personally recommend Clarke Creative and High Notes Designs. (They also offer the Blogger to self-hosted WordPress transition).
4. Start creating content. This should be your number one priority. Whether you’re starting your blog as a hobby or a potential business, you need to focus on your content. So many people jump in and think WHEN DO I START MAKING MONEY?! Truth is, it takes a little while. And I truly believe that if you’re starting a blog just because you think it’s an easy way to make money and have no true interest or passion in writing, you’re going to run into problems.
Blogging is all about reaching an audience. It’s about connecting with other people who share similar interests, problems, questions, feelings, etc. Since starting blogging (almost) 5 years ago (WHAT?!), I’ve made so many wonderful friendships with women all over the world. We’ve laughed together, cried together, shared recipes, outfit inspiration, met in real life, and genuinely been apart of each other’s lives. I know that sounds completely crazy but the blogging community is a beautiful place. And finding out other non-bloggers read your blog and love it, reiterates the fact that it’s the best “job” in the world.
But what are you an expert in? Where’s your passion? What interests you? What can you teach? These are some questions to ask yourself when deciding what to write about. Of course you should write whatever you want to write about but you have to think about your audience too. Who are you targeting? What do they want to read? Will people find this interesting? But at the same time, don’t be afraid to talk about your life. People like to get to know the blogger behind the blog too 🙂
5). Be active on social media. Blogging doesn’t mean writing a post, publishing it, and calling it a day. Once you publish your post you’ll need to promote it. You’ll share it on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google +, etc. If you’re comfortable sharing your blog on your personal Facebook page, share it there and have other people share it too! The more eyes that see it, the better.
But that’s not the end of it either. Make sure you take time to respond to any comment, tweet or message you receive on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. If we’re being honest, your blog won’t be successful without readers. So don’t forget to show them some love and remind them why they love you and your blog in the first place 🙂
6). Find a tribe. Being a new blogger is like walking into a new school on the first day. You don’t know anyone, you don’t know where to go, you don’t know who to talk to and you’ve got so much to learn. But guess what? There are so many other bloggers who are “new to school” too. But that makes it fairly easy to find your “tribe”. Your tribe will be people you turn to for support, sharing each other’s posts, hosting giveaways, swapping guest posts, etc. I’ve met so many fabulous ladies and I’m friends with so many of them, but I definitely have a select few that I’m extremely close with. Like we’ve met in person or planned trips to see each other.
How do you find your tribe? Start reading and commenting on other blogs. Join Facebook groups. Be active on social media! It’s called social media for a reason.. be social! 🙂 How do you find blogs to follow? For me, Bloglovin’ is the best way to stay up-to-date with all of my favorite blogs. It’s pretty much just a blog roll and you can categorize and read at your leisure. You can follow mine here!
That’s the basic rundown! There is so much more about monetizing your blog, working with brands, paying taxes, etc but those are topics for another day. You can read this post if you want to get a taste of it, but I encourage you not to focus on monetizing just yet. It’s important to do all of the other stuff first before worrying about making money. No readers=no pageviews=no opportunity to make money. So at the end of the day, don’t forget why you’re starting a blog and who you’re reaching. Strive to inspire, educate, and relate and the rest will come.
If you’re not sick of me rambling yet, check out my Blog Mentorship Program. Diving into the blogging world can be overwhelming and why not chat with someone who has already made the mistakes and learned the lessons? You can check out more information here and here and of course, feel free to email me with any questions. I would love to help you succeed 🙂
Now off you go… go move mountains! xo