The great thing about blogging is that it is so easy to get started, and depending on how you go about it, doesn’t cost a penny. Over the last few weeks I’ve been asked by several people for advice on where to start. I’ve had a think about what advice was (or would have been) most useful to me when I first began and put together the following list. Hopefully it’s helpful!
1) Choose a topic
This seems really obvious, but or me this was a really hard to narrow down especially as I consider my blog to be a hobby at this stage. I’ve settled on talking about social media and society, as that’s what I keep coming back to and seems to be a steady interest in my life, but sometimes I veer away from that completely and want to write about things that are going on in my life.
If you are starting a blog for a specific purpose, especially if it’s for a business, I’d suggest sticking to your topic or area of interest so as not to confuse readers.
2) Name it
Rating: VERY DIFFICULT.
I took forever to come up with mine, and to be honest I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the name, but it got to the point where I was stalling so I had to run with something. This can be a super frustrating process as its hard to think of something good that hasn’t already been taken. You can check here.
There seems to be a trend emerging where people are using their real names as their url, so that might be worth thinking about if you’re comfortable with the idea. It also might be worth considering purchasing the url of your name anyway, especially if it’s not unique, in case you want to use it some day.
Once you’ve managed to choose one that’s free (and well done if you manage to do so without crying tears of deep frustration), go out and secure the handle on all the social medial platforms you can think of – even if you aren’t planning to use them straight away, or even at all. The idea is to secure everything just in case someone else gets in first, and that way you have more control of your brand. Start with these (I’ve linked to mine so you can have a look… and maybe follow me and stuff).
3) Choose a platform
Platforms are a rather personal choice.
I shifted to WordPress after I met bloggers who are more advanced than I was and they told me to. It is less user friendly than other platforms out there – Blogger and Weebly are free and quite simple to use – but if there’s any possibility that you may one day like to take your blog to the next level or have more control over it then WordPress is the way to go.
There are also other options such as Tumblr, but have zero idea how to use that. The comments confuse the bejezus out of me.
I’ve recently made the shift from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, which means that I’m now in more complex territory (for me) as I’ve had to figure out hosting for myself and it’s not as easy to customise (I had help, thanks Dan!). I went this way because I was finding that there were things I wanted to do with my blog that I couldn’t do in the free site (e.g. set up Google Analytics properly). This also cost a little bit of money to do, although it’s like $30 a year for hosting so it’s hardly going to break the bank. I’m really enjoying the challenge, and I’m learning heaps – but it can be a bit frustrating as it takes me a very long time to make even the most basic of changes. This article explains the differences in more detail.
If you’re just starting out and you only want something simple I’d recommend going with WordPress.com as you can tinker around a bit, but get going almost immediately – and it’s easier to upgrade in the future.
4) Choose a theme
My posts are very text based and the images don’t tend to be the main focus, so I’ve gone with a more traditional blogging layout. However, if you’re creating a space where pictures are integral to the story, then perhaps a magazine layout would be a better option. Lifestyle blogs are really well suited to this layout – a great example is Pretty Mayhem, who featured me the other day!
There are so many themes to choose from, but it’s important to make sure you get a responsive one one so that it will look good on different sized screens, including phones and tablets.
I bought mine from ThemeForest and Dan helped me customise the colours and some other fidgety backend bits and bobs. WordPress also offer free themes, but in my experience they are a bit more limited. It all depends if you want to spend money or not.
5) Find a crew
Blogging is really fun, and even though I don’t post as much as I probably should be, I really enjoy it. I also spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m doing and talking to other people about theirs (there’s a distinct possibility that this is the actual fun bit for me). Last year I attended The Blogcademy, which was a little on the pricey side, but the content was awesome and I’ve met some truly wonderful people through it who provide great support and friendship. I totally recommend it if you’re thinking of taking your blog to the next level, or even if you’re just a bit of a Kat/Gala/Shauna fangirl like myself.
6) Start writing!
Actually writing something and then pressing publish is seriously one of the biggest hurdles, and it can be easy to get stuck worrying about making it perfect, and not actually doing anything (Georgie wrote an awesome post about this the other day). I can certainly be guilty of that myself, and it’s one of the reasons I don’t post as often as I probably should. Having said that, there are loads of tweaks and changes I want to make to the look and feel of the space, but I’m working on changing those slowly over time rather than letting it hold me up.
So do as I say, not as I do, and post regularly (and probably with reasonable frequency) to allow your audience to build. Don’t forget to share on social media!
I love having a space on the internet that’s all my own, and I love tinkering around and figuring out how it all works. It may not be the fanciest or most well read blog in the world, but having that outlet has done wonders for me.
There’s a whole bunch more I could write here, but I reckon the main thing is to just get out there and do it!
If you have any questions, suggestions or you want to share your blog idea please let me know in the comments or flick me a message