Generally my blog posts are written for those in my audience who are already blogging, but every so often I’ll get an email from someone who hasn’t taken the plunge yet. And the question is always the same: how do I go about starting my own blog?
Before I talk about the how of starting a blog, let’s chat about the why.
Why do you want to start a blog? The answer is important, because you’ll never reach your blogging goals if you don’t know why you’re doing it. Do you want to blog as a hobby? To earn a part-time income? A full-time income? Do you want to start a blog to share your experience or expertise? Getting clear on the why will help you to stick with it when times get tough, and trust me, sometimes blogging is tough. But we’ll chat more about that later.
But right now, let’s talk about how to start your blog.
1. Choose a name… and a niche.
Two of the most important things you’ll do when starting your blog is choosing your site’s name and your niche. Take your time and really mull it over when deciding on a name; this is the first and most visible piece of your branding, and you’re going to want to get it right. Don’t rush into deciding on a name because I can promise you, you’ll almost always regret it if you make a snap decision.
Once you choose your blog name, buy your domain name! I like to use Namecheap.com, but there are many sites where domain names can be purchased.
Now choose your niche. By this I mean, know what you want to write about. It’s best to narrow your niche, if you can, and by that I mean that if you want to write a cooking blog, that’s great. But if you really want to focus on baking, that’s even better. Keep in mind a baking blog doesn’t mean you can never write about outdoor grilling, but it does mean the majority of your content will be focused on goodies from your oven.
2. Choose a blogging platform.
There are many blogging services to choose from. There’s self-hosted WordPress. There’s free WordPress and Blogger. There’s Weebly and Tumblr. Do your research and decide which platform is best for you, but if I can give you any advice, strongly consider self-hosted WordPress.
I started my most recent blog on Blogger, and I have to admit I loved it. But as my site grew, I wanted many of the advantages that come with a self-hosted site – one of those being that when you’re self-hosted, you actually OWN your own site and your own content. That’s not the case on free platforms. I moved to self-hosted WordPress after almost 4 years on Blogger, and I’ve never looked back. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
3. Assuming that you decide to go self-hosted, choose a web host.
Again, do your research as you look for the hosting company that’s best for you. I started out on Bluehost but within 90 days, I was fed up by the amount of downtime my site was experiencing (16 times in one month, and Bluehost couldn’t tell me why), so I moved to Hostgator. I’ve been with them for over 2 years now, and I’m very happy. I’ve experienced very little downtime, and their customer service staff is reliable and friendly.
4. Choose an amazing blog design.
When it comes to blog design, there’s much more to consider than just how pretty it is. I mean, of course you want something that’s eye-catching and draws your reader in, but you also want (and need!) a theme that’s mobile responsive (meaning it looks good on a mobile device like a Smartphone or a tablet) and is user friendly, making it easy for your readers to navigate around your site. You also need a theme that’s highly customizable so you can get it to look the way you want and do the things you want it to do. I personally recommend starting with the Genesis framework and then adding a child theme from Studiopress or Restored 316. You simply can’t go wrong with a theme from either of these great resources.
5. Dig into some really great blogging resources.
There are so many amazing resources for learning about blogging, and it’s never too early to start reading and learning. A few of my favorites are:
- Building a Framework by Abby Lawson
- How To Blog For Profit Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukoup
- The Art of Work by Jeff Goins
There are many blogging books on the market, but I can tell you that these are among the best you’ll find. Skip the others and start reading these today.
6. Find – and use – the best blogging tools available.
When I first started blogging, I had no clue of the vast world of amazing resources that were available to me. And then I made some amazing discoveries that forever changed my blogging life, and I’ve never looked back. These are just a few of my favorites:
- Picmonkey – a free resource that allows you to edit and resize photos, add text, and just about anything else you could need for blog post photos. I use it every single day.
- 123RF – if you’re not a great photographer (I’m not!), you might want to consider using stock images for your blog. I like 123RF because they have so many amazing images to choose from, and their prices are very reasonable.
- Mailchimp – your blog needs a newsletter, and there is no better service than Mailchimp. You can create gorgeous mailings, and it’s absolutely free (up to a point). Which reminds me, start working on growing your email subscriber list from Day One. Don’t wait. Put a sign-up box on your blog from the start!
7. Create a blogging schedule… and stick to it.
Most blogs are not fabulous on Day One. That’s just a fact of life. But another fact is that if you work hard and you consistently write amazing content, your blog is going to grow and become fabulous a lot faster than if you just sit back and hope for the best. Make a commitment to blog three times a week… or once a week… or once a month. Whatever works for you is fine; just commit to it and then stick to it. Nothing fabulous ever happened without a little bit of work and dedication.
8. Create a social media presence… and be social.
Social media is an important part of promoting and growing your blog. You know that saying, “If you build it, they will come”? Yeah well, that’s not entirely true. They can’t come if they don’t know about it. So you’ll want to create a Facebook page and a Twitter account for your blog. Share your new blog posts there. Share other people’s blog posts there. Share content that will make people want to follow you because you provide them with things that interest and entertain them. An active social media presence is a great way to promote your blog and the best part? It’s absolutely free. All it takes is a bit of your time. But it’s time that’s well spent because it’s fun and it’s helping to grow your blog readership.
9. Find your tribe.
For the first few years that I blogged, I felt like I was on an island because I didn’t know any other bloggers. I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of or ask questions. But then I found groups of bloggers on Facebook. I also found Triberr. And I started interacting and networking with other bloggers, and some things started to happen. I learned stuff. I made friends. Blogging became less of a solitary effort and more of a club filled with like-minded individuals who “get” me.
Seriously. Even if you become a multi-millionaire blogger some day, I hope you’ll still be able to say that the best part of blogging was the friends you made along the way.
And here’s a little bonus for newbie bloggers and veterans alike.
10. Work with a knowledgable Virtual Assistant.
If you’re just starting out, there are probably lots of blogging how-tos that you simply don’t know about. If you’ve been blogging for years, there are probably a lot of tasks you could hand off to a VA, leaving you free to do the fun stuff: create and write. Either way, I’d love to chat about the possibilities of working together to make your blog super fabulous. Drop me a line or leave a comment below!
What blogging tips do YOU have for bloggers who are just starting out? Feel free to leave a comment below to share your experience and knowledge!
The fine print: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on one of these links and then make a purchase, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Please know that I would never recommend a product or service that I didn’t completely love, and that’s why I’m sharing these amazing resources with you today! You’re not obligated to make your purchase using my links but when you do, you’re helping to support my business and for that, I sincerely thank you!
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