You find yourself reading more and more blogs. You feel like you know the bloggers. You nod along with their posts, laugh at their dumb jokes and know who they’re talking about when they refer to their significant others/friends. You’ve read everyone’s about pages, entered a million giveaways and tweeted at your fave bloggers. You love reading what others’ have to say and want to join in on the convo. Basically – you’re ready to start blogging, so here is your “start a blog” action plan, from me to you.
Decide why you want to blog
You can always change your reason, but it’s good to start with a “why.” If your answer is “so I can quit my job in 6 months and blog full time!” – sorry to burst your bubble, but that proooobably isn’t going to happen. Lots of people are able to blog full time, but it takes quite awhile and a lot of work to get to that point. If that’s what you really want though, that’s good to know from the beginning and you can craft a plan to get there. If you want to blog just for fun, that’s good to know too. There are lots of other reasons too, like wanting to connect with other bloggers, writing about your experience, sharing your favorite recipes, showing off your photography, etc. Figure out your why.
Next figure out who your audience is. This can be several categories – other bloggers, runners, new moms, single ladies, other pug lovers (hmmm, who would that be…?), college students, whatever. This will help inform the type of posts you’ll be writing.
Related Post: Reasons Why I Love a Blog
Your blogging voice
People talk about developing your “blogging voice” and to me, this means your blogging/writing style. I alter my way of talking a little depending on my audience. I’m still myself but just tweaked a little. I’m most “me” with my fiance and closest friends. I’m still “me” with my parents but I don’t swear as much around them and don’t talk about all the same things I talk with my friends about. Same thing with work, acquaintances, new people, career events and even blogging. I’m still myself in all these situations but my speech is a little different. I feel like I’m pretty open on my blog and write sorta how I speak but definitely censor myself a bit, because that’s what makes me comfortable. Figure out your initial comfort zone with your writing style/how much you disclose and you can change it up as you.
Related Post: 4 Surefire Ways to Reveal Your Blog Voice
There are several blogging platforms, but Blogger and WordPress are the most popular. Blogger is free and I initially started my blog over there. There are two different WordPress types – WordPress.org which is free but you don’t “own” your content and WordPress self-hosted where you own your content but have to pay for hosting. I switched to WordPress a few months ago and love it. It’s been great so far and my hosting on Bluehost (affiliate link) has been top notch as well.
I was intimidated to do the switch, but Lisette at Northern Belle Diaries did my design and transfer and has been wonderful. She is a wealth of knowledge so she definitely helped to ease my concerns. If you start off on Blogger, you can switch over to WordPress later. I think this one kinda goes back to my first tip where you figure out what you want out of your blog. Some professional bloggers use Blogger, but WordPress gives you more customization in my opinion. Just something to think about.
It should be all about the content, right? But the internet is a visual place and everyone likes to spend time with something that is visually pleasing. Right off the bat, you don’t need to shell out for a custom design, but having a clean, pretty and easy to read blog design will help you grow your blog. You can find free or cheap templates and add some simple customization, then maybe upgrade to a custom design at a later time.
About Me page
When I find a new blog, I love checking out the About Me page to learn more about the blogger. So put making a fun and unique About Me page high on your list of things to do. People want to get to know you!
Passionfruit is super great but I would suggest against accepting ads for awhile. When you’re a newer blogger with a smaller following, you won’t be able to charge much for ads, but managing your sponsor ads will be time consuming. Your time is better spent working on your content and maybe just doing ad swaps for awhile.
I SO wish I had initially set up a separate email address for my blog, but I initially used my personal email address. Then I finally made a blog only email address, but some of my blog-related accounts are still with my old email address. It’s confusing. So just get your blog its own gmail address and you will avoid that trouble.
I already had my own twitter account when I started my blog, so I just used that. Again, I wish I had set up a separate blog twitter account. Oops. So do that and get your other accounts too – Facebook and Pinterest, at least. You can also get Instagram, Google+, Youtube, Vine and/or Tumblr. I would suggest making all the names match your blog name (or at least have all the same social media account names). This will make it easier for you and for your readers. This is a “do as I say, not as I do” situation since pretty much none of my social media account names are the same and none of them match my blog. Don’t worry, I’m still kicking myself over that. But not enough to change it apparently?
When you finish all the above, give yourself a toast. As in, with your beverage of choice. Not with toast, as in, burnt bread. Cheers!
New bloggers – any questions? Seasoned bloggers – anything you would add? Oh and check out these past post for some other blog tips – 5 Blogging Resources You Aren’t Using (But Should!) and Blogging Resources I Couldn’t Live Without.