So you want to start a blog? Maybe you’ve been reading some and thought I would love to do that. Maybe you want to start a blog for your work or business. Well the good news is it’s pretty simple to get started. The harder part comes once you actually start writing.
When I started my blog I was pretty clueless. I had no experience in blogging and learnt along the way, but I did have experience in marketing and branding which has been a huge help in making my blog successful.
Last week I wrote 10 Things To Do Before Starting a Blog, so this week I’m focusing on how to start a blog.
One of the main things is to ask yourself what will you focus on, what will be your topic? You don’t need to be specific but having an idea of the kind of style and content you want to go for will really help you when it comes to deciding on your blog name, your design and deciding what to actually write. Do you want to run a diary style blog, documenting your family life or a magazine style blog or a mixture of both. It’s your blog so completely up to you but figuring out your style will really help you with the next steps.
CHOOSE YOUR BLOGGING PLATFORM
By this I mean will you decide to set up on Blogger or WordPress? For me it’s WordPress all the way, the things you can do on Blogger are limited, with WordPress you can add plug ins to meet your needs from a site.
WordPress is so easy to set up, plus there’s tonnes of free themes to choose from so you can have a fab looking blog pretty much straight away.
FREE BLOGGING SERVICE OR SELF HOSTED
I wanted a professional blog from the start and decided to pay to go self hosted straight away rather than staying with the free wordpress.com. If you are unsure go with wordpress.com first then you can always transfer to self hosted once you’re more confident in blogging. I believe it’s more complicated to transfer a Blogger blog to WordPress self hosted so starting off on a free wordpress.com account helps with that too.
On a free blog, your domain will be yourblogname.wordpress.com or yourblogname.blogspot.com which doesn’t give the professionalism I wanted hence why I decided to dive straight in with self hosted. You can pay for a domain name of your choice and attach it to your free blog but you’ll still have a lot of limitations.
You can’t fully monetise it, which is ok for some people who just want to use it as an online journal but if like me you wanted to make it a part of your career then you’re really limited.
If you decide to go for a free blog on Blogger then you can simply sign into Google or create new account and click ‘new blog’. Or via WordPress, create a new account, click add new wordpress and follow the instructions. Both ways you’ll have a basic blog in no time. If you do decide to go self hosted straight away you’ll need to find a host.
FIND A HOST
Two of the main ones are Bluehost or GoDaddy. I’m currently with GoDaddy as they had a great deal when I signed up, it was cheaper than just buying the domain name via WordPress.com. It’s around £2.99 a month and you get a free domain name with that too. It’s super simple to set up, you just follow the instructions via GoDaddy and everything is set up for you within a few hours, you just need to work on the design and content.
CHOOSE YOUR BLOG NAME OR DOMAIN NAME
I’ve said this in a few of my blogging tips posts but choose a name with longevity. If I had to choose my name again, I’d probably go with Gym Bunny Mum rather than Mummy as I won’t be Mummy for too much longer, so you need to think about where your blog will be in 12 months or five years. If I’d have called my blog Archie’s Mummy and had another child then straight away the name just wouldn’t be right.
You also need to check social media before you set your name or buy your domain as you need to go for consistency with your name across all sites. I used to be gymbunnymummy on Instagram but gymbunnymum on Twitter (someone else already had @gymbunnymummy) so whenever anyone tagged me on Instagram I would never get the notifications or mentions via Twitter. It also makes it much more easier for people to find you. I must admit it drives me crazy if I’m trying to find someone on Twitter and they’ve got a totally different name to their blog. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find and follow you.
Also, you might have chosen the perfect name for you then someone else already has that name on Twitter. Before choosing Gym Bunny Mummy I was going to go for A Northern Mum, then when checking if the name was available on Twitter I realised a much bigger blogger was already using NorthernMum so it just did’t sense to go with that name for my blog. I’m so glad I check before I bought the domain name.
CHOOSE YOUR DESIGN
It’s much easier to choose your design or theme before you start adding too much content to the blog. Whether you are using Blogger or WordPress there are lot’s of basic free themes or you can pay for something a bit more specific to your needs which will also be more functional and have better features.
I was happy with a free theme for a little while but it just wasn’t what I wanted. I did my research to figure out the 5 things I wanted from a redesign and bought & installed a theme I’m now truly happy with.
For Blogger I know a lot of people like Shabby Blogs but I don’t have any experience with it, however a quick google should find you something. For the WordPress themes my two favourites are Bluchic. who I have my current theme with and Restored 316 who my old theme was from, plus I’ve recently bought a theme for my business website.
The things I love about Bluchic & Restored 316 is that there is so much choice plus they give you all the support documentation on how to set up the theme, which plug ins to install and how to achieve the look in their demo theme.
One thing to be aware of when you choose your theme is the photography they have used in their demo theme. The overall look will be beautiful with matching photography, everything colour co-ordinated etc. Yours will look different as you’ll be using your own images so make sure you’re fully happy with the theme before you hit purchase.
PUBLISH YOUR FIRST POST
Now you’ve got everything set up & have your design, you need to start writing. Your blog will look a little strange when you only have a little content on there but the more you write the more images & posts will show and the design will really start to come to life then you can make any further tweaks to get the look you want.
Are you thinking about starting your first blog? Or are you already blogging but thinking about the move to self hosted?