Many of you have been blogging for forever, so this post may not mean anything to you. That's fine. But lately, some readers who are new to blogging, tell me they want to start a blog. I talk about my blog to my friends often, some of whom are starting blogs on their own. (Whooo hoo! Now they won't think I'm weird when I talk about things like stats, followers, and blating!!)
So for beginners, here's MY take on how to start a blog. Strictly my opinion, based on what worked for me.
1. Pick a platform.
This can be a tough decision. In my opinion, you have two basic options: Blogger or WordPress. I am not a WordPress user. For me it was confusing and a lot of work. But I have heard some great things about WordPress. Essentially, you own all of your content. For great reasons on why to pick WordPress check out A Royal Daughter's post on why she made the switch from Blogger to WordPress.
I like Blogger, you get free hosting, it's easy to navigate and it's simple to change your layout. Check out my post on why I use blogger.
2. Think of a name.
This might be the hardest part…just know it's OK to change it. I actually started out with an entirely different blog name. I decided that wasn't the direction I wanted my blog to go, so I changed it. Which leads to my next point:
2. Buy the domain.
This may seem silly, but it's only $10 per year. So just do it. It looks more professional and it's easier to remember. When I tell someone my blog URL all I have to say is “Helene In Between Dot Com” and they can find me. I used GoDaddy to purchase the domain — great tech support and you can call and talk to an actual human on the phone.
3. Social Media.
Even though I claim to hate it, you need it for your blog. I was convinced my blog didn't need a Facebook page, so I waited months before starting one. You should share all your blog posts on all forms of social media (yes, even Google +) because this is helpful for people to ultimately find your blog. Don't forget to utilize Pinterest for your blog!
If you use Blogger's templates, please choose a simple one. There are some really great free templates that you can use, I used B Templates and added some of my own customization (you can Google how to do specific things with HTML to get your blog how you want it.) Yes, we want our blogs to look pretty, but wait until you know what you really really want and then hire a blog designer.
5. Write for yourself.
I know, this is annoying but true. If you feel like you have to write certain ways or for certain audiences, blogging will become a chore and you'll quit. That's what happened to me at first. Then I discovered I can write what I want to write about, and as long as it's quality content, people will want to read it.
If you want to gain readership, followers and friends you can't just sit there and wait for people to find your blog. Get out there and read other blogs. Comment. Engage other people. How will someone know to follow you on Twitter (or any other social media platform) if you don't engage with them? They won't.
|At a blogger brunch, just checking on things….|
If you're interested in getting your blog's name out there, this is a great way to do it. No, it's not the only way, but it helps. Sponsoring allows you to have your blog “button” (which is on the right side of my blog and links back to your blog). People will click that link and find you. Other options include sponsoring or advertising with other bloggers: guest posting, giveaways, social media shout outs, etc. Check out my post on why sponsorship works.
8. Check your Stats.
You can use Blogger's features to see how many followers, page views, comments etc you have. But a more accurate tool is Google Analytics. Check out my tutorial on using analytics. This gives you a good idea of your true statistics.
9. Forget everything I just said.
It's your blog anyway. There are no rules. So you can literally write and do whatever you want with it.