Starting a blog is completely overwhelming. There is SO much to do, so many options to choose from, and so much pressure to get it right. That's why Angie of My So Called Chaos and I got together to discuss how to start a blog.
Tips for Starting a Blog
Helene: First, remember this is your online space. You can mold it into whatever you want. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. You can get all the details worked out. Have an idea of what your blog is about and why you want to blog: Just for fun? To make money? To share your life? Whatever the reason (you can change it later) but it's a good idea to think about it before you plunge.
Angie: Purchase a domain name. While it's easy and free to stick with your basic NAME.blogspot.com or NAME.wordpress.com
when blogging, I highly recommended that you purchase a domain name.
My domain name only costs about $10 a year, and it seems so much more
legitimate when people visit www.mysocalledchaos.com.
It also looks a lot more professional when it comes to advertisers and
companies that want to work with me. Starting right out with a domain
name shows that you mean business, and it helps you make sure you can
actually purchase the domain name you want, because later down the road
you could go to buy one that reflects your blog name and find out that
it's been taken.
Helene: Pick a platform. This can be a tough decision. In my opinion, you have two basic options: Blogger or WordPress. WordPress can be confusing and a lot of work. But I have heard some great things about WordPress. Essentially, you own all of your content. I prefer Blogger. You get free hosting, it's easy to navigate and it's simple to change your layout. Check out on why I use blogger.
One mistake I see a lot of newbie bloggers make is their design —both
of the main page and the blog posts. If it's too hard to read, people
won't read it. Keep it clean and easy to read and it will encourage
people to actually read it.
- Fonts: Whimsical
fonts are okay for your blog title or possibly for headers, but don't
use them for your actual content. They're hard to read and discourage
people from actually reading everything you have to say. Stick with a
good classic and clear print font for the actual post.
Make sure you keep your colors easily contrasted-dark writing on a
light background or light writing on a dark background. If you have a
pink background and yellow writing it'll be too hard to read and people
generally wont bother.
- Formatting: Make sure you format
your posts. Split it up into paragraphs (like you'd find in a news
article or a book) instead of one giant blog of writing, and add photos
where you can to split up the text. It makes everything easier to read
and helps keep your reader's interest.
- Sidebar: It's
super easy to get that sidebar jam-packed with everything you want to
showcase, but it is also a huge turn-off to readers. Just showcase the
important stuff, and if there's more stick it in another page that you
can just link to.
Angie: Think about the direction you want to take.
You don't have to commit to writing about only one thing for the
entire life cycle of your blog, but it's good to know what direction
you're going in. Is this a lifestyle blog where you'll write about lots
of different things? Is it a family blog where you're going to talk
about your kids? Do you want to share more recipes and cooking than
anything? Direction is good. It's not set in stone, but it definitely
helps you stay focused on the theme of your blog.
Social media is perhaps the best marketing tool there is these days.
Make sure you create a Facebook Page, Twitter account, Pinterest
account, Instagram, etc. If you already have all of these accounts,
consider making your usernames fluid so that they match your blog and
are easily associated with it. For example, since my blog is My So-Called Chaos, I use the handle mysocalledchaos on nearly all of my social networks. It's easy to associate, and easy for me to tell people how to find me.
Helene: Sponsor. 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. Still up in the air? Check out why sponsorship works.
One of the best things about blogging is the community it builds.
Take the time to go out and meet other bloggers so you can start
building your community. Comment on their blogs, join linky parties or
Facebook groups, etc. The more you interact with other bloggers and
their blogs the more likely they are to interact back and come visit
your blog. Bloggy BFFs are real, and amazing to have!
Helene: Write for you and do whatever you want. It's your space. You don't have to follow the rules!
Angie has been sweet enough to give my readers a free in-post ad space on her blog (worth $45!) Enter in the rafflecopter below: