I often get questions and comments from readers expressing interest in starting their own blog. I can totally relate. I, myself, was inspired to start blogging by the only blog I read at the time written by a friend in Hawaii. She started off her blog documenting her pregnancy, and when I got pregnant I knew I wanted to do the same. Often, the questions I get from people are accompanied by uncertainty. Many people don’t know where to start or if they should start to begin with. I usually say, “Go for it!” And I’m finally putting together a blog post to send them in the right direction. If you’re interested in starting your own blog, read along…
1. Choose a blogging platform. This is where you will write and publish your posts. There are several to choose from, but I would recommend either going with Blogger or WordPress. I started off with Blogger and really loved it. I found it really easy to use, and I loved how I could also keep up with the blogs I read through the site. Blogger is basic, and it is really great for hobby bloggers (though there are still many professional bloggers who use it). WordPress is a little more advanced. There are two different types of WordPress blogs: ones that can be hosted free through WordPress.com and ones you have to buy your own domain for through WordPress.org. Why would you pay for a WordPress blog instead of using the free one? Well, one of the main reasons is that you are not allowed to advertise on the free one. Blogger, by the way, is also free, but you CAN advertise on there. Why did I switch from Blogger to WordPress? WordPress has a lot more “PlugIns” that can take your blog design and features to the next level. When I was accepted to BlogHer Publishing Network, I had to be able to suppress some of the ads on my sidebar from popping up on sponsored posts. This might all seem complicated to someone who is just starting out blogging, but it really is something you have to think about if you plan on becoming a professional blogger. If you’re not sure yet and you end up choosing Blogger and want to switch to WordPress later, it’s totally possible. I hired Amanda from Suitcase Designs to do it for me and the switch was really less complicated than I thought it would be.
2. Decide how much you want to share. Putting your life out there for the world to see can be a scary thing. Even if you don’t share everything that goes on, pouring your heart into a blog post can make you feel vulnerable. There are people out there that might disagree with your choices or what you have to say. If you don’t think you can take criticism and negative comments, whether constructive or just plain rude, blogging might not be for you. Alternatively, you can make your blog private so that only people you invite to read it can read it. You can fix your “privacy settings” on WordPress or “control permissions” on Blogger if this is something you think you might want to do. On the other hand, sharing your experiences publicly can lead you to find more connections with people around the world. Blogging is a really great community. You’ll be able to inspire people and be inspired in return. You can forge friendships with people you would never would have known.
3. Name your blog. This is something you’ll definitely want to spend some time thinking about. You’ll want to choose something that is catchy, will represent your blog, and isn’t too long or complicated to read. You want a name that will be timeless and apply to your blog even as it grows and changes. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that my blog didn’t start out as “To the Sea.” It used to be called “Mi Todo,” which means “My Everything” in Spanish. People not familiar with Spanish had no idea how to read it, and I think they thought it was something along the lines of “My To Do.” So I changed it. Changing your name (like your blogging platform) can be done, but it isn’t easy. I never felt I was any good at picking out a name for my blog, but I’m happy with what I have now.
4. Invest in a Nice Camera. This obviously isn’t a requirement of blogging, but pairing your words with some nice, high-quality images will make it more visually appealing for both you and your readers. I have the Nikon D5100, and you can check out my post about the lenses and stuff I use here. I recommend making the images fit the entire width of your blog. The bigger the better.
5. Start writing! And keep writing. There are no rules. Well, some people suggest you maintain a “theme” to your blog, but you can get around this by calling your blog a “lifestyle” blog and writing about whatever the bleep you want to write about! That’s what I do, anyway (lol). Write for YOU. Blogging is an art, let your creativity shine. Be true to yourself. Tell your story.
Once you’ve got the first five steps down, you can start thinking about some other fun things, such as:
6. Design your site. I used to design my own site but it takes A LOT of time and HTML knowledge. Then I discovered the world of pre-made designs and designers that can take your blog to the next level. My current design is by Kortryna Bass, but you can also find plenty of cool ones on Etsy. Amanda also does a pretty fabulous job and I’m thinking of going through her next for a fresh design.
7. Set up Social Media accounts for your blog. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are great platforms for sharing your blog posts and engaging with your readers.
Do you have any other tips to add? Share them in the comments.
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