Hey guys! Happy Monday!
I hope your week is off to a good start. I took a break from everything over the last couple of days and it was glorious! Anyway, by popular demand, I’ve decided to start another series about…the business of blogging. I get asked questions on this subject on a a daily basis: “How do I start a blog? Which platform should I use? How do I grow my social media following? How do I get people to read my blog? How do I make money blogging?” With the rise in DMs, Facebook messages, emails and the like, I figured I should share my knowledge in one place as it seems that there is a lot of interest in this subject. Please keep in mind that I am, by no means, an expert and all of this is entirely from my journey as a blogger, which I learned through trial and error over the past three years. So let’s get into it….how to start a blog!
HOW TO START A BLOG NOWADAYS
Do It for the Right Reasons
Blogging has become somewhat of a fad these days. Everyone and their brother wants to start a blog, which is fine because we all have our own unique voice, but with the popularity of blogging comes unrealistic expectations. People outside the blogging realm may look up to well-known bloggers and think “Wow! They are just taking photos and making all this money! What a dream!” While yes, it’s true that blogging may be the best profession ever (in my opinion lol!), it’s also one of the hardest. What you don’t see when you look at those well-known bloggers that seemingly have a perfect life is that their life is, in fact, not perfect. You don’t see the incredible amount of time that they put into their blog to make it what it is today….the time is took learning how to do twenty professions in one and the time it took to finally perfect each of those professions. You don’t see the long work hours…waking up at the crack of dawn and staying up well past midnight to ensure that everything on their to-do list gets done and that deadlines are being met. Blogging is mentally, physically and emotionally draining, but it is equally rewarding. You REALLY have to have a passion for this because while there are always exceptions to the rules, the truth is that most people will not see a dime come from their blog right away. In short, if you are wanting to start a blog to make money, I would reevaluate your reasoning. Do it because you love it, not because you want a paycheck.
Narrow Down Your Niche
What will you blog be about? Will you blog about something general like fashion, beauty, lifestyle, traveling, decorating, or food? Or will you blog about something more specific like shoes, lipstick, Parisian culture, bedroom decor or Italian food? You want to choose something that you are already passionate and knowledgable about. For example, I blog mainly about fashion because that is where my passion lies and where my educational background is. You, however, do not need a degree in a certain subject or have to have a certain amount of knowledge in order to blog about a specific subject, you just need to be incredibly passionate about it 😉
When started a new blog, many people want to write about all the things and while I think the ambition is great, I think that realistically, blogging about one or two main areas is ideal when you begin. This isn’t to say that you can’t ever talk about other subjects because of course you can! It’s your blog! It’s just to give you an idea of where to start. It’s much easier to develop a following and show yourself as someone knowledgable about a subject if you narrow down your focus. Having a more specific niche will allow others to trust your opinion and give them a reason to visit your blog when looking for an answer within that niche. For example, my main niche is feminine fashion so if someone is looking for frilly dresses, colorful outfit ideas and girly shop recommendations, they know where to come. They also know that if they are looking for more edgy or sporty looks, then my blog probably isn’t the right place 😉 From there, it’s much easier to introduce new niches in addition to your main one and since you’ve built up a following that trusts your opinion, the addition of these niches will likely do better than if you were to start off your blog doing them.
Decide on a Name
Take your time when deciding on a name as this will be your blogging identity. In a saturated market, you want it to stand out among others. Your name should be unique, true to your niche and just like your content, you want it to stand out. It should be short, easy to remember, catchy and original (no copy-cat names). Personally, I would come up with a handful of different ones that you love to ensure that it is available as a domain name and across all social channels. I recommend using Name Check to do this. If you have a difficult time coming up with a blog name, try using your given name (if it’s uncommon) as no one else will likely have that 😉
Choose the Right Platform
I feel like choosing the right platform comes down to what you see for your blog in the future. I know that when you first start out, you might not have any plans other than to write your thoughts or share the things that you love. You are in the majority. I feel like most people don’t go into blogging to create a business, but rather just to share something that they are passionate about BUT I will say that if you have ANY interest (even just a little!) in turning your blog into a business at any time in the future, I highly suggest going with self-hosted WordPress over any other platform. This is because WordPress gives you the freedom to do pretty much anything you want to your site AND you actually own your site. The only thing that I regret in my blogging journey is the fact that I didn’t start on WordPress sooner. Like most other bloggers, I started my site on Blogger. because a.) it was free and b.) it was easy to use. I started it as a creative outlet and not because I had planned for it to become a business but as my blog grew, staying on Blogger no longer made any sense. I switched to WordPress just over three months ago (almost three years after I started!) and it’s the one thing I wish I would have done much sooner. If you are planning to keep your blog as solely a hobby, then check out Blogger, Squarespace and WordPress.com (not self-hosted). I can’t say much about the later two because I never used them, but Blogger is a great platform if you want to start a blog and don’t need all the bells and whistles. Since I’m most familiar with Blogger and WordPress, I’ll compare them below:
- Easy to use
- Easy to customize
- You don’t own your site so if Blogger were to ever shut down, so would your blog
- You are very limited when it comes to site design
- Traffic stats are very inflated
- You OWN your site!
- Infinite design possibilities
- Looks more professional
- Easy to use once you’ve gotten over the learning curve
- You will have to put money into it (domain name, hosting, themes, etc)
Buy your Domain Name
If you see yourself blogging for a while, I would definitely buy your domain name, regardless of which platform you choose to use. Buying your domain name not only looks more professional, but it also keeps anyone else from buying it. A lot of people forgo this step because they don’t want to spend the money, but it’s actually quite inexpensive. Just to give you an idea, I believe I paid $14 for my first two years (I use GoDaddy).
Choose Your Hosting
If you go with self-hosted WordPress, you will need to get hosting for your website. There are so many options out there and it’s important to choose the one that’s right for you. After months of researching, I went with Siteground as I felt it was the best fit for my blog. So far, I haven’t had any issues with my site being down (or anything at all actually) and I love it! The cost was a lot less than I thought it would be and ended up being about $7 per month for the year.
Set Up Your Socials
Once you have your blog taken care of, you’ll have to create a way to market it! That’s where social media comes in. I highly recommend using the same name (preferably your blog name) across all social media channels so people know where to find you. You can see if the name is available on social when you initially look at Name Check for your blog domain. Set up your channels and start engaging! Social Media is about community so it’s important to be present on the platform. You’ll also want to include platforms that make the most sense for your blog rather than just signing up for everything 😉
It’s Time to Publish Your First Post
I still remember the day that I hit the publish button. I was terrified of what people would think once they found out I had a blog and was blasting myself all over the internet. It was exciting and exhilarating yet nerve-racking at the same time. It took time to get over this fear, but I ended up finding something that I’m incredibly passionate about and had I not published that first post, my life might look completely different now. This is the first and biggest step in your blogging journey and you should be proud of yourself for taking that leap! Here are some other posts you might enjoy:
I hope you all enjoyed this how to start a blog post (since I know it’s completely different than my fashion posts). In the future, I’ll be covering topics such as branding, planning content, how to get traffic, photography equipment and editing, how to make money, how to utilize and grow your social media plus some other fun stuff 🙂 I’m planning to do this once a month, BUT if there’s enough interest and you can’t possibly wait another month for the next post, let me know!
Do you have any other questions you’d like me to answer in the future?
Let me know in a comment!