Thursday, 7 January 2016

How to Start a Blog


Starting a blog can seem like a huge and complicated process. It really doesn't need to be, and if you do enough planning and research beforehand you can get a blog up and running in around 2 hours. For those of you who might be interested in starting your own blog, this is everything you need to know become a bonified Blogger...

  • Choose a blogging platform. A blogging platform is essentially a basic content management system. You will use to it create blogposts and then categorize them appropriately. The two most popular blogging platforms are Wordpress and Blogger. I use Blogger because it allows a much higher level of customization (to change the way the blog looks and feels) without needing to pay for a template. I believe Wordpress is the biggest platform because it is the easiest to use, but I just couldn't get along with the limited functionality and I have enough experience of basic coding to be able to manage my Blogger site myself. Choose your platform and sign up for a free account with them.
  • Pick a domain name. This is the URL that people use to access your site. For example, mine is www.reviewsatrandom.com. If you are serious about starting a blog then you will need to pay for a domain name. You can use a free one provided by your blogging platform but it will read "www.reviewsatrandom.blogspot.com", for example, which is so ugly and also doesn't lend itself to being taken seriously as a blogger. I host my blog with Go Daddy who gave me a really good price and have a lot of additional extras you can order; I ordered a custom domain email address (sianroberts@reviewsatrandom.com). I pay very little for the privilege so it's definitely worth looking into. It's worth noting that if you don't pick a custom domain name (that you pay for) you don't own your site or content. The host can delete it if they wish, without your consent. Try to pick a name that gives a rough idea of what type of content your site might include. Failing that, pick something catchy and memorable.
  • Set up your web hosting. If you choose to use Blogger then Google will automatically host your blog for you which makes the whole process super simple. You won't need to purchase additional hosting; you can just input the domain name you've purchased and get cracking. Google will also make sure you're appropriately included in Google search results to help you get your content out to a wider audience. If you choose to use Wordpress you'll have to set up hosting with a hosting provider such as BlueHost and you'll need to pay for it. 
  • Design your blog. Think hard about how you want your blog to look. If you're going to be writing instructions or recipes you'll need a clean and simple blog design. You might want to create a colour scheme or theme that reflects your content in an interesting and dynamic way. Most recently I've opted for a very muted colour scheme but in the past I've gone full garish glitter. Blogger allows you to heavily customise your blog design and it's easy to lose a few hours of your life to the Template Designer tool. Whichever design you settle on, make sure it enables easy digestion of your content. Anything overly busy might discourage your readers from sticking with your post, but that doesn't mean you have to stick to the common "grey-scale" themes if you don't want to. 
 

  • Start creating content. As a brand new "Blogger" you'll probably have a few good ideas that you can start writing about. It's likely that they've been festering away in your brain for a few weeks. Think about the way you organize your posts.  If your entire blog is going to be about one topic i.e. skincare, then it might be okay to leave your blog sorted in chronological order. If you're going to be writing about a few topics you might want to "tag" your blogposts and sort them into topics such as "Personal" or "Wedding" or "Reviews" as I have, as an example. Put yourself in the readers' position and think about whether your content makes sense in date order or whether you need to sort it for easier consumption.
  • Promote yourself. It's very unlikely that, as a brand new blogger, people will randomly stumble across your blog. It will be indexed low in search engine results and you'll need to be prepared to put yourself out there in terms of self promotion. Re-link your content via Facebook and Twitter. If you mention a particular product then tweet the brand and tag them in the post. You only need a handful of good retweets to begin to gather a good follower base, but it isn't going to happen if you think you're too cool to promote what you write about. 
  • Do it for the love. Don't start a blog to make money. The number of "hits" (people who visit your blog each day) you need to make any decent money from blogging is very high and it can take years to become an established blogger, something which I haven't come anywhere close to achieving. Whilst the AdSense dream is a great one, it really takes a long time to accomplish and if you aren't in blogging for the love you'll have quit long before you get to that position. Write about things you love, things you hate, and everything in between but make sure you are writing because you are passionate and not to make dollar.
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