First things first, I don’t think I’m an authority on this by any means! Just thought I’d put that out there haha. BUT, I have been blogging for a while now, and a few of my non-blogger friends have asked me for advice on getting started. Complete strangers have emailed me asking for tips too, so I guess I must be doing something right! Like I said, I’m no blogging guru, but here are my tips anyway. Stuff you might not think of if you’re completely new to the blogging world!
The absolute basics:
Draft a few posts in MS Word. Find your writing style and have several posts ready to go before starting! People will probably more inclined to follow you if they have some idea what your content might be – doesn’t have to be much!
Choose a clean, simple design (at first). I can guarantee you’ll stress yourself out and decide you hate blogging straight away if you try to jump straight in with a fancy personalised one. Change it pretty soon by all means, but at least give yourself a chance to get started on content first.
Use WordPress. Now this one’s my personal recommendation and isn’t the be all and end all, but from what I’ve gathered, WordPress gives you far more flexibility and access to stats than Blogger or S. If you think you’re gonna be in this for the long run too, it’s definitely worth buying a custom domain (why my blog is www.jolihouse.com not www.jolihouse.wordpress.com). Just looks far more professional!
If you’re struggling for a blog name, just use your actual name/nickname. Nothing wrong with keeping it simple! I think you’re far less likely to change your mind that way than if you struggle to pluck something out of thin air. My blog name has a personal story behind it here.
Set up an email account. Gmail is perfectly fine if you don’t want to go the whole hog and use a custom domain (ie. email@example.com), just make sure it’s consistent with your blog name, not a cheesy one you made up in year 8. You’ll thank me later. 🙂
Have an About Me page. Very important. Again, you don’t need to include your life story, but at least give us an introduction.
Growing your blog:
Comment on other blogs. Your blog does not exist in a bubble! People are unlikely to randomly stumble across it unless you put yourself out there.
Link your social media to your blog, or start fresh ones. I linked my existing Instagram, and started a new Twitter account. I didn’t think those already following me would be particularly interested, and I thought they’d just take the mick if I’m honest. Whether that would have been the case or not I don’t know, but I just left that old account alone. Didn’t want to spam non-blogger with a million #lbloggers tweets every Sunday evening either!
Join twitter chats straight away. If you don’t throw yourself into the community side, then you’re missing out big time! I use this schedule to remind myself of times. Use Tweetdeck rather than standard Twitter too – it’s far to keep track when you have your profile, notifications, home feed, scheduled tweets and everything on one screen.
Don’t limit yourself to one niche. You might find you drift into a niche with time, but I’d say it’s better to keep your options open in the beginning. You might be surprised what you enjoy writing about! Lots of bloggers may suggest deciding on a niche and sticking with it, but I’ve personally found that too limiting.
Include photos in every post. Image free blog posts just don’t really work, sorry! Try to use your own photography as much as possible too – although it’ ok to use Pinterest once in a while too, so long as you credit the sources and don’t claim it as your own! I’ll warn you now that taking blog photos can take quite a chunk of time, but isn’t worth rushing! If possible, you want to save yourself from looking back in two years and asking ‘what the hell was I thinking?!?’. It’s inevitable to an extent, but at least put effort into your blog photography from the start. Use natural light as much as possible!
Use a consistent post signature with all your social media links. Some bloggers have fancy scripty names to sign off their posts; some of us have kept it simple. Get those links in there though!
If you decide blogging is purely an online journal for you, great! It’s a great way to document your life. If you’d like to make something more of it, then there are extras you can use to get started. SEO, for example – that’s Search Engine Optimisation – basically helping your blog to be discovered by search engines. Plugins like Yoast allow you to signpost Google in your direction. Jetpack is really useful for checking out your stats too, and allows you to track growth in visitor numbers.
Hope this was helpful for anybody wanting to start blogging in the new year! Send me a link if you start one up. 🙂
lily kate x