In the past three years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve been asked one thing several times: “How do I start a blog?” Even in just the three years I’ve been at it, blogging has become exponentially popular, and the options for blogging have become a little overwhelming. If you have an idea for a blog but you’re not really sure where to start, never fear! I’m going to walk you through how to start a blog.
Now, I’m going to talk about the way *I* started my blog, and a few things I’ve learned along the way (aka mistakes). Please understand there are many, many, many options when it comes to blogging and my recommendations are just one way. This is the way that works for me, and this is what I always recommend to my friends when I’m asked for advice about starting a blog.
How to Start a Blog
Step 1 – The important thing here is to GET STARTED. Whatever platform you choose, whatever URL you choose, whatever … if you have ideas, get them written down! There are a million excuses to stop yourself from starting a blog, but ignore all of those and JUST START. Whatever “mistakes” are made, you can fix later. I promise.
Step 2 – Start on Blogger. When I started my blog, I set it up through Blogger (also known as Blogspot) for several reasons. The big reason is, it’s free. Your website is “hosted” on the Blogger servers (owned by Google) so you don’t have to pay for hosting space. The payoff? Your URL will have the word “blogspot” in it. For example, my first URL was http://budgetfairytale.blogspot.com. It was like this for six months! Blogger is a simple and no-risk way for you to set up a blog and see how you like it. There are lots of pre-made templates you can choose from, so you don’t have to be a designer or know any HTML. You can do slight customizations if you want but you don’t have to. At all.
Side note – What about WordPress? – Blogger and WordPress are probably the two most popular blogging platforms. You can create a free blog at WordPress.com, and your domain will be “yourblogname.wordpress.com.” Why do I recommend Blogger over WordPress? Simply because I think Blogger is easier to use for new bloggers. Secondary, I like that Blogger is a part of Google, and easy to integrate with your Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Adsense (more on that later). You are free to try both platforms and see which one you like best.
Step 3 – Choose your blog name and URL carefully. This is going to contradict Step 1 a little bit, but I advise you to take some time and really think about your blog name, and more importantly, your URL. Here are some things to remember about your blog name and URL:
- You can change your blog name and even your URL later but it’s a real hassle. So try to think of something that will represent you in the long run. I see a lot of women start wedding blogs while they are planning their wedding and include “wedding” or “bride” in their blog name. Well, you may not want to be known as “bride” forever and your writing topics will likely change away from weddings after your wedding is over UNLESS you know specifically you want to write about weddings forever. I chose “Budget Fairy Tale” because it not only represented our fairy tale wedding on a budget, but my life in general, since I try to live a full life without breaking the bank. I knew this name would still represent me after the wedding, if I wanted to keep blogging after the wedding was done (and I did)!
- Avoid using numbers if you can. Or else whenever you’re talking with someone about your blog you’ll have to explain if your URL mythreesons.com is the number 3 or if it’s three spelled out.
- In this same vain, try to avoid using underscores or hyphens in your URL. It’s just tough to explain and will make your life that much easier.
- Don’t make your blog name or URL too long. Keep it simple.
- Don’t use the word “blog” in your URL. This is one of those irrational pet peeves of mine, because … if you have a blog, I know it’s a blog. It doesn’t have to be in your name. But the smarter reason to avoid this is, what if your blog turns into something bigger? A business? A corporation? A brand? You won’t want the word “blog” in your URL anymore.
- Take inspiration from other blogs you like. What does their name represent? How did they come up with it?
- Have an idea for a name? Write it out on paper. Put all the words together and make sure they make sense. I’m totally going to date myself here, but there was an episode of the sitcom “Empty Nest” where a character, a sailor, got a personalized license plate – CLOVER. He meant it to read as “Sea Lover” but everyone just saw the word “clover.” Don’t be that guy.
- Once you have an idea for a name, put it into to Google and Facebook and make sure it’s not already taken. You don’t want to steal another blogger’s name or infringe on a trademark.
- When all else fails, use your name. Your first and last name can make an easy enough blog name and URL, unless your name is super common, like Jane Smith. You can also integrate your real name into your blog name in a clever way, like the blog Sew Anita (a sewing blog), A Dose of Paige (lifestyle blog), or Simply Darrling, a play off Kendra Darr’s last name.
Remember, if you do grow to dislike your blog name or feel it doesn’t represent you anymore, you CAN change it. But, it’s best if you can pick something and stick with it. As my friend Lisa of Babes in Disneyland said when I saw her speak at a conference, “Choose your blog name carefully because it will stick with you. And people will yell it at you.”
Oof, Step 3 was a doozy, right? Don’t worry, picking the name is honestly the toughest part of setting up a blog. So now we’re almost done.
Step 4 – Write your first post and hit PUBLISH! Your first post doesn’t have to be your finest work. In fact, it shouldn’t be your finest work because you should always be improving. Have you seen my first post? It’s incredibly simple because I just wanted to get started. There’s a saying …. “Perfectionism is just another word for procrastination.” Don’t put off publishing your first post until it’s perfect, because perfection is impossible.
Step 5 – Once you have your first post published, try to think of five more post ideas. Put the post idea into the Heading of a new post and save it as draft. Try to think of 5-10 new ideas and get them written down. Then, next time you have a chance to sit and write, you’ll already have some ideas!
There you have it! You’ve started a new blog! Congratulations!!
Here are a couple other frequently asked questions and thoughts about running a blog:
– Note that the title of this post is not “How to Start a Blog and Make Money.” If you’re starting a blog with the sole purpose of making money, then you shouldn’t start a blog. Yes it’s possible to earn money with a blog, but it is not a “get rich quick” situation AT ALL and making a decent income online takes a lot of work, effort, education, research, and time. If you’re starting your blog on Blogger, yes you can go ahead and put up to three Adsense ads on your blog. Some people say you shouldn’t put ads on a blog until you reach a certain level of viewership. I say it’s okay to put them up on day one. It’s a matter of personal preference. But, don’t expect to make more than a few pennies each month when you’re first starting out.
– Even if you don’t know what to do with them yet, reserve your blog name (or something similar) on as many social media accounts as you can. Blogging success and social media sharing go hand-in-hand. The big ones are Facebook (create a page), Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
– It’s smart to set a posting schedule. I often get asked what’s the “right amount” to post and there’s no specific answer to this. A lot of full-time bloggers post five times a week, Monday through Friday. I also know bloggers who post new content seven days a week. I know some who post twice a day. Others post whenever they have something to share. One blogger I follow posts once a week, on Mondays. I recommend giving yourself a schedule to follow, whatever works best for you. But not setting a schedule puts you in danger of forgetting to blog at all!
– Here’s the most important thing to remember: Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. Don’t compare your new blog to the big blogs and wonder why they get so many comments, why everything looks so slick, and why they are working with so many brands, and you’re not. That comes with time, so just get it out of your mind right now or you’ll drive yourself mad. For now you focus on writing and creating content, and that’s it!
Now that you know how easy it is, I hope this post encourages you to start a blog! And if you do start one, be sure to link it in the comments so I can check it out!
Image Source: Unsplash