Want to set up a blog but don’t know where to start? Here are a few simple guidelines to follow to get you up and running!
Define what you have to say. What are you passionate about? You will probably be more motivated to blog if you are writing about a topic that interests you. If you want to write about your life in general, that’s totally fine. But if you jump around from subject to subject to subject, then you may have a difficult time retaining readers. So pick a main underlying mission statement for your blog, something you believe in and find exciting, and stick with it.
Choose a platform. The two big platforms are self-hosted WordPress and Blogger. Self hosted WordPress (wordpress.org) itself is free, but you will have to purchase hosting and a domain. It’s not a huge expense and a lot of people say the small investment is worth it to have complete control over your content and the look of your blog. With Blogger (a Google product), you can set up your blog with no financial investment, which might be attractive for someone who wants to simply blog casually or doesn’t have any money to invest at the start. Just know that if you want to switch from Blogger to WordPress down the line, it will be a bit more complicated and could cause a few virtual headaches. I have used both platforms and my opinion is that Blogger is much more user friendly if you are new to blogging. There are other platforms out there – Typepad and Squarespace are growing in popularity, but I don’t have personal experience with them so I won’t go into these platforms here.
Spend some time (or money) on design. First impressions are important. You don’t have to have an art degree to make your blog look organized and attractive. Scope out your favorite blogs and note what you like about their layout and design. Don’t copy, but instead be inspired and influenced by their design, and use your notes as a guide on how you want your blog to work. Also, search engines are your friends … if you see something on another blog and wonder how in the world they did that, Google or Bing it to see if you can find a tutorial.
Connect on Facebook and Twitter. Social media and blogging go hand in hand. Be sure to set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account for your blog. Both are important – Facebook is great for connecting with readers, and Twitter is best for connecting with other bloggers. Emerging social media networks Pinterest and Instragram are also great ways to share your posts with the world. Even if you don’t plan on being highly active on these channels right away, you may want to set up accounts to match your blog, so someone else can’t swoop in and steal that user name from you.
Set a schedule. Do you ever start a new project and then never get around to finishing it? Yeah, me too. Don’t let that happen to you with blogging! Think about how much time you can dedicate to blogging, realistically. If you can’t update your blog more than once a week or once a month, that’s totally fine. Let your readers know what they can expect from you and then stick with it. For me, it helps to keep a planner where I write out all my blog posts for the upcoming week. This way I can see everything laid out and I can schedule my time accordingly.
Following these five steps will get your blog started off on the right path. I would love to hear how you got your start with blogging. What would be your advice to someone just getting started?