Congratulations on considering becoming a blogger! Blogging has been the most fun and rewarding adventure I’ve ever pursued. If you ask 10,000 bloggers how they began, I have no doubt you will get 10,000 answers. It’s been a different road for all of us. But when I was just starting, it would have been nice to have someone give me at least a little direction. And that’s what I hope to do for you over these next 3 posts.
“I don’t even know where to start.”
That is the statement I hear the most. Web hosting, design, picking a blog name, what to write about, how often to write…there is so much, isn’t there? But here’s the thing, you’ve already started. You have something that you think you would like to share with others and it is moving you enough to consider starting a blog.
In a nutshell, here’s where to start.
Decide what it is you want to talk about. It can be as broad or as narrow as you want. Don’t worry about choosing a specific ‘niche’ right now. As you start blogging, it will become obvious what you like to focus on and what you talk about the most. For now JUST START. Anything. Introduce yourself. Tell people ‘I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m doing it’. Share a craft. Share a book review. Share pictures of your vacation. Anything.
Blogger, WordPress.org, web hosting…what in the heck do I use? Well, right now, I have a self-hosted blog on WordPress.org. That’s pretty much the standard and the most recommended. The reason; you have total control over your blog and content. But it also requires more of an investment.
My advice to someone beginning who knows they don’t want it to be a business or isn’t sure where they want to go is to start on Blogger. It is free, it is super user-friendly, and you can still buy your domain name. It is absolutely perfect for the blogger who wants to make the least possible investment but still have the ability to make money. I was on Blogger for 2 years before switching to WordPress…wouldn’t have done a thing differently. I used Blogelina to switch to WordPress this year and it only cost about $150.
If you know you want to try to become a professional blogger, you’re a little more tech savvy, or you’re willing to make the investment and save yourself time later, I say go ahead and set up a self-hosted blog on WordPress.org (not WordPress.com). My hosting is through Web Hosting Hub and I haven’t had any issues with them at all.
Buy your domain name. Buy your domain name. Buy your domain name. I can’t stress this enough. There is nothing worse than building a successful brand under a .blogspot.com domain, only to go and purchase the domain and see that it’s already taken. It costs a whopping $10-$20 to purchase a domain name. Do it.
Which means you’re going to have to pick a name. Shoot. A name. What in the heck should I name all of this random stuff I want to talk about? My advice–keep it simple. You could use your name like Liz did. You could use something that describes what your blog is about like Danielle, Fotini and Brooke did. You can pick something that describes your phase of life like Jen.
Picking a name is what stops people before they start. Don’t let it. If you don’t want to use your name and don’t have a clear idea of what you want to write about, choose a nickname or phrase that is meaningful to you. The content will give the blog name its meaning. So stress less about the name and focus more on the things you want to write about. The only thing I warn against is naming your blog something inappropriate (nuff said) or way too general(it will get buried in search results).
“People are going to think I’m crazy.”
Haha! Yes. Probably. And usually the closer they are to you, the harder they judge and joke (at first). But whatever. The fact of the matter is, blogging isn’t what it was 10 or even 5 years ago. It’s a legitimate business (seriously, I file business taxes) and it is very fulfilling. Blogging is changing how people receive and share information. It’s pretty cool and I’m happy to be a part of it.
“What do I put on my sidebar? What is a sidebar?”
First, you should definitely have a sidebar. A sidebar is that thing to the right of what you’re reading right now that has all the other little things I want you to know about me and this blog. Things to include–Contact info (or link to an ‘About’ page) Subscribe by email, any social media links (FB, Twitter, Instagram) you have set up for your blog, a Search bar, and ‘Recent Posts’ . Some have it on the left, some on the right, some have two…I recommend starting with one sidebar on the right.
“Oh that’s a cute design. Look at all that chevron. I love it!”
I love it too! But here’s the deal…the more complicated your design, the longer it takes to load. How long do you wait for a website to load? Confession: me–5 seconds. If you want design ideas, take a look at some of the bigger bloggers you love. You’ll see that they typically have white backgrounds with maybe a pretty header or logo. Keep it simple, clean and easy to read.
- Decide on WordPress or Blogger and set up your account.
- Choose a name and purchase your domain name.
- Choose a simple template that will be easy to load.
- Set up your sidebar.
- Start blogging!
To find out more about my blog story, click here!
Hey bloggers! Do you have some tips that I didn’t cover? Share them in the comments!