Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had 3 or 4 people ask me for advice on starting their own blog, so I decided to put it all here in a blog post.
It’s been 3 years since I started my blog and I’ve learned a few things along the way. That being said, there are probably a million ways to go about tackling this “blog thing”…but here are the things I’d recommend considering.
1. Figure Out Why
The first step to starting a blog is figuring out why. Are you hoping to build a brand/business? Are you an inspiring writer hoping to grow your audience? Or maybe you’re just a chatterbox with no one in your social circle who “gets” you. Whatever the reason, that’s your starting point. However, keep in mind that it’s just a starting point. Things may change along the way.
Blake Von D originally started as a place for me to vent and share my thoughts. I’m not sure who I was sharing them with, because back then, no one was reading. But it felt good just to get it out. The topics were all over the place and had no real theme. However, as my audience grew–and my life was no longer in complete shambles–I started to respond to things about me that interested my readers the most. To my readers I was a representation of the every day girl who was trying to take on the world and look fashionable doing it and those were the parts of my life they wanted to know more about.
You don’t have to have it all figured out from day 1. Lord knows I didn’t. Just follow that little voice inside you that even gave you the idea to blog in the first place.
2. Choose a Platform
The debate over WordPress vs. Blogger is one that will probably go on for many years to come and each platform has its pros and cons.
Blogger is free & very user-friendly and for that reason, a lot of bloggers start there; although, many end up switching to WordPress at some point. WordPress has two versions–a free service (.com) and a paid self-hosted service (.org). The free version of WordPress is very restrictive, which is why I switched over to OnSugar for a while. My blog wasn’t quite big enough that I could justify paying for hosting, but I had outgrown all the functionalities available to me through WordPress.com.
…..For the record, OnSugar is a great platform! It caters to a female audience and is a great place to pick up readers who have the same interests as you. However, it too can be outgrown; hence, my ultimate switch to self-hosting.
Things to Keep in Mind:
- All blogs on Blogger are owned by Google. Even when you purchase your own domain name. This means they can shut you down if they decide they don’t like your content. It’s extremely rare, but possible nonetheless.
- Monetization–using ads–is not possible on WordPress.com. (You can on Blogger and OnSugar.) So, if your plan is to grow your blog into a business, the free version of WordPress is probably not your best option.
- WordPress.org allows for complete creative control. It’s also gives you access to neat plug-ins–blogging “apps”–that will allow you to add almost any function you can think of to your blog. Just remember, it’s not free and you will also have to have your own domain name. You also might want to be familiar with HTML coding.
3. JUST START WRITING!
“If you build it, they will come.” (You’ve seen that movie, right? lol) It sounds cliché, but it’s true. Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down in thoughts of “What if no one reads it?” or to feel intimidated by bigger, more popular blogs. And if you do (I did), don’t stay there long. Shake it off and just open up your laptop! Just remember, BE YOURSELF! People will see through pretenses and in this age of e-thuggin’, they will call you on it!
Once you start writing, the rest is trial and error. Some things will work, others will be colossal failures. But all of it will be part of the learning experience on your way to having the best blog ever!
Here are some helpful links from across the web to help you out:
- Top 10 Blogging Do’s & Don’ts — Smart Boy Designs
- The Basics of HTML for Blogging — The Writer’s Technology Companion
- 4 Simple Ways to Grow Your Brand — Van SEO Design
- 10 Things I Hate About Your Blog — Jam Hands