We all know by now: the blogging world is HUGE. Everyone wants to blog these days, and it’s easy to see why. It’s fun, it’s therapeutic (I think so, at least), it’s a way to connect with other people, and it can potentially be a money-maker. So how do you start one? Where do you even begin?
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These are the questions I had about a year ago, when I first really started thinking about starting a blog. I asked myself these questions, but then I didn’t really search for the answers until May of this year. I was too intimidated! Like I said, the blogging world is huge and I didn’t know how to stand out. I really do wish I started earlier, but more on that later. But I had been wanting to start one for a while: I enjoy writing, helping people, and I felt I had a lot to say. And this was BEFORE I had a baby! Now that I have a 8 month old, I feel I have so much to say and to teach! Yes, I’m a first time mom, but I’ve already learned so much and want to share it with the world.
So, how does one start a blog? Well, if you’re asking yourself this question, you came to the right place! I know I’m a new blogger myself, but I thought that might be even MORE inspiring to those out there want to make the leap. This post will cover the steps you need to take to start a blog in a quick and efficient way. If you just want to get your feet off the ground, this article is for you!
This is post #1 in a series of posts that will be coming out weekly for the next few weeks related to blogging. Soon, I’ll have a post up about how to actually maintain your blog and even make money off of it! Click here to subscribe to emails so you don’t miss when those posts come out!
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Step 1: Come up with a niche
This is probably the number one thing that will make or break your blogs success. Figure out what you know, what you like, and what you think you can write about. A lot of people told me to “niche down” – aka narrow down your interests and blog topics to only 1 or 2 things. I honestly don’t like that advice. I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve come across that have parenting, marriage, blog advice, and fashion all in one. What matters is one thing: QUALITY. If your posts are quality, you’ll gain readers.
So, while coming up with a general niche does matter, I think you can easily have a successful blog that covers a few different topics.
However, you also need to keep in mind one thing: what do the people want? Is what you have to say useful? If you want a money-making blog, then your posts need to be geared towards the reader. While you may enjoy writing about your personal life, your readers want to read things that will help them. So, if your goal is to make money then your posts about your personal life need to be written in a way that solves a problem or a question for your audience.
Step 2: Learn how to use Pinterest
Okay, I lied. Step 1 is important, but step 2 is CRUCIAL. You must learn how to use Pinterest! It will be your NUMBER 1 bringer of traffic. I’ve been using Pinterest for about 7 years, now. I taught myself how to use it and how to use it effectively for my blog. In fact, I am currently working on a Pinterest E-Course so that you don’t have to take all that time to teach yourself! Subscribe below so you don’t miss when that comes out (early 2019) AND to receive a discount!
Pinterest is a visual search engine, so you want to make sure you have beautiful images to go along with your great blog posts. I recommend using Canva to make your images. There are tons of stock photos, fonts, templates, and it’s all free (there’s a paid version, but I’ve never used it). There’s even a Pinterest graphic template! Here’s an example of some nice looking pins (and…make sure your pins are vertical, like these are!!):
Don’t those look nice? They need to be visually appealing, and fit your brand. Which brings me to step 3.
Step 3: Decide on a name and branding
This sounds intense and intimidating, but it’s not. Brainstorm some name ideas and check to see if they are taken already. Use www.instantdomainsearch.com to see if your name is available. Then, come up with your brand: colors, style, graphics. All these will represent you on Pinterest, Google, and everywhere else you’ll advertise your blog. If you notice on my blog, most of my visuals are a pink and red scheme. I try to use clean looking images with light backgrounds and mostly stick to feminine styles. You want your blog to look coherent. Again, looks are a big thing in the blog world. Most people don’t want to visit an ugly blog.
Step 4: Buy a domain and decide who will host your site
They say you’ve got to spend money to make money, and for blogging it’s so true. You can use a free site for your blog, but I wouldn’t recommend it. If you do this, you don’t truly own your words and honestly, the free ones just aren’t as nice.
I use Squarespace for my domain and Hover for my hosting. So far, I’m really enjoying both! Squarespace is very sophisticated, yet easy to use. It comes with tons of free templates you just need to tweak to your liking. You don’t need any coding or design expertise to use it. I also really enjoy Hover. I find it one of the more affordable hosting platforms and so far I’ve had 0 issues. If you decide to use Hover, you’ll get $2 off your subscription with my link!
Step 5: Write content!
Okay, you’ve got a niche, you understand Pinterest (mostly…), you’ve got a name and a style, you finally got your domain and host….now you just need content!
Before launching your blog, I recommend having 3-4 blog posts written and ready to go. It will look better if you launch with a few posts rather than just 1. Along with this, you should write a really great “About me” page. You can see mine for an example.
On top of that, you should write a bunch of possible blog post topics as well. Before I officially launched my blog, I had a word document with 20+ blog post ideas. That way, after I wrote my first 3, I wasn’t stuck thinking “well, crap…now I got nothing.” Its good to have a list of ideas on hand so when you sit down to write, you have some sort of starting point.
Speaking of which, how often should you post? How often should you work on your blog? These are things I did A TON of research on. What I found out is that it really varies and depends on your own work ethic. Most people say 1-2 posts a week is a pretty good sweet spot. Any more and you’re probably taking on too much. I personally think 1 post a week is good. I’ve read horror stories of people trying to do 5-6 posts a week and really crashed and burned pretty quickly so I’d avoid doing that.
As far as writing, whatever works for you! If you’d rather sit down once a month and bust out 4-5 posts, then by all means! I prefer to write my post on the weekend, schedule it to post sometime during the week, and then do the same thing next week. Writing a post isn’t as quick as it sounds: you need to write it, proofread it, format it, add pictures and links, then post it. It takes about 1-2 hours for me to fully write and style my posts. So make sure to give yourself enough time to actually sit down and write. This goes back to step 1: QUALITY. Don’t just write posts to write them; make sure they are good, informative, and something people are looking for.
Step 6: Advertise your blog!
Once your blog is up and running, it’s time to get people to read it! You can advertise to people you know, but that won’t last long and won’t bring in many readers. Join Facebook groups and Pinterest Groups. This is truly essential to your blogs success. You can join FB groups aimed at mom bloggers, lady bosses, bloggers in general, fashion bloggers, and so much more. All you need to do is search. I’m part of 4 blogger groups but I know some people who are part of 20 or more. These groups allow you to advertise your posts and then other people will pin your post, tweet it, or share it somewhere else. This helps get your blog exposure where it might not have otherwise. The same goes for Pinterest groups – these are special groups that a few people contribute to. When you pin to them, more people see them then if you just pin to your own boards. As you can see, understanding Pinterest goes a long way!
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There you have it: 6 steps to starting a blog. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll have a blog set up in no time. Beyond these basic steps, there are a lot more things to do: learn about SEO, keywords, tags, ads, collaborations, guest blogging….and so much more. Want to make money with your blog? I wrote a very quick and basic guide to learning how to do that. You can find it here.