Starting your own blog from scratch is a daunting experience; it’s a whole place on the Internet that you are responsible for. Once you have decided to start a blog, you might hop on Pinterest and decide to have a quick search to aid your decision on which platform to use. After seeing thousands of very generic pins all saying the same kind of thing and using fancy terminology and skipping ahead to complicated and far-fetched things like SEO and long tail keywords, you might be completely put off.
This guide is designed to be straightforward and easy to use. A quick dive into how you should start your blog and some of the basic things you’ll want to know before you begin writing.
Pick A Platform
To start a blog, you need to do a bit of research in which you decide on your plan and your site. I did around a day’s worth of research, read articles on Pinterest, looked up almost all the self-hosting sites in the universe and even listened to podcasts and then settled with WordPress and the free beginner option as I am not ready to invest in my blog yet (but I am keeping the option open for the future). However, if WordPress isn’t the one for you, other free and simple sites include:
- Blogger (Google’s blogging platform)
- Tumblr (mainly picture orientated, a social media)
All of the above and more will allow you to create your own site, design it to an extent, publish content and gain traffic – the people who come to your blog. I have had a blog on Blogger before and instead of being cleverly designed and full of Google’s add-ons, it was actually quite frustrating, in both writing and sharing content and choosing your ideal design for the blog.
Go Ahead and Click Create
Once you’ve chosen your platform, use your email address to create your blog! Another step I struggled with was choosing a name and domain because there are so many blogs with very similar names, so many with the domain name as the name of the author, so many with their niche in the domain, and it gets very confusing; choosing a quick yet catchy name is certainly a task.
I used a few free name generators on google that you can find simply by using the keywords blog name generator or website name generator and filtering your search with preferred phrases. I found a suggestion as Candles and Confidence and another called Kisses and Candles and others to do with similar phrases and then mixed the two to create my domain name: Kisses of Confidence. It fits in with what I write about as I focus on lifestyle and mental health, so confidence is certainly a topic that fits into those categories.
Choose a name people will remember and begin to associate with your blog, as well as one that can sum up what you blog about. It’s important to have a catchy blog name as it increases the chance of people clicking over to your site.
Select A Niche
After your blog has been created, think about your passion and what you want to be writing about. There are thousands of general and also specialised niches, both of which work specialised ones may generate more traffic as anyone searching those keywords into Google are more like to find your post and read it because it is a specialised subject and fewer people write about it, but general categories like mine (lifestyle, mental health, beauty, etc) are potentially easier to write and have larger target audiences.
Talking of target audiences, decide yours! Mine is made up of other fashion, lifestyle and mental health bloggers and anyone else who is interested in any of those topics, with the target age being teenagers to young adult. When you start publishing content, remember to address your audience as the target you have created, and aim all posts at the target audience, because they will be the readers who share, like, comment and revisit! They are gold.
Decide Firm Blogging Goals
The final step to the creation side of your blog is simply deciding your blogging goals; will it be for fun, to amuse others, to unleash your creative side or to earn an income? Personally, mine is a little of the first three, as my blog is all about sharing my stories, helping others and getting my thoughts out there; many other bigger bloggers will concentrate on figures and income as that is their full-time job. You choose!
Further, decide on if you want to have goals for things like page views and subscribers. For example, for my first month blogging, I simply wanted ten followers and a few hundred page views – after all, I had created lots of content and started an Instagram and Pinterest account to promote my posts. In the end, I got 20 followers on WordPress Reader, a few email subscribers, and about seven hundred pageviews. Not bad, but still not in the same league as other bloggers who became famous in their first month!
Done: Hereby Follows Success, Fame and Glory
You have now created your own blog! With a target audience and blogging goals, you’re good to go. You should expect thousands of visitors at your first post, millions of followers across your social media pages, and much more. You’ll be getting around five hundred likes per post and dozens of comments from your fans!
Reality check: you won’t. If you post frequently, have a smart social media schedule and a decent amount of followers (on Instagram, I have 800 followers which generates about 40% of my traffic, so that’s a good place to start) on at least one platform. Start with two and build up as you become used to the scheduling and follower stress. Ideally, start with Pinterest and Instagram; read my super-simple guide explaining how to grow your Pinterest and Instagram in ten minutes per day HERE!
Now, Create Some Content!
Write about your passions and include bright and centred photographs for higher share rates and more views. Get out there and promote yourself and your posts as much as possible, and try to stay on a schedule. Having posts on certain days of the weeks increases your share rates and engagement rates with other bloggers or subscribers.
Once your blog is up and running, continue publishing professional-looking posts with spellcheck and a crisp photograph that matches the title of the post. Promote yourself on social media to receive 76% more visitors and a 54% higher share rate, and keep doing this! If you want to find out how to grow your existing blog and keep generating new visitors and page views, you can read my post on 31 Ways To Get Traffic To Your Blog Immediately here.
It doesn’t matter if you create content that only fits in one niche or category; you need to do what feels right and experiment. After a few months of blogging, you should be on track to writing in around 3-5 different categories, and your audience insights should reflect that.
Let People Know
Having a target audience is great, but if no one knows about your blog then there isn’t a lot of point. Starting with the people you know, tell people! Word of mouth is a quick and completely free method of spreading the news. Remember to write some content, have pretty pictures and have a functioning and attractive blog before you go ahead and spread the news as readers won’t want to read your half-edited post and a plain design.
Create accounts on social media! If you want to start an Instagram account (I would really recommend starting with this and Pinterest) then follow me here! That would be great 🙂 To start using social media, you should always have a profile set up – include the link to your blog, a photograph (having headshots or photographs of yourself increase the engagement rate by 44%) and your name, along with what you do! This helps possible followers find you, understand why you are on Instagram and might lead them to your blog.
Design Is Key
Having a colourful design that fits the niche of your blog and is appealing to your target audience is definitely useful. My Pinterest features an entire board of blogging design freebies and tips, so if you’d like to nab some gorgeous free headers or some expert advice on how to set up your sidebar, here it is! I chose to spend a few weeks fiddling around with several different themes, headers, background colours, fonts and pictures in order to find out what I like and what my readers like, too. The header I used on my blog currently is from Pinterest, so it is definitely worth checking the board out as it can revolutionise your blog and how it looks (and give me a little more exposure, haha).
Another equally important design feature for your blog is the sidebar. My own sidebar features a WordPress Follow form, an email subscription form, a search bar, a drop-down menu of my recent posts, an about me area and picture and finally a link to my blog social media. You should ALWAYS include a link to your other social media as this means readers can be taken to other sites, leading to more engagement and more followers, equalling better exposure and more traffic.
Having an About Me section allows the reader to quickly see who you are, what you do and why you’re doing it. Choose a bright picture that fits your theme! To grow a mailing list, you should have an email sign-up form on your sidebar, too, as this is the most common place to attract subscribers. Lastly, add another widget that will list some of your posts – in WordPress, there are several completely free widgets that will allow you to list up to 10 posts as a drop-down in your sidebar, including Most Popular and Recent posts.
Having trouble with your blog’s design? On WordPress, click customise in the WordPress menu on the left-hand side of the screen, and to add widgets to your sidebar and footer, do this by navigating to the Widgets panel and selecting your chosen ideas. You can also seek help and advice from the WordPress Forums, which are scattered all over the web! Setting up your site is simple for a reason; each forum is always easy to enter and will give you help with whatever you need.
- Choose a platform and create your site (WordPress and Blogger are the most popular ones)
- Decide what you want to write about; choose something that is close to the heart and you are passionate about
- Begin creating high-quality content; write as much as you can, edit after a break from the screen, add an infographic and then upload.
- Make sure the posts you are writing fit into the target audience you have in mind.
- Check your stats and ensure the people who are visiting your blog are generally within the target audience; if not, why are they there? Should your audience change?
- Get into the habit of blogging as much as you can. Before you start promoting, check that you have 7-10 good, long blog posts on your site.
- Play around with the widgets in site design to create an aesthetic site that suits your blog. Personalise the theme you choose.
I hope you all find this useful! If you’ve been able to start your blog and get it up and running successfully, here are some suggestions of what you want to think about next.