How to start a blog11:19 AM
When I introduce myself as a blogger, I usually spark the interest of people and it comes as a good conversation starter. Often, people confess that they the,selves thought about having a blog of their own but that they didn't know how to do it, or where to start.
So, how to start a blog?
First, let me tell you that you should totally take the plunge. It's fun, therapeutic, and you never really know where blogging will take you. As far as the learning curve goes, it is amazing. I learned an amazing load of skills I would probably never have learnt otherwise over the past 11 years of blogging.
Here are the steps you should take to start your blog (don't worry it is actually very easy...for the most part).
All you need is an idea.
You can't start a blog if you have no topic to blog about. So, you must figure this one out before you do anything else. Focus on what you love. What are you passionate about? It really can be anything you like really: cooking, desserts, cakes, mixing cocktail, gardening, movie reviews, restaurants reviews, card making, pot making, shopping, fashion, detailing the inside of your wardrobe, travels...If you love it you really ought to write about it.
Time to get that blog set up
You got your idea, you might even have a few drafts ready and you are eager to get your fingers running on that keyboard and hit publish. But wait! Where do one get a blog and an account?
If you google it, you will find that the blogosphere is firmly staying in two main camps : The Blogger blog owners and the Wordpress blog owners. Both are great platforms, both have their pros and con, and if you are a beginner I strongly suggest you stick with blogger (Wordpress people, please don't kill me).
Blogger is owned by Google, so if you have a google account it will be super easy to get your blog. It is also hosted on their servers, so you don't have to worry about hosting fees either. They have a lot of templates you can customise easily without knowing a whole lot of coding (to get you started, coding is great to get a more custom look).
Once you have that set up, you can start writing to your heart's content.
Spread the word and get noticed
Your blog is now live. You have great content, and you want people to come flocking to your blog. This is the hard work part of blogging. You need to put yourself out there and promote that great content. It often takes more time than the actual blog writing part.
Blogging has become a major "thing" in the past few years. The competition is fierce and a Google search might not place you right at the top immediately.
You need to get yourself some social media handles and promote your content the regularly. I myself use Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as my main handles. Those will however get you only so far. Another great way to drive traffic to your site is to belong to like minded online forums and groups. And of course, visit other blogs and share some love by commenting.
Don't neglect the power of offline advertising either. The word of mouth still works wonder. As a result, it is a very good idea to have some business cards printed.
Taking your blog to the next level
You love blogging, you plan to do it for the foreseeable future and really want your blog to start looking a bit more custom made. The good old basic blogger layout is no longer cutting it, and you are fed up being a .blogspot.com (or .wordpress.com). More experienced blogger will chime in, telling you a self hosted Wordpress blog is better than all. You'll get confused, worry about the costs and the tech savvy needed to get your blog up to par.
First, you need a domain name. You can get it for relatively cheap at registrar sites like GoDaddy (I got mine there in minutes, it is that easy). Then, you need to figure out where you want your blog to be hosted. And, frankly, I think blogger is quite good and free. As I said earlier, it lets you customise a lot of things with a little coding know how.
There are amazing resources online to help you with all these codes, a great deal of making tutorials that will teach you how to get your blog from "blah to wow" and even teach you how to get that custom domain name running. My favourite blog for tutorial regarding blog building is "I can build a blog". The author also owns another blog where she gives you a step by step instruction to set up your domain name on blogger.
Once upon a time, blogs were very dull places. It was mostly text and uncustomizable layouts. I know, I've been there and my very old posts still sport some of that awful 00's look.
Nowadays, great content has to be supported by great pictures and preferably a great visually appealing package.
This is what got me to dabble a little in graphic design, and photography. You'll need both skills to get going with your blog.
The good new, is that it doesn't require you to invest in a pricey DSLR if you don't want to. You can take great pictures with a good phone. You will need a good (or several) picture editing software or app though, because most pictures nowadays get pimped up. Posting a picture on your blog straight from the camera is like taking a headshot without make up.
If taking pictures is really NOT your thing, you need to find good quality, free to use pictures elsewhere. And, Injave said it before, but running a Google image search is NOT A GOOD IDEA. Just because it appears on Google doesn't mean it is free to use. Copyrights are a real thing, and I can't tell you how many times I found myself irritated seeing that someone took one of my blog photo without giving me credit, leave along ask for my permission. If you want pictures you can use, you need to turn to a stock photos website, many will charge you for it, but there are plenty of free stock photo websites out there. Be sure to abide to their terms and conditions though.
This is my little guide on How to start a blog.
Don't let all this scare you, blogging is something you get the hang of over time. As I said, it has a great learning curve, and you'll amass tons of new skills along the way. Don't be afraid of making mistakes, we all learn through trials and errors (I know I still do).