Blogging tips

How to start a blog

11:19 AM

blogging tools

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.

blogging tools

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.

Picture perfect
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).

6 comments

  1. Anonymous5:47 PM

    Apart from the technicalities, a blog is like a baby that needs to be feed at regular intervals. I can imagine the pressure of blog writing. I think that pressure can come from within. What if one day there is nothing to write?? Does the baby go hungry??

    Second is the language issue. Writing may not be everybody's cup of tea. It seems easy but when you try to write in any language, it becomes difficult to express your views coherently in any language. The last time people did write anything was in their school. Then it was easy to write anything at the drop of a hat but in adulthood it becomes difficult due to lack of practice unless you are in the profession of writing. Some sort of literary training might help for future bloggers unless they have the 'gift of the gab' which many people do not have because what you write also has to be interesting otherwise who will read it. This is where certain training/knowledge in literature come in handy. Speaking a language is entirely different from writing. There are two different aspects inter related but also very distinct.

    Apple

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    Replies
    1. Oh you definitely need to love writing to keep a blog. This is given, otherwise it will perish before it got anywhere. Good writing comes with practice too, provided you like doing it that is. As a kid I was a bookworm, I still am. I love to read, this helps with the written command over a language a lot. When I wanted to perfect my English I started reading books in the language.

      As a teenager I started keeping a diary too. And till date I still do, I actually have two diaries, one for random thoughts and venting frustrations, and one for expressing my gratitude and love of things. I also have a blog notebook, a random lists and idea notebook, and a tiny snippets and notes notebook.

      My mind is always busy with a thought of one kind or another. Apparently a trait that introverts have. It is both a blessing and a curse, because my mind literally never rest. But then writing down things help me get a steady stream of ideas for my blog posts. It's rarely writer's block that keep me from blogging but the lack of motivation to sit down and type.

      It also helps to write about a topic you love to begin with. I could never write a blog about business strategies, or electronic gadgets, or a science blog, because I have zero interests in these topics. Yet I know these type of blogs exist too.

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    2. Anonymous10:27 AM

      I suggest that you write something about children's education and the problems faced by parents. How you deal with it etc. I know that each child is different but it will be very informative for the parents because it is one topic that perplexes all parents all over the world.

      Apple

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    3. I did write about it in a couple of blog posts over the years. But yeah the problems parents face are near constant. Ishita is in an IGCSE curriculum, which is fine, but even then the teachers tend to put a bit more pressure than they should simply because this school caters to Indians and they feel parents would get angry with them if they don't utter idiotic sentences such "As please make your daughter practice her number, she can only count to 100 all the other kids can count in the thousands"
      When I pointed out to her that I come from a more international educational system and I saw nothing wrong with a 6 years old not fully grasping the concept of thousands she was a bit perplexed. I think she was used to parents just saying "yes yes I will make her practice harder".

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  2. Love this post! I too have learned so much .. especially about HTML and photography although I'm still trying to improve. Very encouraging words. Sometimes it's hard to keep going when you're wondering if anyone is actually reading what you write. Thankyou!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember learning the first few basics of HTML in 2003 when I was a community leader on iVillage and they upgraded the message boards to have enriched text and the possibility to insert graphics. I also learned how to use photo editing software and how to make pixel art at the time. These are the things I would never have learned in school back in the days :-)

      HTML may sound scary, but is fairly easy to get the hang of, especially with all the great tutorials out there and the fact Blogger has become far far user friendlier over the year. Give yourself time to learn.

      Photography is also a skill you pick up with practice. I am by no means a professional photographer, but regular photo taking and editing made me a bit better at it.

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