I’ve been doing this blogging thing since February 2011, and had few resources about how to start a blog. Along the way, I kept notes about what I’ve done, what’s worked, what didn’t work, and things I wish I’d done differently, which turned out to be a handy thing to have not only for myself, but also others.
Over the years, a few folks have reached out asking how to start a blog. And I’ve been able to bust out the word doc with my notes and email it to them. But lately, the inquires have been more frequent. So, I thought what the heck – why not have a blog post dedicated to blogging?! And, here we are.
How to Start a Blog – FFB Style
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Let me start by giving you three pretty important pieces of advice that are things you should keep in mind now as you attempt to start a blog, and for the duration of your blogging career.
Your blog is a reflection of you – be true to yourself.
When you are you, you will attract your people – the ones that will turn into your ride or die fans and readers. And when you aren’t you, the real you will burn out and your blogging career will be nothing more than a flash in the pan.
So, share what makes you happy. Let people see the real you. If you love Jesus, but cuss a little – own it. If you are a Friends fanatic and frequently enjoy the “Joey special,” share about it. And if you love lip syncing to 80’s hair bands, by all means do it!
Develop your “style,” and let your readers hear your voice.
I’ve found that sometimes it’s easier said than done, even if it does sound like a no-brainer. We’ve all got our own unique style as it pertains to voice. It’s in the words we use and how we actually talk. And even though we’ve already got our style, it can actually pretty easy to get so in your own head about using the “right” words that you end up sounding ridiculous. Trust me – I’ve been there.
The solution is to get out of your head and write how you talk. If that means using voice-to-text, so be it. Because just like you’ll burn out when you aren’t being true to yourself, you will also burn out if you don’t sound like yourself.
Don’t kill yourself over it.
If something isn’t flowing, take a break and come back to it later or can it altogether. Don’t force anything.
Truth be told, two of my most popular pieces (and pieces I’m the most proud of) were ones that I’d started writing well over a year before I hit publish. The point here is that while consistency in blogging is important, quality is more important than quantity.
The nuts and bolts of getting started.
Figure out what you will be blogging about and who you want your audience to be.
I blog about three main things: faith, family, and beef with the occasional random post (like this one) thrown in. My target audience is mostly moms like me who are interested in serving their family home cooked meals and learning more about how beef is raised.
Hot tip – I gave you a pretty simple idea of my target audience, but I do have a specific person in mind. Her name is Sheila, I made her up and I know everything about her. But, we won’t get into that. The point is – the more specific you get with who you are actually talking to, the more you will attract those people.
Choose a catchy title that you love, and that relates to your blog content and and your target audience.
So, my title was pretty easy because it is just what I write about Faith Family & Beef. Another thing to note when choosing your title is to make sure it isn’t already taken. How I did this was with a simple Google search. I was fortunate in this area because the title that I loved was not already taken. If yours is, you may have to get creative.
You’ll also want to choose a title you love. It’s okay to outgrow your title and make a change, but you also don’t want to do that frequently as it can get confusing for those who tune in to your blog.
Choosing a blogging platform.
As far as free blogging platforms go, I only have experience with two – Blogger and WordPress. I started out in Blogger and used WordPress while writing for another blog. While they both have their pros and cons, they are both very easy to use.
I have since migrated my blog to the paid, self-hosted WordPress, and purchased my domain name and my hosting through BlueHost. Also, I strongly recommend BlueHost if for no other reason than their customer service is fantastic.
If you want to get your feet wet with a free platform, but think you might want do anything like have complete freedom, sell anything, etc. in the future – start with WordPress.com. The migration will be much easier.
If you will be blogging to share with family and friends with no desire to do any of the things stated above, then Blogger will work perfectly.
Building your site.
Set up the framework.
This is where it really gets personal, and you need to remember all of the tips from above. It’s where you choose…
- the color scheme, mine is a teal and barn wood scheme
- theme, I love Coded Creative themes, but whichever platform you choose will have some to choose from too
- layout, things you want to include in your sidebar etc.
- and the pages, see mine above in the menu
You might even consider creating a branding board to help keep you consistent with your brand colors, fonts, and such.
Side note – I have built sites for folks other than myself. So, if you’re interested in starting a blog, but the set up scares you a little – feel free to reach out. I’m happy to help get you set up so you can take the next step, which is…
Write your first post.
I think of the first post as being a first impression, or an introduction. You want it to be a real reflection of yourself that lets people know what you are about and what they can expect from your future posts.
My first post was called “I Never Work”, and I talked about my livelihood and my family and how because I loved my occupation so much it never has really ever felt like work.
I like to start my writing on paper then move to a word processor like Microsoft Word, and then copy it into a “new post” on my blog. I do it that way so that if the internet goes down, my writing is still safe. A couple of things to remember here: headings and pictures are fantastic – people love to skim and like to have visual aids.
Launch your blog.
Once your first post is perfected and your pictures are added, you are ready to publish your first post; launching your blog!
Keep on writing.
After you’ve launched, the hard part is over. Now all you need to do is keep on writing and publishing content that you love. Consistent content grows your readership and keeps people coming back. But also, keep in mind all the tips from above. Don’t be afraid to take breaks if you need to – I have taken a break each summer since launching my blog.
That’s it in a nutshell.
Please, feel free to contact me if you have questions, comments, concerns, help getting started, or anything else. I’m be happy to help!