Starting a blog is completely overwhelming, which is why you should seek help from across the internet. There is SO much to do, so many options to choose from, and so much pressure to get it right. That’s why Helene of Helene in Between and I got together to discuss how to start a blog.
Tips for Starting a Blog
Helene: First, remember this is your online space. You can mold it into whatever you want. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You can get all the details worked out. Have an idea of what your blog is about and why you want to blog. Is it just for fun? Do you want to make money? Do you want to share your life? Whatever the reason (you can change it later) but it’s a good idea to think about it.
Angie: Purchase a domain name. While it’s easy and free to stick with your basic NAME.blogspot.com or NAME.wordpress.com when blogging, I highly recommended that you purchase a domain name. My domain name only costs about $10 a year, and it seems so much more legitimate when people visit www.mysocalledchaos.com. It also looks a lot more professional when it comes to advertisers and companies that want to work with me. Starting right out with a domain name shows that you mean business, and it helps you make sure you can actually purchase the domain name you want, because later down the road you could go to buy one that reflects your blog name and find out that it’s been taken.
Helene: Pick a platform. This can be a tough decision. In my opinion, you have two basic options: Blogger or WordPress. I am not a WordPress user. For me it was confusing and a lot of work. But I have heard some great things about WordPress. Essentially, you own all of your content. I like Blogger, you get free hosting, it’s easy to navigate and it’s simple to change your layout. Check out why I use blogger.
Fonts: Whimsical fonts are okay for your blog title or possibly for headers, but don’t use them for your actual content. They’re hard to read and discourage people from actually reading everything you have to say. Stick with a good classic and clear print font for the actual post.
Colors: Make sure you keep your colors easily contrasted-dark writing on a light background or light writing on a dark background. If you have a pink background and yellow writing it’ll be too hard to read and people generally wont bother.
Formatting: Make sure you format your posts. Split it up into paragraphs (like you’d find in a news article or a book) instead of one giant blog of writing, and add photos where you can to split up the text. It makes everything easier to read and helps keep your reader’s interest.
Sidebar: It’s super easy to get that sidebar jam-packed with everything you want to showcase, but it is also a huge turn-off to readers. Just showcase the important stuff, and if there’s more stick it in another page that you can just link to.
Angie: Think about the direction you want to go in. You don’t have to commit to writing about only one thing for the entire life cycle of your blog, but it’s good to know what direction you’re going in. Is this a lifestyle blog where you’ll write about lots of different things? Is it a family blog where you’re going to talk about your kids? Do you want to share more recipes and cooking than anything? Direction is good. It’s not set in stone, but it definitely helps you stay focused on the theme of your blog.
Angie: Create social media profiles for your blog. Social media is perhaps the best marketing tool there is these days. Make sure you create a Facebook Page, Twitter account, Pinterest account, Instagram, etc. If you already have all of these accounts, consider making your usernames fluid so that they match your blog and are easily associated with it. For example, since my blog is My So-Called Chaos, I use the handle mysocalledchaos on nearly all of my social networks. It’s easy to associate, and easy for me to tell people how to find me. When you have a username that makes you easily noticeable, the chances of you increasing your follower base could be very high. If people are already aware of you and enjoy your content, they won’t give clicking the follow button a second thought. But if you really wanted to have a decent number of followers to your account already, then you could always see How Nitreo works in helping you to achieve this. I’ve heard that this Instagram growth service has worked and been effective for many people and their social media profiles. It’s all about getting your name out there, and you may need to push the boundaries to make this happen. Helene: Sponsor. If you’re interested in getting your blog’s name out there, this is a great way to do it. No, it’s not the only way, but it helps. Sponsoring allows you to have your blog “button” (which is on the right side of my blog and links back to your blog). People will click that link and find you. Other options include sponsoring or advertising with other bloggers: guest posting, giveaways, social media shout outs, etc. Still up in the air? Check out why sponsorship works.
Angie: Start making friends with other bloggers. One of the best things about blogging is the community it builds. Take the time to go out and meet other bloggers so you can start building your community. Comment on their blogs, join linky parties or Facebook groups, etc. The more you interact with other bloggers and their blogs the more likely they are to interact back and come visit your blog. Bloggy BFFs are real, and amazing to have!Helene: Write for you and do whatever you want. It’s your space, you don’t have to follow the rules!