Am I qualified to write a post about how to start your own blog? Probably not. I haven’t been doing this for ten or fifteen years like a lot of people, but it has been a little while now, and I’ve had a couple inquiries from people who want to write themselves, so maybe there will be something helpful in here for you.
First, what do you want to say, and to whom?
If you want to write a blog, you need to have something to say. You can’t start a blog just because you think it’s a cool thing to do. I mean, you can, but don’t expect people to read it if you have nothing to offer.
A lot of people say that your blog should have a specific theme to be successful. As someone whose topics jump all over the map, I beg to differ. I don’t like feeling restricted by one specific topic, and I haven’t found it to be true that I have to. That said, it is a good idea to develop a voice of your own, so your writing sounds consistent. Just write the way you talk instead of trying to force some highfalutin writing style, and with a little practice, you’ll find your own voice.
Also, keep in mind what audience you’re going after and write specifically for it. You probably won’t be able to write myriads of posts that interest both a fifty-year-old Mennonite farmer and a twenty-year-old fashion blogger from NYC, so you’ll save yourself a headache if you don’t try. If you are writing what you know, you’ll probably end up with an audience of people a lot like you. I found this out from experience after picking up a following of youngish Mennonitish girls quite by accident. I guess writing a satire post about the perfect Mennonite girl will do that. That’ll teach me.
Now, pick a name.
There are several components to a good blog name. First, it should be something easy to remember and to spell. Stay away from fancy words with French spellings just because you think they sound more professional. Instead, pick something short and simple, and people will remember it better. For instance, you all know how to spell “Striped” and “Pineapple”, amiright? 😀 Also, because pineapples are a common object, people have begun to think of me when they see them, which wasn’t something I anticipated but which works out very nicely for me. (No, this name was not my idea, thank you Rosie!)
When you find a name you like, put it together without spaces, and make sure no unpleasant words appear. For instance, you think the name “Smiths In Savannah” sounds great, but put it together- smithsinsavannah- and suddenly it looks like “Smith Sin Savannah”. Not quite what you wanted people to see, right?
Write, write every bloomin’ day.
In the fun of picking a theme and a name and advertising online, sometimes people forget they actually have to write posts with sentences and words. Who knew! Unless you’ve been a prolific writer before starting a blog, it’s also good to remember that at first your writing is going to be bad; that’s just how this process works. I look back at some of my earlier posts now with chagrin (and let’s be honest, some of my recent ones too), but the bright side is that my writing is improving with time, and yours will too.
Because your writing won’t be amazing at first, and also because people like to read blogs with more than three posts on them, I would advise taking some time to build a backlog of posts before you start advertising yourself all over social media. You can always link to older posts if you want the world to read them, and you can save yourself some embarrassment later on when you reread your first post and think, “My lands, how did I think that was a good idea?”.
But most importantly, take the time to write something, anything, every single day. Write it in your journal, on your google drive, or in your notes on your phone- wherever, just do it every day (or every other day if you must). It will grease the cogs of your brain and you’ll find it much easier to put your thoughts onto paper after a while. You don’t have to keep this up your whole life, but at least until you’re in the groove of things, be consistent about this point.
There are lots of great hosting services, but what I have personally used and loved is WordPress. They have lovely themes to use, it’s user-friendly, and you can host your blog for free there. Although I’ve moved on from their free hosting, I still use their themes and love them, and I use their app almost daily.
However, if you want to make any money at all on your blog, you have to own it- in other words, you can’t use WordPress’ free hosting. If you advertise on that and they catch you, they can delete all your content. Bam. Not a mistake you want to make.
There are a lot of articles out there about making money on your blog which make it sound easy and fast and relatively painless. I’m not gonna lie to you, that’s not the case in my experience. I do currently use Amazon’s affiliate links, but that only pays a little portion of my coffee habit so far. I know there are a lot of additional things I could be doing, like advertising and sponsored posts, but even with those it takes hard work to get your blog traffic to a size where you can make much on them. If you want your blog to support you, you’re probably going to have to treat it as a full time job. It will take consistent posting and lots of uncomfortable self-promotion. This is not to say it’s not a worthy pursuit! Just don’t expect it to be easy-peasy.
Now that I’ve foisted all those warnings on you, I just want to say, blogging is so much fun. I love having a place to spout my little ideas and I love the feedback from the people who read them.
One of my very favorite things is seeing what countries readers come from (another handy WordPress feature). Tanzania! Hong Kong! Switzerland! Italy! Kenya! Poland! The list could go on… It makes me awfully curious who you all are, and how you found me.
Fellow bloggers, care to share any of your beginner trial-and-error lessons?
A Year Ago:
Book Review: The Curated Closet (still love this book so much)