Back in November I wrote about how I make money blogging and it turned out to be one of my most popular posts. After that I had every intention of turning it into a monthly series over here, and then it never happened. So today I'm back with part two, how to start a blog. If you're just blogging about your family and what not then these tips don't necessarily need to apply to you. But if you're looking to build a career as a blogger and do it on a more daily basis with the intention of one day millions of people reading your writing (note: millions of people don't read my blog... only about 5000 people a month actually), but that's the dream. Anyways these are my tips based off of my meager 4 years experience on how to start a blog.
I also want to say that while I do make a small living off of blogging now, it did take me over three years to get to that point. I don't think it necessarily has to take that long. I've made a lot of mistakes along the way, but my hope is with these few tips, you won't make as many as I did. So here are my tips, in no particular order, of what I think are the most important things you need to get started blogging on a Blogger/Blogspot hosted blog.
Name: Think of a name for your blog. Originally this blog was just a food blog titled, "The Flammily Kitchen", and then I had a separate family blog, "The Happy Flammily". I ultimately decided that I wanted to be able to blog about more than just food and decided to ditch, "The Flammily Kitchen" and merge everything into, "The Happy Flammily". That was all a huge headache though, and knowing what your blog is, and where you want it to go from the beginning will save you so much time, and Tylenol. Once you have your name picked out go ahead and purchase the domain name (that will make your blog be http://thehappyflammily.com instead of http://thehappyflammily.blogspot.com). I bought my domain for $10/yr through 1&1, and then used this tutorial to install it on my blogspot blog. Once you get that, go ahead and snag your name on twitter, instagram, pinterest, and all the social media you plan on utilizing for your blog.
Niche: You're niche is what you're going to be blogging about. Over here I blog mostly about food, DIY, family related topics, and the occasional outfit post. I want my blog to ultimately be a place where mothers, fathers, caregivers, etc... can go to be inspired to make and do fun things with their family. That's the ultimate goal and what I try to stick to. That might not be what you want to do but knowing what your focus is, and sticking to it will help you a ton whether that's beauty, fashion, DIY, food, fitness etc... Knowing what you're writing and who your target audience is will help tremendously.
Template: If you're just one of my friends writing a blog about your family updates and what's going on in your lives completely ignore this because it doesn't apply to you. I love reading your blog regardless of what it looks like. But if you're trying to make a career out of blogging you have about 30 seconds to impress someone with your blog and the first thing they're going to see is your template. This is something you can either design on your own by googling a thousand little tutorials to help you do each step, or you can do what I did and pay someone $25 on Etsy who has already designed a template and then you can download it and it will give you the step by step instructions on how to install it. You can also pay $10 more and have the shop owner install it for you. I bought my template from Eclair Designs on Etsy, and am super happy with how it looks.
Voice: This is basically your writing style. It took me a long time to develop my voice and to know who I am as a person on the internet. In my mind I want my voice over here to be informative and inspiring, with a hint of humor and the tiniest pinch of sarcasm. That took me a long time to develop, but as you read my posts there is a general tone that you can find in the writing, and that's how I want to come across to other people. If you look through the blog archives from the earliest days of blogging you'll see terrible sentences like, "It was so much stinkin' fun =]!" The horror you guys, the horror.
Content: After finding your niche, you're going to want to produce content. But with producing content comes consistency, which is something I even struggle with. When you're just starting out set a goal for what you know you can produce. If you can post three times a week great, but if you can only post once a week that's fine too. Just be consistent with what you do. I try to post Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. But if you can only post one day a week just make sure it's the same day each week so your readers know when to come back for more content.
With content comes pictures. We live in a very visual world. It has taken me a really long time to produce consistently good pictures on this blog. Most of my food pictures still fall short of where I want them to be, but it's something I continue to try and better myself at. I used to take really terrible food pictures, and no one read my blog. As I've gotten better at taking pictures though I've gotten more repins on pinterest and therefore more traffic. You don't need a $1,000 camera to take great pictures though. My friend Melanie from Garnish and Glaze, started off with a point and shoot camera and she has never once had an unfortunate picture on her blog. That girl is the real deal. But it's a skill that she's taken a long time to develop and cultivate, and her pictures inspire me tremendously.
I'm just going to be real honest and say that I got a lot more traffic to my blog with this picture of popcorn, than I did with the sad picture of that jello salad.
That's all I have for this week! If this is a series that you like, and that you find informative, let me know and I'll keep adding to the subject. I was thinking of writing next week on "How to get Traffic to Your Blog", so let me know if that is something you're interested in!