As of April I will have been blogging for five years – crazy to think, right?! As I was reading through the top ten list of Google ‘how-to’ searches for 2013, I was surprised to see that ‘How to Blog’ made the list. It got me thinking, while this type of writing has been around in some form for more than 10 years it is still a foreign concept to a lot of people. Heck, I should know this considering the amount of time I spend explaining to family and friends what exactly I do all day.
Tips for Starting a Blog
Pick a memorable name. As Shakespeare asked, ‘What’s in a name?’ Well, when it comes to a blog, your name means a lot. It’s how you will be referred to, it is what will show on your business card and nametag at conferences. It is what will set you apart from other bloggers. Make a list of potential names and start by doing a web search for all of them. That will show you if there is any other kind of site out there with the same name. Also consider ways the name can be misconstrued, misspelled, or misunderstood. (I never considered Moldy Chic until the boyfriend of a blogger pointed it out to me. HA)
Pick a blogging platform. If you are just starting out, I’d suggest going with a free platform in which you can test your wings. Paying for a URL and a blog host can be an expensive endeavor if you don’t stick with it. I started with blogspot and only switched to a personal URL after nearly three years of blogging.
Be professional. Even if this is just for fun, a hobby, or for your family to read – I’ve found that all the best blogs are the ones that come across as having some polish. Maybe it is never anything you hope to make money from but working at the quality of your posts is always a good thing.
Get ready for a lot of trial and error. It’s never perfect, even after years of blogging there are moments I look back and cringe a little. And there is a lot to learn about fonts and colors and photos and links and social media and blog add-ons, and on and on and on… Be ready and be okay with trying different things until you get it just right.
Make note of what you like in others. One of the things that has helped my blogging the most is to have a running list of the things that I both like and dislike of the other blogs I read. Sometimes I come across something and shake my head in confusion, only to realize I do something similar – time for a change. Other times I love something I see elsewhere and then I spend time thinking about how to take that and apply it to my blog.
Remember: Content. Content. CONTENT! You can drop several hundred dollars to have an amazing layout, header, bio, etc… but if your blog content is blah, your readers will be blah too. Take the time to really craft posts. Better to have your blog sit empty on a day you usually post than to fill it with something you half thought through just to get something up.
When it comes to content and focus of your blog:
Who – Who is your target audience? In order to tailor content you need to know who you are writing for. Stay at home moms with a crafty bent? Young professionals trying to make their way in the world? New parents navigating the world of babies? Baseball fans? Beer fanatics?
What – What will you be writing about on a regular basis? While you don’t need to be entirely strict about your content, you do need to have a general focus.
Where – Where does your target audience reside? Blog posts should be customized to the location of you and your audience as much as possible. This might be an actual geographic where or a more philosophical where. For instance, if I was a foodie blogger in Chicago I would carter to those living in the city. But as a style blogger I cater to those who are in the same ‘where moment’ in life.
When – When will you write your content and when will you push those posts to go live. The beginning of the day, around lunch time, after you’re home from work. The when should, again, revolve around the readers.
Why – Consider why am I going to post this? Why am I blogging about XYZ? I’ve found time and time again it is super helpful to know the whys behind what you are doing each time you sit down to write, and even when you are first starting out.
How – How will you blog? Set aside time each weekend and push out a handful of posts? Blog once a day, once a week and pump out several posts at the same time.