One of my sisters is looking into starting her own blog. It’s going to be awesome when it is done, but right now it is in the beginning stages. The REALLY beginning stages. All the conversations we’ve had, the suggestions I’ve given her, had me thinking after 7 years of blogging what would I do today if I was starting over or beginning a blog from scratch.
What I Would Do If I Was Starting A Blog Today:
Blog Name – This is important but not the be-all, end-all. I picked ModlyChic on a whim, having no idea what I was doing. The bonus with the made-up word ‘modly’ is that no one else has it and I am not going to be confused for another blog like I might have if I named it Fashionably Chic, or something like that. it’s important to Google the blog name you’re considering and make sure no one else has it. Also it’s good to make sure your blog name doesn’t sound similar to something else, or can be misunderstood. For example, for awhile I thought about re-branding with the word ‘Poise’ in the name, but then I Googled that and realized that was not a good idea.
Focus – This is important, and is one of the biggest things to determine early on. To be honest for me this changed over the last 7 years and I really had no idea what I was doing in the beginning. I wrote about anything and everything, and while I still do that sometimes I’m trying to keep my focus on the three F’s – Fashion, Fitness and Food. (Yes, I realize that writing about blogging does not fit in these categories – but I suppose that’s the beauty of a lifestyle blog and this is a topic I’ve written about a number of times before. It is my profession, after all.
The focus of your blog should be what every post revolves around. For instance, if you were a hair stylist and going to start a blog for your clients on hair you could write about hair accessories and hair trends and hair products, but you shouldn’t write about the awesome pair of jeans you scored or the delicious meal you had when you were out this weekend.
Mission – I suppose this goes with the focus. But what’s your mission with this blog? To turn it into a business? To help others? To inspire? To be creative? To connect? To become an expert? Good to think where you really want to take this in order to further the focus. If you don’t have a mission, that’s fine too. But if you do have one, that’s cool and that should be considered in everything you do with the blog.
URL – Buy It! Don’t just use a free blogger or wordpress account. But ONLY buy it if you are sure you have staying power with the blog. If you think this might be a flash-in-the-pan kind of thing, or if you tend to get bored of new hobbies quickly, go with the free option and you can always purchase the URL later. That’s what I did after my third year of blogging, when the industry was still pretty new.
Design – Since you are determined to do this and not just doing it on a whim, I’d say go ahead and spend some real money on creating a design that you love and will attract people to your site. Unless you are a coding whiz that will mean paying someone to create the site for you or paying someone for a pre-made design. You can find these on Etsy or use White Oak Creative who helped me both redesign my site and create an entire new site and concept for a non-profit I volunteer with. She’s kick-ass.
Pictures – This is so key, and something I didn’t learn for a long long time. Make sure your pictures are well taken, focused, attractive, appealing to the eyes, etc… If the pics aren’t good, better re-take than post crummy pics in order just to get a post up. I learned that the hard way and have so many posts I wished I had re-shot rather than rushed to publish. Now I try to make sure all the pics are great, it’s still a work in process since I take most of my own photos – even for my outfits of the day posts.
Social Media – You might as well set-up separate social media accounts for the blog and not try to dovetail it into your personal account. That way you can post to your personal accounts for all the family and friends who want those posts and then on the blog’s social media everything for that. Do a little sleuthing before you make an account on any of the social media outlets to make sure you can have the same handle across them all. I didn’t do that from the beginning, which is why my twitter is different from all the other accounts – bummer.
Posting – Consistency and quality posts are key to a good blog, especially in the beginning. I would recommend a three-day a week posting schedule, at least when you get started. If you plan to post Mon, Wed, Fri you can have those posts put together ahead of time and just schedule them to go live throughout the week. Then you can spend the other days of the week promoting those posts, connecting with other bloggers, doing research, writing posts, taking photos, editing content, etc..
Patience – I know it is tempting to jump right in and get started, but have patience. Take time to set up the blog to be what you want it to be. Take the time to think through your focus and mission, the look you want, the feel you’re going for. It’s worth taking the time to really think these things through and not rush it. Better to put off going live for a month or two while you iron out the details, write out some posts, have a plan.
Bloggers – Do you agree with my list of things I would do if I was starting a blog today? Am I missing anything?