So, you want to start a blog? Seems to be quite common lately as I'm fielding lots of questions and helping a few people get set up. I didn't start the traditional way, I wrote on a newspaper site first, so I did things a little backwards. I had readers and then had to figure out how to get my own blog started. So, if I can help to make your life easier, that excites me.
Here are a few things to consider to get a great start on your blog.
Uncover your why
Are you starting a blog because you have a story to tell? Or, are you needing to get some SEO mojo to your website? Those are two completely different things. If you want to start sharing your passion for cooking or crafts or even weight loss, you need to find topics that you're passionate about and that others will find fascinating. If you're blogging for business, hopefully it is your passion and that will show through. My biggest piece of advice? Be genuine.
Choose a name
This is your brand so you need to choose wisely. It needs to reflect clearly who you are and what you're content will be. If you get too clever, you may get lost in the blogosphere and you may have to re-brand later if your blog content changes. If your a business, you're lucky because you don't have this issue. Reminder! Before you become married to your name, make sure the url is available. Also a good idea? Buy your own name. That way it's protected.
Pick a platform
I'm a big WordPress girl. I started on the WordPress.com (the free platform) and then migrated myself onto WordPress.org last year so I could monetize (if you go this route, you need to find a host. I use ESkyCity and have been pleased. If you call them, tell them I referred you). WordPress is super simple to use and I'm a fan of all the plug-ins. As for Blogger, I've watched a lot of my blogging buddies migrate off in the past year and guess where they've all wound up? WordPress. If you have an existing website and want to add a blog, your developer can add a WordPress one pretty simply. Just ask.
Decide on a look
If you go the WordPress.com route, there are simple templates for you to get started and there are also themes you can purchase. If you're self-hosted, you'll need to find a theme that you love. I wound up upgrading my blog while on .com so I had already paid for my theme. You can find some amazing ones on StudioPress and they use the Genesis Framework (which is awesome). Another company that I adore? Pretty Darn Cute Designs.
Yes, I know this sounds simple, but I've worked with lots of people that set up a blog and then never get it going. Write the first post. Then another. If you're not a Journalism major like I am and want a little help with your writing. Check out Grammarly. It will help you proofread your posts. Once you get going, you'll want to put together an editorial calendar but that comes later.
Share that you're blogging on your social media. There are lots of tools out there to help make your life easier from a scheduling perspective. I use the Facebook scheduling tool but for almost everything else, I use Hootsuite. For Pinterest, I use Tailwind and I absolutely love it. It's a great tool to let you know what's working and what's not (here's a great post on how to clean up your Pinterest if you started pinning years ago and no longer need all that wedding stuff). Eventually, you're going to want a mailing list. Start capturing email addresses with a simple pop up on your site. I use Pippity and mail through Mad Mimi.
Cross your fingers that people will read
I've learned over the years, that not everything I write is interesting. In fact, sometimes I'll put up a post that I think will go viral and nothing happens. Keep putting posts up and keep promoting. The more eyeballs you have on your content, your audience will grow.
The most important thing? Put together a schedule for blogging and promotion and stick to it. Good things will happen when you start to blog. I promise.