How to Start a Blog

Starting a blog can be both exciting and very frustrating! When I started, I was completely guessing how to go about it, a little bit of googling and about 50 YouTube tutorials later and I had figured out how to technically create a blog. From there I was just chancing my arm, hoping it would somehow work out. There are a lot of things I wish I had known before I started blogging and there are a lot of things I would change. Today I'm going to give you a complete guide on how to start a successful blog. If you click on any of the highlighted words/sentences that are a different colour, it will bring you to a post that I have done that's gone into more detail about that particular topic!

Grab a cuppa, it's a long one, enjoy!

Why Blog ? Blogging has taken the world by storm in the last few years, the industry has exploded! THIS post explains exactly WHY you should start a blog!

The Tools
First things first you'll need some tools to get it all set up. Now all you really need is a laptop and internet but there are some other things that will make your life easier and your blog better. Now you don't need to spend a fortune, a little budget will go a long way.

  • A good laptop or computer - Obvious but clearly essential.You probably already have one or the other or at least access to one.
  • A camera - Content is King but good graphics and photos can really make or break a blog. Get yourself some cool backgrounds, use natural light and a decent camera to take clean, clear bright photos. I use the Nikon J1, it comes with two lens and cost around €250 when it was on offer. 
  • An editing program - I use two editing programs, Photoshop and Picmonkey. Picmonkey is free and is an online program, It's good, especially if you don't have access to the likes of Photoshop. I do prefer Photoshop as you have a lot more freedom and can create absolutely anything.

Decide on a Topic 
 Choosing your niche early on, will help you reach your target audience and grow your blog a lot quicker. How to decide on a topic ? Well just think about what  you are passionate about, what can others learn from you? what do you already do/ talk about? There are 'nicheless' blogs out there and if your blog is a bit of everything, that's fine too but be clear about what your blog is, for both your readers sake and yours.

Decide on a name for your blog
This is the fun part, It took me about a month to come up with mine. Things to remember when choosing your blog name is that this will become your brand. It sets expectations and the mood of what your blog is about. Think of names and then go and check if that domain is free. Also check if various social media platform are free too. Tips on a name would be to choose something that appeals to your target audience, something easy to pronounce, simple and easy to remember, something that relates to your core topic but be creative!

Choose a platform 
 The big question is where do you want to blog? Blogger,,, Tumblr? If you want your blog to be taken seriously or you want your blog to be monetised, I'd stay clear from Tumblr as it isn't really recognized as a serious platform.I personally use blogger but have used in the past. I found blogger to be far more user friendly than wordpress. If you choose wordpress then you'll need to set up your hosting, I've heard great things about bluehost. Do your research when it comes to choosing a platform. Maybe try them all out, see which one you prefer. I''m not going to give a small tutorial here on how exactly to set up blogger & wordpress etc. There are plenty of great tutorials out there, just google it!

Choose a theme 
This is essentially when and where you will create your brand. The theme you choose and how you customize it should reflect the purpose of your blog and the mood of your blog. Try to create a brand/theme that you will use across all your social media channels, business cards and anywhere that your blog will be represented. I bought my blog design from pipdig and found them to be great. Within 24hrs my blog was transformed, it's easy to customize it myself and nothing was lost when they changed it over.

Writing - what to write, how to write and when to write.

  • A location - Try and have a set placed that is your 'blogging space' whether that's the college library, home office, your bedroom, wherever it is try and have this predetermined. The only reason I say this is because if like me your a college student(or maybe your house is just a mad house in general) then waiting for a rare quiet moment won't help when you're trying to prepare posts, schedule social media etc. I find it easier to goto the library for an hour a couple of evenings a week and get all my stuff done.
  • Find your blogging voice - this is something you might hear a lot, what it basically means is finding your unique way of writing. You may be used to writing academically for school but blogging is very different. A more personal tone when writing is used. For me, I write how I speak. If I was to read all of my blogs posts out loud and you weren't looking at me, you probably wouldn't be able to tell that I was actually reading what I'm saying. A conversational tone works well on my blog.
  • A great post includes - length, most of my posts are at least 300 words long but don't just have a block of writing, no one likes to read that, make it easy for your reader.Break it up into headings, subheadings, paragraphs and pictures. A great post also has great graphics! Use a decent camera and a decent editing program and put time into your graphics. Your graphics and your blog title is what people will click in on so do put in a bit of effort. Lastly you're posts need to have a purpose, what are you teaching people, what will they learn or feel after reading your post. All of these combined will have your writing up to scratch!

It's called 'social' media for a reason. Scheduling is your best friend as in engaging. Engage with your readers and other content creators this will help your blog grow very quickly. A lot of people start out on absolutely every platform out there and wear themselves out. Start with three, maybe Facebook, twitter and maybe pinterest. Build up these platforms and become comfortable before launching into more, especially if you're not used to social media. Don't be afraid to promote your blog, social media moves so quickly that people will enviably miss your tweets or Facebook posts so don't be afraid to promote the same post over and over, but don't spam people either.

If you want to monetize your blog, work with brands or just keep track of how much your blog is growing then you will need to set up some analytics. I'd recommend using google analytics, it is industry standard. All analytics systems or softwares will report different numbers and that is because what they count as a view varies. While Blogger and Wordpress counts can sometimes be a little high, google analytics can be a little low. They undervalue your views just a little, to allow for bots etc. But Google Analytics is industry standard so get them set up ASAP.

Before announcing your blog to the world

  • Fill out the about and contact section, you'll be surprised how many people will read them!
  • Have content already there - Have something ready for your readers to read when they land on your blog for the first time. 
  • Install all of your widgets - As you'll know at the side of my blog, you'll see all my social media widgets which will take you straight to my social media platforms so you can follow me and not have to spend time trying to find me. Do this for your blog before people arrive, so that if they like your blog and they want to follow your social platforms, it's easy to do so.
  • Have some posts scheduled to up - If you have a little fear about putting yourself out there, write up enough posts to last you through the first few weeks, that way when you go to write your first post after launching the blog, you won't get too scared or intimidated, they'll already be done.
  • Set up social media platforms - Do this for two reasons, one so that you can make sure you're blog name isn't taken on any of them and two, so that you have already build up an audience that are excited for the launch of your new blog! 
  • Set up a blogging calendar - I would be lost without mine, here's a full tutorial.
  • Have a plan- if you want to monetize and you should after putting in all this hard work, have a plan before launching about how exactly you're going to make money. Sponsorship? affiliate links? Adsense? Your own product? Have a good think about it, create a plan and implement it!

Lastly have fun! As I said at the beginning, I had absolutely no clue when I started out and as frustrated as it was at times, I wouldn't have it any other way. If you made it this far, well done! I hope you learned a thing or two, if you have any questions or want me to elaborate more on anything, feel free to leave me a comment! 

Erin X

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  1. Great idea on the blogging calender. So checking this system out. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great idea on the blogging calender. So checking this system out. Thanks for sharing!


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