Thinking of starting a blog? Or already have a blog in the works…but pushing “PUBLISH” is the next step? If you want to jump into blogging world read on for the basics of getting your blog off the ground.
What are the logistics of actually starting a blog?
I’m talking the ‘nuts and bolts’ of actually getting a blog up and running.
Like a computer programmer who assumes everyone knows what WordPress is, or how to send an e-newsletter…
Or you nutrition-minded folks who assume everyone knows that McDonald’s serves Grade-D meat and Chic-Fil-A is not ‘healthy’ fast food…
Or a music-guru who assumes everyone knows who Led Zeppelin or the Beatles are…
Or a fitness buff who assumes everyone knows that running on a treadmill for hours WON’T get you fitter…
It’s easy to fail to realize that sometimes the BASICS need to be addressed.
In this case…writing and blogging have become a second language.
I love writing—always have.
From the time I was 6-years-old, I said, “I want to be a writer” when adults would ask me my dream job for when I grew up.
When I was 8, I kept a secret composition notebook—inspired by “Harriet the Spy”—and would “spy” on people (mostly my mom and dad), observing, logging and noting all the details before me.
By age 9, I began keeping a daily dairy—recording all the ‘big happenings’ from the day (the boy who said ‘hi’ to me; the friend who was rude to me; what my mom packed in my lunch that day; etc.).
At 14, I landed my first magazine internship at Little Rock Monthly—a local city magazine, where I learned the ins and outs of journalism, editing and reporting.
By age 18, I was working in a TV newsroom and two other city magazines in town—writing about the latest happenings in Little Rock, and constantly seeing life through the lens of story telling.
My first-ever launch into blogging began when I was 23…and from then on, I’ve never stopped writing.
Low and behold this fact though:
While you may or may NOT identify yourself as a “writer”, the BEAUTY of a blog is…you don’t have to be!
That, my friends, is the FIRST POINT for starting a blog. Here’s all you need to know for starting a blog on YOUR own terms.
8 MUST-DO’S FOR STARTING A BLOG
1. Accept that you DON’T have to be a “writer.” More than anything, a blog is a platform—a way to share a message, educate, inform, entertain, post pictures, chronicle a journey, market, build your brand, connect with others or really anything else you see fit for it to do. With blogging, 8ll you need is a touch of inspiration, vision or message you want to spread…and go with it. In addition, from the get-go, there is absolutely NO pressure to publish your blog for the whole world to see. A blog can serve as your personal diary or journal; or a blog for others to find on the interweb—your call.
2. Pick your platform. To get the framework of your blog started, you need somewhere to write it—a website of some sorts. There are tons of options out there to choose from: Word Press, Square Space, Blogger, Weebly, Wix, even Tumblr. For new bloggers, I HIGHLY suggest Square Space—the newest DIY platform of them all that makes website creating and blogging SUPER user friendly. All you need is:
- A domain name (either a “.com” or the free version of the platform you are using—like Lauryn.wordpress.com; Note: When you use Square Space your domain name comes with your membership; When you use a platform like WordPress, if you want a “.com”, you will need to purchase a domain through a second source, like GoDaddyo);
- A little introductory bio;
- And a handful of good photos (one preferably of yourself). In addition, check out Unsplash for some awesome stock photos , one of these free resources, or even use your own phone camera for more ‘lifestyle’ and objective photos.
3. Find your niche. A blog is definitely the place to write about whatever the heck you want to write about. That being said though, you need to pick a focus. Broad or specific—at least some sense of direction for what your blog is about and where you are going with it. Be it: Nutrition, clean recipes, wellness, fashion, lifestyle, sports performance, marketing, business, inspiration, ranting, news, current hot topics and trends, movies, pop culture, fitness information, faith, and beyond; obviously, the more focused, or specific, the more pointed audiences you reach (and perhaps separate yourself from the masses of blogs out there in blogosphere). Regardless of what your ‘niche’ is, pick a general theme for your blog (you won’t see me blogging on the latest video games on the market, or how to lose weight with a 3-day Cookie Diet any time soon).
4. Throw that perfection monster out the window now. You will spend hours and days and months on end, wondering and agonizing if your post is “good enough” or grammatically correct or “just right” if you don’t get it out there. Often times you’ve got to “just do it”—click publish and get it out there. You can always go back and edit.
5. Plan accordingly. As I have gotten into more of a rhythm over the years, I have also gotten into a routine of building out a tentative post schedule for all my blogs. I simply use the program “Numbers” on my Mac to create a post-calendar each month for the topics I want to cover. If you don’t have a Mac, any other calendar system or Excel spread sheet will work. In addition, I keep an ongoing “blog idea” list going on a Word document to record all ideas and inspirations that come to mind.
6. Word up. Speaking of Microsoft Word…lessons learned the hard way in the beginning of my blogging days entailed writing all my posts directly in the blogging platform online. The bad news is…when the Internet suddenly goes out, or you accidently hit the delete or refresh button…your copy goes missing. I’ve learned, since then, to write my blogs in a Word document and then copy and paste the text into the platform blog space. #KnowledgeIsPower.
7. Gaining Momentum. Write other places other than your blog. What?! Check out these words of wisdom from BoostBlogTraffic.com:“In the beginning, your blog is like an empty classroom. Standing in front and giving a lecture is silly, because sure, it might make you feel important, but there’s nobody listening. You’re all alone, and you can come up with the smartest, most entertaining lecture in the history of mankind, but it won’t matter, because no one else heard it.When you first start out, writing content for your own blog is one of the least efficient ways of building your audience. You’re far better off serving a little time as a “guest lecturer” first. In other words, write guest posts for someone else’s audience, impress the hell out of them, and siphon off a portion of their readership for your own.
That’s what we did here at BBT, and it resulted in the most successful blog launch in history: 13,000 email subscribers in 60 days, before I even wrote a single blog post. We had nothing but a coming soon page and an invitation to join our email list. Sounds strange, but I can promise you it’s vastly more efficient.
You don’t have to wait until you get to 13,000 subscribers to start, but I’d advise accumulating at least a few hundred. That way, you have an audience to share your content when you start publishing posts.”
In other words: Reach out to others and spread your expertise, your message, your insights, your inside scoop…
8. Don’t Waste Time on Social Media.One more interesting insight from the same blogging source, Boost Blog Traffic:“Here’s another shocker: you know your dream of building up a huge following on Facebook or Twitter and then using it to promote your blog? Well, it’s a dumb idea. Out of everything we’ve tested, building our own social media accounts produced the lowest visitor per hour figure. In other words, it’s quite possibly the worst way you can spend your time.
Does that mean having followers in those places is useless?
No. Facebook is nice because you can advertise to your followers. Google+ can help boost your search engine rankings. Even with those benefits though, it shouldn’t be near the top of your list for things to do. In my opinion, you shouldn’t think about them at all until you hit 10,000 subscribers, and then outsource the management of them to someone else. You can use your time more efficiently in other places, such as: webinars, longer content, building relationships with other bloggers and influencers, etc.”
How’s that for starters?