How to start a blog in easy steps for dummies….kinda vibe.
This isn’t for any of you exhisting savvy blogging crew, obviously, but I am constantly getting asked by mystified friends & fellow makeup artists who are in the majority, totally blog-phobic about how and where to begin a blog & the importance of social media combined. This is for those of you who have always wanted to try, but don’t know FOR THE LIFE OF YOU, where to start.
Now I am not by any means a BlogWhiz. By BlogWhiz, a word that I just made up, I mean someone who is particulary technical or has any kind of authority on it, but this is the most basic of the basic steps for anyone who knows NOTHING about setting up a blog and the kind of little and big things that you probably should know. I have been blogging since 2008 so I have a good 7 years of ‘knowledge’ under my belt. However I will not be mystifying you with fancy terms or secret routed to success or anything, as for me, this started from a genuine love of writing and beauty, and in a completely organic and un-contrived way. Don’t expect any ‘GET RICH QUICK BY BLOGGING’ advice here. I personally think the first important step is to have this genuine love of whatever topic you want to write about, be it….Travel, Photography, Cooking, Beauty, Fashion…Cats…whatever you have an interest and some knowledge in that will somehow benefit your readers. If you just want to start a blog for the sake of……getting rich or fame, which sadly IS a huge factor right now, then please click away as my advice won’t help you.
EASY STEPS TO START A BLOG (FOR DUMMIES)
Find your topic/niche. Your blog needs to have some kind of theme and direction for it to work and be readable, and to draw the right audience in. You can cross over quite a few topics easily and some people transist from one to another, Just try not to be an EVERYTHING blogger, as there will be main topics people want to come to your blog for. Find what you know and can really influence and educate people about. There are millions of blogs out there talking about your chosen topic right now, how can you make yours a little more different or interesting? What is your unique selling point? Wanting to start a fitness blog? Read all the top ones, read the top 50 ones, and see what you like and don’t, and how they can inspire you. See how your favourite bloggers write, how often, their photography, how they run their social media. Is there a gap somewhere that you can fill? Fill it quick sharp before someone else does!
2.) The name.
Find a suitable name….that isn’t already used. It doesn’t have to be
anything too clever or kitsch, but something slightly relevant,
memorable and original is always good. Also be wary that once you
start/have your name and get esablished, you should probably stick with
it, as it will probbaly be the same name across all your social media
and will be something people will recognise you by. It could be your name, a play on your name, a pun on your blog topic, something light-hearted or a combination of the above….it’s your choice.
People do change
blog names but try and opt for something you won’t want to change. I wish I has done something more exciting,
but when I started I had no idea I would still be here and it’s been
such a long time I don’t think I can be bothered with the process of
changing it. Le sigh.
3.) Sign up to a FREE Blog site.
The two main ones are BLOGGER & WORDPRESS. I am on the former, which seems to be the more basic/easy one for first-time and newbie bloggers. It is pretty easy to set up and get a basic layout that looks good. WordPress is what I think of as slightly more advanced and is what most professional or more serious bloggers will swap to for reasons too boring to explain here. I would suggest going onto both sites and simply picking what you have a preference for.
Twitter / Instagram / Facebook / Pinterest / Snapchat being the most common. If you already have accounts for these, make a seperate one for your blog so the name is the same across the board and easily recognisable, perhaps with the same image/photo or logo. You don’t have to join EVERYTHING but having a few in your grasp will help your blog along greatly. Social media is a great way to get traffic coming to your blog, interacting with like-minded people and it’ll get you looking at other blogs and being inspired. Social Media is something that comes hand-in-hand with blogging nowadays and you just need to immerse yourself into it, end of.
There are some great communities on Twitter for all kinds of bloggers. Look under these common blogging hashtags to see other blogs in your field, join topic conversations, promote your latest posts and find like-minded blogging pals.
#BBLOGGERS – Beauty Bloggers
#LBLOGGERS – Lifestyle Bloggers
#FBLOGGERS – Fashion Bloggers
#MBLOGGERS – Mummy Bloggers
#FBLBLOGGERS – Fashion / Beauty / Lifestyle Bloggers
#FBLCHAT – Fashion/ Beauty/ Lifestlye Chat
#TBLOGGERS – Travel Bloggers
#PSBloggers – Plus size bloggers
#30PlusBlogs – As described
All of these hashtags extend into Instagram too.
5.) Get a Following
….On whatever of the above platforms you choose to join. I tend to focus on my Blog (obvs), Twitter & Instagram as I don’t have enough time in the day to make all (if any) that interesting. A following on social media can be tough to build but it can really help to establish your blog and your online *persona*/person behind the blog.
BLOG There are many blog following sites you should link your blog to, my favourite one is BLOGLOVIN’ which you must sign up to. A great platfrom where readers go to find new blogs and read all the new articles from their favourite bloggers ; like a Blogger’s facebook. Google Plus is also great way to feed your blog updates to readers, along with simply adding a ‘Follow by Email’ option on your blog page.
TWITTER Engage with people & brands. Join in twitter chats (using the aforementioned hashtags). Don’t be spammy, don’t buy fake followers and don’t beg people to follow you. Aside from that, the Twitter world is your oyster.
INSTAGRAM Upload beautiful & blog-relevant content. Instagram is all about the visuals, so snap away and be selective about what you put up. 1-3 pictures a day is good. Caption them well and choose hashtags that sit within theme. Tag brands into your photos if it features them, you never know they may use your photo on their page & this always increases hits & likes your way. If you already have a personal Instagram account of you glugging vino, your cat in 5,000 poses (guilty), and you smooching your other half, perhaps open a 2nd account, dedicated to you blog/hobby.
FACEBOOK PAGE Create a page for your blog so people (mainly friends & family to start!) can like your page and hopefully start clicking on and sharing your blog posts.
Blog content is KEY and it has to be good for people to keep coming back. Make topics interesting, engaging and people will usually want to read if they are LEARNING something, be it a technique, about a new product or tips on something. Keep your blog posts at a reasonable length, break it up into paragraphs and chunks so it’s not just a blur of writing and break the writing up with pictures. Like what I have done within this post for instance, I’ve chucked in some images I already had hanging around from previous posts, so have just included them to make this look a little prettier and it breaks up the blocks of writing which can switch people off.
Proofread your posts ; check the spelling, punctuation and grammar. Nowadays, it has to be pretty darn good to compete so make sure it all flows nicely and is a decent read. A normal blog post with editing pics etc may take a good half day to produce.
Comes hand in hand with content and is becoming something completely next level on blogs right now! (Have you SEEN how some blogs are literally like magazines?!) I started taking blog pictures off my iphone initially, then upped it to a digital camera maybe 5 years ago (like a £60 one) I invested in a DLSR fancy one a couple of years ago, and more recently I’ve added the Olympus PEN E-PL7 into the camera arsenal. Don’t invest in anything fancy to begin with, seriously. You may get bored of the blogging thing after 6 months and give up (it’s easy to do!) so start with just using whatever camera/phone you already have to hand and see how you get on.
Make sure pictures are clean, relevant and fit within the content. Again, refer back to your favourite blogs to see how they do it. Some people like to start with a bunch of images and the content (writing) after, some like to scatter pictures throughout the post, others towards the end of the post.
Sign up to Photobucket (free) which is an image hosting website. So basically a platform to store your blog pictures, and this puts them into a URL so you can upload them onto your blog correctly. Initially this will be free but once you have lots of content on your blog (like after a year or so) you will need to purchase an account which is only like £2 a month.
There is great and easy online photo editors available such as PicMonkey and Fotor that you can use to spruce up your blog photos. Make sure you also resize your photos to fit your blog width…for example I resize all my photos to 800 pixels wide. I am not going to expand on this as it can be a whole post in itself but read this to find out more about re-sizing etc.
If you want to up to the next level then lots of bloggers will use Adobe Creative Cloud which gives you Photoshop, Lightroom amongst other professional editing programmes which you can pay on a monthly basis rather than shell out hundreds of pounds up front. (I pay around £9/month for this).
8.) Get Traffic To Your Blog
Network, network and NETWORK.
People won’t just stumble across your site you have to let people know
you are there and what kind of interesting shit you are offering. Tell your facebook friends about, they may start sharing it and then it will hopefully result in more people organically finding your amazingly exciting blog.
You can check your blogger stats (how many people have come onto your site/what they are reading etc) really easily from your blog page, which will give you a rough idea but for a more realistic number then link your blog to Google Analytics. After a few months you can see what posts are getting more of a postive reaction and more interest so you can start tailoring your future posts to this.
9.) Be Realistic
Success will not happen overnight, or often over years of putting endless time, hours and love into your little blog. You must love it or it won’t work and you need to put lots of time into it and really work on this to make it flourish. Maybe in you first month you aim to get 30 Bloglovin’ followers and increase it from here. Whatever your number of hits is in your first 6 months you try and double in the next 6 months. Perhaps start with 1 decent blog post a week until you get the hang of it and how you can fit it in amongst your *proper job*.
Don’t think you will be Zoella within a year as that is unlikely to happen (praise to you if you do, tell them who sent you). There are hundreds of thousands of people doing what you are doing, just sit tight, work hard and be nice.
10.) Have fun.
Cringey Ending Cliche that I’m slightly embarrassed about? YES. True? YES.
You need to keep enthusiasm and love to keep your content good, interesting and fresh. It’s actually SO easy to see when bloggers are forcing out reviews and posts, I’ve been there and it makes you start hating the whole process of having a blog. When you are enjoying it, ideas flow, enthusiasm shows and it just works better.
When you have gained readership and a following on your blog, then start looking into things like SEO , buying a URL, PR’s, working with brands, advertising and investing money
into your blog. These are things I probably wouldn’t
worry about until you want to be a bit more serious about your blogging.
Establish your blog into *something* first and just take it step by
step as otherwise you will get unindated with ALL the different things
and your focus can end up getting completely diluted.
I hope this is helpful to those who had no idea where to start but wanted to start! Please ask any questions you have.