The Bloggerly Life… The Basics of Starting a Blog
Okay, so now you know what blogging is all about. You’ve read and re-read last month’s Bloggerly Life post where we covered the definition of a blog and even talked a bit about what it takes to successfully manage a new blog. Just in case you haven’t read that post, then I’ll be happy to repeat myself. Blogging is not for the faint of heart.
You will need to be dedicated to posting on a consistent basis. You must cover topics that you love and be willing to spend hours brainstorming and then organizing posts for your editorial calendar.
I will go ahead and tell you that blogging is a full-time job for me. And that’s outside my regular bread and butter gig. I am only now at the point where I’ll hit 50,000 views this month. To get to that level has taken an excessively large amount of time and hard work and yes, even some frustration. However, at the young age of only 1 year and 4 months I feel that Live Well. Be Fabulous is right on track based on what I’ve been told by some of my friends who have now joined the 6-figure blogging club.
There are no overnight success stories and no one has a sure-fire blueprint to instant blogging success. The point of all this rambling isn’t to discourage you, but instead to offer a realistic view of what it’s going to take to be successful at blogging. I love this job, and even though I’m just now starting to reach the number of views that will help me get to the next level, I haven’t gotten discouraged or lost interest in my blogging business. Why? Because I took a large amount of time to develop the direction of LiWBF.
I know which posts are most popular with my readers and which ones don’t do as well. I know my passions in life which is why I created a lifestyle blogazine. Not only do I enjoy many activities, but I also enjoy reading other folks’ stories. Don’t get confused. We’ll cover the differences between a blog and a blogazine here in a bit.
1. Choose your theme
But wait. Shouldn’t that first bullet point say think of your blog name? Not really. And here’s why. Your blog name needs to be the light of your Bloggerly eye, the evidence of your love for the topics we’ll discuss in the next few bullet points. I’m talking about your passion yet again. I will continue to remind you of that word quite often because without choosing a topic you love to blog about then the blog’s name isn’t going to mean much of anything. It took me a few years to come up with the name Live Well Be Fabulous, and I won’t even tell you what I had originally planned to call this blogazine. The horror. LOL
There are several main themes to choose from but here are some of the major players in blog land: lifestyle, food, fashion, fitness, inspiration, education, travel and DIY. Somewhere among that group you’ll find your passion. Or in my case, I found mine among several of these themes which is why I chose to set up a lifestyle brand.
2. List five main categories. I’ve found the easiest way to find what makes your Bloggerly heart sing is to sit down and brainstorm. And by this I mean writing down a list of 5-10 things that interest you the most. Try and stick within the main blogging categories as you compile this list. From this list you will need to choose the top three topics that you’re most least likely to enjoy blogging about. This is especially important during the beginning stages. You can always go back and add more categories later. Keep repeating this mental exercise until you have only three categories left to begin blogging about. In the early days of LiWBF’s life, I managed to narrow my categories down to inspiration, fitness and entertainment. But as my readership evolved, so did my topics. I now have six main categories: DIY, Fashion, Entertainment, Inspiration, Fitness, and Food/Drink. However, these six items all fall under the theme of my lifestyle blog.
Are you starting to understand how it all works together?
3. Choose your platform. Blogger, WordPress.com and wordpress.org are the only platforms where I have the most experience, so I’ll focus on explaining the basic differences between these three giants of the blogging world. Remember in the last segment where I told you to decide what you wanted to do with your blog right from the beginning? Well here’s where that advice will be most handy. If you simply want to share your opinion on a few things with the world and don’t particularly care to monetize your blog just yet then either blogger.com or wordpress.com will work for you. I can tell you that wordpress.com has a built-in support group that runs circles around blogger.com in my humble opinion. I always felt as though I heard the crickets singing after posting on blogger, while sometimes hundreds of folks would stop by and like the posts on my wordpress.com site.
Having said that, if you’re going to monetize your blog (ads, selling products, affiliated posts, etc.) then wordpress.org (the self-hosted version of wordpress.com) is the best choice for you. Ads aren’t allowed on wordpress.com sites. However, I have heard some folks say special allowances have been given to bloggers who established their blogs long before the policy change took effect. I’ve heard horror stories about Blogger.com deleting folks’ blogs without warning. I’d recommend starting out with wordpress.org even if you think there’s only a hint of a chance you might monetize later. Most hosting services offer a version of wordpress.org with their subscription packages.
4. Set up your blog.
I wish I could tell you that this will be easier than all the horror stories you’ve probably heard from around the web. It took me one year to work out all the bugs and transition to a professionally constructed website. But part of this was because I started off using a wordpress.com site instead of wordpress.org. So once again, I cannot stress how important it is to decide what you want to do with your blog right from the beginning. Once you’ve chosen your platform and you’ve made the decision to go self-hosted then you’ll need a host provider. I use Hostgator and have been with them for two years now. I am now a Hostgator affiliate.
Be assured that I would not have signed up to promote Hostgator if I didn’t fully believe in their hosting capabilities and services. If you sign up with them using my affiliate link then you’ll get an additional discount. Just click on the banner below and feel free to send me an email if you have questions on how to get started.
When deciding on a host, you’ll need to consider pricing, storage space, and perks such as automatic backup, etc. There’ll be an entire segment of the Bloggerly Life dedicated to blog setup, so we’ll revisit this topic next time.
5. Write your first post.
Taking the first step in blogging means actually writing and letting go of that first article. I know, it’s extremely tempting to just let the article sit and stew while you tweak it into oblivion. I know because I’ve been there before. While I recommend editing and re-reading your final draft several times, I don’t recommend holding off on hitting the publishing button until you’re sure you’ve checked/corrected/obsessed over every little detail of the article. Not only will that slow you down, but you’ll hit that burnout level all bloggers reach at some point faster than normal if you start obsessing over every little detail inside every single post. Aim for something easy to write and relatable with your first post such as an introduction of you and your blog.
Remember to have fun. And because you’ve spent an ample amount of time picking out the things you most enjoy doing then the love of writing for your blog will naturally follow. Yes, blogging takes a lot of time and effort to truly make an impact, however, it’s also an incredibly rewarding experience.