In the past couple of months, I’ve had messages and requests from readers, followers and Real Life friends asking me for help with setting up their own blogs. So, naturally, I started thinking of writing a quick post about HOW TO START A BLOG.
That was almost 2 months ago and it’s taken me this blooming long to write it. Why? Stage fright.
I’m no expert at blogging. I’ve only been doing it for 7 months now and I’m constantly torn between feeling like I’ve been doing it forever and have finally got the hang of things, to feeling like a newbie with no clue what I’m doing.
Pretty much everything I’ve learnt, I’ve learnt on the go, by trial and error, making big mistakes and asking an almost annoying amount of questions to people who know much more than I do.
I’ve also been very lucky to have had the time and resources to dedicate to this project, as well as the support of some really awesome bloggers who’ve helped give me a leg up in certain areas. Now, I find that, when I’m starting a new project, I tend to overthink things a lot. I get so caught up in the research and the details and the pre-planning, that nothing ever gets done.
So I figured that, if I can make that first blogging step a little easier for someone, if I can help even one person discover how awesome the world of blogging is, then my work here is done and we can go back to talking about pizza and Christmas.
Sound good? Let’s get started then!
PS for those of you who already know your stuff (and I know there are plenty of you who do!): have a read anyway. I’ve stuck a load of insights into my own blogging routine and how I got started in there as well, which you might find interesting :)
1. WHY DO YOU WANT TO BLOG?
OK. Before you even get started, this is the first question to answer. It’s a pretty simple one, and the answers can be pretty simple too.
Do you want to start a blog because you enjoy writing, or do you just want somewhere to show off your pretty photos? Maybe you have a lot to say, and nowhere to say it. Or maybe you want a creative outlet from your boring admin job? You could keep a diary of your day-to-day life, or use it to build up a showcase portfolio for your CV.
These are all great reasons to blog. And there are thousands more that I haven’t mentioned.
Personally, I was immensely bored at my reception job and needed something to do other than stalk Twitter and Buzzfeed all day. (Seriously, that’s all us corporate receptionists do. You know how busy we look, typing away behind the computer screen? Yeah. We’re commenting on cat videos on YouTube.) I also loved writing and I loved photography. I was on social media all day and already reading tons of blogs, so starting my own was the next natural step.
So yeah. Think about your reason first.
2. WHAT WILL YOU BLOG ABOUT?
This is the next crucial step in starting a blog, and it’s another pretty simple question.
It can be as specific or as general as you like, but you do need to have a vague idea of what you’d like to talk about, as this will directly influence your name, content, design and a whole bunch of other stuff.
I started out wanting to write a beauty blog (for all of like one week), before I realised that, actually, what I really wanted to talk about was random things like the amazing dinner I had last night and how much I really like Cher from Clueless.
I knew pretty much from the beginning that my general genre (ahh alliteration) was always going to be Lifestyle and, specifically, MY lifestyle.
So what’s it going to be?
Makeup? Clothes? Babies? Weddings? Food (mmm food…)? Fluffy batman socks from around the world? Videogames? Feminism? Politics? The best burgers in London? Your Tinder dates? Your husband’s hilarious sleep-talking?
3. WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Ah Shakespeare. Funnily enough, I don’t think he was talking about blogging with this quote but hey ho…
Your blog name. Your title, your calling card and what you will forever be known as (seriously, Zoella isn’t her real name!). Some people think this is one of the hardest things to pick for your blog.
For Little Miss Katy, I knew I wanted to use my real name, as that’s never going to change. Whatever I write about will always come back to my life, so it’s timeless. One of my best guy friends at school used to call me Miss Katy as a joke to the fact that I’m English. And the Little just kind of fitted in well with the rest of it!
Here are some of my tips on picking a good name:
Tip #1: Check that your chosen blog name is available as a website, that there are no other bloggers already using it (or even a very similar variation), and preferably that the social media handles are also free.
Tip #2: Make sure it’s easy to say and easy to remember. The shorter the better to be honest!
Tip #3: I know some people don’t like using their real names, which is fair enough. But, honestly, most of the bloggers I follow daily and remember the most are the ones who use their names in their titles. Being Erica. Cider with Rosie. Hannah Gale. A Rosie Outlook. This could be coincidence. Or it might not be. You decide.
And that’s the crux of the matter: I can give you all the tips in the world, but at the end of the day it’s YOUR decision. Just make sure it’s something timeless and that you can live with a long time.
You CAN change your blog name in future, but I wouldn’t if you can help it (it’s complicated and you’ll lose readers)
4. WHAT BLOG PLATFORM SHOULD YOU USE?
The next crucial step in starting a blog is deciding what platform you’re going to use.
A platform is basically the online software you use to put your blog together. Depending what your answers were to the above questions, you should do your research and figure out which platform will be best suited to your needs.
There are plenty of blogging platforms around, but the main ones that I know of are:
*Blogger – the simplest and most basic of blogging platforms.
This was my beginner’s platform. It’s totally free and sooo easy to use.
It’s the only one I’d ever used until I moved to WordPress in October and I always recommend it for new starters.
I’ve heard it described as the Playskool platform, which I totally agree with. Everything is clearly marked, with an easy-to-use dashboard, and you don’t need any coding or tech knowledge to get started.
If you have NO blogging/coding knowledge, I’d say start here.
*Wordpress.COM – WordPress.com is pretty similar to Blogger. Still free but (in my opinion) it has a less friendly dashboard and is less easy to customise.
*Wordpress.ORG (self-hosted) – WordPress.org is a whole different ball-game.
This is the platform I currently use for Little Miss Katy. It involves buying your own domain name (.com instead of blogspot.com) and a hosting package from a company like GoDaddy (which is who I use). You have to pay every year for the domain and hosting, so you do have to be pretty certain about your blog.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it to beginners.
Despite the sort-of-nightmare that was transferring my blog to WordPress, I’m still SO so glad that I stuck with Blogger in the beginning. Why? Because you’re still figuring things out.
Some people change their blog name, some people decide blogging isn’t for them and quit (which is fair enough).
My content and my design and my vision changed a lot over those first six months. I learnt HTML and CSS coding skills (which you kinda need for WordPress). I realised how much I love blogging and knew I was going to be sticking around for a while.
I’d say don’t pay for your platform unless you know for sure what you want and know where you’re going with your blog.
*Squarespace – Another popular paid blogging platform, but one I really don’t know much about, I’m afraid!
From what I can gather through Internet research (Google♥), it’s less customisable than WordPress but easier to use as it has a drag-and-drop blog post builder.
5. WRITE YOUR FIRST BLOG POST
So you’re all set up. You have a FABULOUS name, great ideas for content and a beautiful new platform. You’re ready to go!
And then you freeze.
How do I start? Do I introduce myself? Or just jump straight in with my content? Do I do a cryptic, “I’m here to blog” post? Or do I just stick up a photo with no words? OH THE PRESSURE!
The first post is always the hardest. My first post was a quick 10 Facts About Me. It was simple, I couldn’t really over-think it too much (always an issue with me) and it set the tone for what was to come.
If you’re feeling a bit camera-shy (so to speak), just launch a one-liner out there with a pretty photo. Rip it off quick and get it over and done with.
Then you can move on to the fun stuff of writing actual awesome content!
CONGRATULATIONS. YOU ARE NOW A BLOGGER!
It really is as simple as that to get started!
I hope this has helped those of you who are looking to start a blog, even if it’s just a little bit.
Please drop me a line in the comments if you have any more questions, and make sure you leave me your link so I can come and take a peek at your site!