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The Smart Girl's Guide to Starting a Blog: Part One

05 July 2014


Image Source: Style Me Pretty

Hi lovelies! Ever since Sparkle & Mine really started taking off, I've had a lot of readers and friends reaching out asking me how to go about starting a blog. I'm often asked what my "secret" is to making my blog successful. And the truth is, there is no magical way to become an overnight hit. The advice I always give is to work hard, be patient, and learn everything you can about the world of blogging.

Of course, that's easier said than done. When I first started out, I was completely in over my head. I had no experience in blogging, and no contacts or resources to help me. So I did what I do best, I Googled. Every question that popped into my head as I went along, I painstakingly combed through page after page on the internet to find the answer. How do you get your blog seen? Where can you find design tools to customize your blog? How can you earn money with a blog? I was definitely giving my search bar a workout.

Since I love you all so very much, I don't want you to have to take the long way like I did. So I've started a new post series where I answer all of those questions and a whole lot more. I hope that by the end of this series, I will have created a thorough guide to starting a blog that makes the process easy and fun! I absolutely love the world of blogging, and I am so excited to share my experiences and insight with all of you!

Now, let's get started!

Subject Matters
When starting a blog, one of the first things you'll need to do is decide what theme you'd like to focus on. While you may have a lot of interests, I recommend focusing on an area that you are truly passionate and knowledgeable about. Needless to say, blogging requires you to write a lot of content. If you aren't bursting at the seams with all of the article ideas you have on a certain subject, then it probably isn't the right choice.

A lot of bloggers choose to focus on more than one content category, which is completely fine as well. However, be sure that your themes make sense together and attract a similar type of reader. For instance, fashion and beauty are a perfect combination. DIY and food blogging is another grouping that makes sense. Bloggers often run into problems when they want to write about everything, and it just ends up appearing cluttered and confusing. If you'd describe your blog as beauty/fashion/food/parenting/DIY/fitness/lifestyle...you're probably taking on too much (and turning off readers).

Do Your Homework
Once you've decided on a central topic for your new blog, I highly recommend doing some research on other blogs in your category. Head over to a blog that you love with a critical eye. What works well on this blog that makes you like it so much? Does it have an interface that's easy to navigate? Are the images high quality? How often does the author post new content? You should also take the time to consider what you don't like about the blog. Are there too many ads? Is the design too busy or cluttered?

Bloggers often link to each other in their sidebars or articles, so it is pretty easy to hop from one blog to another with this process in mind. Studying what you like and do not like about other blogs is the best way to determine what you want for your own. Plus, you can use elements of their design as inspiration when creating your template (we'll get to that later).

Brand Yourself
Now that you have a better idea of the direction you'd like to go, it's time to decide on a blog name. While there is no foolproof way to determine the perfect name, there are certainly some tried and true naming strategies to make things easier.

A lot of bloggers (myself included) use the classic name formula _______ & _______. Essentially, all you need to do is come up with two words that describe your blog's theme or persona. A few example of this name style: Cupcakes & Cashmere, Labcoat & Pearls, and of course, Sparkle & Mine.

Another popular way to name your blog is to quite literally define yourself. Who are you? Who will your blogging persona be? Some examples of this naming strategy are The College Prepster and The Sunday Girl.

Once you've decided on a name, it's a good idea to reserve social media accounts for your blog. Not only does this ensure that no one else snatches up the name, but it also allows you to check if any other bloggers out there have the same blog name already.

The Perfect Platform
While there are countless blog hosting sites out there, we're just going to focus on the two most popular options: Blogger and WordPress. I use Blogger for Sparkle & Mine, and it certainly gets the job done for basic blogging. Blogger is a decent option for those new to the blogging world, as it is easy to set up and run your blog with very little technical know-how. However, I must admit that I am often very frustrated with Blogger, as there are a lot of limits as to the tools and features available. It seems like a good choice when you are first starting out, but once you become more proficient in the blogging world and want to take things to the next level, you're stuck with a .blogspot URL and very limited features.

This is why I would highly recommend using Bluehost to create a WordPress blog. Bluehost is a complete lifesaver, as it takes care of all the headache that typically comes with obtaining a domain and self-hosting. And if you want to monetize your blog or work with sponsors down the line, you need to be self-hosted. Signing up with Bluehost (or any other self-hosting service) does cost money, but I have always looked at it as an investment in the future of your blog. Right now, they have an amazing $4 deal going on. So basically for $4, you're setting up your own blog with a free domain and all the tools you could ever need to make your blog a success. Down the line as you start to earn money, that small cost is just a drop in the bucket.

Bluehost will walk you through the initial process, and then you'll just need to hook your new blog domain up to WordPress. Here is a complete breakdown on how to do that, I promise this guide makes it super simple. If I can do it, anyone can.

That does it for this week! Next time in part two, I'll talk all about designing visual content and the template for your blog! Until then, feel free to share your tips or ask any questions in the comments below!

48 comments:

  1. Thanks for the shout out! Your blog is ADORABLE! I'll definitely be checking in for part two! =)

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  2. Thank you for this post. I have had my blog for 2 years and I am still learning. I can't wait for part two!!!

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    1. Great to hear! Stay tuned, there's a lot more coming!

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  4. I'm glad that you started this series. Its definitely useful to me who are considering having a blog. Reading so many wonderful bloggers make me want to have one of my own.

    Looking forward to more.

    Thanks!

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    1. I'm so glad you're liking these posts Zaina! Best of luck on your blog!

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  5. What font is your signature? It's super cute!

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    1. I'm actually not sure what the name of the font is! My blog designer put it together for me. I'll look into it for you though!

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  6. Thanks for the the great tips! I recently started my beauty/lifestyle blog, so I know I have tons to learn from this series! Looking forward to it :)

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    1. Glad to hear these posts are helpful for you! Btw- your blog is adorable!

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  7. Thank you alot love ,this was really helpful and can't wait for more blogging tips from you<3
    Thank you again & good luck~^_^

    www.beautylish-life.com

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  8. I can't wait to read the next post of the series :D Great Job. A question though did you customise and design your blog yourself or did you have someone do it for you ?

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  9. This was so helpful! I wasn't very thoughtful when I started my blog, and now wish I was. Wordpress gets confusing sometimes... Oh well! I can work my way through it!

    www.spoonringthing.wordpress.com

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  10. Thanks for tips.Really helpful. Looking forward for the second post!

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  11. I love this post, this is literally what I've done today along with a post and my 'about' section that I've been working on for about a week! It's so reassuring and makes me feel like on the right track! Going to be reading the rest of the series!

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  12. I was wondering what temple did you use on blogger? Thanks!

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    1. My blog was custom designed, so I don't think my template is available unfortunately! Sorry I couldn't be more help!

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  13. awesome post! I found it very helpful as I am fairly new to the world of blogging.

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  14. Great post! Helped me alot! :D


    http://alice-inabigworld.blogspot.pt/

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  15. I'm totally struggling to come up with a good name for my blog!! help!!

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  16. Such a beautiful and inspiring blog for us fellow blogspot-ers!

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  17. Love your blog!! It's so cute :3
    Please could you check my blog?? immaclassymermaid.blogspot.com
    It will mean a lot if you could give me your opinion, it would make me get better ;)
    Thank you

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  18. Love your series it is really helping me :)

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  19. Thank you for posting this! I'm in the process of starting my blog and this post is pretty useful! I'm taking notes on this one!

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  20. What editor/app do you use to edit your pictures such as the one on this post?! Thanks in advance. I love, love, love your blog xo

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  21. great tips, thanks for sharing your wisdom :)

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  22. this inspired me to start up my first blog! thank you sarah!

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  23. Thank you for sharing this! I just started blogging and these tips were really helpful :)

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  24. Thanks for this post! I've been blogging for a few years but definitely getting serious about really creating an outlet for myself! I'm with you on wordpress, I definitely find it difficult to navigate through a lot of stuff and try and force it to do what I want it do.

    Love the info!

    -Kayla from theknnlife.com

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  25. thanks very much for the tips xx

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  26. Thank you for the tips, they're really helpful!

    http://elliemcarter.blogspot.co.uk

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  27. Hello, I am a newbie at blogging. I enjoyed your Starting a Blog Part I. I am sort of in the branding process. I am considering changing my name because my accounts are not all the same. I would love it if you would check out my blog at boujiebelle.weebly.com
    Thanks and have a great day.

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  28. Thank you so much for all your tips. I just started my blog and I'm excited and nervous all at the same time. xo

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  29. Thank you for sharing this! I think my biggest problem with blogger is trying to find the right theme, but your page looks awesome, so I know there's hope! :)

    -Allie from www.sandandcoral.com

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  30. Thanks for the tips, I use Blogger as well :)

    -www.emb-ar-rassing.blogspot.co.uk

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  31. i'm sorry i'm not sure if you got my comment i just posted lol i'm super new to this whole blogging thing. anyway i just wanted to say i've been reading this series and it just makes me want to start a blog more! but i'm not sure if i could keep it to just a few things. i want to talk about everything and anything i have a a passion for, which is like 10 different things lol i just want to be heard by people and help people who are struggling with or going through the things i've gone or am going through. do you think that is still a good place to start for writing a blog?

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  32. Great read! Thank you so much for the tips and info - definitely helped me in starting my blog.

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  33. What a great read and wow how helpful! I've been thinking about starting my own blog for quite a long while now, but to be honest, I get a bit anxious about thinking what a big responsibility it is! I'm a person who loves reading, writing and who has a big bunch of creativity which I don't know how to express. I'm almost (how we say in Holland) "over the edge" on starting blogging, mainly because your tips (plus the following 3 I am going to read after I post this comment!). These tips are very motivating and I mean, I have nothing to lose right? It has always been a dream of mine to start my own blog and to have the opportunity to write about stuff i love? Well girl, you have a new follower on your blog. You write just so relaxing if that makes any sense. Thank you for te inspiration, motivation and probably for getting me over the edge to starting my own blog soon.

    Kisses,

    Teresa from The Netherlands

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  34. Hi,
    I liked this post very much. It gave me lots of thoughts how to make my new blog better. Please be free to check out my blog atoachannel.co for some feedback (what I could improve for example) =)

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  35. Hi,
    I liked this post very much. It gave me lots of thoughts how to make my new blog better. Please be free to check out my blog atoachannel.co for some feedback (what I could improve for example) =)

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  36. This is awesome - such helpful information!
    Love it xxxx

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  37. Your blog was so helpful! It will deff. help me improve mine. If anyone would like to check it out, and comment some feedback, feel free.

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  38. Thanks for the amazing tips! I'd really appreciate it if you all could check out my new blog and give me some positive feedback! I talk about awesome movies like Inside Out! Thank you! :) https://magnificentmovies.wordpress.com/blogs/

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  39. This has been so helpful to me! I just got my blog As Life Grows started and I have been able to use almost all of your tips! Thank you!(:
    http://www.aslifegrows.com

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