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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!
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).
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!