Jan 3, 2013

How to start a blog in 10 easy steps

You might have been considering sharing your story or your journey on a blog, and now that it's a new year (and the holiday chaos has left a vacuum of time on your hands), you are ready to go.

So, why blog??  Blogging is a wonderful way to get to know other people from across the country (continent? world??), without having to spend a lot of money traveling.  If you like to write or share what is happening inside your head with other people, blogs are good for that too.  Ultimately it's a good way to keep your mind active and learn about yourself by writing and reading other blogs (that is actually a part of blogging - reading).

Even though you wouldn't know by looking at my blog, I've started (for myself and others) more than 8 different blogs. This is the process (in brief) how to get one set up.

Step 1: Choose where your blog will live.  
{Wordpress or Blogger for instance} There are positives and negatives for each one.  If you want to buy a domain name, I think there are good reasons to do so.  It's not free, but isn't too expensive.  It will provide a place where you can host your blogger blog... and later if you decide to switch formats to Wordpress, you can!  I did a lot of research as I was buying my domain name and chose Go Daddy as one of the most inexpensive and easy to use places to buy domain names.

Not sure which one? Obviously I've chosen Blogger... read this article for some different perspectives

Step 2: Consider what your genre or niche will be. 
A niche is what type of blog you will be writing.  Inspirational?  Mommy Blog?  Food and Home?  Crafting? Humor?  Health or Nutrition? Shopping/Couponing?    There are so many different blog niches... you can click each of the above names to see an example of what (I think) a good blog in that genre will look like.

You can have more than one niche or genre, though from my perspective, the most well-read blogs seem to have one main one.  People like to read blogs when they know what they will get when they get there.  Many "Mommy blogs" are also "Lifestyle" blogs or "Food and Home" blogs... every blog can be a "Humor" blog if that is your strength. 

Step 3: Choose a blog name.  
Try to make a "timeless" name (don't have the stages or ages of your kids in your title... they won't be a baby, toddler, pacifier hog forever) Don't forget to Google possible names.  It sucks to start building a brand or a blog to find out down the road that you've stolen a different blogger's name.  Other Tips for that here.

Step 4: Sign up for a blog.  
Usually there is a step by step guide asking for information like blog URL etc. Just keep writing the blog name and your name over and over again.  If you get tired in the middle or start to freak out and think you are making mistakes... don't worry - other than the URL of the blog, you can change just about everything once you get going!

Step 5: Make it pretty! 
People will read blogs that are easy to read.  Color, font and general appearance will impact all of this.
Use the "Template" feature on Blogger to change the appearance.  
Blogger and Wordpress both have themes that you can use that are attractive and nice to look at, or you can dig a little deeper and go to "The Cutest Blog on the Block
Want to create a fast and simple header?  Go here to learn how. You could also download a free photo editing software like Paint.net and make one on your computer (and learn how to use a basic photo editing software too!)  This is what I did the first time I started making my own header and buttons.  It isn't as fancy as Photoshop or Printshop pro, but it is better than some online options.

Step 6: Create your static pages.  
Static pages are the little tabs you see at the top of the page that say things like "About me" or "Contact" or "Advertising".  You would create a page for information that is static.  So, basic information, introductory stuff, or other things you would want readers to know.  In blogger this is how to do that.  I am not familiar with Wordpress, but I found this article.

Step 7: Customize your settings.

In Wordpress, I found this article to help you. In Blogger, from your main page, click on your blog name, then click on Settings (last option on the list on the left of the page).   There is so much to look at and choose between.  

From the Basic settings page, you can change the description of your blog, and how private your blog will be.  

The Post and Comments Settings is what you need to change.  How many posts do you want to be visible? I suggest 5-7 (so it doesn't take too long for your blog to load).  Comment location is personal choice, embedded works; who can comment - I would allow anyone at first, if you start to have problems with snarky comments you can always change this; comment moderation - I have mine set to sometimes on posts more than 14 days old (that is where spammers usually try to sneak attack)  and word verification - turn it off.  If you suddenly find you are having problems with spam, turn it back on.   The Comment form message is the little note someone reads when they click on the comment link - say something nice. :)

Step 8: Start BLOGGING! 
Write a post.  Make it funny.  Make it resolved.  Make it amazing!  Every time you write something, someone will read it (eventually).  Include an image so you can PIN it on Pinterest, and link it on Facebook.


Step 9: Start Linking up (to get readers)!   
No matter what you say, there is no point to blogging if no one is reading.  Not because you want to be "popular" but because what you have to share is valuable... and if it's valuable it should be read by more than 5 people.  

One simple way is to go and comment on blogs.  Not sure how to comment?  Read this post about how to comment.  Another good post I wrote about this topic is called Five Truths about followers and Comments.

Not sure how to find blogs to comment on?  This is what I do: I go to a blog (YOU ARE READING ONE RIGHT NOW!) Comment on a post, then look at the sidebars... click on a link that looks interesting to you.  

Note that you are choosing what to read because of the Post Title... let that be a lesson to you :).  

On that blog, comment on a post and then click a link on the sidebar... just keep going, you will find tons of blogs to read and get your name out there... tell them that you are a newbie blogger, most bloggers are pretty responsive.

You can also link your blog to FB, or pin it to Pinterest.  Click on your post and copy that URL from the address bar and paste it on FB or Pinterest... and you are off and blogging!!

Step 10: Hone your blog skills
If it's worth doing, it's worth doing WELL!  Read this post - Top Ten Blog Tips for Newbies I wrote a while back, or this one on the phases of blogging, to get a picture of what Blogging looks like in the long haul and go visit SITS... they have a ton of ideas.


What do you say?? Other seasoned bloggers out there have any good "how-to" posts you care to link up?  Or, share your best ideas in the comments.  

Join the linky party for any good posts you might have to help a new blogger, I'm leaving it open for a month, hoping to get a good number of posts!. (Link up multiple posts!)   THANK YOU! Good luck to newbies! 

Little Picture all ready for Pinterest ;)



7 comments:

  1. I've been blogging for a few months and am always looking for tips and ideas. Thank you for this very timely post (for me).

    Following you from Thumpin Thursdays.

    Jill
    immovingalong.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the follow and visit!! :)

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  2. love these ten steps AJ! thanks for sharing :) just found your blog from the hop and excited to be your newest follower!

    love,
    elisabeth

    p.s. I'd love for you to drop by and say hi at lavitaebella-elisabeth.blogspot.com when you get a chance :)

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  3. These are some great tips for beginning bloggers, AJ! I also really loved the previous posts you linked to about comments and followers! I didn't really know what to expect when I began blogging, I just knew I loved to read other blogs. I've grown to love it and have such an attachment to my blog! Thanks for encouraging me and others! :)

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  4. Good info here, AJ. I definitely need to update my template and have had that on my to-do list for over a year. :)

    Thanks for stopping by my post "In the Mornings After." I am thankful for chances to partner with him on cosmic adventures too.

    Jennifer Dougan
    www.jenniferdougan.com

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  5. Hi! I’m your newest follower. Please stop by and say hi when you have a chance. I'm also hosting a blog hop - if you would like to join us :) Hope you're having an awesome week.

    April from:
    A Mommy's Blog Design http://amblogdesign.com

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