Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

How to start a blog in 5 easy steps


Once in a while, people will come up to me and ask me how to start a blog. First of all: thank you for giving me an opportunity to talk about blogging, I could do it all day every day! Second: I always feel very flattered when you ask. Because, third: what I cannot stress enough is how little I knew when I started. I had absolutely zero clue about blogging. Zip. Nada. Totally clueless. 
The good news is: it's easy to get started. 
(The hard part is to keep going, but let's not worry about that now.)

Here is a simple 5-step plan how you can get your blog started today, right now, right here. Let's do this, future bloggers!

1. Choose a name
This one may be the toughest part about starting your blogging adventure. If you ever had to name a pet or a child, you know what I'm talking about. I know of several blogs who changed their names at least once, sometimes more - it is possible, so don't think you will have to keep your name for the rest of your blog life. However, it creates more work for you and may be a bit confusing for your readers, so it is easier to stick to a name right from the get-go.

A few things to consider when choosing a name are: What do you want to blog about? Try putting that in your name. My friend Mariah blogs often about food, drinks and travel, and coined the perfect name for her blog: Food, Booze & Baggage.
Melyssa from The Nectar Collective has a clear vision of what she wants her blog to be: "I wanted this website to be a community where people can go for their daily dose of nectar - the positive, inspiring, holy-crap-I'm-sharing-this-with-all-my-Facebook-friends kind of stuff." Clear vision, great name!

Others simply use their name as blog name: Jillian LorraineForever AmberChantilly

The Lady Okie lives in Oklahoma, and came up with her name when she had to choose a name for a Fantasy Football League. 

I came up with mine because a friend always called me farm girl. I live on a farm, like to talk about my animals and I'm a girl, so I decided it would be a good fit. 1.5 years later it still fits!

2. Choose a blog platform
I use Blogger, which wasn't really a conscious decision, but made at random. I am very happy with it, and don't think I will ever switch. It is free, easy to use, and has plenty of ways to customize and make it your own. There is always much debate in blogland about Blogger versus Wordpress, one of the main arguments against it being that Blogger can apparently delete a blog at its own discretion.While this may be true, I think that it is a highly unlikely possibility, and not a reason for me to switch. 
Since I don't know much about Wordpress, here is a few posts that shed some light on it: Before You Move To Wordpress... from Anna and Should you switch from Blogger to Wordpress? from Kate.

3. Create your blog
If you have decided to create a Blogger blog, you can take a look at this Getting Started guide.
Or simply follow these steps: 
Go to www.blogger.com. Click on Create an account.

When choosing a username, try to use your blog name, or a variation of it. That email will show up when you comment on other blogs. Alas, I wasn't that smart, and used a variation of my names: mivasophia@gmail.com.
It works, but it's not ideal. 

Now they ask you to confirm your profile. You can choose between a Google+ Profile or a Blogger Profile. I chose the latter, because the Google+ Profile makes you a 'no-reply' commenter. There may be a way to correct that, but I never figured out how. Since I don't use Google+ (I have an account, but cannot for the life of me figure it out), the Blogger Profile suits me.

Almost done! Click on New Blog

You have done it! You created your blog. Start blogging!

4. Templates, formats, html, url, say what??
If this new computer world scares you at first, rest assured that you are not alone. Many (most?) bloggers feel the same way in the beginning. Here is the good news: You will figure it out! 
I googled everything. There are tons of tutorials online, for any and every question you may have about blogging. Don't give up! I'm pretty sure I made all mistakes one can make, but that's how you learn. I'm still far from accomplished, but I have learned a ton in the last 18 months! 
If you are really stuck or simply don't want to figure it out, you can also get a professional to design your website. I haven't tried any of these ladies, but heard good things about them:
5. Where are the readers?
So you have started your blog, done a few kick-ass posts - and nobody is reading. 
The blog world is a huge ocean, and it's hard for a tiny, new blog island to get noticed. Here are a few ways to gain exposure:
  • Comment on other blogs. Chances are that you are already following some bloggers. Comment on their posts! Not only do they notice you that way, but other readers may like what you have to say and click on your name. 
  • Join a blogger network. I came across the Better Blogger Network when I was new, and it's a great place to find blogger friends and gain some exposure. If you are new, you can join the group NEW bloggers! and make new connections.
  • Link-ups. That one took me a while to understand. For the longest time I was like "Huh? What the hell is a link-up?" Basically, a blogger hosts a party, and everybody is invited! Link-ups are great ways to gain exposure. I don't participate in many, but a couple I like are: Weekly Wishes every Monday; Kathy's Humpday Confessions on Wednesdays; Treat Yo'Self ThursdayPassion For Fashion on Fridays. There is also a Blog Every Day in October challenge coming up, hosted by The Daily Tay and Helene in Between. It will be fun, and I anticipate a ton of bloggers taking part! Will you be one of them?
  • Promote. To be honest, I kinda suck with promoting my blog. To do it right, you have to be consistent and invest quite a bit of time and/or organizational talent. Once I have written my post and answered my emails, I'm usually done with sitting on the computer, and the networking part falls by the wayside. If you want to do better than me, make sure you tweet about your new post, pin it to Pinterest, instagram one of the pictures you used, update your Facebook page, do whatever people do on Google+. 
  • Network. That one is huge. Don't just promote yourself, but other bloggers, too! Everybody appreciates positive feedback, so tweet a post you really liked, comment on it, mention some of your faves on your own blog. It not only helps you get your name out there, but may be the start of a wonderful friendship. And it's good karma!
I hope you found these helpful! If you have been contemplating starting your own blog for a while, but sort of waited for an extra push - this is your push. Go on, get started! It is a great adventure, full of possibilities, and it may open up opportunities you can't even imagine yet. Good luck!!

xo Miriam

Linking up with Treasure Tromp


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8 comments

  1. This is great Miriam!!! I was totally clueless as well, didn't even have the sense to reach out and ask questions :) My advice, once you get past the initial start-up, I say don't worry too much about "the rules", don't let the "right" or "wrong" get in the way. Don't read posts that say the top 5 things bloggers should not do or any other such nonsense :) Go with your gut and make it your own. Thanks so much for the mention!! I had a whole page of potential names for the blog, but that one felt right, even if it is a bit long :) I would also Google a potential name, to make sure there is not another blog with that name already :) Great post!

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    1. Great advice! Yes, listening to the "rules" will bring you down for sure. Trying to follow them all is impossible, and will get you really discouraged. I always like to say, your blog, your rules! WE can do whatever we like.

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  2. Choosing a name is by far the hardest part in my opinion! Once you get over that... smooth sailing!

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  3. Such great tips!!! I definitely remember the agony of choosing a blog name...but I think I did alright - some of my family members and friends have actually started calling me Samsam Cherie in real life. Haha the name sticks! Also, I'm working on figuring out HTML to add some new features to my blog. Yeahhhh....not going so well!
    Oh, and you forgot #6 - Meet awesome bloggers like Miriam and spend way too long looking at the pictures of their animals <3 lol
    ~ Samantha
    samsamcherie.blogspot.com

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  4. This is a great guide! I have tried Wordpress before but I can never get the hang of it. I just like Blogger because they seem to have the most options for customizing your blog, and it is completely free... whereas Wordpress saves its best features for paying users.
    I suck at promoting my blog. I have Twitter and a Facebook page, but I feel like I'm posting the exact same things on all of them. So I usually end up just sticking to writing in my blog and commenting on others!

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  5. Yes choosing a name can be the hardest part. I blog for myself but I still love getting comments. I usually post my blog post to social media networks right away so I don't have to think about it later. Networking is really important and apart of the blogging fun is meeting new people and hopefully making some great friends. The hardest thing for me is trying to find new content to put up. I always hope people will like what I post. I've heard the same thing about blogger (that they can randomly take down your blog). however, I've tried wordpress on my old blog and I think blogger is a lot easier to use. But, I also heard if you buy your own domain then you own the content for blogger and WordPress and it can't be legally just taken down unless you post things that are illegal.

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  6. Thanks for the guide! I love your blog, I grew up on a farm!

    <3 Ash
    www.beneaththehazel.com

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    1. Oh, that's great! I'm the opposite, I just had a Dachshund as a child, no other animals. It was a big transition moving to a farm, but I love it!

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