Welcome to the new Pick My Brain series! I truly love being a resource for people, and feel grateful for the opportunity to share the things that I’ve learned and that I love. I wish I could sit down for a cup of tea with every person that asks to pick my brain, but there just aren’t enough hours in the week! So every so often, I’ll ask for your “pick my brain” questions over on Instagram and answer them here. It’s a great way for me to serve you as a resource, and hopefully help more people at the same time! Here’s one of our recent questions: How do you start a blog?
Ohhhhh boy. Here we go! I’ve considered writing on the topic of how to start a blog about a zillion times, and always because so many people ask me to sit them down and help them through the process. But the thing is, it’s kind of an intense topic. I could write a whole course on it! (Maybe I should?) That being said, it’s one of our most asked questions, so I figured I could try to tackle it in a way that’s specific but with kind of broad strokes, so that it covers the very basics of what you’d need to start a blog.
You with me?
What is it like to start a blog?
I started Lovely Indeed in 2010, and to be honest, it was a very different time for blogs! I feel like in those days you could start something new and gain traction relatively easily. These days, nearly a decade later, the blog world is feeling a bit saturated. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for quality blogs and bloggers! In fact, it means that if you create something that’s super high-quality, you’re bound to stand out among the masses of folks who aren’t totally committed.
So long story short, if you start a blog, you may want to prepare yourself for a lot of hard work, and probably a stretch of time where you feel like you just can’t gain traction or traffic. But if you set yourself up for success from the beginning by using a step by step guide like this one, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of all of the other folks who are diving in without laying that groundwork. And when your traffic starts to take off and your hard work pays off, you’ll be ready!
Why do you want to blog?
HAVE A PURPOSE. Before you dive into the blogging world, it’s important to know the purpose of your blog. Are you blogging for fun? Is it a hobby? Are you hoping to turn it into a career? Do you want to monetize? Do you want to work with brands? Are you hoping to collaborate with other bloggers? Are you blogging to enhance a product or brand that you already have?
All of these questions and more are super important to ask yourself so that you have complete clarity on where you want to head with your new project.
…AND A PASSION. It’s also wise to keep in mind: if you don’t love what you’re blogging about, it’ll show. Or it’ll make you crazy. Whether you’re planning on a lifestyle blog, a food blog, a design blog, or a blog about cats, make sure that you really love the topic and niche you’re planning to cover. That’s the secret sauce to gathering an audience who is passionate about the content you’re sharing. If you are, they will be too.
…AND A PLAN. Before you begin, think about what you can or want to commit to when it comes to frequency of content and social media presence. There are bloggers who post new content ten times a week, and others who post new content once a month. And either way (or anything in between) is fine! The key is to know where you fall on the scale, and to set a consistent routine so that your followers know what to expect.
How to Start a Blog
So let’s get your blog started!
Grab your domain name and your social handles. This involves deciding on a name for your blog. Do your research here! Your best bet is to create a name that doesn’t exist already because you won’t have to fight to pull traffic away from a previously existing site. As you’re brainstorming names, Google your choices and make sure nothing is the same or too similar. You’ll also want to check across all of your desired social media platforms to make sure that your preferred @ handle is available. (It’s smartest to choose a name that can also act as your handle across all platforms.)
Still having trouble naming your blog? Read this post on how to name a blog to help yourself get unstuck.
Once you have a name, grab the domain. We recommend Namecheap, it tends to be affordable and easy.
Choose your hosting provider and platform. This can get confusing and sticky because there are so many options. But for the first time blogger, to keep it simple, I’d recommend that you use the WordPress platform. If you choose, you can select a theme and just customize it with your own content. Or you can get super fancy and have a web developer create a completely custom blog that looks like nobody else’s. WordPress is highly flexible when it comes to customization.
Choose a host (if you decide to host somewhere other than WordPress) and get your basic blog online. But don’t tell anybody yet!
Get a logo and branding, and some imagery. If you’re handy with design software, design yourself a logo and some branding (color palette, icons, marks, etc). If not, find a designer to help with this part. You’ll probably also need some images of either yourself or your work to populate the site with imagery. Stock photos probably won’t cut it here if you’re wanting to really create something that is unique to you and that will draw people in.
Design your website. Get all of your branding and imagery pieces integrated into the design of your site. Now it’ll start looking like a real blog!
Build up some content. Before you start publicizing, one of my number one pieces of advice is to build up some content so that you have things for your audience to interact with when they visit your site! Having a backlog of at least 5-7 blog posts is a great place to start. Make sure you have an About page, a Contact page, and a place where people can subscribe to your email list, along with your main blog feed.
Share it with the world! You’re ready! Once you’re happy with the content you’ve created, start sharing that bad boy! Full disclosure: my mom was probably my only blog reader for about a year. And it might be the same for you. But keep at it, and eventually your hard work will pay off. Be sure you share your posts with friends and family to get the ball rolling; they’re bound to be excited for you! Sharing your posts on social media is another great way to gain traction and traffic.
Phewph! Are you still with me? Do you have questions that we didn’t cover? Leave them in the comments below! xoxo