I get a LOT of emails from readers asking me how they can start a blog. Believe me, I’m always happy to help, but lately I seem to be SO busy and it’s hard for me to get to my emails as quickly as I’d like. I decided I would start a series of blogs posts directed at helping those who would like to start up a blog. If that’s you, listen up! Today I’m going to talk about the first steps to starting a blog.
Make Sure You Have Enough Time
First, I don’t say this to scare you off at all, so please don’t take it that way, but I do want to tell you that blogging is a LOT harder and more time consuming that you realize. It may only take you 3 minutes to read a post, but writing that post, editing that post, taking pictures, uploading pictures, making a giveaway entry form, promoting a giveaway, etc–all of those things add up time wise. On average, I spend about 5 hours on each of my blog posts (not including the time away from the computer when I’m reviewing the product, assembly a product, etc.). Some blog posts might take a little less time, but I’ve never written a post in under an hour.
Now, add in maintaining a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, Instagram and Pinterest accounts and responding to emails every day and you’re talking a part-time job, at least! While I don’t really keep track of my hours, I can guarantee you that these days I’m putting in over 40 hours a week on my blog.
Again, I’m not saying this to scare you off. I love blogging and I’m really glad that I got into it–I just look back and realize that I was SO naive when I started out! I never knew it would take up so much of my time! If you are considering starting a blog (with a goal to earn an income from it) and don’t have, at the very least, 15 hours of free time in your week, then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for you.
So you’ve established you have enough time to dedicate to a blog — great! Now I’m going to hit on a few basics to get your blog started in this post. These are the things you should be doing before you ever write your first blog post:
- A Catchy Name. Think hard about your name. Some days I wish I had thought harder about mine. But well, I’m in so deep now I don’t really want to change it. You want it to be easy to remember. You could also consider naming it something that shows what your blog will be about.
- Investigate Your Name Choice. Maybe you thought of an awesome name….only to discover that the URL is already taken. Bummer! This happens far too often. Once you think of your catchy name, you need to research it well to make sure it’s not already in use. Check for the domain, then also check on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to make sure no one else is already using the name there.
- Blogspot or WordPress? I started out with Blogspot. It was free and a great place for me to get my start. If you aren’t 100% certain that blogging is something you’ll stick with, you might want to start with Blogspot, since there are no fees attached. If you enjoy blogging and decide to stick with it, you can eventually make the switch over to WordPress and pay for your own hosting. On the flip-side, if you are certain you are ready to put the time and energy into making blogging a career for you, then I’d encourage you to start on WordPress. If you’re going to use WordPress and self-host your site (what I’d recommend if you choose this route) you need to purchase a domain name. You can do that through sites like GoDaddy. Then you’ll need to purchase hosting. I use Liquid Web for my hosting, but there are a lot of companies out there you can use.
- An Email Address. Make an email account for your blog next. You’ll want to keep that email separate from your personal email account.
- A Facebook Page. Facebook is a great way to connect with possible fans! Set up a page and take the time to fill in information about your blog and yourself. Then share it with friends and family and ask if they will give you some of your first “likes”.
- A Twitter Account (blog specific). I waited a long time-too long-to get a Twitter account. I didn’t understand it and didn’t want one. It felt like I didn’t have the time for it. I linked my Facebook page to Twitter though, so whatever I post to Facebook posts to Twitter. Twitter is a big deal these days though and if you want to reach people, you should really sign up (if you haven’t already!) Since I was able to link it, it really has been a lot easier to maintain than I thought! Once you have your account, start following other bloggers you love and brands you love, and try to tweet at them a few times a week.
- A Pinterest Account. Again, blog specific, not your personal one.
- An Instagram Account. Yes, you guessed it, blog specific.
- Design Your Blog. Making a good-looking blog doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, I purchased my current design on Etsy for less than $50. Just search for “WordPress Themes”. I’d recommend finding one that runs on the Genesis framework too. If you’re using Blogspot, you can also design custom themes for that as well.
- Get a few tabs up on your blog. There are a few that I feel are most important. Those would be: About (you), Disclosures and PR information and then tabs that relate to the things you plan to blog about most (for example, recipes, crafts, DIY, etc.).
Obviously there will be more things you’ll want to do, but I’d suggest those as a bare minimum to start with. Doing all of those things might take you a bit of time, but take your time and try to do a nice job on them. Once you have all of those things set up, then you’re ready to really start blogging!
Stay tuned for more posts on how to make money blogging, how to pitch companies, what to blog about, and more!