Back in 2015, I started a blog to document my impending travels and local destinations; since then, I’ve completely revamped and restyled my blog, learning from my previous mistakes and learning from outside sources. I’ve created this guide to help you create your own, if that’s the thing you’re interested in doing! Blogging is such a rewarding creative outlet, even if it’s just something you do for yourself/friends/family members; it’s also a great way to share your knowledge with the world and connect with fantastic people… so let’s jump right in!
Figure out what you’re passionate about
So, first and foremost: what do you want to blog about? My biggest piece of advice is to figure out what it is you’re passionate about: cooking, books, beauty, travel, knitting, writing, kids… Whatever this may be, I guarantee there are people out there looking to learn about these things and would rather read about it from someone who is passionate about doing it. Writing about something you love will make it easier to stay motivated and want to keep working at it. If you dread writing about the topic you’ve chosen for your blog, or if you’ve chosen a topic that just seems like it’ll generate more traffic, you’re blogging for the wrong reasons.
Now find your niche
You’ve figured out the broader topic you want to write about, now narrow it down a bit so you can put your own spin on it. For example: you’ve chosen to write about books. Do you want to do book reviews? Or do you want to start a book club? Do you want to write about specific genres? Finding a niche will help you stand out among the other bloggers in that same field. Why should people pick your blog over someone else’s to read?
Brainstorm + Research
You’ve found your topic and your niche, now what? I recommend doing a bit of brainstorming on how you want your blog to look, what you want to talk about in that field, and anything in between. Then do a bit of research: explore other blogs in that field, figure out what kind of materials you’ll need for the blog, and figure out a budget (travel expenses, book purchasing, craft supplies, etc). Doing all of this ahead of time will help you in the long run. You won’t find yourself lacking in ideas or money to make these things happen when you’re ready to get into it.
Choose a name
Now this is the fun part and, perhaps, started during your brainstorming. It’s also the most important part of starting your blog! Your blog name is essentially your business name, and it can make or break you. You’ll want something that’ll give your readers insight to the type of blog they’re jumping into, and something that’s easily remembered. This is your brand, so you’ll also want something that describes you. There are a lot of bloggers out there that even just use their name for their brand.
Purchase the Domain + Choose a Web Host
After picking your name, you’ll want to figure out if it’s available. I went to my hosting provider (DreamHost) to check this and purchased it immediately – you wouldn’t want someone to snap up your genius idea before you can! Now, of course, during your research, hopefully you’ll look into different web hosting providers to figure out which is the most affordable for your blog. I went with DreamHost because it was $11/month, which seemed very sustainable, and they provided instant help with any troubleshooting issues. I’ve been with them for four years now.
You have your domain (.com), your web hosting (who powers your website daily), now it’s time to download the backbone to your blog: wordpress.org. This is not to be confused with wordpress.com, that allows you to start your blog for free (not recommended). You can pretty much guarantee that every blog you follow uses wordpress.org because it’s simple to use and doesn’t require you to learn any coding – all in all, it makes blogging life easier. Here is your step-by-step guide to downloading wordpress:
1. Log in to your DreamHost account
2. Click on “Wordpress” in your left hand sidebar
3. Click on “One-Click Installs” from the drop down menu
4. Enter the following:
Install to: Select the domain you’d like to install into.
Select Database: You probably want ‘Automatically Create Database’ since this creates a new unique database for your site.
5. Click the Install it for me now! button. Within 15 minutes, an email is sent to you at the primary email listed on your DreamHost account. This email details further steps to take to complete the installation.
6. Go to your website and add “wp-admin on the end” (www.mywebsiteaddress.com/wp-admin)
7. Log in with your WordPress username and password
Choose your theme
Picking my theme was perhaps the most stressful part in creating my travel blog, to be completely honest. In my head, I had the perfect theme in mind, but I couldn’t find the right one to replicate this image. My problem? I was using the free themes available with wordpress. This is incredibly tempting- it’s free! – but when you’re doing your budget, go on and budget to purchase a theme. There are so many more options for what the theme looks like and with how to tweak it to your specifications without complicated CSS. I cannot stress it enough: purchase your theme! I used 17th Avenue Designs to find this lovely theme; I was after something girly but also one that was highly visual and quite simple to use. I wanted to combine the classic, easy to use looks of other bloggers with my love for pastels and fun. My theme was $69, if I remember correctly, but there are options as low as $39.
Create your quality content
I cannot stress enough that the quality of your content is more important that quantity; don’t just crank out post after post that you haven’t dedicated time to thinking about or designing. Now, you’re probably wondering how exactly to make a quality blog post. Your first step is laying out the post: use headers and sub-headers to make the post easy to read and figure out a good balance between text and photos. You don’t want too much of either of those things. Second, be original: don’t go and duplicate posts made by other content creators. Of course, you can use them as inspiration but do not just go in and steal their ideas. And, finally, listen to your readers: most importantly, communicate with your readers through comments and social media to see what they want from you.
Figure out a schedule
Write regularly, but post on a schedule. Readers would like to know when they can hear from you- once a week? thrice a week? Create back logged content for when you have a hectic week so you can stick to your schedule and apologize when you can’t. Don’t just fall off the place of the planet when you feel you need a break, your readers will be understanding. Not to mention, having a schedule for yourself will make it easier for you to keep up with the work load. Are you more creative in the evening or morning time? Block out a bit of time for your creativity so you’re not dreading to sit down and work.
Grow and get to know your audience
If you aren’t just writing your blog for yourself and are looking to connect with people, growing your audience is important. The easiest way to do this is social media. Just about everyone has some form of social media account, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. Start by making an account under your blog name under each of these medias, whether you plan to use it or not, then advertise your blog on there. With that being said, don’t just stick to advertising your blog, use this as a means to connect with your readers: reply to their comments or private messages, host viewer meet ups, run contests, ask them what they’d like to see from your blog. It’s the easiest way to get connected! You can get connected with me through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest!
Another way to grow your audience is through SEO- Search Engine Optimization. It’s how non-readers arrive to your blog through google search. This particular blog post explained SEO in a very easy way to understand, for anyone who’s internet-challenged like me!
Never give up
Keep at it, whether you’re getting the audience growth you want or not! There is no success in giving up. Always make sure you’re learning and growing with your blog, because the internet is ever-changing. And please don’t think that you can’t break into the blogging industry because you didn’t start early enough!
Have you started your own blog? What is some of your best advice for beginner bloggers? I’d love to hear your opinions, so pop a comment below!