Welp – this title is plain and simple –
How to start a blog
It is pretty self explanatory as to what I am talking about today!
A little background
Some of your may or may not know that April is my ONE YEAR BLOGGING ANNIVERSARY!!! It is crazy how time flies! I will be doing a full blown post on my first year of blogging and what I learned, but that is yet to come. Today we are talking about how to get things rolling so lets dive in!
This might be one of the SCARIEST part of making your blog! This is the part where you need to decide on your brand and everything that your blog stands for! Here are some things to think about:
While a name is extremely important and you should definitely put a decent effort into the name, it is only ONE PART of your whole package. I have seen people get so wound up in trying to find the perfect name that it in fact delays the launch of their blog. Do not over think it, find something you like and move on to the next step – there is a lot of work to be done after you determine the name 🙂
Tips for picking a blog name
Make it timeless – Don’t pick a name that won’t be relevant as life progresses. For example, say your name is “Blondie in her 20’s”, hate to break it to you but you won’t always be in your 20’s :/
Make it easy to spell – Perhaps I missed the memo on this one because people have trouble spelling Fernweh, but try to keep it short and simple. Don’t make it too long or too short.
Make it unique – Similar to how I see fashion trends, you don’t want to have the same as everyone else. Push yourself to come up with a name that doesn’t sound like someone else’s; this will make YOU stand out.
To inspire yourself grab a piece of bristol board and start writing down words that come to you when you think about your new blog. These words can relate to your style, things you want to write about and most importantly your audience that you want to appeal to.
After you have a name to work with the BIGGEST advice that I can give is to get every social channel imaginable with that name. As soon as I decided I liked Fernweh Society I claimed the URL, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Snapchat. There are of course many other social platforms that you can and should consider claiming but these are my main ones. If you cannot get the URL consider changing the name. I know it is heartbreaking but you will find another one. It is VERY important to have these social channels and platforms with the name of your blog.
Once you have claimed a bunch of social channels move onto building the brand.
A brand is made up of so many different components these are only a few to help you start honing in on the look and feel of your newly created blog!
Color scheme –
Pick a few colors that you are going to commit to. I am not saying that you can never have a different color on the blog but like any brand you need to have some core colors to tie everything together. For Fernweh Society I often use bright whites, pinks and sometimes blues. Of course other colors find their way onto the site and social media, but it is important to create a consistent feel. Think about a brand that you follow, there is always a consistent look to their imagery.
Tone of voice –
If you are creating a blog, you best be prepared to write . . . A LOT! If you don’t like writing you might as well give up now because blogging is writing 🙂 After shocking you with the pure volume of what you will be writing you should really consider the tone of voice that you want to be a part of your brand. Some of you may already know what I am talking about and know what this means, others might be confused at this point 🙂 Your tone of ‘voice’ is really the tone of your writing; is it formal, is it casual, it is the impression someone gets when they are reading your blog or seeing any this else that you put out into the blogosphere. As an example, I hope you have noticed, Fernweh Society is uber casual. I write as though I am speaking to you, yes YOU! I want everyone who reads the blog to feel like they are having a conversation with me. This doesn’t mean from time to time my grammar isn’t on point or I make up a few words here and there, but I am literally speaking out loud as I write this. Not all blogs have to be super casual, you could take more of a ‘reporter’ style with the blog, its totally up to you. The most important thing is that you are consistent in your tone of voice in every post and every output of content, not matter what medium or platform.
This will derived from what you’re writing and how you present it. You need to consider somewhat of a profile of who you are writing for. How old are they? Is it men and women or primarily targeted to one group only? Let’s say it is a she; what does she like to do in her spare time, what does she shop for, what kind of job does she have? It can be quite beneficial to literally create personas for your audience. Use this persona each time you post something. Ask yourself if she is excited to read your content or possibly like your photo, if so, then you’re on the right track. The other note here is that throughout this process and including the audience, you must adapt! Use your analytics to actually see who is reading your blog posts. If the posts are in a different age range or possibly a different persona, try adjusting. Yes, you create the blog because you want to, but the blog does well when you focus on your audience.
We are now in the meat of a true blog. You need to make a big decision; free site or self host. Personally, I would highly recommend staying away from a free option. Why you might ask? Well, if you’re seriously considering blogging and being committed to it, you will pay for your own URL eventually. In the mean time if you don’t snag your blog name in a URL you might miss the boat. I would suggest off the bat buying your URL as mentioned above. You can do this through a blog platform like Squarespace or you can purchase it through your hosting service. Okay, let me break this down because I am starting to complicate things!
Option 1 – Have a free blog but live with .blogger.com or .wordpress.com or .squarespace.com or anything else at the end of your web address.
Option 2 – Go with a platform like Squarespace buy your domain and host within the platform.
I am not about the list all the different platforms you can choose from as there are MANY! I can comment on Squarespace and WordPress as I have used both of them. If you want a site that is super user friendly go with Squarespace, if you want a site that maybe takes a little more of a learning curve but is extremely customizable go with WordPress. If you choose WordPress I highly suggest buying a template to ease the process of building the site so that you don’t need to do any coding. I bought mine from Pipdig.co however there are many sites that sell gorgeous and chic templates to make your blog a simple drag and drop process.
After building your site there are three key pages to set up first as these are the MOST VISITED pages on a blog!
Home Page – You need to decide if you want a traditional blog home page where it is simply a scroll-down of your past blog posts or if you want a static home page, that is more similar to a website but is constant. This is the first thing that people see when they come to your blog, so you want to make this appealing and oozing your brand.
About Page – The contents of your about page will literally be read each time a new persons visits your site. You need a killer photo of yourself, a blurb about your blog THEN a little blurb about you. Many people write about themselves first which is a big NO NO! Why? Because newcomers to your site want to know if this is a blog that they will connect to before they even think about caring why it started.
Contact Page – The next most frequented page is the contact page. People might not even write a message but if there isn’t an opportunity to do so then how are you letting people interact with you. Add another cute photo to this page, a short message on why you want to keep in touch and a concise contact form.
Want to know why many bloggers fail? Why they cannot attain the level of success that they set out for? . . . .
Because they gave up
Plain and simple. Having a successful blog takes time, believe me, I have been pushing for one year and I have seen growth but that isn’t without work being put into it! You have to MAINTAIN the blog, adapt to information and grow alongside your audience. How to do this?
Create a schedule – You’re the boss, you can work whenever you feel like it right? WRONG. If you want to grow the blog as a business you need to create a schedule for yourself, you have to give your viewers the assurance that you’re going to be consistent. Posting sporadically isn’t going to build a following. I want you to LOVE doing this, I didn’t mean to scare you with the big, bold WRONG above. The thing is though, I have promised my viewers two blog posts a week. The very few times I haven’t delivered I don’t feel good about it, I feel like I have let them down. Things are much easier if you create a schedule for yourself, set those goals and post to that frequency. It becomes habit and second nature.
Use the tools – INSTALL GOOGLE ANALYTICS! This will become your best friend. You need to read these reports. I might have to do a separate post on this alone. Reading which posts did well, who was looking, what time of day etc etc etc should be influencing your next moves. Remember the post on adapting in Instagram, well it is the same for the blog.
Updating – This is something that is coming time again for me to do; refreshing the blog. I think it is important every 6 months to a year to take a look at the site and make improvements. Maybe it is time I updated my About Page photo, or take a look and see if I am properly linking all of my blog posts to each other. I think it is also good to re-fresh content on those key pages; home page, about page and contact page to ensure that all of the information is relevant and up to date. No one wants to come across a poorly maintained blog, it creates extremely low expectations for the content if the viewer doesn’t think that the blogger themselves are actively updating as they should.
WOOSH – well that might have been a bit of an information overload but it is a good start to an overview on how to start a blog. It is not an easy process and there are so many more components aside from the basics that need to be considered. Did you like this post? Did you want to see more posts with added details on aspects of blogging? This is all for you so please let me know in the comments if you want more like this!
Happy Blogging !
Images by @joshsflickr