The internet has rapidly become a place of sharing our lives with not only our friends, but with the world. We indulge in sharing stories of our daily lives, to our weekend adventures, our holidays and even our troubles & tribulations. The media platforms that allow this sharing to take place have become endless, from photo-sharing apps, to sharing live snippets from our day, filming our adventures & uploading it onto YouTube and of course, one of the oldest forms of online sharing, the blog!
The amount of emails that I receive on a weekly basis asking me advice on how to start a blog is starting to become a little overwhelming. My problem is that I want to help everyone, give them advice and tips & share things that I have learnt from my own blogging experience, so after about one year of relentlessly answering these emails, I have decided to publicly share these insights as well help you to get started with a blog of your own.
First things first, blogging obviously means that you have to be able to write at a fairly adequate level and as obvious as it sounds, have an invested interest in writing, otherwise if you are starting a blog for monetary purpose or gain without have a writing bone in your body, it without a doubt shows through in your work & becomes hard and tedious to read. Blogging, as many other online platforms, has become saturated & every other person that you meet has a blog of their own (although the definition of ‘blog’ becomes a bit hazy here), so you have to make sure that you stand out from the crowd. What will make your work better than Martha over there, who happens to be writing about the same topic as you? Why should your blog be read instead of theirs? But before we get there, let’s begin with step 1.
Step 1: Find a Genre
- What are you interested in? Find a genre that you would enjoy writing about and that people would enjoy reading. The scope is obviously extremely wide here & the level of writing needed is dependent on your genre. If you want to write tutorial blogs on how to fix a car, or tech blogs, you need not worry about keeping your audience entertained. You are there to provide them with a solution to their problem as a fast as possible. If you are like me and have chosen to share stories of your life, keeping your audience interested & entertained is crucial.
Step 2: Find a Blogging Platform
- The awesome thing about majority of blogging platforms, is that they are free. I first signed up with WordPress.com, however have moved over to wordpress.org which means that I get my own domain name (www.nicoleeddy.com) & a self-hosted site. ‘Self-Hosted’ basically means that I pay WordPress a small amount each year to rent my server from them and in return I get to manage my own site in its entirety. Despite the numerous free blogging sites which you can easily google, I would highly recommend using either WordPress or Blogger due to its simplicity and the reasonably high amount of customisation that one can do. For the purpose of this blog, I will take you through the process of starting a free or paid WordPress blog.
Step 3: Create your own website:
Simply click on ‘create your own website’ on the WordPress home page.
Once you have clicked this, you will be able to select the type and genre of your blog out of numerous options listed. Then choose your homepage layout out of the three options, if it were up to me, I would choose either a ‘Welcome Page’ or ‘List of Posts’ layout. But that’s just my personal preference 🙂
Step 4: Pick a Theme
Choose your theme. Don’t worry if you are undecided between a couple, these are not set in stone and you can very easily change and customise them once your blog is set up.
Step 5: Pick a domain name:
This is essentially what you want your URL address to be, i.e. the name of your site. One’s options are obviously limited when signing up with the free version, but if you are willing to pay annually, you can get a domain name that is shorter and easier to remember. WordPress will automatically give you available options of the choice that you entered.
Step 6: Customise Your Site & Start Writing
Once you have created your username and entered a password for your site, you will be taken to your dashboard. This is where you can customise your theme, keep track of statistics, create different pages (e.g. Contact, FAQ’s etc.) and so forth. Once you are happy with how your site looks, well…start bloody writing!
Advice From Me to You
There are three bits of advice that I maintain make an interesting & captivating blog post: QIC (quality, imagery & consistency).
Quality – This refers to the length of your post, overall look and aesthetics, spelling, grammar, punctuation and an overall well-written post. I would say stick to blog post lengths of between 700-1000 words, however this is obviously dependent on the particular post. ALWAYS double check that there are no spelling mistakes, your grammar and punctuation is correct and your sentences make sense. No-one will continue reading a post if it has more than 1 spelling mistake, except your parents. Not even your grandparents have time for that!
Imagery – Nothing keeps a reader more captivated than complimentary, well composed quality images. Use your own pictures to give the viewer a visual reference of the topic that you are addressing, let them see the beauty that you might be referring to or the part of the car that they should be repairing.
Consistency – I could seriously take a page out of my own book here, but I have learnt that in order to gain a bigger audience & keep people interested in what you have to say, make sure that your posts are consistent, not only in quality, but in upload schedules. Try and upload a post once a month at the very least in order to keep your site alive. I know that it is hard to write when you lack inspiration, and if this is the case try and think of something new & fun to write about.
Nicole’s Tip: I turn to photo blog posts when this is the case. A little bit of an explanation, and a whole lot of visual references of my adventures!
Plagiarism: As a budding writer, I would sincerely hope that everyone knows and understands what plagiarism involves. When quoting other people’s work or using other people’s images, ALWAYS credit them. In short, try and use your own words and images if possible unless you are referencing someone else’s work, no-one likes a fraud.
That’s about the toolbox that you need to get started, you’re on your own from here. Fiddle around with different techniques, see what works and what doesn’t and only think about monetising your blog once you have a decent sized viewership each month, money should not be your goal in blogging. Although the internet is an awesome place, I feel that sometimes it seems that it is full of good people creating average content containing little value with a lot of emphasis placed on constant unnecessary consumption. I will always maintain that if we choose to publicly share a bit of our lives with the world, we need to be putting content out there that creates positivity, brings joy to those who might need it, inspiration those trying to achieve their own dreams, knowledge & insightfulness and of course happiness in whatever way we feel is appropriate.
That’s it from my side folks and on that note…happy writing 🙂 If any of you would appreciate a concise honest opinion of your newly started blog or a particular post, feel free to drop me an email & I will try my best to help you out!