20 July, 2015

How To Start A Blog

How To Start A Blog
There are hundreds of posts out there detailing how to start a blog, but I'm going to keep mine as close to "How To Start A Blog For Dummies" as possible.  This post is dedicated to my aunt who's interested in starting a blog, but hopefully it helps a few of you bloggers-to-be as well!  By no means do I consider myself even close to a blogging expert -- I'm still fairly new to this world.  But believe me when I say that the hardest part is just getting started.  The rest falls into place.

Starting a blog is so much easier than it looks.  When I was debating whether or not to start, I would stare into space asking myself how someone can actually create a website: "How on earth do you get pictures on it? How do you get the words there and put everything together?!  HOW DOES THIS WORK?!"  I came to find that it is actually so simple, and you really only need a few things to start a blog: a passion/topics to write about, access to a computer, the desire to do some research, and a little bit of patience (trust me, I probably have less than you).  I was so intimidated by the scary internet and HTML, and once I told myself to just do it, I realized that I really didn't need to be afraid of anything, and that the internet pretty much does all the work for you (except writing).

I also remembered that when I was about 10 years old I started a website dedicated to Spongebob.  If I could do it then, I figured I could do it now.

You have 2 options when it comes to hosting your blog: Wordpress or Blogger.  Blogger is owned by Google and is much more basic than Wordpress.  You'll have more freedom and ownership if you choose Wordpress, but with a few tweaks, you can make a Blogger blog look very professional and unique.  I went with Blogger because I knew it would be a bit easier, and I also knew that a few of my favorite bloggers use Google Blogger and are very successful in their craft.
Blogger's Template Screen: You can choose from the preset templates to start.  I recommend a "Simple" one.
How to Start a Blog in Blogger
Blogger's Layout Screen: Here's where you'll rearrange the look of your page.  Mine is the basic/standard appearance, where my header is above all of my pages, and my blog posts are in the center, while my sidebar has my photo, social media gadgets, and other links/photos.
How To Start A Blog on Google
The different tabs you'll have access to in blogger: I've screenshotted my Template screen and my Layout screen
Yay, now you've chosen a hosting website!  The next step is to think of a name for your blog: Think long and hard, because if you ever try to change the name, it will be a slight pain in the ass.  I debated for weeks on my name, and I originally started by calling my blog "The BFF Guide", where I intended to focus on beauty, fitness, and food.  I quickly decided to just go with my name, since I didn't want to limit myself to those 3 categories, and I wanted to be able to write about getting tipsy in NYC or going to the zoo if I wanted to...Even though beauty, fitness, and food are still the pillars of this blog, I wanted to make sure I had a place to write about other topics without feeling the need to file them.  I also knew that using my name would be easiest to translate onto social media.

Let's talk about social media: To increase exposure on your blog, you'll need to be active on at least one other platform.  More like 3-5 other platforms, but let's start with 1.  I promote all of my posts on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr.  I also joined Bloglovin to have my posts automatically upload into the network.  As for Facebook, I'm sure some of my friends have blocked my posts, but it's still a place for me to share my work with friends/family.  And guess what, some will actually care and read your stuff!  Some won't give a damn, but...bye Felicia!

Once you have your blog title chosen and hopefully a few social accounts, you can create the blog.  Enter all the required information, and voila - You'll have a blog!  You can work on choosing templates and adjusting the formatting.  I suggest keeping this simple for now unless you're the type who gets off on bright colors and shooting stars across the screen.  I just knew I'd get sick of it and wanted to be plain jane and keep it black and white.  You can always make this fancier later, but get it to where you want for now.

For formatting, there are tons of websites with free blog templates, but I recommend investing in one.  Go to some of your favorite blogs and see where they get their templates from.  I got mine from Pipdig for $50.  I wanted to invest into the design of my blog, and I knew it would motivate me more to write.

From here, all you have to do is start writing.  On blogger, you'll click the icon that looks like a pencil or the button that says "New Post".  You can add photos, change the font, add links, etc. very easily.  You'll either hit "Publish" to publish it immediately, or you can schedule it for a later date.

If you do decide to change your domain, you'll need to purchase a custom domain and tweak any links/pages slightly that you've created.  I worked with a representative from Google who guided me through the process and was so helpful.  Thanks girl, couldn't have done it without you!

Simple as that.  You'll hit some road bumps, but everything can usually be sorted out with a little research.  If you find yourself stuck, read forums or email other bloggers to see if they can guide you in the right direction!

If for any reason you're nervous about starting a blog, don't be.  It's a great way to meet like-minded people, network, put your energy into something you created, and brush up on your writing skills.  After finding myself working in the beauty industry, I wanted something where I could write.  I think we forgot how valuable writing skills are, and we lose sight of spelling, punctuation, and our individual flow in a million text messages and brief emails.  I don't plan on writing a book, but my blog is great for now!

As for people who don't support you, screw them!  Just like any other life choice you make, job you take, person you date, or outfit you choose to wear, you'll have some haters (My brain pictures the meme "Oh hey, it's just me blockin' out the haters"!)  If blogging about something you love pisses people off, who cares.  Do what makes you happy, and the rest will work itself out.  You'll meet some really cool people along the way.

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments, and I'll do my best to answer!  Happy blogging!

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