10 Steps To Setting Up And Starting Your Blog
Hey there, people of this round planet called Earth!
I’m guessing you’re here because you’re either a new blogger, a blogger wanting to brush up on your skills, or you’re thinking about starting a blog. Basically: blogging, blogging, blogging.
Why exactly am I, a lifestyle blogger that’s been blogging on and off for three years (dude, I feel so old), writing this post? Because I essentially just hit reset on my blog and may or may not (fingers crossed for not) have lost my entire following. Now, I could get stressed and depressed – or I could look at this as a learning opportunity. A chance to start fresh, with all the knowledge of the three years and the freedom of a semi-blank slate to rebuild but better.
Me being me, I love that idea. So I decided to share with my fellow new and start-up bloggers a few pieces of key advice and some of the essential steps you need to follow to kickstart your descent into blogging.
1. Choose whether you’re going hosted or self-hosted.
As a total rookie, this will mean nothing to you. Less than nothing. This will mean to you what people speaking rapid Japanese means to me. To keep this quick:
Self-hosted is where you take care of everything. You outright own everything and have complete control. For this, you will need to buy a domain and a hosting service. Usually this will all be paid. (However, by paid I literally mean about £2 a month. Don’t worry; it won’t break the bank.)
Hosted is where you use a hosting platform like WordPress.com or Blogger. These offer you free subdomain site addresses ( yourwebsite.wordpress.com, for example) and they take care of everything, so all you do is focus on content creation.
From this overview, you’d probably think that you want Hosted – but I haven’t given you the full picture at all. Both have their pros and cons (I actually wrote a post comparing my experience moving from hosted to self-hosted and comparing the two) and both are for different needs. If you’re wanting to monetise and have a blog full of cool features that you have absolute control over, you want self-hosted. If you don’t care about all the cool baubles and just want to get your words out there, hosted is probably for you.
2. Choose your platform
If you’re going self-hosted, just go WordPress.org. Yes, there are other options – but it’s like buying some cheap random phone brand instead of an Android. It may work just as well, but . . . come on. (I refuse to use Apple in my examples. It’s a principle thing.)
If you’re going down the hosted route, however, you have more options. Do you go Wix? (No.) Or WordPress? (Yes.) Or Blogger? (Also yes.)
3. Decide what your blog will be about; draft categories etc.
I don’t feel like this really needs any explanation, but I’ll waste all of our time anyway. This is helpful if you’re deciding what niche you’re going to fit into (and if it isn’t one, do what the rest of us oddballs do and claim “lifestyle”. You can’t do that wrong.). It also helps when you’re drafting up post ideas, thinking about design etc.
4. Look at other bloggers to gain inspiration. Take notes on what they do that you like, dislike etc.
You know what one of the first things I learnt about design was? That nothing’s original because all artists steal from each other. That sounds way more cutthroat than it’s meant as; with art, we all gather inspiration from each other. The same goes with blogging.
Find the type of posts you like; the tone of voice; get some design inspiration. Some bloggers may have pop-up newsletter subscriptions – and you might hate that. That might go straight on your list of things you’ll never touch with a ten foot long pole. At the same turn, you might love it.
Go through blogs that you enjoy and aspire to be like and gather some intel.
5. Perfect your blog design
Design is so important. First of all, it just makes your blog look like there’s someone who cares about its existence maintaining and caring for it, which is always great. Nobody’s going to follow your blog if even you don’t take it seriously.
However, your design also sets the entire tone. It’s part of your branding; part of how you communicate what your blog is and why it’s worthwhile to engage with it without readers having to even touch your content.
6. Draft up post ideas etc while you’re still inspired – this will be your saviour
Let me guess – you’re still in that honeymoon phase, right? You still believe that you’re going to always be bursting with inspiration (you’re not), always going to have an abundance of time (you won’t) and that you love blogging so of course you’re always going to be motivated to. (And, no, I’m even touching that. You love eating, yet there are many times you just can’t be bothered to cook and will snack on unhealthy food that you’ll regret later, right? Point.)
Yeah, that’s all bullshit. Blogging is work. It’s highly enjoyable, highly rewarding work, sure – but it’s still work. You have to think of entertaining, valuable topics your audience will care about; research; draft; take pictures; create pictures; promote; network; rinse and repeat.
It’s a process and it’s not an easy, automated one. You will get burnt out. You will have writer’s block. And you will get home from school or work and be so exhausted that you fall straight asleep with no thought about your little corner of the web.
That’s fine – but that’s also why when you have inspiration you need to pounce. Use the draft tool to your advantage; write posts ahead of time and note down your ideas when you have them. Trust me, on days when you realise you need content to go up but you want to go out with your friends you’ll thank yourself.
Optional step – draft up a calendar and schedule. Highly recommend.
7. Finish your about me pages etc.
When a you’re a new little chick straight out of your egg, you aren’t going to leap out fully formed, are you? Of course not. The same is true of new bloggers – and that’s okay! You don’t have to have reams of amazing content and a perfect site right from the get-go.
What do you need to have? An about me page. If you’re new and you don’t have any other selling points, how are we going to find out about you? Oh yes – your about me page!
8. Set up your social media pages
Makes it easier to follow you and has to be done at some point.
9. Get a few posts up (so that people have content to find)
I like to think of my homepage as one big advertselling my blog to people. Because nobody’s going to land on your page, look at absolutely nothing and say “yes, I will definitely follow that blogger and be a dedicated, loyal fan”. It just doesn’t happen; you need to entice people. How does this happen?
With content. Even if it’s only three posts, give people a taste of what you can do and what they have to look forward to so that they want to follow you for more.
10. Network with other bloggers
This is such an essential step that I wish I’d known about when I first started blogging. Networking is absolutely essential. Bloggers are among the friendliest people in the world and are great for getting eyes, advice and inspiration to your blog.
So these are the ten essential steps I think new bloggers should consider when setting up and starting their blogs. Do you think I missed any out? What things do you wish you knew before you started up?
All the love