The other day I mentioned that I was going to be starting a new blog series. And this is it! Simply Blog is a blog series that will simply be about blogging > How-To, Tips & Tricks, anything blogging wise. I wanted a place to keep all of my blogging posts, and this series is just that.
Without further ado:
Do you want to start a blog but not sure how? Or maybe not sure where to start? This Simply Blog series is aimed at helping newbie bloggers set themselves up. The first post in this series will be about the basics of setting up a blog.
So you know you want to start a blog but you’re not sure where you should start. I think researching blogging is a good place to start because you don’t want to jump into this blindly. However, below I’ve outlined a few of the basic points to consider when starting a blog.
*Please note I have not been paid to promote anything in this blog post, there are no affiliate links attached, this is all my personal opinion*
Free Platform: Worpdress, Blogger. Self-Hosted: Hosting companies, WordPress, Squarespace
First off you need to figure out what platform you would like to be on. There are multiple platforms when it comes to blogging but how do you choose? Well why are you starting a blog? Is it a hobby? Do you want to start a business? Maybe it’s both, starting as a hobby and eventually becoming a business. Or perhaps all you want to do is share your opinions online and leave it at that.
There are many free platforms for blogging out there, but out of them all I recommend WordPress.com. There is also Blogger.com which is another popular free platform option and has been around for as long as wordpress has. However you can also use Wixx.com, ipage.com and others but these come with even more limitations. For example the free Wix.com site displays wixx advertisements at the top and bottom of your blog – who wants that?
Why do I recommend WordPress.com? Because I’ve used it, I know my way around it, and it does the job well. Also because if you eventually want to self-host your blog, I’ve heard it is so much easier to transfer your wordpress.com blog over to the self-hosted wordpress software than it is to transfer over from any of the other free platforms. Clearly for the obvious reasons.
If you use a free platform then your website will be hosted by that platform, there will be limitations to what you can do with your blog, you can’t use your blog to make money as it is against the T&C’s, and your web address will show as:
So on and so forth.
If you’re serious about blogging, you would like to use your blog as a business tool, and you want to become an established blogger then being self-hosted is the way to go.
Self-hosting means you pay a web host (Like Blue Host, Host Gator, or premium hosts) to host your blog on their servers. You have a lot more freedom with a self-hosted blog, you can use your blog to make money, you can personalise the way your blog looks, you can download plugins to customise features on your blog, and make it look so much more professional (If that’s your goal).
With a self-hosted blog you purchase your own domain name – for example mine is www.simplyadrift.com, you pay for hosting and you can choose what blogging software you would like to use. I can only recommend WordPress because that is what I use and what I have experience in using. WordPress is an open source platform, and it’s free.
However there are other options such as Squarespace. However Squarespace is a paid blogging platform that provides it’s own hosting, it is also a lot simpler to use as you can create your website without coding it, it’s a WYSIWYG platform – ‘What you see is what you get’.
Which one should I choose?
Free Platform: If you’re only starting a blog to share your opinions and you’re not interested in much more than that, then a free platform is good for you! If you’re strapped for cash and want to see what this blogging thing is like, also go with the free platform. Once again I recommend wordpress.com because if you eventually want to become self-hosted it is a lot easier to transfer your free blog over to your self-hosted server.
Self-Hosted Platform: If you have future plans for your blog, you want to monetize your blog, you want to look and come across as a ‘professional’, and you want to completely control your content, layout and the likes – then go with a self-hosted blog.
What do you want to write about? What are you passionate about?
Next, what do you want to blog about? What are you passionate about? What do you like to talk about? Do you want to review products? Do you have knowledge you want to share with the world? Simply Adrift started off as a book blog, now it blurs lines a little and I also post blogging tips, lifestyle and travel articles, but I would still mainly consider my blog a book blog.
To narrow down the niche, figure out what content you will be posting. This will make it easier for setting up everything as you will have a specific goal in mind.
Name your blog
Now that you’ve chosen your platform and figured out what niche you will be writing for, it’s time to come up with a name for your blog. It can be anything you want! Although I recommend it be between two-three words because you don’t want it too short and definitely not too long.
You can choose a name that goes with your niche or you can choose something that doesn’t relate to anything at all but you still like it. When I came up with my blog name I knew I was going to mainly be blogging about books, but I also knew I did not want to be locked into my niche. I wanted the freedom to change my content without it coming across as irrelevant to the blog name. Simply Adrift doesn’t lock me into any one niche and it even hints at the content changing.
Choose a Theme
If you’ve chosen to go with wordpress (free or hosted), then you need to choose a theme.
WordPress has thousands of themes out there for you to choose from. You can choose free themes or you can pay for a theme that looks nicer and might have more options.
Since you know what niche your blog will be in, this will help you choose a theme. For example if you’re a photographer and you want to start a blog to showcase your work, then you will be looking for an image heavy theme that showcases your images and has a gallery page.
If you’ve chosen to go with self-hosted, you can then edit your theme and change it to the way you want it to look. You’re not limited to anything.
Make a Content Schedule
How often do you want to post? How often can you post?
Now that you have your blog ready to go, you should come up with a schedule that you want to stick to for your content. This could range from how many times a week or month you want to post > to what kinds of posts you are posting.
For example a book blog might look like this:
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday: Discussion Post
Saturday: Book Review
Sunday: Weekly Wrap Up
With this you will know what content you need to plan for.
Tip: Blogging takes up a lot of time! I recommend easing into it and posting once a week, rather than posting five times a week and burning yourself out.
Interact with other blogs in your niche
Comment, share, like.
Interact with other blogs in your niche! Comment on their posts, share their content, interact with the bloggers on social media. Do not just put content up on your blog and leave it be. You need to interact in your blogs niche community, this is how to get people hearing about your blog.
If you leave a link to your blog when you comment on someone else’s blog post, they will visit your blog and comment back if they like the content they see. Make sure you leave meaningful comments and nothing spammy like ‘Love your blog. Check mine out to at BLOGNAME.com’. Everyone hates those bloggers!
Follow other blogs
RSS feed readers, email subscriptions, browser bookmarks.
The best way to keep up to date with the blogging community is to follow those blogs.
I recommend using an RSS feed reader as a way to follow blogs as you can add the blogs that you like to read or blogs in your niche, and keep track on their most up to date posts. I recommend the RSS feed reader Feedly. You add your favourite blogs, all of their current blog posts are then added to a feed, and wallah! You can now see all of the blogs’ content without having to visit each blog individually. This way you only open the blog posts you’re interested in reading.
Other ways to follow blogs are to sign up to their Email Subscription boxes, you would be emailed every time they post new content. I only recommend doing this for blogs that you absolutely love and read most, if not all, of their blog posts. Otherwise you will receive way too many emails.
You could always favourite their blog in your browser bookmarks. But this is also something I wouldn’t do because then you would have this massive list of blogs that you need to manually check back to see what new content they’ve come out with.
RSS feed reader is the way to do it!
What social media platforms should you join up to?
The last step is to join up to social media! What social media platforms do you need? I would recommend at least signing up to Twitter because Twitter is a way to stay social and to connect with other bloggers or readers. On Twitter you don’t have to limit your content to your niche, you can talk about anything.
Personally I like to use Twitter to chat to other bloggers, I always find it easy to relate to other bloggers because they sound like normal people on Twitter! People tweet their thoughts, they have a conversational tone, you have to be clever and say everything in 140 characters.
Having an Instagram account for your blog can be a great idea if your niche can be visual. Or you can get creative and make it visual. For example a lot of book bloggers have instagrams for their blogs where they purely post book pictures or book related pictures. It’s become such a huge thing that there’s even a name for it: Bookstagram. If you check out #Bookstagram on Instagram you’ll see what I mean. Also: Check out Simply Adrift’s Bookstagram.
To be honest I always feel like you don’t necessarily need to make a Facebook page for your blog, but once again that’s up to your niche, if you think having a facebook page would benefit your blog then go for it.
Joining up to any other social media platform is up to you really, it also depends on your niche. For example all book bloggers 100% have Goodreads. But if you aren’t a book blogger and if you don’t read, you don’t need Goodreads.
Start posting content!
Now you’ve set everything up it’s time to start posting content! Have fun, enjoy it, and spread the word!
I hope this helps you set up your blog and that you find this information useful. Send me a link to your blog once you’re all sorted!
Did you find this post useful? Do you have any questions about starting a blog?