How to start a blog

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What should I write about?

You should write about anything that interests you. Blogging is a labour of love, especially in the early days before you have grown your audience. Write about what you know so that it is interesting and engaging for your readers otherwise they will just move on. It has been said many times before but content really is King so if there is something you are passionate about and want to share it with the world-people will listen!

What do I need to get started?

You need a laptop or a PC with an internet connection. You will also need a camera as people love visuals. I’m not going to say you need to know the basics of computers because before I started this blog I only used the laptop for internet clothes shopping and sending emails. I literally knew nothing and could barely even copy and paste. You will learn as you go and can Google if you’re not sure and you will find an on line tutorial for what you’re looking for.

What next?

Get yourself signed up to a blogging platform; the ones I know about are Blogger, WordPress and self-hosted WordPress. I started on Blogger and after 6 months moved to self-hosted WordPress. It is so much better it’s unbelievable. The layout is better, the themes, the way you can customise things not to mention the the plug ins which are awesome and have opened up a whole new blogging world for me. You won’t get any of that on Blogger, it is very basic in comparison.

Once you’re signed up to a blogging platform, you need to start writing content, the more you write the quicker you will get noticed and indexed in the search engines and the more traffic you will get to your blog. This in turn will lead to greater success for your blog. The more traffic and followers you get, more doors will open to you and you will get contacted by PRs and brands looking to collaborate (if that’s the way you want to go) If not you will still probably want traffic and a following to show off all your hard work. It’s really thrilling when you see your stats building and realise it’s not just your sister and your aunty that read your blog but thousands of people all over the globe!

How do I design my blog?

Blog design is a really personal thing. I spent ages looking at other blogs and getting ideas of the way I wanted my blog to look. To begin with when I was on Blogger I bought a premade theme (there are loads on etsy) and used that but I felt it wasn’t really personal to me. I spent ages making my navigation bar with the thumbnail pictures and eventually I had a header designed by an illustrator. It was an investment that I’m happy to pay because I love the way it turned out and I know it’s unique and no one else will have the same as me. When I moved to WordPress I bought a new theme that you see now. It is exactly how I wanted my blog to look but it took me a while to get here.

I would also recommend putting a picture of yourself on your blog-you can see mine in the top right hand corner. I personally like to see what the author of a blog looks like and I know it’s important to lots of other people too. You should also think about adding an ‘About’ section so that readers can feel they know a little more about you. If you want to monetise your blog then adding a ‘Work with me’ section is a good way of letting PRs know that you are open to collaborations with them and when you’ve been blogging a while you can use this page as your online CV adding a link to your media kit if you have one. Make sure that your contact details are easily seen and readily available, the last thing you want is for a potential client to be searching around for your email address or a contact form-they haven’t got time and will just move on to the next blogger.

How do I keep readers coming back?

Find your blogging voice and stick to it. Your readers want to get to know you and will start to expect certain posts if you suddenly switch tone this will confuse your readers and make them feel your blog isn’t authentic. I am predominantly a mummy blogger and there is a huge community out there for parenting bloggers. There are communities out there for all sorts of topics from recipes to snowboarding to dog grooming. So whatever your niche is find a way to fit into it and keep writing about what you know. As I mentioned before people are very visual and photographs are a hugely important part of telling your story. Make them as big as your template will allow and edit them so they look appealing, you can also add banners and text to pictures easily by using online software. I had a massive panic when I first started out as I thought everyone was using Photoshop which I don’t have so I did a bit of research and discovered a lot of bloggers use a website called Picmonkey it is absolutely brilliant for adding effects to your pictures and jazzing them up a bit. I use the paid version as you get extra fonts and actions for your pics but the free version is really good too.

How do I tell others about my blog?

You need to do some social networking. That means reading and commenting on lots of other blogs so that these bloggers come and check out your blog too. You can think about joining in with some link parties or blog swaps. Also get yourself on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and find like-minded people on there too. Twitter is a really good way of driving traffic to your blog and hooking up with PRs and brands that you are interested in working with. Don’t be afraid to approach other bloggers and ask for help if you need to and if you want to work with a particular brand find them on Twitter and ask them if they are looking to work with anyone at the moment. Nothing ventured nothing gained!

I hope this has been helpful for anyone that is thinking about starting their own blog. I would definitely encourage you to go for it if you are. Blogging has done wonders for me in terms of my confidence and has also made me realise that if I really want to do something I will find out how I can do it and put it into practice. Blogging has also rekindled my love for photography and given me an avenue to showcase my photographs. It is also a really nice feeling when you get an email from a company that wants to work with you and a nice reward for all the hard work.

I’m definitely not an expert but am more than happy to help anyone starting. If you would like to ask me anything or would like a new blogging friend then feel free to leave a comment below or use the contact form in the right sidebar.

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