So you have awesome things to share with the world and you want to start a blog? It’s easy to jump in unprepared because we’re excited to just start. But really, unless you tons of time you don’t mind wasting, that’s not the best way to start your blog.
First, decide what you want to blog about.
Why do you want to have a blog? What do you have to share? Blogging is about giving, not getting, so what do you have to give that readers would find helpful? Everyone has something they’re passionate about, something they can teach. What is that for you?
If you have a business you want to blog for, you probably want the blog so you can get more business. But using it just to sell won’t attract readers/customers.
Again, a blog is not a place to get, it’s a place to give. Think about it from your customer’s point-of-view, what do they want to know, and what do you have to give them.
Once you have a subject, come up with ten blog post ideas.
And start writing. You don’t have to write all 10 posts, but do write at least 2 or 3 in a word processor. Then add photos just like you would for a blog post. This will give you a good idea of what actually goes into writing a post and how long it takes.
Leave the posts alone for a day or two and then come back and read them. What do you think? Do they sound fun, meaningful, exciting, do they inspire, or explain something clearly? Make some tweaks and edits if they’re needed.
Then ask yourself: Did you like the writing and editing process? Are you ready to do a lot of it over the coming months?
(An added bonus to this step: once you start your blog, you’ll have a few posts ready to go!)
Next, study some blogs you love.
Think of the ones you always go back to. What is it that makes you want to stay on their site? Does it seem personal because they write like they’re sending a letter to an old friend? Do they tell funny or endearing stories? Are they short-and-sweet posts or long and in-depth?
What makes you want to try their recipes? Is it the big, clear, mouthwatering pictures? Or maybe she explains how and why the flavors and textures work together to make a mind-blowing dinner?
Just take note of the details, it’s easy to think that we like a blog just because the blogger has clever ideas or tons of recipes, but if they didn’t take the time to make their blog look and sound good, we never even would have noticed their ideas or recipes in the first place.
Important note here: don’t try to copy anyone, just try to learn from them. It’s totally normal for any of us (all of us!) to start out a new hobby and be so pleased with our results that we can’t even see the difference between what we just did and what a pro would do. Just look at kids…to a 5 year old, his drawing is just as clear and realistic as a Michelangelo. As we grow in our abilities, we start to see the difference. We can skip some of the growing pains by learning from the pros before we start. Pay attention to what makes successful blogs successful and learn how to look good in your own way from the very beginning.
Speaking of looking good…start thinking about your style.
Start developing and refining it. Pinterest is a great tool for this. Create a private board for yourself and start pinning things you really, really love. I’m not talking about things you like, or things you think are cute. I’m talking about things you are crazy about. Things that make you want to yell “IT’S SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE!” Pin tons. Then give it a couple days and come back and give it all the side-eye. Do you still looove it? If not, delete it. Be ruthless and you’ll start to see some trends emerging. Maybe it’s all bright and cheery colors with a dose of fluffy, maybe it’s darker with lots of moody florals and patterns.
Side point (because I’m wordy and can’t help myself): avoid the current trends. No matter how much you liked yellow and gray chevron two years ago, you wouldn’t want it everywhere anymore, you’re over it, readers are over it, everyone’s over it. If you see a pattern or style or font everywhere, just avoid it for now (as of November, 2015, that would be hand-lettered cursive fonts paired with watercolor flowers–trust me, it’s pretty, but it’s so overdone that all it does is make you look just like everyone else). It won’t help in finding your actual, unique style, it will only serve to confuse you.
The whole point is: before you start your blog, you’ll want at least an idea of what your personal style is. Otherwise you’ll end up like I did when I started my personal blog, completely changing it every few months and looking silly in the mean time. Don’t look silly. If you need more help getting your personal style together, contact me and let me know, I’d be happy to steer you in the right direction and share some resources with you.
Lastly, don’t take it too seriously, blogging is fun.
For some, it’s a full-time income, yes. But honestly, that’s a very small percentage. You can make money with your blog, but it will take time (in spite of the articles you’ve seen via Pinterest that promise to triple your following overnight). If you want to make a full-time income with it, it will have to become your full-time job. As in 40+ hours a week. So in the beginning, just have fun. There’s so much to learn, whether it’s about the subject of your blog itself, writing, editing, photography, etc., just keep learning and enjoying the process. Your enjoyment will show through and that’s what’s fun about blogs–whether writing or reading.
If you checked everything off the list and you’re ready to start a blog, read this post. There, I discuss the next steps (the more technical side of getting started) and take the confusion and overwhelm out of choosing a blogging platform (e.g., Blogger, WordPress, Squarespace, Tumblr, etc.).