HOW TO START A BLOG IN 6 EASY STEPS
I first started blogging, almost by accident, back in 2005.
The blogging world as we know it was a different landscape then, but admittedly, the seed was planted. Fast-forward to today, and I proudly call myself not only an entrepreneur — but a blogger.
Having navigated those waters both personally and professionally, I’m here today to pull back the curtain on the blogging world and walk you through six simple steps to starting a blog. Over the past few years, blogging has not only evolved into a powerful marketing tool for businesses, but it also remains one of the most effective channels for digital storytelling.
Like any worthwhile project, the hardest part is getting started and taking that first step. When faced with fear, change or the unknown, most of us revert to one simple tactic: inaction. So, before we dive in let me just say for the record that you’ll never feel ‘ready’. There will always be another design course to take, book to read, event to attend, more money to earn or confidence to build. The excuses are endless — so embrace the unknown and dive in!
Let’s get started.
Know Your ‘Why’
Before I even begin to talk tech, I want to talk about the most important step you need to be aware of: understanding why you are starting. The reasons will vary, but knowing why you started will help on those days when you need to muster up that extra passion to keep pushing through and forge ahead with a clear mindset. Follow your passion and chase your dream —beware that blogging is not a direct super highway to overnight millions or social fame. Blog from the heart and the rest will come later, but always start from a genuine place of passion.
Identify Your Audience
I’m a big believer in the saying that you can’t be all things to all people – the same goes for blogging. By understanding your why, you can then clearly focus and define who you are writing for. If you are a passionate cook and want to create a blog focused on healthy living as a way to share your recipes and inspire others, then your audience is also going to be health-minded, home chefs or foodies that share your love of food. Ask yourself who are your ideal readers? For example, when I first starting out I wrote a personal blog about my life in Australia — so my ideal readers were mostly family and friends. With my existing business, Blog Society, I write for readers who are mostly female, have an interest in blogging or creative business and are looking to empower themselves and establish stronger connections to those with similar interests. Know your audience and what they want and the content becomes clear.
Choose Your Blog Platform
Now you’ll need to make a decision about what kind of platform you’d like to use. This is entirely a personal decision and depends on your own needs and where you want to take your blog. Things to consider are design, maintenance, cost and functionality. Luckily, you’ve got options that fit into all categories and I’ve listed three top choices below for guidance. Always do proper research to find the right fit for you. I suggest keeping things simple to start – get into your blogging mojo and then bring on some of the bells and whistles.
Some of the most popular options are:
- Blogger: Great for starters, free and easy to use but has limited functionality. This is what I used to start my own personal blog and it’s worked a treat for my own purposes.
- WordPress: With free and paid options, WordPress is by far the most popular (and some would say preferred) platform. There are options aplenty and some may require a bit more hand holding, so do your homework. Once you do get used to WordPress, it’s hard to beat, given the unlimited options. The majority of my professional marketing career has been spent working on WordPress sites and blogs.
- Squarespace: A more visual platform, I included Squarespace in this list as I actually use it to host my own Blog Society website. It’s easy to use, relatively low cost and has a dream support team to help out. The downside is the limited functionality, but if you’re a creative with powerful images, this might be a good platform to look into.
Once you’ve figured out your why, who you are writing for and what platform you are going to use, it’s time to get to the fun stuff: design and creating the right ‘look’ for your blog. Each platform offers various themes or design elements that will help create a custom look, so take the time to think about the colours, layout and personality. Your branding should fit with what you are writing about and who you are writing for.
Writing is hard and finding your own authentic voice can be an even harder task, however, with practice and over time, I promise you that voice will develop. When you start to blog, don’t force a particular style, try not to use jargon you normally would never utter in normal conversation or take on a persona that feels unnatural. Keep it simple and just allow the beautiful true version of you to emerge.
How could we forget? This is the MOST important lesson when it comes to starting a blog — have fun with it! You are connecting, telling stories and capturing moments that you will treasure and that have the ability to form connections and opportunities beyond your wildest dreams. Don’t be afraid, don’t hesitate and don’t lose sight of the fact that blogging is and should be a joyful experience.
Ready to start a blog? Let us know your questions below!
Originally from Boston, Jaclyn Carlson is the founder of Blog Society, a global community where blogging, business and creativity collide. A passionate creative matchmaker, she is a social media addict prone to wasting hours on Pinterest and has had a long love affair with the digital marketing world. She believes in the power of collaboration and has a passion for helping businesses and bloggers tell their brand story. She aims to offer like-minded and passionate individuals the opportunity to connect and inspire one another through a series of classes, workshops and gatherings both online and off. You can find her on Instagram or join her tribe here.