Just made your first blog but have no clue what to do next? Or perhaps you’re thinking of starting one, but don’t know where to begin? This step-by-step post is here to help.
The world of blogging can be an intimidating one. But once you get the ball rolling it’s not nearly as hard as it may have first seemed. These starting points will get your blog up and running, looking great, and on its way to success.
So here are the 8 key checkpoints to tick as a brand new blogger:
Your Blogging Platform
The first step when creating a blog is choosing where to host it. Two of the most popular (and free to use) blog hosting platforms are WordPress and Blogger. WordPress has the advantage of having an inbuilt blogging community, which encourages bloggers to follow and comment on each other’s post. It also has a more sophisticated interface, which gives you a wealth of customisation and tool options. But Blogger is often preferred by a large number of bloggers, due to it’s simple to use nature, its clear and presentable blog designs, and the creative freedom that it allows.
Another increasingly popular option is Squarespace. Though very user-friendly, it can be more limiting than other platforms in terms of customisation. But it’s a great option for entry-level bloggers who want to keep their site simple yet still looking good. A Squarespace blog is also a good option if you already have an existing Squarespace website – as the platform allows you to simply utilize its blog feature and add it to your site.
Having your own domain name will get you far in the blogging world, for many reasons. For one, having a personalised link address looks more professional and trustworthy than having a blog that ends in ‘.wordpress.com’ or ‘.blogspot.com’.
And having your own domain is the only way for your blog to gain a Domain Authority number. A ‘DA’ is a score out of 100 that is attached to your blog. This number grows steadily with back links to your blog, and with other good SEO practices. And the higher your number, the higher your blog will rank in Google searches. Blogs with higher DAs are also more sought after for brand collaborations.
For these reasons, it’s best to buy a domain as soon as you start your blog, so that you can start growing your DA right away. This will also avoid confusion further down the line when dealing with a change in blog link.
Securing a domain is simple. Domain hosting sites such as 123 Reg and GoDaddy provide domain names starting at just a few pounds a year. These sites also include step-by-step guides to get your domain up and running, as well as offering 24/7 tech support.
Your Blog Theme
When you create your blog, one of the first things you’ll be prompted to do is choose a blog theme. It’s important to follow this step, as sticking with a default layout could make your site look amateur. Most platforms will provide a range of free theme options. Just make sure your chosen theme has a clear, user-friendly layout. If you don’t like anything that’s on offer, consider looking elsewhere. Sites such as Etsy and Pigdig offer many professional looking blog themes starting at low prices.
It’s also important to choose a theme that’s optimised for mobile. You don’t want to isolate the increasing number of people who are accessing their blogs from their mobile phones or tablets.
Your First Blog Post
Now that your blog is up and running it’s time to create your first blog post! If stuck on what to write, go with what you know. There will be at least a few subject areas where your knowledge could prove valuable to the rest of the online world. Have a brainstorm on what your skills and interests are and you’ll be brimming with blog post ideas in no time.
If you’re unsure on how to combine all the information you’ve gathered into a concise post, then consider containing your writing in the form of a ‘top tips’ article. Not only is this an easy format and segue into blogging, but it’s also one of the most popular and shareable types of blog posts.
Once your creative juices are flowing, why not draft a few other blog posts while you’re at it? Consistency in blogging is key. And if you start off by having a few blog post drafts in your repertoire, you’ll be ahead of the game before you’ve even begun.
Blog writing isn’t meant to be formal. What attracts readers to blogs over more traditional publications is the more relaxed and fun style of writing, which allows the personality of the blogger to shine through. This display of personality builds trust and allows a reader to feel connected to the blogger. You can achieve this effect by writing more conversationally. Use words and phrases that you would actually say in real life conversation.
That being said, it’s still important to be clear and concise in your blog posts. Do pay attention to your grammar, spelling and sentence structure. There are many external programs and plugins that can help you do this, such as Grammarly or your inbuilt spellcheck. Make sure to also preview and proofread your posts before you publish, to check for any niggling errors that you may have missed the first time around.
When it comes to blogs, pictures can be just as important as words. A well-chosen photo can set the tone for your blog post. And the use of multiple images can break apart larger pieces of text and keep readers engaged.
And you don’t need sophisticated equipment to take good blog photography. Thanks to the abundance of photo editing apps that are available, the phone in your back pocket is all you need to produce great photos. Once you’ve taken a picture you like, just play around with filters and lighting until you’re happy with the result.
A popular style of blog photo is the flat lay. You can achieve this style of image by photographing your product or photo-subject from an aerial view. The subject of your photo should be among a backdrop of accessories (such as flower petals, plant pots and cups of coffee), which will be partially out of shot and placed around your object at random.
Photography not your thing? That’s fine too. Instead, opt for using graphics in your posts. These are easy to make thanks to sites and apps such as Canva and Over. These apps will help you create eye-catching graphics, by allowing you to simply take your blog title and place is over a stylised background.
You can also use other people’s images in your blog posts – just make sure they aren’t copyrighted! To avoid any hefty legal bills, never lift pictures straight from search engines. Instead, search for photos within royalty-free image sites such as Unsplash and Pixabay.
Still feel stuck for inspiration for your blog? Then be inspired by other blogs! A great way to find fellow bloggers is through the plethora of online blog communities that exist across the internet. From Facebook groups to hashtags, there are many great ways to not only see what other bloggers are doing, but also to make great new blogger friends.
The blogging community is a very supportive place. And having blogger connections will do wonders when it comes to knowing a core group of people will always check out your posts, and even give you a few shares on social media. There are even threads within online blog communities dedicated to promoting your posts and getting them shared. So join some groups, browse some hashtags and start following your blogging favourites!
Social media is essential for getting your blog out there. Without it, writing blog posts can feel like shouting into the void, with no guarantee that anyone is paying attention. Creating social media pages for your blog will not only help your posts get seen, but will also allow you to build a dedicated blog following. The key social media platforms to utilise are Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
When creating your social media pages, choose a profile picture and cover photo that represent your blog. And try to match your social handle with your blog name. Keeping these elements consistent across all your accounts will create a succinct branding. It will also make it easier for people to find you. And most importantly, include your blog link in your bio, so that it’s the first thing people see when landing on your page!
If you already have social media pages for your business – and your blog is related to your trade – then there’s no need to make a brand new account. Promoting your blog posts on your existing pages will allow your customers to feel more connected to your brand, whilst giving you the benefit of making use of an inbuilt readership.
When it comes to promoting your posts on social media, make sure to include a picture as well as a link in order to draw in more readers. On Instagram – which doesn’t allow hyperlinks in photo captions – simply encourage people to check out your new post by clicking the link in your bio. To gain more social media reach, implement popular hashtags such as ‘#interiorblogger’ and ‘#thehappynow’. You can also make use of retweet Twitter accounts such as ‘@rtlbloggers’, which will automatically share your post to their followers if you tag them.
And don’t promote your posts just once! Feel free to shout about your new blog multiple times before the release of your next post, to catch any people who may have missed it the first time around.
Make sure to create other social media posts aside from just promotional content. Otherwise, your page will come across as disingenuous or spammy. Take time throughout the week to share content from others, whilst adding your own comments and reactions. This will encourage conversation and shares, which will in turn bring more people to your page. Also consider posting your own personal anecdotes and photos, to keep your readers connected and up to date. And don’t forget to engage with your followers and fellow bloggers! Interacting regularly with others on social media is the best way to build a network of engaged readers.