Recently, I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me for advice on how to start their own blog. I just want to point out that I am in no way, shape, or form a blogging expert. In fact, there are hundreds of other bloggers out there who are WAY better sources for this kind of advice. But, since I’m doing the leg work anyways, I figured I would go ahead and do a series on how to start a blog!
This isn’t going to be one of those series that’s like, “Do this and you will have an absolutely perfect blog and make a ton of money and never make any mistakes!” Because, that’s just not the reality of blogging. Oh Shift, Y’all is actually my fourth blog and it probably won’t be my last (I’m already getting fed up with the name). So I’m going to use this series to help those of you who want to start a blog avoid some of the mistakes I made or at least get you through the rough patches.
So, you want to start a blog? If you’ve continued to read this then the answer is either “Yes” or “I’m thinking about it.” Well, you’ve come to a decent place (I’m not going to say right, see paragraph one). How do you get started? The truth is, there’s no right or wrong way to start a blog. There’s not fool proof method. But there are some things that you should do and know before diving in head first.
First, you should ask yourself a few questions. I will list them below and then go into detail with each of them.
- Why do I want to start a blog?
- What do I want to blog about?
- How serious do I want to be about blogging?
- How anonymous do you want to be?
- How much of an investment do you want to make?
I’m not saying you have to have a major, detailed answer for each of these questions but you should be able to at least have an idea of what an answer to each of them would be. Here’s more in depth reasoning behind these questions.
Why Do I Want to Start a Blog?
The first and perhaps most important question you should ask yourself when you decide you want to start a blog is why. I originally started blogging as a way to get myself writing on a regular basis and to force myself to be more comfortable with my writing and with others reading my writing. (I was painfully shy about my writing in high school). I wrote off and on for a few years, first with Bum Notes (I still love this title, it may need to be resurrected for something) and second with The Bucket List Diaries. When I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, blogging became a way for me to cope with (and sometimes ignore) my problems. The Anxiety Girl Online was my first real stab at taking blogging seriously and I haven’t looked back since. I started Oh Shift, Y’all when I felt I was outgrowing TAGO and have since made it my mission to help other struggling Millennials fight through learning how to adult one day at a time.
Don’t think the reason you want to start a blog doesn’t have to be related to some divine purpose! You could simply want to start a blog as a hobby and that’s fine too! Knowing why you want to blog will help you answer what you want to blog about and how serious you want to take blogging, which is why it is the most important.Knowing why you want to start a blog can help you determine the WHAT of your blog! Click To Tweet
What Do I Want to Blog About?
After you’ve taken some time to answer question one, think about your blogging niche. This is what you’ll be blogging about. Are you going to be a fashion blogger? Do you want to have a lifestyle or food blog? Maybe you want to focus on crafts and hobbies, or sports, etc. The possibilities are literally endless. Pick what you want to blog about and STICK TO IT. This was perhaps my biggest mistake with TAGO. I wanted to help others cope with anxiety but I didn’t actually write a single post about anxiety. That is definitely a problem.
The key with finding your niche is to not box yourself in too much. You want the idea of your blog to be somewhat specific, i.e. food blog, but not too specific, i.e. pasta blog. Seriously, how many times can you write a blog post about pasta? Probably not a lot.When picking your blogging niche, don't get too specific! Click To Tweet
How Serious Do I Want to Be About Blogging?
Here’s a tip, if you don’t take your blog seriously, literally no one else will. If you’re just looking to spout off a few random posts here and there about your day to day life, then that’s okay. But if you want to have a serious blog like the ones you’re a fan of and read religiously, you’re going to have to be pretty serious. What do I mean by blogging seriousness, anyways?
Being a serious blogger doesn’t have to mean you make enough money to be a stay-at-home whatever. I haven’t made a penny off of any blog, ever (unless you count the credit Stitch Fix gave me to try another fix)! I’m okay with that, honestly but it doesn’t mean I take my blog any less serious than those bloggers who do make a lot of money from their blogs. All I mean is, how much time are you willing to put into a blog? Planning, researching, and posting consistently can take up a lot of time so you need to know how much time you’re willing to sacrifice. I try to blog consistently twice a week and add in a few extra posts here and there if the time affords. I also work full time, am a Chloe and Isabel Merchandiser, and a full time graduate student. Planning will become your best friend if you decide to take blogging seriously and are extremely busy all the time, like me.
How Anonymous Do You Want To Be?
It’s hard to believe that in this day and age and with all of our social media and internet interactions that people still don’t understand that once you post something on the internet, it’s there forever. C’mon people, it’s 2015… it’s time! Internet 101: Anything you post is there forever, even if you delete it and ANYONE can find it.
Are your posts going to be kosher enough for a prospective employer? Can you list your blog information on a Resume or graduate school application without getting embarrassed? (I listed TAGO on my application for WVU’s Integrated Marketing and Communications program and it is on all of my personal email signatures).
This is really important information to keep in mind when you’re starting a blog. You should also keep your friends and family in mind if you’re not going to remain anonymous. My family, friends, and boyfriend actively read my blog posts so I try my hardest not to step on anyone’s toes. Does this mean I censor myself all the time? Absolutely not. Recently, with my “Open Letter’s” posts, I have been getting a little more raw but I have yet to hear anyone complain.
How Much of an Investment Do You Want To Make?
There is a never ending list of people who will take your money when it comes to blogging. From domain names to hosting to blog design, blogging can cost a lot of money. But it can also be completely and totally free. You should have an idea on what you’re willing to spend BEFORE you start a blog. Are you going to have a free site (i.e. www.darrianduckworth.wordpress.com) or are you going to purchase a domain name, etc., etc., etc. Don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money to start a blog, that just simply isn’t true. There are pros and cons to going for free versus spending money but in the end your blog is going to be what you make it. My advice? If you’re not sure how serious you want to be as a blogger, go free. If you want to be serious, spend a little. Sites like Namecheap take a lot of pressure out of spending money on your blog when it comes to a domain name and hosting because, shocker, their prices are actually affordable. Don’t fret, there will be a more detailed post on hosting later in the series! Don’t worry about that yet, you’re just getting started!
I hope these questions help you at least a little bit on your way to starting your blog! I plan on adding to this series at least once every two weeks (hopefully). Subscribe by email and/or follow me on social media so you don’t miss a single post in the series! I’ve also put together a Pinterest board which I will be pinning carefully selected blogging resources too (stuff that’s helped me along the way).
I can't wait to start my blog after reading this great post! Click To Tweet
Are you a blogger? What are your tips for those just starting out? What do you wish you would have known when you first started blogging? If you’re a newbie blogger or considering starting a blog, what questions do you have? Let’s start a conversation! Comment below, tweet me @ohshiftyall, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!