Since I’ll be staying busy during the quarantine by blogging and writing, I thought I’d share how to get started on your own blogs in case you feel inspired to write as well. I find writing is a really relaxing, creative, and fun experience for me and I love being able to connect with people through their writing. In this chaotic time, connections, especially online, are crucial to maintaining a positive attitude and mental health.
Writing is a way that allows me to escape moments of hysteria like this, and I wanted to encourage others to do the same. And while blogging and writing is completely leisurely for me, posting and maintaining upkeep, not to mention creating and designing my blog, does take some effort and can be daunting at first glance. Therefore, I thought I’d provide a beginner’s guide to starting your own blog.
Considering you have the enthusiasm to start a blog, formulating a concept would seem fairly simple, right? Obviously, this is assuming you have chosen a general ballpark for your blog. Unfortunately, this guide will not provide starting-point inspiration for your blog, but is used to guide your ideas in an organized manner. The tricky aspect of a blog’s concept is creating a wide enough, yet specific enough, happy-medium of an umbrella to guide your content. If your niche is too broad, or just non-existent, differentiating your blog from the millions of other at-home authors will become a challenge and consistency within your posts will be lost.
The goal is to have a reader enjoy your post and feel inclined to scroll through and equally enjoy your other posts. If everything on the blog is completely unrelated, a reader may find your site to be a one-hit-wonder fueled by the initial post that drew their interest. However, if everything is too closely related, a blog can become monotone. For example, having a cooking blog but dedicating every recipe to cookies lacks variation.
Finding the perfect topic to encapsulate your interests while keeping this scale in mind can be achieved by the following methods. The first method is what I call the adjective activity combo. This is perfect for blogs centered around hobbies or activities and are written from a casual “I” perspective. The broad key is the activity and the adjective incorporates specificity. Sustainable gardening, healthy baking, simple sewing. The second method is better for those interested in more than one topic but still writing in a personal style. Lifestyle: skincare, fitness, and beauty; Biology: our ocean’s plants and animals; Movie reviews: horror, thriller, and Halloween films.
The great aspect of running your own blog is you are your own boss. The schedule is entirely up to you. I suggest aiming for consistency, and quality rather than quantity. If uploading two posts of a month won’t be maintained with ease, or receive your maximum effort, extending the deadline will be necessary. It’s better to have your best work less frequently than stressfully uploading to meet a deadline you set yourself. By being your own boss, don’t become your worst enemy by setting super strict guidelines. Even if some weeks are busier or more inspiration-filled than others, it’s important for a reader’s discretion to stay on schedule. It doesn’t even need to be once a week! Examples include a biweekly post, or every third Wednesday of the month.
This is a section that is the most individualistic, creative, and my opinion, fun! Stylistically and content wise, everything is up to you! When it comes to mechanics, I’d suggest using Google Docs as a free grammar and spell-check are already in place. As much as I love seeing the pride my family members and friends get from finding a typo or grammar error in my writing, it’s a little embarrassing considering I’ve made myself out to be quite the writing connoisseur. Even with Google’s spell and grammar check, re-read your post multiple times in your head and out loud to ensure no mistakes or wording issues an online program may not catch. Or someone you consider to be intelligent to give it a quick run-through. However, my stubbornness often gets the best of me and I refuse every suggestion given to me. Yet, I don’t hesitate when it comes to correcting others.
Another aspect to consider for your posts is length. I’d suggest anywhere between 500-2000 words and the addition of multiple, relevant pictures. However, when it comes to recipes, or other instructions try and keep the word count merely the directions and try and not go overboard with a fluffy narrative before getting to the bulk of your topic. And, don’t shy away from images! Even the most sophisticated readers can admit to enjoying visuals.
4. Website and Design
Choosing a website and design can go complicated really quickly. Since writing about web design would take me pages and pages and really varies from person to person and site to site, looking up a beginners website guide, specifically for blogs, is your best bet. I’ll provide some helpful tips though. I found Wordpress to be the easiest domain. It had the most website names available without the addition of Wordpress.com or .org attached to the end, as many other domain sites do. I chose the yearly Wordpress subscription, which cost around $100, but will vary depending on the exclusivity of the name you choose.
Wordpress is the easiest in terms of site design and guides you step by step in choosing titles, home pages, colors, etc. for the design of your blog. It also has templates to choose from, which I’d highly recommend. Since everything else about your blog is done from scratch, these templates give you some direction and will maintain enough of your own say into site design. I found choosing which colors coordinated nicely to be a very fun task and switched up many of my templates initially.
For those a little less creative (and tasteful), a template will be your best friend. Although initially a little confusing, thousands of Youtube videos and websites can aid you in your site design if the Wordpress guide isn’t watered down enough. I consider myself to be pretty competent and I was stumped for days by where the images I uploaded were going. However, once the site is fully designed and looks less like a blank, barren wasteland of a website, actually uploading your posts is super simple. And, by subscribing to Wordpress you are able to follow and connect with other sites and their creators under Wordpress’s domain which can build community.
If creating your own website is too big of a step right now, another option is to apply to be a writer on a site like The Teen Magazine. Articles like this one are written by high school or college students, and you can apply to the TTM writer team by filling out the application here.
You made it to the last step! By now, you may quite possibly have your blog completely ready to go and up and running. However, you may be limited to yourself as the only reader. That’s where advertising becomes your best friend. A wonderful aspect of this digital age we live in is the ability to advertise everything for free on social media. If your blog is going to be frequent, meaning one or more posts a week, starting a separate Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, can attract people to your content. By posting snippets of your writing process or posts themselves, you build interest in your writing. If you plan on advertising on your personal social media account, uploading a link in your Instagram bio, attached to a Snapchat story, or creating an Instagram highlight reel highlighting your posts, are all good options. You know your audience best, so get creative with what will appeal the most.
Another way to bring more visitors to your site is by word of mouth. Seriously, talking about your blog immediately creates intrigue. As I never shy from talking about myself, plugging my blog into the conversation has become incredibly simple. Try discussing your blog in conversation and referencing your posts. Once visitors and readers have been corralled, implement a subscription button on your blog, sending an email or notification to anyone who signs up.
As you can see, blogging is a little tougher than it looks. However, practice makes perfect and after a post or two, you will become an expert. Even after changing one color on my website’s home page I was giving myself a pat on the back. So, reward yourself for all of your hard work and gloat in all the praise your readers will give your blog. Not to mention, the pride of creating your own website!