Sarah said, “Hi Sarah (great name by the way!) I am sure you’ve gotten this question a thousand times before, but I’m new to the whole blogging world and want to be a part of it! Do you have any advice on how to get started? I’ve been reading a lot of your past posts about design, motivation, specific tips, etc. but I am just wondering what to bite off first. Thanks so much for your time and needless to say, I love your blog :)”
Thanks for your question Sarah! I even got a little flustered thinking about where to start if I were to be back at the beginning of blogging again, but I think I’ve come up with a not-too-intimidating list that should help you jump in with ease.
1. Blogger or self-hosted WordPress (or Tumblr or Typepad or Squarespace)?
Both are good options, if you’re testing the waters and creating a personal blog I’d say go with Blogger, it’s free after all! If you’re blogging for a business or plan on building a site that is more than a blog I’d recommend investing in self-hosted WordPress. (Totally skipping over WordPress.com – doesn’t give you much control over a custom design, but has an easy to use dashboard) You can always transfer your blog to self-hosted WordPress if you decide you want more control over the design and functionality in the future.
2. What will you write about?
I recommend bloggers choose five to 10 topics and stick with those. You can write about anything and everything, but from personal experience I’ve learned that when you narrow your focus the quality of your content increases and your audience will grow. You can always adjust as you go, add new features and retire others, but people like to know what they’re going to get when they visit a blog and similar content will keep them coming back.
Also remember, writing about things you love will be more likely to keep you interested in blogging for a long time rather than blogging about what’s popular and trendy.
3. Create a user-friendly design with personality
I recommend using easy to read fonts, sizing photos to be the same width as your post space, and adding blog intro (who are you and what do you write about), photo and only items readers might be searching for in the sidebar. These posts might help: 10 quick blog fixes, 5 more ways to clean up your blog, and How to create a style guide for your blog.
4. Reach out and get involved
Social media and commenting on other blogs are an important step in building an audience and connecting with others. And frankly, blogging is more fun when you’re not going it alone! Comment on blogs you like, share posts, make some new friends. Make sure to include your social media links somewhere on your blog. Here’s a handy guide for the best times to promote posts on Twitter and Facebook.
A few random blogging tips…
Post on a schedule – one post a week, five posts a week, set a goal and try to stick with it
Try free ad swaps before building a full advertising program
How-tos and lists make great, sharable posts
Add a photo with every post, if you’ve got more than five photos add a page jump
If you’re not writing a personal blog you can still show off your personality – readers like to connect with the person behind the words
Always re-blog posts and photos with proper credit
No auto-play music or video!
Respond to comments and questions posted on your blog
Anyone else have pointers for a first-time blogger?
Original image from Glamour Magazine