May 21, 2012

{Tips for Blogging, Part One} Getting Started Blogging


This is the first in a week long series about blogging.  It isn't really a "Hey, I'm a huge expert on blogging, so come do what I say" sort of thing, but more of a "Let me share my experiences and mistakes and lessons learned and then you can figure out what will work best for you and your blog" sort of thing.

There are a lot of sub topics to cover when we talk about starting a blog.  If I tried to answer every question you could possibly have this post would be a mile and a half long.  I'm pretty sure it would be faster for me to fly to all of your houses and put on a pot of coffee and coach you through the process (but unfortunately I don't offer that service!) So instead of trying to cover everything I am just going to list some of the things you need to consider before starting a blog and some helpful resources and links to aid you along the way.

9 Things to Consider Before Starting a Blog (or now, if you've already started it!)

1. What is your blog about?  What is your mission statement? What sets you apart from the crowd? What unique angle or perspective can you bring to the topic?

Your niche can be flexible.  Here I am on a homemaking blog blogging about blogging!  You don't need to be entirely confined inside your blog's stated topic, but you do need to a have a short,simple answer to the question "what is your blog about?"

6 Tips For Finding Your Blog Niche at Independent Fashion Bloggers
If God Had a Blog…Finding Your Niche at Allume Blog


2. Find your voice.
How are you going to speak to your audience.  Are you funny?  Authoritative? Down to earth? Sarcastic? A little bit kooky?   Listen to how you speak with your friends and find ways to translate that to the written word.  This will take practice, you will get better at it as you go and your readers will come to expect a certain cadence and tone from your writing.  Like Nester Smith of Nesting Place tends to write in these fabulous long run on sentences that convey her excitement and sometimes anxiety.  By reading her words, you feel like you know her.  How are your readers going to know you?

Finding Your Blog’s Unique Voice at ProBlogger
Guide To Finding Your Blogging Voice at David Risley.com


3. Decide what you want your blog to do for you.  Is it a hobby?  A part time job?  A full time job? 
You are going to approach blogging a lot differently if you hope it will put your husband through med school than if you want to share cute pictures of your kids with relatives across seas.

I've chosen to treat my blog as a part-time job.  I don't feel like my life right now permits me much more commitment to it than that, and that's okay.  And, in case you're curious, right now my blog pays me about as much as I would make working 25-30 hours a week outside of the home. Not too shabby considering I spend the vast majority of my time pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen.

I will talk more about how to make money with your blog later this week.


4. What blogging platform will you use? Blogger, Wordpress, typepad, or another?  
I use Blogger, and I am very happy with it. The design features seem to work how I think and I find it very user friendly.  And it's free...completely free.   Many professional bloggers prefer Wordpress, and that's fine.  When I first began my blog I was concerned about choosing Blogger because Wordpress is considered so standard, but I discovered that some of my favourite  blogs are on Blogger and that made me more comfortable with my own personal preference.

I tried to find a link for you that would compare the two in an impartial way, but I couldn't find one.  Everyone has an opinion!  So explore your options and decide what works best for you.


5. Are you going to buy your own domain?
If you are completely new to blogging,you may not even understand the question.  So let me explain.  If you start a blog with Blogger, your web address will be YourBlog'sName.blogspot.com.  If you start it with the free version of Wordpress it will be YourBlog'sName.wordpress.com.  But you can purchase a domain from a site such as GoDaddy.com, and then your website's address could be www.YourBlog'sName.com   Which looks more professional, is easier to remember,and doesn't cost very much at all.

6.Are you prepared to receive some negative comments.  Honestly, I wasn't.  It didn't even occur to me that people would have anything nasty to say to someone who blogs about taco seasoning and throw pillows.  But they do Blogging has given me thicker skin.  

If you're blogging about your house, are you okay with people saying they hate aspects of the refuge you call home? If you're blogging about your life, can you handle it if someone says you're doing it wrong?  If you're blogging about political issues, are you ready for a fierce, emotionally charged debate?  If you're blogging about your struggles, your frustrations, your hurts or your health, are you prepared to shed some tears in front of your computer screen?

Please don't let this point dissuade you from starting a blog. But consider it.  Pray about it.  Prepare for it. I will be sharing a little bit later this week about dealing with negative comments, but at this point I just want you to be aware that they exist.

7.Your blog's name and design.
If you are anything like me you were doodling website layouts and brainstorming titles long before considering any of these other parts of blogging.  And yes, your name and design are important.  They set the tone of your blog, they tell people a lot before they've even read your first word.

Will you design your own blog? Or will you pay somebody to do it?  I started with a simple Blogger template and tweaked my HTML until it looked something like I wanted it to.  Don't get scared off by the word HTML, there are a multitude of tutorials out there for any design changes you may want to implement, and you don't have to remember a thing from your high school web design class in order to tweak your blog to your liking. But if that isn't a skill you're interested in learning, you can pay a designer or bribe a friend to do it for you.

8.Brainstorm some blog post topics.  Make a list of topics you want to cover.  Aim for fifty ideas. a hundred is better. Some of these ideas will never come to fruition, and that's okay.  But there will be times when you have no idea what to blog about and your list will help.

How to Launch a Blog and Have Fresh Content for Weeks at ProBlogger
My Free Printable Blog Post Planner from me!

9. Just do it.  Go start a blog on one of the free blogging platforms.  Do it today.  It doesn't have to be your forever blog....just get your feet wet and see what it's like.  Name it "Susie's Practice blog" or "Testing, testing. One. Two. Three" and play with the options and settings and designs.
 

Helpful Resources:
25 Blogging Tips for Newbies and Veterans at Jeff Goins Writer
ProBlogger’s Guide to your First Week of Blogging an Ebook at ProBlogger
21 Surefire Tips for a Successful Blog Launch at Aviva Directory


Whew!  Day one was a doozy.   I hope you're not feeling too overwhelmed!  Tomorrow I will be talking about growing your readership, so stay tuned!


Edit: Here are the links to the rest of the series!

32 comments:

  1. that is amazing that you can make blogging a full time job! what a blessing!

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  2. I look forward to reading more of your tips. I have had my blog for a long time now, but I still consider myself a major rookie on this whole issue. :) I'm still trying to figure out what I should have as my "main topics." I love to write about so many things, and I tried to keep from saying that I'm only a writer of such, and such topics because that definitely wouldn't be true.

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  3. Thank you for this article! I'm a little overwhelmed with all the information, but maybe I can print it out and study it? Every since my health took an unexpected 'dive', I've toyed with the idea of blogging, but didn't know where to start!

    I'm thrilled with your sincerity at wanting to help others get started in the new world (to me) of blogging! Thank you, again.......I'm so excited I want to send you a thank you gift! Would you like a 'Made by Me' bookmark?!

    Sincerely,
    Marie

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  4. This is a great post. I'm looking forward to the series. I'll be passing it on to others! I love your blog, btw, and have always been glad I found it :).

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  5. Can't wait to see what other tips you have in store for us this week.

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  6. Love this! Just started my blog for fun, and I'm trying to learn as much as I can about blogging in hopes I can someday take evolve the blog into more of a part time gig! Long ways to go because I am pretty computer illiterate, but thanks for starting this series! :)

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  7. Great post! I've been blogging for quite a while - just for fun - and these tips are *just* what a beginner needs! I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

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  8. This is a great post and topic for the week! I'm excited to see what all you have to share!

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  9. Thanks for sharing your success story with us! I've had my blog about 6 months and struggle with growing my readership. I also know I'm too inconsistent with my posting so I am definitely going to download your planning guide!!!

    I can't wait to see what's next!

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  10. Thank you so much! I am also inconsistent with my posts and can't really decide what I want my blog to be about. I love so many things. Your blog is awesome and I appreciate the tips!

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  11. I love love love your blog! I'm really excited about the tips for blogging series! I just started a blog, and this is exactly the kind of tips I'm looking for. :) Thank you!!

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  12. Started a blog 2 weeks ago so this is perfect timing. Waiting to hear your other pearls of wisdom!

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  13. Wow, looking forward to the rest of the series. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  14. This will be very interesting to follow and learn from, being a relatively new blogger (going for a year now).
    One thing I've noted, but this might be personal preference, is that too many photos (>30) tend to put me off reading the whole thing, except when it's a tutorial requiring pictures.

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  15. As a NEWBIE at the blogging world I am looking forward to your future posts on this :) THANKS!

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  16. I am so glad I found this. You inspired me to go ahead and start my blog. Now I'm lost on what to do but following your tips is helping me a lot. I look forward to this week and learning all you have to share.

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  17. You are an answered prayer. I have a few blogs about certain topics but they are more of pictoral journeys and I'm only followed by friends and family. Two weeks ago, I finally got a POV that I knew I was meant to follow and I grappled with the idea of possibly blogging as a part-time job since I will be laid off soon (company buy-out). I have prayed anxiously and researched and was overwhelmed. I was up until 3:30am last night/this morning worried about if this was the right choice. And lo and behold, I go through my emails and one of my favorite bloggers (that would be you! :)) is posting about the ins and outs of how to blog! God is so amazing, it's comical sometimes. Thank you for posting this- I look forward to it!

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    1. Wow. God IS amazing, isn't he? I am so glad you've found my post helpful :)

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  18. Thanks for sharing your insight. I've come across many blogging guides, and your frank honesty and depth are refreshing, There are so many angles and opinions out there, it's good to be able to use fellow-blogger insight to develop your own. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!

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  19. Although I've been blogging for about 1 1/2 yrs I thought this was a great read. Gonna check out Day 2, also. :) Wowsers! Good for you on the income, too. How long did it take you to get to that point and how much time per week do you spend blogging. Okay, maybe you answer that in Day 2. :)

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    1. Thanks Becky. I was blogging here for about a year before I made my first dollar,and it grew quickly from there. The extra income is a real answer to prayer. :)

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  20. I am so excited about this series! I have been thinking of starting a blog for about 6 months now. I am very nervous about the technical side. My prayer would be that it would eventually bring in income (though I know that takes a long time). We are trying to keep me home with the kiddos, but could for sure use the extra income. I have been writing a caringbridge blog for my daughter for the past year and a half. I enjoy the writing very much and think I would enjoy writing about more then just our medical journey. Anyway, thanks! Looking forward to the posts!

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  21. I never thought of blogging for money - how does that work?? When I started my REmissionary blog, I had visions of beginning to make things from old stuff and showing how I did it. Then my husband suggested I should try to sell the things I make and do a reverse tithe on them for missions. That will take the blog in a whole different direction, once I figure out how to do that.

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  22. Great idea for a post! Thanks for your help, it's awesome that you can call it a part-time job.

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  23. Thanks for the article. I have one question, though. When you purchase a new domain name, do you lose followers? I'm worried about my followers (the few I have, lol) that read through RSS not getting my posts anymore because my name has changed. Can you give any insight regarding this?

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  24. Very helpful. Thank you for posting!

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  25. Awesome starting out guide. I really like how you mention the decisions one has to make in creating a blog. Also helps for down the road to have a firm foundation and knowing the guidelines for your blog.

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  26. Thanks for the tips. Very helpful for when figuring out all that one needs to know to start out.

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  27. http://rl-photography.blogspot.com/
    Thank you for the tips. I started a blog awhile back and would like to turn it into income. I know that I have a lot to learn and this helped out a bunch. Thanks again

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  28. Honestly I let out a little yelp of excitement in my head when I came across this post! I just relaunched my blog earlier this week with a new energy and new motivation to really make a go of it. I'm as SO GLAD I found your post. Hopefully making a part-time job out of it. I was glad to hear you are using Blogger as well. I struggled with using Wordpress instead but found it a little more complicated than I wanted it to be. Thanks again! I'm off to read your other posts about blogging.

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  29. Hi Kelly!
    My daughter sent me your link on blogging. Thank you for being so candid about blogging, I would really like to increase my viewers and also be able to earn money doing what I love! You have given me some very good ideas!

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  30. What are you suggestions with limited name or blogger name as opposed to your common name through google plus? Are there safety concerns, especially with having young children? I'm new to this, sorry if the answer should be obvious.

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