I first stumbled across blogging when a post by Hannah Gale cropped up on my Facebook feed back in autumn 2014 and her wonderfully witty yet poignant blog opened my eyes to a whole world online. One I fell promptly head over heels for. A space to express yourself online, develop and learn more skills and meet like-minded and wonderful people.
It took me a little while to start my own blog, mostly due to a lack of confidence, but I also found information on actually starting one that made sense with my limited tech knowledge hard to find. Google is a minefield and none of the articles that were coming up in my searches where making much sense to a total beginner like me.
After a bit of muddling around and asking a friend for advice, I started on Weebly, tried to do Blogger and eventually ended up on WordPress. I thought I’d put together my own little compact guide to starting a blog as a few people have asked me about it recently (okay, two, it was two people) and I wanted to put my six pence in the lot. I hope this helps anyone who is wanting to dig their toe into blogging or take their blog up a notch.
WordPress Account | As I mentioned, I originally started my blogging journey on a Weebly site called What She Did or something along those lines. It has now been deleted from the internet and I found Weebly quite an easy site to work with. However, I don’t think it has enough flexibility and ultimately, I decided to move onto WordPress. A WordPress account will be your best friend in blogging. Firstly, you need to sign up and get yourself one of them. Then you’ll be able to have a WordPress.com blog.
Access To A Laptop/Computer | Blogging is a technology based hobby so having access to a laptop or desktop will help you be able to blog, and regularly. Most people have access to one but if not, local libraries have computers for public use as do some internet cafes (like my beloved iCafe) which can be used for a small fee.
Email Address | Emails are a huge part of blogging – you’ll need an email address to both register with WordPress and use for communication. You can register for free domains with the likes of Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, really take your pick of options.
Access To A Camera/Phone | Photography has become a huge part of blogging, especially in the last couple of years, and have become a huge focus for driving traffic to your blog. It is another great way to express yourself creatively and compliment your writing. A lot of bloggers use DSLRs such as the Olympus Pen but a lot of phones will be able to do the same job. I use my iPhone 7 for every image I take, on both my blog and my Instagram. Using a phone also allows you to use phone editing apps. My personal favourite is VSCO but I know a lot of people use Lightroom and Snapseed.
Socials | Social media now comes hand in hand with blogging which is both overwhelming and exciting. It allows you to diversify yourself over several platforms and keep a connection with your readership. I would recommend starting Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter accounts, a separate Facebook page for your blog and linking your blog to Bloglovin.
Twitter Chats | I used to take part in a lot of Twitter chats and they are great way to chat to other bloggers and discover new blogs. You can get your name out there, learn more about your fave bloggers if they are involved and be a part of the community. Some chats focus on certain topics all the time whilst others a more wide lifestyle range. As I don’t have the time to be involved in Twitter chats as much anymore, I’m not the best versed in pointing out where to go but I do still get involved with #BlogosphereChat and #HashtagAuthentic.
Instagram Hashtags | Instagram is a huge part of blogging and is one of my favourite platforms. 2018 has shown the rise of hashtags being associated with communities and I love the option of being able to follow hashtags on Instagram. They are a great way to share your images in visual communities that you love and associate with. My favourites #theuncoolclub, #slowsundayclub, #blogandbeyond, #thisishowihueit, #reallifeandstyle, #happyselves, #nestandthrive and, if I may, my own hashtag #tenlittlethingslist.
Facebook Groups | Facebook is often considered to be the most dead of social media, mainly associated with your older relatives and used to stalk people you went to school with. However, Facebook groups are your friend. It is through Facebook groups that I’ve come across most of the bloggers in my area thanks to regional groups. If you’re Scotland/Glasgow based I would recommend Glasgow Bloggers, Scottish Bloggers Collective and Scottish Bloggers. Blogger communities on Facebook don’t have to regional – my favourite to be a part of is The Content Crowd. You can also find groups for finding blogger opportunities (Official UK Bloggers and UK Blogger Opportunities).
Twitter Accounts/Threads | Twitter is one of the main platforms I use to share my blog posts and is a great place for being a part of the community. Accounts will retweet your blog posts if you tag them/use their hashtags and often host chats and threads to share your socials or latest blog posts. My favourites are Southampton Bloggers @sotonbloggers (for post sharing), Bloggers Tribe @bloggerstribe (for post sharing and chats), Blogosphere Magazine @BlogosphereM (for chats and magazine information) and Bee Chat @beechat (for post sharing and chats).
Word Of Mouth | Be brave with your blog. Don’t be afraid to share your voice online and across your social media platforms. I occasionally share posts on my personal Facebook if I think my friends will find them relevant or interesting. My parents know I blog and often share it around their friends. Tell your friends, they’ll be proud of you, and if they’re not, they suck and you need new friends. I love finding out people blog by simply talking to them so don’t discount word of mouth as a great place to share your platform.
A Domain | If you’ve been blogging for a while but want to polish up your blog, you need your own domain. These quite easy to buy. I know a lot of people use 123-reg but I personally bought my domain from the host I use GoDaddy. When I started at looking at going self-hosted, I followed this guide by Lily Pebbles.
Somewhere To Host | Once you have a domain, you need to somewhere to host your website. Self-hosted WordPress blogs are the best places to start, so the WordPress account you might have made earlier will come in handy! I self-host through GoDaddy, which I chose through reading the Lily Pebbles post mentioned above. I will hold my hands up and admit that I didn’t move all my content myself. The company I was receiving a theme from, Blogerize, where moving it for me and I know Pipdig offer a similar service.
A Theme | A self-hosted blog allows you to have any sort of theme on your blog – which is divine when you want to brand and style your blog how you want. You can purchase themes online from lots of designers on Etsy or my personal favourite (and where my theme is from) Pipdig. I cannot stress how amazing the service at Pipdig is and I have had no problems with my theme.
Extra Tip | Instead of having a WordPress account and going self-hosted through WordPress, I’ve also heard very good things about building your website through Squarespace. I don’t have much to say on this as I have no experience with it myself but I’ve heard a lot of good things if you’re looking for a WordPresss alternative.
Drive & Passion | This is one of the most important things you need when starting a blog. You have to love what you’re doing. Be inspired by it, thrive of it, enjoy being creative and using your spare time to create this platform online. Find a niche or don’t, it is up to you. Make friends, connect on social media, comment on other blogs, just enjoy yourself. As long as you always remember why you love blogging and you want to keep going, you’ll be able to start and keep a blog!
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