Wednesday, May 14, 2014
How to start a blog, tips for starting a blogging, blogging 101, self hosted blogging, wordpress blog

I get asked the question: "So, how do you start a blog?" on a pretty regular basis. It's usually accompanied with Why did you start blogging. The why is an important part of starting a blog, but I'll get to that in minute. Since I get this question often, I thought I would just sit down and share how to start a blog. Hopefully I can encourage you to take the plunge, if you're teetering on the fence about joining us in blogland. If you're new to the blogging world, a hearty Welcome! Hopefully you find some helpful info here!

Let's get started! First things first..

• DECIDE WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO BLOG ABOUT. This goes back to the Why of blogging. I started blogging because I wanted to create a happy, creative space where I could share what I love: fashion, food, beauty tips + memorable life moments, and connect with other young women through those things. It's about building relationships and hopefully sharing a little inspiration, whether that be beauty or fashion inspiration, or even inspiring someone to get in the kitchen and try a new recipe! Lifestyle blogger here!

So why do you want to blog. What do you enjoy? What are you passionate about? Find your niche. Do you love fashion? Great! Fashion blogging is your niche. Share and style the latest trends, share your personal style, help others find their personal style! Maybe you're a young mom. Mommy blogger would be your path. Share things you've learned as a mom, talk about your kids, host kid friendly giveaways, and review kid friendly products. Maybe fitness blogger is your niche. Share ways to stay fit and maintain healthy eating. There are so many different niches that you can choose from. You can zone in on one topic or incorporate more than one, which would fall under the lifestyle blogger niche.

Here are a few examples of bloggers rocking there niche!

• Fashion Blogger  |  Because Shanna Said So.
• Fitness Blogger  |  Lauren Gleisberg.
• Beauty Blogger  |  Maskcara.

• DECIDE WHICH BLOGGING PLATFORM TO USE. You can create a free blog on Wordpress or Blogger, as I have. This just works best for me right now.  A lot of blogs are created using the Wordpress blogging platform. Personally, I am very content with Blogger and have learned a lot about coding through it! ( Major Bonus ). When deciding what platform to use you need to determine whether you want a hosted or open source self-hosted platform. A hosted platform is housed on the platform's server. So, if you use Blogger, your blog is hosted on the Blogger server; if you use, your blog is housed on the server. A self-hosted blog is housed on your own server, which is usually a third party that you pay to host your blog. For instance, if you use you can download the open source version of the software and upload it to you own hosting and then run everything yourself.  Web Hosting Hub is one of the most reliable options for this. It starts at just $4.99 a month + you get a free domain name included in your hosting package for the first year, and it is easy to navigate if you're a beginner.

• Hosted Blog Pro: Hosted sites make it super easy for you to start a blog and get a feel for it without spending any money right out of the starting gate. You're free to focus on your blog posts without having to really know how the system works. This is the easiest option if you're a complete beginner. and Blogger are both free platforms. 

• Self-hosted Pro: You own it all, and control it all. The con to that is you have to become comfortable with HTML and CSS so you can really customize your blog.

Web Hosting Hub has a one-click-installation option that is perfect for beginners! This will help you get your blog online quickly, and you don't have to be computer savvy to do it!

Self-hosting Options:
 Web Hosting
• Blue
• Site

CHOOSE YOUR BLOG & DOMAIN NAME.Your blog/domain name is important. It gives people a snapshot of your blog. My blog name is more personal. The town that I live in is small. In a way it's kind of like living in the boondocks, if you come from or aspire to live in a big city. That's where the Boone comes from, Boondocks. It's my way of representing, with affection, where I come from. I happen to be one of those people that aspires to live in a big hustle and bustle city, and I also love fashion. If you've been following along for a little bit, you'll know that I adore owls. Owls with big eyes! So, the Owl represents my love of big cities and fashion. It's the hopeful dreamer in me. A big city heart in a small town girl. Boone+Owl represents me; It's where I'm from, what I love, and it's my dreams. 

That is what your blog name should be. Choose something that has meaning to you. The world of blogging is quite over saturated so go for a simple name that represents you or what your blog is about. You want people to remember your blog easily. Make a list of potential names. Play around with it. Then sift through and pick the best match for you and the blog space and content that you want to create! Make it your own!

+ Just so we're straight
Blog Name = Boone + Owl
Domain =

You don't have to make your Blog name and your Domain name the same, but I do recommend it. This is important - When you're picking your Domain, check other social media to make sure that it's available on those sites as well. If you use the same name on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc, it will help solidify your brand.

Here's a fun tool to help you find the perfect Blog/Domain Name
• Name

Style Your Blog. Do you want your blog to be colorful? Maybe you like a minimalist approach. Do you like modern clean lines? You want your design to stand out, but not be distracting from your content. Decided on a color scheme, a theme, how many columns you want, and what sidebar items you want displayed. If you're not HTML and CSS savvy, then you'll need to enlist the help of someone who is! There are some awesome graphic designers out there that can help you hone in on a theme, and design your blog elements for you. Some will even install your new blog design. They often offer pre-made templates that you can purchase as well.

Some talented graphic designers to help you create a beautiful space -
• Melissa Rose Design
• Aubrey Kinch Design
• Rekita Nicole Design
• Kate Jordan Design

If you want to try your hand at blog design here are two of my favorite sites with great tutorials -
• xomisse
• Design Your Own Blog

I personally prefer to tinker with my blog's design myself. I'm picky that way. The design is always being tweaked and improved. I'm the kind of person that looks at my blog as never quite finished. I love creating new elements. It's actually a lot of fun. So if you have a designing bend, I encourage you to tinker with it. Read a few tutorials and test your hand at coding!

Content Is King. Put out great content and the readers will come! ( thanks Kristen! ). As one of my blogging friends put it: Be you. Be original. Consistent, quality content is vital to your blogging endeavors, but always make sure it's genuine. Find your writing voice, and share your content from that space. If you're naturally playful with your words let that be a part of your writing. Always just be yourself. That's what will keep people coming back: Great content and a genuine voice.

Here are some bloggers that are completely themselves and own their blogging voice!
• Jillian Lorraine
• The Freckled Fox
• Much Love Illy

Create a schedule. Whether you blog everyday ( what sorcery! ), three to four times a week, or maybe  alternate weekends. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it! Readers will learn your schedule and keep coming back.

Visual aids are important. Every post on your blog should have a pinable image at the beginning of your post. This engages readers visually and encourages sharing of your content. Vertical images are repined more often so crop your image for pinablilty, and add a descriptive but concise title to draw interest! You don't need any fancy or expensive tool for this. Picmonkey will do the trick if you're a beginner.

If you're feeling computer savvy, and use Blogger, here is a great tutorial for adding a custom pin-it hover button to your blog images - How To Add A Pinterest Hover Button To Blogger Images.

Another visual aid that is wonderful are videos. Try a how-to approach to your area of expertise! Those are the most searched and viewed videos. Here is a great example of a how-to video done well - Twist me Pretty. Just scroll done Abby's post a little bit for the video.

Engage your readers! Ask them a question at the end of your post. If you did a fashion post ask them what trend their loving right now, or how they would have styled the main piece in your outfit. Make them a part of it and help them engage with your content. A huge part of this is making it easy for your readers to comment on your blog. Don't make your readers login to anything. If it's too difficult for them to comment, they won't.

• Disqus is THE option for easy commenting. It works with Wordpress and Blogger and just takes a simple one time install to automatically add it to all of your posts. I use Disqus, as do most of the blogs I faithfully read and come across in my blog discovering. It's a fantastic tool!

+ Remember, you might not always receive positive feedback, it happens. Don't let that discourage you! If someone leaves a negative comment, take it with a grain of salt and keep on trucking! It's not always necessary to respond to those kinds of comments. If you do choose to respond, respond with a clear head and not out of discouragement.

TWEET. SHARE. PIN. REPEAT. Tweet about your posts, share them on Instagram, pin them on Pinterest. If you don't share your content readers won't know it's there! Make sure everyone can follow you on all of your social media and make sure it's easy to do so. Put your social media buttons in a location on your blog where they are seen readily, and ensure that they open your social media in a new window.

Network with your readers!

I have my TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest apps all lined up on my iPhone so I can easily share and engage with my followers as I come and go. Share with them! Blogging is about building a relationship with your readers. Think of them as your friends. What would you share with your friends? Share that with your followers. Tweet it, Instagram it, Pin it, post it on your blog's Facebook page! You have to connect!

Since there are times when you can't be on your phone, use a social media management app like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule tweets, posts on Google+, and your blog's Facebook page. This will be a life saver, and a time saver!

+ Once you get started, check out my mini series, Grow Your Blog, for some helpful tips on growing your blog through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Image SEO!

There you go, the basics of starting a blog! Was this post helpful? What tips would you share for starting a blog?

Be sure to check out this month's lovely featured sponsor!

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