If you’ve always dreamed of starting a blog but aren’t sure where to begin, these tips will help you figure out what you want out of your blog and how to get started. Creating a blog is one part vision, one part technical, and one part execution, so this post will touch a little on all three components.
1. Narrow Your Focus
It’s easy to say you want a blog about fashion or food or video games, but if being an English major has taught me anything, it’s that all of those ideas are too broad and will get lost in a sea of every other blog that’s about fashion or food or video games. You need to hone in on the one thing that will set your blog apart from the others in your category.
Maybe you write about video games, but you probably can’t get to all of them. Do you write about games under a specific platform? PC games only, for example? Are you pointing out gaming mistakes? Do you rate games or YouTuber gaming channels?
Choose a specific niche within your category to work with and focus all your efforts from there.
2. Choose A Tone
Now that you’ve got your focus narrowed, the next step in starting a blog is to figure out what tone you want your blog to have. If you’ve read enough single-author blogs, you’ve probably noticed each one has a consistent “voice” throughout. This is not necessarily the author’s entire being but a single facet of their personality they choose to channel above any other.
What sort of tone do you want your blog to have? Is it sweet and polished? Professional and to the point? Humorous? Sarcastic?
The tone you choose will pave the way for your posts and your blog theme, so pick something you can keep up for the duration of your blogging.
3. Pick A Theme
As I mentioned above, the next step after choosing your tone is getting that tone across in a theme. The theme of your blog will encompass your color palette, your font, your pictures, etc. Your theme can be dark and broody, lighthearted and quirky, whimsical and full of magic . . . the possibilities are endless.
One mistake a lot of people make when starting a blog is not choosing a consistent theme. Their colors may not go together or match the tone they’ve chosen for their writing (it’s hard to take sarcasm seriously if the blog has a pretty-in-pink feel), or it’s a clashing mess of multiple themes that don’t go together (like a mismatched outfit—and not in a cute way).
Make sure the theme you’ve chosen is reflected all throughout your blog for a unified impact.
4. Brush Up On Your Grammar
So maybe English wasn’t your strongest suit but you still want a blog. That’s fine, but other bloggers and blog readers will notice right away if you don’t know a comma from a semicolon. Is it a harsh truth? Maybe, but you wouldn’t become a fashion designer if you didn’t know your silk from your cotton, or a cook if you couldn’t tell what spices led to what flavors.
Do yourself and your future readers a favor before you start blogging: take a crash course in grammar and creative writing. Give samples to friends or coworkers who are reading junkies to assess your level of readiness. When they say you are ready, grasshopper, then you may proceed.
5. Choose A Host Site
There are a number of free host sites to choose from when the time comes to actually start creating your blog. Most of these host sites offer their own templates and easy setup system so you can design your blog to your liking (without being a whiz with computers or knowing a thing about coding).
This list of blog hosting sites will help you find the right fit for your blog. Try playing around with the free sites until you find a platform that suits your needs.
6. Design Your Blog
You have a theme, a tone, and a host site, so now the time comes to design the layout of your blog. Whatever layout you choose, make sure that it’s easy to navigate, shows up on mobile, and has a search bar and social media links within easy reach of the home page.
To get an idea of how to shape your layout, study other blogs in your niche to see what layouts they’re using. Where are their social media handles? How do they split their menus? What’s on their homepage that draws you in?
For more in-depth help, check out this article on best blog layout practices.
7. Decide On A Posting Schedule
Every professional and semi-professional blog sticks to some sort of posting schedule. They may post once a day if they have multiple authors, but most single-author blogs post once a week (twice, occasionally, if there’s an update to announce).
Once a week is a great starting point for any newbie blogger. It’s consistent but not overwhelming. Even if you have a full-time job, chipping away at a post for thirty minutes to an hour every afternoon will give you more than enough time to write, edit, and schedule your post.
Decide which day you can conceivably get a post up every week. Friday? Monday? Those are the days I’ve noticed are used most often, but I’ve also followed blogs that posted on Wednesdays or Thursdays and had no problem keeping up. Figure out what works best for your schedule and stick to it.
8. Set Up A Newsletter
Yes, even though you’ll be starting out with no following (or a following that consists of your closest friends), you need to set up a newsletter. If you design one before you ever post, then the first people to take an interest in your blog won’t have to wait for you to decide you need one.
A newsletter is another design process unto itself, but you want to keep the theme and tone consistent to your blog. To get started, research free and low-cost newsletter services (much like you did for your host site) and find one that’s compatible with the site you’re using.
Check out this list of newsletter services to get started.
9. Start Posting (And Keep A Backlog)
Now that you’ve got everything designed and working in tandem, the only thing left to do is start posting. If you need practice posts to get your tone right before you go live, do it. The posts that end up on your blog should be polished, reflective of your theme, and engaging to read. Most host sites offer the option to publish a draft privately so you can see how it will appear on your blog before it goes public.
Another tip: keep a backlog of posts. If you get a couple free hours to write an extra post, do it. Save it for later. Life happens and can throw your blog schedule out of whack. If you want to look truly professional, keep a log of backup posts that you can schedule when life doesn’t give you enough time to write.
10. Engage With Your Readers
Your blog is up and running, you’ve got some posts under your belt, and now you have a decent following. Yay!
While they’re happy to follow you for your content, they’d be even more engaged if you interacted with them on other social media. If they comment on a post, comment back. Invite them to interact with you on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. If other bloggers in your niche are following you, check out their stuff and comment or offer to have them write a guest post on your blog.
The success of your blog rests on the shoulders of your audience. Give them the thanks they deserve!