Monday, September 21

how to start a blog: the first 30 days, getting started



It's official. As of Saturday, this blog has been in existence for one month. One month. Wow. I personally feel as though I've accomplished a lot over the past 30 days - no doubt thanks in part to my past blogging experience. Because of that experience, from the get-go I had a clear vision of what I wanted this blog to become, an idea of how to get started, and what to expect realistically of myself and of my time.

I have had a few of my non-blogger friends ask about blogging - how easy it is to get started, whether or not you can blog privately or publicly, the time commitment required, etc. 

As such, and in honor of my one month blogoversary, I thought I would share the things I focused on in the first 30 days of blogging (while it is still fresh in my mind). I plan to post my thoughts in two parts: getting started and the little things. Today, I will focus on getting started. 

1)  Decide the general theme of your blog. What do you plan to write about and can write about often? The Classy Chaos is a lifestyle blog. I share the everyday happenings of life ranging from the precious moments of motherhood I experience to what I'm wearing to work or what yummy dish I ate this week. There are thousands of blogs on the web - some focus on parenting, reviews, saving money, faith, losing weight, personal journeys, a combination of a few or all of the above, and more. The options are truly limitless. Simply choose the niche that best suits you.

2. Choose a name for your blog. For inspiration, take a look at what other bloggers have named their space on the web. Some use their name, some their occupation, others something completely clever and catchy that I wish I'd thought of first. Regardless, make sure that your name represents you, the theme of your blog, and is unique and simple. The most important thing to remember is that you really cannot go wrong when choosing a name, but it is something you will hopefully keep for a long time. Once you have an idea, Google the names your considering. I never would have dreamed there were so many variations of chaos and class that already existed. I had to come up with an alternative from my original thought - I really liked Chaos and Class, but it was taken. 

3. Create an email address for your blog. I highly recommend setting up a separate email address apart from your personal email. Maintaining a stand-alone email account for your blog helps keep things organized and fosters balance. It is easy to become constantly wrapped up in making your blog better, checking for new comments, and looking at status updates. By keeping a separate account, it's easier for me to set aside certain times for my blogging to-dos. Not to mention, keeping separate email addresses provides added security to your personal email and information. I just do not like mixing the two. 

4. Choose a blog platform. I have read tons of information on this subject, and most things I have read recommend using Wordpress along with a private hosting service. I have always used Blogger and thus far am completely satisfied with what it has to offer. I personally feel as though Blogger is user friendly - it's easy to navigate and if you want do do more complicated things with it, you can. (I have played with a little bit of HTML code since starting this adventure.) I have no intentions of this blog being a source of income (although I wouldn't say no if someone wanted to pay me for my chaos). I am doing it for the pure joy of writing, sharing our life happenings with friends and family, and meeting others who I can relate to and be encouraged by. In my mind, it doesn't make sense for me to pay for anything. Not yet anyway. 

5. Decide who your audience will be. Consider whether you want your blog to be visible by the public or only to those you grant access. Blogger allows you to choose. If your choice is public, then you must decide the level of specifics you intend to share. My personal preference is to only share details and photos of myself - the rest of my family information will be vague. I know many bloggers who share specifics for every individual in their family, and there are others who go as far as blogging under an alias. Your level of openness depends solely on what you are comfortable with. 

6. Design your blog template. When you initially set up your blog, you'll be able to choose from several Blogger offered templates. If you're wanting something more, you can search for free Blogger templates or you can pay for a design or have one custom made. For this blog, I didn't spend a lot of time combing through the hundreds of free templates. I knew that I needed to hone in on a small selection and choose, for my own sanity. I stumbled upon Blogaholic Designs on Pinterest and went shopping. I was completely okay with shelling out $15 for a template that I really liked and knew I would keep for awhile. The template you choose and how you choose to acquire it are your preference. Search Blogger templates on Pinterest and you'll find tons of great designers, some free and some not.

7. Adjust the layout. The layout is the aspect where gadgets are seated on your page. For example, my photo and about me gadget is aligned at the top right hand column. I can move it anywhere though, just drag and drop. Gadgets are easy to manipulate on Blogger and initial blog templates come with the basics already positioned. You can add, remove, customize, etc. in just about any fashion. I personally like to keep my gadgets simple. I make a concerted effort to refrain from cluttering my page which, in my opinion, ultimately distracts readers from the content. 

8. Set your goals. Consider how often you want to post content and marry that with what you can realistically expect with your schedule. I would love to post every day. I have an ongoing list of topics I want to cover, but it will be some time before I am able to actually write them. My schedule and my sanity have agreed that two, maybe three posts a week is realistically what I can expect, and that's with the disclaimer that some weeks may be even less. There is no set minimum or maximum in the blogosphere - just remember, quality drastically trumps quantity.

9. Share who you are. Most blogs have a section or page on their blog that tells a little bit about themselves and their purpose for blogging. When people visit your blog, they like learning about the basis of who you are. Readers can identify and connect with you, and understand where you're coming from. For example, if you're blogging about being a parent, your credibility is built by sharing that you have children. In addition to giving a glimpse of who you are in words, post a picture of yourself. Even if it's vague, share a photo so that others can put a face to a blog. Photos always make people and things more memorable.

10. Start posting content. Some suggest before launching your blog that you have 5 to 10 posts already written to help relieve some of the stress or pressure that can accompany getting started. Honestly, I have never done that and this is my third blog. It probably would be helpful to have posts in waiting, but I'm just not that patient. Plus, I like to write what I feel at that moment in time. Otherwise, I'm really not motivated to write. I do keep an ongoing list of the topics I eventually want to write about when I'm moved to do so. Another thing I have learned is that visuals are a must. Be sure to include photos with your posts, even if it's simply a picture of your lunch or a link to a movie you're mentioning.

Those are my thoughts on getting set up. I will share some of the other little things I have focused on in my first 30 days soon. Fellow bloggers, what advice would you give to someone thinking of embarking on a blog adventure?

8 comments:

  1. Great post for new bloggers!! Very informative and helpful.

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  2. Love this post!!! Just what I needed about 45 days ago!! I have discovered a blog email address would be really helpful. That's on my to do list now!!

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  3. Happy 30 days!!!! And yessssss, totally maintain a seperate email account for your blog life. That would probably be my number one piece of advice for sure.

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  4. Happy 30 days, lady!!!! I set up a separate email account because I didn't want ANYTHING linking to my real life, but now I'm so glad I did because it would be crazy having all the emails in one place.

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  5. Definitely agree on getting a separate email for your blog! I didn't do that at first and things got a little out of hand! Great suggestions and happy 30 days!

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    1. Thank you!! I only knew better this time around because I learned the hard way the first time. :)

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  6. Yay for one month - here's to many more!! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  7. These are some great tips! Congrats on one month! :)

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Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I enjoy reading each and every one!

I hope you have a fabulous day! And stay classy through the chaos!

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