I’ve had several people who have come across Light Passing Through and mentioned that they’ve contemplated starting their own blog. The only thing holding them back? They don’t know where/how to start.
I used to own and run a web design company and I’ve been doing some form of web development for the last 10 years. I probably have been part of building over 100+ websites for clients in that time so I feel that web design is comfortably in my wheelhouse.
This list is extremely subjective to my expertise and you will find varying opinions. This is simply my playbook.
State Your Name and Purpose
There’s a lot of debate whether to name your blog after yourself, some clever phrase or otherwise. To be honest, it doesn’t matter. I chose ‘Light Passing Through’ because my intention from the beginning was to allow guest bloggers to write so I didn’t necessarily want it attached to my name. Also, people mispronounce Vacek all the freaking time. (Vah-sek if you’re wondering)
Secondly, make sure you know why you’re doing a blog. Simply chronicling your life may not be interesting enough to generate the traffic you want for the effort you put in- just being honest. Are you a fashion blogger, marriage, family, fitness, food, etc.? Or perhaps you’re more targeting a general audience. I picked young families and primarily moms because well…I’m one of you! I centered my blog categories around the things that fit my stage of life because it would be easy to write about the things I was already doing day-to-day.
Perhaps what might MOST help choose what name you select is seeing if the .com of it is available. Don’t buy a .net, .org., .co or anything else- stick with a .com if it’s the last thing you do! Also, make sure it’s easy to spell, not too long and doesn’t have double letters. For instance, theeatinggastronomic.com is probably not a good one.
Go to domains.google.com to check for availability and snag it right away if it’s available.
I would also try to generate some sort of logo at this point. There are a lot of cost-effective ways to get a logo whether you use Fiverr.com, Work off A Template, or contact a local graphic design school and see if one of their students will create you a logo for free (and for their portfolio).
Pick A Good Platform and Design
WordPress is the most popular platform for websites and blogging (originally started with blogging) and if you go to WordPress.com you can have them create a pretty basic site. If you’re more technically savvy you might be able to find a nice theme/template at Themeforest.com and purchase it from there.
You’ll need to purchase hosting too if you want to have your URL as a standalone! Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with a websitename.wordpress.com URL or a websitename.blogspot.com URL.
While I personally haven’t used it, I’ve heard great things about SquareSpace and I personally find their templates to be appealing. A potential drawback is you’re stuck with square space and limited to what they offer. WordPress offers a ton more flexibility and plugins (similar to Apps for your smart phone) but requires more effort and cost upfront.
Plus, who’s to say you couldn’t start with a simple site through Squarespace and then move it to WordPress later on. I will say that you only get one chance to make a first impression so make sure that the image you put out for your first blog is a good one.
Figure Out Your Content
Remember how I said find a purpose or audience? This is probably the trickiest part. You’ve got to write material that speaks to your audience and is compelling. Most blogs have non-compelling material- make yours interesting.
Also, pictures are really good. Every blog post should have at least one image– it’ll increase your chance of having it opened by 70%. And while we’re on the topic of pictures, make sure you use pictures that you have the right to use. AKA, if you do a Google search for an image, that doesn’t mean you can use it- you’ll pay a HEFTY fee if you’re caught using an image that isn’t yours or one that you don’t have the right to use.
I would recommend buying stock photos which can get pricey, asking photographers to use their images (credit them accordingly), or simply taking your own photos. There’s also this list of websites that offer high-quality stock images for FREE.
Now with the writing part, that can be also hard if you’re naturally not a good writer (like I am). My recommendation, then, would be to write it out as conversationally as you can. Maybe record yourself speak and then transcribe it later. This way it also feels more natural and less forced.
Lastly, having a catchy title may be the most important component. It’s like the curbside appeal to a blog post. If you need ideas…look at ANY magazine in the checkout lane, they’ve got it figured out.
This is a 4-fold step. Make it easy on your blog for users to subscribe. There’s a rule in marketing that if you want someone to do something, remove any barriers and make it unbearably easy.
Create social media accounts. You might link it to your personal accounts for the time being, but as the blog grows, you’ll want to have standalone pages. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Bloglovin’ are good places to start.
When you publish a new post, post it in the right places. There are several Facebook groups that I belong to that match the interest and demographic of the different categories on my blog. I post them in the appropriate places where I think it would be useful to the group members.
Cross-promotion is good, too. For instance, when I did my fitness reviews blog post which generated a crapload of traffic, I also asked these specific businesses to post on their social media pages as well. You both have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
You could also do giveaways, contests, or pay Facebook to have it as a “sponsored” post. It’s considerably cheap to do and an easy way to gain a lot more followers, likes, subscribers, etc.
At any given moment, I have at least 7 blog posts in draft mode. These are things that I think would make interesting blog posts, but I haven’t had time to write them yet. Have a good system for keeping notes when creative blog ideas pop in your head!
I would recommend trying to publish at least ONCE A WEEK. It keeps your readers engaged and helps with your SEO. I know life gets busy and its hard to find time to write, trust me. It’s MUCH easier to try to maintain a blog than trying to rebuild the momentum once it’s lost.
Wow, it’s a lot more work when I have to type out the steps required to start a blog. The nice thing is you can do bits and pieces and you don’t necessarily have to do them in the order outlined. For instance, you may already have several posts typed up and now you just need to go back and do the “website” part. Or you may have everything done and need to decide on a killer name.
Whatever the case, just get started so you don’t put it off any longer. Start with the easy steps and tackle the big ones as your motivation gains traction.
I’m certain that I’m missing a million things so if there’s a specific question, please comment and I’ll respond (so others can see it too!)