So you want to start a blog? Of course you do, it’s one of the most enjoyable pursuits out there, right? Plus, you’ve heard it’s a surefire way to get rich quick without even getting out of your pyjamas, haven’t you
How to start a blog – begin with these questions
Starting a blog is really
A lot of this advice can quickly become confusing, and many people give up on their blogging dreams before they even start. This is a real shame, as it doesn’t have to be as hard as it can first seem.
However, before you even start out along this road, there are a few things you need to make sure of. So, you want to start a blog? Great, but first, it’s time to ask yourself some questions about your goals and ideas.
Why are you doing this?
Really though, why do you want to start a blog? Is it for a hobby or a creative outlet? If so, great, you’re on the right lines. Is it because you think you’ll make millions from it in your first year? If that’s the case then you need to backtrack a little and adjust your expectations.
Yes, it’s possible to make an income from your writing, as I discussed in this post, but it takes real time, effort and perseverance. Plus, you have to really love writing, otherwise, this blogging thing you want to jump straight into is going to become little more than a fun fad that quickly burns out.
Bottom line, if you’re only in it for the idea of money, you might as well stop right here before you get any further.
What kind of writer are you?
Notice I said ‘writer’. This is because blogging and writing are slightly different to me. I can’t stress this point strongly enough, but this is my opinion, not a statement of fact. Bit of a disclaimer there in case the blogging crew come after me with some serious @-ing on Twitter after reading this.
Anyway, blogging, to me, is more of a daily life-based, opinion driven genre, where you document your thoughts and experiences in something of a serialisation of your lifestyle. This is a fast-paced, interesting way to gain an insight into another person’s world; the best bloggers give you glimpses into their lives, their families and their experiences through their content. Bloggers are experts at sharing their own thoughts and feelings with their audiences.
Writing, for me, is slightly less personal in terms of this insider knowledge. I believe that it’s more of an outlet and a discipline in its own right. For example, I enjoy writing topical content and guides on topics I’m interested in, such as rugby or curly hair or gaming. They’re no less personal to me because I wrote them, but they’re not slices of my daily personal life in the same way that blog posts
I view myself more as a writer than a
So, are you a writer or a blogger? There’s no right or wrong answer, but it will help you to decide on the style of work you want to create in the long-term if you can work this out now.
Do you actually enjoy writing?
Similar to point one, but if you’re someone who wants to start a blog purely for the potential money involved, then you’re not going to get that far. The same applies for your actual content. Do you enjoy writing? It really, really helps if you do. If you’re not that keen on it in the first place then it goes without saying that starting a blog probably isn’t going to be for you.
But, if you do enjoy writing and think you can create interesting, well-crafted articles that others will enjoy reading, then you’re on the right track!
The key here is to write because you love to write, but also keep in mind that you should be writing things that others will (hopefully) enjoy reading and/or find useful. Don’t churn out any old tat – nobody wants to read dull content, no matter how frequently it comes out.
Can you make plans and stick to them?
Speaking of frequency, a huge part of starting and running a blog is being able to plan your workload and stick to it. It’s so easy to fall off the horse when it comes to having a blog. Consistency is key. If you’re going to make a real go of this, you need to be able to make plans for when you’re going to write, what you’ll write about, when you’ll post it and how often you’re going to update your site.
This doesn’t mean you have to write and publish every day, or even once a week – but you need to have some sort of plan in place to keep you on the blogging straight and narrow, otherwise, you’ll soon find yourself languishing in the pits of creative block with a pretty dry website to show for it.
So, where do you start?
Ok, so you’ve asked yourself some questions and you definitely want to start that blog – great! There’s a whole ream of sites out there that will give you the basics on how to get started, as well as a lot of online ‘courses’ that will try to sway you into parting with your cash in exchange for a walkthrough.
This isn’t necessary though. There’s a wealth of free information out there that can help you get started with setting up a blog. The technicalities essentially boil down to choosing a platform and hosting solution that you’re comfortable with. Some of these will be more expensive than others, so you really need to consider what you’re looking for.
My recommendation would be to buy your own domain with a professional sounding name or alias. Ensure it’s something you’re not going to want to change a few months down the line! Once you’ve got your domain, find a hosting provider that can help you get set up with your own WordPress site. There’s a reason I’d suggest doing this as opposed to other platforms, and for me, that’s the level of ownership you get.
If you want to know how to start a blog fast, slow things down
Take your time to really evaluate what your needs are. I’ve known people pour hours of time into websites on managed hosting platforms, only to discover that they can’t transfer their content elsewhere when they want to move. Do some research into what you’re actually signing up for when you buy hosting for your website. It really does make a difference long-term.
Also, take some steps to learn the ropes of running your own website. It’s a learning curve, and there’s a fair bit of technical know-how that goes into setting up a theme, categorising your content, understand SEO and keeping everything secure. Slow down and take some time to learn if it’s really something you’ve got the time to invest in.
I’d also recommend checking out a site called Totally Blogging as a research resource. You’ll find a wealth of tips and advice on getting started with the technical and content-based aspects of setting up a blog over there, and best of all, it’s free.
Are you ready to start a blog?
Taking everything into account, you should have more of an idea by now if you do really want to start a blog. If you’re still on the fence, you can always pop your questions or thoughts down in the comments here or over on Twitter. I’ll try to answer them as best I can!
Blogging basic FAQ
Anyone can start a blog, but that doesn’t mean everyone should. If you’re serious about starting a blog though, you need to start by asking yourself what you’re passionate about writing.
If this is your main motivation for starting a blog then you might want to rethink things. Blogging is not a one-way ticket to the land of free stuff. However with skill, hard work and a passion for creating good content, it is possible to earn some money from your new blog.
As often as you like, but just make sure that you’re not just churning out filler content all the time. Quality is always better than quantity!