Handy Tips For New Bloggers
If you're reading this post it's probably because you want to start a blog or maybe you're a blogger curious to know how someone else went about it. I set up this particular website in March but before that, I had been running a blog (still called Allanah Louise just I had the .com domain rather than .co.uk) for just over 2 years. When I set up www.allanahlouise.co.uk (the site you're on now), I went about the process a totally different way which I suppose comes from having experience with running a blog and knowing what mistakes I made at the initial stage that later caused me a bit of hassle. I thought I would explain and break down how I set up this website and any tips I have or things I think are worth considering.
Choose your platform.
Before you start buying everything marble there is in the world, the first thing you need to do is sign up with a blogging platform if you haven't already. Most people go for either Wordpress or Blogger. I personally power my site through Wordpress, but I pay a hosting company (123Reg) to host my site for me on their servers to allow me full control over it. If you would be interested in a post on going self-hosted then let me know in the comments!
When I set up my first blog I looked at a lot of comparisons between Blogger and Wordpress but eventually decided on the latter for a few reasons. One of the main reasons is that with Wordpress you can eventually go self-hosted but with Blogger your blog will always be the property of Google. There is a post written by people who know much more about the differences than I do that you can read here.
Just do it.
Hi Nike don't sue me x
This sounds stupid but the hardest thing when you want to actually start a blog is just doing it because it's slightly terrifying and you think no one will read it, or it just won't be as good as the other established blogs, or you have no idea where to start. You need to forget every reservation you have and just focus on the fact that you want to do it, so you're going to do it. There will always be someone out there that is interested in what you have to say (and your Mum absolutely does count).
What do you want to say?
When I started this blog I sat down with a notebook and I decided on 4/5 categories I wanted to cover on my blog being; beauty, style, career, lifestyle and blogging. From there, I came up with 3 initial posts for each category that I wanted to do. Just from spending 10 minutes on doing this I had a much better idea of the direction I wanted my blog to go and what type of content I wanted to create. You don't have to think of yourself as an expert to talk about something, I definitely don't. Blogging is about sharing your experiences of something and your viewpoints on something.
"Don't stress over trying to find your 'niche'".
I have read countless articles and posts about blogging and I consistently see people talk about 'finding your niche'. Whilst I do believe that it is possible to create a niche blog that will cover something no one else has before, I'm a big believer that you are your own niche. 100 bloggers could do a blog post on the exact same thing and every single one could take a different, worthwhile stance on it. If you spend too much time figuring out what your exact space in the blogging world is, then you will never get started. The best thing you can do is just start writing, and you will eventually find your place in the blogosphere.
Choosing a blog name.
Once you have a bit of a grounding on the type of topics you are going to cover then you can properly start to think about a name for your new blog. I went through quite a few name changes on my old blog, to name a few; Allanah Does Beauty, Allanahs Beauty Corner. Both of which make me cringe into the ground now.
The main reason I struggled was that I thought my blog was going to be solely about beauty but I quickly realized that I didn't just want to write about beauty, but also about lifestyle issues and career experiences and other things. I needed a blog title that was a 'catch-all' for everything I might want to write about, and my first name with my middle name felt like a pretty safe choice. I think people feel like if they just use their name then they won't be seen as imaginative enough but I personally like that my blogs 'brand' (if you like) is my name because I'm probably not going to get bored of it.
One tip I definitely will say is to make sure your preferred blog name is available as a handle across social media. A slight variation is okay but even still you would want your variation to be consistent across your handles. For example '@allanahlouise' wasn't available on Twitter, so I made my handle '@allanahlouisexo' across Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest so that anyone that wants to find me on social media knows that will be my handle.
Set up social media accounts and interact.
Once you have actually created your blog and you start to get it looking somewhat how you want it to, the best thing you can do is get yourself out there and start to speak and interact with other bloggers. I blogged for over a year and had no real idea about the blogging community that existed on Twitter on Instagram and I was totally missing a trick with it - over 80% of my views now come from social media referrals. Start to follow like-minded bloggers, reply to their tweets and keep up with their blogs and eventually you will get to know people and the community.
Publishing your first post.
Probably one of the most exciting bits of setting up a new blog is actually hitting publish on that first post, and seeing your blog look like an actual blog. I think it's good for your first post to give readers a bit of background and an introduction to you, even if you do a few facts about yourself or a post about why you wanted to start a blog is a good place to start. My first post on here was about why my last blog was deleted and is to date my most viewed post!
Starting a new blog is definitely more technically straightforward than I think people imagine, but there is so much to think about when it comes to deciding the look, feel and direction of your blog.
If you are thinking about starting a blog, I couldn't recommend it more to you. Blogging is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, and the odds are you will absoloutely fall in love with it!
Read my post all about 'What Blogging Means To Me' with this link.
If you have any questions about setting up a blog, or maybe you have some advice for soon-to-be bloggers then let me know in the comments below!