Blogging is one of those things that people either love or forget exists until you need to learn how to do something and a photo on Pinterest just doesn’t quite cut it. With the rise of video content, words have to some extent been left behind. But book sales have never been higher and well, I know quite a lot of you read my blog and I read blogs, so I think it’s still as great a time as any to start one yourself.
A blog first and foremost should be a passion project. You should write about something that you could talk about for ages, that has value to you and will probably add value to other people’s lives as well. In my experience, if you love writing about it, it becomes slightly easier to actually get the words out onto the page. So if you don’t really know anything about beauty products and have bought the same foundation for four years (that’s me) then maybe don’t set yourself up as a beauty blogger.
But what do you actually need to do, how do you start a blog?
Before you set out on this new venture, it’s worth brainstorming what it is you want to say and what you want your slice of the internet to be like. This could involve a Pinterest board of ideas, other blogs you enjoy and a mind map of any existing ideas you have for posts. This will get you excited about the process and kick start the momentum to get creating the website.
What platform should I use to host my blog?
I have a WordPress blog, I had a Blogger site before when I was in sixth form and it was difficult to customise to how I wanted it. Generally if you want to buy a template or have a designer customise your site you’ll need to either have a Wix, WordPress or Squarespace site, so I’d always recommend getting one of those.
WordPress is very straightforward to use and they also have really helpful tutorials on how to create the site if you do get stuck. Your first site might feel quite basic as the templates are quite formulaic, but you can jazz it up in time.
There are different types of payment plans, but when you’re starting out a free site will fulfil your needs until you’re ready to invest and have your own domain name.
Now you have set up a website, it’s time to pick your blog name. The obvious choice is to go for your own name, but it’s worth remembering that you lose some of your anonymity that way (people will find you and try to add you on Facebook – but that does happen either way in my experience). So it could be your name, or something that sums up what you’re going to talk about, or a mixture of all of those things.
Fonts and Colours
I’d always recommend browsing through other blogs to see what you do and don’t like to think about what you want your site to look like. Add all your ideas to your Pinterest branding board and pin your favourite layouts, logos, fonts, colour schemes. You can research colour psychology if you’re torn between colours as it might help you decide how to showcase your subject in the right tone.
Great examples of blogs I regularly read are:
- Beth Sandland
- The Noteworthy
- Kate La Vie
- The Little Plum
- Kelly Prince Writes
- Stephanie Yeboah
- Texture and Space
- Katy English
- Ghenet Actually
At this stage it’s also worth creating a little mock up in Canva of your chosen colours, blog names, fonts and logos to see if they gel together. Do they create the look you’re envisaging? Do they all communicate the same message?
You don’t want bright clashing colours if your vibe is tranquil and holistic and equally you don’t want a monochrome site if it’s a space to show your vibrant maximalist home. Play around with these elements until you’re happy with the combination.
If you aren’t happy with how it’s all coming together on the site then you could invest in a blog theme with a pre-made colour palette. You can find a range of different templates online, but the most popular (in my experience) are 17th Avenue and Snug Designs. Otherwise you can sometimes find cheaper options on Etsy.
Create a Logo
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, Canva is your design best friend. It’s free, easy to use and there are so many exciting templates that I’m sure you’ll find one to suit your style. I’d always start with one of their templates to then grow your logo out of (if you don’t have design experience) as it just helps with dimensions and to bring your idea to life. Create a few logos, save them as high res and upload to see how they look on your website. Pick your favourite and tada, blog logo done!
You can always change this at a later date (I have countless times) as your blog evolves, remember this is just the beginning!
The pages you need and what to write
Now it’s time to fill your site with those long awaited words. The basics you’ll need are an About, Contact and Blog page. It would also be worthwhile to create your categories now so they can sit in your menu along with these pages. This makes it easier to navigate your site and for readers to find the content they want.
On your About page you want to share who you are, what this blog is about, some of your personal interests and details such as your job role, where you’re from or live now, what you’re hoping do in the future and if you have any pets or passions (from food to TV shows) that may feature on the blog.
If you don’t want to be contacted by brands or clients and this is just going to be a personal blog, it might seem strange to put a contact page in, but I would always recommend having at least a contact form, your email address and your social links on your site. You never know who’s reading your blog and I’ve had some amazing connections and emails come through way before I had a social following or even blogged regularly.
Write your first post
It’s time to write! Go back to your original brainstorm and pick an idea. You could even start with a post to explain why you’ve started a blog and what you want to talk about. Why now? What’s changed? What or who has inspired you? It’s always interesting to hear other people’s motivations and passions, it’s also a great way to tell your readers what they can expect more of in the future from you.
If you need imagery for your site I’d recommend using Unsplash for high quality, copyright free photos. But equally, enjoy developing your photography skills and finding a style that suits you.
I’m not sure what my first blog post was about all those moons ago in 2015 (potentially my jaw surgery?) but this is currently the first blog I wrote on this site after I opened the new Thorpe Hall Hospice.
Share it with the world!
This step for most people is the scariest part and I totally get it. Blogs can be quite personal or you can worry about how other people might react to what you’ve written, but I think it’s important to get over the fear of what other people might think by just sharing your blog on your socials. The more platforms you share it too, the wider the audience you’ll reach.
If you aren’t ready to share it yet though, it isn’t necessary too. Your blog is online, anyone can access it if they stumble across it or search for the right terms. Then when you’re ready you can share it with the people in your immediate sphere too.
Do you have a blog or want to start one?