Monday 7 May 2018

How to start a blog in three easy steps

how to start a blog in three easy steps, launching a blog for beginners including which platform to choose, how to pick a name for your blog and how to link your social media accounts to your blog.

I get quite a few questions about blogging every so often, so thought it might be helpful to launch a blogging series - I'll be sharing my top tips every week, and in this first part I'm starting from scratch with launching your own blog - its a lot easier than you think!

So you've been thinking about starting a blog for a while 

Firstly, good for you! There might be literally millions of blogs out there, but don't let that stop you - I'm a great believer in there being room for us all in the blogosphere, with everyone having something different to say, so don't let nerves hold you back from launching your own corner of the internet. But where to start?

1 Pick a platform
There are a number of different platforms you can choose from. All have their pros and cons, so whilst it will completely depend on what you're looking for, I thought I'd give a basic rundown of each. I would recommend having a little play around with a couple to get a feel of them before committing to one. I did this for a couple of weeks before launching my blog, and in the end I just took to Blogspot more quickly - but have a look and see what works best for you!

Wordpress provides a huge range of options and plug-ins (which can add lots of different functionalities to your site) - so there's a reason why its the most popular platform! You can choose between - the free version, or, for which you will need to pay a monthly fee to 'self-host' through a hosting provider (more about that soon). The downside to this is obviously if you're just starting out you might not want to pay - however bear in mind with the free version you're limited in how much you can customise your site.

Blogspot is a great option for those who want to get started without having to pay anything. It's the only completely free platform - so perfect for anyone who wants to have a go at blogging before finding out how seriously you want to take it. Blogspot is much more customisable than the free version of Wordpress, so I would definitely recommend it as a fab place to start. If you're planning on monetising your site as some point down the line (again, future post!), then you can always switch your site over to the paid version of Wordpress at a future date.

I'll admit, I hadn't tried these next two platforms before, so had a little play around with them for the purposes of this post.

Squarespace offers a fairly simple to use alternative to the likes of Wordpress, so is a better option for those with limited technical know-how. Its pricing contains a number of different plans depending on what you're looking for. For example, you will need their 'business plan' in order to publish more than twenty blog posts, and the widgets available are more limited in choice.

Wix seems to be a great way of setting up a site from scratch - particularly if you have no or little technical know-how. On signing up you're asked a number of questions relating to exactly what you want from your site, after which an ideal layout and look is set up for you. Whilst its less customisable than some of the other platforms, its specifically designed for use by non-developers, and uses an easy 'drag-and-drop' functionality to help you build your own site. Wix's pricing structure is focused on how much storage you're after, and you can easily upgrade should you want to expand your site in the future.

how to start a blog in three easy steps, launching a blog for beginners including which platform to choose, how to pick a name for your blog and how to link your social media accounts to your blog.

2 Choose a name
I wouldn't get too hung up on this one to be honest - a lot of people simply choose their own name, however a 'brand name' can work just as well. I would recommend choosing something that relates to your niche though, and not a name that might get confused for something else. For example, I wouldn't have included the 'Dove' part in my name if I had planned on writing about something like pets or animals/wildlife - as I think it would have been too confusing for someone just stumbling across my site. My name came from a love of cottage decor, and the aim of transforming our modern first home into my dream country home - on the inside at least! The 'Dove' part relates to our location.

3 Link your socials 
Now you don't need to get yourself on every social media platform, but I would definitely recommend choosing at least one - its a fantastic way of getting your posts out there (particularly if you already have a ready-made audience!) When I launched my blog I only had an Instagram account, and I added Facebook and Twitter a year or so down the line. On that note, I would recommend keeping the same name across all accounts, so your readers can easily find you - this isn't to say you need to though, I follow lots of big bloggers that go by their name on Instagram and have a separate blog name too. Definitely link to your accounts from your home page though - there's lots of applications and widgets that can do this for you, often with a preview of some of your images too.

Now put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!)

I know a lot of bloggers prefer to wait to launch their blog until they have a good number of posts ready to go, but I hit the publish button with only one solitary post! As long as your posts are engaging and interesting readers will come back, so don't worry about that. At the end of the day, you can plan it for as long as you like, but I think the best thing is just to go for it.

I hope this was helpful - next week I will be posting on what to do after hitting that publish button! Do let me know if you launch your own blog - I'd absolutely love to have a look at your posts so send me your link!

Thanks for reading,
Sam Xx


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