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Although I’ve been blogging for over a decade I would no way declare myself an expert: in my opinion there’s always more to learn and ways you can better yourself. But I have learnt a couple of things on my long journey that has taken me through the land of online diary writing.
I’ve been asked a few times for a bit of help when it comes to the practicalities of how to set up a blog, and as I’ve been an Online Consultant by trade for about five years now I thought it might be time to share, just don’t get better at it than me, OK? So this is for you, Mum, Emma and Amanda. I expect to be reading your blogs soon.
Think about your motivation behind blogging. I love to share my memories and experiences, not only creating a record of our lives but also helping people through the rough times (I wrote recently about why I like to blog). This is why I’m so frank about being pregnant and Elfie being poorly, and the times I receive emails from others in a similar position really make it all worthwhile. But I also genuinely love to write. First and foremost my enjoyment comes from putting fingers to keypad, adding photos and making something lovely, and I would still enjoy it if nobody even read.
Set up your space. WordPress and Blogger are the two most popular blogging platforms and are both quick, easy and free ways to set up a blog. As far as I can tell, Blogger is the easier option but WordPress is prettier and has more customisable options. There’s an excellent article discussing the ins and outs of WordPress Vs Blogger here. Personally I’m a die-hard WordPress fan as I love the Dashboard interface and prefer to be able to customise to my heart’s desire. Because I like to have all the control over my blog I have my own webspace onto which I have installed WordPress (downloaded from here: wordpress.org): this is a little more technically challenging but gives you even further freedom. I’d recommend the blog novice go for the WordPress.com option, with which you are able to upgrade to your own .com/.co.uk domain for around $18.
Think about what you want to write about. At every blogging conference I’ve ever been to there’s always talk of ‘carving your niche’, as apparently this is how to make waves in the blogosphere. I’ve never really managed to do this and I dart from food to fashion to family to parenting to a little bit of beauty… maybe you could describe me as a ‘lifestyle’ blogger but I just think I’m too much of an oversharer! I rank my enjoyment of what I’m writing over the ‘carve your niche’ rule, though it’s a great idea to have an idea of the subject area you want to head towards.
Make your blog look pretty. Wordpress has a plethora of themes available to you: so much so that it’s easy to get bogged down in them all. I have spent hoooours looking for the perfect theme: it’s one of my favourite hobbies. Decide what’s important to you, whether you like the look of two or three columns and the colours you like, and go from there. These days most themes are quite advanced so you can choose the one you want and customise colours etc from there. Some of the more basic WordPress themes are great for beginners and allow you to add in your own headers without any technical knowledge.
Start writing. It takes a couple of months to find your groove and start gaining readers. Don’t feel disheartened that stacks of people aren’t reading straight away- it’ll happen. As long as you’re enjoying yourself and writing in an honest voice, you will find that people will come.
Join a network. There are so many networks out there depending on the subject matter of your blog. For parenting blogs there’s BritMums or the great Parent Bloggers Facebook group, for Fashion blogs there’s IFB. These places are brilliant when it comes to advice and information, and they’re worth reading even if they don’t fit your niche. For example, I find the advice on the Independent Fashion Blogger‘s network invaluable and interesting, and most of what they discuss can be applied to blogs on other subjects. In terms of blogs that give blogging advice I also enjoy Momcomm, Copyblogger and ProBlogger.
Get involved in Social Networking. There are fantastic supportive communities in each sector of blogging and I can truly say I’ve met some wonderful people through my blog (YO to Charlotte, Kaisa, Jenny and the Mother’s Meeting massive…). Twitter is a great way to connect with others, make friends and get your posts out there. I also love Instagram but like I said, I’m a bit of an oversharer. I’ve just started getting into Pinterest (addictive) and I have a brand-spanking new Facebook page. Google+ is still a bit of an enigma but I plan on finding out how it ticks ASAP and will report back with details.
Find your heroes. There are some bloggers out there who I adore and read religiously. I don’t think it’s healthy to try and emulate other bloggers as it’s so important to be yourself, but these people keep me inspired. I love: A Cup Of Jo, Dooce, Nat The Fat Rat, Young House Love and Little Green Notebook.
So that’s me: an introduction to blogging in 900 words or less. If you’re a blogger I’d love to hear your tips and tricks. Or if you have any questions, please ask away.