I look back now on when I first started my blog (I started officially in February, but became serious about it towards the end of April) and how utterly clueless I really was about, well, all of it really! With that in mind, here are my top ten tips for anyone thinking of starting a blog:
1. Decide what you want to blog about - Have a think about what you want to write about. You don't have to limit yourself to a niche, but if you choose not to, make sure your blog's name isn't in a niche - for example, it's not advisable to call your blog "My Parenting Journey" then blog about vintage car restorations.
2. Choose a blog name - This isn't always as easy as it sounds! Following on from above, if you have chosen a niche and are happy that you never want to branch out from that, then choose a name which relates to it. This will help potential readers to know what to expect from you. if you have decided against a niche, try something catchy that reflects your personality or writing style. I chose my blog name based on the fact I wasn't going to have a niche - my name leaves the door open for me to write about absolutely anything!
Try to choose something memorable and easy to spell!
3. Choose a blogging platform - The two most popular seem to be Blogger (this one) and WordPress. Having never used WordPress, I can only pass on what I have learned from others.
WordPress is a good choice if you are tech savvy. There is a lot of freedom with regards to themes and layouts, but you have to be able to confidently use HTML and know how to build a website, or be willing to pay for a theme or a web designer.
Blogger is easy to use, every thing is built for you and you can still play about with layout, although you are quite limited with regards to templates.
The third option is to go self hosted - again this is something for people who know how to build websites and have a good knowledge of coding, or are willing to learn fast. Also, going self hosted means you have to pay for your domain, whereas the other options are free. Self hosted also means you have no safety net if anything goes wrong - you have to know how to fix it, or pay someone else to fix it for you.
For a new blogger, I would definitely recommend using a platform, at least until you decide you like it and want to stick to it.
4. Design the look of your blog - You want your blog to be eye catching. People are visual and if your blog doesn't look visually appealing, it may turn a lot of readers off before they even start to read your material. Choose a theme that you feel represents you and your blog. Originally, I had an abstract design on here - I thought it represented the random nature well, however, feedback from readers showed they found it distracting so I changed it to my current theme. Much simpler and less distracting, but I feel the bright colours show that my blog is a happy place!
Play about with your layout until you like how your blog looks, remembering to keep important sections, such as your archives, follow and share buttons, and search bar in easy to access places. Readers are less likely to follow you if they have to search for the buttons!
I don't like to tell people what to do or what not to do, but I will make an exception here. Please, please don't use a black background with neon green font! It hurts people's eyes and they will be unlikely to return.
5. Do some research - That's not as boring as it sounds! Have a look around at some blogs in your chosen field. Don't copy any of them, remember your blog is your place, not theirs, but there's no harm in seeing what you think works, what you like the look of etc before designing your own blog.
6. Remember, just because you built it, doesn't mean they will come! - I naively thought in the beginning that I would write posts and people would read them! Of course, in theory that's what happens, but be prepared to promote your posts. It is nearly impossible to build up readership by relying on search engines alone. Join social networking sites in your blog's name, and share your blog link and latest posts. I would advise dipping your toe into all of the main ones - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest if nothing else. If that seems a bit daunting at first, I find Twitter is by far the best way to reach people. Concentrate on one, then add the others in as you go along.
7. Draw up a schedule - It doesn't have to be anything flashy, mine is on Microsoft Excel, but it really is a life saver. Have an idea of what you want to post when - it is so much easier to be disciplined when you have set days for posting than if you just go for as and when.
8. Don't expect to go viral overnight - I'm sure there are exceptions to this, but generally speaking, it takes time to build your readership. Don't be disheartened if your first few posts don't get massive numbers of readers.
9. Don't expect to be a millionaire blogger overnight! - Again, it takes time and effort if you want to monetize your blog. Most brands expect you to have a following (not necessarily a massive following, but regular readers who interact with you through comments etc) before they will pay you for posts.
Spend some time building readership and writing great content, so when you are ready to take the next step, you have something to offer. Remember for brands and readership, content is king!
10. Have fun! - This is by far the best advice I could give anyone just starting out. Yes, it's hard work, yes, it's time consuming, but it's so much fun too! Once you fall in love with blogging, which I'm pretty sure you will, you will realise that all the hard work is worth it!
If you are thinking of starting a blog, I hope these tips helped.
What would you add to this? Let me know in the comments :)