So, you’ve decided to start a blog. Now what?
Well, if you’re like me, you’ll Google it, take the first hit (incidentally it was Blogger, I guess that’s an advantage of running Google) and start with absolutely no clue whatsoever.
In one sense, I wish I had done a little research before jumping in. In another, I’m glad I didn’t.
Going in blind was a very steep learning curve. I also lost a good couple of months flailing around in cyber space with no idea how to get people to read my posts. From that point of view, I wish I had known a little more about blogging before starting.
However, after those first couple of months, I started reading a lot of blog tips posts, I used trial and error, and eventually, I got there.
I’m still learning (I think as bloggers, we are in an industry which moves and changes a lot so we are probably all still learning to an extent), but I have an idea what works for me, how to promote, what SEO is and how to achieve it etc.
Looking back, I wonder if I had read all that information prior to starting, would I have thought it all sounded too techy, too complicated and just not started? Would it have hindered me rather than helped me? Obviously, I can’t be certain, but I think it would have.
I started my blog because I wanted to write. If I had known how much time and effort goes into it then maybe I would have thought it would be too much, because without trying it, I would never have known how utterly addictive and rewarding it is.
My advice would be if you are starting a blog simply for the love of writing and sharing your thoughts, going in blind isn’t all that bad. You will learn as you go. Your readership will build eventually. You will get there.
However, if you are starting a blog with the sole aim of making money as soon as possible, I think you need to have a bit of an idea what you are doing and where you are going with your blog.
Most importantly, you have to be prepared to put in a lot of work and have a lot of patience.
I’m sure somewhere out there, there is a blogger who made a lot of money fast. They are the exception. Making money from your blog takes hard work and time to build readership – brands want their products to be seen, so in order to have them pay you, you need readers. A lot of brands will work with smaller bloggers who have a loyal, engaged readership, but again, this takes time.
If I could do my first week as a blogger over again knowing what I know now, here’s what I would do:
1. Decide what you want to blog about. You can choose a specific niche, or a more broad topic. Personally, I could never stick to one subject, so I decided to make my topic general – my thoughts and opinions on anything and everything, but focusing on motivation, inspiration and success.
2. Choose a blog name. This is important. You want something that people will remember – something simple yet catchy and while I quite like variations on normal words to catch someone’s eye, bear in mind people won’t necessarily remember that as easily as they would a more generic word. If you are certain of your niche (and that you will want to stick with it) try and come up with something that reflects that. If you are not sure if you will stick with a certain topic, keep your name broader so it can encompass other things.
3. Once you have a name in mind, before you commit to it, check it is available on the blogging platform you are going to use and on all the social media channels you want to use. If it is, set up your accounts. It is advisable to set up accounts across all the social media channels so if you decide to use them in the future, your name is available. You don’t have to use them all straight away.
4. Choose the social network(s) you are going to tackle first. My advice would be Twitter. Start following people in your niche. For example, if your blog is going to be a parenting blog, search Twitter for #pbloggers and follow some accounts that catch your eye. If you do choose Twitter, use the bio to write a little about you/your blog. Give people a reason to follow you.
5. Start to generate a bit of excitement about your new blog. Tweet out the launch date and a little of what to expect.
1. Design your blog. Choose a theme you like and that you feel represents you and your brand.
2. Design your logo and header. Add it to your blog and your social media.
3. Continue building that excitement on social media.
4. Now, hopefully some of the people you followed have chosen to follow you back. Re-tweet some of their stuff, talk to them and start building a bit of a relationship.
1. Plan a schedule of when you intend to post. It can be as often as you like, but keep it consistent. Bear in mind the time you have and don’t try to over shoot.
2. Keep tweeting out the build up tweets, and following new people.
1. Write and publish your first blog posts. Remember, first impressions count, so make them good ones. They can be something simple, like an introduction to you and the blog and what you plan on doing with it, but try to keep the posts interesting and leave people wanting more.
2. Promote that first post on your social media accounts. Remember to keep checking for interaction on social media and blog comments and make the effort to respond. It’s all about building relationships at this point, and being aloof isn’t mysterious, it’s rude, and a good way to put people off talking to you.
3. Keep following new people that catch your attention and interacting with them.
1. Find a linky to add your post to. It’s a good way to find new blogs to read and to get yours read.
2. Read and comment on as many blog posts as you have time to do. Not only will this help you build back links, it will also get your name out there and may be the beginning of a blogging buddy relationship.
1. Write and publish your next post.
2. Promote it on your social media as above.
3. Keep interacting, reading blogs and following new accounts.
1. Continue with all of the above steps, concentrating on building relationships and readership.
2. Make any necessary little tweaks to your layout – maybe it’s something you’ve decided doesn’t work well, maybe it’s something you want to add or some feedback you want to act on.
3. Sit back and admire your little space on the internet. Be proud of what you have achieved.
Just to re-iterate, it is unlikely you will have thousands of views in the first week or be making your millions. It is very likely that you will have fell in love with blogging though.
You have now laid the foundations, keep building on them. Nothing is out of reach with a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck.
For a more in depth guide to getting your blog set up properly you can download my book (shameless plug alert): Start Your Blog Like a Boss: 10 Steps to Set Yourself Up for Success.
Do you have any tips for someone’s first week blogging? What would you do differently if you could go back and start over knowing what you know now? Let me know in the comments 🙂