It’s hard to believe that this Spring will mark 5 years since my very first blog post. When I first started The New Mrs. Hamilton, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that my life was missing something, an outlet where I could express myself creatively. From getting the blog set up, creating content, and making changes here and there, it has changed a lot over the years. Not only has my content changed and grown with me over time, but the way that I run the blog has changed as well. I am by no means an expert, but recently I have received questions from my readers asking for advice and different tips to help start a blog themselves. Today’s post is one that I have wanted to write for a while. Have you ever thought that you might like to start a blog, but just never knew how to get started? Or maybe how to maintain and grow that blog once it was up and running? I hope you find this post helpful, as I share some of my tips and lessons that I have learned along the way!
Before you even pick up your computer, I suggest that the first thing you do is grab a pad of paper and a pen (people still own these, right?) and start brainstorming. Start writing down everything that comes to mind when you think about your blog. What types of posts do you think you’d like to write? What topics do you have a passion for? What are some key words that come to mind when you think about your blog? By writing this down (in no particular order), you will be able to see all of the things you may have been thinking about over the past few months, but now they are all together in one place. From here you should grab a new piece of paper and begin to narrow things down. What categories will those posts fall into? How do you want it to be set up? What are you going to name it? What do you and your blog represent? It is important to have everything out and in front of you before you even get started!
Another great place to start is Pinterest. Make a board for you new blog and save all of the logos, fonts, photography, design and colors that you love. This will be a great reference when you start putting all of your branding pieces together. It’s also a great resource for you, as there are so many posts that can help you throughout your blogging journey!
So you have all of your ideas and now you are ready to set things up. First you need to choose which site you are going to host your blog on. I started off on WordPress.com and loved it. It’s very user friendly, even if you have no idea what you are doing. Other sites that are good for starting out are Blogger, SquareSpace and Wix. There are lots of tutorials online on how to customize a site with any of these hosts. I would suggest starting with WordPress incase you want to customize it in the future. Choose a theme that you like, something that has a simple background and clean design so that it isn’t competing with your content.
Now to set up your site so that it works for you. The first thing you need is a banner or site title. This doesn’t need to be fancy, but the name of your blog should be in the banner at the top, and it should link back to the homepage. I would suggest having an about page, so new readers can easily find out what you and your blog are all about. Don’t forget to add a photo of yourself, too! If you plan on blogging about a few different topics, I would make those into categories (stick with 3 to get started) and have them in your menu. Linking your social media accounts is also important, but we will get more into that later.
Depending on the blog theme that you choose, there may be room on the side of your site, called a side banner. This is a great spot to add in a bio photo, search bar, highlight different posts, or link off to other sites.
Writing A Blog Post
Now it’s time to start creating content. If you have been thinking about starting a blog for a while, you probably have a list full of ideas that you want to write about. The biggest tip I can give you is to create a handful of posts before sharing it with anyone. Not only does it make their first visit to your blog way more enjoyable, but it also lets you get your feet wet and into a blogging ‘rhythm’. I’ll be honest, putting yourself out there for the world to see (and judge!) can be very intimidating. But if you spend some time on your blog before sharing, you will feel more confident in yourself and in your blog.
Imagery is also very important. We live in a world that is very fast so if something doesn’t catch our eye, we’re not going to stop to read it. I’m not saying you need to have a big fancy camera or hire a photographer. I’m simply suggesting to spend a little time on the images you are posting. The biggest tip I can give you about blog photography is to always make sure your photos have the same width. Find out how wide your blog content area is, and make sure that all of your photos are at least that wide, whether they are portrait or landscape. This will make your blog way more professional and appealing to your readers.
Social media is another huge part of blogging because it is where you can connect with your readers, share your content and engage with others who are blogging similar topics! But how many social media accounts do you actually need? My rule of thumb is less is more. It will be more beneficial to your blog to spend your time and energy on fewer platforms, rather than spreading yourself too thin. The two social media platforms that I use the most for my blog are Facebook Pages and Instagram. I like them both for different reasons, but they both create traffic and allow me to connect with readers. Most importantly, make it easy for people to find your social handles on your blog!
Creating a blog should be fun! It’s a place where you can express yourself and be creative. People often contact me about starting a blog, wondering if they should or not. My answer is absolutely yes if it is for the right reasons (LOL I sound like an episode of The Bachelor). But it’s true! If you have a passion for something, whether it’s cooking, fitness, photography or anything else, and you want to share that passion online, then a blog could be perfect for you. But if you want to start a blog in hopes to one day monetize it and make money, your posting may fizzle out if you realize that it’s not going to be an overnight success. There is a lot of time and commitment involved in running a blog. So start out light, don’t stress about your posting schedule and you will naturally fall into a rhythm that fits into your lifestyle. Maybe posting everyday sounds impossible, but creating content a couple times a week is more attainable, and that’s okay! Just stay true to who you are and be as authentic as possible, because at the end of the day people like when people are real.
Have a question about something I didn’t cover in this post? Just send me a message and I’d be happy to answer any other blogging questions you may have! Just remember that I am not an expert, this is just what I have learned over the years and wanted to share! If you end up started a blog after this post, please send it to me so I can check it out! And as always, thanks for stopping by!
Photos: Alix Surette Photography
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