I was wondering how difficult it is to get started on my own blog. I’ve had some long term ongoing mental health stuff. I’ve considered doing something similar for awhile, I’m just not sure how to begin. Thanks.
Dear Prospective Blogger,
The blog I’ve started has been fun and cathartic, in addition to a little challenging, but nothing short of interesting. Originally, the reason why I began this blog was to build a platform for myself to reach others who have a lived mental health condition or want to know more about one. In an effort to have a higher visibility in the book market for my memoir, I’ve made this blog and continue to work at it twice a week, posting thoughts and experiences I’ve had with bipolar disorder. It is my aim to build a following so I can eventually launch a successful publishing of my bipolar episodes as chronicled in my memoir, with the working title of this blog – Bipolar Brave.
So now that my purpose of the blog is laid out there – there are a few suggestions and steps I would like to advise if you’re serious about building your own blog. I have gleaned much helpful information from industry professionals like Michael Hyatt, Jeff Goins, Jerry B. Jenkins and Jane Friedman. Here are the following tips and tricks I’ve learned to start and maintain a solid blogging experience.
Pick a good domain name.
Definitely consider your own name if you’re a serious writer, or the topic you are going to be writing about. I chose BipolarBrave.com because it’s short and catchy, and nobody knows who I am (KatieRDale.com is not as memorable — but maybe eventually). Do choose a .com Universal Resource Locator (URL) if you want your followers to remember it easier, and it’s just more convenient since the majority of websites seem to be .com’s. You can try different domains on your hosting company’s site, as I’ll get to in the next point.
Choose a hosting site.
WordPress.com is where I host my blog because it’s free and accessible to other bloggers in their searches. WordPress.org is the site you host on as a self-hosted blog you pay for if you want a real membership to really get more hands on with your blogging. Also, paying for a self-hosted site that includes WordPress like BlueHost is recommended by almost all those Writing Gurus I mentioned above because they have used it or it’s just that reasonable for those starting out and reliable too. I’ll eventually go to BlueHost when I’m ready to sink $100 something into my blog, but not right now. Also, perks to self-hosted blogs are multiple: you get customer support 24/7, you can customize your site further with other themes and more options, you can start using Google AdSense to make money, you can have advertisers or affiliate marketing to make money, you can host more traffic to your blog. For a mucho detailed set of instructions on BlueHost set-up, see Jerry Jenkin’s post on it here.
Decide what type of blogging you’re going to do.
By this I mean what is your topic/subject matter and what is your style. Jeff Goins goes into this in more depth with style and “what-kind-of-blogger-are-you” kind of articles. He calls this your Platform Personality…i.e. are you a Journalist, Prophet, Star, Artist, Professor, etc.? Good things to think about before you begin writing.
Always use tags.
Tags are a great way to get your posts to come up in search results. So #tag with keywords of what your posts are about for those posts. The more niche and variety within the niche, the better. For a better explanation on tags and how they work, see this SearchEngineJournal.com article. By the way, SEO is important and stands for “Site Engine Optimization” meaning how well your site ranks in Google and other search engine results. Tags help with this.
Always use pictures.
I’ve gotten my free creative common use license stock photography from bossfight.co, pixabay.com and freeimages.com. Also, when you want to incorporate graphic design, I use canva.com. It’s free and easy to use with design samples you can use as templates. If they’re not free templates, you can always upload your own photos to make them free. Please don’t forget to credit your images in the caption line if you’re working with the raw images you’ve pulled from those sites.
Choose a clean, bright theme.
When customizing your blog theme, stay away from dark backgrounds and grunge edges. Clean, straight and simple. It’s easier to read and looks far more professional.
Invite comments and reply to them.
This is more than a blog about you – it’s about the community you create. Ask people for their thoughts on the blog topic you just posted about. Leave it open-ended. Look for other perspectives and don’t make it close-ended.
Offer a newsletter and freebies.
Have an account on MailChimp.com to capture email addresses you can send a newsletter out to. People want free things that are valuable to them, and will give you their email address in exchange for it. This is essential if you want to build a great base for marketing a future book, or free ebooks, or giveaways, or you name it, whatever you can think of that people would like! And making ebooks are as easy as saving a Word Doc in a PDF format, and uploading the file to an automated mailing list in MailChimp. For more on how to do that, check out this blogger’s instructions.
Invite other bloggers to guest post on your blog, and vise versa.
This can give your blog and your guest’s quite a bit more traffic, especially if whoever is guest posting links back to their own blog. Don’t forget a bio, photo and link to their or your blog.
If you can, get someone to proof and edit your posts.
And that’s about it for the basics. If you have any further questions, post in the comments and I’ll address your concerns.