How often have you thought, I just need to start a blog! Have you been toying with the idea for a while now but you don’t know where to begin? Maybe you’ve already decided what you want to write about and have a name ready to go but you’ve been procrastinating for years and feel like you’ll never see your blog baby flash up in big lights on the World Wide Web.
I started toying with the idea of writing a blog back in 2017 whilst we were renovating our kitchen and at that point, social media didn’t really come into the equation. I started following lots of renovation and interior blogs to get ideas and this lead me down an Instagram path of peonies in the sink and fruit in the bath (such a cliche), so my blog went on the back burner for over a year.
I procrastinated a LOT! I couldn’t get the name right. I toyed with www.mjhomeandaway.com, www.mjhomestyle.com and www.melaniejinteriors.com before I finally settled on the name I have now. I am a huge fan of blogging; it has created a career for me out of nothing and I get to be at home for my kids 24/7 (although sometimes I wonder if that is a good or bad thing! ).
I wrote about why you should make 2021 the year you should start your blog here and over a couple of blogs I will help you to get on your way to finally achieving a profitable blog.
So, where do you start?
If you are reading this blog, you probably already have an idea about what you are going to write about. But stop there for a second, have you really given it some thought? You are going to be writing about this subject A LOT, so it is best to find a niche that you are interested in.
What are you good at? What are your hobbies? Strengths and weaknesses? What have you got experience in or are excited about?
I knew that I wanted to write about home décor, interiors and renovations right from the beginning as I am hugely passionate about it and would often bore my family and friends on décor decisions.
The most successful blogs provide solutions to people’s problems, whether that be trying to lose weight, how to get rich or how to be productive when working from home… Just make sure it’s a subject that you can talk about for years to come.
You know what you want to write about, now you need to research your niche. Find and read as many blogs as you can that cover the same niche to get an idea on what people are writing about. It will also help you to decide whether you have something unique to bring to the table.
There are hundreds of parenting blogs out there, is anyone covering home-schooling? Or tips on how to get your children to sleep? By researching other blogs, you can note down what you think works (the layout, the images, the blog posts) and expand on that.
Think about the topics you are going to write about
This sounds very similar to niche, but it is very important to categorise your blog posts and stick to these. If you’ve decided to write a health blog, there are potentially thousands of topics to write about so you really need to hone it down a bit so you become more of an expert in your “field”.
In my blog I try to stick to Interior trends, renovations, colour trends, Hotel interiors, DIY and social media advice. I find that my renovation and social media advice blog posts do the best and this confirms what I said earlier. People are looking for answers to their questions!
Create a domain name (URL)
If you already have an established Instagram account, you are probably already known by a name. Is this name available as a URL? It is so important to keep the same name across all your social media feeds and blog or people will become confused when you are trying to promote your blog posts. I also think you can’t go wrong with using your own name, or a variation of it. Just make sure it is easy to say and spell!
Once you’ve decided on a domain name, you need to check that it doesn’t already exist. I used godaddy.com to find my domain name and it cost me $23 (£16.91) to buy the URL for 2 years.
The best advice I can give you when choosing a name is try to get a URL that ends in .com or .co.uk (although I prefer .com as I have a lot of US visitors and the .co.uk could potentially put some of them off). My domain is set to renewal every 2 years which costs me $52 (£38.64).
Another point worth mentioning is make sure that your domain name is also available across all social media accounts. You don’t want to end up with several different names confusing everybody.
This took a while for me to get my head around. I’m not a brand, I thought. But you are! You are your own personal brand and you want people to recognise your style and personality as it will help readers build a relationship with your blog. I wrote a piece on how to become a brand on social media here.
Start brainstorming names for your blog, colour schemes and font styles and try to stick to this across all your channels and social media feeds.
You’ve got your name; you now need to host your website! You have 2 choices, you can either self-host or have a hosted blog. I’ll explain the difference –
A hosted website is one that exists on a website builder like Squarespace, Wix or WordPress.com. These offer all-in-one website solutions that provide the hosting services for you and give you the tools and software to build your website. These are great for first time website builders but you are limited by what you can create.
WordPress.org is an example of a self-hosted website. It is an open-source software which means you can download it to your PC and then modify as you see fit. It is free software but you have to find a website host (like Bluehost or SiteGround) to store all your website files on their domain and purchase your URL from a domain registrar.
The best analogy for the above is like home ownership. A hosted blog is like a rental property, you have a home to keep all your possessions but you don’t own the building or land and you are limited in improvements and customisations. A self-hosted website is like owning your own home. You can do whatever you like to it, paint, decorate, extend. But if something breaks you have to replace it.
When I first started my blog, I used SquareSpace and found it extremely easy to use. But as time went on, I wanted more control over my blog and the layout so I moved over to WordPress.org in April and now have it privately hosted.
It’s really up to you which hosting method you choose. Personally, I think the self-hosted version with WordPress.org is the better method as you have complete control over it and it works out cheaper. But, if you are a blogging newbie and technology fills you with dread, SquareSpace provides all the tools you need to get you well on the way to creating a beautiful website.
And that’s it! You have your blog name and website up and running and ready to rule the world! All you need to do now is create your social media accounts with the same name and write your first blog post!
In my next social media advice blog post, I will talk you through creating your wordpress blog! This is probably the most difficult part so you don’t want to miss it!