Frugal Foodie Mama: The Truth About Starting A Blog

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Truth About Starting A Blog

Been kicking around the idea of starting a blog of your own? Come find out The Truth About Starting A Blog...

The Truth About Starting A Blog- the 3 questions you need to ask yourself first & the 5 basic steps you need to take to start a blog

I get asked this question quite often from friends and acquaintances- How do I start a blog? I have a feeling that when they pose what seems like such a simple question to me that they have no clue just how loaded it is. 

My mind starts spinning with everything that goes into blogging- the importance of discovering who you want to be as a blogger and choosing a name and style that fits, weighing whether to start with Blogger or WordPress, consistent branding, how you can't successfully do blogging without also doing social media, knowing a little about good photography (which is important across all niches of blogging), and the list goes on and on. I often don't even know where to start when I am asked this question! 

So today's post is for my curious friends and for all of you out there who have tossed around the idea here and there about starting a blog. But before I start with the steps you need to take to start a blog, you should ask yourself these three questions first...

1. What kind of a blog are you wanting to start?

Food? Great! But do you want to do recipes in general? Just desserts? Do you want to go the healthy route? Allergy specific? You need to have a pretty solid idea of what you want your blog to be before you start investing your time and possibly your money.  Now that is not to say that you can't evolve and change that later, but you need a direction to start in. (Psssstttt... my current blog name & branding is #3 for me. Third time was the charm. ;) )

2. Why do you want to start a blog?

Do you have a wealth of information to share and just want to get that out there? Are you looking for a new hobby? Are you wanting to make an income? 

Disclaimer- Please know that starting a blog is in no way, shape, or form a get paid quick kind of deal. Most bloggers work very hard for a year or more establishing themselves and creating quality content (for FREE!) before a solid income starts coming in. If you are not willing to put in the sweat & tears and making money is your only reason for wanting to blog, then this is probably not going to work out for you. 

3. How much are you willing to invest in your blog? 

And when I say "invest", I don't just mean how much money- although that is definitely a big piece of it to consider. But rather how much time and effort are you willing to invest in building & maintaining your blog? In learning new skill sets and improving on others? For networking and making connections with other bloggers and eventually with brands and companies? Do you have the time, and can you make the time? Depending on how much time & money you have available to invest, you may have to adjust your goals for starting a blog.

Okay, if the 3 questions above didn't deter you, then you are ready for the next part of this post- the 5 steps to getting started with a blog. 

Please note- this is all very basic information about how to get your foot in the door with blogging. It is certainly not a comprehensive guide, but these steps should get you started in the right direction. I have included links to more extensive posts from other seasoned bloggers as they relate to each step, so please feel free to click on over to those to get even more information... :)

1. Choose your platform. 

Now I am not going to get into the whole Blogger versus WordPress debate here. You can choose either platform and have a wildly successful blog. But there are pros and cons to each one, and you really need to do some serious research (and maybe even a tad of soul searching) to figure out which one will work best for you. 

I will say that if you are not 100% sure about blogging, but you want to give it a go that Blogger is financially the better way to go. You can start a blog for free with Blogger and pay as little as $10 a year for a domain. Plus, finding design templates to install is much cheaper. 

2. Get the look of a more established blog (aka, get taken more seriously quicker).

Whichever blogging platform you go with it, a good clean blog design will be a must-have. In this world of millions of blogs, readers will judge the book (in this case, your blog) by it's cover. While you have to choose a theme and style that fits well with you and your blog, I do advise to stay away from designs that are ultra busy. 

I have founds lots of wonderful pre-made blog design templates for Blogger on etsy for $30-50. If you are going to go with WordPress, blog design will cost you a little more. And expect to pay even more if you hire a designer to create a custom blog design for you. 

Also if you decide to go with Blogger, go and purchase your URL (domain) as soon as possible. You will want to drop the from your URL if you are going for a more professional look. If the blog is just going to serve more as a personal journal for friends and family, then leaving the blogspot shouldn't matter.

3. Get those social media accounts established. 

If one of your goals for your blog is for it to actually grow, gain pageviews, and eventually earn an income, then you will have to jump on the social media channels! I know there is often a misconception that a blogger just snaps some photos, writes a post, publishes it, and poof! Readers just magically come flocking to read, but 99.9% of the time that will not be the case. 

You have to get your content out there to be seen. And how do you do that? Through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, and the list goes on... You don't have to start out with all of these social media platforms from the get-go, but at least establish your blog in the key players like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram (<< this one is becoming increasingly more important to brands and companies). 

My biggest piece of advice for social media? Make your brand consistent across all your blog's social media channels! What does that mean? Use the same user name if possible and the same profile pic. Readers and followers can get confused when they see you use 3 different user names and 3 different profile photos. And if you can't get the exact same user names (some will already be taken), make them as similar as you can. 

4. Create some content and get started! 

Okay, you all. You just have to jump in there, create some content, and publish it for the world to see! Have a great recipe idea? Make it, photograph it, blog it, and share it. 

My biggest word of advice here? Don't expect your first few (or even 20) blog posts to be perfection. You are going to have a learning curve and a few growing pains. And trust me- every blogger did when they first started out. ;) 

If you go back to 2012 and look at some of my older blog posts, you will see exactly what I am talking about it. It took me a good year or more to figure out my style and preferred format for writing a blog post. 

And once you have created a good base of published content...

The Truth About Starting A Blog- the 3 questions you need to ask yourself first & the 5 basic steps you need to take to start a blog
I met Zainab from Blahnik Baker (on the left) & Emily from It Bakes Me Happy (on the right) at Mixed Con last November.

5. Make some blogging friends (aka, network!). 

As a blogger, I get by with a little help from my friends. Actually, scratch that! With a lot of help from my friends- my blogger friends!

Guess who is already really good at sharing content and probably has a good social media following? Established bloggers. It is so important in the world of blogging to network and make connections. I cannot think of a single successful blogger that I know that did it all on their own. They had help from other bloggers- smaller than them, the same size, and larger. 

So how do you make blogging friends? Share other bloggers' content. Connect with them on social media. Find blogger support groups to join on Facebook. Sign up for a blogger conference. And you don't have to leave the comfort of your home to "attend" a blogger conference! 

One of my favorite blog conferences is an online one called Online BlogCon. The fee to attend is affordable, and the blogger connections you can make there are invaluable. 

Below are a few posts with even more fabulous tips for establishing a community of blogging friends...
How to Build Your Blog Community
How to Build Relationships With Bloggers
Why You Should Share Content From Other Bloggers

This post is not meant to be the definitive guide to all things blogging. It is just the tip of the ice berg. Do a quick Google search of blogging tips, and you will find that almost 43 million search results will come back. There is so much more that goes into building and maintaining a blog than what is in this post, but this is a definitely a good place to start if you are thinking about starting a blog of your own. 

Have you been kicking around the idea of starting a blog?

If you are already an established blogger, what is the #1 piece of advise or a tip that you would give a new blogger just starting out?

If you found this post helpful or think some of your friends could benefit from it, please share! Tweet, pin, Facebook away... :)

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