I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite a while, and as I was thinking through my blogging goals for 2017 I realized how much I have learned in my time of blogging that I would have loved to have known when I first started out. Being a new blogger can be quite overwhelming, especially if you start out self-hosted like I did. But I learned so many things along the way and read so many helpful posts from other bloggers (usually that I found on Pinterest), that I wanted to make my own post one day in hopes that it would help new bloggers love the journey they are about to take! This is going to be quite a long post, and none of it is sponsored (it’s simply resources I’ve been using after many months of trial and error). If you find it helpful, I would love it if you would share it so that others can learn about the resources that helped me get to where I am today! 🙂 So without further ado, let’s get into it!
All About Hosting:
I had read from a number of other bloggers about all of the intricacies of hosting, and determined that self-hosting was the best way to start out. There are two main options for hosting: free hosting sites and self-hosting platforms. Free hosting sites (such as Blogger, Weebly, WordPress.com, etc.) allow you to create a website for free and start blogging right away. Self-hosted platforms (of which there are quite a few, Hostgator, FatCow, and SiteGround to name a few) have a monthly hosting fee and usually have sites through WordPress.org (the paid-for service). There are many pros and cons to both, and I thought I would create an infographic outlining these! If you would like to download this infographic, click here: All About Hosting!
I currently use SiteGround for self-hosting, and I couldn’t be happier! They have amazing customer service that is available 24/7, and their servers are always working properly with no website downtime for updates. They currently have a holiday sale going on, and you can click here to learn more and sign up! By clicking that link, they’ll know that an existing customer has recommended you to them and they will be able to get you set up with that in mind!
All About Branding:
The next topic is personal branding for your site and your social media. You’ll want to have a name in mind before you create your site, regardless of what hosting option that you choose, because it will be a large part of everything that you make from there on out. Additionally, if you purchase a domain name (and own that part of the internet, as a result) you cannot change your name without having to buy another domain. As you are thinking about a name, think of one that you’ll be able to use for the foreseeable future regardless of whether you change blogging niches (which happens often!) or not. I thought about my blog name for a few weeks, thinking through everything until one came to me as I was washing dishes in the sink. The Wise Willow, I thought, and immediately knew it was the one. Logos starting appearing in my mind, and I rushed to the computer to check if the domain had already been taken. Once you have a name you love, and have checked that the domain is available (if you are going to purchase and self-host), you’re ready to go!
Branding is one of the most important parts of blogging because it draws readers to your site. Your brand tells them about you and your blog, and should be a visual expression of what your blog represents. I have rebranded a few times (not changing names, but changing logos and color schemes) and my current logo is one I plan to keep for a long time. Now, like me, you might be thinking how do I go about making a logo? When I started blogging I made my logos with Word, which is not an experience I would recommend. The formatting was never consistent, and it took ages. That’s when I stumbled upon Canva.com, a free graphic design website with all of your design needs! I use Canva for everything and cannot express how much I love it! You can sign up for free and keep all of your designs archived to free up space on your computer. There are size dimensions created for you, and you can also create your own based upon what your website banner is supposed to look like (themes vary in terms of what the logo looks like). They have free and paid-for elements but I have yet to pay for something because you can upload your own content to the site and use it in your designs. Now, another question you might have is how can I legally use images I find? It’s important that you only use images and illustrations/elements that you own or have created, or ones that have no rights tied to them. Pixabay.com is my favorite website where all of the images are free for commercial use. I download their images (the small size usually), and upload them to Canva to create personalized designs. I also use some of these images in my posts if I haven’t taken any that suit the subject matter. You don’t have to cite them, and you are legally protected. Once you have established your brand, you’re ready to spread the word about your site and content!
All About Social Media:
Social media is one of the most important aspects of blogging. It helps you find an audience, potential customers, brands to work with, and a community of other bloggers to go to for support and friendship. I have made so many amazing online friendships, and feel as though the blogging community is one of the most supportive out there! There are many social media sites to pick and choose from, and by no means do you have to be on all of them. In fact, I encourage you to only be on ones you know you will use. Quality over quantity! I am on Instagram, Facebook (pages), Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, and Bloglovin’. Admittedly, I don’t use Google+ often, but I have the page created in case I have an audience that prefers that medium. I am expanding my involvement with YouTube, but I am always on the other social media platforms. Twitter is my favorite platform, followed by Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Bloglovin’.
Canva will allow you to create banners for all of these social media sites, so that your branding can remain consistent and recognizable over all formats. Create accounts for the social media platforms you are interested in and get started! I could write for ages all of the things I have learned about each of these sites, but I think I will start a series for each platform since this post is already quite long! Let me know in the comments if this is something you would be interested in! 🙂
Skilled.co recently developed an incredibly helpful social media infographic that has lots of information about the pros and cons of sites, who typically uses each platform, the best times to post on each platform, and more! If you would like to take a look, click here!
All About Blogging Niches:
You may have already heard of blogging niches, or areas of expertise that bloggers will associate with. These can include travel, food, cooking, college, parenting, and many more. You most likely have thought about what you would like to write about, and may be thinking of one of these niches. Niches are great for finding online communities of like-minded creators, and for keeping your content organized under one umbrella topic. I personally am a Lifestyle Blogger, and I chose this niche for a few reasons. I am currently in college, and have written many posts about my college experience. However, I also like to write posts about DIY projects, book reviews, thoughts and inspirations, music, my vegan lifestyle, and more. Because of this, I identify under the umbrella of Lifestyle, since my topics all fall under a variety of categories. This niche allows me to expand my content, but also has drawbacks as it is sometimes harder to find online niches that fit my content.
All About Saving Your Content:
A blogger’s worst nightmare is to have their site crash and all of their content to be lost. I tend to have bad luck when it comes to technology, so I back up all of my text and media with a free DropBox account. I simply copy the text of the post when I write it, and then put it in a word document. I then upload that document to DropBox along with a folder of all of the images I used. It’s just another way to make sure your content is safe! You can use other sites as well, such as Google Drive, for the same purpose.
All About Posting Schedules:
When I started my blog, I wasn’t sure how often I had to post. I saw bloggers who posted every day, and some who posted twice a month. All of them had amazing blogs and a large following, which left me in the dark about the best approach. To be honest, it’s completely up to you! I have always had the mindset quality over quantity, and with being a part-time blogger I knew that posting once per week during the semester (and more during breaks if I wanted to) was the best way to go. I was able to stick to this schedule because it accounted for my personal circumstances, and it made me feel accomplished over time. There’s no need to rush into your blog to create content right away, write when you feel inspired and create a posting schedule that you know will be realistic for your own life and writing process. 🙂
All About Monetizing Your Blog:
This is something that I am still relatively new to, and I didn’t start working with brands until August of 2016. I started my blog for my passion of writing, and still keep that in mind every time I receive inquiries from companies. So how does all of this work? Well, for me it all started when I received an email from a brand asking if I was interested in working on a collaboration with them. How did they get my email, etc? The more that you engage in your online social media platforms, join Twitter chats and Facebook groups (something I will write a post about soon!), and comment on other blog posts the more that your name will get exposure across the Blogosphere. It took a full year for me to get my first offer, and I hesitate to get more involved in the world of monetization. I only work with companies that I know support my visions, which means that I don’t take many opportunities. I also don’t currently have ads on my blog, because I want to keep my blog as personal as possible. Because of my limited experience with monetization, I highly recommend searching “blog monetization” on Pinterest or looking at my Side Hustle: Blog! Pinterest board for posts that discuss monetization options more in-depth! 🙂
I hope you found this post helpful! I would love to start a series that includes my tips and advice for bloggers on a variety of subjects, let me know if that is something you would love to see! If you like this post, please share it on your social media or on Pinterest so that others can see these tips! I hope to help as many people as possible, because I know posts like these definitely helped inspire and encourage me when I started blogging! As always, if you have any questions I would love to help in any way I can! Send me an email to email@example.com! 🙂
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