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I have been a blogger through most of my adult life. I think I was about 20 when I first discovered the world of personal blogs, and I was instantly hooked! Granted my early days of blogging mostly included copy & pasted song lyrics, getting-to-know-you quizzes and random ramblings on topics that I thought were funny and clever. I occasionally like to trawl through and click on a few of my old posts. There are some great (and weird!) memories I’ve stored out there! And just this once, I’m letting you know that you can find some of my old personal blog archives here, here and here. Truthfully my old blogs are pretty boring, but they’re a great way to see where I’ve come from!
I have heard many friends say “I keep meaning to start a blog” over the years. But for whatever reason, few of them ever do! It’s a shame, because a personal blog can be so rewarding and enjoyable for a number of reasons:
- It’s a great way to record your life, and look back on years later
- Writing can be seriously therapeutic!
- It opens you up to a whole new community of people
- You can make money with it!
Have you occasionally toyed with the idea of starting a personal blog, but are yet to commit? The new year is a GREAT time to get started! So here are my top tips for starting your very own personal blog:
Do it legally
Choose your platform
There are plenty of hosting websites out there. Honestly, I believe you can’t go wrong with either Blogger or WordPress (these are two that I have experience with) but there are many more options. Do a Google search and find what works for you. If you go with Blogger or WordPress, you will have a variety of free basic theme options to choose from, so no web design skills are required! I always used free Blogger themes for my previous blogs and would recommend that path for first-time bloggers. However for this blog I purchased a theme and had Andrew at Red Licorice set everything up and customize it. Blogging at this new level requires quite a bit of know-how that I just don’t have the time for. Not only did Andrew handle the initial set-up, but he’s also able to answer my questions and fix things when they break!
Consider what it is that you want to put out there
Why are you starting your blog? Is it to document your day-to-day life? Your travels? Cooking adventures? Craft projects? A daily devotional? Decide now what your content is going to focus on. I’m not saying that your cooking blog can’t have an occasional post on your pet turtle, or your travel blog can only be written when you’re off on adventures, but having a clear focus will help you find your niche and attract like-minded readers.
Stick to a schedule
There are various opinions out there on the question of how often to post. Some people recommend posting every day. Others swear that one good-quality post per week will suffice. Ultimately, how often you blog is up to you but I would definitely recommend keeping to some kind of a schedule. Consider how often you can realistically commit to posting. Don’t push yourself to try and post more often than you reasonably can, especially when you’re just starting out and getting used to it all. When this blog began in August 2016, we committed to 2 posts per week, on Mondays and Thursdays, and we have stuck to this religiously. Now for 2017, we have decided to increase that commitment to 3 posts per week. This is achievable for our team – while we would love to be pushing out daily content, we just don’t have the time or resources!
They say a picture is worth 1000 words, after all! Everybody likes a visual, and a blog full of picture-less posts begins to look the same very quickly. Even 1-2 photos will add enough interest to an otherwise visually-dull post. You don’t have to be a world-class photographer either. However if you don’t have photos that you’re happy to use, you can search for free stock images online. I like Barn Images, Unsplash and Ivorymix. Ivorymix also offers some amazing paid stock images here. Ensure any photos you find online are free-use, or you have permission to share them – never use Google image search to find what you’re looking for, as this blogger learnt the hard way.
Write posts in advance
There’s nothing quite as uninspiring and pressure-building as sitting down to prepare a post that you have scheduled for that same day! In my days of mindlessly personal blogging, sure, that’s exactly how I would do it – and the lacklustre quality of some of those old posts really shows that! Therefore, I now start working on a post weeks – or even a couple of months! – in advance. I have found it really pays to hold a post in my Drafts folder for at least a week before looking over it with fresh eyes. I always find a couple of things to tweak. And writing posts in advance actually allows me to build a monthly blog schedule, and offer a balanced variety of topics from week-to-week. Trust me, it really minimizes the stress and makes me feel on top of my game!
Use social media to your advantage
If you’re hoping to grow your blog and find lots of readers, take it seriously from the start and create a Facebook page and a separate Instagram account for your blog. Why? Because this will give your regular readers an easy way to be notified when you post something new. Plus if they like, comment on or share your post on Facebook, their friends will see it, and your reach will start to extend. Use your Instagram account to follow other bloggers in your niche and start making some connections!
Follow some blogging resource websites
If you want a strong blogging game, I recommend looking outside of your own blog for some fresh ideas. There are so many blogs out there dedicated to the subject of blogging! Here are a couple of my favourites:
I also join blogging communities on Facebook – just search “blog” or “blogging” and you will find hundreds of different communities and groups. Most of them are closed (so you can’t see the content unless you’re a member), but if you note your blog in your public profile, they will happily accept your request to join. A couple of active groups that I am getting a lot out of are Blogging 101 and Newbies Who Blog.
Don’t get too personal
We all know the dangers of the internet, so just remember that when it comes to personal details about where you live, work, study, etc – be vague. Protect yourself from the weirdos and creepsters out there. Every time you write a post, read through and ask yourself “Can someone use this post to find me in real life?” And if the answer is yes, edit it back. Stay safe online!
Follow my journey
I am going to begin posting behind-the-scenes updates on my blogging journey from time to time. So if you’re interested in blogging, follow along! I will share stats, tips, and things that I’m learning along the way.
Enjoy your blog
Oh my goodness, this should really be point number one! Because blogging should be enjoyable. It’s a passion project. Enjoy the process, and that enjoyment will come out in your writing. Start small and work your way up slowly. And hey, let me know if you start a new personal blog – tag @herhappyheart on Instagram or let me know in the comments here. I would love to follow along!