A Blogger's Advice On Starting A Blog


Some of you have asked me about starting a blog. So I will share my experience and give you my pointers.

1. Decide on a blogging platform 
2. Decide on the genre you want to blog about
3. Decide on a name for your blog
4. Decide on a blogging schedule you can adhere to
5. What you will need to be a blogger
6. What you will need to learn
7. How to find success as a blogger
8. Trolls & other uglies
9. How to make money blogging
10. How to gain followers



The Platform
Decide on a platform. By that, I mean where you will blog. 

There is the free Blogger, which I use. And then there's platforms like Wordpress.com and Typepad. I believe Wordpress.com is free. You might choose Wordpress.org, but you would have to pay for a host.

I was on Wordpress.org for one year. But I came back to Blogger. I didn't want to pay for the host anymore, plus I got hacked there.  However many bloggers truly love the versatility of Wordpress.org. 

But if you go that route, know that it is more complicated. It all depends on how much you want to initially take on. If you're really good with HTML/computer design, you might want to just go for it.

I know enough to know that I don't know enough!

Google owns Blogger, which is blogspot. The only thing you have to pay for is space for your photos should you need it. I think I pay about $20 a year.

The frustration with Blogger is that there is no one to call should you have trouble. But there are Facebook groups you can join, as I have, and we help one another. 

There are bloggers that will tell you that you can't have a successful blog on Blogger; that you can't make money unless you go to Wordpress.org. I beg to differ. I make money with Blogger. 

I'm not getting rich by any stretch of the imagination. I really don't know why some say this. It is simply untrue.

You will want to have a nice design that people find appealing. 

These days you can get free or cheap templates to make your blog look quite professional. My template was $30. It is tax deductible because I am self-employed. 

Blogger also has free templates. But I like third-party templates.

You could also hire a designer if you don't mind spending the money. With a designer, you would get a more professional design/logo. So if you're brand new you might want to look into this option.



The Genre
By this I mean what you will blog about. I blog primarily about decorating and gardening. And my daily life. You could choose cooking or really anything you want. 

There are mom blogs, travel blogs, book blogs. Anything that has an audience can be blogged about. Maybe you will find a niche that isn't heavily populated, and you fill that need.

But choose something that you're really passionate about.

You will want to do some research with the genre you're interested in blogging about. In other words, dig into blogs that are about this topic in order to see what's out there and to help you decide on your own approach.



The Name
Decide on a name for your blog. I would say try not to make it too convoluted. You want people to be able to search and find you.

If you choose Blogger, you will need to go to Blogger.com and type your chosen name/URL in to see if it is available. You will most likely have to come up with different variations for your URL in order to find a name that isn't already taken.

Your blog name does not necessarily have to match the blog address. Mine does, but if you really have your heart set on a certain name and it simply isn't available, you can create a different blog URL/address for your blog.

If you want to be a com, you can get a .com from somewhere like Godaddy.com. That's where I got mine. You will need to pay a fee each year. It is under $20 I believe there. But don't quote me on it.

I started off with http://cozylittlehouse.blogspot.com. I leased the .com a few years down the line.



The Schedule
If you want a successful blog, especially if you ultimately want to make money with your blog, you will need to blog with regularity to build up a readership.

This does not mean that you will have to blog every day as I do. But more often than not, the more you post, the more money you will make. This is not as important in the very beginning, as it takes time to build up enough of a readership to make money.

If you don't want to post every day, then try to figure out how often you think you would be able to devote to your blog. I would suggest at least two times per week. Less than once or twice a week and you kind of get lost in the mix. 

There are tons of blogs out there. So you have a lot of competition. You will need to make a commitment that you think you can keep.


 
What You Will Need
Camera
Computer
Willingness to learn

That's what you need to start blogging. Other things can come later.



What You Will Need To Learn
You will need to learn photography. I didn't take lessons or learn how to use my camera manually. I just put it on Automatic, and never use flash. I was interested in photography before I began my blog.

Many bloggers learn how to use the manual settings on their camera. I have not done that.

As with anything, the more you do something the better you get at it.



How To Find Success In The Blogging World
If you want to mix with other bloggers and gain a following, it is helpful to visit a lot of blogs in your genre and comment.

If you comment there is a likelihood that other bloggers will come visit you and comment on your blog as well. This isn't as prevalent as it once was. Back in the day, most of us commented. I still do.

Many bloggers just put it out there. For whatever reason they might not read or comment on other blogs. To each their own.

I like the social aspect of blogging, since I'm not very social in real life. It gives me an outlet and allows me to make online friends.




Trolls & Other Uglies
Unless you're very lucky, there will be mean people out there that will try to stick a pin in your balloon once in awhile by leaving a mean comment. 
 You can't be successful at much of anything if you are thin skinned to the point that hurtful words absolutely paralyze you.



 Can You Make Money With A Blog?
Well at first you probably can't. It was two years before I even monetized my blog. I was getting divorced and I needed a way to make money.

I am lucky to have an annuity I share with my ex. However, should he die, I will lose that. And I'll have to figure out how to up my game somehow.

Life is precarious. You don't know what will happen tomorrow or the day after that. So you just do what you can and keep going. 

There is the occasional blogger that starts a blog and it just takes off like wild fire. But they are few and far between.



How I Make Money Blogging
I make money with an ad network. 

In the early days I placed ads on my site myself. And you can certainly do that. 

But over time blogging became more lucrative and various companies formed blog networks. Bloggers sign up to become part of these networks, and the companies get the ads for you.

With most networks, you typically have to have a certain number of page views per month for them to accept you. I am with an ad company named Adthrive and they require at least 100,000 page views per month. But there are others that allow viewer than that.

You make a certain amount of money per thousand page views, and that amount will change daily. I might make $40+ one day and over hundred another. So some days I don't even make minimum wage! (Now you see why I'm frugal.)

So if you are the only wage earner in your family, you will need to be disciplined enough to save money and be frugal. 

I won't say it's easy because it isn't. But it's what I choose to do, so I have adjusted my lifestyle to accommodate it.
 

How To Get Followers
Comment on other blogs

Join weekly meme parties to gain exposure (I have memes, or link parties, listed at the top of my blog)

Join social media outlets to get the word out 

Link to other bloggers

Post consistently


Learning As You Go 
What you've just read is just the tip of the iceberg. You will probably have other questions. Put them in the comments or email me and I'll be happy to answer.

I love blogging. I am a pretty disciplined person, so I post every day. But I live alone and answer to myself.

I taught myself to take decent photos. I learned to edit photos. I read everything about blogging that I could get my hands on that helped me to move forward.

I comment on other blogs. I put my post on Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest every day. I don't have a terribly big following on FB or Google+. But I have a fair amount of Pinterest followers, which helps with page views.

In closing, remember that everyone is good at something. I was a journalism student in college. I like to write and take photos. And this is what I know and love to do.

There are lots of things to learn. I could go on and on. But this is enough to start with.

I have a Pinterest board of blog tips. If you want to check it out, click here.



12 comments

  1. Great tips and a very honest look at the blogging world. Have a great day!
    Shelley

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  2. Thank you so much Brenda for this excellent view of blogging. It sounds exciting to me to have a go at this. I think my only worry is not having enough content each day and so starting off with 2 days a week is appealing.

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  3. THANK YOU FOR YOUR INSIGHT INTO THE WORLD OF BLOGGING.
    HAVE A GREAT DAY !
    SNUGGLES TO THE PUPSTERS

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  4. I do not have an urge to blog but read your tips anyway because I really enjoy your writing style. What great tips here!

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  5. Thank you Brenda this is a very informative and helpful post! You put together an excellent list of the basics of blogging. You know you could really write a "how to" book on blogging. I know there are a lot of them out there but you are good at covering the major points in an easy to understand manner. I have thought so many times about starting a retirement type blog but I have not yet convinced myself that I would keep up with it properly. If I ever do it I want to do it right. Thank you for all your help!

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  6. A simple but comprehensive list, Brenda. I agree with it all. Last week, I shared a craft and today a blogging friend wrote a post about how she employed my tutorial (with fabulous results, I might add). The fact that someone actually read my post and then DID what I shared still amazes me and makes me smile. That is why I blog and what makes it worth it on those "less than minimum wage days."

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  7. This is a fabulous post for a beginner blogger and someone that has had a blog for awhile and cannot figure out why they are not growing.

    I love visiting your piece of the world each day.

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  8. Such a good post, Brenda, and I'm an "old timey" blogger (circa 2008). Your words felt like an encouraging hug.

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  9. Very interesting read. Is there a way we (the readers) can increase your income? Do we need to click on so many ads? Or is just reading your page each day enough?

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  10. Even for someone who has been blogging for a while his is a helpful post, Brenda. You have always been so supportive of other bloggers and I know many of us really appreciate that!

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  11. Brenda, this is an excellent post! I bet you anything that lots of your readers that didn't comment here still were inspired to either start a blog or up their game with your good ideas. I would guess that you put a lot of time into a post like this, which could easily have been broken down into separate posts because it's really an intensive study of the subject.

    And naturally as I read it I thought back to almost 5 years ago when you gave up hours of your time and by phone helped me get started in blogging. I can still remember the pupsters voicing their disgust with our long conversations! Thank you again, so much, for helping me and other hopeful bloggers, Dewena.

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  12. Thank you so much for your advice on blogging, Brenda. You are an incredibly generous person.

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