How to (Painlessly) Start Your Own Blog.
Starting a blog may seem terrifying, but I'm about to tell you why it's not. You may be thinking about starting your own blog—but have no clue where to start—or have been thinking about starting—but have been overwhelmed by the prospect of it. Well...
Let me tell you that whatever fear you're feeling is all in your head.
Having a blog is the most thrilling thing a person can have, especially for writers. It's an amazing experience, plus a great way to experiment with your writing style. You can use your blog for your author platform, marketing, or finding new freelance writing clients. Most of all, it's up to you. YOU have the freedom to do all of this at your time and expense. (yes, there is an expense, but we'll get to that later on in the article).
So, still interested in making a blog or website? Well, keep reading. You're in the right place.
~ Before anything, you need to find a domain name.
Where are people going to find you? What are you going to be known as to them?
When I was first starting out, my Instagram account was simply @hxneywrites. It was a good name (still is, I use the username for my backup account), but for my blog, I wanted something more professional-sounding and unique. So, I chose @hxneyscribbles. And I love it.
It's best to choose a domain name that matches your username on your social media platform, so people can find you better and can give you a sense of familiarity to it as well.
Many people use their own name, especially if they're making an author-specific website, and I think that's a great idea. If you just want a writing blog for now—like me—I suggest choosing a name that you and your followers are accustomed to already. That way, it's easier to remember for everyone.
If you want to find out if the name you want is available, simply search up websites that sell domain names and see if yours hasn't been taken for free. If it has, be creative and think of something else! When I was changing my username on Instagram, I remember being so disappointed when the username @honeyscribbles wasn't available. Looking back, I like the small change I made in my name! It isn't too different from my website, and people will still be able to match it to my social media platforms, which is exactly what you want.
Besides, if you don't find the name you want, you can get one that has a different ending, like .com, .org or .ca, based on the country you live in!
Once you've settled with a domain name, my advice would be to not wait to buy it (and I say buy lightly because there are some places you can get them for free as well!)
~ Now, the next step is to choose a hosting package. There are many sites you can choose from: Wix.com (the platform I'm using), Wordpress.com, Weebly.com, as well as much more! It all comes down to what works best for you. I chose Wix because I found it easy and flexible to use, but I did purchase a subscription from them in order to remove the "wixsite".com part from my domain name (not that the free domain name isn't bad! I just personally didn't like how it looked and knew I was committed to my blog, so I purchased a plan that goes by the year and offers many benefits I think are worth spending money on!)
As for Wordpress and Weebly, I believe that you'd get an added word to the domain name you chose—like Wix—if you take the free route, but it's all up to your preference and your dedication for the blog.
If you have a feeling that you won't be very active on your blog, then sticking to no subscription may work better in your case! And there's no harm in that :)
~ Okay, so you've chosen a platform you want to use, and you don't know where to begin. Well, I can help with that.
First, you should sign up to the website with an email you check often (in case your followers want to get in touch with you through the contact form on your website).
Next, you should go through the templates offered by the platform and customize it to your preference (or make your own, that's completely fine as well). This part may take a while, but at the end of the day, it'll be worth it. Just remember to let your audience know that your site is "under construction" if it's only half-finished.
You should aim to make a theme that fits the aesthetic of your style and provides a clear look of what you want to go. Whatever you do though, make sure your theme is “responsive" and can automatically adjust to any device's screen. Since more than half of website visits are made on mobile phones, this is important for your blog’s overall aesthetic.
~ After that, the finishing touches you should have are the blog pages. They're essentially the little headings you see at the top of websites, titled "About", "Home", "Contact", "Forum", etc.
The About page is usually the most-viewed page on blogs, so make sure to include a bio and a picture—if you're comfortable—of yourself, as well as an explanation of why you're blogging and what the purpose of it is. Is it for reaching more audience? Building a community separate from social media? Creating a portfolio for your future academics and/or career? This is important because it gives the readers a reason to care and follow you through your writing journey. Remember: it's always best to be yourself. Let your personality shine through!
The Contact page is a way readers can get in touch with you, without sharing your personal email, social media account, or phone number. Having this provides more accessibility for people visiting your website, and can raise interactions as well.
~ Okay, we're almost done. After you've included the pages you think are beneficial for your blog, you can add personalized widgets, like social media icons, popular posts you've written in the past, as well as much more. Usually all the widgets are already included in the template you select and just have to be customized!
~ Lastly, and most importantly, it's time to write. It can be scary to start writing on such a public platform, but remember that a blog is a personal affair and at the end of the day, something you should enjoy doing. Here are some tips for when you're writing blogs:
1. Try sticking to a schedule, but don't feel obligated to post on your blog every single day. Only do so when you have the time and can make time for writing. If you force yourself to write a blog post every single day, chances are you'll lose interest and not want to do it as much.
2. Remember that you're writing for the web, so your style shouldn't be the same one you use for creative writing. Keep your tone conversational, and use "you" phrases to keep your readers engaged and feel heard.
3. It’s good to break up your paragraphs with sub-headers and bullet points to keep it neat and organized.
4. Images grab attention, so take advantage of that. Include at least one picture in every blog post of yours. Trust me, it works wonders, and I wish I had known this tip earlier, when I was just starting out.
5. Lastly, try and stay consistent. If you work hard and create content that your readers will find helpful—quality over quantity, as I also like to put it—your blog will surely grow and reach more people. And even if that isn't your goal at the beginning, it's nice to get all that you planned for, and more.
Alright, that's all for now! I hope this helps you get at least a general idea of starting a writing blog/website! Nothing makes me more happier than seeing a fellow writer pursue their goals and aspirations, so believe in yourself like I do. I wish you all the best on your writing journey :)
✄ post credit goes to The Write Life (thewritelife.com).
Follow @hxneyscribbles on Instagram!