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Blogging for Beginners :: Part 1 - How & where to start

December 06, 2012

So you want to be a blogger or you want to dive a little deeper into blogging—per the request of many of my awesome readers, I’m here to help you with the basics of blogging, plus give you a little insight on what lies ahead.

Personal and business blogging are two different avenues – I’m going to talk about personal blogging and before you feel too overwhelmed, check out my consultation tab above—I’m available to help you make your blog the best it can be.

PICK A TOPIC // NICHE
What are you going to blog about? What do people think about when they think about my blog? While my intentions were to blog about being a mom, wife and military family—things changed once I started writing. I still write about my family and military life, but I’m known more for who I am –uncensored, unfiltered and to the point. That leaves me with plenty of room to talk about whatever I want, within reason.

Do you want to blog about your family? Day to day life? Your career? Working out? Adopting? Jewelry making? If you’re having trouble deciding or coming up with a name – email me, I would be happy to help you come up with some options.

PICK A BLOG NAME
What is your blog going to be called? Mine makes a lot of sense, but might be a little too long. Your blog title says a lot about what your readers can expect. We were told not to judge a book by a cover, but we all do. I’m very guilty of judging a blog by it’s name and often don’t even give blogs a chance if the title doesn’t appeal to me.

Run several blog name options by family and friends before you choose the final name.

BUY A DOMAIN
You don’t have to do this, but www.DiamondsDogTagsDiapers.com is a lot easier to remember, and looks better than DiamondsDogTagsDiapers.Blogspot.com. It’s up to you, but there are plenty of hosting services for as low as $4 a month. Check out GoDaddy. Plus, when you have a personal domain, you can have an email address like chelsea@diamondsdogtagsdiapers.com!

Go Daddy Deal of the Week: SAVE 35%* OFF Wed hosting plans of 12+ months! Offer ends 12/18/12!



CHOOSE A PLATFORM
Blogger.com or WordPress.com?

Blogger is a popular and free platform available to anyone with a Google account. Using blogger requires no technical knowledge. There are plenty of premade templates to choose from (we’ll discuss custom design later). It’s not widget rich like WordPress, but it’s enough to get you going. I use Blogger.

I’m working on the launch of a new blog and I will launch that on WordPress—now that I’ve been using blogger, am used to the blog world and have been learning about WordPress. If you’re just going to have a personal blog to vent, join linkups and talk about your life, Blogger is perfect. You can still run ads and generate revenue with Blogger.

If you want to dive right into the deep end – head over to WordPress.com. Actually, WordPress.org is the more intense platform, which you should not dive into until you’ve researched it and have been blogging for a while. There are plugins and services that will transfer your blog to WordPress, if and when you choose.

WordPress.com is free, but for $15-$100 you can upgrade your blog with more functionality—server space to hold photos and customizable CSS. Confused? Head over to Blogger.

SET UP THE BASICS
After doing all of the above, set up your public facing blog –what everyone is going to see. You can worry about making it pretty a little bit later. Set up the basic tabs (you can always add more later) Don’t worry about offering advertising yet, you need to build readership and a presence before you can do that.

Suggested tabs: Home, About (me/blog) and Contact. Optional tab would be blogroll, where you have a list of blogs you like to read, or you can put their buttons in your side bar. Also on your side bar, include your social media links.  {details below}

Make your about me section, simple, to the point and not too long. Pictures are great so your readers know who is writing. You don’t have to spill everything in your about me section – that’s probably what all of your posts are going to be about.

EVERY BLOG HAS MUST HAVES AND EVERY MUST HAVE HAS A PLACE
You may have noticed that a lot of the elements of my blog have moved since yesterday. I want to show you that it’s easy to move things around and show you different options. Everything of importance should be above the fold (everything you see before scrolling down), now that’s not entirely possible, so keep the most important things at the top.

Your navigation bar should include Home, About & Contact
Your sidebar should include Social media links, contact (if not in the nav bar), Google Friend Connect (if using Blogger) an RSS feed link and a search box. Bonus if you show your archives (I hate archives lists and so do most people, I have a top posts section of my nav bar)

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone to contact a blogger and they have not included any possible way to get ahold of them – not good. Blogger will automatically include the atom feed link (rss feed) at the end of each post – don’t turn that feature off. There are a lot of blogs I would love to remember to read, but they don’t have RSS or Google Friend Connect so I have no way of going back and remembering to read them.

Google Friend Connect and RSS feed in simple terms: you need a reader, they are free. I bought Reeder for Mac and iPhone. You can use reader.google.com and it’s free. It’s a  place to read all of your blogs from professional to personal. You can add blogs to your Google reader via GFC or RSS. All blogs that are not on the Blogger platform will have an RSS feed.

You have the power to rearrange your sidebar and add to or remove from your navigation bar at any time. I play around with my elements from time to time to freshen things up.

READ, READ, READ
Read blogs. You can’t be a great blogger without reading other blogs. What are other people talking about? How do they write? Do you have good grammar? Most people won’t continue to read your blog if you don’t spell check, proof read and use proper grammar. Which leads me to a previous post that you need to read: 2things your blog doesn’t need.

JOIN BLOGGER GROUPS
There are endless online groups for mom bloggers, military bloggers and etc… but most likely, you’re a lady reading this and the first website//group you should check out is the SITS Girls at www.thesitsgirls.com/. There is a linkup every Saturday where you visit the Saturday Sharefest and share your favorite post from the week from your blog and that’s your chance to read other blogs and have people read yours. Check it out this Saturday, even if you’re not blogging yet!

PLAN YOUR CONTENT
What are your first 3 posts going to be about and when are you going to post them? I envision your first post being about who you are and what the purpose of your blog is and what your readers can expect to read in the future.

To dive deeper into content planning and scheduling – sign up for a blog consultation with me by clicking the consultation tab above.
If my blogging for beginners series is helping you create or optimize your blog, please let me know in the comments—are you starting one or sprucing one up? What’s the web address? By the 3rd post of this series, in 2 weeks, I’ll be offering you:

1 complimentary ad space for 30 days with amplification on social media
1 beauty box for your first review and giveaway
50% off a blog consultation

Stick with me for the next two posts and you’ll be ready to get your blog on. Comment now, so I know you’re dedicated! When you have your giveaway, I’ll host a linkup for everyone to check out all of the new blogs created from this series. I’m helping promote you!

What questions do you have? I will be happy to answer questions in the comments below, via email or in a follow up post. I look forward to seeing your new blog and I hope to work on a consultation with you.

COMING SOON IN THE BLOGGING FOR BEGINNERS SERIES:
Part 2: How will people find your blog? Be active, Find Content, Join linkups. Design.
Part 3: How do I get to write product reviews? PR Product Pitches. Advertising. Making money. 

SUGGESTED READING
Book:     IT Girl’s Guide to Blogging with Moxie
eBook:   Pro Blogger http://www.problogger.net/learn/


12 comments:

  1. thanks for the advice! Even though I have been blogging for a while its good to have a refresher and make sure my blog is on track.
    As for as purchasing your own domain, what would suggest? meaning, what package and so forth. I'm considering buying one, but don't want to pay a lot. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. For a personal blog, the economy $4.99/mo is fine!

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  2. This rocks! So much work to do!

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  3. This is going to be very helpful for me. Now I need to see if I have my RSS feed link. I look forward to the next post in this series.

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  4. I have been wanting to start a blog for awhile. I have a few personal blogs, but lately I have been thinking of starting something a little different. When I started my personal wedding journey blog, I considered switching from tumblr to blogger, and after reading this I am considering it even more. I am looking to focus on either DIY weddings or wedding/engagement photography. What are your thoughts?

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  5. Hey Kels!

    I think blogger v tumbler is definitely a good switch. I love the idea of DIY weddings and it could evolve into married life and etc... an evolution of the blog with you. You could get a lot of exposure from pinterest, too, if your'e doing DIY wedding. You could have a separate photography page//blog. If the photography part would be about showcasing your photos AND getting business, i would probably do a separate one. or you could have a tab dedicated to it. there are so many options but i think the first move would be to go to Blogger :)

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  6. Thanks Chels!

    I really like the idea of having a blog that can evolve as my life evolves. I have come across some really great ones through pinterest and my own search for wedding/future ideas. As soon as I typed my last post I thought about the photography thing as well. I think that as I learn more as a photographer, I would really like to jump on the photographers blog bandwagon, but that it would be something separate, like you said. Switching to blogger is definitely a good start! Thanks!

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  7. I just found your blog today and think it is great. I've been reading for hours. I recently decided on starting a blog of my own and this post will be a big help. I know I'll be coming back here regularly for more advice, and some of that honesty that is so refreshing. Thanks!

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  8. Just found your last segment of these posts and wanted to start from the beginning. This is great info! Thanks for the help

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  9. I love your blog! It's so helpful! I'm a new blogger and there's so much on here I would have missed had I not found your blog! Thanks so much for sharing! :)

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  10. Hi! I found this post when I was on Pinterest looking for blog tips. I just started two very different blogs. My question is that you say to comment on other people's blogs, do I put a link to my own blogs? Or just a comment? Thank you for your help! This post was great!

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    Replies
    1. Put a link to your own blog without sounding sales-y!

      example:

      Chelsea from Diamonds, Dog Tags & Diapers
      http://www.diamondsdogtagsdiapers.com

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