Beginners Guide to Blogging
Interested in blogging but don’t know where to start? Startup Digital is here to help! We’ve put together some basic tips to get you started. Rather than just taking our word for it, we’ve teamed up with two seasoned and successful bloggers to get their top tips for success: Say hello to beauty blogger April Todd from helloapril.co.uk and musical theatre expert Sarah McPartlan from musicaltheatremusings.co.uk
So, where do you start?
1. Find your inspiration
This is the important part. Blogging for the sake of blogging just won’t work. You need to find a niche that you love and are happy to write about. To make your blog a success, you’ll need to write constantly and still be happy to write about your chosen subject in a year.
“I was inspired to start blogging as I love analysing theatre productions I see,” said Sarah from Musical Theatre Musings. “This blog lets me analyse away and get other people to read it. My passion is theatre and it has been great to combine my passion with my blog.”
The chances are, if you have to think too hard about what your blogging subject might be then you might not be best placed to blog about it!
2. Do your research
Once you’ve got your chosen niche, spend some time researching other blogs who write about the same thing. If you want your blog to be successful then you’ll need to be better than what’s already out there, or at least take a slightly different angle.
“When I first started I had no idea how large the blogging community was,” comments April from Hello April. ” I saw other people blogging and thought, I could do that.”
Your research should also give you ideas for your first posts, the mediums you could use to blog and ideas on what you like and don’t like. Make sure you write all this down and refer to it as your blog grows to ensure you’re staying true to your initial idea.
3. Choose your platform. WordPress vs Blogger
Once you’ve got your plan together, you’ll need a site to host your blog. You’ll need to decide on which CMS (content management system) to use before you choose your domain and hosting provider. WordPress and Blogger and the two most popular blogging platforms out there and both offer a host of options. There is no right or wrong answer. For simplicity, Blogger is for you. If you want more customisation, try WordPress.
Take a look at this handy infographic from idyeah.com, which summarises the differences between the two platforms: (click for a larger version)
With WordPress, you can choose to host it yourself (wordpress.org) or have your site hosted by WordPress (wordpress.com). There are benefits to both, so take the time to research what you want to do. If you want to host it yourself, you’ll need to buy a domain name and hosting package with someone such as GoDaddy or 1&1.
When choosing your domain, pick something that matches your blog’s name closely and stick to traditional domain extension such as .com, .co or a local alternative such as .co.uk. It might be a good idea to decide on a name for your blog based on what domains are available to choose.
April chips in with some more advice, “Take the time to find a blog name that you love, I made the mistake of going with a name and changing it a year later.”
4. Get writing
Now comes the reason you did all this! April has sound advice for getting started, “don’t focus too much on other blogs. Other blogs are a great place to find inspiration, but the more you look at what others are doing, the more you may be influenced to copy their style. “
Share some drafts with friends to get their opinions and don’t be afraid to ask for honest feedback.
There are also good tools out there to help you with your writing style. Hemmingway App (www.hemingwayapp.com) will give you feedback on your post’s readability and style. Run all your posts through here before publishing to check it’s readable.
Sometimes it can be hard to find inspiration, so don’t force it. It’s better to write nothing than to write something bad. There is no set formula for how often you should publish something new. It’s completely dependent on how much time you want to spend on your blog.
5. Promote yourself
Much of Sarah’s success has come from promoting herself and her blog. “Blow your own trumpet – plug your own blog on your facebook etc – if your friends and family don’t want to read it why will anyone else? Read other blogs (and comment on them), get involved on social media – especially twitter and talk to other bloggers. Make sure you say yes to any events where you may meet other bloggers or companies that you want to work with.”
Sarah’s self-promotion has earnt her press invites and tickets to theatre productions and events. “I have managed to build up a relationship with one theatre by simply responding to a tweet and getting invited to an event,” said Sarah. “I would also say that it’s not all freebies – be prepared to spend a bit of money to get some content on your site in the first place and to continue to get content.”
Promotion does take time and you have to be prepared to put the work in. Accepting event invites can seem great but you have to be prepared to put in the extra hours post event. “Never accept an invite unless you have time to blog about it shortly after the event,” adds Sarah.
April’s blogging life has taken off recently and now she is making money from it. She recently got involved with Tesco Beauty Sessions.
April shared with us how it all came about:
“The agency who were running the sessions contacted me quite a while before the sessions started to ask if I was interested and to get a little more information about me and my blog. After months of discussions, training and practise sessions, they launched and I have really been enjoying them.”
April also shared some advice for those wishing to make money or get freebies from their blog. “Firstly, a common misconception that I come across a lot in blogging is that your blog will be the sole money earner, from adverts or partner links. In reality this isn’t the case. Unless your blog has a huge amount of traffic, the money you get from ads will be minimal. What will really make you money is you. Your blog is a brand and you are the ambassador for it, companies will come to you via your blog, but the money you earn may come from a whole load of other portals such as the Tesco beauty sessions, or sponsored posts.
“If you go into blogging thinking you want to make a career out of it, you need to treat it as a business. Invest in good equipment and do your research to get the best possible blog you can.”
Make sure you blog because of your passion. If you can make money from it or get some freebies, then see that as a bonus!
Drop us an email if you want help getting started. We got Sarah off the ground and would be happy to help you too!