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How to Blog: Tips for Getting Started

How to Blog: Tips for Getting Started

November 5th, 2009
Posted in Lifestyle By

Is it just us, or does it seem that in the past year everyone and their mother has started their own blog? With magazines and newspapers struggling to keep afloat, more and more people are turning to the internet for information, and in addition, creating their own content to share with the world. The problem is, with the seemingly endless number of blogs out there, it can be difficult to differentiate yours from the pack. If you’re looking to start more of a personal blog just to share with friends and family, that’s perfectly fine, but if you want your blog to get noticed, you’ll need to follow some guidelines to make sure you don’t waste your time creating a blog that no one will ever read.

Here are our top seven tips:

1. Pick a platform

The first place to start is finding a blogging platform that works for you and your purpose. We suggest free platforms like Blogger (pictured above) and WordPress, or Typepad, which can be as inexpensive as $8.95 a month. These blogging tools allow you to customize your site to meet your unique needs and tastes in a simple dummy-proof format. We recommend doing a little research online first–find out which blogs you are most drawn to and what blogging platforms they currently utilize. This will give you a better idea about what kind of end result you’ll be able to achieve from each tool.

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2. Pick a theme

No one wants to read a play by play of your every waking minute (well, your mom, maybe), so pick a theme to focus on throughout your posts that will interest potential readers. This could be anything from a love of DIY fashion to your obsession with vintage automobiles. Once you decide what you’ll be posting about, do some research on the blogosphere and find out what people in that area are already writing about. You’ll want to set your blog apart by finding a unique niche and focus that hasn’t already been widely covered.

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Snippet & Ink‘s theme focuses on providing daily inspiration for people planning a wedding

3. Pick a name

This may seem like a piece of cake, but it’s not–and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your name is your brand and will stick with you forever, so make sure it is something you love now and will still love five years from now. The name of your blog is the first thing that readers will see, and it will often make or break whether or not they decide to click on the link or continue reading. Make it something creative, non-cliché, and avoid boring titles that use your own name like “Jenny’s Fashion Blog.” If you’re not creative with your blog’s name, people will assume that the rest of your page’s contents have little to offer.

4. Come up with a logo

So you’ve gotten people to click on your blog with a great title, now how do you get them to keep reading? Your logo is the first step. It’s important to create a unique logo that will catch people’s eyes and represent the point you are trying to get across. But your logo doesn’t necessarily have to have images–using an interesting (but not too crazy) font can be enough for people to recognize. If you do use images, it’s important that they sync well with your title, so that it looks clean, intriguing, and so that the image and blog name fit well with one another visually. If you’re not skilled in Photoshop or basic graphic design, enlist a friend to help or hire someone. The effort and cash you put in will be well worth it in the end.

Here are two examples, one with an image and one without:

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Garance Doré

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Sea of Shoes

5. Site design

What’s great about platforms like Blogger and WordPress are that you can customize your blog’s design so that it doesn’t look like any old template. Learning HTML is helpful to know when it comes to spiffing up your blog. It will expand your options by allowing you to customize the page structure and resize pictures to your liking, but you don’t need to be an HTML wizard to do so. If you’re clueless when it comes to this computer lingo, we recommend picking up a copy of HTML: A Beginner’s Guide by Wendy Willard so that you can learn the basics. Once you feel comfortable with the resources given to help you design your page, don’t overdo it with features. The worst thing to encounter when you visit a webpage is clutter, so keep it clean and sophisticated while still including the information that you deem crucial. The less clutter your page has, the more professional it will look as well.

6. Track your readership

Now that you’ve put a ton of work into getting your blog up and running–and looking fabulous!–you’ll want people to actually read it. This can be the hardest step of all, but it will feel extremely rewarding once you succeed! First, we recommend adding a hit counter to the bottom of your blog page in order to keep tabs on how many people are visiting each day. Whichever platform you originally choose will have an option for you to add additional features to the spaces around your content. Search for “hit counters” online, and pick one of these that you like to add as a feature.

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7. Market yourself!

You’ll also want to register for social media sites like Twitter and Facebook if you haven’t already done so. Once you’ve become a member on Twitter and Facebook, build a following by finding friends on the site or people with similar interests. When you feel like you’re connected to enough people, start posting links to your blog posts on your profiles so that people will click through to your blog. It is also helpful to reach out to other bloggers with similar niche topics to yours and ask them to put you on their blogroll if you do the same for them. And of course, tell all of your friends and family to check out all of your hard work and spread the word!

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