Disclaimer: This is a how-to mixed with the process of kicking your own butt into pushing the go-live button on your blog and the crazy emotional breakdown that goes along with it.
Overcoming your fear when tackling a new venture, working toward a goal, or making lasting change in your life is going to require courage. The fears we have that we will not be successful, well liked, or well received create massive barriers to trying new things.
In order to grow, you have to take a great leap of faith. Even if you are not successful, the process will be an educational and interesting one. What better way to spend your time than working toward your dream.
There is so much information available to walk you through starting a blog. Where do you even start when you have an epiphany in the middle of the night that blogging is for you? Does the initial rush of enthusiasm wane once you begin to understand what a mammoth, monumental task you have taken on? Then do you freak out? First things first! Let’s get this thing going…
It’s 2 am and you wake with a burning desire to start a blog. You read and subscribe to so many interesting, engaging, helpful, inspirational people on social media. You want to be part of the crew.
Your life experience, hobbies, career, lifestyle, relationship status, craftiness, green thumb, master baker skills (and so on) qualify YOU to do what they do. Your mind is spinning at a gazillion miles an hour with ideas. You are like a squirrel on speed!
Now, you need to figure out how this is actually going to work. You’ve seen all the pages that guarantee that you can have a blog going in 7 minutes or less. Sounds good right? Could it really be that easy?
You will discover in the morning when you have your slippers and your coffee. That starting a blog is NOT that simple. Within half an hour your head will again be spinning, but not in a good way.
A simple search engine or Pinterest search will quickly overwhelm you with advice, tutorials, offers, templates, free blogs, free website builders, hints, tips, tricks, and don’t dos.
There is a great deal of fantastic information out there. What you will find is that not all of it applies to you. At this point, you don’t even know what a ‘niche’ is. You just know that you want to start a blog.
There will be a couple of clear messages though. Don’t sign up for a free site. You will be limited in what you can do, the tools you can use, and whether you can monetize your site as you grow. In the fine print, you will find that you will have to pay them in the end to have any chance of expansion.
The second message will be who the BEST hosting company is for bloggers. And the deals abound on various platforms. The deals aren’t going anywhere. Continue to research what setting up a blog entails. Listen to the people who have a set-up similar to what you are planning.
The next message is image manipulation. The web likes images. Your blog has to have images. You will notice a few software programs come up frequently. Take note. They will be your first editors.
By now, you have an idea that you need a domain name for your blog, a company to host it, and a niche to fit into. Along the way, you have also learned that you need to have a theme. Unless you are skittles, you do not need to taste the rainbow. Your blog has to have a look and feel of its very own without being overwhelming to the senses.
YOU need to have a brand. A name, a logo, color scheme, fonts, image style, social media presence across several major players, and checklists for everything except how you want your eggs in the morning.
I bet you have almost printed out a ream of paper from all the articles, freebies, pages you adore, pictures, software reviews, tutorials, brainstorms, mind maps, workflows, ad infinitum. Yeah, I did, almost a ream. And do you know how much of that actually made the cut? Not too much.
From your initial brilliant subconscious wake the freak up and smell the flowers light bulb moment, to something that is akin to a deflated balloon. There is too much information out there for any one person to try and make sense of.
If you have been taking notes, you will know that there are several steps you must go through each and every time you begin a blog post. From the initial brainstorm to an outline, to the creating content and images, editing, posting, linking, promoting, and scheduling.
But first, you must indulge yourself and do keyword searches and analyze potential blog post headings. This is a science unto itself.
Even if you are an organized type-A personality, to begin with, you have not yet met blog planning. You will need a system to follow each and every time you create and publish content. There are too many things that could get missed.
If you are a computer whizz, you can whip up your own forms, checklists, and blank editorial schedules. There are also plenty of software programs that you can use to keep track of everything. And bloggers before you have kindly created such things for you to download.
You will also need a media kit. If you want to work with brands and affiliates, you will need a media kit that condenses who you are and what you do onto a single or double-sided page. There are a ton of free templates out there. File this info away and revisit later. There’s a ton more work to be one before you prepare your media kit.
Like the rest of life, nothing worth anything is free. Blogging is not free. It is not second mortgage expensive, but there are some initial set up costs. Don’t let cost throw you off. If you can’t pay this month, you can still be writing content, working on images, learning the software, and setting yourself up.
A domain name for 2 years is less than $60, depending on where you go, there is always a deal or discount code floating around. Most domains will include your own domain email. Odds and ends will nickel and dime you up to $150+ depending on what you need. Still, don’t let this put you off. You can start off with the very basics and free themes.
The really good blog support companies that manage email lists, automation, pro versions of WordPress plugins, have generous free account and free trail packages. Throw all your change in a piggy bank and soon you will have the cash flow to go to the next level.
Scour Facebook for blogging groups. There are some fabulous, fabulous groups out there. I cannot say enough about the ladies (and gents) in some of the groups I belong to. There are several groups for brand new bloggers. There are support and encouragement, and help, available to you 24/7.
I believe that one of the groups I belong to has over 20,000 members worldwide. THAT is a lot of people. That is a lot of potential networking opportunities. The Facebook groups you join offer you a never-ending supply of fresh thoughts, guidance, and ideas for you.
Having a bad day, hit a group. Stuck on a name, hit a group. Need technical help, hit a group. There are successful experts in the groups who love to share the process that has led them to where they are today.
The groups also teach you to have realistic ideas of growth and eventual success. This is not a get rich quick scheme. This is a business that you will have to invest a lot of yourself and your time in order to survive.
Don’t let that scare you. We all start somewhere. And that somewhere is here.
The overall leviathan of blog platform software is WordPress with over 32% of the market share for web site platform building. Considering there are over 3 billion people on the web, WordPress garners a massive amount of business. And there is a reason.
There is a bit of a learning curve. If you aren’t too computer savvy it might be confusing. Just play. You can’t really hurt anything. There are a ton of tutorials on how to do simple things. Don’t let it stop you in your tracks. Like anything, it just takes time.
If you get frustrated, walk away for a while. Go read a library book on WordPress, or do a bit more reading online. Or, write some content, brainstorm ideas, go pet the cat, or water the lawn. Bake a cake. Take a break.
WordPress is so popular because a majority of hosts supply you with the WordPress platform, themes, and plugins when you buy hosting. The blank slate is already there for you. Once you pick a theme you are off and running.
WordPress software is free to download. You can build your entire site on your own computer before ever buying hosting. BUT, you need a bit of computer savvy to run simulated Apache and SQL database software. See, I lost you there. Probably best to pick a hosting company and go from here.
Hosting your blog on a very basic plan is around a Starbucks coffee or a couple of candy bars, a month. Yep, $3-5 dollars a month. BUT, they want 12-24 months up front. Make sure to have that piggy bank handy. Having a blog is totally doable at any income bracket.
Through good advice, and Facebook groups, you will learn what others like and dislike about their hosting. There will be deals through other bloggers that save a few dollars if you go through their links. Take a bit of time and follow your intuition.
You can always start with the cheapest plan, and as you grow, or need to, go to the next tier. There is a lot to learn along the way, and you may not need to expand for a little while. Go at your own pace,
This is kinda scary. There are so many things to schedule. And that doesn’t include you. There is advice up the ying-yang about how to, what to, not to, try to, do. Your head is going to spin.
Once again, read a bunch and reach out to your groups. They will have awesome advice on what has worked for them. You will learn the limitations of some free versions of the software. You will be given recommendations for free software. There’s every gamut available to you.
Scheduling will include Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and any other combination of social media platforms you choose to focus on. Start off with a couple of your favorites until you get the hang of it.
You have to schedule you first. Start thinking about what content and how often you will post. And don’t forget you will be sending out emails on a regular basis to the people who subscribe to your blog. Getting you organized is a priority here.
You have to make your blog pretty. You will create a few different templates to specifications from guidelines for various social media. Once you have the templates, all you need to do is ‘save as’ and put in the new info each time.
There are a few highly recommended free sites to do all of your image work. Pick whichever one works for you. AS you get more proficient, move on to paid versions, or buy software for yourself.
Keep all image work within your branding guidelines to keep the same look and feel throughout your blog, and across all social media.
EMAIL LISTS AND FREEBIES
And this is where all hell breaks loose. You have most likely downloaded and printed an encyclopedia’s worth of hints, tips, tricks, lists, checklists, worksheets, eBooks, free courses, and god knows what else.
And what did you have to do to get those freebies? I bet you had to sign up and add to the email lists of the people you wanted the goodies from. Next is the onslaught of inbox suffocation.
You will find you don’t have the time to read all the emails cramming your inbox. And when you do, you will find hard, hard sells for courses, every day, in triplicate, without.fail. It gets old, real quick.
There is also all the advice and links to yet more articles and downloads from all of the sites you subscribed to. You will soon see that a good portion of them are not useful to you because their niche is not yours.
There will be a few people who absolutely grab your interest every time you open their emails. These are the subscriptions you should keep. Nix the rest. Unsubscribe. Make them be gone. Without guilt.
There is no point in staying on lists that do not add to your knowledge, apply to your niche, or offer you sound and helpful advice. Stick with a few.
This will give you an understanding of how email subscriptions and lists work. You will need to prepare your own welcome sequence and ongoing check-ins with your subscribers once you get going.
Overwhelmed yet? Feel like you just can’t get your head around everything blog like? Now is the time to go through all that paperwork and all those downloads and sort them into useful and not useful piles or folders.
Line the cat box, or raised garden bed, or shred to turn it into hamster bedding, all the info that you have no need for. I have a pile to recycle. Or months-worth of scratch paper!
From that lightbulb moment until now has been an asteroid like bombardment of all things blogging, monetizing, winning, failing, flailing, finger-wagging, information.
Now, do you.
But, what you want to do has already been done. A million times. All of your ideas have been blogged about to death. You can’t do this. It’s not going to work. You have nothing to add. Crap!
You can’t learn all this in a short time. You’re not that tech savvy. You have no design experience. Color scheme, branding, fonts, clueless. No one will want to read what you have to say.
Don’t over think. The best advice I have heard and seen is BE YOURSELF. Just be you. Curse, swear, yell, scream, cry, whimper, be up, be down, sideway, just be you. THAT is your brand. Your voice. All the other stuff is the pretty stuff. The business tools you will use to promote YOU.
You are worth it. You can succeed. You got this. Grab a few new online friends, link elbows, drink virtual margaritas, and get to work.
Really, you can do this.
The win is taking this blog building one day at a time. Set some doable goals for each day, and get going. You will not get done with your daily to-do list. It will morph as the day goes by. You will constantly be adding items.
Don’t worry, some you can just cross off. Others you can move. The only thing you need to do is continue working on your blog.
All the things listed above are real. I barely touched on all the information I have learned. Right now I am ok with that. Ignorance is bliss they say.
I have purposefully been vague on details because I want you to figure out what YOU need, and what will work for you. There are oodles of phenomenal support and advice for new bloggers out there.
You have already got enough information to make a solid start, and have an idea of what tools to use to keep track of what you are doing, and the questions you still need answered.
This is all about you. I know you can do it.