How to set up a new blog

How to set up a new blog

Are you wondering how to set up a new blog?

Whatever it is you’re passionate about – there will be people out there who would like to read about it. Enthusiasm is infectious!

You’re very unlikely to be alone in your interest.  Your head is probably already full of great material for your blog.

Getting started is much easier than you may be thinking. I’m find myself talking about this every week, each time with someone who has a great blog idea, but is baffled by how to get off the ground. So, I’m writing it down!

Here are the first steps to your fantastic new blog.  Taken one at a time, they’re totally doable.

WHY do you want to blog?

Is it:

  • To promote your business or charity?
  • To support or give advice to a community you’re passionate about?
  • To (eventually) earn some money from the blog itself, or by publishing a book?
  • For fun?
  • Because you think you ought to, even though you hate writing/taking photos/making videos?

These are all good reasons, except that last one, where you might want to think again!

If you’re confident that you would completely hate blogging, then you’re probably better off accepting that and promoting your business another way. There’s nothing worse than a half hearted blog, or a ‘blog’ page with nothing on it except a post from four years ago…

But, if it’s just that you’re feeling like you don’t know where to start, or it might be too much work – that’s OK.

I can help you identify all the great blog posts you already have floating around in your head, and get you blogging in a way that’s totally practical for you.

What is a blog anyway? Where do they live?

A blog is just a series of posts, by the same author, with some kind of common theme.

The posts could be words, images or videos.

There’s not one place on the internet which ‘hosts blogs’. Your blog could live on its own website, a page on your existing website, in an Instagram account, on Facebook, on YouTube. All depending what suits you and your posts.

Pick your subject matter

There’s a market for every blog. I have helped with blogs as diverse as:

What are your interests?

Or, are you targeting a particular audience or market?  In some ways, the more niche the better – the internet’s going to let you reach out to your tribe, however far and wide they may be scattered.

If you’d like to make money from your blog, with perseverance this may be possible.  For example, if you build up a good following, you may be able to turn your blog into a book.

Or, brands may be willing to send you free stuff to feature in your blog, or pay you to feature their stuff.  If this is your mission, what would you like to receive?  Beauty bloggers may receive beauty products.  Food bloggers may receive restaurant invites.

Words, photos or video?

You might think a blog has to fit the mould of a whole load of text with a photo at the top (like this one!) But great blogs come in many shapes and sizes. For example, your focus could be an Instagram photo blog, or a YouTube video blog.

Do you enjoy writing? Does it sound more like fun to chatter about your topic in a video?

Does your subject matter lend itself to lots of great photos? Do you already have a collection of your own great images?

What kind of blog?

Is your blog going to be:

  • Giving advice – how-to articles, recipes, guides, tutorials, case studies, helping people get something done or improve themselves?
  • Reviews of products, services or places?
  • A memoir, journal or a daily life newspaper-type column?
  • Sharing photos, testimonials and news from your business?
  • Campaigning for change?
  • Humour?
  • Interviews?
  • A celebration of beauty?
  • Or something else?

What are people going to get out of reading it?  In what way is it going to help or entertain them?

Find your voice

Your voice and style will evolve as you go along, and grow into something that reflects you beautifully.

Before you start finding your way though, have a think about whether you want to be:

  • Funny and warm
  • Professional and authoritative
  • Uplifting
  • Direct or formal
  • Hip and detached
  • Cute and girlish
  • Controversial and seeking to provoke
  • Intimate and revealing
  • Or something else?

Are your posts going to be long and engrossing or short and snappy?

How would you like your readers to feel after reading one of your posts?

And your look

Will you use your own images for your blog?  Do you need to get some taken professionally?  Or can you develop a style of your own homespun photos or videos, for example to illustrate your how-to articles?

Do you have the graphic design skills to create beautiful infographics?  (Flow charts and other visually rich illustrations of data or principles.)

Will you be making use of stock imagery like the image at the top of this page?  Lots of sites offer these for free, and you may be able to find images that fit your style.  I quite like Pixabay, which is nice and simple to use.

With stock imagery there can be a risk of ending up with rather a generic look though.

On this site I use a mixture of stock images (like at the top of this page) and my own home made jelly bean infographics, like in this article, what is the purpose of your website.

Choose your platform

So, if you want to write your own blog, I’d recommend to publish that on your own website. That way you have full ownership and control over your own content.

If you want to principally publish photos, I’d recommend Instagram.

For video, YouTube.

But there are lots of alternatives, and all kinds of valid approaches, and it may be another platform which would be the perfect niche for your blog.

Is there somewhere you already hang out, that appeals to you?

Create your brand

What do you want your blog to be called? Maybe it’s just about adding a blog page to your business website, and it doesn’t need its own name.

Or, if you’re creating a stand-alone blog site, or a new Instagram blog, etc, you’ll need an identity. Your new brand.
Possibilities include:

Incorporating your name (this probably isn’t something people would search for very much, but still it can create something distinctive)

Something that helps describe what the blog’s about (the location, the subject matter, etc)

Something quirky or memorable

Check it’s not already in use

Once you’ve got a great idea, check whether someone has beaten you to it. Search for it on:

  • Google
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Any other platform you’re planning to use or thing might be relevant
  • Typing the URL into your browser
  • Search for similar spellings or ideas, or the same words in a different order

If someone else is already using your idea, or something very similar, think again.

On a legal level, you don’t want to impinge on their intellectual property, get cease and desist letters, and have to rebrand. But on an ethical and energetic level, you don’t want to be trying to rip off someone else’s work. Your work is going to be strong enough to shine under its own steam!

If it’s looking good, that you are a pioneer on virgin territory, keep screenshots of your searches, to preserve a record of who got there first.

Once you’ve found your brand, use your new name to create your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, and to buy the URL if you’re going to publish your new blog on your own site.

There’s more on how to choose and buy your domain name here.

Create your own site?

If you want your blog to have its own website, I’d recommend creating a WordPress site. This is an open source (ie free) piece of software for running websites.

It’s fairly easy to use. It’s very popular, and you won’t have trouble finding someone to update or amend it for you in the future if you’d like to.

It has all kinds of plugins, making it very flexible, and all kinds of themes, which set the colour scheme, design, layout, etc, for a style which appeals to you and suits your subject matter.

After you’ve bought your domain name (your URL), a web developer can set up your site for you, and a graphic designer can help you get the look you’d like for it. Or, if you’ve got the time and the inclination, you can do it yourself.

The first step is to buy some hosting, and in the long run you probably want your URL and hosting to be with the same company.  I’m currently using TSOHost for my domains and hosting.  I have to say I find some of their pages for managing my account a bit unintuitive, but that’s not somewhere I often need to go, and their support is helpful.  (That’s an affiliate link, meaning I’ll get a commission if you buy from them, but that’s not why I’m mentioning them!)

In any case, choose a company which will set a WordPress site up for you at your new web address. Then you just need to log in to your WordPress site and start customising it, and away you go. WPBeginner is a really nice site for advice in getting started.

Get social media working for you

Once you’ve published each blog post on your chosen platform, make sure to repost or post a link, on suitable social media channels as well – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Make sure every post reaches all of your fans.

This process can often be automated, although the results can be weaker than a more attentive approach.

I wouldn’t recommend to use a spray gun approach so much as to choose the social media channel(s) which you already enjoy, or which appeal to you, or which fit your subject matter, and do a nice job with them.

How often do you need to blog?

Google rewards regularity. Your website and your blog posts will rank higher on Google if you publish regularly.

But, quality is MUCH more important than quantity. If publishing one blog post a month on your site, or one photo a week on Instagram, is what’s practical for you, that’s perfect.

And I’ll be happy to help

So many people who have a great blog in them are daunted by how to set up a new blog.

I really enjoy helping you through the practicalities of getting off the ground, and coaching you towards expressing yourself really beautifully.

Do get in touch.

And I’ll be posting soon on how to write great blog posts…

Image: Pixabay

About Jessica Kennedy

Authored by Jessica Kennedy, the Marketing Chihuahua. Jessica writes text for the websites of small businesses and charities, and provides coaching in blogging and social media. She really enjoys helping people and organisations express themselves fluently online, in painless and practical ways.