Monday, 18 June 2012

Guide to Starting Your Own Blog


I often get emails from girls who want to start their own blogs and need some advice, or they are setting up a blog for the first time and want to ask me some questions. I've been meaning to write this post for a while and compose a 'quick start guide for beginners' in setting up your own blog. I have in no way 'mastered'  blogging nor do I have all the answers but I feel in my 20 months of blogging on This Fashion Is Mine I have learnt a few things along the way. This may not interest those of you who already own established blogs but for anyone that would like to know all my top tips and tricks, then read on....


 Choosing a URL Blog Name

Picking a name for your blog can be the hardest place to start! Remember, you can change this in the future so don't be afraid to pick a very simple name that describes what your blog will be about. I'd recommend choosing something unique and original but also something that means a great deal to you or your blog. 'This Fashion Is Mine' was chosen by myself because I wanted people to understand what my blog was about (fashion) and how I was going to write about it (my personal style.)


 Design and Layout

I get asked questions all the time about my own blog design but its really not that complicated! I just use to templates provided on Blogger under Design > Template Designer and tweak them to suit my preferences. I think widening your main column gives a professional look and means you can include large photographs with your text.

How can I make my blog design look professional?

Choose a colour scheme or 2-3 colours max! Stick with them throughout. Choose a font style that is comfortable on the eyes and easy to read. Font size plays its role too, my general rule is no smaller than pt.8 but no larger than pt.14 for the main body of text.
Design your own blog header. You can choose a photo, illustration or just bold/fancy text. I use Photoshop to design my blog headers but I understand it is an expensive piece of software and if you don't fancy splashing out then there are other simpler options out there.
I wouldn't recommend paying any professionals to design you a blog - they will charge hundreds and who knows if you'll even be interested 2 months down the line? There are plenty of young people/bloggers out there who can do you a good deal if you're really stuck - but give it a go yourself first, you might surprise yourself!

I don't understand HTML codes.

Who really does! For me it's guess work half the time! Google is your friend and can help you with any issues you might have regarding HTML. Type in your problem and there will be a code for it.
Most of the time you can just copy and paste these into your blog's HTML under Design > Edit HTML.
Always always save a copy of the original template. Back it up. If anything drastic happens you can always re-upload it and be back to normal again.


 Photographs

Personally, I enjoy reading blogs that use high quality large or full size images. Having tiny images within text and loads of white space around them is pointless. Whack them up to XL if they can take it. But blurry or pixelated images are worse than scaled down ones!

But I can't afford an expensive DSLR camera.

You don't need a fancy DSLR camera to take great photos. The average compact digital will do the trick just be sure to set your camera to take the largest possible image on the finest quality setting. Use lots of natural light to photograph yourself, objects, makeup items, clothes etc. Indoor lighting can cast warm yellow hues over your images, which can be fixed in Photoshop afterwards but its easier to just get it right first time. Photograph near a big window with lots of natural light (even when cloudy its still classed as natural light) or outside if the weather is suitable.
Allow your camera to AutoFocus (or manually do it if you prefer) on the details of your subject. In close-up photos focus on important text on a beauty product or the texture of a certain fabric.
I edit all of my images before posting. Just a bit of cropping here and there and altering the brightness/contrast if needed. Its not essential to edit all your pictures and if you don't have the knowledge just make sure you take clear sharp images that are nicely composed.




 Content

This is probably the most important aspect of your blog. What you choose to write about, how you write and how you structure your blog posts really matters. It's what makes you stand out as a good writer and keeps people coming back to read more. If you're a natural comedian then let it show in your writing! But don't force a particular writing style. Just imagine you are talking to a friend and keep your blog posts fairly informal. I also read blogs that are written very informally in a chatty style or like a diary entry. This can work too and allow your readers to get a sense of who you are. But if you're a little more professional in your writing that's okay too, just always remember your audience.

What should I write about?

Write about subjects that interest you. If you want to write about baking cakes but it seems that fashion or beauty blogs are more popular - who cares! Write about baking cakes! If you have a huge interest in tv and film and enjoy writing reviews then do that. You have to enjoy keeping and maintaining a blog or else you will just become bored within a week. There will always be others out there who share you're interests and be so happy to find a blog dedicated to those interests.

I want to write about fashion or beauty. But isn't everyone doing that?

The blogging world is humongous. Everyone and their mother has a blog these days, but that doesn't mean you can't have one too. Choose to write about your chosen subject as originally as you can. Try looking from a different view point to everybody else. Or picking subjects no one else seems to be discussing. Always write honestly and give your true opinions.
But what is current is also important. People like hearing about the latest trends and sometimes I even read 5 or 6 blog posts on the same subject just so I can hear everybody's view.




 Gaining Followers Fast

This is a tricky subject because if you are starting a blog simply to gain lots of followers and feel popular and loved then you are starting a blog for the wrong reason. It's wonderful when people care about what you're saying and want to add your blog to their reading lists but that shouldn't be main priority.

But its been months and I still don't have many followers!

Sometimes you can feel like your talking to a brick wall. Putting all this energy into your blog and hearing no feedback is disheartening. My best advice for gaining followers at first is to just keep going.
I was probably about 6 blog posts in before I got my first follower! Another week or so and I was up to 10 followers. It's hard being a newbie and getting noticed but you will only do this by keep posting quality interesting blog posts that people want to read and share.
Getting to know other bloggers and sharing the love on their blogs/twitters can bring traffic to your own. I don't personally leave links to my blog in comments (I just don't feel comfortable doing it) but if you leave an interesting comment or suggestion on another person's post people will feel more inclined to click on your profile and check you out too!

Success will come! And I remember feeling so proud and accomplished when I hit 100 followers and its still the same to this day. Every time I log on and see I've gained a new follower I smile. Every positive comment I get on a post or through Twitter makes me keep going, wanting to blog more and more.



 What to Expect in the First Few Months

Expect nothing. Then you can't be disappointed! Certainly don't expect invites to blogger events or freebies through your letterbox. But you can expect to see some interest in your blog, comments, new followers, maybe even new friends. Hopefully you will still be excited after the first few months.
I felt very weird about letting my close friends or family know about my blog at first and it was only after I'd been writing for over a year that I let my Mum see my blog. Even now she's not allowed to discuss what is on here with me, I find the whole thing too embarrassing! I wouldn't recommend being as shy as myself - be proud of putting yourself out there and doing something that takes a lot of confidence. Plus the more people you tell the more readers you will gain!





My Ten Top Tips


#1 Try to post new stuff at least twice a week. Three or four times if you can manage / have enough interesting things to say.
#2 Never force yourself to write. If there is no passion behind your posts, your readers will notice.
#3 Keep a Blog Diary or notebook. Scribble down ideas for future posts.
#4 Structure the distribution of your posts evenly. (For example, Sunday-Wednesday-Friday) This doesn't have to be a regular timetable but spread out your posts a little bit. Give people time to catch up and read the latest one!
#5 Write about yourself. People are naturally nosey creatures who enjoy prying into other people's lives! I know I do! Include photographs of yourself, don't be camera shy. Chat about your day, what makes you, you and what can we all relate too?
#6 Get set up with Google Analytics especially from the beginning then you can see how much you grow! It's more accurate than Blogger Stats and will help you keep track of all your blog traffic.
#7 Use your own imagery. And if you want to use photos you find online, always link the source. It's just good manners.
#8 Correct spelling and grammar at all times please! Okay, so we are all human and everyone makes mistakes! But I think it's fairly important to read a blog that is written well. Spell check your posts before publishing them.
#9 Don't be afraid to ask questions, email lovely bloggers such as myself or google, google, google your way through the beginning.
#10 Twitter is a great place to advertise your blog posts, chat to other bloggers, keep track of what everyone else is up to and the hear about the latest news in the blogging community.




...And that's all folks! I'm very curious to know how many of you don't have your own blog - so if this is you, please let me know! Hopefully this guide was useful to some of you and although I can't possibly know all there is to know, I've picked up a few things along the way and given you my honest advice and opinions.

If there is anything I have not covered don't be afraid to ask. I'm considering writing a 'How to Take Your Blog Further' post in the future if anyone would be interested. For bloggers who are getting stuck in a rut and need a helpful push in the right direction.

x
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35 comments

  1. I started up my blog about 3-4 weeks ago, but this is great advice to anyone wanting to start one!x

    http://lockedupinfashion.blogspot.co.uk/

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  2. This is a really good post - loads of very sensible advice!

    I've been blogging for a year now, and it has only recently felt like anyone is actually reading it.. for a long time I was just chatting to myself (luckily my main reason of starting was just to keep a record of my life!).

    I'd definitely be interested in a how to take it further post. x

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  3. great tips! & I'd definitely love to see a 'How to Take Your Blog Further' post
    x

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  4. Great post!! Thanks for the tips!!!!! Maybe after 35 posts I might be over my 22 followers?!?!!!!!! xXx

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  5. This was really helpful, as I've just started my blog and I still feel like I'm talking to myself but I know I've just got to keep going :) xx

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  6. Really great post with some brilliant tips. I never thought about having a blogger diary but I think I'll have to start one soon, I'm constantly forgetting ideas I've had for posts.

    Dionne

    itsbeautystartswithin.blogspot.co.uk

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  7. Fantastic post :)

    http://jessica-jjc.blogspot.co.uk/

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  8. thank you so much for this post! I found it very helpful :)
    It's nice to see something like this from someone who knows what they are talking about! I'd definitely be interested in reading the how to take your blog further post xx

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  9. Excellent post and so well timed as I just started my own blog. I'm doing it because I want to work with blogging/writing/social media/fashion and beauty eventually so I think it's a great way to get experience and to put yourself out there. I've only written three posts so far but I'm really enjoying it and it's nice to know you have your own slice of internet that's yours...if that makes any sense.
    I'll keep this tips in mind as I continue posting...thank you :)

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  10. This is perfect timing! Ive just started a blog, I tried once before but never really felt attached to it. I really want to make it work this time, this has been a great help thanks!

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  11. Amazing, amazing post! Very helpful indeed :)

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  12. Really helpful post! I've just started my blog and this is the encouragement I needed.
    Thank you!

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  13. such a helpful post!
    smozzy
    xxx
    http://youonlyliveonceenjoyit.blogspot.co.uk/

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  14. This is a brilliant post! I've tried loads of times to start a blog but I can never maintain interest in it. Hopefully I can this time! xx

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  15. Thank you for this post, it's been very encouraging, and perfect timing as I started my own about a week ago, in fact this was one of the blogs that inspired me :)x

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  16. I would love it if you did a post on how to take your blog further. Yourself and a couple of other bloggers were part of the reason I started blogging in the first place.

    P.s. I love your flowery nails. I'm a noob at nail varnish and have to ask other people to paint them for me. I wish I could do nails like you.

    http://girl-therefore.blogspot.com

    Jess xx

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  17. This post came at the perfect time, as I've been looking to start a blog for over a year now, but I'm moving to London next week and really wanted one there to document what I get up to. This post made me finally take the plunge, thank you!

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  18. Such a fantastic post - thanks for the all the advice! Inspiring :)

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  19. This post has finally motivated me to start my own blog. Thank you it was really helpful :).

    lifeandstyleofemily.blogspot.com

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  20. Great post! Definitely going to use a notebook to plan, what a good idea! X

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  21. i just started my blog today and this really helped im finding it hard to get mine looking as sleek as yours but i can try ;) thanks again for the awesome tips your blog is the best :') x

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  22. This was so useful! Thank you so much, I'd also like to see a 'How To Take Your Blog Further' post.
    I've just started up my blog -
    http://ellaputyourrecordson.blogspot.co.uk/
    Fashion, music, books and bands :)

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  23. This post has really helped me!
    I've just started up my own blog
    http://captureparlamode.blogspot.co.uk/
    please take a look!

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  24. Hi Gwen -

    I don't have a blog (yet) however I am thinking of starting one. This post is massively useful in terms of advising how often to post and how to write an appealing and interesting blog that potential readers will enjoy! I would love to read more posts like this one - I read your blog AT LEAST once a week and always check the DIY Friday section - LOVE it! - to see what creative projects I can try! This blog is a credit to you - I think you are an extremely talented individual, and I look forward to reading more posts in the future!

    Fiona.

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  25. I found your blogpost incredibly helpful! :) Thank you for even taking the time and writing it! I would love it if you wrote a "how to take your blog further" type of post. It sound very interesting! Also, I used one of you photos for my "disco pants" post, but I linked it to your blog and gave you credit, so I hope that's fine with you!
    I really enjoy reading your blog.
    Elle :)

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  26. What a great post, really helpful.
    For me it took over half a year to get even one follower. I've learnt a lot from this.
    You have to be patient but be prepared to work hard to put out good quality content.
    Its:
    moonlina.blogspot.co.uk
    I hope you like it.
    Thanks!

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  27. Trying to figure out how to get started. Your post has helped tremendously. Thank you. (Kelly in Alabama)

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  28. I have a blog now thanks to you xx
    chloe55x.vlogspot.com

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  29. Great post. I actually don't write a blog but am itching to start one detailing road trips and travel i've done throughout the years. Thanks for the inspiration!!

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  30. Thank you so much for your advice and encouragement!

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  31. This is a big help! I literally started my blog this week - only 2 posts but I'm proud of them both
    - ASOS AW14 Press day
    - Primark Haul
    www.styleandlondon.blogspot.co.uk

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  32. I have only plucked up the courage to start blogging recently, I have only posted about three posts, so these tips are extremely helpful! Thank you! It's also nice to find some more North West bloggers :)
    Natasha x

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  33. I love this post! I started out nearly a year ago, posting very irregularly but now its picking up :) This has been so helpful over the past few months!

    www.theferventfoodie.wordpress.com

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  34. Absolutely exceptional, brilliant stuff, I am much pleased while reading this. my company

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