I want to thank all of you for submitting your questions to me about blogging. I originally was going to make this a 3 part series, but there is just so much to talk about. Instead of having one post last forever I will be doing 6-8 parts of this series. The next guide post will go live next week. Make sure you subscribe to my newsletter to see when the next part of the series will go live. The series will start off talking about beginner aspects of blogging, and will advance as the series progresses. As always if there are more questions you want answered through the series leave a comment below.
Let's get started....
If you are trying to start a blog let me be the first to say congratulations on starting your blogging journey. I have been blogging for a little over 2 years now, and I absolutely love it. I hope that the knowledge I provide can help all of you along your future blogging endeavors.
Where Should I Put My Blog? - Platforms
Over the past couple years blogging has exploded, and so have the blogging platforms. You might feel overwhelmed with all the platform choices, and can't decide on who gets the honor of hosting your blog. Just like building a house from the ground up, you need to find that piece of land where you will be building your dream space. The two platforms that I have worked with are blogger and wordpress.
This is the platform that I currently use, and is often a good starting point for many aspiring bloggers. What I like about blogger is that it's pretty straight forward, completely free, and user friendly to those who don't have any technical background. Blogger also has google+, google analytics, and adsense as part of it's features. One of the great things about blogger is that you'll always get good exposure on the web since google owns blogger. Speaking of google. Since google owns blogger you don't have to really worry about a security breach or worry about surge traffic crashing out site. The downside with using blogger is that google owns your site, and has the right to shut it down at any time.
WordpressThis has become a popular hosting platform as the blogging scene continues to grow. This has become the platform of choice for those bloggers who turn blogging into their career.
Wordpress allows for a self hosted blog meaning you have complete control over your site. While wordpress is completely free, you will have to invest money into your site to purchase a domain name. What I personally love about wordpress is the SEO (search engine optimizaton - we will discuss in future posts) capabilities. There is tons of ways to register your keywords high on google with this platform. Wordpress also offers tons of flexibility in coding to design your site. The downside of wordpress is that is can be completely overwhelming to those who are not tech savvy. Also if you are not backing up the information on your website, you could lose the content during a crash.
SquarespaceThis is such a great platform to create beautiful sites, and have a store attached to your site. Squarespace is a great platform to achieve a professional looking site. The downside is that you will be paying a monthly fee to run the site.
Looking Chic - Site Design
The thing people notice right away when they visit your site is the design. Just like spotting a guy on the streets if he's good looking you'll take a double look, and stare a little longer ;) The design of your site speaks volumes about what your site is about, and who you are as a blogger. Take my site for instance. Recently I went through a redesign a month ago. My site has evolved since I started blogging, and J Petite has a definite style and voice. I decided I wanted my site to be more colorful because that is who I am as a person. I'm free spirited, fun, and feminine. When designing your site you have two three option.
- Free Template - Lots of platforms offer free templates that you can use that are great for a beginners.
- Pre Made Template $$ - If you want something more jazzy and customizable you can usually purchase a pre made design through your host or a shop via the web.
- Web Designer $$$ - The third option is to contact a web designer to customize you a template to install. This is the option I've done for both my designs. The downside with going to a designer is that it takes a couple months, and will cost you between $300-$600+.
What Makes You Different? - Finding Your Niche
I'm so stoked that you are still reading this, and I'm excited for your blogging adventure. What are you exactly going to blog about? With the sea of bloggers how are you going to stand out?
Before we talk about finding a niche in blogging, let us first define the term. A niche is what information you will be delivering to your readers whether it be broad such as "fashion" or narrow such as "affordable fashion."
Finding your niche is going to be critical to determine even before your site goes live. What you are going to blog about is going to determine what you'll write, imagery, site design, and taking your blog to that next level. Use me as an example. I am a fashion fitness blogger. Since I am a Pure Barre instructor I have a strong fitness background. My fitness and health posts are my favorite to write because I have so much passion for everything that encompasses healthy living. I have found my way as a Pure Barre blogger, and have gotten tons of traffic from those specific posts. Since I am very specific in barre I attract a certain type of crowd.
When you find something that you are passionate to blog about then writing will come more natural. Your passion will show through your writing, and create an emotional connection between you and your readers.
Finding Your Voice - Creating Quality Content
This is the meat and potatoes of your blog. The content you write for each blog post defines your brand, and who you are as a blogger. Every time a reader comes to your blog they want to know how they will be helped, educated, and entertained through your content.
Story time. Back when I was first starting to blog I was also working full-time at Nordstrom, and part time as a Pure Barre teacher. My whole day was booked like crazy, and I would blog way late at night. After going through and editing all my pictures I would be dead. Many posts were left contentless, and were just filled with pictures and a title. Do you think this defined me as a blogger? Do you think my readers knew who I was, and had an emotional engagement with my blog? Nope. When I decided to step up my game, and thoughtfully write each post I saw a tremendous amount of growth. My readers than began to engage with me through my comments, and sending me emails.
Enough about me lets get back to you. That's why we are here right :) If you are having trouble deciding how to create a killer blog post here are some things to consider.
Just as you would determine which movie to click on during a Netflix binge, the title is what lures you in. Something catchy and controversial will have your readers curious to learn more. One of my more controversial blog posts was titled "Did She Just Say the B Word?" were I talked about Botox. The title naturally lured people in, and had my followers curious to read.
The majority of us visit blogs to not only read about our favorite bloggers, but to view the images of their topic. The images provide clarity and support to what you are writing about, and are a key component of a good blog post. This blog post only has two images, but they set the tone for what were are going to discussion today. Another thing to consider is that when you do have images in your blog post then that post is "pinnable" for Pinterest to increase your blog traffic. Clean imagery is the best for professional bloggers, and we will discuss in more detail on another part of this series.
When writing the body of your post make sure you break it down into paragraphs. When skimming through a blog post the last thing you want to do is skim through a solid block of texts. No bueno. Make your content easy to read for your followers by paragraphs and header titles. Before you publish a post make sure there aren't any grammatical errors or misspelled words. I am the queen of this sometimes because my brain goes a million miles an hour, and don't always catch the errors in my post until later.
I Hope you all enjoyed part 1 of this blogging guide, and can't wait to share with you the next one.