Since starting up my blog, I have had a few friends ask how I did it. So here, low and behold, are all the steps I took.
If you are interested at all in starting a blog to document your travels, hobbies or thoughts, these 8 steps should help you along the way. The steps and questions should prompt you to think about what it is you want to create, and support you in doing it.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them. I would love to improve this guide as time goes on, so all feedback is welcome.
Step 1 : Pick your genre.
What do you want to blog about?
Most successful blogs have a very clear focus on what they’re about.
Popular areas are: travel, food, beauty and fashion. If you don’t want to tie yourself down to just one area, then creating a lifestyle blog is a great option. They are more flexible as they can be a blend of anything within your lifestyle. The genre is YOU!
Here are some of my favourite blogs to visit:
Step 2 : Look and Feel.
What will you call your blog? What do you want it to look like?
In thinking about what you’ll be blogging about, this is a good time to start brainstorming about the name and the branding.
Unless you’re using your own name (which is a great idea for lifestyle blogs by the way!) you’ll want to think about what to call your blog. Your name should be something easy to spell and memorable, that reflects what your blog is about.
You may then want to consider creating a logo, and what you want your blog to look like. Colours, images, styling.
Some question starters to help with this:
What do you want people to come to your blog for?
How should it make them feel?
As you consider all of the above, this should help you with the naming process. I find normally one of the first ideas you come up with is the best.
When I was thinking about what my blog was going to be, I had A LOT of ideas. I wanted to make an online space where I could write freely and document tales of the adventures I was taking, and had previously taken so I would never forget.
The name Charlotte Gray is sadly very popular (which I found out years prior when trying to buy a domain for my design portfolio), so naming it after myself was out of the question. I tried to brainstorm titles that would represent me and the writing I wanted to do, and so ‘She’s Up and Away’ was born.
Step 3 : Choose your domain.
This will also determine your blog name, by what is actually available. As you come up with ideas, do a quick google search to see if there’s anything out there already called what you were thinking. This may help you brainstorm other names, and also ensure you don’t waste too much time marrying yourself to a title that’s unavailable.
You can purchase domains from several places, and most sites will give you a great introductory rate for your first year. (You will pay for you domain yearly, sadly not a one off fee!)
I bought mine at godaddy.com
You should also note, that if you are planning to self-host your blog on SiteGround or 1&1 (more on this later), when you buy hosting you may be given a free domain. WordPress also offers you a free domain if you set up your blog with them directly, as does Wix when you buy a premium plan. So there may be a free domain awaiting you depending on how you set up your site.
Step 4 : Pick your Platform.
There are many places you could build your site…
I use WordPress. It powers three quarters of the web or something crazy like that. In previous projects like my A level media coursework, (wow) I used blogger and that went perfectly well.
However, for this venture I decided to go with WordPress as I had that it was widely used for all different types of websites, and was very customisable. As a designer with a tendency to change her mind, this sounded perfect for me.
But don’t take my word for it, do a little research on what’s best for you and what you’re trying to achieve.
Step 5 : Choose a Package.
How much do you want to spend?
When it comes to setting up your blog, as far as I know, you have three options. They each have advantages and disadvantages of which there are several 100 articles about out there on the web, but here I’ve tried to boil it down to the basics, as I understand them.
If you are keeping a blog for your own personal use, and don’t necessarily want to make it public. Then setting up a free blog is a great option. I believe most platforms have a free option you can utiltise. In exchange for using the platform for free, some adverts will be run on your blog, and your site name will always end in the platform name e.g. www.myblog.wordpress.com or www.myblog.blogger.com etc.
If you will be using free versions of these platforms to run your blog, there’ll be no need to buy a domain in from step 3.
This is when you build your site using a platform like WordPress, Wix or Squarespace etc. and subscribe to them directly. This is when you’d likely get your free domain! There would be no/less ads on your site and you’ll have more flexibility to use more templates and tools to make your site look better than it would have using the free version.
Alternatively, if you would like to self-host your blog this gives you the freedom to your own domain and more control over what is on your site. You should proceed to do some research on hosting companies and purchase your hosting package from whoever is offering the best deal and supports your chosen web platform.
I use SiteGround. Back then, in 2017, they had the best introductory deal. I decided to self-host as at the time of setting up my blog, as I was working through my first Skillcrush course. I had to buy hosting for the course to be able to set up websites. As such, when I then decided to start the blog it made sense to connect my WordPress site to the hosting I was already paying for. As opposed to paying WordPress directly.
Once you’ve decided which way you to want to host your blog, you can proceed to set it up.
And boom, hey presto, you’re online on your very first site!
Step 6 : Choose a Theme.
Whether you choose a free or hosted blog; there are plenty of ways you can make your blog look less generic and more YOU! There are oodles of free themes to choose from attached to each blogging platforms, and even more floating out there in the wider web! In addition to this, there’s a wealth of themes you can pay for online. Then, there’s people who even specialise in developing themes to make your blog/site look exactly as you want it! This can be overwhelming – but I’ve got you.
To start off with I’d suggest using a free theme, nothing to lose. Once you get comfortable with blogging and decide you’re going to keep it, then for sure why not spend a little if you wish to spruce up your site? Head to google and search for blogger themes, for whichever platform you’re using. Take your time in exploring and picking which one is right for you.
It might be a good idea first to visit other blogs you enjoy and see what they have displayed. Their Instagram feed? Perhaps YouTube Videos? A location map? Make note of all the things you want on your site. This way, when you find a theme you like, you can check if it is capable of providing everything you want.
I found my theme ‘Firefly’ on pipdig.com and paid around £40 for it. I was referred to pipdig by a friend. For their themes, you pay a one off fee and then it’s yours forever. It was super easy to install, and they consistently add updates to their themes so your blog is always with the times. Disclaimer: I’m not sponsored by them, just sharing my joy. They also have an excellent knowledge base on blogging which I often frequent.
Step 7 : Start Writing.
This could arguably be step 1; there’s no point having done all of the previous work if you have nothing to write. But something tells me if you have come this far, you have a lot to say.
Put your pen to paper, or fingers to keys, and get writing.
Your site is online, looking beautiful and ready to receive your posts!
Step 8 : Tell the World.
Before officially launching your site, I would recommend writing and scheduling at least 5 blog posts. This will ensure that you’re always head of the game, and never pressured, when it comes to putting out new content.
Once you’re ready, it’s time to tell the world! Or whomever you wish to share your blog baby with. That’s if you’re going public that is.
You could send out a post on Facebook, add the URL to your instagram bio or even tweet if you like! Whichever method you choose, it is important to be consistent to gain and retain readership.
I’m very excited to know what you create, so if this guide has been helpful at all please do let me know. And again, if you have any questions – drop them below.