Bright Tips for Beginning Bloggers: How to Start a Blog

Let me just say that blogging has truly been a wonderful experience for me.  I love being able to share my passion for affordable beauty and style with you guys, while being able to make connections with other bloggers and wonderful readers.  While I am nowhere near being a blogging expert, I’ve started getting some questions about blogging.  Let’s be honest–I’m still figuring out all of the blogging stuff as I go along.  I’m learning and growing as a blogger everyday, but I’m happy to share what advice I can for those of you who are considering starting a blog or are beginning bloggers.

The question I get the most is “How do I start a blog?”  PersonallyI really wanted to start one for a long time but was too afraid to do it.  I started reading The Small Things Blog back in 2012 when I stumbled across some of Kate’s pins. Then I stumbled onto her sister’s blog, The Lauren Elizabeth, back when it was still From My Grey Desk.  Lauren hosted this awesome link-up called High Five for Friday (sound familiar?), and even though I wasn’t a blogger, I still visited bloggers who linked up with her, and found some pretty awesome blogs to follow, like Martinis & BikinisMiss in the Midwest, and a couple of my H54F co-hosts.  I really admired these girls who were putting themselves out there and being creative.  But could I do that?  I went back and forth over whether I should start a blog–would I be able to keep it up? Would anyone read it?  Would I just be a failure? Finally, after about a year of wrestling with the decision, I decided to just do it, and Bright on a Budget was born.

So if you’re looking to start a blog, here’s my roadmap for doing so:

1. Determine what your content will be.  Your blog should have a direction/focus.  Do a little soul-searching.  What are you going to blog about?  What’s your passion?  What do you like talking about or educating others about?  I really liked fashion and beauty, so I started there.  And I love getting a good deal.  I absolutely refuse to pay full-price.  I wanted to combine everything and not be locked into one niche.  I settled on blogging about beauty, style, and life on a budget.  I think it helps in this step if you sit down and brainstorm post ideas to get an idea of what’s coming to mind. . .and that same list will help you once you sit down to write your 1st post.

2. Name your blog.  Naming your blog is like naming a baby.  Trust me, it’s just as agonizing.  You want something that’s catchy and something that is memorable.  This was one of the most difficult decisions for me because nothing seemed to fit.  I rolled names around in my head for weeks.  And then one night, as I was laying in bed, Bright on a Budget came to me and I knew that was it.

3. Check the availability of your name across social media.  Social media is a huge part of advertising and growing your blog, as well as interacting with your followers.  It is important for those followers to be able to find you across all social media platforms.  I checked Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to make sure brightonabudget was available, and I snapped those accounts up immediately so that the name couldn’t be snatched away.  If your name isn’t available, you may want to consider stepping back to the drawing board in Step 2.  Once the accounts are created, you can go ahead and started interacting with people on social media to gain followers.

4. Check the availability of the domain name for your blog.  I decided if I was going to do blogging, then I was going all out.  I think that having your own domain name (as opposed to a blogspot.com or wordpress.com address) is great because it is easier to rattle off when you’re telling people about your blog, and it’s easier for people to remember so that they can visit it. Also, I recommend purchasing your domain name from the get-go, because sometimes domain names are purchased by companies that simply hold them until someone pays them for the domain name, which will cost you much more money than if you’d purchased directly from GoDaddy.com.  It’s a relatively cheap step, and there’s always coupon codes available.

5. Decide between Blogger and WordPress.  Blogger and WordPress are probably the two most popular blogging sites.  If you google Blogger vs. WordPress, you will find a wealth of information to help you make your decision.  I went with Blogger due to the ease of use.  It’s also easier to host linkups and giveaways on Blogger (based on personal experience from myself and my H54F co-hosts).  Once you decide, set up your account, and make sure your custom domain name routes to your homepage.  Google has instructions here for how to do that for Blogger.

6. Invest in a layout.  From the get-go, I knew I wanted a layout that was professionally done without spending a lot of money.  I found a layout I liked on Etsy and had the creator make a few tweaks.  Gradually, as I blogged for a while, I discovered that there were some things I’d like to change about how my page was laid out.  While browsing Etsy, I discovered Kreated by Kelsey. I chose one of her pre-made blog templates and then worked to semi-customize it for what I was looking for.  Kelsey is a joy to work with and has a super-quick turn-around.  I highly recommend seeking her services. I also recommend choosing a design with lots of white space–make sure your layout is easy on reader’s eyes.  Kelsey also installs her work, so your blog will be all ready to go when she’s finished.  This can cost anywhere from $10 to $60 (or more based on the designer and what you select) but it’s really worth the expense.

The more thought you put in on the front in, the more satisfied you will be with your overall effort. Your readers will take notice of your effort as well.

For those of you considering starting a blog, I hope this helps as you begin your journey.  I’ll have a few more posts over the next several weeks containing other tips.  You can always comment below or email me at brightonabudget@gmail.com if you have any other questions:)

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