10 tips to starting your own blog

First, I’ll acknowledge I’m not a blogging expert. I do however have three different blogs that I write for and maintain. They’re each very different, and I have a love/hate relationship with each one. Mostly love.

Jessica from Four Plus An Angel and Liz from a belle, a bean & a chicago dog are hosting a Summer Blog Series. This week, the topic focuses on starting a blog. If a friend approached you and said, “I want to start a blog. Can you give me some helpful tips?“, what 10 things would you tell your friend?

I love this idea because I’m asked this all the time. One of my sites, Frugal Day, has been a great success so far, and NoThankYouPlease (which now this site, GrowingUpGoofy) is just getting started. I can tell you both the rewards and downfalls that come along with my experience and what ten things I’d share with you before you get started.

  1. Only write about something that you’re passionate about. If you love to knit and knitting is your passion, write about it. If this is something that you love and can talk about until you are blue in the face, then go for it. Blogging is a platform. If you passionate about something, then others out there with similar interest would love to hear what you know and think. If you’re writing about something you love, it will come naturally, and people will see your passion in your writing.
  2. If you don’t like to write, don’t. Going back to #1, people can tell when you’re passionate about something. If you don’t like to write, or your blog becomes a chore… stop. This happened to me recently on Frugal Day when I felt like certain post types on my blog were becoming a drag. I quit writing those post types, and have never looked back. I may have lost a few readers as a result. But not enough to keep me doing something I wasn’t enjoying. Now, my focus is back on the areas that I love.
  3. Have posts written on your blog before you launch. I spent months creating posts before I announced my sites publicly. This created a nice chunk of content for my readers to browse through for their first visit, and gave me a good idea of what I was getting into. If I had trouble coming up with content, this was the time I could reflect on why I wanted to start a blog. If you provide readers with a good idea of the type of content they’ll get form your site, and they find it interesting, they’ll come back for more.
  4. Find and fead other blogs in your area of interest. Know what others in your topic area are writing about, and try to find something different to offer your readers. Comment on your favorite posts and start building relationships with other bloggers and readers.
  5. Take advantage of social networking and public conversations. I can’t even begin to tell you how important social networking is today in connecting with others and spreading the value and message of your blog. If you’re looking to acquire more readers, get going on Twitter very early. There are other social media outlets available, but you know we are primarily a Twitter household! Just like reading and commenting on blogs, you’ll want to do the same with Twitter. Find and follow those blog authors and tweet and reply to those blog authors. You’ll be surprised at the awesome friend network you can create. Remember though, social networking mirrors real life. You will come across that occasional person or reader that won’t be so nice. Let it roll and move on.
  6. Start with WordPress right away. You could start with a tool like Blogger. But ultimately, WordPress provides a lot more flexibility to do exactly what you want to do, both now and in the long-term. This will save you a huge headache down the road if you are serious about getting a blog going. There are tons of themes available to help you easily change your blog’s design. And the WordPress community has created thousands of plugins that extend WordPress’s capabilities to do just about anything you want to do.
  7. Select a great web host. A web host is a service that stores what you write and all the images you include, and makes it available to people who visit your site’s URL. You want a host that provides the right amount of functionality for a low cost. We use Dreamhost for all our hosting needs. Their basic plan is less than $10 a month. It comes with one free domain registration. And they provide simple, one-click installs of WordPress – an added bonus to get you started quickly.
  8. Don’t clutter your blog with a bunch of ads. Unless your site is about ads. Personally, if I go to a site with a bunch of ads cluttering up the space, I typically won’t come back. Keep your site clean and neat, people will enjoy your writing much more. Also, no auto-playing music or sound when you first get to your site. Sure it may seem “cute” for some sites, but not for your blog!
  9. Be patient. You wont have readers overnight. You’ll be lucky if you have ten per week at first, and chances are, they’ll be your own family and friends. I blog because I want to share what I know. It might not be much and a lot of the time I do it for myself. Blogging is not a sprint. If you’re looking to be an overnight success, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Slow and steady wins the race.
  10. Don’t get caught up in the numbers. Enjoy what you’re doing. Know that if you have something to offer, people will keep coming back. You’ll build a community and make new friends. If it’s becoming “work” to you, stop and take a break. Let your readers know. Once you feel refreshed, start again! Most importantly, have fun!

34 comments

  1. liz bellebeanchicagodog.com

    We did #3 before telling anyone about EliRose.com. I totally agree that you need *something* to be there before people stop by.

    While I did not start with WP right away with my personal blog, I moved within 2 month. I see so many people who, after *not* moving for so long, so scared to move. The sooner you move the better! Don’t hesitate to get to WP!

    Thanks so very much for joining in!

  2. I wish someone had told me to start with WordPress back when I started my blog, although I think Typepad was the one the “serious” bloggers were using back then! LOL
    This is a great list, with some awesome suggestions!

    1. Cam nothankyouplease.com

      It’s funny all the things we learn along the way! I could have added 100 things to this list! ;)

  3. Love the list. I must say, WordPress scared me at first, but now I can’t wait to move there.

  4. JDaniel4’s Mom jdaniel4smom.com

    I haven’t made the move, but can see that it makes so much sense.

  5. I’m going to me moving to WP in a few weeks and I’m so irritated that I didn’t do I homework prior…I just started a blog…
    great tips!

  6. Sherri oldtweener.com

    What great tips! I wish I had read something like this before I started that first Blogger blog a year and a half ago. I had never even read a blog!

    1. Cam nothankyouplease.com

      Thanks Sherri, I would never had known anything if it wasn’t for my husband. When I first wanted to start a blog, he made me do all the research before he would design anything for me! So glad I did that!

  7. Amy jamcjohnsonfamily.blogspot.com

    There is so much to learn with blogging, isn’t there? I can’t imagine trying to keep track of THREE blogs! Great tips. : )

  8. Jessica spitupchronicles.com

    I really like your list. I am moving to WordPress after I go to BBC Atlanta in the fall. Im really excited and really nervous. Thanks for all the tips!!

  9. I didn’t participate in the link-up, but couldn’t resist clicking around everyone’s posts.

    Good advice, especially about the clutter. I hate clutter and blinking and ads…yuck.

  10. Elena mommyisintimeout.com

    I totally agree with #3. I had I think 4-5 posts on my blog when I launched it. That’s a great tip. #1 is so important. You have to be passionate about what you’re writing otherwise just don’t do it. You won’t be happy at all.

    1. Cam nothankyouplease.com

      Yes! It takes time to play around with what you want to write about, but you really need to love what you are talking about!

  11. Leigh Ann genieinablog.com

    Great tips! I really like what you said about abandoning certain posts that start to become a drag. People can tell when you’re not being authentic.

  12. #s 9 and 10 are such good advice. And really important to remember at the beginning. I’m so glad to participate in #summerblogsocial – I just subscribed to your rss feed.

    1. Cam nothankyouplease.com

      Thanks Missy! I know it’s hard to look past the numbers at times, I think we all do it. It’s just best not to let the numbers run your blog!

  13. Agh! I wish I had thought of #3 before I started. Great idea. #7 very timely as I contemplate going self-hosted. And no one can ever tell me 9 and 10 often enough! I need constant reminding on those tips!!

    1. Cam nothankyouplease.com

      I remember I was so eager to get my blog up and running that I just wanted to post it without content. My bubble was instantly popped when I realized there was no way I could do that. But getting it ready and posting content over time really showed me what I was in for!

  14. Leighann

    Oh you are simply lovely!!
    I love this and I am heading over to check out your other blog pronto!!
    Great job!! Especially about beginning with wordpress, I wish I had known.

    1. Cam nothankyouplease.com

      Thanks Leighann! The summer blog social has been great so far! I’m learning so much too!

  15. Emily Suess blog.emilysuess.com

    #3 is such a great tip! Having stuff ready to go the second the gate opens relieves a lot of pressure.

    I’m also a huge fan of WordPress. It’s the most user-friendly platform I’ve used (and I’ve just about used them all!).

  16. Amanda Austin itsblogworthy.com

    I thought about adding the start with WP on my list, too! It is so much less of a hassle to start there first or to move shortly after. Lots less “stuff” to worry about ! Great list!

  17. Stopping over from Summer Blog Social! Such great advice! I did #3 as well. I wanted to make sure I had a little buffer zone. :)

    1. Cam nothankyouplease.com

      Thanks for stopping by! ;)

  18. Galit Breen theselittlewaves.com

    These are such great tips! I especially adore the passionate and write if you enjoy it. Otherwise, why?!

    1. Cam nothankyouplease.com

      Exactly. I think people sometimes miss the mark on this one. They here others “make money” and do it for the wrong reasons. Yes, you can make money, if you are good at what you do and show people you know what you are talking about. Thanks for visiting!

  19. I’ve been thinking about making the move to WordPress…seems rather intimidating to get all the content over there though. Wish I’d had more quality content on mine when it took off, but mine was not really planned until after I somehow landed several non-family followers.

    1. Cam nothankyouplease.com

      I think that’s what happens to a lot of people. You start off thinking it’s just for family and friends and the next thing you know, you have several new people stopping by each day. Honestly, if I didn’t have a tech savvy husband, I would have been right there with you. It’s only now that I really see the benefits of WordPress. Make the move and don’t look back! :)

  20. Ashley its-fitting.com

    God, I am one of those people that wants to move to WP and is now too scared to do it. Sigh. Maybe after BlogHer I’ll have the strength :-)

  21. Kristi therobotmommy.com

    I did start with WordPress and sooooo glad I did!! Great posts with very valid points. Awesome sauce job!!!

  22. Great tips! I didn’t know ANYTHING when I started so I started (and am still on blogger) will eventually switch to WP (although I know the longer I put it off the harder it will be!).
    Wish I had thought of #3–I wrote one piece and hit publish.
    Completely agree with #5 as well. I joined twitter a couple of months ago and my readership has easily doubled and I’ve connected w/ lots of other bloggers.

  23. This is a great list! I’m one of those people who are happy on blogger & spending $10/mo is just more than I care to invest at the moment (I’m a hobby blogger).

    I do think #3 is an excellent tip. In fact, having several posts completed & several posts in the queue would have been (would be!) awesome.

  24. This is a great list of suggestions.

    I kind of wish someone would be more specific in explaining why WordPress is so much better than Blogger. So far, I feel fine with Blogger so I’m not understanding what all the hoopla is about.

  25. Amy Mac amymacsmusings.wordpress.com

    So helpful! I’m kind of new to blogging. I started with blogger a long time ago but could never get my blog off the ground. I recently just switched to WP and I’m oh so glad I did! Thanks so much!

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