I created my first blog in 2009 on the Blogger Platform with little to no plan on how to go about creating content. As with most things without proper planning, it did not work out. Also, I was about to start uni so I decided to give it up. I honestly wish I didn’t quit it. Here is a quick back story before I share my tips for beginner bloggers.
School took me about 6 years to complete (I went for a masters degree after my Bachelors) but I always knew my creative side couldn’t be tamed for a long time. So here I am blogging again in 2017 and sharing blogging tips for beginners.
Not knowing what to do with myself after school had a lot to do with why I’m back blogging. I could be writing a book but I chose to blog instead. I wanted something fun I would commit to- something that would also allow me to express myself, however, way I please.
1. Blog Name
I won’t lie, I had a really hard time coming up with one. I love my surname but I didn’t have a ring to it in combination with Ray, so I had to come up with something. I wanted something that wouldn’t put me in a box. I avoided names that included fashion. life, beauty and such. I’m someone who is passionate about a lot of things so I opted for something that sounded good to me with a little quirk as my personality tend to be. Needless to say, the pun in ‘Unde-ray-ted Ray’ was much intended.
If you love the sound of your full name with a .com attached to it, then you are indeed very lucky. It is one of the best options for unison in branding. Your name + Your Face + Your Blog = Your brand.
Although, if you decide to opt for something else then that’s your chance to go to town and come up with whatever you want. One way to find options is using name generators which you can easily google search.
2. Blog Design
Designing this blog seems never ending or maybe I’m just too picky. Since the time I started this blog back in May, I have changed my theme over 20 times with a mixture of free and paid-for themes. Perhaps it’s a shameful thing to admit to but nothing really suits my vision. Of course, there’s an option to pay for a customised theme to achieve the look you want but you may be set back a good $700-$1.300.
Also, because this blog was created using the Blogger platform, themes were a little subpar to WordPress themes which easily look professional. If you are a blogger who wants to make money off blogging you need to make sure you look the part. As with anything on the internet, your look is your first impression. That is what will determine if readers come back and the caliber brands that will work with you.
You can, however, get really cool themes from Etsy, CreativeMarket, and ThemeForest. They have a wide variety to pick from. The Etsy ones come a little cheaper than the other two. One other place you can look for that polished clean minimal look is Pipdig. I really recommend them. I am in the process of switching platforms which will be handled by Pipdig.
3. Self-host or not?
I’d say skip all the hurdles and go straight away into self-hosting. That’s if you are really sure about blogging. However, if you are just testing the waters then I will suggest you use free platforms which allows you to pick a domain name for free, register it and start creating content. Blogger and WordPress offer this.
Two important factors to note is that you will have a .wordpress.com or a .blogspot.com attached to your domain name. You can give it a go for a short while but I recommend you buy your own domain name from the start to avoid redirection horrors at a later time. Also, it is brilliant for a polished and professional look. Second, if you opt for a free version of WordPress you will not be allowed to monetize your blog.
I started on Blogger, still using it but I’m in the process of moving to WordPress.org for more flexibility and to bring to life that vision of mine. A rebranding if I may.
Self-hosting allows you control over your blog and to manage it however you please. Using ads, cool blogging plugins and being in control of your blog security is all in your hands. Aesthetically, they have all the cool looking premium themes. Technically, they allow you easily optimise your blog posts for search engines which benefits how you rank in searches.
To self-host, check out these platforms: WordPress.org, Wix.com, Squarespace.com to name a few. For hosting plans, you can purchase one from BlueHost, Siteground or Godaddy etc. Do your research to chose the one that will work best for you.
4. Choosing a niche
Most people usually have an idea of what they want to blog about before anything else. There’s so much you can blog about. Fashion, beauty, travel is one of the most common niches. I love these because there’s no limit to what you can write about.
It is okay to have multiple interests as I do. I simply write whatever I fancy and feel like sharing but I don’t stray too far.I keep it on general lifestyle topics.
Choosing a niche is very important in attracting the target audience. A lack of content focus will generate a divided audience. You may have difficulty knowing what your readers really like to read, some posts may really do well and others won’t because not everyone is reading each one you put out.
5. Creating content
To some, this may be the easy part and to some, this may be the hard part. It all depends on how easy inspiration comes to you. I personally keep a journal of ideas for when the writer’s block hit. Register an account on Pinterest. It is a way to achieve a stream of evergreen inspiration. Another of my favorite is Bloglovin.
As a creator, you want to create original content. It is okay to get inspiration from other bloggers written posts but DO NOT plagiarise, take an idea make it your own but putting your own spin on it. It looks bad on if you do and your page may be reported and Google will penalize you for it.
Also, it benefits your readers if you have a designated day and time you chose to upload posts. I normally upload biweekly on Mondays and Thursdays. This way, your readers will be aware of when to expect new content from you. Everything that works on a schedule typically has a good outcome.
6. Creating time
What I’ve come to learn is how time-consuming blogging is especially for beginners. From creating content to promoting your blogs across your social media platforms, to researching how to blog better. It takes a lot of time. Blogging is one of those things that the amount of time you put in it shows in the outcome. It makes all the difference.