It has been almost 2 months since I started this journey into blogging.
I am barely getting started, and I still have so much to learn, but I just wanted to share a few things I have learned so far.
My hope is that it will help someone who is also starting out, or perhaps thinking about starting a blog but feeling completely overwhelmed. After all there is so much information out there.
How do you know where to start?
#1 Keep It Simple
You will be bombarded with all kinds of “must have”, “latest and greatest”, “can’t blog without it” gadgets, gizmos, and plugins.
If you are just starting out all you really need is:
- a domain
- hosting and a CMS.
- social media accounts set up, and your gravatar if you don’t have one
- and a pen and paper. I like to do my outlines and off line writing on paper. This is entirely optional.
Start with buying your domain.
Make sure you buy your domain.
I can not stress this enough.
You need to OWN your blog.
Do not use a blogging platform or a free service. Yes, owning your blog means you have to pay for it, but not doing this is something nightmares are made of. Ryan from Blogging From Paradise has a story about this. I shudder to think, all that hard work just…gone.
This is one piece of advice I take very seriously.
I buy my domains through Namecheap. They also provide hosting and email. Their customer service is fantastic. If you do not know how to link the domain with the hosting service and CMS just jump on a live chat with them. Super friendly and helpful.
Or you can hire someone to do it for you. This is what I did. It was easier and faster than doing it myself. I learned this from past experiences. It isn’t hard, but if it is not something you do regularly it can take a bit to figure out.
You also need hosting and a CMS.
Once you have your domain set up with your host and CMS you never really need to worry about again.
Set up social media.
You can now set up your social media accounts if you don’t have them. You want to make sure people can follow you, you can share content, and connect with other bloggers in your niche.
I started by setting up a Facebook page for my blog, wanting to keep my blog separate from my personal page. I don’t know if I really like it though. Maybe I should of set it up as a group so I could invite people to join? I don’t know what I will do.
I also set up:
- Linked In
I have never used these 3 platforms before so that has been a huge learning curve. It may take a few months or so before I really know what I am doing and am comfortable using them. Eventually I will know how to use them all to my advantage.
Make sure that the social media links are set up on your blog and that they work.
I will admit that I am really enjoying Twitter even though I find it a bit hard to follow, and I’m not even sure if I’m doing it right.
Has anyone written a post on how to use twitter and twitter etiquette? I’ll look into it, but if you have one please link it in the comments.
There are so many different social media platforms out there I don’t know how anyone keeps track. But, I have no issues keeping tabs on my dozens of notebooks! HaHa
Capture your writing.
I love books.
This includes notebooks, in which I have one for every occasion:
- daily gratitude
- business stuff
- offline writing
- blog post ideas and outlines
- to-do lists and things I want to remember
- notes from workshops and webinars
- chart notes for work
- travel diaries
I also have fancy pens in all different colors to go with the notebooks.
Besides, notebooks now a days are so fun.
They come with funky covers, some have inspirational quotes on them. Cute animal pictures. Pictures of plants.
This works for me. I enjoy writing on paper so I will probably keep doing it. Forever.
FUN FACT: I have really messy writing sometimes, my spelling is awful, and my typing hasn’t improved much since junior high.
That being said it you are a much more tech savvy person and prefer your electronic device to do all your writing on, go for it. As long as you are writing that’s all that matters.
You can start writing, and publishing blog posts. You can add the fancy plugins, and whatnot later after you have decided if they are really what you need in order to move your blog in the direction you want to go.
By focusing on the basics you make it easier to stay focused on what’s important (creating content) and are not getting distracted by trying to figure out how all this other stuff works. This is another reason I do my outlines, notes and offline writing on paper. I find it less distracting.
My energy and time is better spent researching, writing and connecting.
Now I am not saying you don’t or can’t ever use fancy tools to create your blog or manage your writing. Maybe you already use some nifty tools or have experience building websites so you are familiar with your CMS of choice. If that’s the case, great!
If not, don’t sweat it.
You will have lots of time to figure out the gadgets, and gizmos down the road, and now that your blog and social media is set up you can focus on my second point.
#2 Writing, Publishing and Connecting Consistently
This is the most important thing you need to do in order to have a successful blog. Publishing blog posts regularly, I post once a week, and connecting with fellow bloggers daily is essential if you want to be successful.
This is also the very thing I struggle with most. Mainly because of distractions.
- spouse and kids
- full time job
- house to look after
- some semblance of a social life
We are pulled in so many directions already that adding something new to the mix can be a real challenge. Fortunately I have some tips to help you stay on track.
- schedule your time
- remove distractions
- set a timer
- set goals
Write out your schedule (or use a spreadsheet) to actually see what your current daily tasks are. Include everything you do during the day, self care, kid’s activities, day job, meals, errands, social engagements, date night, don’t forget sleep. Include everything you spend time on during the 24 hour period for all 7 days of the week.
Here is an example of what that might look like:
This gives you a visual of what your day and week look like. Once it is laid out in front of you it is easy to see where your time is being allocated, and to schedule in the time when you can work on your blog.
You may even find ways to manage your time more efficiently, thus creating additional time to work on your new blog.
Now that you know when you are going to work you have to make that time as productive as possible. To do this you will need to remove as many distractions as possible.
- your phone
- other work
- the spouse and kids if possible
Make sure pets have been attended to, laundry is in the dryer, and don’t worry about answering the door for the Amazon delivery guy. These seemingly little things can take a huge chunk out of your productivity.
Set a timer.
So now that you are ready to sit down and get to work you need to set a timer.
This not only helps keep you on task, but is especially helpful when you have a spouse, kids or pets in the house. You can tell them “I need to work for 60 minutes, you can not interrupt me, when the timer goes off I will be available to deal with your needs”.
This hopefully gives you 60 minutes of uninterrupted work time which can be highly productive, especially if you know beforehand what needs to get done.
Set daily goals.
It is also easier to stay on task if you set goals. I’m not only talking about the big goals, the I’m going to be super rich and live on a yacht goals, but also your daily goals. I call them my to-do today goals.
Example: Today my goals are to:
- edit my next to be published post
- write outlines for my next 3 blog post ideas
- connect with 4 new people on their blogs
Now you might be saying “those aren’t goals that is just a to-do list”. This may technically be correct, except my “to-do today goals” bring me closer to my big goal. The super rich, living on a yacht goal. They move me closer to living my dream life.
If my to-do list doesn’t get done it probably just means I won’t have any clean socks to wear tomorrow or my kids will think they are going to starve because they might actually have to cook something to eat.
Can you see the difference?
You can go a day or 2 without socks but why would you want to go through life not reaching your goals everyday? Not moving forward? Not being your best and living your best life?
This is why you are working on writing, publishing posts and connecting with other bloggers consistently. While you work on reaching your goals remember,
#3 Have Fun With It
Easier said than done sometimes.
When you are starting out learning all these new things and juggling the work it can be overwhelming, frustrating and down right maddening.
You are learning all this new stuff that you might not had even heard about a short time ago. I literally had to Google what CMS meant. It stands for Content Management System. That is what WordPress is. The first time I came across that acronym though I was clueless. You know what though, IT’S OK. I looked it up, now I know. One thing at a time.
You are probably having doubts about whether you made the right choice, or if you are wasting your time. You may get all these crazy thoughts in your head,
- what if my writing is horrible?
- what if nobody reads it?
- what if nobody likes it?
- what if I can’t think of anything to write about?
I have been there, many times in the last couple months and fully expect to find myself there again. You want to know what I have discovered?
Once I get working, get connecting with people, and stop worrying about everything that could go wrong I relax, and I enjoy writing. I really enjoy reading other peoples stuff and learning from them.
I am having fun watching the journey unfold and all the pieces come together.
Most importantly remember, people have your back. The good ones, the ones that care and want to help you will. Ask questions if you don’t know or need clarification on something. Be honest, be yourself. The pros all started from the beginning too. They known what it’s like. Listen to them.
I will give you the perfect example of what I am talking about.
I commented on a blog post on July 18 2021.
Ryan’s response to my comment:
Ryan’s follow-up blog post a couple days later:
See, it will be ok.
This is why you are writing and connecting with fellow bloggers consistently. These thoughts will start to dissipate as time goes on and you gain experience and confidence. Once you banish these thoughts and insecurities you can have fun and enjoy your blogging journey.
Heck 5 blog posts ago I did not think I would be able to write a 1500 word blog post. But here I am 1960 words and counting.
Enjoy the journey.
- Keep it Simple
- Be Consistent
- Have Fun
If you have any tips or stories to share from when you first started blogging I would love to hear them. If you are struggling with some thing, please leave a comment. Someone may be able to help out.
If you have written an article on “How to Use Twitter” or “Twitter Etiquette” or know where to find a good one leave the link in the comments please.