Blogging – how & where do you even start? The task can seem daunting to someone who has no experience & doesn’t know where to begin. I started blogging almost three years ago & now am a full-time blogger & social media consultant. I live & breathe social media & I couldn’t be happier but I knew nothing when I started & wish that someone was there to tell me a thing or two! I decided to create this page because I do receive quite a few questions about where to begin. Take my advice as well, advice. It’s up to you to do what you want with it & I am my no means an “expert”, I find myself learning new things every single day.
First thing is first, you need to pick a platform. Every blog needs a “home” and you need to decide what type of platform you want to use. There are a lot of choices; Blogger, WordPress Free, WordPress Self-Hosted, Typepad or Tumblr.
*I currently use WordPress Self-Hosted with Blue Host
When I first started Horses & Heels I used Blogger, it was free & simple to start-up. Below is one of the best older photos I could find of what the blog used to look like when I started with blogger. Talk about growth & change for the better!
Customization options are not as readily available with Blogger. But if you are just going for basic than Blogger might be the place for you. You have the option of purchasing a domain name (http://www.horsesandheels.com is my domain name) or using the .blogspot url that is free. I’ll get to more on domain names in a second. I do know a handful of successful blogs that use Blogger & look great doing it.
This is what Horses & Heels currently looks like, WordPress self-hosted is what I use & LOVE!
2. Pick a Host
What does self-hosted mean? It means that you a host site like Bluehost to host your website, content, files & domain name. A domain name is the url that takes you to your site, my domain name is horsesandheels or http://www.horsesandheels.com – you will want to pick a domain name that is close to or the same as your site’s name.
Once you know the name of your site, the domain name that you want to use & are ready to get started building your blog you can sign up with Bluehost. Once you have done that, Bluehost has a simple option inside of your c-panel to install WordPress.
WordPress is where you will now go to design & create your blog. You will have a login for Bluehost & a login for WordPress. Think of Bluehost as the house that holds all of your things & WordPress as interior design or decorating. Bluehost also hosts my email accounts & all of that fun stuff too.
Once you have downloaded WordPress you are ready to begin! There are so many theme choices you can download. Each theme has customization options but you will want to choose one that is similar to the layout that you want. I currently use the Graphene Theme which I have highly customized. Once you pick out your theme you use widgets to create the different sections such as advertisements, actual blogging space, comments, menus, social media icons ect. It does help to have a little basic knowledge about html or css but it isn’t necessary. I was not a tech smart person when I started (and I’m still not) but I Google what I don’t know & am constantly reading & learning.
You want to have a pretty & easy to navigate design that captivates your readers. Make sure your text is easy to read & stay away from fancy fonts or colors that make someone’s eyes cringe.
Headers – This is your logo or design at the top of the page. When it comes to designing or choosing a header, think less is more. One of my early on mistakes (that I just fixed recently) was creating a header that was too busy. It actually distracted from the content of my blog. Some people choose a photo of them or something that they created from their blog, this also doesn’t look professional. Opt for pretty, legible text for your header. The next thing to do is make sure your header isn’t too tall, if your header takes up the whole front page & doesn’t allow people to view content without scrolling down, you’re doing yourself a disfavor. You want people to visit your site & instantly see new & fresh content that grabs their attention. A big header that takes up your front page isn’t eye-catching.
Stand out items – There are somethings that you want people to be able to find instantly & I like to call them your “Stand out items” – Social media icons, your email subscriber list, contact, about & home. Make sure all of these things are on the front page & can be found right away without having to do any scrolling.