Starting a Blog

A few months ago, I was speaking with a coworker who was trying to find a new hobby. Of course, the first thing out of my mouth was, “you could start a blog”. It’s great for building a personal brand, your writing style gets more niche and you can literally cover whatever subject you’d like. Although she shot down the idea rather quickly, I thought it would still be a great subject to discuss.

I’ve used everything from LiveJournal to Blogger to WordPress.com. Today’s discussion covers what goes into creating a blog for the first time. I’ve done this off and on for about a decade, though its only been the last few years I’ve started taking it more seriously. Since I already covered why I returned to blogging and my writing process, those areas will be skipped over today.

The Subject

The platform is less of a concern than the subject, though we all have our preferences. Currently, I stick to WordPress. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only platform you can use. I plan on eventually moving from the .com to the .org. Regardless of which WordPress I’m referring to, the UI is appealing and quick easy to change (as some of you have noticed).

If I’m starting a new blog, I like to begin with a niche subject. It’s often said that you need to niche, and then niche some more. Pick something you won’t get sick of discussion a year from now. Pick something that can easily expand into other subtopics. For me, that’s evolved into pop culture. For most people these days, it’s pop culture.

The Name

Chewy Chit-Chat. That was an actual name of one of my previous blogs. Did it have to do with food? Not 99% of the time. I needed something easy to remember and differentiate from my music and fashion blogs. Conversationalist by Night was another tentative blog idea I axed.

For me, the name needs to be simple to remember, easy to type and something unique. You may hate both names I mentioned, but I guarantee you’d remember them if you came across one online. Pick something you don’t mind having permanently associated with your name either.

The Layout

There are so many blogging resources out there. Royalty-free graphics, social media icons, posting ideas, etc. Pick a basic layout and focus on content. As the content and audience grows, update the layout accordingly. I repeatedly had to learn this in reverse. Why? Awesome features caught my attention and turned me into a little kid. I kept seeing something shiny, added it to my blog and later realized it served no real purpose.

Sure. The big trend now is converting not only to a mobile-responsive design, but a deeply visual design. I’ve got number one, number two is on the way. My previous theme was highly visual but broke my branding standards. I wasn’t okay with that, so I brought myself back to the basics. It’s okay to do that. Don’t be afraid to change things around–be transparent about it and be ready to defend your choices.

The Blog

Getting started is the hardest part. Realizing a blog isn’t necessarily a journal is a close second. My previous Myspace blog days are an ode to that (along with horrible memories of glitter graphics and poor DIY designs/coding choices). Put yourself out there. Give your opinion. Repeat.

I think my biggest mistake as a blogger looking back was taking much of my work down when I changed platforms. I kept screenshots, some stats, exported certain blog content. But if you aren’t comfortable sharing something, what’s the point in posting it?

It doesn’t have to be your career. It doesn’t have to be the same focus for the next decade. You can use an alias if you feel the need. To me, I think it’s just one of those things everyone should try doing. Having a written history of finding your own voice in this world is a wonderful record to look back on.

I have so many things I’d change if I did it again, and that fact makes me happy that I can’t.

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