How to Start a Successful Blog

blogger's desk area with a laptop, books and decorative items

When you've been blogging for a while, it all seems to come naturally. Thinking up post ideas, coming up with ways to improve your blog design and communicating with other bloggers. But in the beginning, when you're faced with a brand new Blogger account and know absolutely no-one in the blogging world it's definitely confusing and a bit intimidating. But if you're in two minds as to whether to start a blog, my advice is just go for it! Everyone has to start somewhere. It's such a fun hobby to have, you'll gain skills and knowledge and maybe even open up a whole world of opportunities if you stick with it. Know from the beginning that you don't need lots of money or equipment to get started, and while there are a few steps to getting set up, it's not as complicated as you might think. All you need is a love of the topic you want to write about, an interest in writing and some determination. One of my worries when I began blogging was that people were going to look down their nose at my content, tell me that I didn't know what I was talking about and leave horrible comments in the same way that people do on Youtube videos. But blogging is a completely different world- people are always supportive and helpful!

Once you've made the decision to start a blog, there are a few things you'll need to do to get everything set up. Choose a day when you have a couple of hours to spare, be prepared to mess around opening a few different social media accounts and stay patient, because you'll only need to do all of this once and then it's sorted for the rest of your time blogging. If you've come across this post from Googling 'how to start a blog' here are my tips on getting set up, from the very beginning.

1. Think Up Your Blog's Name and Buy The Domain
This is the initial hurdle you're likely to face when setting up a blog. My advice on this one is to keep it short and sweet (although I know this can be difficult when it feels like every blog name has already been taken!) A very long and complicated name is likely to haunt you further down the line so keep it snappy if possible. Don't just settle with the first thing you think of, make sure it's something you really like the sound of before taking the plunge. Maybe come up with five names, and spend the day thinking about which one you like best and is most fitting to you. Chat to friends and family and get their opinion to help you decide. Then you'll need to to a site like Godaddy.com and check if your chosen name is available- you might have to make some small adjustments or use another idea if not.

2. Set up an Email Account for Your Blog. 
It's highly advisable to setup an email account especially for your blog. It helps to keep blog related stuff separate, and also looks more professional once you become more established in the future and companies want to speak with you about things like product reviews and sponsored posts. Always make sure you're regularly checking this inbox (including any 'junk' folders) so that you're not missing any opportunities that crop up. Have this displayed somewhere on your blog, you could have it written in your sidebar or you could create a 'contact' page like I've done with all of your details there. You don't necessarily need to pay for a business email, you could just set up a Gmail or Outlook account using your blog's name. 

2. Set up a Blogger Account
There are a number of platforms you can host your blog on, but Blogger.com (which this blog is hosted on) is user friendly and simple to get started on. Sign up using the email address you created for your blog and follow the setup instructions. It can all feel a bit alien and unfamiliar at first, so spend a little time familiarising yourself with everything. There are plenty of great videos and articles online explaining the basics if you need them. When you open your account you'll be given a 'blogspot.com' domain- you will need to link your own custom domain to this. There's plenty of information online explaining how to do this.

Set up Your Social Media/ Follow Options
Now you have a brand spanking new account, the first thing you should do is set up the social media linked with your blog, and the various ways that people can follow you. This allows other bloggers to be able to connect with you, and also for them to be able to find out when you've added new posts. Bloglovin.com is the most popular way to follow other bloggers, and for them to follow you. Go to Bloglovin.com and sign up for an account and follow the instructions from there. Regardless of what your feelings are towards Twitter, once you become a blogger Twitter will be your friend. It's possibly the best way to find other bloggers, search hashtags such as #bbloggers #beautybloggers #lbloggers #lifestylebloggers and other variations. Have your twitter link visible on your blog, and you could also add it along with other contact details in a 'contact' page at the top of your blog.

Customise Your Blog
You will want your blog to look smart and professional but also reflect you and what your blog is about too. Blogger gives you lots of ways to play around with different designs, but in all honesty it will never look that good using these options unless you're a skilled designer. Your best bet is to purchase a premade, responsive blogger template. You can find these on Etsy, you can get nice ones for less than £5 and many of the sellers even offer the option to purchase installation so they will fit it all for you. 

Get Posting!
Once everything is all setup, you can then get down to blogging! Start creating interesting and informative content that offers something to a reader- whether it's information, advice or humour. Be sure to do your research so that you're including accurate information if you're creating things like guides. Aim to take beautiful, clear photos to maximise your content- otherwise use sites like Pexels, Kaboom Pics and Unsplash to find stunning free pictures you can use. All in all just have fun with it. It can take a while to find your 'voice' when you start blogging, but you'll learn as you go and will quickly get used to everything.