I have been asked about this so many times! How do you go about starting a blog? Now I know that there is no ‘right’ way, but here’s what I’ve learnt whilst blogging.
My blogging experience
My blog was originally created in 2013 and was called ‘Life as a Cerebral Palsy student’. At the time I was 15-years-old and this was my attempt to raise awareness about what life is truly like having cerebral palsy.
The concept of my blog has emerged over the last few years, allowing readers to follow my personal experiences as well as topical blog posts showing a broader understanding on disability-related topics. I’ve won various awards for my blogging and awareness raising efforts.
After graduating university I re-branded my blog as Chloe Tear, which is the site you see today.
How to start a blog
- Choose the right platform for you
- Be passionate
- Find your crowd
- No pressure
- It will evolve, that’s okay
- Press publish!
Choose the right platform for you
There are a range of platforms which you can choose from. Initially I used Blogger, but then moved to WordPress when I rebranded. Due to this, I’ll be comparing these two platforms.
This platform is run by Google and is free to set up. It’s the simplest to use, but does have limitations in terms of how your blog can look.
The Blogger software has not been updated for a while, meaning it’s not as advanced and might start to be incompatible with other software. However, you do not pay for hosting and you can start writing straightaway.
If your blog is for personal use, there is nothing wrong with Blogger, it just lacks some of the technical elements.
First things first, there are two versions of WordPress. Initially I found this confusing and didn’t know which was the right one for me.
WordPress.com is similar to Blogger, due to it being free, but often limited in it’s design. If you don’t need any extras then this platform is absolutely fine.
On the other hand, WordPress.org allows you the freedom to make the site your own. You will be self-hosted and have full control. One of the best features is the plugins that allow you to customise everything, for example:
- adding an online shop
- changing to a third-party theme (changing how your website looks)
- having a mailing list built into your website, such as Mailchimp
- showing your popular posts based on current views
- linking to live social media updates, such as Twitter or Instagram
“If your goal is to make a personal blog and share your stories, then you can choose a simple platform like Blogger. But if you aim to make a professional blog which can earn a living, then you need a robust and scalable platform like WordPress.”WPBeginner: WordPress vs. Blogger
What is self-hosting?
Self-hosting means you own your website. You’ll need to buy a domain name and a hosting subscription. The role of hosting is to act like hard drive, your site will be on their server.
Imagine the domain is like your belongings and hosting is a storage company. You own all of your belongings and you can put these into storage how ever you like, as long as there is enough room.
For example, you could have WordPress.org as your website platform, with it being hosted by your chosen company. I use Lyrical Host.
On the other hand, a hosted website is one that you partially own. You can still have your own domain, but customisation will be restricted. Your customisable options will depend on the website provider. An example of this would be WordPress.com.
If you are wanting to be self-hosted, I cannot recommend Lyrical Host enough! They were incredibly helpful when I started my WordPress blog, they also migrated my website from Blogger to WordPress so I kept all of my old content.
They can help with absolutely anything and have a Facebook group where you can talk with other Lyrical customers about how best to do things. I’ve found this network invaluable when expanding my blog. Lyrical also have a lot of experience with disability and have always been so welcoming and accessible.
If you use the promo code, StartABlogWithChloe, you will get 10% off any Lyrical Host plan. To be fully transparent, I do earn a small amount of commission.
You should choose a topic that means a lot to you. Even if this changes over time, having your niche and being passionate about what you write is important. It’ll mean you create better content and you’ll be more likely to sustain your blog in the long run. Write for yourself and the rest will follow.
For me, my topic was disability and life. This meant it has encompassed a range of topics and allows me to find new ideas. I’m passionate about raising awareness and allowing other young disabled people to feel less alone. Similarly, writing a blog about my disability has given me a space to process what has happened over the years.
What is the change you want to see in the world? Maybe something makes your heart sing or your blood boil. What is your story? I can guarantee it’ll help someone.
Find your crowd
Finding the blogging community has actually been the best part of starting a blog. You can’t beat a bloggers brunch in my opinion. It’s led to some incredible friendships.
Seeking out fellow bloggers can help in numerous ways. For example:
- networking opportunities
- being inspired by their content or website
- guest blogging opportunities
- reading and sharing your content
- peer support and advice
Even if it’s asking what others think of a blog post idea. It doesn’t matter how long you have been blogger, imposter syndrome likes to creep in. There is a lot we can learn from each other, this includes things that you can teach others.
Social media can be a great way of finding other bloggers. Here are some Facebook groups:
- Boss Girl Bloggers
- Blogging for New Bloggers
- Successful Bloggers Club
- Lyrical Host Blog & Business Squad
There are loads of groups which will be specific to your niche, a simple search on Facebook will show you what groups there are.
A fancy content schedule with a social media strategy sounds amazing, but is that feasible for you? If it is, then go for it! I aspire to be more organised, but alongside employment this is an unrealistic aim for me.
If not, that’s more than okay. I have to admit, most of my posts are not written in advance and I do not work to a schedule. For me, I found this was too restrictive, often meaning I would write because I had to, not because I wanted to. Believe it or not, forced content will be less engaging.
To give you an idea, here is what I aim to do in a month:
- keep an ongoing list of ideas for blog posts
- write two pieces (a combination of freelance and blog posts)
- record stats a month after publishing to check performance
- complete blog admin and answer emails
If I have more time, I will focus on other things:
- adding new articles to my portfolio
- finishing aspects of my website
- promote older blog posts on social media
- updating old content
- creating social media graphics for Pinterest
If I don’t complete any of these things, that’s okay! People may wrongly assume that because I’ve written a blog for years that I have all of these amazing plans in place, sorry to disappoint! You will figure out what works for you. It actually took me over a year to get this website to how I wanted it and I still have a list of things I’ll get round to sorting.
It will evolve, that’s okay
You might start blogging about a particular topic and then decide you also want to write about something else. Having more than one topic is not a bad thing. If anything, it gives you more to write about!
Initially my blog was about cerebral palsy and the journey through mainstream education. I soon found a passion to talk about all aspects of disability and started to lose some of my sight. This, of course, was not part of the plan.
You can always adapt your website, it doesn’t need to be perfect at the beginning. To ensure it’s easier to adapt, here are some things that you can do:
- pick a blog title that can adapt with you
- remove the date from your URL’s so they can be easily updated (I learnt this the hard way!)
- add categories, these can serve as sub-sections in your main menu
- create new pages if you want to expand something
- you can always change things later
As I finish writing this post, I wonder if it’s helpful at all. Is it even worth publishing? Sometimes, pressing publish is the most daunting and exciting thing you can do. I don’t know what my life would look like if I never pressed publish. Yet that’s the joy of blogging, you never know what will happen.
When you start a blog, you probably want it to be perfect. Doesn’t everyone? I’m here to give you the nudge you might need, press publish. You can always edit things afterwards and it is good enough. In my experience, a blog post is better than no blog post. Also, you don’t want it edited within an inch of it’s life. If you do, you’ll edit the essence of your writing. It’s your style of writing that portrays who you are. Hold onto that.
Enjoy the learning process. Writing a blog can be therapeutic and rewarding, even if the logistics of a website can be tricky at times. You’ve got this.
~ Chloe x