We love the Internet because it allows everyone to have a voice. And if you feel you have something to say, a likable personality, and a life you think is worth sharing, a great way to get your perspective out there is to start a personal blog.
The problem many writers face is that they don’t know where to start. When it comes to creating a site, there are two main issues to think about.
The most important issue to resolve is coming up with your personal brand. What would make readers come to your site over the tons of others personal sites out there? Knowing your target audience and finding these like-minded people is key to building a following. After all, you want your site to reach as many people as possible. Unfortunately, there’s no magic trick to this – you just need to create quality content which people will want to read. However, there are some tips to help boost your writing and ideas.
The other thing to consider is web hosting. This is the more business-related side of writing, and it has to do with which platform to use, how to effectively use social media to promote your personal site (using the instagram feed, for example), and how to take advantage of search engine optimization. You may even wish to consider monetizing your site later down the line.
If you keep a healthy balance between these two components, you’ve already got a good idea about starting a personal site. Here we guide you through ten more detailed steps to help you become successful.
1. Come Up with an Idea
There’s no denying that the blogging market is over saturated. In personal content creation, in particular, it’s hugely important to find your niche. You need to have an idea or personality which can set you apart from other sites in order to build an audience. You can even make a mind map or bulleted list of what will make your site unique. Having this USP decided early on will make every other step towards building your personal site easier.
2. Choose Your Name
Once you have your site’s general theme and ideas all set, you can start to think about the name. You want your site name to appropriately fit the content and topic of your site. But you also want this name to be enticing to a potential reader. Remember that your domain name has to be available – and preferably, not too similar to any other popular lifestyle site out there.
How to register your personal domain depends on the type of hosting services you decide to use. Which brings us on to the next points on our list.
3. Decide On Your Blog Platform
There are tons of different options for hosting platforms online. Two popular and easy to use options are Blogger and Tumblr. However, we recommend WordPress above all. It’s by far the biggest blogging platform and has the most plugins, add ons and customizable features.
WordPress is free and easy to set up and has tons of free features. There is also excellent customer service, and you can find quick and easy help on the forum.
4. Decide On Your Web Hosting Plan
One of the biggest decisions you need to make when starting a personal site is which web hosting company to choose. The basic decision comes down to whether you want to pay or do it for free. If you do pay for a plan, make sure you’re making money through your site in order to justify the spending.
All of the popular sites offer options for free hosting. While this can be a good choice (especially for beginners), there are some drawbacks. For one, your domain name will also contain the name of your chosen hosting platform, which can look unprofessional. You will also have significant limits on your blogging features. It also means you don’t actually own your site.
Many people start on the free plans, then transition into self-hosting after they’ve got some audience and following. Self-hosting your site should cost under $10 per month, and can definitely be worth it in the long run.
5. Organize Your Domain And Hosting
The domain is essential to your blog’s URL. Once you’ve decided on your name, you can register it with a domain provider, such as GoDaddy, Bluehost, or Justhost. There are plenty of providers, so you can shop around if you’re trying to save some money. How in-demand your domain name is will determine the price, and you tend to pay by the year.
Your hosting platform is the company which puts your content onto the internet. It also stores all your drafts, ideas, and information for easy access. Your chosen provider will have a one-click WordPress install button which will help you organize and stay on top of all your posts and content.
6. Work On Your Blog’s Design
If you’re a total beginner, you may want to go for a free blog theme provided by your platform. These themes tend to be fairly simple and nondescript – fine for beginners, but not the best if you are more serious about your personal site.
You can purchase readymade design themes online from web designers.Site’s like ThemeForest have tons of affordable options and free themes. You want your site to look clean and professional, but have a fun twist which shows your personality. You also need your site to be easy to navigate, so your readers can go from one post to another and stick around to read more.
7. Have A Plan For Your Content
If often happens that newbie content creators lack focus. If your site is just about you and your life, then planning posts can be more difficult than if you were running a travel blog or a sports blog. As we stressed in step one, knowing your general idea (including voice, viewpoint, and actual content) is key to success with a personal site.
A great way to further improve your site is to have certain blog post ideas in mind. If you have certain ideas for posts, you can mold your site into exactly what you want it to be. Having these ideas ready to go can also help you write and create high-quality content in the future. Organizing your posts into categories can also help your readers navigate your personal blog easier.
Some category ideas to get you started are:
- Monthly round-ups. At the end of each month, you can write a post detailing some of your favorite things from the month. These can include products, experiences, films, music, anything you like. You could also include some photos you’ve taken that month or a life lesson you’ve learned.
- Day in the life. These types of posts are a fun way for a reader to learn more about you and feel closer to you. You could plan one every two weeks or so – just make sure you pick an exciting day!
- Although they’re sometimes criticized as lazy content, listicles tend to be fairly enjoyable to create a read. Pick a topic which relates to your life (e.g., 25 Things I’ve Learned At 25) for maximum impact.
- Topical pieces. Even though your site is personal, it should never appear to exist in a vacuum. Keeping up with current events (be they political or pop-culture based) can help make your site feel part of the conversation. If you can connect a news issue to your own personal experiences, all the better.
- “What’s in my….” Posts showing your readers around different aspects of your life can make for surprisingly fun and interesting content. If you have an audience who are genuinely interested in you, they’ll always want to find out more. Apartment (or room) tours, talking through the contents of your wardrobe or handbag, or even grocery shopping hauls can make a great jumping off points. Make sure you keep your writing fun and humorous, though, as these types of posts can get into “who cares?” territory fairly easily.
8. Make A Schedule
Keep in mind that you need to produce fresh content. If you’re short on time, don’t worry; you don’t necessarily need to post every day. What you absolutely do need to do is post consistently. Pick a timeframe which is reasonable for you, and stick to it.
If you’re just getting started, it can be a good idea to make a blogging calendar. Decide on the types of categories you’re going to be posting, and build a schedule around them. For example, you could post a monthly round-up on the last Sunday of every month. You could then commit to two extra posts during the month: one at the beginning and one towards the middle. As your site grows and you’re able to dedicate more time to it, you can up your posting schedule.
Have a schedule that outlines at least three months into your content future. Decide on the topics and post categories you want to cover and assign each a writing, editing and publishing date. Even though you’re accountable to no one but yourself, it’s important to be disciplined with posting. The main reason sites fail is that people abandon them. To keep people checking back, you need to offer them fresh content when they do.
Before you launch your personal site, it’s a good idea to have several posts ready and in the bag. During a launch, you’ll likely be dealing with a lot of different issues; things like your blogging software and hosting account may need to take center stage. Being able to maintain a consistent flow of content during the first few months of finding your feet is key to building a readership.
9. Build An Audience
The absolute most important aspect of success is finding and building an audience. If you ever feel like you’re shouting into the void, you’re not alone. This is a terrible feeling, so connecting with potential readers is absolutely essential.
Social media is super powerful when it comes to promotion. Your site should have accounts with all the biggest social media providers, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Follow as many potential readers as you can; this will likely draw them to your page. You can also create an email list for your site through a contact form, to allow readers to be notified about new posts and even exciting things such as reader competitions.
Try to connect with other writers to help you feel like part of a wider community. You can even try to find bloggers on a similar level to you to collaborate with. This can help both of you grow your audience.
Running giveaways and contests is also an excellent way to grow an audience. You can host these to coincide with particularly blogging milestones – a giveaway of a favorite product of your when you hit 100 followers, for example. Not only will this help your followers feel appreciated, but it’ll keep them engaged with
As we’ve previously stated, a massive factor in growing and maintain an audience is consistent posting. At least one post a week is ideal, and it helps if it’s around the same day, as readers will know when to come back. If you want to turn blogging into a career, you have to treat it like a job and take it seriously.
The other aspect to consider if you’re trying to grow your audience is search engine optimization (or SEO). Put simply; this is a way to make your personal blog appear higher in the results page when people search for terms on search engines (usually Google).
If you want to direct traffic to your site, you need to be including SEO keywords. Those are words relating to your posts which people are searching for. You can find these through Google Analytics. If you’re using WordPress, there is an inbuilt SEO helper called Yoast. Making sure your Yoast light is green before posting will ensure your post is as searchable as possible
10. Consider Monetization
If you’ve just started blogging, you should know that it may take a lot of time before you start to make money from it. Going into it thinking it’ll be an easy money-making scheme will almost guarantee you’ll fail.
That said, there are some ways that you can start to turn your personal blog into a passive income. Here are some ways to make money blogging.
- Affiliate links. You can set up affiliate links for products you mention. If people buy a product through a link on your post, you can make a small commission.
- You can sign up with advertising networks such as Adsense to allow them to place tailored ads on your page. The income you make from this will depend on the number of visitors you get but remember; these ads can sometimes look cumbersome and put people off reading.
- Brand deals. Once you’ve achieved some success, you can reach out to brands you’d like to work with. You can get paid by brands for featuring products in your posts – though you must be careful to be transparent with your readers for legal (and blogger-reader trust) issues.
What do you think of our list? Do you have any tips when it comes to starting a personal blog? Let us know in the comments below!