I’ve been on the internet for a long, long time and I have been keeping a blog or journal for just as long. I started with LiveJournal, moved to Beebo, MSN Spaces and even MySpace – so I know a thing or two about what’s needed to start a blog. I’ve also been keeping a website of some sort for a while too so have a good knowledge of HTML, PHP and internet serves.
Okay, so those technical terms may have been a little too much if you’re just starting out but I’m here to help you start out on your journey to finding the best host for you blog, creating a layout and filling it with pin-able posts all for free… well kind of.
1) Have An Idea
If you’re thinking of starting a blog the best thing to do would be take pen to paper, invest in a cute notebook (perfect excuse for a Paperchase binge!) or just find one hanging around (I have about ten, I don’t know about you) and write down what you want to write about. Maybe you really like make-up and hair products, maybe you just want to a place to show off your impressive collection of pens or even somewhere to write your thoughts down and share them with the internet. I would suggest creating an account on Bloglovin’ and following some of your favourite blogs, and then scouring the popular pages and taking some time to visit other websites. From there you can decide what topics you want to cover and even get some layout ideas whilst your at it. If you can’t settle on one thing don’t worry. I like a number of things such as make-up, books and even film and television so I’ve decided to put it all here in my blog but have organised it to not make it confusing. For me, my blog is all about my personality and not just the products, books and films I want to review.
2) Pick A Name
With the wealth of research on other blogs that I bet you will have done by now you’ll know that some blogs have some interesting and cute names. Mine is named after myself with a brand that I have nurtured and developed since graduating University as a way to ‘stamp’ myself on the internet for future employers. That and I didn’t want it to be too confusing with my real-life self and an internet persona. As stated for getting into the media I want people to be able to find me easily and have no problem sharing my full name online. This is my personal choice though so if I were you I’d have a think about the name of your blog and how much of yourself you want to reveal online. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially if you are under eighteen!
3) Find a Host
There are a number of websites out there that can host your blog for free, or at a small cost. Of course there is LiveJournal, Blogger, WordPress etc. I suggest reading this article: Choosing a Blogging Platform from a fantastic website. I’d bookmark that entire place as well if I were you, it is chocker with really useful tutorials and advice. My blog is hosted by Blogger even though I have my own website and server space so could easily install something that gives me more creative freedom like WordPress but experience has taught that I personally prefer having a bit of restriction on what I can do with my layout and the labelling system is easier to use than getting wrapped up in categories. I’d start with Blogger if you’re a complete newbie because it’s not that restrictive and there are loads of tutorials out there.
4) Tool Yourself Up
If you’re gonna have a blog you need to think about your images and your layout. Install a preset layout and have a play with colours and templates. There are a wealth of free graphic making websites and software you can download outlined here: Free Online Alternatives to Photoshop Online. I use Pixlr and get on with really well because I find it the closest to Photoshop I can find, free and very useful for creating images on the go. The only downside is that if you’re looking for really crisp images, through the nature of creating and saving images in a web browser they come out a bit blurry. Other tools I use are TextWrangler for a bit of HTML editing on my computer and Google Fonts to add a bigger collection of fonts to use on my blog layout.
5) Invest In Your Blog
Now, this is the bit that will cost you. I brought a camera specially for my blog and YouTube channel to snap those really sweet images you’ll see other bloggers have of their product reviews and the like. This was quite a cost to me financially but I saw it as an investment because my pictures now look slick and professional (when I take them properly) and I get to play with a big girl camera. My model is a Canon 600D with the swivel LCD screen and I love it. Once you’ve invested in money you need to start investing in time. Make your layout, write some posts and then get sharing. Spread yourself around on social media so create a Facebook page, a Twitter profile and a dedicated email address for starters. Find and comment on other people’s posts, you’ll find some great blogs to follow and may even make some friends. Go on Pinterest and get pinning all of the great blogging tips on there for making the most out of your blog and even think about turning on advertising to earn some dosh once you have enough regular readers to pay back for that camera you might have brought. It’s all about taking care of your corner of the web and being proud of it too.