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12 Jan

How to start a blog in 2018

Image source: misskymmiee.com[/caption]

So you want to start a fashion/beauty/lifestyle blog in 2018? Great! There’s never been a greater time to get started on your dreams. Imagine where you could be a year from the day you decide to take the plunge! But exactly how do you go about starting a blog?

With so much information out there on the web, it can all become a bit overwhelming and often lead to no action at all… Let’s agree to make that a thing of the past, okay? Close the numerous windows and tabs saving pages “you’ll get back to”, and focus your time, energy and bandwidth on the exact steps I’m about to lay out for you in this comprehensive guide to setting up your own site in 2018! Bonus: Drop the “I’ll get back to it” act and you could have you site live by tonight ready to share with the world and start gaining traffic by tomorrow morning!

Before you get started…

Before we get into the technicalities of building your site, it is important to have a clear intention and objective as this will be your reference point throughout the process. Chances are that if you’re reading this you have an idea in mind that is of the fashion/beauty/lifestyle variety. And given the fact that ‘lifestyle’ often describes a variety of nichés such as travel, food or fitness, for example, the steps in the guide still apply to you.

What you need to do is figure out exactly what it is you want to blog about. There’s a lot of advice out there that suggest a specific niché to be the best choice, but if you’re like me, you might be into exploring a number of topics and that’s okay too. The key is to have your overarching theme be the link between you’re varying content. For example, if you’re a fashion blogger but you also love to travel, you should combine these themes in a way that alludes to “fashionable travel”. This way travel content makes sense to your fashion audience, as you post articles like “how to stay stylish which traveling abroad” for example and vice versa.

Defining the parameters of your content will also help you get creative when it comes to choosing a blog name. Go for something catchy that suggests what people can find on your site. Personal names can also be effective in strengthening your personal brand in the long run. Locking down your blog name and content plan can help you to start forming your brand identity, and that’s a great start already! Now, let’s get you online…

  1. Set your self up

Choosing a platform

First things first. You need a piece of internet reality to house your site. There are a number of free blogging platforms out there. I suggest WordPress, however, Blogger and Tumblr are also options you might want to consider. With over 82 million active users, WordPress is by far the biggest blogging platform in the world and is definitely the best choice for bloggers looking to go pro, plus it’s free and easy to set up and there is a huge help forum should any issues arise.

Get your domain name right

Remember that blog name I spoke about earlier? This is where that comes in. Having an independent domain name strengthens your brand name and is likely something you’re going to want to get in the long run. Goddady.com has domain names starting from $1 and I would suggest securing your desired name as soon as possible before someone else claims it.

Go pro: Self-hosted site

While WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr all offer free blog options, the downside is that with the free plan you won’t be able to use your OWN domain name and your URL will look like this: yourblog.wordpress.com. Additionally, you are limited in certain media uploads and can’t fully monetize your blog. Worst of all is that you DON’T OWN your beloved blog, which means all the hours of work you put into your site could vanish in seconds and you won’t have a leg to stand on since it wasn’t really yours to begin with.

That all changes with a self-hosted site where you can use your own domain name and you are the REAL owner of your website. Just like blogging platforms, there are a number of hosting services out there, such as HostGator and Bluehost. I personally use Bluehost as they are super affordable and you receive a free domain name, plus 5 company emails and you are able to set your WordPress site up with the “one-click” installation within the Bluehost admin panel.

2.Branding is essential

Now that your site is live, its time bring your brand to life. In addition to your personal domain, the look and feel of your site hugely contributes to establishing your brand ethos. This is where your site’s design comes in to play. While many blogging platforms have a number of free themes, they often don’t fulfill the comprehensive and professional standard bloggers come to expect and are often limiting in customisation.

If you are looking to make your blog look exactly how you want it to, you can purchase one of WordPress’s premium themes or head over to a premium theme website like ThemeForest.net and purchase a professional and easy to customise theme from them. I purchased this site’s theme from ThemeForest and customised it from there on. Many of their themes also have multiple “theme views” within the package so you can switch things up without having to purchase another theme design altogether. The designs run around $40 on average with some costing more or less based on their complexity, popularity or the developers.

3. Tools of the trade

Once the more “complex” tech stuff is out of the way and your site is customised and set up, there are a few things to consider before you get going with your site.

Make life easier with widget/plugins:

From here on out, installations are as simple as pressing the “install button”. The following plugins have made life a lot easier for me and you may want to consider installing a few from the get-go:

  • Yoast SEO: An all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, sitemaps and much more.
  • Akismet: Protects your site from spam. Ain’t nobody got time for spam comments, bots, and junk mail.
  • Google Analytics: Enables Google Analytics on all pages. (You need to have a google analytics account set up)
  • Jetpack by WordPress.com: Enables you to connect your blog to a WordPress.com account to use the powerful features normally only available to WordPress.com users.
  • SumoMe: Free Tools to grow your email list from SumoMe.com, plus on page analytics.

4. Time to get creative: Content

Congratulations! Your site is ready, live and waiting to showcase your content to hordes of adoring fans and readers! Well almost…

This is where I see many newbie bloggers take an approach I don’t quite endorse, and that is posting one, singular, lonesome “introductory post” about how they’ve started a new blog. Don’t get me wrong, I understand you want to share your site and let people know about your new project, but sending your friends and family who are more than happy to support you, to a site with only one item to view, is in my opinion, quite frankly a waste of traffic.

Here’s what to do instead…

Fill your site with a few quality articles that add value to readers so that after reading one value-filled post, they’ll click through to another and another and another. Chances are they’ll also check out your about page and snoop around a bit, which translates directly to more page views for you! And if you’re smart about it and have set up an email opt-in feature, you’ll be able to start growing an email list of subscribers who you can email every time you release new content = instant AND continuous traffic for your growing site.

5. Make it Official

Getting the word out about your new site is the final step in launching a blog. Share it with the world, and what better way to do this that harnessing your existing network? Share your work on social media and remember to include your site URL link. Because you also have a few articles live, you can share these specific links through the following days and you should see a nice income of traffic.

Congratulations on your new blog!

You’ve made it to the ‘end’ of the process, but this is actually just the beginning of a long and rewarding journey. From here on out it takes constancy and dedication to really start seeing some results. And the truth is, it’s not as difficult as it’s made out to be. Your blog is a space where you can share content about what it is you are most passionate about. For those looking to turn their hobby into a full-time income, the key is turning your traffic into dollars – and you’ve just taken a huge step toward making that happen, blogger 😉

Nicole Norman
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