There are so many articles on how to start a blog. So, SO many. I know because I’ve read no fewer than 20 of them. I even bought a book.
But what would have helped, what would have really helped, was if someone wrote an article on what not to do. If they did, Google didn’t want me to find it.
My blog is just over a month old, but it feels like longer because I’ve put several hours into it designing, editing, and writing content.
If you are starting out in the blogging game, these are the things I recommend you don’t do.
DON’T SPEND A TON OF MONEY ON GRAPHIC DESIGN
Aside from writing killer content, I wanted to have a stunning design. I assumed that if it was pleasing to the eye and professional-looking, people would be more likely to visit and stay.
I thought that a logo would really help, and social networking banners would advertise my blog when people visited my profile. I incorrectly assumed that this meant shelling out some serious dough for such a look. You gotta spend money to advertise, right?
I spent way too much hiring a design firm to create a logo for me as well as some other items. I’m changing jobs so this move wasn’t exactly the smartest for me financially. However, if you have a fair amount of money and you’re a successful author, by all means do so! I love my new logo and I can recommend the firm I used. Also, if you don’t want to use a large firm, there’s Fiverr.com where you can hire a graphic designer for as low as $5. I just hired someone for a project, so I’ll let you know how I like the end product.
But you know what? I found a way to make a nice logo for my site by going to Canva.com. You can design everything from book covers to social media banners to brochures. Several of the designs and backgrounds are free, but certain items have a cost usually around $1.
The pen tip was $1, so I spent $1 on my whole logo:
I think it’s pretty nice myself. I also turned it into a banner for Facebook and Twitter.
This is per use, but I only needed to download the design once to save it. So, instead of paying $400 for an impressive design, I could have spent $1. Lesson learned.
DON’T HIRE A WEBSITE DESIGNER
This goes along with the first point I made. I’m not saying never hire a designer for your website. If I ever become a successful author, I totally am.
But if you’re brand new, I would suggest holding off. You may not know what you want your blog to look like or if that’s something you want to invest into in the long run.
However, I did invest money into a theme. It came along with some cool features, and once you’ve played around a little, you may decide to do so yourself. I made the mistake of hiring someone to install my theme which I could have done myself.
Also, if you don’t want to pay for a theme, there are tons of articles out there on designing your blog. I use WordPress and I found all the plugins I needed in several articles. Depending on the type of blog you want to create, there may be special plugins or widgets you want to download.
I suggest taking a look at some blogs you admire and notice the features and content you like for your own website.
If you’re the kind of person that is really into color schemes, I suggest looking at this post from Canva. It really helped me tie my theme together since I had no idea what I was doing.
DON’T START WITHOUT A PLAN
Blogs are abandoned left and right, and while the Internet is large enough to accommodate all of them, I don’t want you spending 100 hours on something you hate.
Blogging should be relatively fun or why would you keep doing it? Even if it’s your job, you should enjoy it somewhat and I can tell you that from all the crummy jobs I’ve had.
So, make a plan. Some of the things you should consider are:
I decided I wanted to post at least twice a week and that’s been easy for me so far. I have a daily word count goal and my blog helps me reach it because I think it helps me as a writer.
Domain name registrations are relatively cheap so I wanted my own. Plus, I think it’s pretty neat that I own something out there in the interwebs.
Additionally, every weekend I go over potential topics I can use for posts. Sometimes posts are from whatever happened that week, or an idea I found in the NaNoWriMo forums. This post came when I realized that I could have worked so much smarter.
What tips would you give to someone starting a blog? Would you like to see a post on blogging tips? Comment below or email me at email@example.com!
P.S. The book I mentioned is Blogging for Writers and I highly recommend it.
Nicole C. Thomas
Nicole is a writer working on her first novel Samantha Darkened, created during NaNoWriMo 2016. She writes weekly posts regarding books, writing, and mental illness. She has an interesting sense of humor which includes a love of alliteration and puns.