A few weeks ago I posted a feature on Keeping An Organised blog, which I have to say was pretty well received *huuuuge thanks guys* Needless to say I also received a small handful of very flattering emails from four lovely ladies… Kirsty, Sheena, Sarah & Ruby *friendly wave if you’re reading gals* all individually asking for a few tips on starting a blog. Firmly affixing my thinking cap for the task at hand, I decided the best (& most obvious) way to tackle this was to write a post offering any pearls of wisdom I can seemingly ruffle up.
Now although I’ve been blogging for almost 2 whole years *whaaaat?!* Confetti & Curves is still relatively new as it’s my second blog project. My first blog was more personal, offering ramblings of everyday life. However like many new bloggers I pretty much made EVERY possible mistake in the book, which resulted in me loosing interest and *almost* my appetite for blogging. Thankfully creating Confetti & Curves was a completely different experience, why? Because I thought the process through before jumping straight in at the deep end.
Therefore, in light of my own blog journey I’ve put together this little virtual tool kit that I feel includes the bare basics for most wannabe beauty bloggers. So pour yourself a huge mug of coffee, pop your feet up for five and let’s get started…
1) A Blogging Topic
It’s so important to have a really good mull over why you want to blog and what you want to blog about. I’m pretty sure 99.999% of my blog chums will agree that if you’re starting any blog with the hope that money and fabulous freebies are going to roll in thick and fast, forget about it. Even if you are financially driven all that takes time, investment and a whole lot of blood sweat and tears… yes I’ve no doubt can be done, as the saying goes: anything’s possible. But if you’re expecting to be the next celebrity beauty guru by Christmas, it’s time to take a nibble on reality cake. Harsh I know, but it’s true.
So instead we’ll assume you’re starting your little corner of the inter-web for pure pleasure and because you’d like to share your interests with the rest of us, right? Creating a blog should be a reflection of your passion & personality; once you combine those vital ingredients with relatively interesting content people won’t just like visiting your blog it, they’ll love it.
However it would seem that one of the toughest questions wannabe bloggers ask themselves is ‘What should I blog about?’ If you’re not (yet) entirely sure then it’s time you nestled down with a cute little notepad (you all know my obsession for adorable stationary) and brainstorm a few ideas on paper, starting with off with your hobbies and interests. For example, just before I created Confetti & Curves I made it my mission to write down a list of things that really interested me: Make-up, Beauty, fashion, lifestyle & crafts are all topics I adore however the wedding industry is where a majority of my experience lies. Having said that, just because I’ve clocked up a good few years fluffing bridal gowns and handing out wads of Kleenex to overwhelmed brides, I didn’t want to limit myself to writing post after post on the joys (& mishaps) of making it to the alter in one mentally sane piece.
Luckily, I was able to combine ALL my interests & expertise into one neat little blog box, as they pretty much compliment each other and so far it’s worked out rather well. However if I’d have built my blog content combining a mixture of equestrian wear, chocolate sampling and nursing bra reviews I doubt very much it would’ve had the same positive response.
In other words, keep your potential blog content compatible and you’re off to a great start!
2) Choosing A Name
Before clicking the ‘JOIN NOW’ button *easy tiger* it’s important you decide on a name for your blog. Now I’ll readily admit that conjuring up names is something I hugely struggle with, simply because I maaahoosively over-think any potential options for days, upon days, upon days… to the point where I mentally squash any excitement by pensively tormenting my grey matter. Yes, I’m that bloody scrupulous!
Before setting up this blog I wrote a comprehensive list of content related words down on my pretty little notebook (you REALLY need to get one of those!) after which I mulled, reflected, hmm & haaa’d, then slammed it shut and poured a large glass of vino before declaring aloud ‘Confetti & Curves!’. The name worked perfectly for me as it’s not too generic that I’d have to stick with writing one blazingly obvious topic such as KarensWeddingTips.com but at the same time gives the reader a good clue as to what to expect from the content… no equestrian advice or nursing bra reviews here thank you very much, however I can’t say the same for chocolate sampling! *Sorry-not-sorry*
If however you’re one of those concept meandering people who aren’t entirely sure you’ll keep up the momentum with one particular topic then I’d suggest you AVOID generic names such as ‘Kellies Beauty Gossip’ or ‘Fiona’s Fashion Fix’. Instead you may be better sticking to your own name ie: karenrees.com or put a little twist on it such as emma-says.com that way if you decide to evolve your blog content down the line then you’re not lumbered with a name that doesn’t reflect what you intend to write about.
3) Choosing Your Platform
Okay, so this is where I really do begin to waffle as the ‘techy’ malarkey isn’t really my strongest point. Basically there are a number of various blogging sites out there (WordPress.com being just one of them) that allows you to create your very own little online retreat… an enchanting place you can fill with thoughts, ramblings, visions and old holiday snaps that will make us tilt our heads sideways in wonderment.
Three of the biggest players seem to be WordPress, Blogger & Tumbler. From a personal point of view I’ve previously tried Blogger however I wasn’t keen on the layout or design features and within ten minutes I found myself retreating to WordPress instead. Since then I haven’t looked back. However it firmly boils down to personal preference – think of it like choosing a computer or mobile phone. Some of us are devoted Apple/Mac lovers whilst others prefer the interface of Windows or Android. I found this helpful article on the pro’s and con’s of the main blogging sites *click here to read* that could be worth scanning before wading through the initial sign up session only to find it’s not for you.
4) A Theme
I’m by no means a professional designer, yet of all the emails I receive questions on design and layout has to be the most frequent. Thankfully starting a blog with WordPress.com makes it super easy to pick a pre-designed theme and apply it to your blog with minimal effort simply by clicking the ‘use this theme’ button. That’s right, no fancy CSS/ABC/WTF coding is required *rolls eyes* I’d personally advise you to stick with a free theme first, before shelling out £££’s or $$$’s for any of the premium designs… just so you can get used to your site and how to use the functions. That’s the fun of trial & error folks!
However if you’ve spent hours scanning through endless designs and can’t find anything that tickles your pickle, you could consider asking a creatively minded individual for help (there’s tons of digitial design diva’s out there willing to rustle you up a personally designed theme)
Things to consider before settling with a theme:
A) Is the layout easy to follow?
Having a site with flashing bells and sassy whistles may seem a great idea but if your readers find it hard to navigate they’ll not hang around for too long. I opted for using the free ‘ Bluchic Adelle’ theme which pretty much does everything I need it to do without frying any brain cells in the process. The layout is nice and clean, everything that needs to be seen is on display and it’s easy to personalise. If you’d like to see a handy YouTube tutorial on the Adelle theme *click here* to be whisked off for a mini one to one with the talented Katrina who will talk you through the entire process in her easy to follow video.
B) Is it reflective of your content?
Occasionally I’ll stumble across a blog and have to go hunting to ascertain exactly what the content of the blog is all about as nothing about the design or colour scheme is clear on what I’m expecting to read. Making a great first impression is super important in attracting new people. If the colour scheme and site content don’t marry up you could end up losing valuable readers who won’t waste time hanging around to check out your awesome articles *sigh*
C) Is the design ‘Responsive’?
Without confusing myself with techy jargon, a responsive design basically means that your layout will adjust to a multitude of screen sizes. With people accessing the internet on a variety of gadgets such as tablets, phones and good old pc’s you’ll want to ensure that your blog looks beautiful on all three. WordPress has a nifty little feature that allows you to check out what your site looks like on these devices before you publish your design. Thankfully I haven’t come across a theme (yet) that isn’t responsive and doesn’t work on a multitude of screens. However if the layout doesn’t look right on any of the preview panes I’d highly suggest you find something else that does!
D) If in doubt… resort to YouTube!
I don’t know about you but when someone is trying to explain something technical to me (that I cannot wrap my head around) it’s very likely the information will travel in one ear and back out the other, however SEEING it magically formed in front of my very eyes makes so much more sense, hence why I frickin’ love YouTube tutorials. If you need a helping hand and someone to visually guide you through the process, check out Katrina’s channel 77Webstudio for oodles of handy dandy videos on how to create your very own slice of the interweb!
5) A Few Extra Ingredients…
Considering that I’m basing this article around creating a beauty, fashion, makeup or lifestyle inspired blog there’s a few little extra ingredients that will certainly help you along the way:
A Camera: I’m not talking a fancy DSLR, or anything that’s going to empty the entire contents of your savings account… just a simple camera phone will do a great job of taking perfect snap shots for creating great content images. You may also want to take a look at photo editing software too, there’s a multitude of freebies out there but as always do a little bit of review research beforehand!
A mini photo studio: Okay, time to plug one of my previous posts… if space is limited in your cosy abode and you’re planning on taking lots of product snaps for reviews check out my Create Your Own Mini Photo Studio article. It costs virtually zero pennies to make and has constantly came in useful for me, in fact I use it almost every week and it saves the hassle of finding new places to take pictures.
A Note Book: Creativity can strike at any given moment, and if you’re anything like me you’ll find it’ll strike in the most unusual of places so wherever you go to always carry a little notepad & pencil that is dedicated to new post ideas. You’ll never again have to face the anguish of bloggers block if you jot down all your great musings in one handy dandy little place.
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest… the list goes on. If you’re not already signed up to various social media platforms then now’s the time to go global. Yes, it can be a daunting process putting your blog out into the big wide world but in order to gain new blog buddies, interaction and momentum it’s vital to link your blog with as many platforms as you feel comfortable with. I personally find Twitter to be exceptionally beneficial, and with over 2K followers and counting it helps boost page views and has often led to great opportunities working alongside new & established brands.
Most importantly have fun! Blogging can be incredibly time consuming but providing you enjoy it enough you’ll have no grumble with committing any spare hours to nurturing it into the little online haven you’ve always dreamed off owning. In my Behind The Blog series I always ask my interviewees what advice they’d give to a new blogger, and more than often the response is ‘Just go for it & have fun’. Until you give it a shot you’ll never know how much fun you could be missing out on!
If you’ve enjoyed reading this article you might also want to check out a few of my other little offerings that could come in useful too:
Do you have any top tips on starting a new blog? I’d love to read them in the comments below, your opinions are always warmly welcomed folks so do stop by and say a quick hello 🙂 *friendly wave*
As always, thanks for reading & happy blogging…