7 Tips For Finally Starting Your Blog

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The email I receive most often goes something like this: “I want to start a blog, but I don’t know where to begin. Any tips for how to get going?” I’m thrilled to be at a place in my life where people approach me for this kind of advice and more thrilled that I'm actually able to provide a thorough answer.

Before diving in, I just want to say that I think starting a blog is the single greatest thing you can do for your writing career. It's the perfect side hustle, strengthening your writing and providing you with a second source of income. While some people still think that blogs are so 2005, they've clearly been living under a rock. I'll admit, it is discouraging to realize that there's already a blog out there for every topic under the sun, but even in this vast world, there's no one that's exactly like you with your specific perspective.
Perhaps one of the most important benefits that come out of starting your own blog is developing your own voice by giving you an outlet to write regularly. Your style and voice are everything. The sooner you start to work your writing muscles on a regular basis, the better. Blogging also allows you to create writing samples you're going to need when applying for writing positions at other publications.
Of course, monetizing your blog takes time, but with the abundance of resources on the internet, it's definitely doable. For example, if you happen to write a piece that catches the eye of a larger publication, you have the wonderful opportunity to syndicate. Which means — yep, you guessed it — a possible source of income. Do remember, though, that you don't necessarily have to wait for them to approach you. Pitch yourself and your ideas — you may just have a deal in the works.

In short, if you're at the step before "I want to start a blog" and living in the land of "is it even worth it?" my answer is yes. That being said, here are the seven steps to launching a blog that I used to grow my own.

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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
This is where most people get stuck. A common misconception is that you have to write about one thing — and one thing only. People create a cooking blog, or a dog-raising blog, or a blog about their dating life. While it is a good idea to have a general focus that will attract the right audience, there's room for more than one topic.

The most important thing to remember is that your blog offers your unique perspective. If your content is strong and your writing is consistent, people will come back for the cooking, the dating, and more. The ultimate goal is to write about what you love, so that you'll stick to it.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
So you've got your general topics chosen, but you reach another roadblock: What's your blog's name? This is the second thing people get hung up on, because they want it to be perfect. Of course, a clever name with good SEO (That’s search engine optimization. Read all about it here.) never hurt anybody, but if you don't love your blog's name right off the bat, you can always change it later. Choosing a name should be a fun and creative process, not a crippling one. If you're stuck, don't let that stop you from moving on to the next step.

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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
For my own personal blog, I actually use a customizable WordPress theme, which I would recommend utilizing. There are plenty of free themes to choose from, but make sure to choose one that matches the feel of your content. For example, if you're writing about California travel, choose a theme that's got bold, bright, beautiful colors instead of a bleak background. If you feel like going all out, you can even contact a designer to help you finalize your theme.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
I always recommend launching a blog with more than one post, giving your readers something to attach to right off the bat. That doesn't mean you have to pump out 20 posts — but four or five would be an ideal goal. This also gives you the chance to get comfortable with your writing style and format prior to your launch. As a general rule, I stick to posts that are more than 200 words, but less than 800, and always include at least one photo.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
As I've said before, blogging is all about your unique personality. People read blogs because they want to feel like they're connecting with someone. Your "About Me" page should explain who you are and what you'll be writing about and why. If you're comfortable with it, add a photo. People generally like to put a face to a name, and this will build a form of trust between you and your reader.

Hand in hand with your About Me page is your social media presence. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more are all crucial to growing your blog, so you might as well start early. I recommend using Instagram and Twitter, but posting about more than just your blog posts. Growing your brand is critical. These days, it seems like the best way to promote yourself is through social media. Even @POTUS has one, people!

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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Bottom line: You need to write at least once a week or your blog will run the risk of falling off people's radar. To keep it consistent, publish on the same day of every week, and if possible, at the same time of day. My personal recommendation is to post twice a week on the same days. Take a look at this helpful article on when to post before deciding on your times.

People are busy readers and if you give them something to rely on, they'll come back. Consistency is key.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
First, because it's good promotion. And second, because it makes you more accountable for the upkeep of your blog. Too often, people give up on their blog within one year of writing. Don't be that person! Writing is a muscle and blogging regularly will help you stretch and work that muscle until it's at optimum strength.

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