Just over a year ago, I started my blog. I never would have thought that this simple hobby would one day allow me to do well in an incredible internship. When I first started writing on my blog, I kept it hidden. Only my flatmate knew about it. I was scared that people would laugh if they knew that I had a blog (more on that later). I have instead been met with admiration and praise. Writing a post almost every week for the past year has enabled me to practice my writing more and develop a skill that, although I always knew I had, I never showcased.
I have always loved writing. I recently was reading over old stories I wrote almost a decade ago and, although they wouldn’t have won a Literature Nobel Prize, I am proud that I worked on this skill. It was during that time that I discovered websites such as Wattpad and Fanfiction. Seeing other people writing stories and uploading them for others to read both scared and thrilled me. I did dabble in that myself but I got busy with school and it became something that was put and left aside.
Last summer, I had just finished uni and had quit my jobs a few weeks before my hand-ins. I went from being really busy to having nothing to do. One day, my flatmate suggested I start a blog because of my love for writing and all the free time I had on my hands. Needless to say, I stayed with it and am glad I started it. It’s one of the best decisions I ever made. If you have always wanted to create your own blog, here are my tips on what to consider and keep in mind when you take that leap. And if you do have a blog, please post a link in the comments below or send it to me on Instagram (@relatablesunday); I would love to read it!
Choose your website host
The first decision you will have to make when you start your blog is what website host you want to use. I have used WordPress and am very happy with it. I had a problem with it a couple of months ago and I almost instantly got help from a WordPress employee, which makes me glad I chose them to host my blog. However, I’m sure you’ve heard of Wix or Squarespace. I’ve not used either of those but I know a few people that have, and they’ve seemed happy with them. Look at your options and consider whether you want to spend any money on your website or not. I started with a free website and half a year later, I decided to spend £4/month to remove ads and get my own domain. There’s quite a bit of jargon when it comes to having a blog/website, but I have found WordPress guides really helpful in understanding everything.
Think about the format
Having a format for your blog is key. Think of it as your signature look: how do you start your posts? Do you have an introduction? Do you include one or multiple pictures in your posts? Will you have different subtitles? How will you sign off your posts? This, and many more similar questions, can become quite overwhelming.
I suggest you start by writing one post, just a draft. See how you naturally write and edit it. Does it have different paragraphs which could benefit from a title? Did you address your readers or sign off in a particular way? These little things will be what make your blog yours. However, don’t feel pressured into figuring out the whole format of your blog straightaway. It will probably take a few posts for you to discover how you want to present it. And remember, you can always edit and update posts that you have already published, so no pressure!
Write about things you want to write about
A lot of people think that they have to write what others want to read, whatever will get the most views. However, you will find that publishing posts that you have enjoyed writing and that are meaningful to you have a bigger impact. Your blog might not go viral, but you will find readers that enjoy your content. If you like what you put out, others will too. Not everyone of course, but you will find your audience. So don’t waste time writing about things that don’t fill you with emotion. You should be proud of your work.
I strongly suggest you also make a list of all the ideas that come to your mind. I know that I get ideas at the most random times, especially under the shower, while out on a walk or when having a conversation with someone. Write them down as soon as you can because you will otherwise forget them. We get so many thoughts every day, we can’t possibly remember them all. And you can always go back to that list if you need inspiration.
Don’t be ashamed or hide your blog
As mentioned earlier, I wasn’t always very outspoken about having a blog. Quite the opposite actually. It took weeks upon weeks until I told friends and family about it. I thought that they would think it was silly and not take it seriously. I also believed that they would find what I write to be ridiculous and shite, to be frank.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. People have been very supportive and encouraging. It has been nice to share this with them. There is nothing to be ashamed about, not in a day and age where everyone posts things online. And especially not with your friends and family. If they make fun of you instead of supporting you, they’re not worth your time.
Create an Instagram account
I didn’t create an Instagram account for my blog for months. This, once again, had to do with the point mentioned above. However, making an Instagram for it was the best decision – thank you Murdo, for pushing me to do it! It enabled me to get more traffic and inform followers (that weren’t from WordPress) about new posts. It has also been nice to become part of a community. I’ve made some amazing connections. One person in particular, Vanessa, stands out. You were the first person to message me and take a genuine interest in my blog. Thank you. Go follow her @theself_carekit! And make sure you let me know your username so I can follow you too!
Don’t focus on numbers
This is one that I am still struggling with sometimes. It’s not easy to put out something that is personal and that you are proud of, but to only have 4 people read it. Creating an Instagram for it should help you get a few more readers than that, but remember that numbers aren’t everything. And also, it takes time to build an audience. Even though my blog is a year old, I only get an average of 15-20 reads per post. And I’m yet to hit 100 followers.
But you know what? I don’t mind. I really enjoy writing these posts and knowing that I have been able to help even just one of you is all I care about. I created this blog to give advice to others that I wished I had received – especially on more difficult subjects such as anxiety. And some of you have reached out and told me my posts have been helpful, so thank you for that. Have a reason for creating your blog – and not “gain attention, fame and followers”. Have a “why” and you will find your audience.
Quality over quantity
Many believe that posting more is better. However, you will find that it does not usually end well. You will tire yourself out creatively, you will not enjoy what you’re posting anymore and people will see that. They will probably lose interest and so will you! You are not a machine, so set yourself an achievable goal. You can choose to post twice a week, every week, every 2 weeks, every month, etc.
What’s important is that you stay consistent. If you choose to post every week, that’s great. But try to stick to it. I’ve missed a week here and there, but overall I have been mostly consistent. And I am working on trying to post on time! If you are consistent, people will know to expect your posts and you will gain more traffic by putting yourself out there consistently.
Another point I’d like to make is about the quality of your posts. Don’t wait to make a post perfect, because it will likely never be. But make it good, as good as you can in the moment. And use tools to help you! Thesaurus.com is great for finding synonyms so you aren’t using the same words over and over again. And Grammarly has been really useful too! They will help bring your posts to the next level.
Just do it
Finally, just do it. Create the website, the Instagram account and upload your first post. There is no perfect time to start, so make that time now!
I hope some of these tips were helpful and, once more, let me know if you start your own blog. I would love to read it! Thank you for reading this far. I look forward to seeing you next Sunday. Until then, take care!