Starting a blog is work. It’s work right from the moment you decide to create a one. If you make it past choosing a name (it took me six months just to get that far, and I still found myself toying with new ones months later), you’re left with a mountain of tasks that follow, most of which lie in making decisions. What theme should I choose? What do I want my logo to look like? Which font best represents my personality? You laugh, but it took me a solid two hours of back and forth testing, retesting and staring at the computer screen head slightly tilted to the side to decide Oswald was my spirit animal of the font world.
Two hours is nothing when I think about the fact that it took me two years to get Champagne Dreams started. Seriously, two years. That’s two years of floating ideas, bursts of ambitions, bouts of hesitation and a laundry list of lessons learned. The biggest lesson? There are no rules, really. So while there are endless decisions to be made, it’s important to remember, at least in my opinion, that at the end of the day your blog is first and foremost your outlet. I wish I kept that at the forefront of my mind during the last two years: There are no rules, so there are essentially few ways to fail; just a few things that will set you back, and all of them have absolutely nothing to do with which decisions you make.
Here’s four major lessons I learned while creating my blog.
1. Don’t get caught up in the details
I don’t think I realized how many decisions I would need to make while creating this blog until I actually began. They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. I took that first step and it was like the next one thousand miles that followed came into clear sight. You’ll find yourself going around in circles from what to name your site (seriously, this one took its toll on me), what theme to choose, what font to use, what colors to emphasize. My advice: Don’t.
This may seem like terrible advice, especially if you’re anything like me and you prefer things to be perfect. Here’s the thing about perfection, though: it takes time. Like fine wine, your blog will evolve and grow over time. It doesn’t need to be perfect right out of the gate. Give yourself time to cultivate it. Test things out, see how it goes and if you don’t like them, change them. Nothing is permanent.
It took me two years to realize it was okay not to have the most beautiful site straight from the get-go and in that time I lost a million opportunities to get my thoughts on paper (err, on screen?). Here’s what I realized: What’s most important is the content you put out into the world. All that other stuff is secondary. Trust me, people are not going to leave your site because the name isn’t just right, or the theme color is light purple instead of dark. What keeps them coming back is the content. Make it powerful and make it resonate.
That being said, if you’re struggling with step 1: choosing a name, here’s some advice.
- Don’t Think Too Much: If your content is specific – call it like it is. Amanda Holstein of Advice From a Twenty Something writes about, you guessed it, advice from herself (a twenty something). Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich offers realistic and actionable advice on how to earn more money. If you plan on offering targeted content, consider naming it accordingly.
- Name It After Yourself: Lauren Conrad, Melyssa Griffin, Jen Carrington — all highly successful women who named their blogs after themselves. Completely possible. Plus, I think it’s fabulous for branding.
- Try the Tried and True ___ & ___ Formula: Cupcakes & Cashmere, Prosecco & Plaid, Bubbles and Baubles. I could go on. Choose two of your favorite things and see how well they go together. You may be surprised.
- When all else fails, try a word generator: This one may seem a little odd, but some of my favorite blogs are a mash up of random words — Pink Pot, The Fashion Guitar, Egg Canvas. You never know, something may stick.
2. Speak With Authority
Even when you feel like you haven’t earned it. When you’re first starting out you’ll likely feel like you have no authority to be offering advice. Especially after scoping out established blogs and realizing how much experience you lack as a newbie. True, there’s a lot to learn when you first begin, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer.
Each effort you put into the progression of your blog will teach you something new. Share that experience. Simply setting up WordPress was a completely new concept to me. I remember buying my domain and thinking what now? I was so inexperienced I didn’t even know how to connect my new domain to WordPress. Baby steps, friends.
Chances are you started a blog because you felt you had something special to put out into the great big mystery we call the Internet. Your hobbies and interests have overtime turned you into an aficionado, even if you don’t realize it. Keep that in mind each time you’re crafting a post to share with your followers.
3. Develop a brand and stick to it
The blogging world is exceptionally over saturated. Have you ever been to the explore page of Instagram? (I know you have, that was mostly rhetorical). Much like standing before the ocean, it will make you feel incredibly small. There’s an endless number of bloggers out there and for the most part, everyone is covering the same topics, just with their own spin. It may seem intimidating, but it should actually be quite the opposite. The more blogs you come across, the more you have to learn from and draw inspiration from.
That being said, don’t get lost in it. Develop a brand that’s true to who you are and stick to it. As a viewer, I’m more likely to engage with a blogger and follow their content when they have a strong brand. You should draw inspiration from what’s around you, but never deviate from your vision. Be who you are and let it show through everything you do – your content, your photos, your photo captions all the way down to your pins (if that’s your thing, and it should be!)
4. Don’t get intimidated
This little nugget of advice is so important that I felt I had to reiterate it. Do not let the success and level of establishment of other blogs you see intimate you. Here are some things I try to keep in mind when I’m feeling like a blog minnow in the sea of bloggers.
- Some people do this for a living. If you’re just starting out, chances are you still have a job to tend to. As much as being a full time blogger is hashtag goals, it’s not your currently reality. Do what you can, when you can and remember: you started your page to share your thoughts with others, not to be an overnight sensation.
- Some people also have sponsors. As much as we all would love to host daily giveaways and have a breathtaking, highly advanced site, the truth is it all requires a lot of funds. Until you’ve fully established your brand and developed a hefty following, remember you’re just one person and again, do what you can when you can.
- Take it all one step at a time. Your blog will become populated with a bounty of beautiful, engaging posts accompanied by breathtaking photos. It just takes time. Focus on one thing at a time. You’ll eventually start to see it lifting off the ground floor.
What’s your one piece of advice for starting a blog? Share it below!