Tips for Starting Your Own Blog

how to start a blog

So you’ve decided you want to start a blog, but you aren’t quite sure where to begin.. I know the feeling.

Blogging can be such a fun & exciting creative outlet. It’s a fantastic way to share your ideas and life. I’ve really enjoyed blogging, and it has been the most incredible learning experience for me personally. Almost every single day, I get texts from friends at college along with tons of messages on Tumblr about how to start your own blog/website. Blogging is most definitely for anyone and everyone.

I first got into blogging in May of 2015. I absolutely love Tumblr, but I wanted to try something different and experience something completely out of my comfort zone. One of my favorite parts of blogging in general is creating the look and feel of your blog! Creating a blog is so fun, and though it can be overwhelming and confusing at first, it’s such a rewarding and cool experience! Here are some tips for starting your own blog:


1. Decide what you want to blog about

Choose something you are passionate about. When creating a blog, it’s great to have in your mind what you plan on actually blogging about.

Fashion? Beauty? Travel? Advice? Your life? All of the above? Go for it.

The best advice I can give is to write and post about whatever it is that you are passionate about. It’s much easier to write about things that you love, trust me. Share posts that you get excited to write about or think will help others out! Whatever it is that you want to share, do it.


2. Choose a blog name

Choosing a blog name can be so difficult. I know I spent weeks really thinking about the name for my blog, and I went back and forth between several ideas. It can be helpful to choose a blog name that is easy to remember, easy to spell, and unique. I would also recommend going with a blog name that will suit you for months and years to come. I ended up deciding to make my blog name ‘Mackenziekendall‘, my own name. I knew this was something that I wouldn’t get sick of months down the road because changing your blog name & rebranding in the future isn’t easy. So go with a blog name that you know you will love just as much a year from now!


3. Choose a platform to use & choose  a web hosting domain

This is definitely the number one blog-creation type question I get asked. Which platform do you use? Which platform would you recommend?

 I personally use WordPress. In the beginning, I was torn between WordPress and Blogger. I did a little bit of research on both of the popular platforms, and decided on WordPress because I heard that it was more customizable and ‘professional’. Downloading WordPress was a piece of cake, but once I started messing around with it, I was beyond overwhelmed. WordPress is definitely not the easiest platform to navigate, especially for beginners. It can be confusing to really master, but that’s just my opinion. I have been told that Blogger is much easier to use, however, it doesn’t have as many customizable features. Another platform I would recommend checking out would definitely have to be Weebly. One of my sorority sisters mentioned this platform to me recently because it is what she used to create her website. Weebly offers a ton of cool – and super easy to use- options to really create a unique and professional blog. It’s very to easy & creates a really awesome look! Another option is of course Tumblr, which is the very first platform I ever used in terms of blogging. Tumblr is a great way to share content and get inspiration from others. I love how interactive it is!

The second part to choosing a platform is definitely ‘web hosting’.

When it comes to blogging, you have the option to self host your website.

 For example: self hosting would be www.mackenziekendall.com instead of www.mackenziekendall.wordpress.com. It also allows you to have more customizable options on platforms like WordPress. Self hosting is totally an optional thing, but I would highly recommend it. You can start out without one and always self host in the future (which is definitely easy to do). Web hosting really isn’t as expensive as you may think it will be – but that does depend on your desired domain. If you are unsure of which web host to use, I would recommend GoDaddy & Bluehost. I use GoDaddy for my sorority website, and they are very helpful with any problems or questions you may have. Bluehost has been great as well, which is the web host I use for this blog!


4.  Design your blog

This is definitely the second most popular question I get in terms of starting a blog. When it comes to designing a blog or website, I always draw it out on paper first of what I want it to look like. It can be helpful to look at other blogs to pull inspiration (‘I love their sidebar’, ‘Their social media icons look great’). This can give you ideas of what works and what doesn’t. In general, I personally think it looks better to keep a more uniform and simple look to your site. It can be hard to navigate sites that have too much going on or have things popping up. It can be distracting, and it may cause users to skip over the actual content.

Choosing a good theme/template is very important. WordPress offers a lot of great, free options that I would highly recommend checking out. I know blogger offers a lot of great free ones as well. I personally chose a very plain, minimal theme that allowed me to really customize my blog to look exactly the way I wanted it to. I used coding & plugins to create the front page and the look of my blog.

When it comes to all things coding & graphic design related- google will be your best friend. I have never taken a graphic design/technology related class in college, so I self-taught myself how to code, graphic design, and become more ‘tech-savvy’ by watching youtube tutorials and googling anything & everything. The internet will be your best friend when it comes to figuring all of those things out! If you are not tech savvy and/or don’t have time to teach yourself, definitely check out Etsy. There are SO many awesome templates/themes to choose from, along with tons of people that can really help you make your idea come to life. When I first made this site last May, I got too frustrated with designing my own site, so I headed to Etsy to find the perfect look. I found an awesome Etsy store called ‘Pishandposh‘, and I purchased a cute watercolor theme. It was so easy, and the seller really answered all of my hundreds of beginner questions. Over the past year, I have learned so much about technology, and I decided to finally design & create a new look to my blog completely on my own. It was so much fun & I really enjoyed coming up with a unique look. You definitely don’t have to do that though because there are countless themes and templates on the internet & on etsy that will allow you to have the perfect look!

If you ever decide to re-vamp your blog and change the design around (which is something I did last month), I would highly recommend putting your site in ‘maintenance mode’, which is what I did. This allows you to redesign it without having your site a hot mess in the process!

In terms of graphic design things, there are tons of options out there. Adobe Illustrator is an awesome program along with Adobe Photoshop & Adobe Indesign. A free & easy to use option is the website picmonkey, a graphic design website I have used for years now. It’s so simple to use and gives you so many options to get creative. I make the majority of my graphic design work & posts on picmonkey actually, and I would highly recommend checking it out.


5. Plan your posts & create quality content

It can be difficult to find the time as a busy college student to blog every single day. For me personally, it’s not realistic. However, I do have friends in college that do blog almost daily! I make it my goal to blog twice a week, and I think it can definitely be helpful to make a ‘blogging schedule’. Whether that’s every single day or once a week – decide what the best plan for you is. Consistency is key.

I’ve always been about quality of quantity. When I put up a blog post, I tend to put a lot of time into it: taking quality photos, triple checking my spelling, making it a post that I am proud to put up. Definitely proofread your posts before publishing them!

Do you need a professional camera to blog? Absolutely not. However, I do think it’s helpful to invest in a camera so you can get the best quality photos on your website. I personally find myself reading other blogs/sites that use high quality photos more than blogs that don’t. Quality pictures can definitely drive more traffic to your website, especially if you do pin your posts/photos on Pinterest. There are tons of fantastic cameras on the market. I personally use a Canon Rebel that is about eight years old (no joke!). I use to 50mm 1.8 lens to take all of my photos here on www.mackenziekendall.com! You can find the 50mm 1.8 on tons of sites like amazon for just over $100. It’s a very affordable lens that really allows you to get that great bokeh affect (with the slightly blurry background). I would highly recommend the 50mm if you are on the hunt for the perfect – but still budget friendly- lens.

For photography tips & tricks, I am obsessed with Megan Weaver’s newsletters & site. She offers such incredible tips that are very easy to understand. Her tips, photography advice emails and posts have taught me so much:

www.megan-weaver.com 

Seriously though, check out her blog posts! They rock if you are hoping to improve your photography game.


6. Link your other social media platforms

Social media is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Branching out on social media & sharing your posts is a great way to grow your blog. You can make a separate Instagram for your blog if you want to, which is something that several of my friends have done.  Isabella, from Yep it’s Prep blog, recently made an awesome post called ‘How to Improve Your Blog Instagram‘, and I would highly recommend checking it out!

In addition to using social media platforms, I would highly recommend having social media icons on your blog so readers can easy check out your other platforms!

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 11.21.27 AM

[I personally use  the plugin ‘Simple Social Icons‘ to get my social media icons]


7. Support other bloggers/be open to networking

Having fellow blogger-friends is one of my favorite aspects to blogging. Comment on other blogs, like their social media posts, encourage others & support the work that others do.

Supporting another’s success won’t ever dampen yours

It’s really fun to make friends all over the world that love blogging just as much as you do! I’ve met so many incredible friends from blogging & I have learned so much from them. Joining a ‘blogger group’ can be a great way to get involved around the blogging community as well.


8. Don’t compare yourself to others

I think a negative aspect of blogging is that it can be easy to compare ourselves to other people and other blogs. A negative part of blogging is that typically bloggers only share the highlights of their lives. I know for myself personally, I tend to only share the best parts of my life & the things I love. Does that mean my life is perfect? Absolutely not. Not even in the slightest. It can be easy to look at other bloggers and wish that we had their lives because blogging can make things look so incredibly perfect, when truthfully, nobody truly has a perfect life. Focus on being the best person that you can be & doing what makes you happy. Don’t get caught up in the web of stressing over how many followers you have or comparing yourself to others. I can promise you that you are beyond perfect exactly the way that you are! You are so unique and special, and that is so important to always remember.


9. Look for inspiration

Sometimes as a blogger, you can feel uninspired, and I am not afraid to admit that. I go through slumps where I am frankly not to sure what to write about & I have total ‘writer’s block’. I typically find inspiration by browsing through Pinterest, reading magazines, window shopping, people watching, trying out new products, and traveling. I also take inspiration from conversations with my friends and family!

It can also be helpful to receive feedback from your followers & be open to taking post requests. I always write down every post request that I get because feedback is so important to me!


10. Have fun with it!

Last, but certainly not least, have fun with it! Blogging is fun and is the perfect way to really express yourself. Have fun with it! Try new things, show off your creativity, and enjoy it! Be open to trying new things & learning as much as you can.


I hope that you could find this post helpful & informative. If you ever have any specific blog/website/design related question, feel free to leave me a comment or shoot me an email! Also, if you have any blogging tips that you would like to share, definitely comment below.

I hope that you all are having an awesome weekend!

xoxo,

Mackenzie Kendall

12 thoughts on “Tips for Starting Your Own Blog

  1. I really love how honest you are in all your posts. I feel like being sincere and staying true to yourself definitely goes hand-in-hand with some of your tips. It’s so easy to tell the difference between anyone on social media who’s just trying to portray their lives as some sort of perfect fantasy and someone who’s trying to put their best foot (and photo) forward, but still keep it real, and you’re definitely one of the latter. My style isn’t even a smidge preppy, but I love following you because of the personality that resonates through all your posts! Your writing is always so engaging and I love it <3
    xx
    Ella
    http://www.thirteenoctobers.com

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