Besides design and military living questions, I get asked a lot about starting your own blog. You guys?! You’re all a bunch of budding writers!
I figured I’d take a minute to share my advice with you all and save myself typing this out about a million and one times.
If you can answer these six questions, then you’re set to start your own blog.
What do you want to blog about?
Do you hope to make your blog a business? This question needs to be answered at the same time as the one about what you want to blog about. If you one day hope to blog as a business, make sure that what you offer is unique enough to grab a segment of the very competitive blogging world, or at least good enough to compete with established brands.
When I started blogging about PMQ home decor there was no.one.else blogging about it.
If you don’t want to blog for a business, just for fun about your daily life, your cooking or your next posting that’s also fine. I know a couple of people who do a 365 challenge (one post a day for 365 days – a year-long diary) or blog to keep family and friends updated about life at a new posting. They’re great and give you more space than a Facebook post.
As a military family how much personal information do you want to share?
This one is valid for anybody though. In this day and age very little is private on the internet, so decide what you feel comfortable putting out there before you start. For me, the line is drawn firmly at my husband. Not only for OPSEC, but at his request, I don’t feature pictures or information about him, his job, or when and where he goes. You may have noticed that I refer to him as DH and that’s it. If you want to do the same, coming up with a nickname or acronym is good solution.
Because I talk about our home I made a rule to never share our address. In any photo of our front porch I make sure to hide our house number, and in any discussions I keep it all private. Sure, you could always drive around looking for my front porch, but you’d have to know where to start. If we live on the same base, trust me, you’ll know.
When we have kids, I’ll make a joint decision with DH about featuring them on the blog. I know some home decor bloggers who’s children are very present, while others only show them in passing. Depending on what you want to blog about, considering your family’s safety and privacy should be first and foremost.
Julie from Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life offers her tips “I think when it comes to how much you share it has to be what you are comfortable with. We all should stick with OPSEC but beyond that, don’t feel like you have to get too personal if you don’t want to. You can say things like, “my 5-year old” instead of their name, you can just show the backs or share minimal photos.”
How well do you use technology?
This one matters when it comes to picking a blogging platform. Can you easily pick-up new platforms and systems? Do you have some coding background? Do you want to be able to monetize? These questions and many more will all play into your decision to chose a platform… and then there’s the whole “self hosted” question!
I’ve always used wordpress. At first I started with the free wordpress.com account, but found that my ability to customize, code (ahem – hire someone to code), or add certain pluggins was limited. It was great for me to start, but as PMQ for two grew I needed a platform that would grow with me. This prompted the migration last winter to my current site on a wordpress.org platform. I am now self hosted through BlueHost and own my domain name. I have so much freedom vis-a-vis what I do with the site, and it was definitely the best choice for me.
WordPress can be a little overwhelming at first. It took a while for me to feel comfortable poking around the back-end and playing with things, but once I did it was all too easy. It’s like getting a new phone!
If WordPress isn’t for you. I know many other bloggers who use blogger (you’ll need a gmail account), Weebly and Wix. Those are all free website builders that give you the option to pay for customization etc. Blogger would probably be the easiest to use, but there’s little to no room for customization.
If you’re looking to self host, by visiting Bluehost or any other server farm you can see what platforms they host and how to get started.
What kind of name/logo/branding should I do?
These are all questions for you. I can’t answer them, but maybe a random name generator can? Although I’m not sure “Ivy Elf Sparkle Dust” would be a good title.
Finding your name is pretty important as you’ll need it for your domain name. A lot of people go with their name ex. Time with Thea, or something related to what they blog about ex. Sustain My Craft Habbit, or they’ve snagged the ultimate in easy to understand, google search and descriptive name ex. The DIY Mommy.
*FYI I know all four of these lovely bloggers and they’re great, so you should check them out.
Branding, logos, custom images etc. all come at a price: either know-how and time, or money. It all depends on how much you want to put into your website, but when starting out- free is usually better. These can all be figured out at a later time!
Just make sure that if you take images from Pinterest or anybody else, that you credit them or ask their permission.
How do I start writing?
There’s no right or wrong answer here, so I’ll tell you what I did instead.
I started writing. I hit publish when I was done, and that was that. I didn’t have a Facebook page for PMQ for two then, and I didn’t share them on my personal Facebook account. I was just quietly putting them out onto the inter webs and seeing what happened. You know what happened? Nothing.
Nothing will happen unless you have an audience who knows you’re there, so don’t worry about people seeing it unless you start publicizing. That being said, once it’s on the internet it can never come off the internet.
Once I felt comfortable sharing what I had written – after many edits and re-writes – I started sharing. That time in between my first post and my first social share was spent finding my voice, setting my own parameters, and feeling it all out. Very few of my first blog posts still exist, I’ve taken most of them offline because they’re out of date, not relevant, or just bad. And that’s normal, everyone does it.
Judy from The Direction Diva has her own way of writing “Best advice i can give is to write and then figure out how to turn it into a post. Often when it comes to writing I just open the floodgates on a topic and allow myself to write without any restrictions . Then after I’ve said all I want on that topic i edit. Sometimes I cut alot but other times the piece breaks down into multiple blog posts. If I try to write for a specific word count it can really stiffle the message.”
Are there any Facebook groups for other bloggers who just started?
There are tons! I can’t tell you how many, simply because there are as many groups as there are pins on pinterest. I would be happy to refer you to some, so shoot me a message!
If of interest, I’m in a bloggers group for military spouse bloggers, Canadian home decor and DIY bloggers, women in photography, military spouse home decor and DIY bloggers, as well as some pinterest promotion boards. I will share the love and invite you to those if you want as well. Shoot me a PM!
That’s all for today ladies, hopefully this has given you a little push in the right direction (if you were looking to start a blog) or sparked an interest if you weren’t and happened to read this post in its entirety.
Happy to answer any and all questions.