Monday, February 25, 2019

The Writers Guide to Starting a Blog



As a writer, blogging is the perfect platform to showcase not only your writing, but your books, making it the best kind of author platform.

Where do you start?  If you've never set up a blog before, it can seem like a huge challenge.  Setting up your domain name, hosting, and blog design can be a stumbling block to starting a blog.

In this blog post I'm going to take you through the key points, and help you navigate your way through all of the techy stuff.

The Writer's Guide to Starting a Blog

Choosing a Domain Name

How will people find you online?  Start by thinking of something that is familiar to you or your name, then check for availability by visiting Bluehost and click "new domain".


If you're not sure about what to call your blog, try adding write or writer onto your own name, e.g. helenbolamwriter.com.  You have other choices other than just .com, such as .biz or .net.  But a .com name is the most popular choice that people will look for first.

You can be a bit more adventurous if your blog is a particular niche such as travelling, here are a few examples of popular writing blogs:


Once you've decided which name you like, don't wait to buy it, purchase it straight away, or you may risk losing the name you really like.

In the section below check out why buying a hosting package is a good option to go for before purchasing your blog name.

Buying a Hosting a Package

Once you've chosen your domain name, you need to pick a suitable web host.  The company that hosts your blog does all the techy stuff, like making sure the server doesn't go down, and enables your blog to be found in search engines.

The main contenders for web hosting are Hostgator and Bluehost, I've used Hostgator myself, in the past.  And had no problems setting up a simple blog with Wordpress.  Bluehost is loved by many top bloggers around the world, and both webhosts offer a good customer service and plan's starting from as little as $3.84 per month.

All of these purchase are tax deductible, so put them on your business credit card and keep the receipts from your emails, they're valuable investments in your writing business.

Design Your Blog Header

You'll need to choose a theme, this will indicate to your readers what your blog is all about, you'll have numerous free themes to choose from.

You can design your own blog header by a professional or create one of your own on Fotor.  The size of your header depends upon your platform and theme, and can be anywhere from 800-1200 pixels wide and 100-400 pixels tall.

Blog Header



Start Writing Your Static Pages

On your blog you'll have a few pages that won't change, such as, start here, about, contact, resources etc.

Here are some static pages to include on your blog:

Contact

If your readers have any questions, or just want to get in touch with you, you need a contact page.

A simple straightforward form without your own email address, you can sign up to Cognito forms and create a simple free contact page with all of the relevant boxes to fill in, and have your emails sent directly to your inbox.

Resources

A favourite page for many bloggers, showcasing products they've use, and including affiliate links to earn some extra income.  Check out my resources page in useful stuff.

Start here


Joanna Penn has an excellent example of how to create a really good page in her blog The Creative Penn, encouraging her readers to download her ebooks or choose topics that interest her readers the most.

Setting Up Your Widgets

Most blogs have a sidebar with widgets to help the reader navigate the blog. 

Here are a few widget ideas:

About Box

Some bloggers like to include this box in the upper right hand corner, Nicole Bianchi and Jane Friedman are good examples of this.

Social Media Icons

Adding social media icons make it easy for your readers to follow you.  Addtoany allows you to add social media icons in a variety of different ways on your blog, from floating icons, to placing them at the top or bottom of the page.

Set Up an Email List

Even if you haven't started writing your blog posts yet, think about how to get your email list started.

A huge ask I know.

A good place to start is to look at blog posts you may already have written, you could start thinking  about how could create a simple free eBook from some of the blog posts on your blog.  Check out 1976write's Discover the Writer in You.

You can set up a free Mailchimp account, which allows up to 2,000 subscribers for free.

Start Writing

"Just Write", this is the next step you need to do if you haven't done it already.

A key part to blogging is planning ahead, having ideas already written out so you're always ahead in your schedule.

You need to know what you're writing about?  What are the topics that interest people about writing?

Keep your tone conversational and talk to your readers using "you" in phrases, use bullet points and lists to keep your readers interested.

Start Your Social Media Campaign

Once you've created your blog, and started writing your blog posts, you need to start promoting your blog.  It would be lovely if all writer's needed to do was just write blog posts all of the time, and hit publish, but sadly no.  Start by promoting your blog on social media sites and search engines to get yourself noticed by like minded bloggers.

This gives you the opportunity to interact with other writers, and people interested in what you're writing about.  By doing this you can support your writing community and they may even return the favour to you:)

Social media is a great way to get traffic to your blog, and its an important of growing your author following, if you're writing books.


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