As a writer, blogging is the perfect platform to showcase not only your writing, but your books and other products you may want to sell on your 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 huge bridge to cross, if you've never used a blogging platform before.
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, to help get you started on your writing journey.
The Writer's Guide to Starting a Blog
Choosing a Domain Name
How Will People Find Me 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, with 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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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've already written, and make them into a simple free eBook.
You can set up a free Mailchimp account, which allows up to 2,000 subscribers for free.
Writing for your audience is the next step , 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?
Writing in a conversational tone will set a much lighter, friendlier feel to your blog, and using things like 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 posts. It would be lovely if all writer's needed to do was just write blog posts and do nothing else, but sadly no.
Start signing up for social media sites like Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, and promote, promote, promote.
You'll quickly start to interact with fellow like-minded bloggers and writers, just like you. And your writing community will start to build.
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.
Let me know your thoughts about starting a blog in the comments below.
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