I love blogging.
If it’s not already evident, now you know. Although I enjoy writing and putting my thoughts into words, what I love most is the entire process and all of the tasks associated with blogging. I love learning about photography and SEO, creating a website, building an audience, and of course, branding the entire thing into one tidy little package that lives online for the world to see.
My love of blogging started slow, however. And believe it or not…this is my third blog.
Yes, third. My very first blog was how I became acquainted with the blogging world. I like to call it Baby Design Blog 1.0. It was a collection of things I would design and share online (hmm, that sounds familiar). However, I did a lot of things incorrectly. I made a lot of mistakes unknowingly and no one was there to tell me otherwise. It was a pretty chaotic mess of pictures, graphics and terrible writing that I like to let live in the bloggy graveyard now.
My second blog was an online magazine called
Regale. This blog had a different purpose and structure; it was a collection of Gen Y -written articles from all over the nation, and it was dedicated to creating a better and more inspired life for Millennials. Regale was a lot of fun because I was able to work with friends on creating content, and met a lot of new people along the way! Again, though, I learned a lot in the year and a half I managed Regale, and there are a few things I may have done differently. Nevertheless, I’m happy to report that Regale now lives on under new management, and is doing better than ever! So thankful for a great team that could carry on the original vision of Regale Magazine.
And now, here I am, with my third blog well underway, and already I’m able to apply everything I’ve learned in recent years to the launch and maintenance of J.Lynn Designery. I so love this little piece of online space that bears my blog’s name. It’s like owning a house that you get to decorate and fill with anything you’d like, then share it with friends and family to see, get ideas from, and enjoy. Except instead of driving to this beautiful house of yours, they just have to jump online and go straight to your website.
So now you may be saying, “Ok, that’s nice and all. But why should I start a blog in my spare time?”
I could spend an entire day with you going over the reasons I believe in the power of blogging…but I’ll try to sum it up here.
- It’s a great way to meet people. Blogging may be a largely virtual activity, but there are plenty of opportunities to get off the computer and meet other bloggers, brands and personalities. Also, never underestimate the satisfaction that comes from making blog friends online! Other people who totally get what you’re doing and who want to help you. All you have to do is ask.
- You get to know YOU better. If there’s one thing I learned after running three blogs, it’s that I’ve become a lot more comfortable with understanding who I am as a friend, employee and person.
- It’s an easy way to release creativity. I’m a big believer that everyone is at least a little bit creative. And blogging is an excellent way to explore different mediums of creativity and put it out there for the world to see. (Or not. There are such things as private blogs. Which is somewhat like a secret diary.)
- You learn how to express yourself more clearly. You might be like me and write the most awkward first blog post EVER. Over time, however, you learn how to write in a way that communicates your personality and intentions effectively.
- People can find you. Whether you have a business that’s looking for more exposure, you’re on the job hunt, or any other reason you might want to put yourself out there for others to easily find, a blog is a great solution for building your personal (or company) brand.
- It’s only as much work as you want it to be. Want to find a template online and post once a month just to get some thoughts online? Go for it. Interested in building a custom blog from scratch and setting up an editorial calendar to keep your every-other-day posts on track? More power to you. Blogging doesn’t have to be a big deal. It can be a small hobby you touch every few weeks, or it can be a full-blown side hustle you work at every night of the week. There’s so much flexibility!
- It’s FUN. Trust me — I wouldn’t be spending so much time on something if I didn’t love doing it. I think if you love your job, that’s fantastic. But you should always love what you’re doing with your spare time. For me, that’s blogging and designing pretty things. Blogging just might be your new evening hobby, too.
Loving what you hear so far? GREAT! Then read on for…
What you need to get started.
Getting your thoughts in order and a plan of action going can be the hardest part of starting a blog — mostly because it’s just so exciting that you’d love to spend all of your time on this phase! If you love brainstorming and dreaming up ideas, I highly recommend setting a timeline for yourself for these first few steps. That way, you stay on track and keep yourself focused towards the goal: finally launching your blog! (Plus, it gives you a launch date to build towards and look forward to.)
Here are a few things to start thinking about for your new blog:
Yes, I know I started with the most difficult piece of the puzzle. If you don’t have a brilliant and clever name in mind from day one, don’t fret; most people don’t. Or if they do, they change it seventeen times before landing on one that truly love. I mentioned it first, however, so you can start thinking about it. There are lots of resources out there for help with naming a blog or business, but a few questions to ask yourself as you’re brainstorming:
- Is it short enough to fit easily on a business card?
- Is it memorable?
- Is it easy to pronounce?
- Is it easy to spell?
Again, while you don’t have to know the answer to this one right off the bat, it is a good thing to be thinking about. Having a focus for your blog will be a huge help when coming up with great content ideas, and it will help you when you’re giving your elevator speech about your blog to anyone in the future. For instance, J.Lynn Designery is a “Lifestyle + Design” blog. Think about where your interests lie, what you’re knowledgeable about and — interesting one — what you want to learn about. Oftentimes, the best way to learn something is to share and teach it to others. Your blog could be a great outlet for that!
Are you able to set aside any extra cash to get your blog started? Do you feel comfortable putting money into it on a regular basis? The answer might be “no,” and that’s totally fine. It’s good to come to terms with this in the beginning, however, so you know what your options are when initially setting up your blog.
There are tons are blogging platforms out there that you can use; some are free, and some aren’t. Probably the two biggest platforms for blogging are WordPress and Blogger. My very first blog was run through Blogger, and it was a great starting experience. It allowed me to test the waters and move at my own pace for little to no money. However, I quickly learned that Blogger can be a very limited platform when it comes to design, structure, plugins, etc. Now, that’s been almost four years ago, and I’m sure some of their features have improved in flexibility and control. If you’re brand new to websites and blogging, I would at least look at it as an option.
WordPress.com reminds me a lot of Blogger. It’s free to use, you have very limited design options, and it’s a pretty simple set-up. WordPress.org is a whole different ballgame — in a great way. With WordPress.org, you have unlimited access to changing anything on your site; this includes the look and feel, the functionality, everything. The possibilities are endless. You also are automatically required to use your own domain, meaning there won’t be any “.wordpress.com” or “.blogspot.com” at the end of your url. It will be all yours. Finally: the themes and the plugins. There are SO many to choose from all over the web, and they make it easy as pie to set up your website with a beautiful template (or customized!) and get started quickly.
There are a few costs associated with using WordPress.org, and that’s where your budget comes in:
- Domain name. Generally around $10 a year, and you can purchase from a wide variety of sites. Some of the bigger ones are GoDaddy.com, NameCheap.com and HostGator.com.
- Hosting. WordPress.org sites ARE self-hosted, meaning you’ll have to decide on a hosting company for your website. I personally use Bluehost, and have had nothing but great experiences with them from day one. Bonus: their customer service is amazing. 24/7 access to any technical support necessary. You can generally find pretty great starter plans for hosting for $4 to $8 a month.
- Optional: Theme. While you can browse the web and find TONS and tons of paid WordPress templates out there, you’ll also find a few free ones in the mix. WordPress and Themeforest.net are great resources for theme shopping. Average prices you’ll find on Themeforest range from $20 to $100, mostly.
So as you can see, blogging CAN be free, or it can require a small budget set aside for it. It really just depends on what you’re looking to accomplish and what level of flexibility you’d like with your blog. If you have any other questions on this topic, feel free to reach out to me — I’d love to help if I can.
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Was that the longest introduction to blogging ever? Quite possibly. But keep following the series, because more great content will be coming that will help you get up and running with a beautiful blog in no time! Until next time, loves!!
Interested in custom branding for your new blog? I can help! Contact me for more information.