So You Want To Start a Blog?

This week is BlogHer.  It’s finally here!

But there are some bloggers who are not going.  And of course I have readers who aren’t bloggers, so you’re not going either.

And you’re probably about sick of hearing me complain whine talk about how nervous I am to fly away from my boys for four days.

Truth be told I am quite excited.  I know that tears will flow and butterflies will dance in my stomach tomorrow as I have to leave my boys at security and I venture on my very first alone trip.  But once in the air, I am confident that I will calm down and enjoy myself.

Anyway, this post is not about my going to BlogHer.

This post is part of the Summer Blog Social 2011 that is being hosted by Liz and Jessica.

Today I am talking about how to start a blog if you don’t already have one started.

When I started Sluiter Nation I had no idea what I was doing.  In my mind I was starting a website.  I asked zero questions.  I just forged ahead on Blogger finding my way.  I sort of wish I knew about blogging and the wide blogosphere and how to really start so I wasn’t just floundering for 3 years.

So here we go…my tips for getting started….

1. Know what your goal is.  At least a sort of goal.  If you think you want to just write as a hobby and connect with people and not put in a ton of time,  you are going to have a different start than if you want to grow your blog and/or make money from it.

2. If you just want to stay small and hobby-ish?  Start on a free platform.  I suggest Blogger.  If you think you might want to go somewhere at all with your blog, buy your domain name and start on wordpress.org.

3. Keep it simple.  It will be really tempting to put up badges of every blog you love and join every single networking site and add their badges.  You will be all tempted by widgets or gadgets:  pictures!  tickers!  rss feeds!  Oh my!  Don’t do it.  It just looks majorly cluttery.  Remember:  this is not your high school locker.  Your content is king, not your flair.

4. Keep it readable.  Black background and white font might seem all chic and neat, but truth be told?  It’s hard to read.  If you have a simple layout and a nice readable design, you are more likely to keep readers.

5. Write what you know.  Again, this comes from your goals.  If you intend to update about your family, you probably won’t keep many outside readers, but that is Ok if that is not your goal.  If you want to grow your readership, you need to write about those things in a way that is universal.  You need people to not just want to know about you and your family, but they need to relate to you too.

6. Tell your truth.  If you want readers to relate to you, you need to tell your truth.  For instance, part of my truth is that I am a wife and have a 2 year old and I am pregnant again.  For some, that is enough.  But not many.  Many want to know what makes me different, but what makes me the SAME too.  So I tell my truth.  My truth is that being a mom is hard for me.  I have PPD.  There is a note in my medical file that reads “reoccurring depression”.  This makes me different.  But for so many moms out there?  It also makes me the same.  You don’t have to be a Debbie Downer to tell your truth, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it either.

7. Comment, comment, comment.  You and can write and post every single day, but if you are not visiting other blogs and commenting, you won’t see much of a give back.  Now, I am not saying you should leave “cute post!” just to get comments back to you, but you do need to make an effort.  And read the blogs of those who comment on your posts.  You may find someone a LOT like you…and presto!  Instant new friend!

8. Join twitter.  I know.  This seems stupid to those of you who do not do it.  I promise it’s not just a place to find out what movie Tom Hanks is working on or to get the latest celebrity gossip from Perez Hilton.  Most bloggers are on twitter.  It serves two purposes.  A) you can send out the links to your latest blog posts and B) you can follow and talk to your favorite bloggers…and then they become friends.  For me, twitter is a way to get info/blog posts out there, but it’s more like a giant chat room of all my favorite bloggers and crafty peeps.  If you are fun and chatty on twitter, people will want to check out your blog too.

9. Make sure there are a few ways people can “follow” your blog.  Some of you read Sluiter Nation in a reader.  Some of you get these posts via email.  Some of you follow me on Google Friend Connect. Some of you click over from facebook or twitter.  And a few of you (hi mom!) just bookmark the page and check back each day.  Regardless of how you like to read, I have tried to make it easy on you.  I have buttons over there on the right for email, rss, and gfc.  If you don’t have a place for people to follow you?  They probably won’t.

10. Have an about page mentioning your name (or pen name if you are going by an alias, Hi Blair!).  It’s maddening to me to find a blog where I LOVE the writing, and can see a picture of the writer, but there is no name or about page telling me what the purpose of the blog is or who writes it.  It’s hard to find a connection with someone if you don’t even have a name for that person.

There are other things that go into making a blog, but these are the basics if you are thinking about getting started.

So..those of you who blog…what did I miss?

And those of you who DON’T blog, would you consider trying it?

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. Katherine says

    Hello Katie,

    I am a new mom, well second time around mom, and have recently joined twitter @katydid2674 and want to start a blog. So far I am so happy with all the outpouring of advice and suggestions I have received from reaching out to others and asking questions. I bought a book on blogging because currently my little milk vampiress is sucking me dry, I know I have some brain cells left, but the lack of sleep and around the clock nursing is killing me, so I needed to wrap my mind around all that is involved in taking this on. You were recommended by Brandi @mannlymama. I love your writing style and how truly real you ‘sound’ in your writing.
    I am glad I read this post, it was helpful and encouraging. Perhaps sooner rather than later I will get the courage to get my blog up and running. It is quite the task, when you are functioning on so little sleep.

    Thanks,
    Kate

  2. All great tips! Twitter has been my biggest tool since starting my blog. I actually started without it and have since become completely addicted to it over the last few months. Another good tip? Stay true to yourself. Don’t write what you can’t stand behind.

  3. Fabulous advice Katie! Clean design, readability, ways to follow, About Me page, Twitter – yes, yes, yes!

  4. I hate searching for a name or any type of ocntact or follow info, too!

    Have a blast at BlogHer and thanks for linking up!

  5. As a new blogger myself I must say these are excellent tips! I love reading what other bloggers have to say about writing. I’m always learning new things, and that helps me grow. Thank you!

  6. Cute post! 😛

    Really though, this was great! Even though I have been blogging for about as long as you, I will be taking a few ideas from this post. Thanks for posting this!

  7. Great tips, I have an about page, sort of. Your post is making me think I need to make it a bit more clear. Thanks for linking up!

  8. Great list Katie!

    My fave is Tell your truth. Damn, that’s the crux of it all, isn’t it?

  9. Great tips! Joining Twitter has doubled (at least) my readership, unfortunately I’m getting addicted :-). I agree about making contact info easily accessible. It drives me nuts when someone comments on my blog and I have to hunt around to respond.

  10. Hope you’re having a great time!

    Excellent tips. The one about telling your own truth resonates with me the most – because just when you think you’re the only person going through your situation, you find that soooo many others are or have as well. But you would never have known otherwise.

  11. This is a great collection of tips! 🙂 Thanks for doing this! I think the part about being yourself and being truthful is SO important. It is hard to read blogs by people that don’t tell the “whole” story all of the time. Now that I am moving to wordpress (THANK YOU!) I can’t wait to put some more time into my blog and see what happens.