Blogging can be an inexpensive way to distinguish your individual voice within your areas of expertise. Whether you use your platform to promote a product, share recipes, or teach a skill, blogging gives you the freedom to create and share as much information as you desire.
Several decisions will need to be made before you set up your blog. Which platform will you utilize? What will you title your blog? Color theme? Graphics? All of these areas come into play in creating a site that will help you connect with friends and strangers with like affinities. Although I’ve been blogging for many years, I’ve learned a lot in the past three years that would have saved me time, energy, and most importantly frustration had I had the information sooner.
When I started reading blogs, my favorite writers were using Blogger. This was a natural choice for me because I was already interacting with the site and felt comfortable with it. It is very different to create a site than it is to post a comment at the end of an article. The two most popular, free blogging sites are Blogger and WordPress. Three years ago Google started charging me for storage space mainly because of the pictures on my blog so I decided it was time to reconsider my options. After a bit of research and encouragement from several writing friends I made the move to WordPress and I’m thrilled with my decision.
WordPress is very user-friendly. It allows you to easily post content and include graphics. The thing I love most about WordPress is the customizing capabilities. The variety of free templates for sites is massive. Coupling that with the fact that each site has the ability to have widgets and graphics added to it means you will be able to easily and quickly create a unique and personalized space. WordPress had the domain name I wanted to use which was another positive. With Blogger I found there was very little I could do to set my site apart.
You will want to Google the domain name you want to use to see if it is owned by someone else. When I typed my desired blog domain into WordPress, I realized someone else had the exact title I wanted, but the suggestions I received helped me settle on a title I love. Most people I encounter use their domain name as the title of their blog. This makes sense because if you are writing about hockey having a title and domain such as The Hockey Spot is going to allow search engines to find your blog much quicker than if the title is The Winter Sport Other Than Basketball. Still, there is a lot of creative freedom in this area because you can add a description of your subject matter to the blog title. Your goal is to create a space that will be found by people most interested in the content you are creating.
After you choose a template, graphics become the way to individualize your site. I could spend hours creating graphics if I had the time because there always seems to be a better font or picture. The effort to keep everything free limits me, though, which is helpful. Pexels, Unsplash, PixcClicx, Pixabay, Pikwizard and Canva all offer free pictures. It is important that you abide by the licensing agreement for each site, so take some time to familiarize yourself with each agreement. Giving credit where credit is due is an important step but is not complicated so don’t hesitate to use these sites.
Canva will help you build your graphics. They offer templates for all social media platforms as well as the option to customize the size of your graphic. You can upload outside pictures or use the images and graphics on the site. Many are free, but some cost $1. This can add up if you are adding layers of elements so pay attention as you go.
For more help creating engaging images, check out this article.
So now you have a blog domain and title, a template, a place to create customized graphics and sources to find pictures for those graphics and you haven’t had to spend a penny. Now it's time to start writing!
Content, the main part of your blog, can do more than deliver information. It can reveal your personality to your readers. Consider the example I used regarding domain names. I chose to use hockey as the subject. Using a sports reference gives you a little insight into my preferences. Further, I didn’t present statistics regarding user preferences on WordPress and Blogger. This choice could mean that I am not personally as interested in the numbers side of information as I am how it works for me.
Don’t be afraid to write in a language that is comfortable to you. If you say “Y’all” then toss one in your writing where it feels natural. Still, it’s important that your writing is free of spelling and punctuation errors. It can be a distraction for readers as well as leave them with the wrong impression about you. Grammarly is a free tool which can highlight errors as you type or while you are proofing your draft. There is a paid version that might be worth purchasing, but I’d wait for a sale as it can be a little pricey. Also, check out our article on grammar tools here.
It’s also helpful to have someone else read your posts before they are live. Since you are very knowledgeable on the subject you are presenting, you may not realize further explanation would be helpful in an area or two.
A great way to make sure your posts are touching on the specific points you would like to cover is to map them out. Mapping can be done several ways. I utilize the blog planning help of A Well Crafted Party who has a thorough, free planner on her blog. I’m including an example of how I mapped this post, I hope it helps!
Good luck launching your blog! It's a great way to express your creativity and your worldview. We're big fans of blogging here at SMA. Post your blog link in the comments. I’d love to see what you are creating.
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