I am excited to be here at Tots2Tweens this week as your first Blog Awesome Expert! Can somebody please pass me the definition of “expert?” I’m pretty sure I don’t belong here, but we’re just going to go with what Tots2Tweens says and get on with our great blogging tips and ideas, m’kay?
I’ve been blogging for 2 years now at SeriouslyAHomemaker.com. What do most people do at their two year mark? I don’t know, but I am doing something drastic: changing my blog name, url, design, and publishing platform all at once! I feel like these first two years have been a testing period and here’s what I’ve discovered: a) I love blogging b) I love the people I’ve met through blogging c) I dislike my blog name (ie. I am not a serious person and never blog about homemaking…) d) I am not a niche person e) I am not an expert.
So here I am on the verge a big blog re-launch (new name: AngieInTheTHICKofIT.com) and Tots2Tweens has asked me to write about 5 Things to Do Before Launching a Blog. What perfect timing! I’ve learned a lot over the past 2 years, I’m applying a lot of these tips in my blog-life right now, and I love a chance to meet new friends, so yay for the Blog Awesome Challenge!
Let’s get started. Tots2Tweens tasked me with the topic of “5 Things to do Before Launching a Blog.” This was really tough for me to discuss within only one blog post, so guess what… today is part one of a two part discussion! We’ll cover my first three tips today and hit the last 2 on Friday.
Tip #1: DON’T WAIT, WHAT’S THE RISK?
So you want to start a blog, eh? Then do it! What are you waiting for? A perfect niche? A bangin’ (and expensive) blog design to fall into your lap? A pre-built following? Sponsors in line to pay you for it? None of these things come easily nor do they come AT ALL to someone who only dreams about starting a blog.
Two reasons to jump in soon:
a) First off, in this digital world, the pace of social media is wicked fast. A lot can happen in as little as 3 months on the blogging scene, so don’t waste too much time watching from the sidelines. Two, four, six years from now, when you look back at your blog, you’ll be grateful that you got in when you did.
b) It really doesn’t have to cost much money (or any at all) to start a blog. You are literally risking nothing financially. If you give it a try and decide that you stink at it, hate your blog name, or don’t like to write about the niche you had originally stepped into… then change it! Or quit! (don’t though… In the beginning, it is likely that hardly anybody is reading anyway, right? It’s your blog, your party, your place on the web. Own it, try it, enjoy it. There is nothing lost by “practicing” blogging. Start now!
In fact, take a minute to be inspired by this video in regards to practice and improvement. It was created in regards to storytelling and what is blogging if not storytelling?
Tip #2: MARK YOUR SPOT, GRAB YOUR HANDLE
Play a game with your mom, your husband, your sister, your best friend. The game is called, “What should my blog name be?” First make a list of things you want to talk about on the blog. Then write down ALL the names, plays on words, alliterations, etc. that you can think of that relate to your topic and YOU. Cross off some of the lame ideas, circle the better ones, then sleep on it. Repeat. Do this until you’ve narrowed down what blog name will fit your new blog.
Then, go to GoDaddy.com (or other domain name registrar) and see if the URL for your new blog is available. Tweak it. Play with it. BUY IT! Again, DON’T WAIT!
I know I said earlier that there is no financial risk in starting a blog, and really, you don’t HAVE to buy the url for your blog (aka “register your domain name”- making it MyCoolBlog.com instead of MyCoolBlog.blogspot.com or MyCoolBlog.wordpress.com) but you will wish you owned the .com later and kick yourself if you didn’t buy it when you could. (Somebody else might buy it and then demand a lot of $ from you when you realize later that you need it.) In fact, I own a few different .com’s in case I decide to use them. I even own AngieArchibald.com. Do you own your name on the web? Should you? If after a year I realize that I won’t be using a specific .com that I have registered, I let it expire and don’t pay anymore for it. You can own a URL for as little as $10 or so, but I usually pay extra to have my name and info kept totally private. Maybe I pay about $24 a year for each .com??
Once you’ve chosen your blog name and grabbed the url, your next step should be to grab the social media handles and email addresses that you will use with the blog. Go to Twitter and sign up for an appropriate Twitter handle. Set up a Facebook page, a Pinterest account, a Gmail account, etc. You want people to be able to find you across all your social media outlets easily.
p.s. Sidenote: what blog platform are you going to use? WordPress,? Blogger? Tumbler? Whichever you choose, there are pros and cons and I am not the best person to speak on this (I have been with blogger for 2 years, am now moving to WordPress, and see that tumblr is really growing). See this site for a great comparison between blogger and wordpress. See this article and this article for a good comparisons between them.
Tip #3: ASK FOR ADVICE
The first thing I did before my blog launched was to attend the first ever Bloggy Boot Camp by SITSGirls in Baltimore, MD. What did I do there? I asked everybody this question, “What do you wish you had done differently back when you started your blog?” My objective was to avoid major mistakes and gain some helpful advice from other bloggers.
What surprised me was how powerful and helpful it would be to know several bloggers by face and name as I started my new blog. This could and should be the start of what SITSGirls calls “a tribe.” I came home with a stack of business cards (oh- did I mention you’ll need them?) and some fun new friends. I also came home realizing that I didn’t like a few blogs/bloggers and knew “what not to do” by watching them!
Why not reach out into the larger web and straight-up ask your favorite bloggers for advice? Who makes you laugh? Cry? Move? If they are a small to mid-sized blogger there is a pretty good chance that they will feel honored to receive an email from you saying, “I love your blog and stalk it whenever I get the chance… can you give me some advice on starting my own blog?” and that they will respond. If they do, it’ll be the start of a new friendship! She’ll be your biggest cheerleader, too! Roo @ NiceGirlNotes.com emailed me when I was barely even blogging and I laughed at the fact that she had even found my chicken scratches on the web, but I told her TO GO FOR IT! She is now the master, I am the learner, and we are real life friends forever more!
Wow, that was a lot to think about! To summarize: 1) JUST GO FOR IT! 2) MARK YOUR SPOT, GRAB YOUR HANDLES, 3) ASK FOR ADVICE. (Tips 4 and 5 coming Friday, dears!)
Let’s be real, though, all the advice you will ever need on blogging is available out there on the web. Tutor yourself by connecting with SITSGirls, BloggyMoms, MomBloggersClub, or ProBlogger. For that matter, you are in the right place by joining the Blog Awesome Challenge here at Tots2Tweens!
Your homework today for the Blog Awesome Challenge (this is your first entry peeps, so don’t mess it up!) is to enter your blog in our link-up here. We want to see you! If you don’t yet have a blog, link to your favorite blog and in the “name” portion of the Linky enter “Jane (inspired by____)”.
Get busy and I’ll see you on Friday!
Want to get all of the details on the Blog Awesome Challenge, how you win and what the super cool prize is?! Check out out official rules for the dirty (seriously, guys, read this)!