Tips and Tools to Help You Start a Blog

It was six months ago when I decided to create a blog to share my everyday experiences and takeaways in being a first-time mom—from parenting to DIY home décor projects, to planning out family trips, meals, expenses etc. I would say it’s been the craziest six months trying to fight with myself over directing and redirecting my blog’s purpose, changing strategies, and ultimately deciding between keeping or not keeping the blog. Now that I’m posting this, it seems that my wiser self has won. 😊




Have you got a desire to share the things that you know, like or do as was me six months ago? Do you feel like you could add value to other people around the world by doing the things that you love, and maybe earn a little (or more, as has not been my case yet) on the side? Then I would say that blogging is perfect for you!

Now the next question goes, how do I start?

Sit tight my friend, I got you!

tips and tools to start a blog

For just a bit of a back story, I gathered interest in blogging long before I started one. I never imagined I would come to this point, actually, just writing on my own. In the past I loved reading blogs of people just about everything I like or want to do. Consider me old school but I prefer reading blog posts over watching video tutorials on things.  I just feel more connected to the author by the things that are written than said.

When I finally decided that I wanted to try it myself, I spent some more weeks reading blog posts on how to start, and they are quite many.  I tried to gather as much free resource (sorry blogging entrepreneurs for not biting any of the million e-course/e-book there is about starting a blog!) as I could and studied everything carefully before biting the bullet.

These were my initial questions about blogging when I started, and they may be yours too. Let me share my thoughts on how it worked out for me, in the hopes that they may help you too.

What’s your niche?

Or in other words, what do you like to write about and keep writing about?  What area in this world do you think you could add value to? The answer to these questions are critical, as they could define your persona in the whole blogosphere.

You could be the guy who talks and teaches about techy things or the gal who sells books or make-up or DIY stuff. You could go as general as in all things motherhood (as is my case) or as specific as, say, species of trees (I saw a blog about that and it was pretty awesome).

My great takeaway on this is, if it’s not you, then don’t do it.  If you thought that something will sell to other people but which you don’t particularly like, then don’t push yourself to write about it.  You’ll dry out easily. Bottom line is, no one will judge you of your work except yourself.  So first and foremost, write for yourself.

To help you further, take a deep breath and enumerate the things that you love doing, and from there formulate the topics that you could write. We could both worry about our readers later!

What’s your blogging platform?

There are lots of blogging platforms available to bloggers, each having their own pros and cons as may be applicable to your need.  In the past I have tried using Tumblr, WordPress, and Blogger and thought WordPress gave me the dynamics and aesthetics I needed, so that’s what I finally got stuck with.

Now don’t get me wrong.  There are two types of WordPress here. I’m talking about WordPress.org, and NOT WordPress.com.  To know more about the difference, check out this very helpful post.




What’s your site name?

Once you decide about your niche and your blogging platform, your next question would likely be your site name. On this one I would suggest a few things: (1) make it short and catchy, and (2) get your character in it.

I could not stress this enough—your blog should show others who you are.  You are more likely to be consistent with keeping a blog and not burn out easily if it shows you you and not anyone else.  If your blog is too formal you could almost say it’s a robot that’s writing, then it won’t likely be read by many.  The thing I specifically like about reading blogs is knowing the unique personalities of the people behind it.

So going back to your site name, try to reflect on the question about who you are and it should fairly guide you toward choosing a name that is unique and catchy.

Should you go self-hosted?

A web hosting company provides you with your own domain (e.g. www.nanayhood.com) and a storage on its servers, making your posts searchable over the internet.

If you have a vision to monetize your blog in the future, I suggest you start with a self-hosted blog.  That way you will not have any issues transferring from a free platform to a self-hosted one.  I saw from a lot of blog posts that it could be very difficult.

On the other hand, if you are a new blogger just wanting to test the waters, go with a free blogging platform first and then decide on buying your domain if you either want to monetize or formalize your blog.  I’d say that self-hosted blogs gain more credibility in terms of internet searches over the other. You may want to give WordPress a try and then later buy your own domain using Bluehost.  Bluehost offers an easy set-up for WordPress blogs. That’s why I chose it for myself. Click the link below for more information.

What’s the next step?

Once your blog (whether free or self-hosted) is up and running, you are ready to write your very first post!

Depending on your niche, these tools should be helpful in making your posts more engaging:

i. Photo Editing App.

You may already have your favorite, so I wouldn’t dwell here too much. If none, some phone apps you could try are VSCO, Google Snapseed (my favorite!), Pixlr, and Adobe Photoshop. No need to be fancy here. In my experience, most of the time, just adding a little brightness and temperature over my smartphone-taken pictures could already go a long way.

ii. Canva for Text Overlay.

I use canva for almost all the text overlay on my photos. I like that it’s super easy to use and it’s free! I also like Canva’s pre-arranged photo sizes that fit any social media post.

iii. Pexels for Stock Photos

I think stock photos are cool as long as you don’t overuse them. To me overusing a stock photo is using it to make something look too good to be true. I use Pexels for getting good background photos for my text overlays, but in most cases, I use my own. For more stock photo resources, click here.

I have read lots of other tools from lots of other bloggers which I wanted to try for myself soon.  I’ll get this post updated as I try on these new tools. Stay tuned by subscribing to my blog now!

Planning on starting your blog soon? Feel free to let me know of any questions and I’d be glad to help you!

Always,

joylee nanayhood chronicles

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