Let’s kickstart your blog website
There’s real beauty in blogging. For one thing it’s a great way to create an online presence for your hobbies, passions and expertise. Even better? You have the chance to connect with, inspire and educate like-minded folks out there on the interweb!
We’re all for making friends and influencing people here at CIRA. So, now the question is: how? How do you start a blog? How do you write a blog?
Well, dear reader—that’s why we’re here with this step-by-step setup guide!
Start with your blog name and domain
Before you start waxing poetic with your brilliant blog prose, we need to get a couple major housekeeping items sorted.
First off, we recommend registering a .CA domain for your blog. In most cases, web hosting (should you require it) comes as part of the package.
Choose your domain name carefully! This will be many people’s first impression of your blogging website.
Think of something distinct, creative and catchy that neatly encapsulates what you (and your blog content) are all about. Here are three, great Canadian (and .CA!) examples:
- Weightymatters.ca – Obesity expert Dr. Yoni Freedhoff blogs about nutrition, weight and life in general.
- Hnmag.ca – Hollywood North Magazine serves up Canadian film industry news and interviews.
- Seasonsandsupper.ca – A proudly Canadian cooking website chock-full of fresh, seasonally inspired recipes.
Pick your blogging platform
Once your domain and blog name are in place, it’s time to pick the platform from which your blog shall be built!
Think carefully about your needs from a features and functionality standpoint.
Do you want to completely customize your blog from the ground-up? Or would you be satisfied with tweaking a pre-built template?
Also think about the nature of your blog and blog content.
Are you a photographer that wants to display your work? A sound engineer that needs to embed high-res audio recordings, or a travelling foodie serving up restaurant writeups?
For many bloggers out there, WordPress.org is considered the “gold standard.”
It’s free to start, open-source and supported by a massive community that has developed and designed thousands of custom plug-ins, themes apps to build out your blogging website.
Ah, but wait—is WordPress.org the ONLY good option for creating a blog website? Not necessarily!
If you want to skip the elaborate design phase and cut straight to the blogging, you may want to check out “all-in-one” website platforms like Squarespace, Weebly and Wix. Each of these platforms offer a solid selection of attractive, pre-designed templates where you can simply drag and drop in your content. Help decide which website builder you should choose.
Pick a theme and style for your blog
Now, let’s get to the overall look and feel of your blog. Like picking a blogging platform, having a good idea of your blog’s overall purpose can greatly help you narrow down your choice of theme.
Start by making a shortlist of the basic functions you need.
- Do you need multimedia capabilities, like video players or photo galleries?
- Do you need to display multiple columns of content?
- Is being able to customize fonts and colours important to you?
Generally speaking, try to aim for a “less is more” approach when choosing a blog theme.
Picking an overly complicated or bloated, feature-heavy theme can negatively impact the user experience in terms of slow page loading speeds or cluttered, confusing navigation.
Gentle reminder: be sure to pick a theme that’s mobile-responsive.
Though, this is not as much of an issue with platforms like Wix or Squarespace, where most—if not all—of their themes are designed with mobile in mind!
Identify your audience and start building your blog content
On we go to the main “meat” of the blogging experience. This is where the so-called digital rubber meets the road.
But to successfully start a blog, you need to know who you’re speaking to. You need…a niche!
Ask yourself: what are your biggest passions? To what specific area can you lend your unique knowledge or perspective?
Blog niche example time!
Let’s say you’re into cooking and fishing. Great! Now, let’s sharpen that up a little further. So now, you specialize in rustic Italian seafood—using fresh caught fish in your travels ‘round the Mediterranean.
Or—let’s say you’re a passionate collector of vinyl records. But not just any old vinyl records. You’re into tracking down the most bizarre, one-hit-wonder novelty tunes from the sixties!
Above all else: Think of how your blog content will inform, entertain, and even add value to your readers’ everyday lives.
Now that we’ve covered the “what” of your blog, let’s cover the basics of how to write and set up a blog.
- Content-wise, begin with the essentials: create “about me” and “contact” pages that help set the stage for what’s to come.
- On the imagery front, you may want to consider investing a bit of time into a logo or wordmark for your blog, as well as a crisp, professional photo of yourself.
How frequently should you blog?
The consensus is that posting one to two times per week is ideal for building an audience.
This ends up being between 5-10 posts per month. When readers see that you’re posting somewhat regularly, they’ll check in with you for new content.
You may also want to consider creating an editorial schedule to keep yourself on track, and plan content that’s authentic, relevant, and interesting.
Having more blog content can also help your SEO (search engine optimization) performance in the long run.
Keep in mind that Google will factor in the amount of content on your blogging site as a measure of relevance and legitimacy.
Other beginner blogger tips
Before we let you go, here are a couple more “bigger picture” blogging tips that should serve you well.
First tip: Understand that a blog is a commitment.
It’s kind of like owning a puppy or growing a successful veggie garden. You need to feed and nurture your blog. That means putting aside adequate time to plan, research and write quality content.
We get it: life can get crazy. But the more disciplined you are at maintaining somewhat of a schedule, the easier your content will flow.
Our second beginner blogger tip? Be authentically you.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, remember that you’re the only one who can tell your story or offer your perspectives. It’s also never a bad idea to look to other, similar blogs for ideas on writing style or tone, but be careful not to go too far down the path of impersonation.
We hope this intro guide gets you set off in the right direction to start your blog and share your passions with the wider web community. Happy creating!