Starting a Blog

SO the past 2 weeks we've been talking about being fed up with this whole blogging thing.  You heard my heart on the issue yesterday, but one of the things that struck me as I was writing this series was how much it didn't matter what I decided.  If I stick around, I can continue building a brand.  If I don't, someone else will.

There are always people looking for a job.  There are hundreds of blogs started all around the world seemingly at the speed of light.  If I quit, someone will take my place.   In fact, I was recently contacted by a reader named Michelle and she had this to say:

For a long time now, I have been "trying" to start a blog of my own. The only thing that stands in my way are my own excuses, fears, resistance to try something new, and so on.  I am a wannabe freelance writer, with no outlet to create or display my work. Why? Because I'm scared to get off of my duff and, as they say in the Nike world, "just do it." Maybe it's because I'm afraid I will fail-or perhaps because I try to do it all at once. I'm terrible at focusing on one thing only at a time. This is the reason that I research the Internet, peruse blogs, and make lists at my desk for mere minutes before I go on information overload, and walk away from my laptop having accomplished little to nothing in the time I was there. This is the story of my life. With regard to my ever delayed debut in the blogging world, I would have to say that 90% of the blame lay with me.  I have piles and piles, and PILES of scrap paper and post-its boasting blog and article ideas, but they never really come to fruition. I can't bring myself to fill the blank screen with black letters and punctuation. There is a wall, a crutch, a hurdle yet to be discovered and dealt with, and yes...that is my demon to wrestle with.
…What it all boils down to, I need help getting started. I don't know where to begin. Set aside for a moment, that one would consider the obvious advice to be: "WRITE! Begin by just writing." I know, I know--and I'm dealing with my insecurities...or at least trying to. But I mean literally. Help! Logistically speaking, what do I do first? How do I start a blog? Where do I go? I'm confused by hosts and domains and programs that claim to be an all-in-one. Help me discern the difference between dreamhost/bluehost? What is studiopress and the genesis framework? Another hosting company? Are they separate entities? Does one need the other? Should the SEO be part of whatever I choose?

I am soooooo confused. All I know is that I've figured out what self hosting is, and I know for sure that I want to do that, and I think I want to choose Word Press. I also know what I want my blog to be called. Beyond that, I'm clueless, and fearful that I'll sit stagnant in this never ending field of confusion.

Please help me. I am ready to roll. I just need to know what the first step is.
I want to do this right the first time.

I don't know if I have any talent, if I'll ever be well-known, get paid for doing what used to come so naturally to me, or find a niche, but I do know that I need the framework.  That could very well be what is holding me back. Perhaps subconsciously, I want the blog to exist, before I work on all of the writing...

So as I was thinking of answering the questions, I thought I would ask my bloggy network of friends for their opinions.  This is what these lovely ladies had to say:

Q1 Help! Logistically speaking, what do I do first? How do I start a blog? Where do I go?
Heather of Inspire Me Heather says: “Do you want to try out a free blog like Blogger and have them host your blogspot or do you want to jump in and own a domain with purchased Wordpress and purchased theme and have a designer customize your look (branding).  Also, what do you plan on doing with your blog, what are your goals? Do you want to promote your Etsy shop with it or do you eventually want to quit your day job and become a full time blogger and get paid to do it
Ginger of Ginger Snap Crafts says: ”I would recommend starting out with a free service like blogger before I invested a lot of time and money into a blog that you may or may not enjoy doing. If after 6 months or so you feel that blogging is something you really enjoy doing then I would then think about purchasing your own domain name and/or going with a paid service. I bought my own domain name about 6 months in, and I'm still using blogger as my platform.”
Ashley of Domestic Imperfection says: "I'm torn on how to answer this question. For most people I would recommend starting out on blogger to make sure you love blogging as a hobby and want to make it into something more before you commit to something Like Wordpress, However, this girl sounds like she knows her stuff and IS going to be successful, so starting out on wordpress would save her the headache of a move and save her a second learning curve."
Melissa of The Happier Homemaker says: ” If the goal is to create a large blog I recommend she get a blog planner (I like infarrantly creative's) and plan out posts for at least the first few weeks. Make a schedule and post steadily and regularly. Remember quality over quantity. Take awesome photos and post them as large as your blog width allows. I also recommend playing with a free blog at first to see what you like. SEO I don't think is a huge issue with your blog name. set up social media from the start. I'm sure I'll think of more!”
Janel of Nellie Bellie says: “Know what you have to offer, what you are passionate about, what you can talk about for a long, long time and not run out of subject matter. Because, blogging is a hobby when you have to enjoy it or you will get frustrated.”
Shannon of Fox Hollow Cottage says: “Have zero expectations, that way everything good is a surprise :) I think starting a fb fan page to support the blog is nice too, it's easy to make friends there. Google everything. Learn how to be a good party goer with link backs and thank yous.”

Q2 Should the SEO be part of whatever I choose? Q3 Help me discern the difference between dreamhost/bluehost? What is studiopress and the genesis framework? Another hosting company? Are they separate entities?

Amy Renea: So these two questions kind of go hand in hand for me.  I am not an SEO expert, but I have been able to brand “A Nest for All Seasons” and “Amy Renea” so they pop up first on any search engine when typed in.  I’ve also done fairly well with Google images catching my work and shooting traffic over to my blog.  The only thing I do consciously to help SEO is to title my photos with tag words as well as my name and give my posts good titles that people would search for such as “How to ______” or “10 steps to ___________”, etc. 

In the realm of not being an expert, Wordpress is right there.  I pride myself on having a blog that is a blogger blog, but doesn’t look immediately like a blogger blog.  The framework of my site was from a Designer Blogs template, and I add in all the stuff that makes it “me” like buttons, headers, etc.  All that said, I know nothing about Wordpress and no one has given me an explanation (yet) on why it would do me any good to pay for a host when I am quite happy here on blogger.  The only thing that might be an issue is that by not self-hosting, blogger could “steal” your blog.  All I have to say is back up our blog every once in awhile and if it disappears – well THAT would be the time to switch to wordpress.

Ashley of Domestic Imperfection says: "I don't worry about SEO at all. I know it's important and all, but adding more techie stuff to my plate just doesn't sound like fun and I want blogging to me mostly fun. Wordpress had built in SEO stuff though, so I go ahead and do the stuff that is already right there in front of me, like giving names to photos and whatnot."

Q3 Help me discern the difference between dreamhost/bluehost? What is studiopress and the genesis framework? Another hosting company? Are they separate entities?

Ashley of Domestic Imperfection says: Dreamhost/hostgator/bluehost/liquidweb/serviant are all just different hosting companies, and it's really a matter of personal preference (and budget) which one you use. Studiopress is not a hosting company, it is the company that created the (amazing) genesis framework.

Q4 How do I find the confidence to write the first post? Where do I start?

Ginger of Ginger Snap Crafts says: “Before you decide to start your blog decide what you are passionate about. What kind of blog do you want to have... a craft blog, DIY blog or a recipe blog, etc.? If you chose something you really love & enjoy doing it will give you the confidence & motivation to start. It might be a good idea to write down some things you would like to post about & make a calendar or list so you have a plan & outline to begin with
Virginia of Live Love DIY says: Make sure your #1 reason behind doing it is passion for whatever you are blogging about! Otherwise, 10 months in, 5,098 hours worked, you're gonna get reallllly sick of it and quit! But if you're like me, you'll keep chugging along because you love doing it! :)
Ashley of Domestic Imperfection says: Just do it, there is no other way. I wouldn't say you even need confidence... I started my blog and wrote for three months (granted that was only a few projects) before I told a single soul about it, including my husband.
Jenn of Four Marrs & One Venus says: "I agree on using free blogger to start out. Write how you talk, what you LOVE, don't do something you think your readers will love. Blog for you. Keep it no pressure, blog when YOU want, and yes- set up FB fan page- HUGE!!"


The great news?  Michelle is up and running with her NEW BLOG! 
Let's go support a newbie and say Hello, yeah? 
Visit Michelle at 'Post-its From the Playground' and leave her a comment or two!


Laurali Star said…
Hi, this was an interesting post. I've been blogging for two years but I actually had a different blog before that I actually converted into a shop. The last two years has really been my playground of experimenting until I could find the right fit for me in the blogosphere. Being a blogger is a lot of fun but you there's a lot of behind the scenes stuff noone else sees. In order to really make a name for yourself, you better have something about you or your brand or both that stands out:)