5 tips for starting a blog from scratch

Starting a blog from scratch can be a daunting process. Where do you even begin? There’s so much to do, so much to learn and so many people offering conflicting advice.

When I first began blogging there weren’t as many bloggers on the block so I didn’t have as many people to compare myself to. I wasn’t worrying about what anyone else thought about me and I wasn’t distracted by social media and ‘blogger networking’. I just blogged. And blogged. And blogged. And I loved it.

It’s much tougher these days as the blogosphere is more established and it’s difficult to launch something original, not only because someone else may have similar ideas to you but because it’s almost impossible not to copy blogs you admire.

I’m writing this from personal experience because I recently started a new blog myself. It’s going to be all about my first year with a baby and I’ll be sharing it as soon as it’s ready/I feel brave enough to share

Despite having years of experience writing a travel blog, launching a baby blog was hard. I spent a couple of weeks researching and a couple brainstorming. But if I’m totally honest, I spent most of my time faffing and procrastinating when I really should have just jumped in head first and got started.

It got my thinking about my top tips for starting a blog from scratch. Starting a blog is something I’m asked about all the time and I genuinely believe every traveller should keep some form of blog or online record from their trips.

How to start a travel blog from scratch

 

#1. Don’t worry about your blog design

So many people procrastinate by spending far too much time on their blog name, logo design, site layout, theme, social channels, hosting etc etc etc.

In the long run these things are important but when you’re first starting out you need to be working on your content. Lots of us spend too much time on these things and we’re pretty much just procrastinating. It doesn’t matter how pretty your blog looks if you don’t have any decent content on there!

Just start writing and uploading and when you’ve got about 15 posts on your blog, then you should start thinking about design.

It’s also difficult to get the design right when you don’t have much content on there because it’s difficult to imagine what it will look like.

 

#2. Picking your niche

Every blog needs a niche. Even if you call it a ‘lifestyle blog’ it still needs a niche because lifestyle can be anything depending on your…well…your lifestyle. My dad’s lifestyle blog would be very different to my lifestyle blog!

If you’re struggling to pick a niche and think of something original, why not combine two fairly obvious niches.

My new niche will be stylish travel + a baby.

It could be travel + gadgets

Travel + Books

Fashion + Baking

Picking a niche will help to focus your posts and help potential readers find you. Don’t worry if the odd blog post strays away from your niche but try to keep at least 80% of posts targeted.

Tips to start a travel blog from scratch

#3. Brainstorming

Once you’ve chosen your niche it’s time to start brainstorming blog posts. Grab yourself a notepad, make yourself a cuppa and find a comfy place to sit, this could take a while.

Start jotting down blog post titles and aim to have at least 100 ideas. It sounds like a lot but once you get started you won’t be able to stop. One idea triggers another and another and before you know it you’ve got enough post ideas for months.

If you’re struggling, think about a weekly series of posts with each weekly post based on a similar theme.

At the beginning of the year I began a series of posts about How to Travel More and this helped me to come up with new ideas which I wrote in one go and scheduled out over a few weeks.

If you can’t think of lots of blog post ideas then it’s time to reconsider your niche. This niche should be something you’re so passionate about that you can’t help but have ideas spilling out of you.

 

#4.Write journal style entries

In the very beginning it can be difficult to stick to a niche or even find a niche. New bloggers and writers are often told they need to ‘find their voice’ and I’m a firm believer that ‘your voice’ won’t come looking for you. The best way to find this hidden voice is to write and write and write. If you’re a vlogger or photographer then you need to be creating vlogs and taking photos.

But what are you doing to write if you don’t know what your niche is?

I suggest writing journal style entries.

This is how a lot of bloggers start out and if you look back to the older posts on their blogs you’ll often see it’s written more like an online diary. This is because a diary is easy to write and as you become more confident and relaxed with blogging you’ll begin to develop your own style.

Don’t worry if your first six months worth of posts are a bit shit, everyone’s first six months are a bit shit. It takes time, practice, dedication and passion.

How to start a travel blog from scratch

#5. Don’t worry what anyone else thinks

A lot of people worry about what their friends and family will think about their blog. Blogs are personal and it’s really scary sharing these personal thoughts with the world. I didn’t share my blog with my family until I’d been blogging for about 2-3 years!

If you’re nervous about sharing something then just don’t share it with the people you know, particularly if the thought of your mum reading your blog is going to stop you from publishing something.

If you’re looking for feedback then share your blog with blogging communities via Twitter and Facebook. These communities will know exactly what you’re going through and are really supportive and friendly.


 

So you’ve got lots of ideas and you’ve written lots of content. Now it’s time to move onto the technicalities behind blogging. I have some more posts that I hope will help!

How to set up a travel blog

10 tips for newbie travel bloggers

Blogging workshops and e-books for a better blog

Using Google Analytics to improve your blog

Do you have any more tips or questions about setting up a blog from scratch? 

 

TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel. Monica has recently had her second baby and is determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

SHOWHIDE Comments (21)
  1. Great tips as always Monica. I particularly like the idea of sticking to a theme week on week. I am still trying to “find my niche”!! Lol x

  2. I think this is some really generous advice. The part with sitting down and coming up with 100 titles sounds quite a bit, but I think I am going to sit down for an hour this afternoon and try it out 🙂

    Didem

  3. I’m a newbie blogger and procrastination was definitely my biggest hurdle. Not so much with the name and hosting, but with the content.

    I wrote a huuuuge list of post ideas over a period of a couple of weeks, several hundred in fact. I then went one step further and wrote some rough drafts too – this was before I’d bought hosting or chosen a theme or anything so could only go so far.

    My thinking at the time was that I’d have the first few posts semi-ready which in turn would give me time at the start to mess about with all the Social Media/techy stuff.

    Except I started with 3 drafts (a week), and then I was, hmm, better make that 6 drafts so I’m covered for 2 weeks, and then I was, hmmm, lets make it a month to be safe….

    It was crazy, I just kept trying to create a bigger and bigger safety net for myself without actually *doing* anything.

    Eventually I just gave myself a mental slap and went for it 🙂 Funny thing is, I’ve also not used hardly any of the draft posts I made because now it’s live I feel a bit more spontaneous about it all. Ah well, hopefully will still be handy for me in future when I get the inevitable writers block, hehe.

    Good luck with the new baby blog 🙂

  4. Great tips! I really do recognize myself in some parts – I´m a passionate procrastinator and despite having lots of ideas, I still need to get kicked to actually sit down and write. And I also haven´t shared my blog with anyone from my friends – I so far don´t feel comfortable with this idea (I know, it´s a bit of paradox – a blogger who doesn´t want to share his/her thoughts 🙂 ). It´s exactly as you say – you need to write and write and write (or whatever) to get somewhere, find your style and be content with your blog in the end.

  5. I love these tips, Monica! I agree that your voice isn’t something that you just know in the beginning, your voice comes from writing and sussing out what kind of tone you want to convey. People have started asking ME about how to start a blog, which I find equal parts hilarious and flattering, but finding a niche from the beginning is what I tell everyone. I didn’t really do that and have always regretted it!

  6. I started blogging in January so this is a perfect post for me. However… I do feel like I was prepared for it, mostly because I’d been reading blogs for several years, and knew what I wanted to write about (always helpful haha).

    I know people usually say do away with blogging tips, but I find myself taking a lot of advice from people much much bigger than myself and I seem to have learnt a lot in just two short months x

    http://www.sheintheknow.co.uk

    1. I can’t believe you’ve only been blogging a few months! It must help so much if you’ve been reading blogs beforehand.

      I agree that you shouldn’t get too bogged down with other people’s blogging tips but I love reading other blogger’s tips too. Everyone does things so differently and sometimes it’s just good for a bit of encouragement and inspiration.

  7. Thanks so much for the advice. I have been writing pretty steadily for about 3-4 month now but feel like I am hitting a wall. I think I just worry too much about making sure all the content I post is all star caliber. You’re right, I need to worry less about what people think and just do my best. I needed to hear that today! Thanks.

  8. Thank you thank you thank you… I’ve been planning my first blog (aka procrastinating) for weeks now. I was determined to have everything perfect before I wrote anything and I was slowly going a bit mad. But I’m just going to crack on and start writing, right this minute. Before I change my mind. Brilliant blog and thanks for giving me the nudge I so desperately needed. Rach

  9. Hi Monica, I started blogging a couple months ago and I have a technical question I’m hoping you can offer advice on. How should I be backing up my blog? I use BlueHost and they back it up for me but they also told me to back it up myself (which confuses me) so I installed the BackUpWordPress plugin (or something like that) and then I get a link sent to me email once per week where I can download the back up files, which I never do. I have an WD external hard drive I could put files on if you think I should. What do you do? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kristin, I do exactly the same. I use that backup plugin and get the files emailed to me once a week. I host my blog through Chris Richardson at rtwlabs.com and I think he might do a backup too. When anything ever goes wrong with my blog he always fixes it.
      One thing he always tells me is to keep everything like plugins updated. When everything is updated you’re less likely to have any problems.
      I hope that helps!

  10. These are good tips (and a great post). I just launched my website last week and am still having teething issues with the layout ect so it’s good to read that other’s don’t think it’s that big of a deal and you just kind of develop as you go. I look forward to reading your other posts 🙂

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The Travel Hack

The Travel Hack is a blog about stylish adventure travel and affordable luxury.

We believe luxurious travel can be affordable and isn't just for the rich. Follow along with our worldwide adventures as we share our trips and tips for incredible travel experiences on a modest budget.