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.
#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.
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.
#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!
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?
The Travel Hack’s guide to blogging
Monday 20th of March 2017
[…] 5 tips for starting a blog from scratch […]
Sunday 5th of July 2015
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 :)
Monday 11th of May 2015
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!
Tuesday 12th of May 2015
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!
Wednesday 11th of March 2015
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
Taylor Hearts Travel
Monday 9th of March 2015
Can't wait to read the new blog. If it's anything like The Travel Hack, I'm sure it'll be amazing :)