A beginners guide to starting a blog

How to start a blog

Hola boys and girls! Today I've decided to go completely back to basics with blogging, since lately my inbox has been full to the brim with so many questions from people that want to start a blog, but aren't sure how. Around twelve months ago a good friend of mine asked me how to start up their own site, and at that time I thought it was a pretty silly question. I mean, how does one go about making a Facebook account? You just sign up. But it turns out, when you really think about it, blogging isn't just as simple as entering a valid email address and password anymore. Now, there are 647832.6 (give or take) blogging sites to choose from and countless social media sites to sign up to. So the question is, where the hell do you start? Well, hopefully this blog post will help you with that.

Choose a website

This is probably one of the most important things to consider when starting up a blog, because - let's face it - you're probably going to be stuck with your decision for a pretty long time. Of course, there's always the option to import your old posts into a new website, but as far as I'm concerned ain't nobody got time for dat. 

There are generally three different sites people tend to choose from when creating a blog - Blogger, Wordpress and Squarespace. All three are great for different reasons, but my personal favourite is Squarespace, which is what I'm hosted on right now - for all ya'll wondering.

Wordpress is generally a blogger favourite because - once you get the hang of it - it can be amazing and so so versatile. But that's just it..it can be a bit of a biatch to get used to. There are also a lot hidden costs that come with being on Wordpress, including something as simple as being able to edit your own theme. If you're a Goddess when it comes to web development I say go for it. If not? Maybe ask a friend or do a little research before fully committing. 

Blogger is like the OG in terms of blogging. It's what most of the 'big bloggers' from years ago started on, and what a lot of them are still on even now. Why? Because it's free, reliable (for the most part), easy to use and - since it's run by Google - it's naturally pretty good for SEO. However, the fact it's run by Google has its downfalls too. Remember Google Reader? Yeah, Google shut that down. Who's to say they won't shut down Blogger in however many years time? Dun dun dunnn.

Now it's onto Squarespace, which I'm pretty biased about - and if I'm honest, I haven't really found many (if any) downfalls to it at all. Like Wordpress, Squarespace isn't exactly free, but unlike Wordpress there aren't any hidden costs that come with it. I spend around £8 a month to keep this website, on top of my yearly domain subscription. But with that, I feel like you get way more good customer support and loads of themes and designs to choose from. It's also seriously sleek in terms of design. Which - if you're a design freak like I am - is pretty damn important.  

Choosing the perfect domain

I punch myself every day (okay, not literally) for not being able to score the domain www.cocochic.com, but alas, someone got there before me. Whatever, I'm over it (I'm not). But anyway, it's important to try and get the most simple domain name that relates to your 'brand'. Think of yourself as a potential reader. Do you really want to type in a domain name that like www.thisistheblogcalledcocochic-2015.me? Probably not. For one, it's way too long. Secondly, it contains a dash which lots of people tend to forget about when writing URLS. Third? The wording itself doesn't actually link to the title of the site. If my blog was called 'This is the blog called Cocochic' then sure, but it's not, which is why www.cocochic.com would have been best thing EVERRRR. But like I said, I'm over it, so being www.cocochicblog.co.uk is the next best thing. You know, since this thing I write on is a blog, and I'm based in the UK.

So how do you get a domain? It's actually really, really simple. There are loads of different domain registrar websites that sell domains for just a few pounds a year (yes, you read that right). All you have to do is make sure your URL of choice is available, buy it, and then configure it to whatever website you're using. There are loads of articles online about this depending on which website you choose, but I can always cover that old nugget in another future post for ya!

Setting up social media

If you thought finding a domain name was hard, try finding the same available names for all of your social media accounts. Again, I'd love to have @cocochic for all of mine, but most of them have been taken, so instead I've decided to commit to @cocochicblog, which obviously matches my URL. It's best to get your social sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) set up as soon as possible so that you can start sharing your posts on there from the get go, and it's also good to get them all matching, so that your readers can find you pretty much anywhere. You can type in @cocochicblog on almost every popular social site and find me there, even if I don't actively use the account. Sneaky? Maybe. But it stops anyone else taking and using my 'brand name' (lol) if I ever decided to become active on that site again.

Build up a network

You're probably reading the heading above and thinking wait, if I'm only just starting a blog, how on earth am I meant to build up a network!? It's okay, it's okay, I'm not expecting any of you guys to know every PR person in the world, but I'm sure the majority of you have friends and family that you can start sharing your site with. Even if you have 50 Facebook friends liking your website, it's going to look a lot more enticing for other strangers to like your Facebook than it would if you had 0 likes on there. People are like sheep (in the nicest way possible - I love sheep!) in that if they see one person liking something, they'll be more inclined to do the same.

Set up Google Analytics

Well doesn't this just sound like the most thrilling thing you're going to do all day? I hate to admit it, but in recent months I've become ever so slightly addicted to checking out my stats on the daily, purely because it's actually really interesting to find out my most popular posts, where you lovely lot come from, where you go and what your interests are. Basically, it allows me to stalk the hell out of you, without getting arrested.

But in all seriousness, no matter how many visitors you have - whether it's one or one thousand - it's always useful to have Google Analytics installed to make sure you're able to track exactly the way your audience works. Once you've figured out your most popular type of posts and the best time to publish an article you're basically set. So how do you set it up? Google will give a better explanation in how to set up Google Analytics than I ever will.

Choose your niche

Do you want to be a fashion blogger, a beauty blogger, a fitness blogger, an everything blogger!? I mean, I was always taught that you can be anything you want to be (which you can #preachit) but I think it's important to find your own niche when blogging. Everyone posts outfits and beauty reviews, which I love just as much as the next person (seriously, just check out my Bloglovin saves) but I always love bloggers that have their own special 'thing' about their sites. I like to think that this blog is pretty fashion-centric, but i feel as though my niche focusses mostly around blogging tips and tricks. Another example is Kate from Gh0stparties (don't we all just love her?) who originally started as a beauty blogger, but has more recently started doing the most uh-mazing interior posts. It's not a must to choose your niche right from the get-go, but I definitely think it helps you stand out from the crowd.

Research, research, research

The word research sounds pretty boring, right? But thankfully, us bloggers here can learn just by reading other people's blogs, and getting ideas from fellow creators (and of course, crediting them). These days, no one is original, no matter who they are, and we're always going to copy different bits and pieces from others to help us get to our own end goal - whether that's a blog, Youtube channel, hairstyle, anything! So it's really important to be actively involved in the industry you want to work in, no matter what that industry might be. Of course it's useful to look into SEO and web design, but at the end of the day content is ALWAYS key, so instead just try to focus on the sort of feel you want your work to have. Fake it til you make it boyz n galz.

Optimise your website

Search Engine Optimisation is basically something you can do to help Google (or Bing, Yahoo, etc.) find your website and categorise it properly. In even simpler terms, you should probably do it, because I said so. There are so many different ways you can optimise your site, and I just so happen to have made a cheeky blog post on different SEO tips that can help bring traffic to your site. Shameless plug? Do you really expect anything less from me?

Wow. I just wrote so many words and now I don't know what to do with myself. Anyway, I hope this blog post helped some of you in regards to starting up a blog! As always, feel free to leave any comments and questions down below. Over. And. Out!