How to Start Your Blog
My relationship with blogging began back when there were two main platforms: Wordpress and Blogger. I hopped on with Blogger very early because it was a Google product before eventually switching to Wordpress' platform at the urging of my Dad who had been using it for his business website. Over the years, I have blogged from at least five platforms and have experimented with nearly a dozen more. Due to its increase in popularity over the last decade, there has arisen numerous ways of building, customizing, and running blogs. I am giving you the simplest and quickest way of getting a blog started without compromising aesthetic beauty or functionality. It'll take you about 15 minutes.
1. Choose a Platform
Choosing your platform is an important step as it will determine the ease and flexibility with which you publish, share, customize and archive your work. There are a large number of free platforms on the web including the ever-popular Wordpress, Medium (from the founders of Twitter), Postachio (from the founders of Evernote), Silvrback and SVBTLE. Of course, you can choose a paid platform such as Squarespace (which is what The Archer's Guild is built on) but with the abundance of beautiful, free platforms, it would be pointless spending unless you wanted more in-depth customization and flexibility.
2. Choose a Theme
A few blogging platforms such as SVBTLE and Medium are incredibly minimalist which looks clean, professional and beautiful but doesn't give you much freedom to customize the look of your blog. Other platforms such as Wordpress have entire communities built around custom themes! The choice is up to you - the way your blog looks should reflect you and your writing. You're building an online version of YOU - the way your blog looks is associated with you because it is part of your personal brand.
3. Begin Writing
It really is as simple as three steps. Within a half an hour, you can have a blog set up and begin publishing your work. Obviously, there are many details to streamlining your blog's functionality (some of which I'll cover below) but at its most basic level, this is it. Vamos! If you aren't quite sure if you want to make the leap just yet, here are 7 Reasons to Begin Blogging.
Purchase a Domain Name
Domain Names are the custom URL's that you see in the address bar at the top of your web browser. When you set up a free blog, you will often be given your own URL but it will be a sub-url to the main site. For example, let's say I was blogging with Wordpress, my URL would be [www.jacobjolibois.wordpress.com]. While I have control over the first half of the domain, it automatically tacks on [.wordpress.com] on the end. This is completely fine if you are blogging as a hobby or for personal reasons, however, when you begin getting a little more serious about your blog, it is often beneficial to snatch up a custom domain from GoDaddy or Google Domains for $5-$15. It gives a more professional look to your blog. I own five different domains including as www.thearchersguild.com and www.jacobjolibois.com.
Route your Domain Name
Don't let the jargon scare you - routing your domain name simply means telling your blog to display [www.jacobjolibois.wordpress.com] when people type [www.jacobjolibois.com] into the address bar. Depending on who you purchase your domain through and the blogging platform you chose, you can find step-by-step tutorials on how to make it all happen. For example, with a quick Google Search I found a tutorial from Squarespace on how to route my GoDaddy domain name to my Squarespace website. Super easy.
This is important! An about page is the online version of a "Hi, nice to meet you!" If you are missing one, it screams impersonal. Your audience is reading your content and they want to know who you are! Even if it's as bullet-pointed as a resume, give them something. Though they may have come across your content at some point, your about page is your first impression - the introduction.
While the content is the meat on the bones, the About Page is the heart. It tells your readers why the blog exists, what they can hope to glean from it and why they should keep reading.
My dad once received a postcard in the mail that had a really great deal for buying coffee in bulk. He thought he would give it a shot but when he went to look for a way to order it, he couldn't find an email, a phone number or even a website! Give people a way to reach you! Sometimes this can be embedded within the About Page as it is here.
Necessary Evil: A newsletter is one of those things that seems unnecessary, cold and corporate - everyone hates emails. However, with the rapid expansion of social networks, it is becoming increasingly harder to reach people with your message. Email provides you with a link to their digital front door. If you don't want to go through the trouble to put together an email each week to your readers, at the very least begin compiling a list of emails in case you do down the road.
Setting It Up: The platform I use is called MailChimp (a free platform) which is super simple to use and beautifully designed, but I've heard great things about AWeber and MadMiMi (which are both paid platforms) as well. Services such as these allow you to start compiling email lists and design beautiful email campaigns using a simple drag-n-drop function. Blogging platforms such as Wordpress and Squarespace will give you widgets that you can install on your blog that allows people to sign up to your email list and it will store all of the emails in whichever email platform you choose.
Play Nice: We don't all hate email - what we hate is spam email. That annoying email that comes every day with HOT FRESH DEALS!! It gets old and ends up being thrown into the junk or spam folder. If you choose to put out a newsletter at some point, play nice. Give people value in the emails you send them and keep them fairly spaced out so they aren't overwhelmed. My email newsletter goes out once a week and it is one of the best things that I do here at the Archer's Guild. Once a week, my newsletter family can get a one-stop shop to everything going on at The Archer's Guild along with exclusive content and value. I'm appreciative of their support and I want to show it to them - they get the deals, they get the inside scoop, they get the exclusive content. And I've got big stuff coming in the future!
If you still are unsure as to whether you want to invest the time into blogging, here are 7 Reasons to Begin Blogging.
If you have already started a blog but are having trouble staying motivated or finding things to write about, here are 7 Good Blogging Habits.
I hope that you have a blast on this new quest! I promise, if you keep up with it, it is rewarding. As with anything, you are more than welcome to contact me with questions, angry insults or digital high-fives!