One of these days, everything will come together and you’ll start the blog you’ve dreamed about for months (or is it years?).
You know what you want to write about (mostly…some days you question yourself). You’ve mulled over blog names, domain names and whether getting someone else to do it for you might be the way to go. Your desire to start a blog waxes and wanes. But it won’t go away.
If only… Or, when… [fill in the blank] – you’d get your blog up and running.
So, what do you do when you don’t quite have the right time, budget or idea for a blog, but you want to start a blog?
You start a damn blog – that’s what you do.
Yes, there’s more to it than that. But not much more – at least, there shouldn’t be initially.
Now, I realize I don’t know exactly what you want to do or what resources you have available. But what I do know about the general experience of being a newb who’s desperate to start a blog stems from years of watching people waste their time, money and sanity.
In this post I’ll distill that experience down to general recommendations that won’t hurt you and are 80-90% likely to be your best first steps.
No need to sweat the details. Don’t bother getting caught up in what’s after that. Let’s jump in and do this thing.
Step One: Forget about everything except your ideas
It’s easy to overthink things when you look at all the so-called blogging resources available on the internet. There’s all this crap you’re “supposed” to do. If you believe it all, you can’t just blog – you’ve got to jump in full throttle with an e-mail list, professionally designed downloadable clickbait, artfully arranged Pinterest boards and posts that are SEOd to the gills.
Here’s the truth: Some of that ancillary stuff may be good to do at some point, once you’ve been up and running with the actually important things a good while. But a lot of what you see is crap or simply somebody who wants to sell a thing that is not for you at this point. Or maybe ever.
The dizzying array of bells/whistles/options/advice you’ve encountered is almost never something you need to do to start out. You know – that whole thing about comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle or however that goes? Yeah, don’t do that.
Because I’m a newb when it comes to marketing, I understand thinking “Oh, look what Ms. Awesome Six-Figure Blogger is doing. Maybe I should do that.” Ms. ASFB likely has the time and money to do what she’s doing because she has built up her blog with work, over time. Not by instantly buying her way to popularity.
The napkin trick
This method is old school, but it’s effective because it forces simplicity.
On a napkin, envelope back or some other small scrap of paper, write your blog idea at the top. If you have a fabulous name for it, cool. If not, write what you’ve got and come back to it later.
That is your main idea. Draw a box around it if you want to do it like a nerdy flow chart.
Underneath that main idea, use three to five more boxes for each subtopic you’ll want to cover. Less is more.
One of those subtopics will almost always be an About page. You’ll probably also have subtopics that, instead of pages, will be comprised of a category containing a number of blog posts.
Don’t agonize over your topic/subtopics. Even if you build your site out and realize you should drop or add a topic, it’s only a matter of writing. Not rebuilding your whole site. On the web, everything is fluid.
Let that blog outline sit a day, then come back for a final look. I find that when I come back to something with fresh eyes I’m much more objective. There’s less second guessing. Pretty sure you need less second guessing 🙂
Step Two: Now you will actually start an actual blog
This is the point where people who don’t know any better start freaking the hell out. But not you. Because before I give you the link I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Nobody on the internet cares about your blog. That sounds harsh, but it’s true. Don’t get bummed about this, though – it’s a good thing. No one’s watching as you learn to ride this bike. Wooble or even fall as necessary.
Sooner or later, with sustained effort, people will care. It’s the things you do over time that they’ll come to care about, once they see what you offer.
So go ahead – pick up that Fearless attitude and head to WordPress.com. Yep, I said dot com. The place where you can start a blog or site for free. This will give you a zero-pressure environment to write and ponder.
Here’s how you’ll get started. Watch the videos for visuals and more details.
- Pick the free plan. You can always upgrade later – they’ll be happy to take your money.
- Choose the “Start with a blog” option.
- Instead of choosing your theme design at this point, click “Skip for now.”
- Enter the blog name you want to use.
- Voilà – your blog is set up & ready for your writing.
How to set up your topics and subtopics
A few settings you probably want to tweak now
- Site title
- Tag line
- Default post category
What you need to know before going down the design theme rabbit hole
I’m certain that the tendency among new bloggers to overthink – and get stuck on – choosing a theme is why the WordPress folks randomly pick only three theme options to show during the signup process.
While theme choice isn’t worth getting hung up on, a poor choice can divert you from your primary mission. That’s why I suggest – if you’re going to change it at all – you stick to simple, solidly-coded, well-designed themes like those created by Automattic, the people who make WordPress. Bonus: they’re free.
If you want something with a little more panache than the theme you were assigned, several of Automattic’s 100+ themes are well suited for creating simple but stylish blogs. Scrawl is the theme I mention in the video, and is a good one to try.
Why WordPress.com is where you need to be
Warning: Video contains a few sweary words 🙂
Aaaaand that’s a wrap
I hope this walk-through makes starting your blog a less daunting proposition, and you feel ready to roll. If you have questions or need clarification on anything, leave a reply in the Comments section below and I’ll do my best to help.