Starting A Blog; Where To Begin

I love when I get questions specific to blogging and I have been meaning to put my answers together in a post for a while. I know this doesn’t interest a lot of you, but for those of you that are looking to start a blog or develop a larger web presence in some way I figured it would be helpful to share how I started and what tools I use. The space is constantly changing and I haven’t tried a lot of what is out there so I can only speak to what I did and what has worked well for me.

I want to start a blog, but I don’t even know where to begin.

One of the more common topics of venturing into the blogging world is knowing what to start with first. Many of you have the foundation of what it is you want to discuss and the passion to get something up and running, but are overwhelmed at the steps in which to do them. This is completely understandable because it is overwhelming and there is a ton of varying information out there!

The way I approached it was starting with the content I wanted to develop. Not generalized lifestyle, but four or five main topics I wanted to cover and why I wanted to go that route. It helps a lot of have focus at the beginning and to set some goals for yourself. Going into it blindly can make the process more stressful, but if you always revert back to those goals and the topics you want to cover, it makes you stay on track.

Once I had that laid out – I brainstormed names, purchased a domain name and then a Squarespace site. Squarespace seemed to be the easiest for me to learn at the time and it wasn’t as expensive as some of the other hosting platforms. I got a separate Instagram account to lock in the name even though I wouldn’t start posting on it for a few months. One of the most crucial steps for me was starting with a clean slate. A fresh site, an Instagram dedicated to what you are doing, and a professional email address. You don’t want to start adding photos to a cluttered Instagram that isn’t really on brand with your blogging work so starting over serves as a nice face forward.

At the very beginning I didn’t work with a web designer. I built out my site using a Squarespace template and teaching myself basic coding to customize it a bit. I made my logo in Photoshop and took all my photos on a few different cameras. I stuck to posting on Instagram frequently (often twice a day) in the hopes of bringing more traffic to the site. This is such a trial and error phase so you kind of throw it all out there and see what works and what doesn’t.

When You See Progress, Invest In Yourself

When I first started blogging I was working a part time design job after leaving a difficult design job. The last thing I had money for was a beautiful website design and nice photography equipment. I think the biggest lesson I learned early on is this process takes time.. and money. I am impatient and wanted things to a look a certain way right out of the gate, but it is so important to remember a lot of the blogs you look at and admire have been built over years and years. Of course yours won’t look the same when starting out and there is nothing wrong with that!

After about six months of blogging I was working for Braun + Adams and making a much steadier income. I noticed my blog was starting to really pick up and although I wasn’t making a lot of money off of it, I decided it was time to spend the money on a web designer. This completely changed my blog. I switched from Squarespace to WordPress – specifically ShowIt. I Finally got a professionally branded logo, had business cards made and started to feel like a real brand. When you start to see progress, lean into that. If you trust in your gut and what you are doing investing in a web designer or nice photo gear can make the world of difference! That was over three years ago and so much has changed even more since then. It is such a process and it’s really fun to discover what you don’t like and what you truly love along the way. If you want to read more about growing you following you can do so in this post.

Don’t Stick To One Platform

I have said this before, but I want to reiterate the importance again. Someone recently asked if I could start all over would I stick to just Instagram instead of a blog? Simply, no. In fact it would be the opposite because I prefer blogging over posting on Instagram way more. When you focus solely on one platform you are limiting yourself and stifling potential growth. It definitely works for some people, but I would asses what your long term goals are and take it from there. I depend on Instagram and Pinterest to drive traffic to my site. The blog is the home base for me. It is how I make a large portion of my income and where a majority of my design jobs come from. Instagram could disappear tomorrow, but if you have the solid foundation of a site – that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon!

Quick Questions

{Who did you use for your website re design?}

When I did it the first time I used the lovely ladies at With Grace and Gold. For the re design a few years back I worked with my talented friend who many of you know, Anastasia from the The Identité Collective. I think because we are friends, she was able to bring a lot more of my personality to the site, which I love! I now have taught myself ShowIt and can make most updates or tweaks on my own. It was a process building out the shop pages, but I had a lot of fun getting to know that side of the blog better.

{How do you make your roundup and moodboard collages?}

I do all of those layouts in Photoshop. I have been working with the program for the past ten years, but for making simple layerings like design boards you can learn very quickly. They have courses online and even YouTube videos to go over the basic tool kit and setting up a page. I would be lost without Photoshop and rely on it for so much. If it seems too overwhelming you can also use Powerpoint to make collages.

{How do you build your shop pages}

I feel like I could do a whole post on this because there is no easy way to sum up some of these details. Essentially I use RewardStyle’s boutique feature and categorize them all ahead of time in RewardStyle. Then I copy that code into the embed box on ShowIt. Someone recently asked how I get the border around the photo, but that is all done on the RewardStyle end so all I do is copy and paste.

{Camera gear, editing photos?}

That can all be found in this post I did with Torrey here.

I hope some of you found this useful! There is so much information it can be hard to quickly sum up without rambling, so as always if you have questions feel free to let me know!

photos by Torrey Fox

  1. Renaud says:

    Thank you for sharing your blogging journey. I only started a few months ago, and it sometimes feel like it’s not going anywhere, and it’s easy to feel discouraged. But reading this makes me realise how important it is to be patient, to learn and grow. This was so very helpful, thank you.

    Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

    Renaud
    http://blogbyrenaud.wordpress.com/

    • Aw I am so happy to hear that! I still feel those same struggles and think it is important to take a step back and appreciate your small moments too. It is so easy to be our own worst critic and forget to be proud of ourselves! Happy Sunday!

  2. Jamie G. says:

    Great information, thank you! And you are so right, good things take time and tweaking!

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