i've received quite a few questions regarding general blogging tips and information about starting a blog, so i want to share my experience with you and what has worked for me. topics like how to get started, growing your readership, monetizing your blog, and utilizing social media will be addressed, but i'm also happy to answer any of your questions that you may have. chances are, if you have a question, someone else probably wants to know the answer, as well.
i don't consider myself an expert on blogging, by any means. in fact, i know that i still have plenty to learn and am always looking for ways to improve my blog. however, i've curated this online resource over the past two and a half years, and have seen great success (much more than i ever expected!) and found so much joy in blogging and sharing my life with my readers. with that being said, please just take my tips and information as suggestions and ideas, not as the only way to do things in blogland. every person is different and every blog is different. what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. so, with that, let's chat a bit about initial things to consider when starting a blog.
why do you want to start a blog?
whenever someone tells me they want to start a blog, i ask 'why'? i'm curious as to the reason behind it because that can help to determine whether or not it will be successful*. if someone tells me they want a new way to make money, i may tell them to reconsider (that's something i'll come back to later on when we talk about monetizing your blog). motivations like wanting to share your skills and passions with readers and satisfying the need for a creative outlet are good places to start!
*success in blogging means different things to different people. for me, it means gaining a loyal readership and creating a space that people want to spend some time on a regular basis. success does not necessarily mean that you make money from your blog. of course, that's a nice perk, but it certainly doesn't measure how much hard work and love you put into your blog.
do you have a direction or an area of focus?
whether it be beauty, food, fashion, interiors, DIY, health, lifestyle, or some other category, do you have an idea of what you'll want to write about? this isn't required, but it can certainly make the first couple months a bit easier. when i first started my blog, it was just a space for me to share whatever was on my mind or what i thought other people would like to read about. although it generally focused on style and home decor, i didn't pinhole myself into a category because i wasn't sure which category i would want to be in. nowadays, i categorize my blog as a 'style and beauty' blog because those are my most talked about categories. (i should probably add 'cat blog' in there, too!) however, i still share the occasional recipe or interior design post. because i have that categorization, it makes brainstorming post ideas a bit easier. when my blog was considered a 'lifestyle' blog, i found that i had some more difficulty deciding what exactly to share and what people would be interested in reading. this won't be the case for everyone. some people need the freedom of a more general category like 'lifestyle' in order to fully express their creativity.
this can change! just like in my experience, your blog will naturally evolve and change as you grow and it grows. you may find that your readers really respond to your personal posts about your family or the recipes that you share, so you may decide to shift your focus to the more popular categories and away from those that don't seem to attract as much attention. if you see yourself possibly being one of these people, the next question is going to be crucial for you!
do you have a name picked out?
in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of starting a blog is choosing a good name. picking something that is catchy, memorable, and that you can grow with is typically a good start. when i first started, my blog was known as From My Grey Desk Blog (ahhh the good ole days). like i mentioned before, i didn't really have a direction when i started, so i wanted a general name that people could remember. i chose FMGD because i liked that it added a personal touch, like i was interacting directly with my readers from my grey desk to their computer screen. after awhile, i wasn't a big fan of the name anymore. it was longer than i wanted and i didn't like that it started with the word 'from'. (it made it more difficult for people to refer to me because they'd try to say 'Lauren from From My Grey Desk…double from's are not my jam). i decided to change the name about a year ago and i knew i wanted something more personal. you can't get much more personal than your name, so i went with that. alas, Lauren Elizabeth was born. (well, she was born twice…once as a human in December 1989 and once as a blog in the later winter of 2013).
if you don't have a name yet, do you have a topic or area of focus for your blog? if so, maybe pick a name that alludes to that, like The Beauty Department or Gal Meets Glam. no area of focus? think up a name that is creative and one that you can grow with. although it's important to choose a name, you can always change it. although it's not the most recommended route, it can be done. i did it after 2 years into blogging and everything worked out just fine. it may not be the best branding strategy, but if it leads to a more cohesive blog, social presence, and a happier you, then i say go for it! once you have a name or a couple options, ask your friends and family what they think. see how they react and what their opinion is if you're not 100% sure about it.
have you checked username and URL availability?
once you've decided on a name, check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or whatever social media platforms you intend to use to see if a username is available using your blog name. because there are quite a few Lauren Elizabeth's in this world, i had to get a bit creative with my usernames and URL by adding 'the' to the front of my name. so, my URL is thelaurenelizabeth.com and all usernames are the_laureneliza or the_laurenelizabeth. it's not my first choice, but it works! if you find those usernames are available, i suggest reserving them so you don't lose them! once i knew the new name for my blog and my new usernames, i changed everything within 24 hours to make sure they would all still be available.
i've been told on multiple occasions to not search URL and username availabilities too much. apparently there are 'bots' that will reserve them if you don't do it quickly enough. i didn't have this happen to me so i cannot confirm that, but i took those words of caution and didn't risk it. although you don't have to, i highly suggest buying a personal domain name for your URL. i believe it's $10 a year (or somewhere around there) and it's 100% worth it. not only does it create a shorter and more direct URL (no .blogspot.com or .wordpress.com), but it also looks cleaner on business cards, websites, etc.
have a specific question or want me to address a certain topic? leave a comment or shoot me an email!
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