Growing up I was the shy girl in class. The thought of speaking in front of a group of people made my stomach sick. As I entered university I made it a goal of mine to challenge myself to talk to new people, to raise my hand in class, to speak my mind. I slowly crawled out of my shell, but it wasn’t until I graduated from university and entered grad school I began to develop the confidence I so desperately wished for. In 2013, when my cousin encouraged me to start a blog I laughed out loud. I thought to myself “I’m not interesting, I’m not anything special… why would people want to read about my daily ramblings?”. I immediately reverted back to that shy girl I wanted to escape from all those years. After a few months of encouragement – I finally swallowed my pride and decided to start my blog. I named it “Mash Elle” an alternative spelling to my name and a more confident, radiant alter ego. Once I started blogging, I became hooked. It was my online journal and to my surprise, people began reading! I began receiving amazingly supportive comments, emails and letters encouraging me to continue my blogging journey. To this day, my blog is my greatest accomplishment and my pride and joy. The confidence and happiness I have gained throughout this journey is more than I could have ever imagined and for that, I am so grateful.
Starting a blog isn’t easy. So where do you start? I’ve put together a list of tips on how to start a blog (and possibly earn some extra cash!).
10 Steps To Creating Your Own Blog
1 Get On WordPress
First things first, create a WordPress.com account. Not Blogger, Not Wix. WordPress. In the long run you will thank me. For now, sign up for the free version. If you decide to monetize your blog in the future you can switch to WordPress.org. Google a quick tutorial on how to use the platform. Set your website to private. Get familiar with WordPress. Experiment with photos, text and more.
2 Create A (Temporary) Blog Name
Don’t let the title of your blog stop you from starting your blog! You can change your blog name at any time. If you’re struggling to find a blog name use your first and middle name! Or your first and last name. Remember, this is temporary.
3 Select a Name That Represents Your Brand
A blog is more than just an online diary – it is your brand! Dreaming up a name for my blog was no doubt the hardest part of starting my blog. Start brainstorming! Write down a bunch of words that describe you and what you want to accomplish with your blog. Once you come up with a name – make sure it isn’t already taken! Remember – you want your blog to be unique!
4 Start Writing
The most common questions I’m asked – what should I write about? What should my first post be? Only you know the answer to this. Want to write an introductory post? Go ahead. Want to skip it? That’s fine too. Remember, you can always add more blog posts. For your first blog post – write something you’re passionate about. People read blogs for two reasons: for entertainment or to learn something. What questions do your family and friends ask you most often? Do they ask you about the makeup products you use? How you remodeled your kitchen? The best toys for toddlers? If you get the same questions on a topic, that means you’re somewhat seasoned with that topic. For example, the #1 question I’m asked IRL “how do you style your hair like that?”. Years of this question told me I needed to have a hair section on my blog!
5 Get Out Of Your Head
It’s time to deflate your ego. Chances are your first blog posts will only be seen by your mom and your best friend. Erase the thought of tons of eyes on your posts. Right now, you’re just writing to a few key people in your life. Or – just yourself! You can keep your blog on private for as long as you want! Or indefinitely. Just because you have a blog doesn’t mean you need a big following. Write a post as if you’re talking to your best friend. Or your younger self. Give her advice – what should she do?
6 Discover Your Niche
When you begin blogging, I’d recommend experimenting with topics. The idea of writing about fashion may seem fun until you start typing. In my experience, the posts I’m most passionate about are written the fastest. They also have a shot of sass because, well I’m enjoying myself. And I’m straight sassy in real life (in the best way possible!). Keep in mind, your niche can change over time! I began writing travel posts. Now you’ll rarely see a post on travel. Do I love traveling? Absolutely. Do I enjoy writing about travel? Absolutely not.
7 Purchase A WordPress Theme
After you’ve gotten into the hang of blogging – it’s time to make your blog a little cuter. For as little as $12 you can purchase a blog theme. A blog theme is a pre-made template created by a designer. Themes help your blog flow nicely and add in some color coordination. Keep this tip in mind: less is more. When it comes to your blog, you want your content to shine (ie. photos and text). Minimalist blog templates with white backgrounds are the easiest on the eyes. Keep it simple. Add a short bio and photo of yourself. Your readers want to see your personality shine!
8 Set Your Expectations
Whether you choose to monetize your blog or not is up to you. I began my blog as a hobby! However, you do have the option to make some extra cash. Just know success doesn’t happen overnight. It took me 8 months for sponsors to notice me. For others, it can take years to build a following. If you’re starting a blog with the intention to go full time – don’t quit your day job. Be patient with your growth.
8 Purchase a Domain Name
If you do want to monetize your blog – you’ll need to upgrade your account to a business account. To have a business account you need to purchase a domain name that isn’t in use. Don’t worry, it’s extremely affordable! It will take your website from www.mash-elle.wordpress.com to www.mash-elle.com. Bonus: looks cleaner and easier to remember!
11 Use Social Media To Grow Your Following
Everyone and their mother (at this point, Grandma too) is on social media. Use social media as a tool to share your blog posts and grow a following. Right now, Instagram is the platform of choice. You can either use your personal account or create a separate business account. I chose to create a separate Instagram account. Facebook and Pinterest are also great platforms to use to grow a following. Facebook allows you to reach an older audience, Pinterest will generate tons of page views. You can also use these platforms to connect with bloggers and suggest a collaboration! This way, you can cross promote each other and be exposed to a new audience.
12 Don’t Compare Your Blog To Others
Lastly, don’t compare the success of your blog to others. Why? This is the best way to flatten your confidence and drive for blogging! Every blogger excels at their own pace and opportunities always arise when the timing is best. Instead of developing jealousy or anger towards a fellow blogger – use their growth as inspiration for your blog! Most bloggers are more than willing to help fellow bloggers out – so why not shoot them an email, introduce yourself and ask them if they have any tips of their own!