It’s a year since I launched my blog Somerset Shines and I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learnt along the way. I started the blog to share my joy in moving back to Somerset with my family just over two years ago. So here are a few tips on starting a blog to share with you!
- Look at some other blogs that inspire you, and think about why. I really like LovingLivingLondon. com It’s polished, smart and positive just like Clare, it’s author. NaptimeNatter.com I love for the short stories and honest, moving accounts of motherhood. Whatmyfridegsays.com is really creative and has a joyful, colourful vibe.
- Find your own voice. Find a tone that suits you, just be you! I imagine I’m talking to a friend, sometimes confiding in how I feel in the ‘reflections’ posts, and other times chatting about little known local history or places to visit.
- Choose a blogging platform. I chose WordPress, it’s a popular content management system and you can select a look that suits your blog or website. You can choose a plan that is free but that blog will have random ads and you’ll have a wordpress.com domain name. I opted for a plan that has a small annual charge (£36), it means I can use a .com domain name and the blog has no ads. If you do go for the free option you can upgrade at any time.
- Post regularly. I aim to post about once a week. There have been times where I haven’t posted for a month, and other times I am inspired to post more regularly. It’s a good idea if you have a post or two saved up for if you get a creative lull then you can hit that ‘publish’ button. That feeling is so satisfying! You can also schedule a post to be published at a set time.
- Write a good welcome or about me page. Many people will want to click on this page to learn a bit more about you, so make it a good one!
- Snap happy! Pictures are important. If you look at my original Instagram pictures or first blog posts you’ll notice the quality isn’t great but we have to start somewhere! Most smartphones these days will take a good snap, my old phone only had a 7MP camera. I did a bit of googling before upgrading my phone and any phone camera over 13MP should take a decent pic. On the subject of photographs, be mindful of copyright. Some websites will indicate when there is a Creative Commons license and you can use their pictures with a credit to them. Otherwise you’ll need to get permission from the owner. There are some websites with license free images like Pixabay.com that are brilliant and I think WordPress has a library of pictures you can use but I haven’t got to grips with this yet. When you use images in your blog be sure to complete the “Alt text”. This is a description for visually impaired readers. You don’t have to start with “A picture of …” in this bit, just be as descriptive as possible. It takes two seconds and will make your blog accessible.
- You’ll attract readers from all over the world. I love looking at the statistics that WordPress provide. It shows your most popular posts and how many views you’ve had each day. It’s fun to watch your blog grow in popularity! There is a little world map in the editing mode you can look at which shows there have been views from Saudi Arabia, Ireland, China, Australia, America, India to name a few!
- Use social media to promote your blog. I use both Twitter and Instagram to announce when I have a new blog post. I find Instagram the most effective, with more people engaging with posts. I have to say I do find social media a bit addictive, like many of us. But one of the aims of my blog was to stop scrolling so much and get writing as well as reading of other blogs which I love.
- Be interested in others. When you follow other people on Twitter and Instagram and on their blogs give them a like or a comment if you like their work! There are plenty of dubious accounts on Instagram – single, eligible, rich heart surgeon (!!!) who will give you a follow but I never follow accounts back unless I like the content. It’s not a numbers game, I rate quality over quantity. I really appreciate it if someone has read a post and comments on Instagram or directly on the blog and I’d rather one person love a post than 100 mindlessly like it. Comments and reposts totally make my day so I comment on the posts I’ve read and enjoyed too.
- Have fun! I enjoy writing. I’ve chosen categories on my blog that I’m interested in. We are so lucky that we can all be writers if we want to be in this day and age! I don’t have any big master plan for the blog, I’m just going to keep going and enjoying and see where this path takes me.
What are your blogging tips? I’d love to hear.