How to Start a Blog on a Budget | Step 1: Starting Out
Having a themed blog is something blogging experts and professionals always recommend, but it never appealed to me since I have so many interests that it felt impossible to “niche-down” to a single topic until the heatwave arrived this year more brutal than ever and I started dreaming more and more about my favourite season, Autumn. Then I started thinking why not start a blog about it to share my enthusiasm with the world? Sure, I could write autumn-themed blog posts here, as I’ve done in the past, but it wouldn’t be the same. So I decided to start this small side project (I’m not planning to monetize it, it’s a hobby) and I asked on social media if you’d be interested in a blog series on how I’m building it and the response has been pretty clear.
I’ve been setting up blogs for ages, mostly because of my inconsistency and the joy I get by setting things up from scratch (LOL) so I can create a new blog in a couple of minutes. However, this time, I wanted to give myself a whole month to do it in order to slow down and be sure to not get burned out right away.
Here is my process for starting a new blog.
Decide a topic and a purpose
First things first. You always want to decide what are you going to blog about and how you’re going to do it first. Is it going to be a professional blog or just a side project? Are you going to monetize it?
In my case, I already knew that I wanted to keep things very very simple writing about a topic I’m passionate about just for fun (Autumn and Halloween) but still planning things in advance (I can easily get overwhelmed if I don’t have a plan, plus I love curated blogs, even if they aren’t a business). So, even if your blog is going to be a just-for-fun thing, I would recommend you to still aim for consistency and have a publishing plan. Here is mine:
- 1 post per week in September and October
- 2 posts per month in November and December
- 1 post per month from January to July (tentatively)
- 2 posts in August
Sure, things might change and my plans too, but starting with a clear idea in mind is very important, in my opinion.
Choose a name
This is probably the most difficult part of the process for me and this is why having a topic in mind can be extremely helpful.
For example, when I started this blog, my idea was to share book and movie reviews along with other geeky things I’m passionate about. These days, it’s more a personal (read “random”) blog and the name isn’t relevant 100% of the time, so it would make more sense to rebrand it using my name. But this is another story. :)
For the new blog, I started writing on a piece of paper words that reminded me of the general vibe I wanted my blog to have. They had to remind me of Autumn, spooky and cozy things, rainy days and so on. Once my page was full, I started combining those words, trying to create some nice titles. In the past, I used to just pick my favorite combination and then make it fit on all the platforms, but it’s 2018, folks. The world wide web is saturated and finding available usernames isn’t a joke anymore. You want people recognising you online, so you should aim to have the same social media handle everywhere if possible. This is why I highly recommend you to use a website called Namechk. You just have to search the username you’d like to use for your blog/accounts and it will show you all the platforms where it’s still available and those where it’s already taken.
Ater several tentatives, I’ve finally come up with October Sisterhood. It was too long for Twitter so I had to cut it as @octsisterhood, but it was (surprisingly) available almost everywhere, so I decided to keep it since Twitter won’t be my primary social media (I will automatically share new posts there for now).
Pick a platform for your blog
The possibilities are endless, but my absolute favourite platforms are Squarespace (based on drag and drop blocks, recommended for beginners) and WordPress (advanced). However, my budget for this blog is 0€ because a) it’s going to be a hobby b) I’m a student on a budget and I’m already playing for this blog. So, instead of a self-hosted platform, I went with WordPress.com because it’s very easy to manage and it would allow me to upgrade to a custom domain in a couple of clicks if I will ever decide to invest some money in this project.
To make things easier, I would recommend to create an email account solely for your blog and use that one for creating your other accounts (blogging platform + social media). I know for experience that’s incredibly easy to mess things up with different emails and profiles. It would also give you a feel of consistency and motivation, plus if things won’t go as planned and you’ll decide to close your blog, you will have one single address to check out. Or, on the contrary, if things will go extremely well and you’ll start monetizing, you will have a clear brand identity and you won’t be embarrassed to share your contact info using your personal email, for example.
Keeping your blogging sphere separate from your personal online presence (i.e. email address, social media profiles, etc.) it’s very important in my opinion and can also help you to have a good balance in your life.