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Bonjour, Blogger! Create A Blog In 5 Days

Launch A Blog In 5 Days

Introduction

A lot of friends have said to me that they would love to set up their own blog to talk about the things that were important to them, but had no idea where to start. I have helped out some of them, but since I can’t be everywhere, I thought I would put together a course to help explain it easily.

This was originally designed as an email course, so each chapter is designed to be dealt with in one day. You can of course do a few sections at once or spread it out even more!

If you have any questions, do get in contact – I’m on Twitter as @bonjourblogger, or you can email me at hi@bonjourblogger.com

 

Day 1: The Basics

[]Good morning!

So you want to blog? Who doesn’t? Blogging is one of the best things I ever did – I think everyone has a story in them that could be blogged, the difficulty is just getting those words out and actually getting the technical side sorted. So nothing big, right?!

Well, that’s what this course is aimed at doing. By the end of the week, you should have a fully functioning blog with a few posts if not written then at least planned out. I’ll show you how to break down the tasks needed to set up your awesome blog so they don’t seem so huge and the time will just speed by!

[]So, first things first – what’s your idea? What are you going to write about?

It’s better to be fairly general about what you write about so you can stay inspired to write more than a few posts. (If you were to say “My blog is about 1950’s lunchboxes”, you may have more difficulty in writing posts after the first burst of inspiration than if you were to say “My blog is about lunchboxes in the 20th Century”.)

It’s fine to change your mind later on, so don’t feel like you’re going to be stuck in that niche forever – I’ve known fashion bloggers to switch to fitness, beauty bloggers to switch to mummy bloggers and so on…your blog is about you and your interests, and your interests will change over time.

[]What’s your name?

Once you’ve got the idea jotted out, it’s time to consider what to call your blog. You may already have an idea before you even considered blogging, you might want to choose a name based on your genre, you could keep things basic and just use your name or ignore all of that and make up a word. (That’s actually what I did with my current personal blog, 10 years ago! It’s meant that I haven’t felt restricted in what I can write about)

If you don’t mind spending a little bit of money on your new hobby, I think one of the best things to invest in is your own domain name. A domain name makes your site look just that little bit more polished, it can help you get paid collaborations (if that’s the sort of thing that you want to do!) and it means if you were to decide you wanted to switch platforms, you wouldn’t lose any followers or visitors because your URL would stay the same. If you haven’t decided what you want to do, have a think about it, as tomorrow we’ll be looking at hosting and domains will come under that.

If you want to make sure that the name you like is available not just in domain format, but also on the various social media sites you may want to set up, use a site like NameChk (https://namechk.com/) to find out where it’s registered.

What’s next?

Tomorrow we’ll be looking at where to build your site and how to get that set up – that’s pretty much the technical parts done though in one day. (If you know already that you want to use a self hosted Wordpress set up, try to get that set up today which will save some time) After that, I’ll be talking about the sort of pages that you might want on your site, how to plan and write blog posts and how to promote them on social media – it may sound a bit much at the moment, but it will all be broken down for you so it will seem simple!

Day 2: Set-up and Layout

Good morning!

Hopefully, you’ve got an idea of what you want to do with your blog from yesterday – if you haven’t done that yet, then you might want to do that first, but the most important thing that you’ll want to get done first from that list is to get a name. With the name sorted, you’ll be able to start getting the technical side of things sorted.

This is going to be a bit of a long read, so settle in with a brew!

Blogger v Wordpress

There are lots of different ways to blog, with more appearing every day, but in this series, I’ll be focusing on the two most popular options for most bloggers. Blogger and Wordpress are the two that I’ll be talking about – but first, what are they?

Blogger

Blogger is a hosted product from Google – it’s super simple to set up, especially if you already have a Google account. It’s a free service, where you can pay for the additional add-ons, like having your own domain. It’s popular because of the simplicity of it – you can be writing your first blog post less than 15 minutes of clicking the “New Blog” button on the blogger.com home page. Another reason that some people prefer Blogger is that there is a bit more of a community around it – with things like Google Friend Connect built in; it is easy to add new blogs to read to your dashboard.

However, one of the downsides to Blogger is that it can be seen as too simplistic. While there is some ability to change the HTML on the blog design so it looks a little less like all the other Blogspot blogs, the truth is that most Blogger blogs do all end up looking a little similar. Some people might like to not faff about with HTML, so this might be a bonus to you!

Another downside to Blogger is that you are dependent on Google – there is no option to self-host a Blogger powered blog. I have seen so many bloggers (big and small) have their blogs become unavailable because Google has decided to disable it for whatever reason. When you have spent so much time, money and effort in getting your blog known and popular, it seems a little strange to be dependent on a company who could just pull the plug on your site so easily!

Don’t let that put you off Blogger – it’s still a solid base to start your blog, and figure out what you want to talk about, and whether you actually want to blog.

Wordpress

First up – the confusing part! Wordpress.com and Wordpress.org are two separate products, but they are mostly the same thing. Wordpress.com is the version of Wordpress that is free to use, but is a lot more restrictive. Wordpress.com is good if you are unsure whether Wordpress is the right platform for you and want to have a look at the way you post, etc, but I would personally recommend going self hosted as soon are you are confident that you would get the use out of it.

Wordpress.org is a piece of software that runs on a server that you pay for space on aka when you are self hosted. I have been using Wordpress on my self hosted sites for at least 10 years now and I am still recommending it to others, so you can probably guess how happy I am with it!

WordPress gives you more options to customise your blog so you can get it looking exactly how you want, but this can be seen as a negative thing – we spoke to some bloggers who said that they chose not to use WordPress because it seems “more advanced”, especially to a beginner.

Possibly the biggest downside to self-hosted WordPress set ups is that if you install a plugin that’s a bit dodgy, or you fiddle with the code and save the wrong thing, your whole site can disappear. However, if you have a decent host, then they will be able to restore your site from a backup quite quickly – you’ll never get that sort of service with Blogger!

Most good hosts will have a one click option to get your Wordpress site set up – this is so useful! I use 34SP (34sp.com) for my personal blog, and TSO Host (tsohost.com) for Bonjour, Blogger! – I would recommend TSOHost to most people as my site has had really good uptime recently which is obviously useful! I pay £50 a year for my site which also includes domain registration for the year. (You can get 10% off your first year with the code BONJOURBLOGGER – I will receive a percentage of the sale if you use this code)

Domains

You can buy a domain from anywhere, this post from 2013 explains a lot more places to check out – http://www.bonjourblogger.com/resources/buying-a-domain/

Since writing that post, I have moved the bonjourblogger.com domain onto TSOHost so I only have them to deal with – I’m confident in their customer service now that if there was any issues, it would be resolved quickly. For Blogger users, you can buy a domain from anywhere, but I would recommend checking out the sites listed in the post above first. The post also explains how to attach your domain to your blog

Where to get layouts

The following links are provided for information only – I have not tested all of them, so if you do decide to install these themes, make sure you back up first, and it may be a good idea to try them out on a test blog!

Installation is pretty easy – with Wordpress, you can upload the zip file into the themes section, and most Blogger layouts will be just one file to upload as well. The themes should contain directions though as they could vary.

Wordpress

Perth – http://athemes.com/theme/perth/

Fashionista – http://athemes.com/theme/fashionista/

The Mary Kate – http://angiemakes.com/free-feminine-wordpress-theme-mary-kate/

Make sure to check out the default themes as well – the new Twenty Seventeen theme is actually pretty decent and is easy to tweak – head to the customise section in your dashboard to find ways to tweak the layout.

Blogger

Voux – [+ http://www.themexpose.com/2015/09/voux-minimal-responsive-blogger-template.html+]

Blogstar – [+ http://www.themexpose.com/2015/06/blogstar-clean-responsive-blogger.html+]

Life and Fashion – [+ http://www.themexpose.com/2016/01/life-fashion-clean-and-responsive.html+]

h2<{color:#6500e2;}.

Congratulations! Now you have a website that’s looking pretty good! Tomorrow, we’ll be looking at the static pages to add in so you have something up on the site.

 

Day 3: Creating Static Pages

Good morning!

So yesterday was pretty intense! You’ll be happy to know that that’s the technical stuff done now – from here, it’s all writing really! (Although it’s probably quite tempting to keep tweaking the layout – I do this all the time!)

So, static pages! These are the sort of pages that you write once and leave for a few months – things like your about page, and your contact page. You’re not going to need to keep updating those every day, but a quick check is always a good idea.

For most bloggers, the three most useful pages would be an about page (because your readers want to know who you are), a contact page (because people will always want a way to get in touch with you!) and a disclosure/PR page is useful if you’re interested in working with brands.

About Page

Your about page is possibly the most important part of your blog that isn’t the actual content. You need to tell your reader who you are, and sound so interesting to them that they just can’t help but read the rest of your ramblings. The people most likely to read your “about me” page are either brand new to your blog (they may have landed on your site through a Google search, enjoyed what they read, and want to know more about who you are) or are people looking to work with you. It’s possible, of course, but unlikely that a regular reader is going to check out your “about me” unless you specifically told them to go read it. But how do you write an interesting bio?

First – you need to decide who you are writing to. Are you trying to get any work from your blog (so does your about me need to tend towards the professional but pimping yourself side) or are you just laying it all out there and telling your readers the important bits about you?

The opening part of your “about me”, in either case, should be a brief summation of what your blog or website is all about. How would you (or do you!) describe your blog to someone at a blogger event when they ask what you blog about?

So what’s so interesting about your blog anyway? Do you write for any other blogs? Have you received any awards or been nominated for anything like the Cosmo Blog Awards? Been in any newspapers or magazines? If an “about me” page is your blogging CV, this is the awards and achievements section.

Finally, get a photograph of yourself (just you if possible) and put that at the top of the page. Your readers will want to know who is talking to them, especially if you don’t post outfit posts or makeup pictures all the time.

Contact

The contact page is important, whether you’re looking to work with brands or not – you would be surprised to know how many bloggers don’t include this page on their blog and then complain that they’re never contacted with any blog opportunities.

Obviously, you’ll want to include your email address on your contact page – make it obvious so if someone is trying to email you, they don’t need to hunt around for it. If you’re worried about spam, write it and save it as an image. You can also use a contact form which means people can email you directly – if you’re a Blogger user, you can find the Contact Form widget under the More Gadgets tab, and if you’re a self hosted WordPress user, you’ll probably already have Jetpack installed which has a contact form feature built in (as well as some other features that ).

If you have a lot of social media profiles, then you’ll probably have the main ones links in the sidebar (and if you’re wondering how to insert social media icons into your sidebar, check out this post!) but you might want to link everything else on your contact page – not just so other people can find you (always a good thing!) but so you can remember what you actually have out there!

Finally, you may want to include a link to your disclosure page, as someone looking to work with you might not have seen it previously.

Disclosure/PR

Disclosure is one of the most important things to do as a blogger. It is defined as the act of making something obvious and a good disclosure will make it clear to your readers whether your opinion can be trusted.

While in the UK, it isn’t a necessity to disclose how you receive a product but it is good practice to do so. A good statement will not just benefit your readers, but could also help you gain more opportunities – many PR agents will be looking for those bloggers who are honest and open about what they receive for free.

What sort of things do you need to think about including?

*
p<>{color:#424242;}. Whether you will accept sponsored posts on the blog. If you do accept sponsored posts on your blog, you may want to make a note here whether links will be marked as no-follow.

*
p<>{color:#424242;}. Whether you will accept products to review.

*
p<>{color:#424242;}. Whether you are going to include affiliate links in your blog posts. Some bloggers (like us!) choose to put a little symbol next to any link that is an affiliate one.

*
p<>{color:#424242;}. How will you disclose where relevant. Will you put a simple statement at the end of each post?

*
p<>{color:#424242;}. Anything else you think is relevant! It’s always better to over-disclose than not say anything.

If you write a disclosure statement, you can just link to it at the end of relevant posts, rather than writing everything out again.

Tomorrow we’ll be looking at actually getting a few posts up on the blog! Exciting!

See you tomorrow!

 

Day 4: Plan and Write Posts

Good morning!

We’re finally getting round to the content bit – talking about the stuff you want to be putting out there. You started this project because there’s something you want to put out there, so this should be fairly easy – you may even have a few posts written already!

The ideal blog post

There isn’t such a thing as an ideal blog post, but a few things that do help draw attention…

A strong image

I like to put at least one picture in each blog post – I feel like it helps to break up the block of text that you could end up with, and also it can catch readers eyes in readers like Bloglovin.

Word count

The average blog post is about 300 – 400 words long. That’s not to say that if you go over this, then no one will bother reading, or if your post is only 100 words long then it will be easy to skip over! It all depends on the subject and your way of writing

A good title

A good blog post title will draw people in, and could help improve your searchability. Back in the day (at least 7 years ago!) when bloggers did blog posts, they would use song lyrics (especially with outfit photos) because they weren’t thinking about their SEO. If you want people to find your posts, then including key words in the title is a good idea – e.g. if you’re writing a review about

Planning posts and keeping inspired

This is going sound so basic, but the way that I keep inspired about what to write about next is to carry a notebook with me everywhere and scribble down any ideas I have. If you’re like me, if you don’t write it down, you’ll tell yourself that you’ll remember it and then you’ll forget. If you write down lots of things at once, then when you want to write more posts but can’t think of what to do, you’ll have this whole big list of ideas to pick out!

Schedule Posts

Scheduling posts is the greatest thing ever for bloggers – it means that when you’re on a roll with writing, you can schedule your posts and get them all done for the week. Since it’s better explained with images, and Kindles aren’t the best thing to show screenshots, head over to http://www.bonjourblogger.com/tutorials/how-to-schedule-posts/ to see how to schedule posts for both Blogger and Wordpress.

Tomorrow is the final day of this course, so we’re going to take a brief look at social media, and how to make it work for you.

Day 5: Social Media

Social media is such an important element of blogging, and everyone has a different platform that works best for them. Personally, I have found Twitter to be the best platform for me – it’s easy to find people to chat with, especially with things like the hashtag chats that are around. If you’re looking for a chat to join, head over to http://www.bonjourblogger.com/blog-events-diary/ to see what’s on – the calendar is always being updated with the latest posts.

Other platforms to consider include Facebook (having a page set up for your blog is always a good idea, and depending on what your blog does, you may also want to consider a group. I have a page for Bonjour, Blogger!, and then a group for a Bristol based meetup, #blogclub), Pinterest (although there is a bit of a steep learning curve) and of course, Instagram (which is great if you’re a more image based blogger)

You can schedule posts on various social media platforms – for Twitter and Facebook, Hootsuite is great (find out how to schedule a post here – [+ http://www.bonjourblogger.com/social-media/using-social-media-at-work/+]), and for Instagram, I have been using Grum which has been awesome (learn more about it here http://www.bonjourblogger.com/social-media/grum-co/).

Once you have quite a few posts written, you may want to use something like Buffer to keep posts tweeting automatically – I wrote a post about how I keep posts updating constantly here – http://www.bonjourblogger.com/tutorials/keep-old-posts-tweeting/ - I pay $10 to Buffer each month to have the Awesome plan, which allows me to load 200+ posts at once, then use Bulk Buffer to upload new posts every week or so.

 

Hooray!

Congratulations! You have a blog that’s ready to be promoted now! This has been a brief overview – if there’s anything specific you need help with, just ask! You can also search for it on bonjourblogger.com – it’s been running since 2013, so your question may have already come up for someone else!

I’d love to see your blogs when they’re up and running, please tweet me (@bonjourblogger) a link!


Bonjour, Blogger! Create A Blog In 5 Days

  • ISBN: 9781370131136
  • Author: Hayley Constantine
  • Published: 2017-04-19 21:05:08
  • Words: 3588
Bonjour, Blogger! Create A Blog In 5 Days Bonjour, Blogger! Create A Blog In 5 Days