How to Start a Blog

As Told by a Know-Nothing Novice

Today is the anniversary of when I first started blogging. The one week anniversary.  During this period, I have picked a WordPress theme. I set up Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest pages.  I scoured my computer for semi-recent photographs that are a) of me and only me, b) not selfies, and c) don’t make me look like [insert judgy, negative word phrase I should not think about myself, let alone write on the Internet.] I stood on the Metro worrying about former boyfriends finding my site with the aforementioned pictures. I ordered a new camera and Macbook. I googled the definition of “affiliate marketing,” then I googled it again along with the names of my preferred stores. I discovered that all but one, my favorite furniture store, have programs. Interesting. I downloaded Canva. I thought about that girl who started a website in the mid-1990s that had a 24/7 live feed that updated like every 2 minutes with grainy photographs of her sitting around her dorm room, and she somehow had millions of followers. I reflected on how much the world has changed just during my adult life, then I stopped thinking about that because, you know, aging is the universal depressor. I wondered if I would ever have ANY followers other than my BFFs and my mom.

And I read a lot of articles about starting blogs. Lots and lots. They all list things they would do differently or better or instead or not at all. Some talk about things I have never heard of and do not understand. Others dumb it down too much. Please, spare the world any more paragraphs about how it is best to choose domain names ending in .com. Everyone knows that, even us Gen Xers.

So, here is how to start a blog, as I have actually done it:

A. DECIDE NOT TO DECIDE WHAT THE BLOG IS ABOUT

I just don’t know yet.  The blogging ‘experts’ say you should choose something you have expertise in or are prepared to acquire expertise in, but I will always be a dabbler.  There are just too many things I can write about, and I don’t know which one(s) my eventual readers and I will come to agree is my niche. For now, I plan to talk about all the things I love, and see where it takes me. Ideas:

  1. Old buildings. I do actually have some expertise in this, according to my diplomas and resume. I will probably have some things to say on this topic, but part of purpose of blogging is an escape from my day job, so then again, maybe I won’t delve too deeply into bricks and sticks.
  2. Design.  If I could spend all day looking at pictures of interesting and/or good design I would be a happy girl. Interior design, fashion design, architectural design, graphic design, furniture design. I love it all.
  3. Crafting and home projects. I am pretty good at this. But am I good enough?  Maybe I’ll throw some stuff out there and see.
  4. My life in the big city of Washington D.C. Okay, it’s a small city and I actually live in Arlington, on the other side of the river. But it is culture rich. And beautiful. And timeless.
  5. Travel. I like going places. Care to join me?
  6. Style. I recently discovered that there about a zillion blogs run by twenty- and thirty-something women who take daily photos of themselves wearing dresses, which they post online for their thousands of gogglers. No way. Plus, I cannot relate to those gals. They wear things that I would never wear and they lack the concerns many of us have post 40. That said, I love clothes and always have. Is there room for a Gen X style blog in this saturated stylosphere? Maybe. Perhaps I can help guide my peers . . . or at least entertain them.
  7. Photography. Back when I was training for a marathon, one hot, long-run Saturday devolved into walking, and then window shopping, with my running friend. We are lazy runners, she told me. I objected to this. Most people do not even try to train for marathons. Oh, she clarified, compared to all the people in the world we are amazing fitness goddesses, but compared to the other runners, We. Are. Lazy.  She spoke the truth. That is also me and photography. I work with amazing photographers, but I am not one of them. But I do okay, and maybe people will like to see some of my photos. Would you?
B. THINK ABOUT WHY I WANT TO BLOG (AND IF I REALLY HAVE TIME FOR THIS)

I am a creative person. If I am not creating, I get unhappy, fast. I am fortunate I have a job where I can use creativity in my work. But with every job or client that allows you to create, there are rules and judgements and change requests and insults (usually unintended, but wearisome nevertheless.) They might nix the best image, make you use a bad typeface, or change a word to something stupid. You might be told to “pretty up,” “polish,” or “work your magic on” a photo that should never have been downloaded off the phone that took it, let alone published.

I want to make something that is all mine. Where I own the font, the words, and the pictures. Where the story belongs to me.

And no, I don’t have time for this. But if it becomes a burden, I can kill it. As mentioned, it’ll be mine all mine.

C. NAME THE BLOG

I did no research on my name. It came to me when I was walking to the subway station one morning.  I later checked, found that the domain was available and just took it.  Then, I discovered it was not available on Twitter and Instagram. So I chose a shortened version of it for those. Done. I am not fretting over it.

D. CHOOSE A BLOGGING PLATFORM & HOST

I picked WordPress.com, followed the instructions, and set it up.  Then yesterday I read that there is another, totally different site called WordPress.org. The ‘experts’ say the latter WordPress is better. Whatever. I cannot fret over that either.

E. PICK A THEME

I went with simple here. Mine does not require a lot of menus or thumbnail images. This is critical, because I have no content yet, and I didn’t want to get bogged down making more stuff up than I must.  Also, as someone who spends a lot of my daytime hours looking at graphics, cleaner is always better when you don’t know a lot about what you are doing.  White or light colored background, black text, and a splash color. Limit the calligraphy and swirls and flowers. Move on to the next step.

F. FILL OUT THE ABOUT ME PAGE AND UPLOAD A PROFILE PHOTO

The beauty of the web is that I can change these sections whenever I want. I quickly wrote and uploaded. Done.

G. WRITE THE DREADED FIRST BLOG POST

For this, I flipped through my photos on my computer for about 38 seconds. I saw one I took a while back, wrote several sentences about it, and hit publish. I crossed out the word dreaded.

Whew, that’s over and it was relatively painless. I can now adjust to the water temperature and start swimming. My name is Sarah, and I have started a blog.

 

6 thoughts on “How to Start a Blog

  1. I love your writing style. I think there is content to be mined in the contrast between your love of design/style and what I perceive to be our very unstylish city. Do others agree with me that DC area residents as a whole take very little interest in design?

    Oh, and the ad on this page purports to explain to me how to “wipe out deep fat.” If the algorithm picked this because you are a gurl, that is annoying.

    1. Hi Amy! I think I am going to ditch the ads on my page. Too ugly and not worth it. I agree on DC, but I am probably not the best authority given my field. I will explore it!

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