Blogging Basics

When I started blogging I had no idea where to even begin. Literary, no idea. Blogging was a minefield of HTML codes and weird gadgets. And so I did what I always do when the internet confuses me: turned to the internet. And so, to anyone wanting to start a blog, you too turned to the internet, and found me. I hope that these tips help you…

  1. What do you want to write about?- I wanted to write about food and health. And then I gradually began to include other interests, so that my blog became more lifestyle. Have a fairly solid idea of what you want to write about; you can always expand on this later, but you need to be passionate about your chosen topic.
  2. Choose a title- This is the biggie. Because you want a title you’ll still love in a week, a month, a year. I actually began with a different blog name: ‘Healthy not Hungry’. However, as I expanded to cover lifestyle this didn’t fit anymore. Which meant I went with ‘Ecstatically Em’. My advice is to pick a title that can be a little more general. You may want to brainstorm several different titles, as your first choice may be taken on the blogging platform you choose- I know all of my first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth titles were taken.
  3. Choose a platform- and do your research beforehand- This brings me to my next point, which is platforms. You have several options: Tumblr, Blogger/BlogSpot, WordPress… I went with Blogger, as I found this was the easiest to use, personally. Blogger doesn’t have too many options for layout, but this is great for beginners. Too much choice can sometimes be a bad thing. You can also find HTML codes to alter this layout beyond the standard options, and – if you really fall in love with blogging- you can pay companies to design and apply a layout to your blog.
  4. Go and find links and coding to achieve the layout you want- Okay, so this links to the above point. The HTML coding on the blog is the code that creates the layout- it’s like the genes of the blog, it decides how it looks. If you want to have your title in the centre of the blog, and blogger can’t cater to this (for an example), get yourself over to Google and simply type in ‘how to centre your header on blogger’. Take a look through the results, and follow the instructions that the HTML whizzes give you. You can take the HTML code that they give you, and copy and paste it into the existing coding. Even better, head to YouTube if you need to see someone using the coding. Follow the steps, pausing as you follow the instructions instead of watching it all the way through and then trying to remember it.
  5. Don’t ignore the gadgets – Blogger has a big list of different “gadgets” you apply to your blog’s side bar. These include links to an Instagram account if you have one, popular posts, a blog view counter, a little information caption about you and your blog…don’t ignore these. Apply the ones you feel would be most useful; I love the popular posts gadget. I like seeing what people are reading at a glance, and it’s a great navigational tool for readers.
  6. Have a decent “About Me” caption or page– This doesn’t need to be massive or incredibly detailed, but make sure that your make readers feel welcome. You’d be surprised how often readers head to the “About” page, so make a good impression, and tell them a little about yourself and your blog. Come back to this now and again to keep it up to date.
  7. Work on the layout of posts, and select fonts etc. carefully – I can’t tell you how much a badly laid out blog is off-putting. Take a good look through the fonts, and choose which ones you want for your blog. I recommend choosing no more than 2-3 different fonts: one for the title, one for the sub-titles, and possibly a different one for the post content. Same goes with colours and background. Keep it clean, and simple. I personally like classic colour schemes, such as blue and grey, pink and grey, black and white etc. When you’re dealing with the layout of the actual post, take a look at placing emphasis on certain elements. You may want to make use of the bold, italics, and underlined- same as in Microsoft Word.
  8. Keep a posts master list, and rough timetable- Occasionally I like to sit down and make a list, in categories, of what blog posts I am considering writing. I divide this into ‘Food’, ‘Books’, and ‘Lifestyle’ generally. I then set out a timetable of up to five weeks, and slot posts into each week. I also consider any weekly, monthly, or seasonal posts I will need to include, for example: I write a ‘Quotespirational Monday’ every week, I write a ‘Monthly Favourites’, and if there’s a holiday coming up, I will have some Halloween/Bonfire Night/ Christmas blog posts stock list.
  9. Take your own pictures, and teach yourself to take good ones- I don’t have a proper camera, but use my phone to take blog pictures (a Samsung Galaxy A5). As I have an Insagram account I tend to use the pictures I put on IG to illustrate my blog posts. By using them, I know I can adjust the brightness, shadows, saturation etc. to ensure that the photos on the blog look their best. This is an editing tool I am comfortable with, and it also means I don’t spend hours editing pictures when I have some ready in my phone’s memory.
  10. Edit, edit, edit- Proof reading posts is incredibly important. I tend to write a post, and then come back to it the next day to edit. Read it carefully to ensure it flows well. This has actually helped me with essay writing at uni as well, so consider it as building up your writing skills.
  11. Link back to old posts- Speaking of posts, make sure that if you mention something you have already written you provide a link to it. This bumps up page views, and also helps a reader navigate your blog.
  12. Promote on other social media- The main source of traffic to my blog is Instagram, and so I made sure that I had a gadget linking to this on my blog. You may also want to include Pinterest buttons, and if you have a related FB page, a link to that. It is also definitely work signing up to Bloglovin (think Pinterest/ FaceBook for blogs), and adding a button to your sidebar.
  13. Share your articles- if you use a certain product, or review a certain book, album, or game, it may be useful to get in contact with the relevant company, publisher/writer, artist, or tech team. If you write well, and the product has a good review then they may speak about it on social media, bringing more traffic to your blog. However…
  14. Always be honest- to gain a reputation for being a reliable reviewer you have to give an honest opinion. Don’t give great reviews, or recommend products you don’t fully believe in.
  15. Keep an eye on page views and stats- Blogger has a section on your personal dashboard where you can keep an eye on which posts are popular, and also monitor your page views in total for the year/month/week/day. You can keep an eye on which countries your blog is most read in too. All of this means that you can tailor your content to your readers. You can also go one step further and sign up to Google Analytics: this is a more detailed picture of your stats, and it is free when you have under a certain amount of views
There you have it, my jumping off points and tips for blogging. Blogging is something that- if you remain to committed to it -can have major pay offs. It looks great on a CV, improves your writing and communication skills, and more importantly it can be one of the most enjoyable things that you’ll ever do! If you have any specific questions about blogging then leave them below, and I will get back to you as soon as I can…

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