So, you want to start a blog? My #1 piece of advice.

So… I was thinking, and decided that when I am in between my #WCW’s and Power Couples, that I am going to dedicate Wednesdays to all things business & blog related. My goal with this is to not only be a resource, but to empower others who might be thinking of starting a blog.

Pacifica Photography x Champagne at Shannon's

I am new to blogging. I am about to make a hell of a lot of mistakes. I thought it would be as neat, as I develop with my blog, and as (I hope!) you follow Champagne at Shannon’s, to give advice on things I learn along the way.  Also, to include things I wish I knew before I started blogging, mistakes I made, and personal tips I have.

Blogging is a new, hot industry, yet it is self-made, so I find that the best resources  are other bloggers. In fact, this blog would not exist without the encouragement & advice of bloggers I know, or without the resources from other bloggers on how to start a blog.  Since I am still new in this world, it might give it more of a raw perspective.

That being said – I hope this is a regular feature that people will find interesting. The more information we can provide as a whole, the more we can all learn about blogging.

I have already gotten a TON of questions from people – all of whom I know personally. The one I get the most often is along the lines of:

“I’ve always wanted to start a blog, or a website of my own – what should I do and how should I do it?”

TL;DR Version – GET STARTED.

Now, the technical stuff is a post for another day, as I am still learning about this (I highly recommend Brittany at Thrifts & Threads – her blog series How To Start A Blog was seriously my guide for all things design / hosting / wordpress, etc) . Believe me, I WILL make a post on this in the distant future, because I learned a lot, including basic coding. And.. to be quite frank.. there are a ton of things I would of done differently, but that is for another day.

What I want to talk about, is really, truly, my #1 biggest advice to anyone who wants to start a blog:

DO IT. RIGHT NOW. ZERO DELAYS.

Seriously though, DO IT. Get started right this second.

Get started the SECOND (not later/tomorrow/in an hour/in a minute).. THE SECOND you decide you want to do it. Do NOT waste any time the SECOND you decide you want to start a blog.

For starters, it will take you a LOT (<<< understatement of the year) more time than you anticipated… and multiply that by 100 if you are working a full-time job, and by 1000 if you are in an extremely demanding field.

If you decide to start a blog with no premise behind it – which is totally okay, by the way – then you have to develop the ideas and find your niche. This takes so much more time than you think – no matter how passionate you are about the blog.

Also, life will get in the way. A lot of very serious personal things came up in my life and as a result, I had to put the blog on the back burner for a few months.

The second you think of your domain, purchase it.

They are inexpensive, and you can reserve your domain before anyone else snags it. I recommend Bluehost. Not only can you get your domain from BlueHost, but as the name implies, you can use them for hosting, as well. They are very easy to work with and makes integration in WordPress a breeze.

You can do your domain separately, like what I did – and I suggest getting hosting a month or two before when you are truly ready to launch so you can take advantage of what you pay for. Also, it keeps you a little bit financially invested initially.

To give an idea on my timing, I came up with the idea without the name in April 2014, came up with the name months later, purchased my domain almost a year ago in November 2014, and purchased hosting in September 2015.

Pacifica Gallery x Champagne at Shannon's

Join Instagram.

After you do that, get on Instagram. Instagram is a great way to get your feet wet with posts, create your aesthetic (this takes time), develop your ‘voice’ (this takes even more time), experiment with hashtags, and start gaining followers and making new insta-friends – which can translate to blog friends and future collabs. It can also create some “hype” for your blog.

Since I have such specific niches, growing organically is very important to me. I track my followers (& unfollows) like a hawk because of this.

While we are on the topic… Things to NOT do on Instagram?:

– Buy followers. This is self explanatory. Though I am a novice, I can ALWAYS tell when followers are purchased. Not only is this unethical, unauthentic, and a waste of money, but you will get unengaged / fake followers. The more developed your niche, the more you want people who are interested in it to follow. Quality over quantity, ALWAYS.

– The Follow / Unfollow game. UGH. This is the most annoying one – even MORE annoying than buying followers.  Follow people within your niche, people you would love to collab with, & people  who inspire you – aka people you would WANT to follow, regardless or not they follow you back. If they follow you back, great! If they don’t, at least you are still following someone rad. Do not follow people with the sole intention to get them to follow you back, just to unfollow them. Even typing that out, I had to stop and think about how ridiculous that sounds.

Authenticity and growing organically with people of similar interests is much more valuable than any number.

FWIW – The ONLY time I ever unfollow anyone is if someone unfollows me first. Anyone I follow, I either know them personally, find them interesting, find them inspiring, and/or dig their feed. I am always flattered if they follow me back because maybe, juuuust maybe, they find one or all of the above in me – which is way more important to me than the number.

 pacifica3

Content! Content! Content!

After you have made the mental commitment to start a blog, start developing your content. This was the first piece of advice other bloggers gave me. Starting in Spring of 2014, I kept an ongoing list in my Notes App in my phone of ideas, content, inspirations, etc. It also helps me with recipe development for the blog to this day.

When you decide you want to start it, that is when your ideas are the freshest. WRITE THEM ALL DOWN. SERIOUSLY.

Not only will it keep you inspired, but they are the roots to your future blog. Those ideas are the foundation to which your content is based on. As you get started, you will refer back to those roots for content inspiration. Even to this day, I still refer to my binder I started in 2009 with my really, really fresh ideas. This is the beginning of your foundation.

With most parts of life, a strong foundation is key to long-term success.

Buying a domain and eventually hosting, creating an instagram, and really cultivating your content are what creates your foundation – but that can only be built if you START. I also have them in order of the least time consuming to the most. I am constantly working on my content, and whenever I am uninspired, I look back on it. Really giving your content the time it deserves is extraordinarily time consuming.

If we are being real, one thing I would of done a tad bit differently was to write actual posts rather than just ideas in a Word Processor, such as Microsoft Word. Even if I never used them. It would of helped me really develop my voice. It sounds like an annoying extra step to a very long process, but in the end, it would of saved me a lot of time.

I’ve talked about the binder I made when I was still in college of all my ideas, well six years later, I still reference it. Little did I know, that that Ed Hardy binder would become the seed to Champagne at Shannon’s.

I will say it until I am blue in the face, starting a quality blog takes a LOT of time, and life WILL get in the way. So start instantly when the seed of idea is planted.

Another thing I did that I regret, is that I wasted too much time focusing on perfection. Getting out there, and getting started is much more important than getting started perfectly. Instead, I delayed my launch date as I chased unattainable perfection. The only person I hurt was myself because I lost so much time, and honestly, would of been launched months earlier.

Now, I want to hear from you – what is your very first piece of advice for starting a blog… or even deeper, a business? Anything you did that you regret? I would really, really love to hear what you have to say.

Wellllll, that’s about all for today – I have a giant conference & a HUGE event in Vegas to coordinate that is in just a few days eeeeek – wish me luck, because I sure as hell need it!

Shannon

 

{ Photos by Bradley Witke // Pacifica Gallery }

  • Comments ( 2 )

  • Lisa McDermott

    great read! I started blogging in 2011, but recently have been in a blog funk and really need to find my story. This read is very helpful 🙂

    • Hi Lisa!! Thank you so much for reading! I am so glad I was helpful. Trust me, I know the funk well and it is not fun, so I am so glad Iw as able to shine some light. Can’t wait to see what you come up with – Let me know so I can check it out & show some love, please! xx Shannon

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