I started a blog 9 years ago and it has turned into my dream job! In fact, my husband recently quit his stressful job to join our business. Blogging (and several other work-from-home revenue streams) is the way we support our family.
What I love about blogging is that it has not only been extremely flexible allowing us to continue to partially homeschool our three boys, but it has opened doors that I never expected. The opportunities have included travel, networking, speaking, TV appearances, two books and so much more…
What I love the most is that I am able to work from home doing what I love while raising my kids. If you are thinking about starting a blog, here are 9 things that you can do to prepare.
1. Set Up a Google Account
You probably already have a Google account, but may not even realize it. If you have a gmail email account or explored G+ in the past, simply go to Google.com and login. If not, then set one up!
Having a Google account is a beautiful thing and will literally open windows and doors for you when you begin blogging. Blogging takes some organization, and you’ll absolutely adore using Google’s free organization tools.
While there are other ways to stay organized, what I love about Google is that Google functions are more universally used, are user friendly and as you collaborate with others, you’ll appreciate having an account.
Even if you use another type of email service, make sure you have a gmail account. This is the account that you’ll want to use when you add or access any Google applications.
My favorite way to collaborate or save something in a way that I can access from any computer is Google Drive. In fact, any file, image or spreadsheet pertaining to my blog is saved as a Google document. It is easier to share with others and allows me to work from any computer…even the one at the vacation resort I am currently using!
2. Centralize Your Passwords
Yes your passwords are stored by your computer or browser, but sometimes that doesn’t function well or you are using a different computer. So, save your passwords in a safe app, in a document that is accessible, in a notebook, etc. Even if you think you’ll remember your passwords, chances are you won’t.
Not every single time.
If you do start a blog, you will find that your password list will continue to grow. And some of those passwords will be required in different formats or in a computer generated form that is impossible to remember.
So, start off SMART with all of your passwords in one place so that you are covered should you forget a password…even the complicated ones!
3. Get a Gravatar Account
What the heck is Gravatar? And why do you need it?
Here’s the deal. A Gravatar is a thumbnail picture or image that is associated with your email address so every time you comment on a blog your image shows up.
While you may not plan on commenting on tons of blogs, you will find that having an easy way to automatically have your blog URL & social media photo show up saves you a lot of time and energy.
Once you sign up with Gravatar, your image will always appear when you leave a comment on other blogs so it’s a great thing to do now.
Using one image that is associated with your blog or brand is important! People like to interact online with people, not logos or random images. I recommend using a photo of yourself instead of logos, pictures of dogs or cats, animated figures, etc. when you comment on blogs.
4. Set Up Social Media Accounts
It’s super important that you set up social media accounts that you’ll associate with your blog so that you can build your social media influence. The top social media accounts that are widely recognized are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat.
You don’t have to set up every social media account listed! Choose two platforms that you already use and spend your initial time getting those working hard for your blog.
Even though I am recommending just starting with two social media platforms, you will want to grab your name or blog name on the others…just in case you want to expand to them in the future.
Set them up with the same email address and password so that you will remember how to access them when the time comes.
5. Get a Good Headshot
You may be saying, wait! what?! I didn’t sign up to have a picture of myself online, but you’ll quickly find out that you need an image that you use everywhere that identifies the person behind the blog.
Because this image will be associated with your blog, your social profiles and other online activities, you want it to be good :). While sitting down for a portrait isn’t my idea of fun, it can make everything easier when you have a photo of yourself you like ready and waiting.
6. Make a Place to Store Ideas
Once you start your blog, you’ll quickly discover that there are lots of ideas, articles, videos and images that get you excited about a blog post. Chances are, you don’t have time to read everything you find, so decide how you want to save all the important places you want to revisit.
I use Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, private Pinterest boards, and Slack. I also use old school notebooks when offline. You don’t need more than one method at the beginning so simply choose one that makes sense to you and gives you the flexility to jot things down when they come to you.
7. Consider the WHY Behind Your Blog
Thinking about why you want to blog and what you want to accomplish can help you get started in the right direction.
I started aimlessly and it took me several years to get on track! Once you know your WHY, it is easier to set up some goals for your blog. Think about all the things that are driving you to blog and list what can make them happen.
The one BIG piece of advice I always give is to always focus on your message. What do you want your readers to take away from your blog?
Let’s chat about your blog name. Seriously, chat. If you were like me, you had no idea the ramifications of the name you chose when you started! That is why I have teamed up with my mentor & friend, Laurie Turk to get you the information you need to make sure your blog name doesn’t suck…and what to do if it already does!
8. Who is Your Blog Reader?
This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s really not. You know why you are blogging, but have you thought about your future readers?
Start throwing around questions about your target audience. For example, if you are starting a recipe blog, are you expecting your readers to be bakers and cooks? Or are they people who cook for their family? Or are they just beginning their cooking journey?
Each of those groups would be approached in a different way when it comes to writing on your blog. Once you know who you are writing TO, it becomes much easier to write down your thoughts.
9. Know What You Like in a Website
I’m guessing that if you are ready to start a blog, you’ve visited other blogs in the past. You’ve probably seen really fabulous blogs, and ones that almost make your eyes bleed. Pay attention to the elements that make blogs readable, aesthetically pleasing and calming to you.
Also take note of the things that are confusing, and make you want to leave a blog. Use this knowledge when it comes to setting up your own site.
PS – I want to invite you to a webinar we’re doing “The 9 Secrets You Need to Know When Starting Your DREAM Blog.” Laurie Turk and I have put our combined blogging experience of 18 years to bring you these 9 things we wish we had known. I hope you can join us!