This article is about blog building or how to get a new blog started. I’ll be writing more about what it takes to keep one going in a future post and in an upcoming ebook.
My Blog Building History
I have been blogging for ten years now. Sometimes successfully. Sometimes not. In this article I’m going to share some of what I’ve learned across six different blogs.
I started my first blog, The Mystic Review in August of 2010. For the first year I had an audience of one (thank you Tara) but over the next couple of years the blog’s popularity grew. By 2017 it was getting thousands of views a day.
That was when I stepped away from the occult and shut down the blog I had worked so hard to build.
I started a new Christian blog I called Today’s Christian Life almost immediately. That blog did not do well. So I started a third and a fourth blog. Blog number three was called New Age To Christian. Blog number four was a bible blog, called Scripture Sunday. Despite the cute names, neither caught on.
Then, in late 2019 I started blog number five calling it simply Barbara Graver on Blogger. Within a few weeks, people starting reading it. After a couple of months, that blog blog was receiving several hundred views per day.
Moving My Blog to WordPress
I was happy with my new Blogger blog. But, as much as I loved Blogger, I started to worry about Google killing the Blogger platform as Google has sometimes abruptly discontinued other products.
So, for piece of mind, I made the difficult decision to move to WordPress in late 2020.
This post is not specifically about blogging platforms because I feel that is a decision people have to make on their earn. Instead if focuses on what I’ve learned about blog building. I’m currently working on a short ebook called “Faith Based Blogging” which was an idea I came up with after writing my 6 Steps a Good Nonfiction Book Idea post.
I hope to be able to make “Faith Based Blogging” available (for cheap) at some point next year. But here are some tips I hope will be helpful in the meantime.
Blog Building Do’s and Don’t’s:
- Don’t get too hung up on a name. A domain name (preferably a dotcom) is important but picking the perfect domain is not. In blogs 2 through 4 I used domain names that included popular keywords (Christian, scripture, new age, etc.). One of the problems with this was that these key words were so popular that a zillion websites came up whenever they were entered. My advice? Use a name you like or your own name.
- Don’t go too wide. My blog number 2 blog concept (Christian Living) was too broad. Writing for a broad audience (all Christians) wasn’t effective. Potential readers didn’t identify with my concept. They didn’t feel my blog was “perfect for them.” They also didn’t know what to expect from my blog.
- Don’t go too narrow. Scripture Sunday and New Age To Christian were great names. And I liked writing about these topics – but I wanted to blog about other things too. Yes, the conventional wisdom is that blogs should be VERY niche but if you’re too focused you will eventually rebel.
- Explore a Couple of Different Platforms. I began blogging on Bloggers free blogging platform. If you’ve never blogged before, doing this will give you a chance to see if blogging really is for you. If you decided you want to keep blogging however and think you might prefer WordPress, don’t wait too long to make the switch (it is a lot of work and you will take a hit with traffic).
- Do blog every week. Actually, in my first blog I blogged twice a week. Week in. Week out. For seven years. Now because I’m doing other writing I usually do one post a week. My new goal is to post weekly and write extra posts when I’m able. While blogging regularly doesn’t guarantee success, it is probably the most important thing you can do.
- Define your audience. The first blog I started was relatively niche. Blogs 2 (Christians) and 3 (people who read the Bible) were not. The blog I’m writing now is a good fit for Catholics interested in creativity and inner healing. It isn’t all that narrow but it is perfect for me as a blogger. It gives me space AND focus which is exactly what I need.
- Do promote your posts. When I write a new blog post I use Canva to make an interesting image and auto-schedule to social media. But there are plenty of other platforms like Hootesuite and later. All have free options.
- Do take a multimedia approach. While blogging is usually text based it’s a good idea to include some audio or video too. I plan on adding more video to this blog by making and posting more YouTube videos. For more on this, see my post on Joanne Penn’s Audio for Authors. Nice images are helpful as well.
- Do make it look good. Actually I did this in blogs 2 through four too but I am especially happy with what I’ve done with this one. It’s based on an inexpensive WordPress template I bought from an etsy-based web designer. My $20 purchase included free installation from Eve from Soul Muse Designs and great customer support.
- Don’t spend a lot of money. The old adage, you can’t buy success is absolutely true of blogging. The blog is hosted on the least expensive Bluehost plan available. Images are mostly freebies from pixabay. Video is embedded from my non-premium YouTube channel.
I have a long way to go with this blog but I feel good about it and really am enjoying the process!