How to Start a Quality Blog With No Budget or Experience
Blogging is one of the most awesome hobbies out there.
Not only is it an incredible creative outlet that allows you to collect your thoughts and enhance your writing ability, but it's a great way to build your personal brand, impress potential employers and share your skills and interests with friends–and heck, the world!
While it would be great if we could all become the next Tavi Gevinson, we are each capable of creating top-tier pieces of editorial even if we don't necessarily achieve mainstream success. I personally blog for fun (if it picks up widespread success, that's great, but I initially began doing it to write about things I love). It's been a great way to connect with all kinds of people I wouldn't have known otherwise, while giving essentially anyone the opportunity to read about my joys, experiences and one-on-one interviews.
Whether you have a passion for fashion, you thrive for the Beyhive or you have an itchin' to get in the kitchen, we all have people, places and things that inspire us and stimulate our mind.
But while that's all fine and dandy, a grand idea with no budget, no strong contacts and no experience in our fields of interest can leave us scrambling, wondering where to begin.
Well, fear not, because we have everything you need to get your blog up, running and booming in no time! Follow the tips below to see what we mean.
1. Do Adequate Brainstorming Before Committing to a Blog Name
Your blog name will virtually define you, so you want it to be clever, catchy and concise. You want to make it easy to remember and also something that stands out from other blogs. Google your interests and see which associated words pop up that may give you name-inspo. Take a look at other blogs and get a sense of the types of names out there. Then, before you commit, send your final picks to friends, family and other people whose opinion you value, and get a consensus of the best choice.
2. Create a Bucket of Five Total Topics to Discuss
Your blog is essentially your brand, so it's important to make sure everything you post is very you. You're free to cover varying topics, but selecting more than five will take your platform in a confusing direction. For instance, my blog's coverage bucket contains music, Los Angeles lifestyle, beauty, food and fitness. So if I were to attend a Beverly Hills clothing boutique opening and interviewed its owner, that would fit into L.A. lifestyle—but if I were to attend a runway show during New York Fashion Week, it wouldn't make sense to write about it because strict fashion is not in my bucket.
3. Take Advantage of Free Photo Opportunities
Photos are the driving force behind successful blogs–especially when you don't have a lot of original content right off the bat. You don't need to have a lot of experience or contacts in order to show off your creativity behind the camera (or cell phone, for that matter). Or if you're trying to tell a story, create a list or make a point, and you don't have original shots, don't be afraid to utilize Instagram. It's free, has tons of unique content and its fair to use. There are also free stock image sites like Pixabay. Sure, their selection may be a bit limited, but when you're getting your blog off the ground, take advantage of what you can get at no cost! You can also reach out to brands (look for media contact info somewhere on the company's webpage) and ask for photos of which they approve. Whatever you do, do not steal images. If you see Sweety High (or any other site), for example, posting a Shutterstock or Getty image, those are shots bought by the site. They are not fair game. And when it comes to editing your photos, Photoshop costs money, whereas BeFunky can do the same basic tasks, but for zero cost.
4. Create Social Media Accounts to Coincide Strictly With Your Blog
Having a personal Instagram or Twitter account is one thing, but if promoting your blog and spreading your word is what you aim to do, you should definitely create separate accounts that are solely for your brand. Leave the slumber party pics on your personal accounts and keep your blog accounts strictly business. Post cool events you cover, food you cook and interesting people you interview, or show off your awesome photography skills. Tag anyone you feature on your blog and provide your followers with links to your posts. Bottom line is: Keep things professional and create social media content that will attract random users who aren't necessarily just your friends and family. And as mentioned in No. 2, be sure whatever you post falls into your bucket of five.
5. Engage With Other Bloggers in a Similar Realm as You
One of my favorite parts about having a blog is interacting with complete strangers on social media. I enjoy looking up various hashtags and locations and leaving comments on photos that resonate with my own brand. It's a great way to not only interact with likeminded individuals, but you get to draw readers over to your own blog or social media accounts.
6. Create Engaging Posts That Raise Questions or Give Readers New Information
Even if you don't have original content based on interviews or photos, you can still create engaging content. Raise some kind of point, pick up on some trend people haven't widely written about, create a fun listicle or find a few up-and-comers in your field of choice and write about them and why you think people need to pay attention. For example, my blog features a lot of music, and one day I found three really cool, rising indie pop artists who at the time may not have been known to the general public. I didn't have any exclusive info on these artists, they were simply just people I found over time. The post piqued quite a bit of interest, and two out of the three artists RT'd my post on Twitter. Also, coinciding with producing quality content, you must produce content regularly. Sure, your posts may be solid, but if you're only updating twice a month, that's no way to gain a loyal readership. Keep people wanting to come back to your blog! Updating 3-5 times a week is pretty standard for someone getting their site off the ground.
7. Don't Be Afraid to Reach Out to Anyone Whose Work You Admire
Let's get real: People love attention! And especially entrepreneurs with on-the-rise businesses. I can tell you from firsthand experience that most people are willing to complete an interview with you (even if just via email) to promote their brand. Come up with some clever questions that will not only publicize who you are interviewing, but will also help tell an interesting story about the person or their company. If you are not the world's best writer, simply post a Q&A without crafting up an actual story. But again, be sure to make the questions catchy. Prove to these essential strangers you are contacting that you can think outside of the box.
8. Take Advantage of Free WordPress Template Options
Fact: One of the biggest blog struggles is coming up with the perfect interface. You're just getting started, so no one is expecting your platform to look like a full-blown website. Instead, don't worry about being too fancy. Take advantage of free WordPress template options and just make sure your selection reflects you, your brand and what you are initially trying to "sell" by blogging.
Blogging isn't the only rewarding thing you can do for yourself for free! Check out THESE special stories that will make you want to volunteer!