Have you ever thought about starting your own blog? Or maybe you’ve just started and are looking to build? Or perhaps you have been doing this a little while now and just want to learn some new tricks to keep your content fresh? If any of those questions appeal to you then maybe this new section of my blog will be right up your street.
I have been blogging for just over a year and a half now, and I am still learning new tips and tricks every single day! But I also get a lot of messages from followers that are interested in setting up their own blogs – whether that is a science blog or not – asking for my advice and asking for my thoughts on a whole variety of blogging and social aspects. So, I had an idea to start this new feature of my blog called [Science Blogging 101] and share all my advice, tips and tricks as I go along and any mistakes I have made in the process. And of course any of these tips and blog posts can be applied to any category of blog that you want to – but obviously I might be more biased towards the science!
The most common question I get asked is ‘How can I get started writing a blog?’ So to kick off this new series I thought it would be a great idea to feature some quick fire tips for wannabe bloggers, newbie and more experienced bloggers. Then I want to build on all those tips and much more in future blog posts again. I want to be a blogger that can share great content but also share some of my knowledge on how YOU can create your own little corner of the internet.
So, welcome to the first post from [Science Blogging 101] and let’s get started with 6 quick fire tips for wannabe bloggers. These may be the absolute basics but everyone has got to start somewhere!
Think up a name!
The obvious place to start and probably something that will take you much longer than you think. But it is something that you cannot start a blog without. Your blog name is going to represent you and your content so it needs to be memorable, tell the reader what might be in store and not be too long. I like alliteration and I am lucky enough that my name starts with the same subject I wanted to talk about, and so Soph talks science was born. It was simple. I thought it was catchy. And does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s just me talking about science things.
Decide what platform you want to use!
Probably the biggest decision you will have to make when setting up your blog. There are a host of websites out there that will host your blog. Platforms like WordPress, BlogSpot, Medium and Tumblr. All with different pros and cons. Obviously, I opted for WordPress and am still using the free plan. I feel there is so much you can do with WordPress as there are hundreds of layout templates you can use and are able to customise them with images, colour palettes and widgets however you want to mostly. So it is definitely worth doing some research on which platform is best for your needs.
Another point worth noting at this stage is whether you want your blog to be self-hosted or not. As you can see my blog is sophtalksscience.wordpress.com. A pretty ugly URL at the moment! But that is because WordPress is hosting my blog as I am on the free plan, but it also technically means I don’t officially own it and it could be deleted at any time. So at the moment, I am looking into upgrading my blog so it is self-hosted. This does charge but it is not as much as I thought it would be. Also then remember that you need to purchase your domain name too, so sophtalksscience.com. In my opinion, if you are just starting out and experimenting with blogging then the free plans work perfectly well. If you know you want to do this long term then making that purchase might be the better option. Again, just think about what your blog’s needs will be.
Define your voice.
What do you want your messages to be? What do you want readers to take away from your posts? Defining what you want to share right at the beginning can help you to stay on the right tracks, do the right research and share the blog posts that your readers will want to keep coming back for. My voice has evolved over time which naturally blogs do, but it is always good to know what you want to get out of this as well as what you want your readers to get out of your blog.
Your blog isn’t going to be much use without any content so put that pen to paper – or more likely open up that laptop and get typing! Find an environment that is best for you to work in so your voice comes out true to you. Get your ideas down on paper, bulk them out and then edit, edit, edit! I would probably get a few drafts under your belt before going live with your blog because you don’t want to set it up and then be M.I.A for a little while. So having that back up of content ready to go will help you get started and not worry about having to write more as soon as your site is published. It might be worth slightly considering your blog categories too. You want all your blog posts to fit into a handful of categories which will help your reader navigate your site but also help you to stay on track with your defined voice too.
Think about your blog schedule.
Blogging can be another full time job. Not only have you got to research your topics, you’ve got to be the writer, the editor, the publisher, the marketer, the photographer and the CEO all rolled into one. So, you know your current schedule and how you like to work best, so think about how often you want to post and set a day too. And for the first few months at least, stick to it! I decided I wanted to post twice a week on Mondays and Fridays. Having this set schedule helped me build my blog as readers knew when to expect the next post. Now I am posting a little less frequently as I finish my PhD but I have already build that community. If your schedule is erratic to begin with, it may be more difficult to build your blog community. It doesn’t matter whether it’s every day or once a month – just have an idea of what will suit you best and stick with it. Remember that you have to fit in all the writing and editing too!
JUST DO IT!
When people contact me asking whether they should set up a blog, this is the advice I give them. What have you got to lose? You have a space on the internet to express your creativity, be you and improve your writing. Give it a go. Have fun! You never know what it might lead to. But you will never know it you don’t just try!
Don’t get bogged down
in all the details though.
Blogging is supposed to be fun and a way for you to express yourself. These tips are just guides to getting you started and the first things you need to think about. Most of them can be changed further down the line as you discover and define what you want your little space of the internet to represent.
Once you’ve done all that you are now a blogging newbie – yay! – and ready to move on to the next level. Stay tuned for my quick fire tips for newbie bloggers coming soon and for further blog posts to share more advice on each of these points here.
Are you thinking of starting a blog? What would you like to know more about before starting? Or if you’ve just created your blog, what do you want to know then?
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