As a junior in college, I found myself getting bored over my Christmas break of 2017. I was always stuck in the YouTube or blogger blackhole keeping up on all the latest trends. While myself constantly fascinated in playing around with YouTube’s abilities when it came to content marketing, I got a random thought to take things a step further; starting my own blog. Since some of you may have the same desire to hit the ground running on this project that seems way harder than it really is, here is how to start your own blog in 8 easy steps.
I first started Kayla’s Diary on Wix messing around with different outlines and pages I started adding over time, then it turned into hiring a photographer, then creating a pitch book, and so on. As a finance major, I had no idea this would ever turn into a strong passion of mine.
Starting everything out of a strong weird urge striving to do something different, I had no idea this could ever stand for true marketing or turn into anything. I just wanted to create something I had always valued growing up; YouTube and random blog influencers.
I couldn’t even tell you how I came about creating my website or what was going through my mind while doing so.
Holiday breaks always just got the best of me, considering I was always working on homework, at work, or attending class during the semester. With my calendar lightening up this specific holiday season, one night I ended up creating kaylasdiary.com.
That winter I was living in a house that was snowed in and was practically the size of a shoebox while living with 3-6 other college roomies. I wanted to sit in my room (known as my cave) and put my mind at ease without using much brain power, but also not sitting there starring at the wall.
I somehow got to purchasing a domain, creating my platform, and sitting there for countless hours designing and writing this WHOLE Christmas break. Ever since that point, I have started and stopped my blog posts influenced by my different workloads and niches I was interested in at the time. Regardless of the matter, looking back I wish I would have researched how to successfully launch a blog, yet I learned through trial and error and faking it until making it.
So for all of you out there that are wanting to create your own blog without an idea of where to start, this one is for you. Before we get into it, I created a printable blog launch checklist below to double-check you have all the basics done before launching your amazing platform.
1.Figure out your niche and stick with it.
Even for myself, this is a rather hard thing to follow. If you are successfully niched down, say publishing fashion content that caters to a money-saving crowd or providing how-to guides on all things marketing, this will play in your favor. You will hon in on your target market producing content they will obsess over as they are constantly coming back for more.
When blogs are all over the place (kinda like mine), they are harder to grab the attention of long-time viewers. I’m not saying this can’t be successful, it just normally takes a little more time to hit the ground running with constant visitors.
For Kayla’s Diary, I am all over the place, but that is exactly how I like it. I could niche down and do strictly fashion, but that wouldn’t be me. Personally, I want to write about all things that inspire me or that is going on in my life. My blog seasons will mirror my life seasons, I don’t care about the view numbers — this is a fun outlet for me, and I want to keep it that way.
2. Get to know your Target market through research
Last summer, when I was hoping to get my blog up and running consistently. I researched my favorite bloggers to see the content they were posting, what content pieces had the best outcome for them, and who I would love to connect with eventually. Researching competitors that are in a place you want to be is a great start to brainstorming. But I do suggest deleting these high-up influencers after completing your research.
It is way to easy to get caught up in what others are doing, stumping your own creativity and passion for what you want to strive for. Instead, learn from their actions on what has the best outcome within your niche, how you could do it better, and what other ideas that may have sparked throughout this process.
3. Pick a platform that best suits your market
Starting off my journey I subscribed to a Wix platform that allowed me to completely structure every text, image, and button placed on my page. After hosting there for about a year, I knew it was time to take it a step further. I hired a web developer, picked a WordPress theme and had him transfer all my blog posts, plug-ins, and absolutely everything else I had on my original account to my new one.
This was a game-changer, and I highly recommend looking at the bottom of some of your competition’s webpages to see what platform their website is hosted on and what would work best for your dream blog.
4. Invest in the Right Plugins
There are thousands of different plugins out there. For those that don’t know what a plugin is, it is a downloadable widget that does something specific for your site. For instance, my social media buttons on my page were built from plugins that allow my viewers to be directed to my social media homepage whenever they click on it. Along with that, all my shoppable carousels are built with a different widget.
You can really get fancy with these but keep in mind what has worked for your competitors as most of the successful widgets cost a pretty decent monthly subscription fee. I would like to do a future post on every widget I use and how it helps me in my everyday blogging process — so stay tuned!
5. Create a bulletproof marketing plan
Seriously, create a plan. This sounds so cliche, but it will have a HUGE impact on your growth. I sit down about once a month to brainstorm content I want to produce, strategically when I should be publishing it, what post would be successful for that specific season or holiday, and what revenue streams could be optimized per post.
For instance, you have a fashion blog — for the Christmas season start ramping up holiday party outfits, dresses outfits, your favorite booties, go-to purses, and warm hat outfit ideas. You could monetize by allowing Google Ads on your site, publish sponsored content from your fav clothing brands, or even earn a percentage of your earnings through affiliate programs.
Of course, just starting out you won’t be making bank, and if you are going into this with a money mindset your motivation may not last as long as you may think.
6. Create a special email account
Doing this will allow your subscriber base and brands wanting to reach out and collaborate to easily get ahold of you. Not only that, it looks way more professional than it would be putting your old college email address on your contact page or at the bottom of your website. On top of both those stellar reasons, it will also keep things separate from everything else in your life, making you feel like a true professional in this interesting side project you have going on.
7. Make a pitch deck for every platform you are on
Pitch decks are what you would send to companies that are inquiring about sponsored posts. Whether you have a blog, highly engaged social media account, podcast, or YouTube channel, it is a must to create a PDF file with everything a company may want to know. I will tag a random one off Google here.
Include your subscriber amount, monthly viewers, engagement rates, conversion rates, and anything else that may be crucial to your niched down market value proving your worth in the industry. Even if you are wanting to work with a company that hasn’t spotted you yet, you can shoot them this pitch deck showing what you can offer if they were to ever want to sponsor you at any point in time.
8. Now, put your plan into action
This quite honestly is the hardest stage of it all. Opening the curtains to your life, hard work, and stepping out there with something not many would be brave enough to do is traumatizing. But guess what? It gets easier, way easier. For goodness sake, I’ve talked about my weight gain, not having enough money at one point in my life, and sucking my thumb until I was in middle school without a care.
The more you accept who you truly are and work hard to get to where you want to be, you start to realize the “normal” ones are the ones you should be nervous about. So if you are wanting to hit publish on that blog post you’ve been hiding for years, do it. And if you have wanted to break out of the box of every societal norm, go for it! It may make your heart skip a beat, keep you up at night, or bring you to tears sometimes, but it’s more than worth it.
You will make your future self proud (virtual hug sending your way).
*This post contains affiliate links.