Since I hopefully convinced you on Tuesday that you need to start up your own blog, the next logical step is to supply resources to get that blog up and running. The beginning is the worst part because you feel like you’re just writing posts to yourself and haven’t fully figured out your voice yet, and it’s all very strange and new. But there are so many tools out there to connect you with other bloggers, connect you with brands, and make blogging an overall more enjoyable experience.
I’ve signed up for…and I want to be completely accurate here…hundreds of thousands of sites, blog networks, and the like. A lot of the blog networks are more helpful in their home countries, because apparently nothing is available to Canadians, but I’ve tested them all out along with different design sites and a billion other things. After this, you won’t have a single excuse left to not start blogging.
Web & Graphic Design
The first excuse you have when it comes to getting started. No one wants to launch until everything looks nice and sleek. I understand. And now I’m taking away that excuse with the following list.
Bluehost – This is my preferred hosting site. They’re helpful and you get everything you need for a reasonable price. Their customer service is great, it works well with WordPress, I have zero complaints!
WordPress – Bluehost will host the site but you’ll need to design it still. You can also use Blogger, Tumblr, etc. but I find that WordPress and its widgets/plugins make life so easy…more time blogging, less time crying over not being able to figure out how to add social media icons to the end of every post, ja feel?
(Here’s a free WordPress e-course if you need help getting started!)
Envye – This is the site where I got my blog theme! Dana makes themes for Blogger & WordPress, plus she also sells Photoshop actions, fonts, and a few other fun things. You could get a free theme, but there’s a good chance a lot of people will have it and it’ll be fairly basic. Dana’s themes are easy to use and look spectacular, so I’d recommend it if you’re ready to make the investment. Plus, if you’re planning on having your blog for a while, it’s not that expensive. If you’re just giving blogging a try and aren’t sure about your commitment, definitely opt for one of the themes you can find within WordPress.
Logomakr – This is a site that I didn’t know about until Carley showed it to me yesterday. You can make free logos with all sorts of cool clip art that is leagues above the Clip Art of Microsoft Word 95.
Canva – This site was one of the most exciting things I found, but with a glitch. It has the sizes for proper Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media assets and helps you to make some seriously NICE looking artwork to go along with your blog posts and other content. However, I haven’t been able to get it to work even once to be the proper banner size on the first go. I’m thinking this is more of an issue of Facebook/Twitter changing their formatting and Canva not updating to it yet. But wow, does this site ever make me look like a graphic design wizard.
Afterlight – I know a lot of people swear by VSCO Cam, but I never caught onto it for some reason. I’m in love with Afterlight. I can edit a photo to be looking its best (plus add the border that makes all my Instagram photos look like they’ve been hole punched in) and its high/mid/low level colour filters help me to make it look like every photo was taken in natural light…when let’s be honest, that is almost never the case.
Now that you’ve got everything looking half decent, you’ll probably want to sign yourself up for some blogger networks. It’s early now and you won’t likely get any brand offers right off the bat but it’s a good way to see who else is in your niche, plus there are always contests and events happening that you can get involved in!
The Blog Bar – Okay, I’m starting with TBB because it’s less of a blogger network (connecting bloggers with brands) and more of a blogger community (connecting bloggers with bloggers). You can follow other bloggers and message them, and you can post your articles on their homepage to share with the gang. It’s very friendly and a very good place to start.
The Blogger Programme – I love TBP because they’ve always got a ton of cool brand partnerships going on. It’s become a hobby of mine to click on the dozens of things I’d love to work on…and then see how many of them are available for Canadians to apply for. Usually it’s about 1/30. But the 1/30 is worth it. I applied last week to go on a free cruise around Italy. It’s a good way to see the different types of campaigns brands like to create.
Blogger’s Lounge – BL is really cool because they set up campaigns between bloggers and brands but they also have a blog with all sorts of tips and tricks. They recently had a campaign with Regal Rose (a brand I LOVE) so I know we have the same taste in brands…and then I turn around and learn about the best WordPress plugins and how to write “evergreen content”. I feel like they’re a very kind maternal figure that watches over me and gives advice when needed.
#paid – This one is for Instagram only, but can still tie into your blog persona (I figure I’ll just throw all this info out there and you can do what you want with it). #paid will partner you with brands, with you being able to set your own asking price for posts. Just something to think about! I think it’s a cool idea.
Okay. You’ve got the site. You’ve got the networks. But aren’t you feeling a little lonely? Some of these bloggers are friends and some are just people I admire, but I’d recommend browsing each of their blogs and seeing what you think.
Amy Valentine – fashion & festivals
Random Acts Of Pastel – pastel pastel pastel lifestyle
8Balloons – greeting cards and paper and very calming
Disasters Of A Thirty-Something – I literally cry laughing every time I end up here
Smart Pretty And Awkward – the first blog I ever started reading faithfully. Consistently good advice
A Music Blog Yea? – every day I log into Facebook and see another super cool thing Alicia did
Turn The Record Over – music and Toronto, what else do you need?
There are tons of different things that could be helpful for you when starting a blog. Mine is mainly based around music, so what’s useful for me might be completely worthless to someone else. Everything above is just to get you started. The below links are just a few more things that can’t be categorized but could make all the difference.
Meetup – A site that allows you to create an event (a “meetup” if you will) (because that’s literally what it’s called) for whatever you want. You could use it to create a blogger meetup in your city, or you could use it to create a meetup for fans of a specific band/clothing brand/whatever you want. But obviously, be careful about who you meet from the internet, blah blah blah stranger danger. IDK I’ve met a lot of friends off of the internet and none of them have catfished me yet. But be careful.
How To Earn Money Blogging – Just a nice little article I found that helps you to get thinking about the different ways you could end up making your blog profitable. It’ll take time, but I think it helps to at least start thinking about it a little bit now. Prepare yourself for the future and all that.
Traffic Generators – This article has a few WordPress plugins that can help you to generate traffic to your blog (from using Pinterest to popups to RSS readers).
Bloglovin‘ – I’ll be honest with you, I feel like I missed the golden age of Bloglovin’ and have come in at a time when it’s harder to gain followers. That being said, I still find it incredible useful for following multiple bloggers in one location and seeing when everyone has posted new content. It also makes it easier for people to follow me…if they so choose.
Infamous To Influential – Okay, so this course is expensive. I have not signed up for it yet. However, I 100% believe it’s worth it and I 100% trust Alex. I’ve been following her since she started “instawithalex” and she gains actively participating followers more easily than I breathe (I have asthma). I feel like I’m going to inevitably sign up for this at some point and you’re going to see my Instagram followers spike and you’ll know why. So this course is here if you want it.
FemaleBloggerRT – This one is for female bloggers (as proven by the name of the account). Follow them and tag them in your posts, they’ll retweet it out to their following of other female bloggers! It’s fantastic and super easy to do…probably the lowest commitment for the highest reward in comparison to anything else on the list.
So hopefully these resources will help you to get yourself up and running a little bit. Or maybe this was all a waste of your time…in which case, wow. You’re being very harsh right now. Are you a Gemini?
Tweet me and tell me you’ve started a blog so I can stalk you. I’m not kidding, I want to read every blog on earth. Send them.