These ten tips for starting a new blog for writers are from my own experience; I created six “Quips and Tips” blogs on WordPress. Most of my themes were created by Solostream — they make great themes, and offer fantastic support.
And here are the top 10 things I’ve learned from creating my blogs.
But before the tips, a quip! Substitute the words “starting a website” for “writing”, and you’ll see what it feels like to create a blog…
“Writing a book is an adventure: To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.” – Winston Churchill.
Your blog is just like your books or articles: monsters that you’ve wrestled with until you’re bloody and exhausted and limp as a dishrag…and that you’ve suddenly triumphed over and flung out for the world to see.!
To learn more about earning money with your blog, read ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett.
And, here are my ten tips for starting a new blog for writers…
10 Tips for Starting a New Blog for Writers
1. Decide if you should hire a web designer. I like the idea of knowing how to add, change, delete or create blog buttons or widgets for my blogs. I like controlling my own ads and links. At this point in my writing career, I don’t want to hire someone to design and maintain my website because I like doing it! Plus, I like using my brain in new ways and learning what goes on behind the scenes of web design.
2. Schedule time to create your blog. Oh, is it time-consuming! Picking a theme (two of my WordPress themes are from Solostream), planning the layout, adding ads, writing articles, playing with the colors, adding your own logo or images (which I haven’t done), figuring out how you want your tags to look, learning about keywords….it’s not an overnight romp. Read Tips for Choosing the Best WordPress Theme for Your Blog for more info.
3. Research different WordPress or Blogger themes. There are dozens of free themes out there; I used free WordPress and Blogger themes in January 2008, when I first decided to create my blogs. However, I soon decided that I wanted to get serious about blogging….and that involved purchasing WP-Magazine Theme 1.0 from Solostream (featured on my Quips & Tips for Achieving Your Goals blog).
4. Check for website support. If you tackle web design on your own with something like a Solostream theme, find out if website support is included. This can include website forums with questions and answers, or even direct support from the website designer him or herself.
5. Scour website support forums for answers. When you’re starting a website, you’ll have a gazillion questions about everything from FTP to RSS – and the bloggers who’ve gone before you had the same questions! If you purchase a theme, you may find your answers in that forum, comments section, or in emails from the web designer. Read or search those website support forums carefully. I’ve also found it helpful to simply Google my question.
6. Pay close attention to the details. In the WP-Magazine Theme comments section, I noticed the same questions and answers several times. Installing your theme properly means that you have to do exactly what the instructions say. It’s precise work – which is why many bloggers hire web designers when they’re starting a new blog. Starting a website is easier when someone does all the “behind the scenes” work for you, especially if you don’t have the time or energy to do it yourself.
7. Keep neat notes. When I started my blogs, I didn’t keep notes. So far, it’s not a problem because it’s all fresh in my mind…but in six months when, for instance, I want to change my four 125×125 ads to a single 300×250 ad, I may be kicking myself for not leaving myself notes. Granted, the steps are on Pollock’s WP-Magazine Theme instructions, but sometimes even re-discovering the answers can be time-consuming. If I were to start a website again, I’d write everything down: “How to Install the Popularity Contest Plugin”, “How to Change the Number of Comments Displayed”, etc.
8. Get oxygen flowing in your brain. This tip for starting a new blog for writers involves getting yourself outside to keep the oxygen flowing and your brain healthy. Building a blog can cause frustration, anger, and sometimes even tears (though I never cried, I did yell at the cat a couple of times). When you’re drowning in oceans of code and feel like you can’t breathe, take a break. Step away from the computer!
9. Put the more difficult things aside until later. I was so excited about starting this website, Quips & Tips for Successful Writers, that I couldn’t focus on the top content box. So I deleted it. A couple days later, I realized that I really did want the box full of feature articles, most popular posts, etc – and I tackled it again. I installed it with no problems. When you’re starting a new blog, put the complicated things aside until later, when you’re ready.
10. Think like a computer programmer. Left brained thinking — logical, analytical, sequential — when yuo’re starting a new blog is crucial. Every little detail counts. For more tips, read 5 Steps to Setting Up a Blog for Writers.
Michael Pollock at Solostream has been absolutely fabulous in answering all my questions. Thanks, Michael!
And, my websites are hosted through HostGator – their technical support is also amazing. They’re knowledgable, friendly, polite, and offer 24 hour support.
Help for Writers and Bloggers
If you have any questions or thoughts on these ten tips for starting a new blog for writers, please comment below…