Blogging for Basics Pt.1

April 14, 2016

If starting a blog were easy, I wouldn’t have one anymore. Too many talented writers would have dived into this already condensed pool. There would be nobody left to read my content. Even after nearly 5 years of blogging, I rewrote the first sentence in this article upwards of 10 times. Even after hundreds of articles posted and millions of views, the best article idea I could come up with this week was “how to start a blog.”

I’ve proudly taught hundreds of people these tips over the past few years. Surprisingly, I’ve always been too lazy to write this article. I’ve spent 10 hours straight typing an narration of a date I went on, but this content is much more important to me. I’m very excited to share my insight and advice with my readers. I have found purpose in my writing, and an identity within my blog.

There will be multiple parts of this blog series. I’m going to go over the absolute basics (this post), maintaining your blog and building yo’ brand.

So, you want to start a blog?

When I started my blog it was to give myself credibility as a stylist. Although I am no hater of attention, none of this was in pursuit of fame. I had never been a strong writer, so my content was pretty weak. Fortunately for me, it was 2011 and reading fashion blogs wasn’t yet mainstream. I thought I was just taking my Livejournal game to the next level. I continued blogging primarily because of the feedback I received. I was inspiring people to dress cute and be fearless in their dating life. # G O A L Z.

If you don’t know why you’re doing something, you aren’t going to put the proper amount of time & effort into making it successful. I met with an awesome girl this winter who was looking to start her own blog. She was a health and fitness fanatic who wanted to share her insight with others with a common interest. The summer prior she was involved in a boating accident that resulted in her losing an arm. As she began to recover from her accident she started searching for workout tips from people with similar limitations. The problem? There weren’t any. Even those who had major audiences from the prosthetic community weren’t providing her with the content she desired, so she sought to create it.

Like myself, most of you probably won’t be driven by something so specific. Your reason may be a strong interest in journalism, an affinity for celebrity gossip or a desire to share your outfits with the world. That’s cool too. As long as you’re driven by something, you have a chance at maintaining a blog.

choose the right platform

I could list off many many web platforms, but to keep it simple I’ll go with the 4 most popular. Blogspot, WordPress, Squarespace, Tumblr. These are your most popular options, and thus the platforms that sites like mine offer the most assistance for.

Blogspot: Basically sucks, which is shocking since it’s owned by Google. The layouts are confusing, and the site itself hasn’t been properly updated in years. Naturally a Google owned website is good for SEO, but this bare-bones platform is really only good if you’re studying abroad.

WordPress: I have been on WordPress for ~4ish years. I doubt I’ll ever move my content elsewhere. They offer the best free templates, which is great for beginner bloggers, and they allow for multiple users. Although I don’t think they are the best option for photography based websites, I think for editorial based blogs, this is your best bet.

SquarespacePretty AF. If you want a good-looking blog that looks professional without trying, Squarespace is for you. It is not free, but if you’re willing to invest a little, you’re guaranteed to have a beautiful website. I also highly recommend Squarespace for photography based websites.

Tumblr: If you still aren’t sure of the first question, why you want to start a blog, start with Tumblr. It doesn’t have to be your end-all, but you can buy the URL, and you can shamelessly re-blog. It will help you create a creative vision for what you intend your 2.0 blog to look like.

Already have a blog and hate the platform you’re on? You can download your content from one site, and transfer it to another. I’ve done it, and I can tell you there are a number of Youtube tutorials out there waiting to help you out.

choosing a name

For a short period of time, my blog was called “Collegiete Style Diaries.” Yes, misspelt and all. Obviously not on purpose. For the next 3.5 years I was Sparkles & Secrets. Upon graduating college, I could no longer take myself seriously with that brand name. Can you blame me? Although the name perfectly told the story of what the content of my site was, I out-grew it. I came up with “Mack in Style” about a year ago. It stuck no matter what else I brainstormed. Even if I couldn’t get the damn twitter handle.

Choosing whether or not to incorporate your name,  is dependent on what you want the site to become. If you want to be an editorial site (Muse, Elite Daily, Barstool) with multiple writers, maybe choose a more generic name that fits your image for the blog. Having a cheesy blog name is like having an ugly book cover. The content can be amazing, and there are still going to be people who refuse to read it. At the end of the day, avoid cliches and follow your gut. Ask yourself: is this name on-brand with the message I want to convey?

content

I’m going to touch on content a lot more in the next part of this series, where I discuss maintaining your blog– which is the real challenge, btw. However, I realize in order to envision what you want your blog to look and feel like, you need to know what you’re selling. After all, the content is the absolute most important part of your blog. This is why so many people fall off the map. Think of at least 10 article ideas right away. You may not publish half of them, but at least you have a direction. You don’t need a super specific theme. Don’t get too niché with it, or you’ll prematurely lose interest in your own material.

Do not post more than once or twice a week. I can promise you you’ll run out of content very quickly. Magazines are put together by dozens of people who perform countless brainstorming sessions. It’s okay to post a few times a month, as long as you’re consistent. If I can promise you one thing, it is you will never be posting an article every single day.

See you next week where we discuss MAINTAINING your blog and coming up with consistent content!!!

 

More about Mackenzie

Retired scene queen living in Astoria, New York with my boyfriend Ben. Accidentally started blogging in 2011, haven't stopped since. Lover of Nutella, hater of white jeans after labor day. Graduate of Suffolk University with a degree in Sociology. During the day I work for Petrossian Caviar, the world's largest caviar supplier and buyer. I have a wonderful life, and I'm excited to share it with you. Also, I have seen every episode of Law & Order: SVU.

  • Mackenzie, great advice on starting a blog. I have my blog built into my website for better SEO on the site for my business. Is there any advantage or disadvantage to having a blog off-site (in other words separate from my business website)?