First and foremost, rest assured that the start-up costs for blogging are low. Score! Secondly, nobody taught me how to build a website or a brand. It took hours on hours, days on days, months on months, years on years to fine tune it all…and guess what? It’s still an experiment sometimes! That being said, remember to give yourself patience.
Here’s the general breakdown you’ll need in order to start.
1. Find your niche
Some bloggers blog about fashion. Others food. Some talk about DIY while others obsess over travel, like me! But what is it about your platform that is going to make you stand out? How are you going to be different than the travel blogger before you? What is YOUR point of difference? I started my blog with two main parts – luxury and adventure. Both of these subjects are still quite broad, but I try and elevate them through beautiful photos that make viewers want to book a plane ticket. As I’ve evolved, I’ve incorporated various buckets into The Road Les Traveled including health, yoga, and my LimitLes travel series.
2. Come up with a name
This one may take some time, but that’s okay. Be patient and be creative. I thought long and hard about the name of my blog, and I finally called my family and best friend for a brainstorm sesh. The first thing out of my best friend’s mouth was, “Of course, it’s got to be The Road Les Traveled.” Sometimes I wonder how she does it, how she can just blurt stuff out so effortlessly! That’s what best friends are for, to be your second brain. Little does she know, that idea of hers was a huge gift.
3. Buy a domain
I wanted to secure theroadlestraveled.com ASAP. I checked this website to make sure it was available, and it wasn’t. Waawaaaa. I had to have it, so I found out who owned it at the time through Go Daddy’s registry. Turns out, another ‘Leslie’ owned the domain, and she was an avid cyclist – hence why she’d come up with The Road Les Traveled herself. Great minds, y’all. I found her email address and asked her if she’d be willing to part with it because she’d owned it since 2001 and hadn’t created anything yet. I told her I was creating a travel blog, and that I reallyyyyyy really really needed it. Begging isn’t becoming, but sometimes it’s imperative. It was my lucky day. She happily obliged to give me the domain name!
4. Pick a platform
In the beginning of my blogging career, I chose Squarespace. It’s simple, pretty and user friendly. I worked on WordPress at a previous job and liked it, but I was drawn towards Squarespace’s clean designs and templates. All Squarespace plans include fully-managed cloud hosting, ensuring websites remain available at all times. I’ve since made the switch to WordPress because it’s more customizable with a massive amount of themes, plugins and features.
5. Design it
Ohhh. Ahhh. Aesthetics are important as you want visitors to have a great user experience when they visit your blog. Is it eye-catching? Is it user-friendly? Is it clustered with ads or obstructive headings? I’ve received many compliments on my design because it’s clean and streamlined while providing useful content and beautiful imagery. I designed my first website by myself. I said if it was successful after a couple years, I’d hire a developer for a more professional look. That’s what you see now!
6. Build a brand, build an audience
Branding is everything these days. You’ve already started with creating a name and an overall look to your site, but branding goes beyond a blog. Take Chrissy Teigen for example. She’s a supermodel, wife to John Legend, an author, all the while keeping a spunky presence on social media (but seriously does anyone remember when she posted her bare boob on Instagram (#freethenipple) four different times while Instagram retaliated by deleting each one? Censorship is just the worst.) Anywho, yeah. Her personality is her brand. You can elevate yours by injecting personality in your writing style, creating a logo, even doing product extensions of your brand – such as writing a cookbook.
7. Write, write, write, write, write (werk, werk, werk, werk, werk)
Well, duh. Content, content, content. And compelling content will drive you. This is uber important in blogging as creating useful and shareable content is what will up your traffic numbers and overall clout as a blogger. Don’t worry, it will get better as you go along! Oh also, you’ve got to be passionate about this stuff or it will show in your writing. Do what you love, love what you do. (I actually really hate that quote, but it seemed fitting here.)
To get that content, you’ll need to travel…or need to do whatever it is that you’re actually writing about. Beauty, fashion, food, DIY, lifestyle, etc. You’ll need to gain a credible position in the industry to talk about something that people are interested in. Nothing does this more than getting out and exploring the world, creating partnerships with big players in the industry as you go. Note: When you travel, you can’t forget step #7. Multitasking is key.
9. Never give up
NEVER. If you want something bad enough, you’ll find ways to make it happen. Blogging requires hard work and many hours of dedication each day, each week, each month. Build on it, and you will do great things. Keep on going!
Over to you! Do you have a successful blog? Tell me about it. How did you get started?