How to start a BLOG & actually stick with it!

Throughout my time as a blogger, I've learned a lot (and made some crazy mistakes). My journey has been so incredible and rewarding, and I want that feeling for all of my readers and fellow bloggers. Having my own corner of the internet really gives me motivation and pride - pride in the work I put into my website, and motivation to improve as an author, student, and influencer. It's really exciting to discover a new passion, because you kind of get this giddy, "night-before-Christmas" feeling. Since I've been making Peace & Blessings a full time priority, I am so happy. I go to sleep excited for the day to come, and it seems like the hours are flying by as I work to improve every aspect of my blogging life.

For those of you who admire this, and have even a 1% urge to start your own blog, now is the time to do it. Seriously, I can guarantee that this wont be a bad decision for you. I haven't regretted having a blog for a day. I think the biggest obstacle that people face is the initial hurdle called starting the process. I don't really remember how I figured out the steps of starting a blog, but since I've been at this for almost 4 years, I want to share my thoughts on how to start a blog, and actually enjoy the process;

1 // Figure out your goal: Personally, I think this step should come before anything else. Knowing what your goal is will help guide the direction that you take with development, branding, and posting. My current goal as a blogger is to influence and connect with other brands/bloggers, so a lot of my work is done through networking. I spend a lot of time conversing with brands and bloggers, and creating posts around it. I try to create posts that help people to create more traffic on my site, and break out my Canon camera to snap pin-worthy photos for my posts. That wasn't always my goal though - when I started out, I just wanted to write. It's what I enjoyed and I felt a sense of accomplishment once I hit that "publish" button. For the first couple years as a blogger, I didn't even know how to track my site analytics, I just focused on writing. What is going to be your goal as a blogger?

2 // Pick your platform and your theme: I use Blogger as my platform and it works perfectly fine for me. The two other popular platforms are Wordpress and Tumblr. I have a personal Tumblr, and I think it's an amazingly easy platform to use, and great for photo-heavy blogs. Wordpress is a paid platform, but they give you so much more for your buck. I'd consider Wordpress an advanced level platform (hence why I'm a baby blogger still on blogger) because it's user interface is harder to understand. From what I have seen, you can move your blog over onto Wordpress from blogger. So, my advice - start with Blogger or Tumblr, and gradually make the move to Wordpress.

Deciding on your theme is really exciting. There are thousands of free themes to choose from on the internet. I just type in "free blogger templates" and start browsing. Don't be afraid to change your bog theme - I've re-branded myself about 3 times. I think it's important to get creative and unique with your blog theme. Pick something that embodies you and makes you excited to look at your blog. As time goes on, editing and even creating your own thing will be a piece of cake!

3 // Brand yourself: Another fun step. Designing your blogging "brand" is as easy as opening on your computer. I designed my header myself with that website, and love it. I decided on yellow and pink accent colors and have tried to sprinkle that branding throughout my blog (hence the yellow links and pink heading bar). I also created a media kit that debuts me as an internet personality and fashion influencer. Your branding has a lot to do with your style of writing, your theme, and topics you talk about. I try to stay consistent with my branding - for example, I use the same signature at the end of each post, use the same colors and fonts throughout the blog, and more. Get creative with this and take a chance designing your own header, about me section, signature, etc. If you aren't sure how to do all of these things, just drop me a line!

4 // Make a list of post ideas: I have a notebook where I keep an ongoing list of blog ideas. The biggest part of your blog is content, so keeping all of your ideas in one spot is a good idea. Sometimes I'll draft up a post if I think of an idea while I'm on my laptop, that way I have it saved when I'm ready to sit down and write it. I don't think it's essential that you pick a universal topic to blog about - it's more about finding your voice. So, if you think of an idea and it doesn't fit the 'norm' of post ideas, that is okay!

5 // Write, write, and write some more: This is an obvious step. Write about anything and everything. You don't have to post everything, but I think you should attempt to write about all the ideas that you have. This gives you practice, helps you find your voice, and shows you what topics you enjoy writing about.

6 // Connect with others & help others connect with you: This is the fun part! The blogging community is H U G E. It's a great way to network and connect with other people around the world. If you aren't part of an official network, start with following other bloggers and commenting on their posts. Stalk them on social media and re-pin their pictures. Eventually that love will come back to you. The great thing about the blogging community is everyone is really nice and willing to help you out. Find your peeps and stick with them!

Now, once you've set everything up, and published your first post, you might hit another hurdle. I call this the motivation hurdle. There have been so many times that I have stopped posting for weeks, even months, because I just didn't know what to write about (or frankly, didn't want to do it). It's frustrating, but I've tried to find some ways to get myself back into the swing of things. If you're feeling aggravated or stressed with your blog - don't quit! This feeling is normal, and is completely fine. Find ways to motivate yourself and re-enthuse yourself about your little creation;

6 ways to MOTIVATE yourself:
  • Walk/drive/move: I'm a big fan of walks. I think they help wake up your mind, calm anxiety, and give you a bit of exercise. Having that time to yourself, preferably with some music, will help the ideas flow. Any type of movement is going to wake you up and get you excited about writing. 
  • Browse the web: There are thousands upon thousands of blogs out there. Every single one of them is a source of inspiration. Read about what other bloggers are working on, scroll through Pinterest, and write down the ideas that stick with you. 
  • Set a schedule: I try to work on my blog early in the morning. I post every morning before 10 am, and that deadline gives me the motivation to wake up at 8 am. On a weekly basis, I try to post 5 times. The weekends are my days off. Because it's summer, I have time to make blogging a full time activity. You need to decide when you can work on a blog, and when you feel most motivated. Some people are morning workers, others are night owls. Which are you?
  • Clean: This might sound silly, but I could not work on anything while my apartment was messy. Once I had done some organizing and cleaning of my space, I felt much more motivated to get other things done. 
  • Talk to others: There are billions of people out there, and so many ways to connect with them. Talk to anyone and everyone about things that interest both of you. Use conversations as a threshold for inspiring ideas. 
  • Take a step back: If I start to feel stuck, I simply remove myself from the situation. Realizing that everything doesn't have to be finished today has helped. Sometimes I just need to close my computer for a bit and do something completely unrelated to blogging. 
It warms my heart every time I get a comment from a reader or a friend telling me how much they enjoy my blog. But an even greater accomplishment is when people tell me they want to start a blog, and ask for my help. I hope that this post sheds some light onto how to start your own blog, and stick with it. Not only am I available to chat, I offer a blog consultation service and am happy to help you improve your little corner of the internet.

If you're thinking about starting a blog - PLEASE let me know. I'd love to help out. I'm also always looking for new sites to read, so feel free to leave links to your new blogs in the comment section.