As you can see from the title this is an honest review of my first month as a blogger. I want to give a bit of insight, a bit of advice and a bit of ranting.
Expectation vs Reality
When I had thought up the idea of starting my own blog I had no awareness of a blogging community, the various paths you are able to take in order to start a blog, the time and effort it would take to design a website nor did I know what I really wanted to blog about and how to shape the identity of the blog (nor can I truly say I have such a plan a month later). In fact I didn’t even have a name for the blog. So in my blissful ignorance I assumed it was a simple matter of finding a free web-hoster, a quick tutorial on how to design and make the site and timely ideas to get the blog going, boy was I in for a shock.
I advise that if you’re thinking about starting you have to consider things like; if you want to make your own independent website which in most cases requires a few purchases, or if you’re content with a free subsidiary website like through WordPress or Wix.
Now if you’re going independent/manual you’ll likely need to purchase a domain name, which you can do through sites like Namecheap, Bluehost or through the web-host provider you want to opt for. After purchasing your domain you will need to procure a web-host were the nit and grit of making a website is done like the development, security and all sorts, this also more likely than not requires you to pay and prices vary, suggested web-hosters are Dreamhost, Bluehost and Siteground. The process after that is fairly straight forward, however I would recommend more research and insight to make sure. Please note that there are many ways to run through this particular route such as with a second party to help you coordinate. I went with this manual route and trust me I had several bumps along the way (also considering that I was trying to make it as cost effective as humanly possible).
If you’re fine with just having a blog to post, write and share information. Going the free route by opting for a “subsidiary” website is a great way for it but at the same time the term “free” is misleading. Sites like Wix, Blogspot and WordPress.com will let you have a free website but some features like Adsense, Ad Marketing and monetization in general are difficult to navigate, also a lot of other features will require you to go Pro or Premium which is, you guessed it a paid feature. You aren’t fully in control over your site because if the site owners feel you have infringed on a term of agreement or something of that sort your website can be shut down on the spot. At the same time however such sites save time from the nit and grit of website development and lets you focus on the blog itself.
People work and develop differently, so while some people like to plan ahead, others (like myself) build the bridge as it goes and drink to it’s health. At the start my honest state of mind was “you know what I’m going to start a blog” and I went on a whim on what it would be about, what to share and write and it’s safe to say that one month later, I still am. Some people though would frown upon my technique and call me a lecher, and opt to have a classroom sized whiteboard with all the facts and ideas that will cultivate a blog. Whether you go one way or the other, maybe even straight down the middle it’s all alright as long as you know what you’re doing.
Finding your niche, audience and community
A month later and I still find it rather tricky to get my site out into the world, find my people and establish the blogs identity. I went on Youtube to look up stuff like “how to make your blog popular”, “find the niche with the most traffic” and “were to find other bloggers”. Let me tell you how it went:
“how to make your blog popular”
The significant findings from this were, make your blog something people would want to read, advertise your blog through Pinterest and guest blogging. The first one made sense but popular traffic blogs are usually DIY type and marketing and the lot, from the videos I watched the point put forward was to make your site according to current interest, I won’t say I was compleletly against it but the whole point of starting the Journal was to spread my passions and attract those who felt the same not to provide product for demand. The Pinterest option I tried for two days got bored and dropped it (I don’t understand Pinterest). The guest blogging and collaboration method is the one I’m currently working on, it seems to be going well plus it lets my communicate with cool talented people who understand and hopefully the fruits of that particular labor will be coming soon (stay tuned).
“find the niche with the most traffic”
Like I said above, I didn’t like the idea of having the blog as a product for the demand as compared to creating demand for my product. However, it also is key to note that knowing and understanding your audience is key and some tools are there to be taken advantage of. What I think is important is to do what you love at the end of the day, the birds will come flocking when you do.
“where to find other bloggers”
For this particular one I tried everything I found. Pinterest (dismal failure), online forums (not a particular fan), and Instagram (not a particularly smart idea to use an image based app to find freaking writers I soon found). The problem wasn’t really that I couldn’t find other bloggers I actually found a few, the problem was I couldn’t find some like me you know Zimbabwean, African, black, teenagers, into books, sports and all that I couldn’t seem to find. That is until Twitter. Everything and everyone I wanted to find on that blue bird app was there, I felt silly rummaging through three year old blog forums, Twitter is were I’ve found and reached out to other bloggers, gained information, spread information and it’s been a steady relationship since.
To conclude I’ll say each person has different reasons for starting a website or blog and this will therefore determine the path you take or the methods you choose to start it. I want a blog that is my own, where I can share the things I’m passionate about and attract people who feel likewise or just generally like the stuff I put out. Does my blog have an identity? Read and maybe you’ll get your answer. Do I like what I’m doing? Well of course, and finally have the past four weeks been worth it? I can say it with my chest they have.