Ashana Lian's Fantasy Lab



Fantasy and Fantasy Writing from every angle: fantasy and sci-fi novels, films, artwork, superhero cartoons, children's and YA books, manga, anime, video games and comics. Put the microscope on 'Geek Culture'.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

How To Start A Blog - 5 Easy Steps



SO YOU WANT TO JOIN THE FAMILY!!! Good for you! (You're crazy. o_O I'm kidding. =] )

Setting up a blog is very straightforward. Setting up a awesome super-duper-amazing fantastic blog is harder, and even now my blog constantly undergoes a ton of improvements. But to start...

1. What's your reason?

Blogging is FUN. Whether the blog is going to be personal and wacky, or focussed and professional, always remember your goal is to share in the blogging fun and bring that same excitement to your readers. The moment a blog dies or becomes inactive is because, for whatever reason, it's stopped being fun.

If you're creating a professional blog, the steps you'll take will be different to a personal blog - like mine. I'm devoted to fantasy so it's my main blog focus. I also found a way to bring in other stuff I liked - fantasy events like comic cons, games, books, movies, and so on.

What you choose to blog about will help you decide what platform to choose - so do that first!

2. Choose Your Platform

Because a blog is free to start and extremely common in this day and age, there are literally HUNDREDS of blogging platforms to choose from. There are three platforms that are without a doubt the most common, run by massive companies.

The PROS of choosing one of these is that there's loads of support to be found online, and if there is a glitch it will probably be resolved quickly. Also it's less likely these huge companies like Google (who run Blogger) will close down, which means that in theory, your content (blog posts, pictures, videos, anything you share on your blog) should be protected. (I would back it up anyway though... just in case.)

The CONS is there's only so much personalisation they will allow you. Also knowledge of basic HTML will go a long way; it's tedious but it bumps up your blog post from average to stunning. Also, Blogger can do some weird things to my images when I try to upload them.

Wordpress 

Wp is the king of blogging. It is devoted solely to bloggers, so the choice there is better! There are countless themes and layout and it's a great tool to run a website as well.

Tumblr

The home of the fandoms of the universe. Tumblr is like a cross between a blog and a bulletin feed like Twitter - imagine Twitter if it had unlimited characters in a post. The thing about Tumblrs is they all pretty much look the same and I think it's harder to achieve individuality, but it's perfect for a private geeky little world.

Blogger

As you can see - I'm a Blogger Blogger! Reason being, back when I didn't know much about blogs, Blogger was the first that came up in a Google search. Of course, that is because Blogger is owned by Google. This is perfect if you already have a Google account. Your login is the same for all Google applications and you can link your content across accounts.



3. Design

What do you want your blog to look like? In terms of COLOUR, I picked purple (my favourite colour) and blue because it felt it gave a humbleness and mellowness to my fantasy blog.

In terms of LAYOUT, I like sidebars but they can make a blog look cluttered. A very popular layout right now is having the post in the middle of the page and no sidebars. Yes, it is getting a bit overdone. But the reason it's such a hit is because it makes your blog look neat and clean.

In terms of IMAGES, what banner will you use? An image from Google? Will your draw or create it yourself? Keep in mind, if you are using somebody else's image you must credit them. Actually, I'm pretty sure if you use somebody's images without their written permission it's copyright infringement. But - like downloading music for free - people do it so often that it's one of those crimes nobody 'cares about', loosely speaking. Well, I'm just sayin'. If you can get permission, get it. At the very least, credit the creator or artist, if you must be a cyber-thief. e_e

4. Write Content

NOW WE'RE GETTING TO THE GOOD BIT!! What will you write about? Will it be a book blog? A lifestyle blog? Fashion? Music? Travel?

As you already know, mine looks at fantasy in different medias, mainly books. From time to time I also write about other things my readers will find interesting or my personal ditherings/hardly-accomplishments, especially if it affects the sort of books I'll be reading or if I can blog more often or less often.

Stuck? Talk about your problems. Sit down and get it all off your chest. Don't worry about how it sounds. You honestly will not fucking believe the popularity of various rambly, angsty blogs. (Even me - I've come across some pretty amazing life blogs, and all those bloggers do is complain.)

5. Share Your First Blog Post! Congrats!

One thing YOU MUST REMEMBER - your blog post may not be terribly popular at first... unless you're already a celebrity or talking about it via other social media like Goodreads (eg. book blogs), Pinterest (eg. cooking blogs), Twitter (eg. lifestyle blogs), Youtube (eg. music blogs) or anywhere else people might genuinely be interested in what you have to say.

Keep at it. Your network will grow - as long as you put the effort in. There's lots of ways to make blogger-friends, like blog-hops, awards and all that jazz. So get involved!

You'll find out pretty quickly if blogging is the thing for you or not. If it's for you, you'll become addicted like the rest of us. And if not, you'll get bored.


~ Blogging Etiquette ~

Promoting your blog in the comments of other blogs.

Some bloggers don't mind this, others dislike it. Personally, I don't do it at all because I feel like it's spamming. But I do do it on blogs that have Discus (which is a commenting widget) because I don't want an account with Discus, but if I comment without an account it appears as 'anonymous' - then the blogger can't find me if they want to respond.



My Number One Blogging Tips

1. Think up a catchy title - always a winner! My other blogs have great titles, but not this one because  'A Fantasy Writer's Blog' will come up higher in a Google search if any of the keywords are entered.

2. Post regularly - set a day to post weekly, fortnightly or whenever suits you, but stick to it so your readers know when to come back.

3. Pretty images - unsplash.com is fantastic because the image are royalty-free, which means you can do whatever you want with them. I take pictures of the books I own and mess about with it on befunky, my favourite free picture editing website.

4. 'Other posts you might like' - I put a short list of these at the end of my posts (when I remember. :3) first because it keeps your readers interested, and also sometimes old blog posts that are relevant now or particularly good get lost in the passage of time. O_O

5. Sidebar - get it right. Not too many widgets, not too little. And for the love of cake, not too wide.

6. Swearing? - I don't shy away from swearing when there is simply no other word that will do, but I do find over-the-top excessive profanity makes me lose interest. As my blog is aimed at adults, it's not a big deal - this is my blog and my space. But what about you? Know what your values are and uphold them on your blog. If the reader doesn't like you they simply won't read your blog, so be yourself.

7. Give your reader what they expect - it what they came for. Don't let them click away to another blog. Make your readers laugh. Brighten their day. c:


Ashana Lian .

Click Here for other Writerly Tools & Tips.

This post was for Allison and Emily - I hope you girls found this useful!
For the already-bloggers out there; do you have any tips? Share in the comments!

10 comments:

  1. I haven't actually set a specific date on which to blog, but I always make sure that I don't leave it too late. And also, swearing....I don't like reading it. I don't mind if it's silly words like crap and whatnot, but excessive swearing just makes me lose interest.

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    1. His Cindy, thanks for commenting! It's great that you know what works for you and you stick to it. Now I'm working full time, my commitment to blogging has really fallen apart. I hope to get it back together soon! (As for swears, I couldn't make up my mind on whether or not to censor myself. In the end, I decided just to do whatever felt appropriate at the time. I don't swear that much, but I'd say I do more online that out loud.)

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  2. This is a great starting out guide for bloggers! I know that it would have helped me when I got started blogging. My only other tip would be to REACH OUT to other bloggers. I learned the hard way that people don't just show up on your blog looking for kicks; people show up because you showed up to their blog first. And that's important to remember.

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    1. That's brilliant advice! It's weird; with me, I started my own blog because I wanted to track my fantasy journey but didn't expect people to read it. As I started to get really into blogs, there were blogs I loved so much that I always visited and commented, and looked forward to the next post. I was so surprised when those blogger were then lovely enough to check my blog out too - after that I began to look forward to have readers and worked harder to share things people would actually like to read.

      Because I've never been in a position where I set out wanting my blog to be popular, I often forget to mention that blogs are a community, because in my mind it goes without saying. =] If a new blogger is trying to Get more readers, they definitely need to Give.

      Glad you like the post! Will be dropping by your blog on the weekend. (Can't waaait for the weekend.)

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  3. I've been trying to figure out ways to kick-start a blog of my own, so this was perfect for me! And Heather, thanks for adding that. I'll definitely use this advice!

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    1. Welcooome Elizabeth! Your comment has made me a happy bunny :3 I'm really pleased this information has been useful.

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  4. If only mantaining the blog were that easy. :) After four years of doing it dilligently, I must confess to being a tiny bit tired. But never enough to give up! If people are serious about it, scheduling posts in advance helps a fair bit. It took me a while to figure this out, but when I did, it was amazing. Now I always have posts scheduled for at least a week in advance. It makes life so much easier.

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    1. I think we all get like that. Take today - I was supposed to post something, but the amount of effort that goes into making a blog post attractive can make feel a leeeetle bit tiresome. But I feel like you'd only get that feeling after literally years of blogging - as you said, the maintaining of the blog. It's always exciting at the start.

      Scheduling is an absolutely excellent tip. I wish I did that more often, it would save me such a headache! It's true that sometimes things happen unexpectedly, and having a post already scheduled means you don't have to skip a day of posting. Thanks for sharing that, Maja.

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  5. Purple is my favourite colour too... it's clearly the best ;) I suck at scheduling, which is rather obvious since I kept having to take breaks away to try and get back on top. I still suck at it, but at least I am making an effort and trying to get better at it.

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    1. lmfao I've been trying to schedule for nine weeks and it's still completely fallen apart. I'm going to try again today, because I'm so behind with all my reviews. I feel so frustrated but I've got to keep trying because now, with work and all, there's just so time in the evenings!!

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