By Nicole Tinkham
We’ve talked with many artists who would love to start blogging, but have two key things that are holding them back. For one, they don’t know how to get started. And secondly, even if they did have a blog set up, they say they wouldn’t know what to write about. We personally speak with these artists every single day on our Facebook page. They share with us what projects they’re currently working on, art tips and techniques that they’ve been experimenting with, and photos of their incredible artwork. The thought of these talented artists not sharing these things with the world through a blog because they don’t know how to, just kills us. Especially since we know how simple it really is to do. If you’ve been bouncing the idea of a blog around, it’s time to get started now! Here’s how to set up your own blog in 6 simple steps.
1. Choose your platform
The very first thing you need to do is choose a platform. This is the website that will host your blog. There are many options out there but WordPress is by far the most popular and the one we highly recommend as that’s where we started with this blog. There are two versions of WordPress available, a free version and a paid (or self hosted) version. For now we’ll be focused on the free version. This one is much easier to set up and get started right away.
A few things to keep in mind about the free version…
You don’t own your blog. Technically it’s not yours and can be taken down. But we wouldn’t worry about that. Also, there are only so many “extras” you can add to your free blog. You can do the basics but for extra plugins, you’ll have to upgrade. Another thing to be aware of is your blog web address. Our new paid (future) WordPress site is www. mykeetons.com. Our existing free blog however, is http://www.keetonsonline.wordpress.com. See the difference there? The free version has the word “wordpress” in the middle and you can’t change that part of it.
When you set up your free WordPress site, it will ask you a series of questions (easy ones, we promise!) including a layout and theme but you can always change this later on.
2. Design and theme
Here’s where you can have a lot of fun with your blog! You can choose a theme, or essentially layout, for your blog. Some of these themes are paid but there are many of really good ones which are free. To choose a theme for your blog, complete the following steps:
• Click on “My Sites” in the upper left of your screen.
• Next click “Themes” in the left-hand column.
• Click on a theme to preview it and choose to use that theme if you like it.
• You can also further customize your chosen theme by clicking “Customize” next to “Themes” in the left-hand column. This will give you options to choose colors, fonts, a background, and more.
Remember that you can always go back and change the look of your blog. Don’t be scared to try some different things until you find one that you want to stick with! The nice thing about the free version of WordPress is that all the website coding is already done for you. You have options when it comes to design but you don’t have to be an expert in this area. WordPress pretty much takes all the guesswork out for you.
3. Choose your niche
As mentioned earlier in this post, the second biggest blogging struggle many artists face is not knowing what to write about. Your first couple posts may be difficult but once you get going, the ideas will start to flow and you’ll be hooked. We suggest considering what you’re most passionate about. What are you really good at? What do people ask you for advice on most often? What do you do on a daily basis? We know you have some talents so share that with the world! Take pictures of your artwork and talk about them. Share things you’ve learned throughout your journey. What can you teach others? What techniques have you picked up through experimenting with different medium and tools? Maybe you’re also passionate about cooking. Feel free to share some of your favorite recipes!
When in doubt, share something about yourself! What struggles have you overcome? What life experiences have you lived? It’s great to share who you are with your audience to build a relationship with them.
4. Make a schedule
A set blogging schedule may not seem very important in the beginning but once you build a following, being consistent is key to success! If someone subscribes to your blog they will be notified whenever a new blog is published. If they like your posts, they’ll be eagerly awaiting the next one. It doesn’t matter how often you publish a new post as long as you’re consistent. We like to publish our posts every Monday and Thursday morning. These days seem to work best for us but pick a system that works for you.
Note: you can write your blogs in advance and schedule them to be published on a certain day. When you’re writing a new post in WordPress, click the calendar icon next to “publish” and select the day and time you want the post to go out.
5. Write your first post
When you sit down to write your very first post, take some time to brainstorm what you’ll write about. Grab a pen and notebook and begin to jot down every topic idea that comes to mind. Don’t think too hard about it. Just get the ideas down on paper! Now select a topic you’d like to start with. We like to create an outline before we actually begin writing. To do this, just jot down some key points you don’t want to forget and use this as your guide. Here are some additional tips to keep in mind as you’re putting together your blog post.
• Include an image! This will draw people in to read your post and catches the eye when posting on social media sites.
• Include tags in your post. Tags will help people find your blog when doing a Google search. To add tags, you’ll find a “Tags” section in the left column when you’re writing a new post. Type in a word that describes what your blog is about. It might be “art” or “oil painting”. You can add several tags, hitting the enter key after each one.
• You can also organize your blogs into categories. This way, your readers can find exactly what they’re looking for. You’ll find a “category” section right by the “tag” section we mentioned above.
• Include links to your previous blog posts. We love linking back to old posts because it gets more eyes on our content. Be sure whatever it is you’re talking about relates to the post you’re linking to. You can select the word or words you’d like to link and click the hyperlink button (above where you type in the contents of the post) and insert the URL of the page you want to link to.
6. Share it!
Once your blog is written you want others to read it, right? Share a link to your blog with friends and family. You can either email it over to them or post it on Facebook or any other social media platform you’re using. We recommend sharing each new blog you publish on Facebook. Also be sure to check out other blogs in your niche and comment on them. This will help build relationships and get new people over to your blog.
These 6 steps to starting your own blog may seem detailed but they aren’t difficult to do. And you don’t have to do them all in one day. It’s perfectly ok to start small. For today, just decide what blogging platform you want to use and move onto the next step tomorrow. It does take time to build your blog so be patient. In the beginning, we had very little blog views and hardly ever got any comments but over the past few years it has grown well beyond what we thought it would. Hang in there blogger, you will get there!
Tell us, do you have a blog?? Once you get yours up and running be sure to COMMENT your link in the comments below so we can check it out!