Well, great news. Punky is here to help ya out!!! For real. I have so much goodness to share with you here and I hope it will prove to be helpful in more ways than one. This post isn't just for those looking to start up a blog from scratch.. it's also for those who may already have a blog and are looking to enhance their following or their social media skills, or just their blog in general.
Now, you may be looking at me and my "cute" little blog here (cute meaning amateur) and thinking, really? This chick's got barely 30 GFC followers... who is she kiddingsss ??
Well, let me just say. I feel you. It would appear I know very little. But actually, for many of my outside friends who are still trying to understand blogging beyond it's dictionary definition, I know a lot. And everything I know is all information I have sought out myself over the course of four months or less. I like to think that's pretty impressive and also, that I've set myself up for some future success. So please do me a favor, give me a small chance here. And maybe at the very end TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT THE BUTTLOAD OF FABULOUS INFORMATION YOU GATHERED FROM PUNKY'S BLOG. That would be really, really swell of you !! :)
Ok. So you want to start a blog.
First things first.
You need a computer. That goes without saying.
Two. You need to sign up for a blogging platform/service.
List of Blogging Services:
WordPress (free unless you want to expand on all the services' features, then it costs some $$)
These are really the only four I would recommend. (Livejournal and Xanga definitely belong on the exiled island where Myspace now lives. I'm happy to be the one to tell you this.). Though I don't have any experience with Typepad or Wordpress, I know bloggers who get along with them quite well. However, I do believe (correct me if I'm wrong) those platforms are for the more advanced CSS bloggers and designers. If you're a beginning blogger, I would really just recommend either Tumblr or Blogger (they're free and easy!). Obviously I use Blogger for Punky and the City, and I love it. Everything about it is straightforward and simple when it comes to designing the look and feel of your blog, and also the analytics that come with it are great. For the newbies: analytics=stats. Like how many people visit your page on a daily basis, what sites they are clicking onto your blog from, and which specific blog posts of yours is getting the most action.
In the process of signing up for your blog, you need to be thinking about what your blog name is going to be. Think of something that is catchy and unique to who you are. Don't pick something generic like, "A Lovely Blog" or "My Life in a Nutshell" (no offense, if anyone reading happens to have these as blog titles! eee)... try and pick a name that isn't already taken. In fact, go onto google and try a search for whatever you're thinking of. Make sure that no one else has it.
True story--before I came up with Punky and the City, I looked up the title Jen One 'N' and someone had a blog called One 'N' Jen.... though it's just one blog with the same idea in mind, I decided I wanted something that was completely my own. In the process of turning other ideas in my head, it dawned pretty quickly on me that this would soon be a blog about my life in the city and since Jen and the City sounded boring as F, I used some Punky Power to come up with the genius title that is now Punky and the City, which I think is very fitting, given my ties to such a nickname over the years.
Once you have a name figured out--I definitely suggest pinning that name into the link of your blog, and not just placing it as the title or header at the top of the page. It's important to do both. For one, I believe consistency is key in all that we do, and two, it removes any confusion as to what your blog title is. Again, the more unique the name, the better because then you can claim that same name in forums across the board and people can easily find you/your blog wherever they go.
Last, but not least, get yourself a domain. This is totally optional and in many ways not even necessary, but I was feeling fancy in my blogging endeavors and so I went ahead and pinned my blog title down as a domain. I'm sure there's a number of domain companies you can choose from, but the most popular is GoDaddy, it's what I use and I definitely recommend it. It's super affordable (like twelve bucks a year or something) and the customer service is great. Not only did they call me the day after I purchased my domain to ask if I needed any help getting set up, but they even sent me a member card in the mail which I think is pretty neat. I don't know. I like having member cards. Don't you?
Once you're all set up with a blogging service and you've had time to mess around and come up with your starting layout (I say starting because inevitably you will learn all kinds of new things along the way and will be constantly tweaking and improving the look of your blog) and maybe have published a post or two, it's time to start getting the word out that you have a blog! For some, this may seem a bit awkward. Maybe you don't want people to know you have a blog. If that's the case, well, that's easy. Don't tell anyone. But if you're starting a blog for the purposes of sharing your voice and interacting with awesome strangers and creatives types across the globe, then it's necessary for you to alert the media that you now have an internet cubbie where you will be sharing your heart and mind for all to enjoy.
The first place to start, is with your own friends and family. Send out a link on your personal facebook and let everyone know about your cool new blog. If that's all the attention you're looking for, then cool, stop right there. If not, then proceed to all the following suggested forums.
For the sake of my blog, I got a Twitter account. I wasn't really sure if it would help my blog at all. In fact, I wasn't even really sure how Twitter worked, or what the point of it was. Like a series of Facebook statuses? Uh, ok. That's... cool?
Well, upon joining Twitter and actually using it through and through, I've come to know it as one heck of a social media tool, that is for certain. It's great for bloggers because it gives us the opportunity to let our readers know that we have new posts up or to share links to other great posts we find elsewhere. And these are just a few incredible perks. What I love most about Twitter is the ability to reach out to basically anyone without feeling like you're out of place for doing so and vice versa. It's not like Facebook where, if you get a friend request from some random person who maybe even shares a few mutual friends, and you're thinking, "the f? why is this person adding me. WHO IS THIS? DENY FRIEND REQUEST." On Twitter, if someone starts following you, you think, "YAY! A NEW FOLLOWER!" And if you're a blogger, that statement is usually followed by the action of clicking onto that new follower's blog (if they have one) and nine times out of ten thinking, "WHOAH, COOL BLOG!!! I'm so glad this person found me!" Twitter is magical. I won't even go into all the stories I have about celebrities on Twitter. Haha, I send dumb stuff all time to people with no expectation that they will respond in any way shape or form. And then, sometimes, they do. And it's awesome.
Get yo self some Twitter! And once you do, maybe follow me @punkyandthecity , I don't know, if you want to.
Then, once you've got yourself a Twitter account, and mind you, you're following more than a hundred people or so, I would recommend signing up for TweetDeck. I've only recently learned about this site, and I'm obsessed with it. TweetDeck allows you to organize basically your entire profile into columns. So you can have a column for all the bloggers you follow, all the friends you follow, all the celebrities you follow, your inbox, all the communities you belong to, your own tweets, your favorited tweets, tweets you were mentioned in... you get the point. It's just a great way to stay organized and to highlight those you follow more than others.
Not entirely necessary, but if you're like me, I'd rather keep my personal Facebook exclusive to my friends and family and not just anyone who clicks onto my blog and then onto my Facebook link. Also, I prefer NOT to rape the walls of my Facebook friends with all my blog updates. My friends and family all love me, surely, but that doesn't mean they care about every single blog post or my blog at all and I totally get that. So, I went ahead a created a Punky and the City Facebook page. Feel free to click onto it to get an idea of how I have mine set up, and should you feel obliged to hit the 'like' button while you're at it... I will not argue against it at this time :)
If you have an iphone or android, you better be an instagramming monster already. If you're not, GET OUT. Cause instagram is awesome, and hey you know what else? It's great for bloggers. I use it all the time to capture photos for my blog, including this post! And it's also a great way to connect with others and showcase your artistic taste.
Pinterest is the new craze, and it is definitely a lot of fun/a sleep stealer. I'm actually taking a little bit of a break from it at the moment because I kept finding myself getting so consumed, that I was leaving less room to work here on the blog. Generally speaking tho, Pinterest is a rad tool for brainstorming and book marking ideas, projects, images, recipes, posts, all kinds of things that can easily tie in stupendously with anything blog-related.
Totes forgot to add this one! Bloglovin' is super. It's an online reader that lets you add all the blogs you follow and organize them into categories. It lets you highlight specific posts you like and even tells you which posts you have yet to read. I know Google has a pretty good reader, but personally I like Bloglovin better. By the way, in terms of Google. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT GOOGLE PLUS IS. And I don't want to. Get yourself a bloglovin!
This one is important. Even if you're totally new to editing photos and working with html/CSS, you will catch on little by little, and you'll come to realize the importance of Photobucket when it comes to resizing images and plugging them into various codes. It also makes for a great safe house in case any of your images get lost or your hard drive crashes and you don't have photos backed up in other ways. #lessonslearned
These next two are more like programs rather than forums, but since I didn't make a separate section for programs:
I would looooove to get completely saavy with Photoshop, but until I do, Google's Picasa is AWESOME. You can download it for free and use it to create basically anything for your blog. I use it constantly, and in fact, the banner you see at the top of my blog was made with Picassa. Not bad, right?
This is the first blogging community I joined. And let me just say this. Sarah Bryden Brown (the creator of Blogstar) is a genius. And the women who belong to the this community, wow. No doubt, some the most inspiring and supportive women I've ever come across. This is a community every blogger should be a part of. The love and support here stretches for miles, I can't even describe it. You'll just have to come join and see for yourself. You can do so by joining on the site and also on the private Facebook Page. PS. Sarah has some pretty big things planned for the near future of Blogstar. As if it couldn't get any better. I can't wait to see what's in store for this one !
HUGE Blogging network. Probably the biggest and most well-known. Caters mostly to the community of women bloggers, but does not discriminate! There's a lot of exciting things going on constantly here, including their annual Blogher Conferencing Events. I will be attending Blogher this summer in NYC... please say HEY if you are too :)
Also, I would like to add that this is a community that actively reaches out and listens to all of it's followers. I was pretty shocked one morning when I received a personal e-mail from Stacy Morrison, Blogher's Editor in Chief (!), about being a part of a focus group for the new developing interface of Blogher. Holy wow? I almost thought that it was spam mail or something and then I tweeted about it, and Blogher immediately tweeted back at me saying, "nope, it's real-we reach out to our community members all the time." Pretty sweet.
I discovered and learned all about Alt and nearly died in the process. Died from the disbelief that something so absolutely incredible existed. Who knew there were weekend long parties happening in hotels that were exclusive to creative minds in stellar fashions with champagne and people like Gretchen Rubin??? I mean, basically, it sounds like a smaller version of the Blogher conference, but I kind of freaked out a little bit when I went through the photos of this year's Alt conference and saw ALL of my fav bloggers in attendance. It's definitely a place I want to be. And I will be. My girl Erin of Artsocial and I just booked our rooms this weekend for 2013! Whoo hoo!
And wait----THERE'S MORE. Alt offers ONLINE CLASSES for only $15 a piece with some of the most well-known bloggers in the bizz. The class is taught through a really swanky online forum that allows you to be interactive with other students and the teacher. These classes are a GREAT way to pick up new blogging tips and new bloggy friends too :) I've taken three classes so far and cannot wait to take more!!!
Classes I've taken:
Perfecting the Pitch: How to Win Over Your Dream Sponsor with Erin Loechner of Design For Mankind (This class was SUPREMELY helpful as I didn't know where to even begin in terms of considering sponsoring. Also, Erin is adorable.)
Bringing Home the Bacon When Your Blog's Not Huge with Melanie Blodgett of You Are My Fave (Melanie is an inspiration. Point Blank.)
Twitter 101 with Jaime Derringer of Design Milk (This is how I heard of Tweetdeck! And Jaime is so funny!)
I found out about Blog Brunch by accident. I woke up one Saturday morning and went onto Twitter and kept seeing the word "brunch" on my feed. In my waking stupor, I thought, huh?? Is it like a National Brunch Day or something? How do I not know about this? Where's MY mimosa?? Then I decided to wake up fully and investigate and I came to learn that there's this CRAZY thing happening on Twitter where bloggers come together and under the Blog Brunch hashtag have entire discussions on various blog-related questions. Lucky for me, it had just started when I put two and two together. So I joined in on the craziness and it was lots and lots of fun! I met a whole school of little fishes like myself and we all followed each other post brunch and now look forward to coming together again each FIRST SATURDAY of the month. To become an official member of the community and to receive updates and news for future blog brunches and recaps, be sure to sign up on the site and follow on Twitter. And also, visit the lovely ladies behind the operation: Megan, Amy, and Mrs. Pink.
I found out about Creative Connections through Tammy. I found Tammy through Blog Brunch. See already, how all these communities refer you to other awesome communities and bloggers? Tammy, by the way, is awesome. And is a great go-to person when it comes to blog-related things. At least I think so. She knows what she is doing and she has helped set up a number of SoCal blogger meet-ups. I encourage everyone to check out her nifty blog and also say hi to her on Twitter-she's super nice. Anyway--CREATIVE CONNECTIONS: awesome group that sets up blogger meet-ups in various US cities. Cause YES, we don't just like to hide behind our computers and limit the connections we make to the virtual world. We like to get together in real life and hang out and collaborate! I say this, even though I have yet to attend my first "blogger meet-up"... Ha, I'm always working, dangit, but I'm def excited for when I'll get to chill with my blog homies for real reals. Check out this group for potential meet ups, and also follow Elise Ostermann, the founder on Twitter. She's real nice too.
Just a few blogs that have some great things to offer to newbie bloggers or even the experienced blogger. There never seems to be a lack of things to learn in this trade.
I met Kira through Blog Brunch as well, and her blog is way cool. She does a series called "Primp My Blog" which features a whole school of various tips and tricks. Check.her.out.
Melanie Biehle is just a sweetheart. And she does alllll kinds of really great and thorough recaps of her experience at the Alt Summit Conference. She also knows a lot of peeps in the business and is a great motivator in the land of starting new projects and thinking outside of the box. Definitely, give this one a visit or seven.
Well, aside from this blog having one of my most absolute favorite blog designs on any blog I've ever seen, the ladies behind A Beautiful Mess, share so many of their design and photography secrets. It's like an aspiring blogger's heaven. Just take a look around and you'll see what I mean.
*Also, for some really spot-on general tips and pointers on blogging check out Ashley's Blogging 101 post.
Link Ups! I haven't yet participated in many of these, but they look like lots of fun! I love Ashley's Friday Letters. I think it's a fun way to add to a great platform of an idea and also see what others have to offer on the same grounds. I'd be weary to participate in mostly only link ups all the time though, as you want to contribute unique content to your own blog... maybe establish a link up of your own? I've thought about creating one for Punky and the City, but then decided it would be too much on top of my Film Club. Hey by the way, do you know about my Film Club? I'm in the process of getting buttons designed and making things more official with it all, but we're only two movies in, I hope you'll join!
No doubt, I've left out other communities, blogs, and link-ups here. These are just the ones I know of and am a part of. I believe that the blogosphere is a place that is filled with love and tremendous support for one another, and that it preservers from smart, funny, artistic, and inspiring individuals coming together to collaborate, share, motivate, and thrive off one another's energy. With that being said, this is the part where I open up the floor and ask for your knowledge. And this time, I am talking specifically to those who are already blogging. I ask you:
- What are other blogging communities you are a part of ?
- Do you know of any blogs that give back and share their own tips and strategies?
- Do you know of any other link ups?
- Do you have a link up of your own? Feel free to advertise here! (I will add more link up
buttons to this post, upon others sharing! I just personally don't know of that many myself.)
- Do you know of any specific posts that offer great guidelines and pointers for new bloggers?
- What blogs inspire you the most?
- How long have you been blogging and what do you love most about it?
- What of your own advice could you offer to someone who is interested in starting a blog?
I encourage you all to leave your thoughts and comments. I put a lot of work into this one post, not because I'm looking to receive anything---I'm simply happy and eager to give back. To offer up what I've learned. And to hopefully convince some of my friends to start blogs of their own.
To those prospecting to start blogs: Good luck! Hug your families and tell them that you're ok, you're just going to spend a lot of time in your room some days doing BIG THINGS at your computer :) And know that everyone in blog land is happy to help! Especially me--seriously feel free to e-mail me if you have questions on ANYTHING!
Cheers and Happy Blogging!
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