How to: Start and Maintain a Blog

by Katelyn Block on December 23, 2011 · 20 comments

Note: this post is jam-packed with info on, ahem, starting and maintaing a blog. If that’s not your thang, head over and enter in today’s giveaway. Otherwise, read on and enjoy today’s informative rant. Correction: you should enter either way. Much love!

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the blog redesign and how to start a blog.

I’m no expert, but I do know a thing or two about starting a blog and maintaining it.

Voice

The first thing you need to think about when starting a blog is what kind of vibe you’re going for. What’s your personality? What is your voice? Are you sarcastic? Do you like to ramble? Or are you more of an on-point analyst?

Whichever one is you, whether it’s one of the above or something far between, put it in your writing. Start writing often so that you start to really let the words flow from your fingertips to the screen. People love to read you. People read blogs because they want to know your story; to be a part of it.

I think that’s one of my biggest selling points is that people love that I put my personality and voice into everything I write. It’s not always the same, but it all sounds like me.

Okay, so here’s my little ramble about health and fitness blogging. It’s great, don’t get me wrong. I did that for a solid year. For awhile it was awesome, making recipes and putting up workouts all the time, but as I started to get bored, my readers started to get bored too.

That’s when I took a break from blogging and then when I came back, my voice, content, and style were drastically more “me”. I still talk about health and fitness, but it’s not the main event. It’s just an ingredient in how I keep myself happy, so occasionally I’ll talk about food or yoga or post a picture of my festive Chobani (haha).

I post about everything, my life, school, food, (lack of) exercise, and talk about journalism and self-love. Relationships are something I like to keep out of the blog most of the time, especially when it’s with one person in particular. I like to talk about the theory of relationship, because that’s a part of life and I think it’s important.

Blog Name

When it comes to thinking of a blog name, short and sweet is the best. Try to think of something memorable and marketable. Mine came because I was sooo into cooking, and now, not as much. But the name has stuck, and sometimes I get shit for having my name “Chef Katelyn”, but it stuck and it’s simple.

Honestly, my main piece of advice for everyone is to make your domain your NAME. Like your .com address. I wish I had done that, just for general and professional purposes. So many bloggers (like myself) go through transformations and then have issues changing their domain name. If I had the option, I would change my .com address to katelynblock.com, just for general purposes and keeping my image more lifestyle-oriented.

If you plan on having a lot of different domain names (such as for personal, business, and other professional purposes), I would recommend going through GoDaddy to purchase your domains. Apparently you can get a lot for one flat price.

But definitely start with your name as the domain, such as Katy Widrick or Alyssa Arminio. If you plan on changing your image or think of something funky, use it in the title or header image, but don’t change your .com address. It’s much more versatile that way.

Blogging Platforms

There are many blogging platforms out there, the most prominent being Blogger and WordPress. My advice? Go through WordPress. I started with Blogger and was unhappy, and thankfully made the change early. I’ve never heard of anyone changing from WordPress to Blogger; it always appears to be vice versa.

The interface is much more user-friendly, customizable, and generally better. There are a lot of online forums based on the Blogger vs. WordPress debate, and I recommend having a look at them on Google if you’re having difficulty making a decision.

Making Connections

When you first start a blog, one of the main concerns bloggers have is getting themselves out there. A word of warning: it takes for-EVER in the beginning. For. ever. You start off, and ten views a day is like, a big deal. After a few months of constant blogging (and tweeting), your follower base will begin to grow.

Talk with bloggers you admire, and link back to them when you mention something they’ve done or an idea of theirs. They will start to notice you. Comment on blogs you enjoy, but not like a fiend.

Content

That’s one mistake I made in the beginning, was spending so much time reading other people’s blogs and commenting on every. single. one. It’s great for awhile, but I am so much happier spending most of my “blogging time” on my own stuff. Building relationships is so important, and writing good content.

Pictures are great too. They don’t have to be earth-shattering, but a couple of pictures every post add some variety and a “magazine” feel. Makes the post more tangible-feeling and real.

What it comes down to, is people read blogs because they want to be a part of your story. Share your story in your own voice, and your content will drastically improve.

Design

As for the blog redesign, it was 100% done by me, with the exception of the header. That was a la my dear friend Gabriela, who is a monster in Photoshop. She is also working on launching a blog, so if you have any interest in a header, shoot me an email and I will refer you to her.

If you would like assistance with blog redesign, graphics, or HTML, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at chefkatelynblog@gmail.com and we can discuss pricing.

I’m not a professional graphic designer by any means, but if you like what you see, I would be happy to help you out. I charge money simply because it takes a lot of work, thought, and time.

If you have any more blog-related questions, please e-mail them to me and I will be happy to answer them for you.

Have a great rest of your night, friends!

Questions or comments? Leave them below!

p.s. Don’t forget to enter in today’s giveaway! Especially if you’re a fan of wearing your swag.

xoxox,

Katelyn

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Tara Burner December 23, 2011 at 7:36 PM

Great info, especially the part about your name as your domain!
I’ve evolved and changed A LOT in the 9 or so years I’ve had my domain but one thing will always stay true…I’ll always be TaraBurner so it only makes sense to have your own .com :)

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Katelyn Block December 24, 2011 at 12:53 PM

9 years?! Girl you are a serious veteran!

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Sana December 23, 2011 at 7:42 PM

I personally love blogging because it’s my space and 100% mine :)

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Katelyn Block December 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Yes. Caption: THIS IS MINE.

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Eric December 23, 2011 at 8:04 PM

I am going to be dropping the “blog.com” and making it just .com pretty soon… I like header ALOT… mine doesnt fit well… I want to spice up my sidebars… but I dont do my own hosting.. so this is what i got so far…

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Katelyn Block December 24, 2011 at 2:18 PM

I can help you with that. ;)

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Eric December 24, 2011 at 6:15 PM

we’ll talk

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Hollie@lolzthatswim December 23, 2011 at 9:17 PM

I agree a lot Katelyn. I think that your blog should be an extension of your life. If it is not then it clearly shown through and blogging meetups become super awkward ya know? Like I think it’s silly for people to pretend to be something there not or not blog for themselves.

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Katelyn Block December 24, 2011 at 2:19 PM

True life. This blog is my child.

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Lisa Fine December 25, 2011 at 4:41 PM

I so agree. I’ve met lots of bloggers in real life, and find it really strange when someone appears to be one way on their blog, and another way when I meet them. And usually, it’s a let down, to be honest.

I’d much rather people write the way they talk, and if they’re boring, so be it. If only more people could meet bloggers in person. Some people I’ve met in life are so cool that I want to read their blog even more, which is the great part of conferences.

As Katelyn said, it’s all about voice. (And having met Katelyn at HLS – at Katy’s Survey Monkey giveaway in her hotel room!), I know she is true to her voice. :)

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Kaila @healthyhelperblog! December 23, 2011 at 10:26 PM

Great info girl! This was really helpful!!

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lindsay December 23, 2011 at 11:38 PM

oh that voice! you sure have one and l love it!! Great tips friend. So happy to “hear” you today. ;)

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Katelyn Block December 24, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Thank you love. Right back atcha. :)

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Lauren @ Fun, Fit and Fabulous! December 24, 2011 at 1:04 PM

These are such great tips! Whenever I first started my blog I was sooo confused but I loved the community so I just felt it out as I went along! :) Merry Christmas girly!

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Alicia December 24, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Very insightful info! :-) Thanks for sharing girl! :-)

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Wes Lee December 25, 2011 at 10:15 PM

Really awesome insights, especially about content originality and being yourself! Sometimes bloggers think adopting a totally different persona on the blogosphere would make them more convincing, but in reality people are drawn to honest, vivid, and sincere blogs instead of carefully contrived fakeness.

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Katelyn Block January 12, 2012 at 8:55 PM

I compleeeetely agree. Putting yourself, your FULL self, out there is one of the biggest elements of a successful blog.

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Devon February 12, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Thanks for this post! I’m trying to start a healthy blog and enjoyed these tips (: love your blog by the way!

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