If you’ve been reading some of the awesome pet blogs available on the web then it would be no surprise if they have inspired you to take action and start writing your own! Starting your own blog is as fun as it looks and it’s also free! But it can also be hard work. If however, you are looking to start your own blog then you have arrived at the right place, as we here at PetSci are about to tell you everything you need to know to get running!
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Before You Start
Before you start, you need to consider what type of blog you are creating. Broadly speaking, there are two types:
- Private – Essentially an online diary which you can either keep to yourself or show only to close friends
- Public – A place you want to fill with all your thoughts, ideas and questions which is visible to the entire world!
Now you need to consider whether the amount of visitors you are going to be receiving is important to you. Of course, to some degree, visitor numbers are going to be important to everyone, but if you are serious about getting as many visitors or ‘hits’ as you can, there are a few tips you can follow before you start:
- Are you comfortable with writing on a daily basis? Or at least every few days? Blogs should ideally be updated regularly if you are seeking lots of visitors
- Do you know your target audience? Blogs also benefit if the author targets a specific ‘niche’ or group of people. For example, a blog about food, pets and iPhone apps is going to be quite confusing where as a blog solely about pets is going to be much more straightforward
- Once you know what you are writing about, it is good to refine that topic even further. So if you are writing about pets, are you writing about dogs or cats? If you are writing about dogs, what about them? One dog’s life story? Nutrition? Health problems? Try to refine your topic so it isn’t vague, but make sure you still have plenty to write about!
- If you think you might struggle for article ideas, take out a pen and paper and draw a mind map of topics. Expand each topic as much as you can, then expand further – making even small points. Each small point you create has the potential to become a full article with a little research. Try and create as many small points as you can and then save this mind mind for inspiration in case you ever become stuck for ideas. After a couple of weeks, make another – you will notice that you are able to write down many more points as by then you will have become familiar with the type of articles suitable for your blog
- If you are serious about starting a blog. Don’t. Well, not just yet at least. First write 20 articles. There are two main reasons for this: 1) It means you will have invested a lot of time in to your blog before you even start meaning you are less likely to give up at a later date and 2) You initial readers are less likely to come back or read another article if they only see you have posted 1 or 2 articles. 20 is a great starting point and will really help get the ball rolling.
Don’t worry if the above tips sound a bit daunting! They aren’t necessary, but may help you if you are serious about visitors. If you’d prefer to take a more casual approach just skip to the next section and lets get started!
Now it’s time to begin! There is a wealth of choice when it comes to picking who ‘hosts’ your blog. The ‘host’ is the person who holds all your files and allows people from the web to see your work. For new bloggers, it is best to set up with one of these three major free providers:
- WordPress - My personal favourite and what I use to host PetSci & VetSci. It offers great control and flexibility and has some great features. If you are looking to advertise however, you will need a self-hosted WordPress account which is a little more complicated to set up. There is promise that in the future, WordPress are setting up their own advertising network to allow you to make money however.
- Blogger – Recently updated, Blogger is now much easier to use, looks good and has some great features – you can also use Google’s ‘Adsense’ to advertise on your blog and make some money. We are going to walk through setting up a blog with Blogger in this guide.
- Tumblr - A lot less control and features compared to the other the other two, but very simple and easy to use!
As I mentioned, we are going to be using Blogger in this walkthrough to create a blog – but feel free to use any other service and follow along with some of our tips!
Creating Your Blog
To create your free blog, head to this address http://www.blogger.com/home and you should see something like this:
If you don’t, then you may need to sign in with your Google account – if you don’t have a Google account you first need to create one here. You will have a Google account if you use any other Google service such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Adsense or Google Reader. Once you’ve created your account, try visiting the above Blogger link again.
Now, look to the top of your page and beneath your name, you will see a button to create a new blog – click it!
A pop up will appear:
Take your time to fill in the ‘Title’ (your blog’s name) and the ‘Address’ (the URL address users must type to reach your blog). I’m soon to be launching a website based on nutrition and some of the homoeopathic remedies used for treating animals. Therefore, for both the title and address I entered ‘HomoeoSci’. Your new blog is immediately created and available at the address you typed, e.g.; homeosci.blogspot.com.
You also need to choose a template. I’d recommend the ‘Dynamic Views’ but feel free to pick whichever and remember that it can be changed at any time.
That’s it! Your Blog has been created!
Setting Up Your Blog
You should now be presented with an overview page such as below:
From here you will be able to access all parts of your blogs – from posts to settings. First, let’s look at your settings, click on the settings tab in the sidebar to the right:
Carefully read through each of the settings listed to customise your blog to suit you – the defaults should be good enough for most, but you may want to change who can read your blog for instance (see above). You can also change the Title and Address of your blog in the settings, these were added when first creating your blog.
Once you are happy with your settings, you might also want to take a look at the template options. Here you can easily change your template if you are not happy with the one you selected when signing up. Click ‘Apply to Blog’ below a template preview to instantly change your website template to the one listed.
Monetising Your Blog
Adding adverts to your blog can be a good way to make money if you are getting a lot of visitors. At first however, it is likely you will have few visitors and it may be better to hold off from placing ads for the moment. Having no adverts makes your blog look more professional and can entice readers to come back again. It is simple enough to add adverts at a later date anyway.
Adding adverts to your blog is as simple as following the links Blogger provides. Google is responsible for both Blogger and Adsense – so they integrate seamlessly.
Now your blog is all set up, it is time to get writing! Hopefully you’ll already have some drafts written, or at the very least some ideas! To create a new article, hit the orange ‘New Post’ button at the top of the page and the new post window will open:
The format is very similar to word processing software such as Microsoft Word. You can Bold, Underline, Emphasise,
Strike-through, change font and font size and much more. To add an image click the picture icon and upload images from your computer. To link to other places on the internet, highlight the word, click link and then copy and paste the address into the pop-up.
Once you’ve typed you article you can use the settings on the right to tag your post, schedule when you want to post it and allow or disallow comments. If you know how to write HTML, there is also the option to use HTML instead of the standard Word-like ‘Compose’ page.
Before you hit the orange ‘Publish’ button, read through your article. Ideally you should read through once to edit it (move information around, change wording, sentences, pictures etc.) and then read through again to check grammar and spelling.
After hitting Publish, your article is now visible on the internet! To view your blog, click the ‘View Blog’ button at the top of the screen and you will see your blog as visitors would see it. Congratulations on you’re first post!
If you are interested in the number of people visiting your blog; Blogger, WordPress and most Blog-hosting services provide statistics in some form or another. Check your overview page or dashboard to see these stats. Don’t expect many at first, but stick with it and these numbers will build! Be sure to spread the word about your blog on twitter and facebook, participate in meaningful discussions on forums, contribute useful advice in comments (and provide a link to your blog) to increase the number of visitors. Don’t be too heavy handed with your promotion otherwise people may be less inclined to visit!
Some tips, tricks and advice on what to do now:
- Keep writing! Try and post at least one article a week at first, as you get used to the new experience of writing a pet blog. Try and build up to a few a week if possible. If you are writing a lot of articles – don’t post them all on one day, use the scheduling tool to spread them out over a week or two
- Learn more about how to use your chosen platform – Blogger and WordPress both have extensive support to help you get the most from their features
- Write a guest post for other pet bloggers as this will help you to gain exposure
- Participate in pet blog hops such as the Saturday Pet Blog Hop & Monday Mischief
- Comment on other Pet Bloggers’ Blogs! Don’t spam though e.g. No ‘Visit my site here: www.dogs.blogspot.com’
- Add your pet blog to the Technorati directory
- Add you blog to AllTop
- Technorati & AllTop are also good places to research what others are writing about
- Buy some pet magazines for ideas and inspiration
- Follow pet bloggers on twitter
- Write articles that will keep people entertained
- Be controversial and spark debates
- Link to other pet blogs to gain their attention
- Most importantly: Keep writing and don’t give up!
Thank you for reading, I hope I managed to provide you with some insight into creating your own pet blog! If you found this guide useful, please do share with your friends on Facebook & Twitter – Click the Tweet This button below!
Let me know how creating your own blog goes in the comments below, feel free to leave a link to your blog and I’ll check it out and offer some advice. If you have any questions about anything raised in this guide, feel free to ask!