Blogging for Beginners: Week Two: Choosing a Blogging Platform and Theme

Welcome to week two of the Blogging for Beginner’s series!

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Now that you’ve gotten started and answered these questions, you’re ready to choose a blogging platform!

You have a lot of options: Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, and those are just the most popular ones!

How does one choose?

When I was searching for a blogging platform, I did some research. First, I looked at my favorite blogs and saw which one they used. For example:

Blogger: The ever-popular and wonderful Jen from I Heart Organizing uses Blogger to her advantage and is ranked #30 on the Top 100 Blogspot Blogs of 2012.

WordPress: One of my biggest blogging inspirations is Kira from Her New Leaf. Check out how she created such a lovely WordPress blog using the Thesis theme (what I also use currently).

Tumblr: One of my favorite fashion bloggers, Jessica from What I Wore, uses Tumblr so creatively that it functions much differently from a regular tumblr and looks great.

For me, I knew that I didn’t possess the knowledge to turn a tumblr into that beauty, so I eliminated that from my list (don’t let that deter you if you’re willing to learn though! Or to pay someone to create a theme for you!) Tumblr offers bloggers convenience and a large community, as The Blog Herald outlines here.

Choosing a Blogging Platform

Next, I consulted some comparisons between Blogger and WordPress. I found this site to be helpful because it points out the key differences between WordPress and Blogger and I also really enjoyed reading this post because it puts each platform into perspective based on your blogging goals.

In the end, because I knew I wanted to “brand” and monetize my blog, I chose WordPress. But if you feel more comfortable with Blogger, don’t let that hold you back! Choose the platform that makes the most sense to you and is the most user-friendly for you.

Don’t worry about making a permanent decision. You can always transfer later if you want to, with some research and effort, but once you’ve done your research and established your blog goals, you should have a clear answer.

Hooray! Now that you’ve decided on your platform, choose a fantastic theme that meets your needs. Remember, this is something you can (and will!) change throughout your blogging career. But it is important to choose something visually pleasing to invite your initial readers in.

Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a theme:

things to consider when choosing a theme

Ask yourself these questions:

Can you actually see the important content? For example, If you have a photography blog, the pictures should be the first thing your eye moves toward. Does it have a clean, open space that is clutter-free keeps your readers from feeling stressed or confused and focused on YOUR content? Can you add features to your sidebars and are they where you want them? Can you make this theme your own? Can you change the colors, add a header, include personal images, or choose the fonts? Is that important to you? What are the most appealing features on your favorite blogs? What are your must-haves?

Be aware that basic, free themes will not have everything you want! You’ll have to invest in a customized theme down the road if that’s what you’re aiming for. I did when I purchased Thesis and I’m really glad I did, but I certainly didn’t start that way. One of the first WP themes I started with was Fresh & Clean.
Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

If you’re ready to invest in a theme, you can do one of two things:

  1. Hire a graphic designer/web designer to create a personalized template
  2. Learn the basics and create your own

If you’re looking for some fabulous designers, Aubrey from The Kinch Life, and Angela from Saffron Avenue have done some really incredible work with blogs! Check them out.

Again, don’t let the stress of finding the “perfect” theme stop you from starting your blog. It will take plenty of time to get settled in before you feel really confident in the look and feel of your blog. Just get started!

Come back next week when you’ve picked your platform and theme and we’ll talk about the big fancy stuff—purchasing a domain name and web hosting and using FTP (What the heck is that?)

 

Winter Chambray

I’ve never owned anything chambray before, but a few months ago, I came across this sleeveless, ruffled chambray blouse and I snagged it up. Since then, I haven’t really figured out a way to wear it. But this blog has been teaching me to try new things, new colors, new layers, and I’ve been taking risks! This outfit isn’t really risky, but it’s definitely different and I like it.

Winter Chambray

Winter Chambray 2

Winter Chambray 3

Blouse: (Goodwill)
Cardigan: H&M
Pants: NY & Co. (Goodwill)
Belt: Forever 21
Necklace: JC Penney (old)
Flats: Famous Footwear

I guess the key to wearing chambray is layering, especially in the winter. I really liked this shade of chambray along with the ruffles, because it adds some interest. I really like wearing sleeveless collared blouses like this one because it is SO easy to layer and dress up or down.

Have you checked out my Blogging for Beginners series yet? You aren’t too late! Week one, Where Do I Start?, just began last week and week two will be up tomorrow! I will be focusing on choosing a blogging platform and theme.

Sorry things are a bit quiet around here this week–it’s been a doozy! Enjoy your week! We’re halfway there :)

pleated poppy

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Gray, Red, and Ramblings

Red and Gray 1

Red and Gray 2

Tee: Old Navy (Goodwill)
Cardigan: Target
Pants: Old Navy
Necklace: c/o friend
Earrings: Forever 21?

Have you ever had one of those weeks where things just seem to keep piling on? That’s my week, and it’s only Tuesday. I’m helping out with a middle school musical and it’s tech week! So that has been taking over my evenings. I also just got a stack of 120 senior research papers to grade on top of my normal stuff, so I just have this ugly weight on my shoulders.

None of this is unmanageable, though. When I was in high school and college, I had so many weeks that I never thought were physically possible to get through with how busy and stressful they were, but the human body and mind is so amazing and can bring us through pretty much anything! It’s pretty fascinating.

How were your weekends? Mine was pretty nice. I’ve had a sore throat for a few days, so I ended up sleeping a lot and relaxing, but I also finally got around to hanging up picture frames on my walls! I’ve lived here for over six months and it’s taken me this long! Hard to believe…

But I may just be adding some things to my place soon. IKEA has its Bring Your Friends event on March 9th, so I might just be taking a special trip home to Pittsburgh just to go…Anyone planning on going, too?

Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

P.S. I just love red and gray. Don’t you?

Blogging for Beginners Series: Week 1: Where Do I Start?

A few friends approached me with questions about starting the blogging process so I decided to start a little Blogging for Beginners series. I am definitely still a novice and I am not claiming I know everything—or even just a small piece—about blogging, but I have learned so much in the past 9+ months that I thought I could at least pass along some tips.

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To begin this series, I thought I’d cover the basics for people who are considering starting a blog. Before you jump into the blogging world, consider the following questions:

questions to ask before starting a blog

  • Why do you want to blog?
    • Have a clear purpose for blogging and be honest with yourself. This purpose may change, and that’s okay, but knowing whether you want to blog for yourself, for a personal goal, for money, or for another reason will help shape your posts and decisions
  • What will you write about?
    • Bloggers will advise you find your “niche,” or what you will mostly focus on in your blog. I had a hard time choosing this because I am multifaceted—I knew I didn’t just want to craft or just share outfits, so I wrote about it all. It’s okay if you do, but it will be a little harder to gain readership. Knowing that ahead of time sets more realistic expectations. Have a plan for what you want to write about and write at least ten posts before you even start anything. You will want your readers to have something to look at once you get started.
  • What do you want to name your blog?
    • This is important to invest some time and thought in. Do a Google search and see if your name is still available, even if you aren’t considering buying a domain name just yet. You’ll also want to check social media for your name. If it’s not taken already, use it! But be sure that it is something catchy, grammatically correct, and clear about who you are
  • How much time (and money) are you willing and able to invest in your blog?
    • Your blog will be whatever you put into it. If you’re perfectly happy with your blog being a place where you document your life for your family and friends, then you won’t need to invest too much time or money into it. If you want a cleverly designed blog with its own domain name, advertising, and other special features, you must be willing to invest time and some money into it. These investments will be worth it to reach your main goal.
  • How often will you post?
    • Set a realistic expectation for yourself and try to stick to it. Remember, blogging should be an enjoyable experience for you. If it starts to become a chore, stop or slow down. Know this ahead of time and you’ll save yourself some stress!

 

Now that you’ve considered these questions, get writing! Don’t worry about the blog just yet, just open up a Word document or a notebook and start writing. Take some pictures that could accompany these posts. Search back to any projects, outfits, or ideas you may have had in the past. For example, when I started, I had some pictures of previous crafts I had made and I was able to write several posts without having to make anything new. And don’t forget to write a great introductory post about yourself and your plans for your blog!

Once you’ve prepared these posts and thought about your blog plans, you’ll be ready for the next step: Choosing a Blogging Platform and a theme.

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community