September is International Pet Blogger Month – how cool?! – and the focus is on education. I love that topic, and I realized I had a million things I wanted to write about. Recently, though, I’ve gotten lots of emails asking me how to start a pet blog. So, for International Pet Blogger Month, I combed through my emails to find the most frequently asked questions, and I’m sharing my thoughts.
Top 5 FAQs: How to Start a Pet Blog!
- How do I start a blog?
This is – by far – the most common question I get. In fact, I had an email at the end of last week from a gentleman who said, “I have a lot of topics I could write about my dogs, but I don’t know where to start.” I feel ya’! This is going to sound crazy, but here’s how you start a blog: You create an account on the platform of your choosing (see Q2), and then… start writing! Or uploading pictures! Or video! If you feel inspired to start a blog, then all you need to do is START! Open that account today (and tell us in the comments when you do!) and publish your first post. I think the “how do I start” paralysis maybe comes from fear of the unknown, not knowing all the technical details, or being afraid of putting yourself out there. Those things come with time and hands-on experience. Letting those slow down your start just keeps you from getting your blog up and running. Seriously. All you have to do to start is create that account! Go! Do it! We’ll wait…
- What platform should I use?
Okay, okay. But on which platform should I create my account? There are two platforms that hold the lion’s share of blogs: Blogger and WordPress. Both have free options. If you want to dip your toes in the blogging waters, definitely go with a free version of one or the other. You can always upgrade to a paid account later. Or, if you know you’re a-million-percent committed to your blog, then my personal opinion is go with a self-hosted WordPress account. If you’re interested in WordPress – free or paid – here’s the signup form. Now, go sign up! (By the way, if you go with self-hosted, you need a host. I’m an affiliate for my host because I truly believe they’re the best eco-friendly option, so here’s that link, which if you use to sign up it won’t cost you extra, but I’ll receive a small commission to help offset my costs: GreenGeeks. It’s an eco-friendly host with great customer service, imo.)
- What should I write about?
If you’re feeling inspired to start a pet blog, I’m assuming you either have pets or are involved somehow in animal welfare. Write about that! With my writing students at the community college, many of them let their fear of the blank screen and blinking cursor keep them from getting started. I totally get that. But you can overcome by putting up your first post: Introduce yourself to all of us (your readers!) and tell us about your pets. Post 2 can be a story that inspired you to start the pet blog. Then you’re off and running! Stories about your pets, things you see in the news, photo posts, and so on… I encourage you to start a notebook, too. Yep, an actual pen-and-paper notebook! Start jotting down ideas for future posts as they come to you. You’ll be amazed at how much inspiration you find out in the world! One final note: I believe in goal setting. To keep yourself motivated when you first start, set micro-goals. For instance, “I will post once a week for six months.” You might not be getting many comments or shares in the beginning (I think for about a year, my hubs and MIL were the only two commenters I had!) so those little goals will keep propelling you forward.
- How do I promote my new blog?
So, once you start your blog and you’re pouring your heart out onto the interwebs, you’re going to want readers! The best way to promote your blog – this is going to sound counter-intuitive, but stick with me – is to read other people’s blogs and post thoughtful comments. Engage in discussions on Facebook, in comment threads, and on Twitter. Blatant self-promotion just isn’t the way of the internet. Meaningful discussion is. People will seek out your blog because they’re blown away by your insightful conversation. That being said, I do suggest setting up a Facebook page and Twitter account (at the minimum… you could also go with Pinterest, Instagram, G+, and so on… but start small!) and post links to your recent blog posts on those accounts. Consider guest posting for other more established blogs. I give that suggestion with this very strong caveat: Before you pitch a guest post to anyone, please (PLEASE) read their guidelines carefully. Pitching a blogger who says in her About page that she doesn’t accept guest posts will annoy her and waste your time. Pitching a blogger a story about dog training when she only writes about cat fashion, same thing. Guest posting is great… if you do it well. Read guidelines then pitch appropriately! (And, obvi, spell check and all that…)
- What are some resources for learning about SEO/social media/widgets/etc.?
Once you’re up and running, you’ll probably start to notice nifty little features on other people’s blogs. Or someone will mention SEO on Twitter, and you’ll scratch your head. There are tons of bells and whistles behind the scenes of blogging. Join a community group on Facebook or G+, attend a conference, type “blogging tips” into the Pinterest search bar, or – here’s a crazy concept – check out books on blogging and internet marketing from the library! Don’t try to do it all at once, though. Pick a single topic and focus on that. Say you want to learn about SEO. Utilize each of those resources until you feel like you have a grasp on SEO, then move onto subscription widgets or Twitter promotion or whatever you’re most curious about. Building a blog is like building a house; stack one brick at a time!
A Final Note
Since this is the longest post ever, you may have just skimmed until here. If you only take away two things, start with these: To start a blog, simply START! And set mini-goals for yourself throughout the process. It can be lonely until you start getting comments, so find a way to keep yourself motivated!
Now that you’ve gotten this far, if you’re stumped on what to do next, check out my eBook, Authentic Blogging: How to Find (and Use!) Your Authentic Voice. Here’s what I believe: You can attract and retain blog readers by being you: truly, wholly, 100% you. Learning how to harness your authentic blogging voice isn’t necessarily easy. But it is doable. In this eBook, I show you exactly how I did it!
Starting a pet blog? Leave the URL in the comments so we can all become avid readers! A blogging pro? What did I miss? Share your tips in the comments!
This post is sponsored by BlogPaws. I am being compensated to support International Pet Blogger Month with an educational post, but OMD! only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. BlogPaws is not responsible for the content of this article.