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So You Want To Start a Blog …
Well, believe me when I tell you wholeheartedly:
There is a RIGHT way and a WRONG way to do it … !
And if you want to know the 100% totally CORRECT way to blog —
Just click here on my affiliate link …
And sign up with my recommended Hosting Service …
Oh man, that was priceless —
You totally should’ve seen your face!
(sorry, blogger inside joke)
Because boy, if I’ve learned ANYTHING over this past year and a half, it’s that there is no set way to be a blogger.
There is no 100% foolproof method to start a blog from scratch.
Or ensure you have all your t’s dotted and i’s crossed (what? did I mess something up there??)
And if you’re thinking of starting a new blog, just know it can be done in about a zillion different ways.
So don’t let ANYONE trick you into thinking you’ve done something wrong, or that your blog is sub-par, or you don’t know what you’re doing.
Although I guess on many occasions, I don’t know what I’m doing.
Which is okay — I know I’m not perfect. I’m trying, and that’s what’s important.
The “8 Mile Concept” of Blog Design
But what’s that, you say?
The very title of my blog is called “Mastering the Side Jam“.
Doesn’t that indicate a certain level of … umm … mastery?
No, because I’ve fully disclosed that I am by no means a master of any of this.
Because it’s master-ing … like, in the process of developing a level of knowledge.
Not having fully mastered, or claiming perfection.
I’m documenting what I’ve been learning on my financial journey. The good, the bad, and the less-than-ideal.
For the whole world to see (or not see).
On my B.L.O.G.
And I’d like to affectionately refer to this as the “8 Mile Concept” of my blog design.
Remember that Eminem film from back in 2002? It’s a coming of age story — a young guy who hasn’t been dealt the best hand in life, trying to make things better for himself. He wants to be a rapper, but doesn’t fit the mold of current expectations, and others are not really giving him a chance.
In the battle scene at the end, he beats his opponent to the punch by listing out his own flaws. He points out every little thing that would elude to him not being a success, so his rival doesn’t get the satisfaction of stating the obvious.
The point being — who exactly has the authority to say what is right and what is wrong (for anything, really)?
So What Exactly is a Blog?
Merriam-Webster defines a blog as ….
Sorry, I’m just messing with you again –
Because isn’t that how so many of us have started out with writing an essay or article?
Look it up in the dictionary, and then expound from there.
But I’m here to tell you there is no true dictionary definition for what a blog is, or isn’t, or truly can become.
A blog can be:
- An online journal to document daily activities, goals, achievements, or observations
- A photo album of locations traveled, or destinations where you’d like to travel
- A conglomeration of recipes, culinary findings, gourmet concoctions
- Sports predictions, team assessments, game highlights
- Fashion, makeup, and beauty recommendations
- Political musings, commentary, and gossip (gasp!)
- And even an entire website paying homage to a pet
It’s really just a place where you create content. Whether it’s written word, photos, drawings, or even music.
You are sharing a piece of yourself with the world.
Your heart, coming through the computer screen.
Okay wait, that seems a bit graphic. Let me try again —
A piece of your heart, lovingly and painstakingly shared with the masses, via imagination, creativity, and technology.
Although actually, the dictionary definition of a blog isn’t too bad of an explanation:
What a Blog Is Not
A blog is not a predefined entity, with a single expected purpose.
It cannot be whittled down into a concise little summary.
It is not a Haiku, or even a limerick, for that matter.
(Although I’d venture to guess there are blogs out there, created specifically for the sharing and disbursement of both Haiku and limericks.)
Blogs don’t fit into neat little compartments or under broad generalizations.
They are individual, and personal, and distinctive.
You might even say a blog lives and breathes, through the carefully-crafted words of its author.
What a Blog Should Look Like
Full disclosure here — in case you might be wondering where this commentary is coming from.
The idea for this post did not manifest from someone actually saying anything negative about my blog, or its design, or its content.
This epiphany came from some recent thought and contemplation on where I’d like to take this site going forward.
In order to be considered a legit business that’s accepted by peers and respected by readers.
Whether I should make cosmetic changes to appear more “professional” or “business-like” or “normal”.
Because what is “normal” anyway??
Looks Can Be Deceiving
My blog might be considered to look a bit “bloggy”.
I’ve been thinking about changing it to look a bit more professional, like other blogs out there.
With characteristics like:
- Crisp clean background
- Less GIFs and emojis
- More flat lays displaying notebooks, paper clips, staplers, and confetti
So what exactly does “bloggy” mean, and why should it matter?
As an example, my blog theme is bright pink and colorful.
My logo and font are kind of cartoon-ish. Sometimes I share random photos of my dogs, or humorous GIFs that make me LOL.
These qualities may make my blog appear a bit amateurish …
But let me assure you it has been the fruit of my labor. Many, many hours upon hours of labor.
I’ve worked hard on its development, and it’s finally starting to show.
Despite my anti-social efforts of being allergic to blogger outreach.
In spite of my aversion to pitching guest posts to gain quality backlinks.
Regardless of my social misgivings, my Domain Authority is finally beginning to grow a bit.
Granted, I’m nowhere near some other bloggers who started after I did, and have been producing a larger amount of content.
But we are not playing the comparison game right now. The only person I should be comparing myself to is me — and where I was 3 months ago, 6 months ago, one year ago.
Because my SEO credibility is starting to gain momentum. I’m ranking on page one of Google for a few phrases — not super huge ones, but big enough for me to want to nurture them further.
I’m also gaining daily traffic from organic sources — Google, Yahoo, Bing. That’s all stuff happening behind the scenes, that I don’t need to lift a finger to produce.
Except to keep it going, I need to keep producing content. Stay on Google’s radar, so she knows I’m still here.
(Yes, I believe Google to be a she. Who else could handle all of that multi-tasking, and deciphering of inane questions?)
3 Reasons Why I Like My Blog the Way It Is
1. It doesn’t look like anyone else’s. Having a unique design = memorable.
Love it or hate it, my blog is hot pink. I have a jar of jam as my logo. It is also hot pink.
Whether you appreciate the design of my site or think it’s a bit too much, you will probably remember it.
It won’t get mixed in with others out there, who have more of a streamlined theme. Mine definitely stands out.
2. It reflects my personality – I enjoy being different.
I have a blog that is hot pink and screams for attention. So clearly, I’m an introvert. Haha.
While my blog color scheme shouts “hey, look at me!“, that is definitely not how I am in person. However, I do feel my blog represents my unique personality.
I’m a little bit quirky, do things against the norm, and like to push accepted limits.
How many moms do you know who go out and get their nose pierced for their 40th birthday?
My sense of humor borders on extremely corny, and several members of my family will fully attest to that.
Show me an old school Steve Martin movie, and I’ll burst out in uncontrollable laughter. ‘Cuz I’m a wild and crazy gal…
(Yes, I know — That’s probably before your time.)
3. I created it myself – which is something I’m proud of.
Call me sentimental, but the fact that I’ve been developing this baby since day one just makes me feel all warm and gooey inside.
This is something I created. Little ‘ole me. Insecurities and all. I did something.
This blog is a piece of me. For all its starts, stops, flaws, and faux pas.
And for this, I need to step back and allow myself a small celebration.
Because a couple of really smart mentors recently reminded me to celebrate my wins.
(So – Yay, me!!)
Can a “Bloggy” Blog Be Profitable?
This begs the question — can you actually make money with a blog that may seem too “bloggy”?
That’s really where this internal quest first began. If I’d like to make this a true business, do I need to make the blog more business-like?
Here’s what I think —
You get out of something what you put into it.
If you dedicate enough time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears, something will come of it. And if you truly believe in a cause, then you can make money doing it.
Will it be enough to live on, or trade in my day job for? Probably not. (But you never know.)
What I do know is I really love doing this, and don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
A year and a half later, and I’m still truckin’.
I love my “bloggy” blog, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Hey, maybe I’ll put that on a t-shirt.
Well, boys and girls — what are some takeaways we can pluck out from this discussion?
Here are some that come to mind for me:
- There is no right or wrong way to start a blog
- Perfection should not be your end goal — Instead: work towards improvement and happiness (find your joy!)
- Putting a piece of yourself into a project is worth way more than making it look like everyone else’s
- You’ll get out of something what you put into it
- “Bloggy” blogs can still hold merit
- Never take yourself too seriously
- Don’t compare yourself to others — because there is no other YOU
Guess that about covers it —
Thanks for joining me, and if you have any thoughts on this, please hit me up in the Comments!
Robin : )
Robin is a full-time business professional who has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. She is also a personal finance blogger who shares her first hand experience with the struggles of money and debt. On Mastering the Side Jam, she focuses on ways to maximize efficiencies to make & save money, pay off debt, and live your best life.
She has been been featured on The Money Mix, Rockstar Finance, The Financial Diet and Women’s Money Talk, and has been quoted in various online publications.