03 Nov Starting a blog – My real life experience
I had been mulling over the idea of starting a blog for a couple of years, but I’m not 20 something, I’m not your typical blogger and I’m not a user of social media!
I am, however, a massive fan of anything beauty; skincare; hair; make-up etc and I love products. It’s impossible for me to go anywhere beauty related and not come back with a bag of “the latest miracles”. Here’s a brief overview of my road to actually switching on the website.
I started researching and there are lots of fabulous blogs out there but the ones I liked were for younger people, I found the blogs by women my own age were starting to veer towards articles on dealing with teenagers; the menopause etc etc, all very important and useful but absolutely not the direction I wanted to go in. Did this mean that there wasn’t a market for a strictly beauty blog for anyone 40 upwards? I want to write a blog because I love everything Beauty and I want to offer my advice and help to people who haven’t got the time to research themselves, I want to build up a trust. I soon realised that starting a blog now is very different to even a couple of years ago, for example, photography is massively important, I’ve had to learn so many things.
My starting point was to think of a name, I decided on Adele’s Beauty Box after a lot of umming and ahhing over using my own name, but I thought I couldn’t run into any legal issues if I called the blog after myself. I then did a few things in completely the wrong order and made some very basic mistakes. I bought the domain names adelesbeautybox.co.uk and adelesbeautybox.com from 123.reg and then I looked into setting up a website. Wix was recommended as a good start as it sets everything up for you. I went to work on starting my website before doing enough research and soon realised that the Wix website wasn’t going to give me the professional appearance that I wanted; in order to get that I would have to have WordPress.
OK, I thought, let’s get started with this WordPress thing. There followed hours of internet tutorials and I realised I would need a hosting platform in order to get a WordPress site. I chose Hostgator and duly paid for them to host my site, luckily I decided to use the monthly plan rather than signing up for a year. The monthly plan was much more expensive but I didn’t know if this would work out and I could always switch. (I have ended up moving away from Hostgator towards far more flexible independently managed (cloud based) hosting setup.)
The free WordPress sites didn’t offer all the facilities, so I decided to opt for a Premium site and paid £50 for a theme called Freyja. I was such a WordPress rookie I assumed that this would be a simple case of download and then start typing all those blog ideas I’d been writing in various notebooks for months. Not the case at all. The download was so complicated that I then paid £40 for the theme to be downloaded for me. This took 4 days and I was so excited when I went to open the website, only to find that I still didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I needed plug ins for this and that. I used the tutorials available but the screenshots on the tutorials didn’t correspond with what I could see on-screen. I then did what I should have done weeks ago, I contacted a professional! Paul at Paulaube web design was very helpful and didn’t even snigger when I was relating my tale of woe. He offered to sort everything out securely and throw in a couple of hours of one to one training on how to use and maintain a WordPress blog.
I had been advised by a friend who works in the digital media world that before I got the website up and running I needed to have a presence on social media and specifically Instagram. I started taking some photos with my iphone 6s and soon realised that compared to the pictures in other beauty websites, these just weren’t going to cut it. There followed days of trawling through blogs and reading opinions and reviews on which camera to use. Considering all I wanted to do was to write about Beauty and makeup I was now learning so much about websites and photography. I read about compact cameras but the consensus was that if you wanted to take decent pictures you needed a DSLR camera. My budget was around £350.00 so I settled on the Canon DSLR 1300d which seemed to have decent reviews and came with a standard 18-55 mm lens. It also has a Wifi facility so you can transfer photos from the camera straight to your iphone/ipad. After several nights studying the instruction booklet and attempting to take fabulous photos using auto only, I knew my photographs needed work, so I signed up to start a beginners photography course. All this did was make me realise how much more I need to learn so my photography is definitely a work in progress. I know that my main problem is getting the lighting right but there are so many opinions on what to buy and I need to know more about photography in order to make an informed choice. I will let you know how I get on.
You may well ask why I didn’t just start a Wix website and take photos with my phone, but when I was researching blogs I was drawn to the really professional looking ones, the ones with beautiful photos. Is this shallow, I don’t know, but it seemed in a way that the more effort being put into the blog, the more effort would be put into research of products. I also subscribed to Blogosphere magazine and ordered a couple of old issues online which have some invaluable advice in them.
Before setting the website to live I went through a lot of self-doubt; what if no-one visits the site, what if no-one likes my Instagram or Twitter feeds. After years of being employed in a highly regulated industry where reports and e mails have to be succinct and structured, can I still write in a way that people will find interesting. I had to stop myself and think why am I doing a blog? I’m doing it because it’s something I’m passionate about, I’m sure all bloggers have gone through this. So what if my family and friends are the only people looking at it, I can’t let that stop me.