It seems like everyone is starting a blog these days - they are everywhere! One of the reasons for this is that it is possible to earn at least a decent supplementary income from your writing - and some bloggers manage to make blogging their full time job.
Part of the appeal is that blogging has few start-up costs - you just need a laptop, an idea of what you are going to write about and your target audience.
I started my blog for free on Google's Blogger.com and I've been there ever since, although many bloggers prefer the versatility of Wordpress.
It's amazing, actually when I think about the skills I have had to learn to blog. Many of these were already under my belt from my background in marketing but here's just some of the things that bloggers do daily. It's easy for many newbie bloggers to assume you write a few articles and then are inundated with freebies but it's really not like that!
Core blogging skills
* writing, editing, proof-reading
* market research - particularly in to the keywords which are likely to drive readers to your site
* photography and photo-editing
* video production
* branding and design
* accounting and tax (if you earn money from your blogging you must declare it to HMRC
* social media - creating and maintaining your accounts and using them to promote your blog posts
* pitching to and working with brands
* negotiating your fees
* advertising and PR
* statistical analysis - you need to understand where your traffic comes from, who is driving it and why
As you can see, blogging is not dissimilar to running a full time marketing department.
There are costs involved though, if you want to improve the professionalism of your site. These are the things I have invested in.
* a decent laptop with a good sized screen and keyboard. I'm a trained touch-typist (from my personal assistant days) and I can't type quickly on a teeny tiny keyboard.
* a custom URL from Godaddy.com. Blogger will give you a blog address which has .blogspot in which lots of PR companies don't like. Buying a custom URL - mine is motherdistracted.co.uk - allows you to look more professional whilst still retaining the security of having someone else host your site.
* a subscription to Buffer - an application which allows you to schedule your social media posts. I love Buffer because it is easy to use but there are a number of rival apps like Hootsuite.
* a subscription to Boardbooster - an application which will repin your pins to Pinterest and shuffle your boards for you to gain maximum exposure.
* a subscription to Picmonkey - a genius photo editing application which allows you to edit individual photos and create collages. Some bloggers prefer a rival application called Canva
* business cards (I got mine from Vistaprint) to give out a bloggers conferences and meet-ups
* a mobile phone with a decent camera - lots of bloggers go the whole hog and invest in expensive cameras but I've managed to get by with a smartphone. The Husband gave me his iPhone 6S when he upgraded recently and I love it.
It's easy to get carried away with all the bells and whistles and there are several really good books on blogging, such as The Million Dollar Blog by Natasha Courtenay-Smith or The Ultimate Blogger To-Do List by Dana Fox and endless courses about all aspects of a blogger's craft to tempt you to part with your pennies.
But if you are just starting out with very little cash to spare, you can find lots of support in an excellent Facebook group - UK Bloggers. You'll find bloggers are a friendly bunch who are always generous with their advice. Before you shell out, just ask for their very valuable advice - many of them have been blogging for years and are highly experienced.
Talking of which, if there is anything you'd like to ask, feel free to pop a question in the comments box below.
If you are thinking of taking the plunge with your own blog - try it! You may never look back.