Not long ago, I knew absolutely nothing about blogging. In 2012, I decided to create a place that I could share our adventures of remodeling our home but I had no idea what elements I needed. I have now created two different websites (my home remodel blog & this budget/debt blog) and I wanted to share some important elements I have figured out over the years. So let’s talk about how to start a blog!
This post contains some affiliated links. For more information, see my disclosure policy here.
HOW TO START A BLOG
You have decided you want to start a blog. Whatever you’re reasoning behind wanting to start, you need some basic elements to set it up. Before I get into these, I want to note something. You can start a blog for free (Blogger or WordPress.com) but if you want to have more freedom with the site. You will need to spend some money to host the site (we will talk about this). Now this will depend on you but some of the elements I am sharing the site will need to be hosted.
Also there are other helpful elements of running a blog but I am sharing only 7 elements that are very important in the beginning. Here we go!
FIND YOUR NICHE (TOPIC) –
This is very VERY important because it’s what your blog is all about (aka: what you will be sharing)! You probably have a pretty good idea about what you want to blog about but let’s make sure. Your niche needs to do 3 things:
- The topic needs to be something that you are PASSIONATE ABOUT. What do you talk about all the time or can discuss for hours???
- You need to FILL A NEED by solving problems for people.
- Do it for FUN. If you plan on writing about the topic over and over, it needs to excite you. Something you will still do if you are making NO money… (NOT saying that won’t happen but it could take some time)
Have you narrowed down your topic to create your niche? Take your time and really thing about it. I personally have two blogs because I am passionate about 2 different things, so pick one. Sometimes the topics can be combined but in my case I wanted them separate.
PICK A NAME –
It could take some time to decide on a name. The name needs to reflect you but also your niche. Here are some things to help you think about that fantastic name:
- The name needs to be unique (aka: not already used). You can check a domain below!
- It needs to be easy to remember.
- Shorter is better!
- Try to include keywords inside the name that would help visitors find you because of your niche.
Take your time deciding because it’s how people will tell their friends how to find your blog!
BLOGGING PLATFORM AND DOMAIN
This is when you decide where to host your blog. I would recommend starting out on a shared platform, it’s the cheaper option. There are many hosting websites you can use but I personally use Bluehost. I have used them for over 3 years and have had a really wonderful experience with them. The setup process could not be easier with them. Here’s how it works. First go to the Bluehost website.
- Then click the get started now button
- Now select your plan
- It’s now time for your name (domain). You get this FREE from Bluehost! Type in your blog name then click next.
- You will now get to create your account information and move to the package information. In this section you can add-on other applications. I would suggest having the Site Backup Pro, this has been a life saver to me many many times when my site was not working properly. Then enter in your payment information, read & check the terms of service. Then submit!
WordPress is a free web software you can use to create an awesome blog or website. And if you are using Bluehost, they have a 1-click install for WordPress. So it could not be easier to install.
After you have installed WordPress it is time for the exciting and important plugins you can use! There are so so many plugins you can use but the point of a plugin is to extend and expand the functionally of WordPress. There are some must for plugins and I want to talk about those first. Please Note: that there are lots of different options. These are the ones I use.
Jetpack by WordPress.com – This one has lots of features but one of my favorite is the CSS Editor. This is a way to change your website code without really changing it, if that makes sense.
Akismet – This one checks your comments for spam and puts them in a spam folder. Believe me; you will get a lot of spam.
Security – I currently use iThemes Security Plugin but there is also Wordfence Security. The security of your site is very important; you would be surprised how many times people try to hack your site. The reason I like this plugin is because you can change your login address. The one you currently have is very standard (easy to hack), change it! I also like this plugin because I can adjust the number of times someone is allowed to enter a password, have an away mode (during the night), etc… Make sure you have a security plugin.
Yoast SEO – Helps make your post/pages more searchable with search engines.
W3 Total Cache – This helps speed up the site.
Updraft Plus WordPress Backup – This backs up your site, just in case.
WP Smush – Helps make your image file smaller without affecting the quality. It speeds up your site.
Google XML Sitemap – will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your blog.
CREATE A BRAND STYLE
This is where you design your website. Brand styling is about bringing out the personality of your blog. Something that is consistent and compelling to look at. There are many free themes you can use inside of WordPress (a theme is how your website looks, all the features).
But I would have to recommend using StudioPress Genesis as your framework and a child theme with it. This website using genesis but with the Glam Theme by Restored 316 Designs. My other blog uses the Magazine Pro Theme by StudioPress. So take your time and decide on a theme but keep it simple. Oh and remember you can adjust things with some code.
Now for the rest of your brand style. My brand with TwoFeetFirst was all over the place and something that is very important is having consistency. You need to create a distinctive brand identity. There is a wonderful book that will help you do just that and it’s called How to Style you Brand by Fiona Humberstone.
Something I found very useful is having a brand board. Inside this you will have your logo, color palette, secondary logos, and three font types. This board is what you will use in everything you create for your website. I will be explaining this in more detail in a blog post soon. But here is what mine looks like for this blog.
START CREATING CONTENT
Now start writing! But there are a couple of things to write first and these should be in pages.
- About Me: Tell people about you; let them get to know you.
- New? Start Here: Explain how your blog works.
- Projects/Info: Make it easier to find your posts.
- Contact: How can people contact you?
These are just the important ones, you can always have more.
When you start writing always have your viewer in mind. Use headers to bring out the important parts and always use at least one photo. Something that people can pin (Pinterest friendly).
CREATE AN EMAIL LIST
Make sure you have an email list because this is a great way to let people know about things happening. A wonderful way to have people subscribe to an email list is to use an Opt-In incentive (mine is my FREE resource library!). Give them something to have their email address.
A great place to start building a list is with MailChimp because your first 2,000 subscribers are FREE.
There are so many more things I want to tell you about starting a blog and tips to help you. But if I did that this post would be way to long. So look for more blogging tutorials and tips here. I hope this will help you get started in your blogging adventure! Please let me know if you have any questions.
*Affiliate links may be contained in this post. If you click on an affiliate link and buy something, we may receive a small commission. But it does NOT result in you paying a dime more for that item. The affiliate money we earn helps pay for running a blog and doing more projects. Thanks so much for your support!*