Everything You Need To Start Your Own Blog
How To Start Your Own Blog
So you want to start your own blog?! Setting up a blog is exciting, but I bet you’re probably overwhelmed with information and have a ton of questions:
- Should I go with self-hosted or fully hosted?
- What should I name my blog?
- What is SEO?
- Will anyone even read my blog?
- How do bloggers make money?
- How do I set up a website with next to no web design experience?!
If you want to start your own blog, but are holding back until you’re more comfortable… until you learn more, STOP!
Setting up a blog is a lot of work, and the learning curve is steep. It’s scary! But, NOTHING has prepared me more than actually diving right in!
It’s been one year since I started this blog, and learning as I go along has been the best way for me. And, I’ll show you how to do just that. No more waiting until you are ready. Just do it!
The longer you wait, the longer it will take to get the hang of things, for search engines to index your site, and for traffic to come in! It took me at least 6 months to build a decent following and traffic.
Here’s what we will cover:
This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission if you make a purchase through any of the links.
First things first -you’ll need a blog idea.
How To Choose Your Blog Topic
You can blog about almost anything- from broader topics like beauty and lifestyle, to more niched-down ideas like table-top games or easy vegan recipes.
You want to set yourself up as an authority in your niche, so blog about a topic you are passionate and knowledgeable about.
A blog should be personable, helpful and easy to understand.
If you have an ideas for a blog, just get started! How will you know what you want to blog about, until you actually start blogging?! Plus you can always change it up down the road.
Start With Your Blog Story
A great blog always starts with one thing – a story! Your blog is like a story. Use your story to shape your logo, graphics, blog design and the future of your blog.
**Don’t spend too much time on this part. I changed my logo and branding several times over the past year. The point here is to get started with a direction. Create a path for your blog and go with it!
Do not feel the need to make it ‘perfect’ right off the bat.
Do not spend weeks of valuable time working on your branding. Your time is better spent creating content and working on driving traffic:)
The key to developing your blog brand story:
Determine Your Blog’s Purpose!
Understand Your Audience
Read my blog post on how to brand your blog here – https://stephsocial.com/2019/07/23/brand-development-for-bloggers/
Check out how and why I re-named my blog here – https://stephsocial.com/2019/02/11/blog-name-ideas-come-up-with-the-best-blog-names/
Creating Your Blog Content
Here’s the basics you need to get started:
- Cornerstone blog posts
- About page
Start with at least a handful of cornerstone blog posts. You’ll need a few posts for each category. Your categories separate your blog topics, within your niche. If your niche is home decor, your categories could include: patio decor, for the bedroom, bathroom ideas, linens, etc.
Blog Platform And Hosting
Your blogging platform is where you go to write your blog posts, upload photos, make edits, customize your theme and more.
Your blog hosting is your blog’s home. It’s your own space on the internet. Having blog hosting ensures your spot is safe and secure.
Self-hosted is the way to go if you want to be in full control of your site and make money!
When you choose a fully-hosted site, like a free site through WordPress.com, you can’t use that site to make money through affiliate sales or ads, unless you upgrade to a premium or business plan.
But you can make money, pretty much any way you please if you choose a self-hosted site! Bluehost has plans for just $3.95 (USD) or $5.25 (CAD) a month. That’s about $60 (CAD) a year, with so much potential to make money doing what you love!
Don’t be intimidated by self-hosting! I originally went with a fully-hosted site because I was worried self-hosting was for the more technically inclined. But, it was pretty much the exact same process. Set up was so much easier than I thought! The process is simple and you can have your blog up and running in under one hour! I did it with little web design experience. The process was straight-forward and their tech service was available within minutes of a phone call to help if I had any questions.
What Are You Waiting For?
Seriously?! I just can’t stress this enough because it was my only regret. If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog, my advice is simple- Start now, because the learning curve is steep! And go with the self-hosted site!
When I started my blog, I waited like 6 months because I wanted to learn all I could before I started. So instead of starting a blog, I read all the blogging stuff and took all of the blogging courses. I felt overwhelmed and I hadn’t even started my blog yet! And when I finally did, I went with a fully-hosted site. Those are my only regrets!
If you sign up through my affiliate link below, I will personally help you with the process. Just email me Stephanie.email@example.com and I will help you set up your blog, the easy way- for FREE!
Nothing prepared me more, than actual blogging. No course or E-Book taught me as much as taking action. The learning curve is steep, and courses can only help you so much! You will learn more by doing!
Start A Self Hosted Blog
Step 1. Get hosted! Bluehost offers fast and reliable web hosting and best of all it’s super easy! And very affordable at just $3.95 a month! Self hosting your blog allows you to have access to so many themes, plugins and advertising opportunities that fully hosted sites do not, unless you pay big bucks! You own your site when you go self-hosted, which gives you security and power. I recommend Bluehost because it’s fast, easy and reliable. Plans include a domain name, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), unlimited disk storage, email addresses, access to free themes and plugins, and more! It’s incredibly easy to use and offers fast access to so many features.
There are several plan options. I chose the basic 36 month plan, at just $5.25 a month. I did not choose any package extras as I don’t think they’re necessary. My total for 3 years of blog hosting was just $189.30!
Step 2. Domain name. Once you get your Bluehost account set up, you can use an existing domain or register one through Bluehost! Just click domains, and you can search to see if your suggested name is available for purchase.
Your Bluehost plan includes a domain name of your choice! Choosing your domain name is a big decision. If you’re having trouble picking a name, I recommend reading this post – Blog Name Ideas
Step 3. Install WordPress. Bluehost comes with WordPress.org already and set up is easy peasy! Simply install, login and access your dashboard to get started.
Step 4. Pick your theme. To get started right away, pick one of the themes available (you can always change this easily later).
Step 5. Start building. Click start building, and click ‘Business’ or ‘Personal’.
Step 6. Add your Site Title and Description.
Your site title can be the name of your site, and your description should be simple and describe what your blog is about. You can always change this later!
Step 7. Get ready to Launch! Now you are ready to start uploading your blog content.
You can choose a static page (which is a single home-page) or recent posts. I use recent posts for the blog.
Step 8. Upload your contact information. Keep it simple for now, with your name, blog information and contact information. Hit publish.
Step 9. Connect to wordpress.com. You can connect to Jetpack for added site protection, but it isn’t necessary.
Logging in to your WordPress account. You’ll need to set up an admin account.
- Go to Bluehost.com and login to your account with the email and password you created.
- Access your WordPress dashboard.
- On the menu bar to the left, go to Users –> Add New.
- Set up a new user account.
- Go back to all users and delete the old admin.
Now you can access your site by visiting yourdomainname.com/wp-admin/ and logging in directly.
How To Use WordPress
Pages are static content.
Posts are your blog posts. This is what you will use to create and publish your blog content. You can organize your posts by using categories.
In the Dashboard menu, you will see Posts, and Categories. This is where you will create both.
Add Categories. Click Posts -> Categories and Add New Category. Your categories break up your content into sections. Your posts are published into a category. If your site is about food, your categories could be: Breakfast recipes, Lunch recipes, Dinner recipes, Dessert recipes, etc. Or if your site is like mine, I have categories: Health and wellness, Beauty, Blogging, etc. Your posts are published into the relevant category. This helps your readers and Google better understand your content and navigate through your site.
Then when each time you create a new post, you can assign it to the proper category. To the top right of the post, click Document –> Categories. Choose the category for the post.
To create your posts, in the left menu bar, click Posts –> Add New.
Once you’ve added your post, click Document at the top right, and choose your category and featured image. Your featured images are available in Media.
Your media library is where all of the images and files you upload are stored for you to use and edit.
Plugins are add-ons you can install to costumize your website. There are plugins for everything, such as social media sharing buttons, website speed, custom colors, security and more!
Plugins are accessed through the left menu bar in your dashboard.
This is where you can make changes to the way your site looks.
To start customizing your WordPress theme, go to Appearance -> Themes. Choose your active theme and then click Customize. Now you can customize your site in real time. To the left you’ll see all of your options, like layout, typography, logo design and more. On the right you can see a live preview of how your site will look.
It helps if you have a few posts uploaded, so you can get an idea of how your site will look.
Your theme is your blog layout. To access the many free themes available, simply go to your Dashboard –> Appearance –> Themes to get access to all of your free themes. WordPress gives you access to tons of beautiful, free blog themes. If you’re new to blogging, you may want to stick with the default theme at first.
**Upload your 5 cornerstone posts first. This will really allow you to see how your theme will look!
Themes make it easy to just add your content and set up a beautiful blog design in a few steps. A theme will help you set up your typography, layout, advertising areas and more.
If you want a real elegant and professional theme right from the start, I highly recommend Blossom Themes! That’s what I use for this site and I am so happy with it. I recommend them because they’re easy to use, responsive and the most beautiful themes I’ve seen (And I looked at a ton before choosing mine). I decided to upgrade to the pro version, because it has so many more options- like unlimited color choices, extended widgets and more advertising abilities! The free versions are great, but you’re limited as far as customizing and branding.
Some quick ways to start designing your blog are setting up your blog logo, choosing your fonts and blog colours.
Add your blog logo. Upload your logo to your site media. Then, select Site Identity -> Select Logo. Select your logo and make sure it looks good in the live preview before you Save and Publish.
Choose your fonts and colours. You’ll find typography in your Appearance -> Customize section. Select your brand colours or play around with different font and colour options until you’re happy with the results. Then hit the save and publish.
Beautiful Responsive WordPress Themes
If you want to take blogging more seriously, having beautiful blog layout can make a huge difference. If you want to grow your audience, subscribers and colab deals, you’ll need a professional blog theme.
These BEAUTIFUL, RESPONSIVE WordPress themes make blog design so easy! You can switch your blog theme and try one of these for free or upgrade to a fully customizable theme. Create a beautiful new blog design in minutes! I can’t tell you how happy I am I upgraded my theme and my stats blew up after I updated my site!
Beautiful Fonts For Your Blog
Not to overwhelm you any more, but there are a zillion fonts to choose from. Picking the right fonts can make your blog stand out and help with your branding process! I suggest using a simple font and a script and sticking with this combo throughout your social media.
Check out my favourite beautiful fonts here – https://stephsocial.com/2019/09/17/beautiful-fonts/
This is one area that scares a lot of beginner bloggers. But, it really helps to focus on SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION right from the beginning. If you’ve already started blogging, you can definitely go back and optimize your old blog posts. In fact, it helps boost your rankings to go back and update old posts.
One tool that has REALLY helped me find specific long-tail keywords I can rank for is Keysearch.co.
You can read all about my favourite here – Keyword Competition Checker.
SEO results won’t happen overnight. Once you learn the steps and use them properly, it usually takes months to start seeing some oragnic flow. So hang in there!
Setting up a blog can be overwhelming, but the first step to start your own blog is to actually start! Do it now! Bookmark and pin me for future reference, and remember I’m just an email away if you have any questions.
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