Blogology-101: How to start a blog
Welcome back to another round of our Blogology series!
This time we are here to help you set up your very first blog or website with our basic must-haves.
Brace yourselves because these posts tend to be a little longer than the norm.
How to start a blog:
1. What is your purpose?: What are you known for? What makes you tick? What are you passionate about? What can you see yourself writing about for years and years? Ask yourself these questions before you start it will make finding your purpose or ‘niche’ easier. A lot of bloggers like to have certain niches. I prefer to blog about life and style because there are five topics I just LOVE to talk about (beauty, fashion, organization, blogging, and health) so having a life and style blog lets me do that. If you want to stick to a specific niche, that’s okay too. Let’s say – for example – you love to blog about food but you specialize in desserts then maybe your niche could be healthy dessert recipes or 15 minute desserts. See what I’m saying?
Sidenote: If you are looking to ‘get rich quick’ then stop now. Blogging takes a lot of time and effort. You can make money blogging but if you are expecting it overnight then you will be disappointed. Sorry peeps.
2. Who is your ideal reader?: What do they like? What do they post? Where do they shop? What are their hobbies? Who do you want to read your blog or check out your website? Think about these things as you create your content and design your site.
3. Research: Make sure to research blog names, sites you like, styles and colors you love, etc. Don’t copy another bloggers idea or website – be yourself – but how do you know what you like without some looking around? Mix and match ideas and create a style-board for yourself on Pinterest or Canva. It helps bring the big picture of what you want together. I created my style-board on Canva. Your style-board should include colors you want (no more than 5 or 6), Inspirational pictures (3 or 4), Fonts (3 or 4 at the most), logo variation (small version of your logo), and elements you want to use (for example: arrows, dotted lines, buttons, etc). If you are using Pinterest, pin images of what you want the feel and look of your page to look like then create a style-board on Canva with what you love.
4. Blog Names: Honestly, this may be the hardest part. When I was trying to figure out what to name my blog, I wrote down a ton of words that related to what I wanted to blog about. Then I thought about what I wanted my readers to instantly grab from my name. I wanted them to think ‘fit’ and ‘relatable’ (like a girl next door vibe). I think Fit Chick Nextdoor captured that. The only mistake I made was not checking the domain name (aka the link to your site) or social media accounts. The actual domain name (fitchicknextdoor dot com) has been taken since I started (hence why I use fcnexdoor dot com) and the Instagram account but both have never actually been active (really annoying). Anyways, once you land on a couple of names that you like, do a quick google search to make sure the blog name isn’t already taken. If it is, move onto the next one on your list and check the social accounts until you find one that isn’t taken.
5. Pick a Domain Name and Purchase a web host: When I first started out I signed up for WordPress.com which is a free blogging platform (you may have seen others like blogger or tumblr). It wasn’t until this past January – 2 years later – when I decide to get a hosting service and switch to WordPress.org (I was scared to loose everything in the switch). A lot of blogs use GoDaddy, Bluehost or HostGator as their host services. I signed up with GoDaddy and I don’t have any problems with their service or complaints. Now, I know you are thinking what the hell is a host or domain (because I thought the same exact thing being a non-techy gal). Let me break it down for you into normal-ish words, a domain is your www link that you buy (for example, mine is www.fcnextdoor.com or www.karalarkinfitness.com). You can buy the domain names on GoDaddy or sites like Namecheap (but if you buy on namecheap then you have to pay to switch it to your host). A host service is a website that allows your www to exist and allows you to manage your page through their website. Now you may think, then why not just use wordpress.com that has both, seems easier and it’s free? Well you are limited to what wordpress.com has to offer. With the host, you can add your own premium themes (like the StudioPress one on my blog), advanced plugins, and more. Your host should offer 24/7 support as well. You can also arrange to set up your work space emails and bookkeeping through the host at an additional cost.
6. Install WordPress, Plugins, and Choose a Theme: If you choose to go the host route, then you will need to download WordPress (If you choose GoDaddy, they offer an option for a ‘managed wordpress’). If you need help installing, GoDaddy’s support team will walk you through the download. For plugins, they are a must-have for any blog. What is a plugin? Think of them like apps on your phone but for your website. There are SO many out there but in my Blogology-101: What I wish I knew post (here) is a list of my must-haves to get started. Choosing a theme, if you are on a tight budget or don’t want to pay for a premium theme, then WordPress offers a couple decent free ones. Pick the one you want and click install then you can customize (to an extent) what you want. Once I made the switch and decided to monetize my blog (this past January) I wanted a more professional look. I decided to ditch the free theme and pay for a Studiopress theme which is completely customizable. You also pay for it once and can use it over and over again on your different websites.
7. Set up Social Media Accounts: Once you decide on a name – and did your research – set up the social media platforms you want to use for your brand. I choose to use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube (because that is where my readers hang and I prefer those). Some may choose to add more platforms or different platforms like Vine or Snapchat, etc. but it depends on what you want. For me, 5 platforms work but you may want more or less.
8. Affiliate Programs: This step is optional. If you want to monetize (make money) with your blog, then at least start with affiliate programs like Amazon Associates, Rakuten LinkShare, and ShareASale or your favorite products may have their own. I use City Color, Bellami, and Coastal Scents affiliate programs because they have some of my favorite products. I simply went to their websites and applied. Don’t be surprised if you get turned down by some programs, you may not have enough traffic to your website yet or you may need to create more content for them to see, etc. They normally will advise why they declined but sometimes they don’t.
9. Create content: Content can be anything from photos to blog posts to pages and more. Before you launch, make sure you have at least 5 posts, a couple of categories or pages and some pictures. That way when people visit your page they have more than one thing to look at and it will look more established. As you are creating your website and content, you can still build up the excitement for your launch on your brands social media accounts and personal accounts. I also recommend at least one professional photoshoot so you have professional images to work with. Whenever I do a photoshoot my blog gets a TON of traffic because my audience loves them. If you don’t have the money to spend on a photoshoot then ask a friend or family member to take some pictures with a good camera or even your iPhone just to get started. Make sure you edit your pictures to match your overall feel of the blog/your style board theme. I prefer PicMonkey for editing but more on that in our Blogology 101: photo editing post coming soon. For now you can read about our photo tips here.
10. Create an Email List: I didn’t start creating my list until a few months ago and I’m still kicking myself. An email list simply allows your readers to get your content straight to their inbox! So cool. It keeps you on their mind – because people have lives ya know – and it’s easier. I use MailChimp which is about $10/month for automated emails. If you don’t need your emails to automatically be sent out then it’s free until you hit 500 subscribers. I wanted my emails to automatically go out when someone subscribes to my list so it’s $10 a month for me for now. The other commonly used service is ConstantContact. I use ConstantContact for work and the prices are about the same as MailChimp. The email template setups are different (I prefer MailChimps) but they are both easy to figure out and use. If you want to sign up for MailChimp you can do so here: Powered by MailChimp.
Here is your Pin-able: