So you want to start a blog? Congratulations on claiming your space on the internet. Whether you are blogging just for hobby or have big plans to conquer the internet, you should give yourself a pat on the back. Here are my tips on How To Start A Blog.
I started blogging in 2014. I can’t believe my other blog, The Farm Girl Gabs® will be five years old. What started out as a hobby and a need to fulfill my love or writing has turned into a nice side gig for this farm girl. Creative Blog Media is my new baby. Big Sister “The Farm Girl Gabs” is thriving on her own so I thought I would focus on another hobby of mine – teaching others how to create easy graphics using Canva and PicMonkey.
Now, I want to share what I know with you. I like to maintain the “Just Do It” mentality. That is how I started The Farm Girl Gabs. I literally did no research (which I don’t recommend), signed up on the wrong WordPress platform (the free one) and said “Oh snap!” So I took a few extra steps to get on the right track, but at least I did it!
I am a WordPress fan because it is so versatile, but there are a few other blog platforms like Blogger and Square Space. Check them out and see which is best for you. My vote is for WordPress. The tips I provide below are specifically for the WordPress platform.
So I definitely have learned a lot about blogging in this five-year journey. I am here to help you so you can take that leap and start off on the right foot.
Don’t Just Leap….Soar!
Step 1: Claim Your Name and Your Domain
First things first! You need a name. Your name can either be more general or specific to the niche that you plan on writing about. Pick something that resonates with you. Once you decide on a name, you need to claim your domain. I like to use GoDaddy or Namecheap to purchase my domains. Once you claim your “claim to fame” or name, now you need somewhere to host your site.
Step 2: Find A Host
You hosting is where all of your files, photos and any other confusing computer coding stuff is stored. I highly recommend New Blog Hosting. They have GREAT customer service and their plan only costs $35 a year. The folks there are super helpful and very responsive to any questions or concerns. Another great hosting company is Big Scoots. Again, super helpful and super responsive.
Step 3: Install WordPress
After you sign up for your hosting plan, you will receive a confirmation with your login credentials for your cPanel. Think of this as the circut board and wiring for your blog. Now you need to turn your website into a blog by installing WordPress. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you will see the WordPress icon. Click the icon and follow the prompts. In this section you Congratulations! You started a blog.
Step 4: Pick A Theme For Your Blog
Next, you will need to choose a responsive theme for your blog. Think of it as a template. There are thousands of themes you can choose from. Some are free and others you will need to pay for. Both of my blogs us the Genesis Framework which is pretty popular. Think of the framework are the template that makes your blog look the way it does. The theme is the style. I like to buy my themes from Studiopress or Restored 316. Once you have chosen a theme, download the file and hold tight. We have a few more steps before we can implement your theme.
Step 5: Sign Into WordPress
Once you installed WordPress in your cPanel, you can now log into the platform. You can type “https://ADDYOURDOMAINNAMEHERE.com/wp-admin/” into your browser bar replacing ADDYOURDOMAINNAMEHERE with your domain name.
Your dashboard will look like this.
The first thing you will need to do is select Setting in the left column and the select General to fill out the information about your blog, email, URL and site title.
Once you have done that, head back to the home screen and select “Customize Your Site” and then select themes. This will take you to the themes page. To upload your them, select “add new” and attach the ZIP file to upload. Then select “activate”.
Congratulations! You now have a cool looking theme to create your brand. Now you can customize your theme to fit you. Select “Appearance” and then select “Customize”. Here you can change fonts, font sizes, colors and set up your site however you wish. You can also upload your blog logo and format the sidebar as you wish.
I like to reference the installation instructions for my theme so I can make sure I am doing everything correctly. If you want changes outside of what the customizer will offer, then you will need to dive into the coding. WHICH IS SOMETHING I DON’T RECOMMEND UNLESS YOU KNOW ABOUT CSS. I always hire someone to do this for me and I highly recommend you do too.
Step 6: Download Plug-Ins
Plug-ins are like apps on your phone. You upload them to your WordPress site to extend functionality or add new features to your website. They also make your life a lot easier!
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Social Warfare
- Google Analytics Dashboard
- WP Recipe Maker
- Simple Social Icons
- Yoast SEO
- Genesis Simple Hooks
- Google XML Sitemaps
- W3 Total Cache
Step 7: Set Up Your Email
Now that you have a self-hosted website, you need a way for visitors and brands to get in touch with you. You can set up your own custom email through your cPanel.
Step 8: Claim Your Fame
Social media gives me all the feels these days. It’s so popular and essential in getting your name and website seen. It’s also a great way to connect with your readers. Secure your social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter). Some bloggers use their bog name and some use their personal name. It’s totally up to you. I choose to use my blog name in all of my channels just so I can get my name out there and better connect with my readers.
Step 9: Set Up Your Email List
To quote Field Of Dreams, “Build It And They Will Come.” Start building your email list NOW! Don’t wait like I did. I love Mailchimp. Their service is free for the first 2,000 subscribers. Once you start collecting names and email addresses, you can connect with your readers through newsletters. This is a great way to let you fans know what is going on or even promote a product you may be selling or creating. Other popular mail services include MadMimi and ConvertKit, but I encourage you to do your research and see which is best for you.
Step 10: Say “Hello World”
It is time (to quote Rafiki). You are now ready to publish your first blog post. You did it! You claimed your little piece of the internet. I know you are going to do great things! My one piece of advice is to keep writing and make sure you share lots of colorful photos within your posts. Readers like that.