The last time I wrote about blogging, I talked about why I began. Since then, I have received lots of questions from people ranging from, “Should I start a blog?” to “How exactly do you start blogging?” So I thought I would lay out how I began- both the first and the second time I began blogging.
The first time I started a blog, I did everything all wrong. The list of things I did wrong (and this is by no means exhaustive!) include:
1.) Hiring someone else to create my website
2.) Creating my website on something other than wordpress.org
3.) Infrequently writing posts
4.) Creating web content with no rhyme or reason
The second time I started blogging, I did a lot of research before I started, and that’s the very first step I would recommend to anyone.
Read up on blogging.
To have a successful blog, it takes a lot of commitment, dedication, and time. Are you willing to put in the hours to make your blog work? And are you especially willing to write and write and write? If you aren’t sure that you will be able to write frequently, or that you even like writing, conduct an experiment. Write several blog posts in a notebook or on your laptop, and see how much you like doing it. If it’s not your thing, you might want to consider a different hobby or a different type of online business.
Buy a manual before you do anything else.
Seriously. Buy a manual. The one I used was Building a Framework, and it’s amazing! I would recommend it to anyone, and I do! Abby Lawson, the manual’s author, is the blogger behind Just A Girl and Her Blog, and she talks you through everything. She covers beginning questions like:
- What will your blog’s topic or niche be?
- What will be your blog name?
- How can you see if that website’s name is available?
And then goes on to address other important subjects like social media promotion and creating your own products.
Every question you could have, she answers. She offers 3 different levels of Building a Framework: the Starter Package, the Advanced Package, and the Master Package. I would strongly recommend the Master Package. If you are computer illiterate like I am, you are definitely going to want the videos on how to set up everything. AND the additional 18 video interviews with other expert bloggers will help you make sure you are starting everything off on the right foot. Because nothing is worse than starting your blogging journey and realizing that you’re so off-course, that you have to start completely over. Believe me.
Register your domain name and find a host.
If you buy Building a Framework, Abby goes over how to register your domain name and find a host for your website. From here on out, I am going to assume that you are building a wordpress.org website. Again, Abby does an excellent job explaining the differences between a website on wordpress.org, wordpress.com, and SquareSpace. But the short of it is that most (successful) blogs are wordpress.org sites, and to use something different would be like choosing to drive a golf cart in a NASCAR race.
If you choose to have a wordpress.org site, you’ll need someone to host it. If you read a lot of blog posts about starting a blog, you’ll see people recommend Bluehost repeatedly. There is nothing wrong with Bluehost per se, but they advertise a $3.49 a month deal to host your site. This may sound like a great deal, but the catch is that you have to pay for three years of hosting up front. That’s $125.64, which ends up being a lot of money if you aren’t 100% sure that blogging will be your new, permanent hobby. If you are serious about blogging, though, or you feel like the large upfront cost will help you stay motivated, go for it then!
I chose to go with Flywheel instead. They only host wordpress.org websites, which means that they cater specifically to bloggers, and they have vastly superior customer service compared to Bluehost. Oh, not to mention that they have a website loading time of 1 second faster than Bluehost and charge $15 a month, which you pay monthly. Less money up front, better customer service, and faster speeds? In the end, the decision to go with Flywheel was a no brainer.
Install WordPress and the Genesis Framework.
Do you know what those things are? No? Well, you’re in good company then, because neither did I when I first started! Don’t worry though; Abby explains all of those things in her book.
Select a child theme.
Often, when you have a wordpress.org site, you are using a Genesis framework. You can leave it just like that, but a Genesis framework isn’t well,… pretty. A child theme is what sits inside your Genesis framework and makes everything look attractive. And, when you choose a child theme, many of the design elements are created for you so you don’t have to write a bunch of code. Hooray!
I chose a child theme by Restored 316. I love this company so much! They make child themes specifically for female bloggers, and they have lots to choose from. Mine is called Delightful Pro. But, every single one of their themes is beautiful and mobile device ready! Plus, despite the fact that many of the design elements are chosen for you, there is still plenty to customize. So in the end, your website will look like your website- no one else’s. Lauren, the owner, also has plenty of videos teaching you how to set everything up. Gosh, are you noticing a theme here? I love tutorial videos! They just make everything infinitely easier! It’s like having someone there to hold your hand while you build your blog.
Write several blog posts before you launch your site.
This is another mistake that I made when I first started blogging. I launched my site with one post up. So the two or three people who did visit my site stayed for how long? Just a second or two and then left, never to return again. A good rule of thumb is to have 10-15 blog posts published and ready before you launch your site. That way, people who visit you will stay awhile, read, and get to know you better.
Create an email list.
Once you are blazing through those initial blog posts, it’s time to get an email marketing provider and start building your email list. Your email list is super important. It’s what keeps people in touch with you and brings them back to your blog again and again.
The two email marketing providers that I often hear bloggers talk about are MailChimp and ConvertKit. I chose ConvertKit and couldn’t be happier! ConvertKit was designed for bloggers so its super intuitive to use. It allows you to create all sorts of opt-ins (different ways for people to subscribe to your list), and it prevents lots of user problems… sending someone the same email twice, sending someone an email about content they don’t care for, etc.
Plus their customer service is some of the greatest I have ever seen! Case in point: ConvertKit costs $29 a month. Not bad, but last month I scheduled I scheduled a 15-minute phone call with them. The purpose of the call was for me to ask whatever questions I had. Can I just say that I learned more in that 15 minutes than I learned in some college semesters. And do you know what it cost me? Nothing! In exchange, they reduced that month’s payment by 50%. Say what?!?! Please do not tell them that makes zero sense and that I should have been paying them. Okay? Thanks! But seriously, they are an amazing company!
Begin to learn how to make money.
There are lots of ways to make money blogging. Usually, when I tell people that I have a blog and that I am working to create an income, they get this funny look on their face and ask incredulously, “You can make money blogging?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” And there are two resources I would suggest to help you get started on the right foot.
The first is the book How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup. I first discovered Ruth on YouTube about six years ago. She used to have a video series called Extreme Couponing for Normal People, and I loved watching her shop at her local grocery store and saving serious money in the process. Since then, Ruth has become an extremely successful blogger, and now spends some of her time teaching others how to do the same. How to Blog for Profit is well-written, easy to read, and clearly outlines all of the steps one needs to take to make money blogging. And just like the title suggested, it teaches you how to do it with seeming like a used car salesman.
The second resource is Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner. Michelle blogs at Making Sense of Cents, and if you haven’t seen her income reports, you should! Michelle makes $100,000 a month blogging. No, there is no typo! $100,000 a month! And half of that comes from affiliate sales. So Michelle created an online class teaching others how to recreate what she does. It is a fantastic class and worth it’s weight in gold. But what is even more priceless, in my opinion, is how much Michelle wants to see her students succeed. Once you purchase the course, you become a part of her online Facebook group. Michelle is very active there and will bend over backwards to help you. She’s retweeted things for me, promoted my pins, encouraged me when I felt down, and so much more. Plus, everyone else in the Facebook group rocks too and wants to help just like Michelle.
And so there you have it! The Ultimate Guide to Begin Blogging (the right way)! I hope this was super helpful to you. And now I want hear from you. What has been helpful in your blogging journey?
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, click here. Also, if you do utilize a link, THANK YOU! Photo by Ashley Ella.
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