Have you ever thought about starting a blog? It probably seems daunting if you’ve never done it before, but it’s not as hard as you might think! If you’re interested, I’m here to walk you through the steps that worked for me. I considered writing COFFEE for the first step, but I’m aware that that opinion is subjective. 😊☕️
1. Brainstorm! Narrow down your focus. What will your blog be about? What do you enjoy talking about enough to write about it frequently? Most bloggers have a niche (like a specialty or specific market), and often that can include more than one topic.
Some suggestions: Health can mean fitness and/or food, and can be broken down even more into subtopics like yoga, crossfit, paleo, vegan, etc. Finance can mean budgeting and couponing and saving. Travel can be domestic and/or international. Home can be décor, building/renovating, and/or organizing. Fashion can be sharing deals and discussing trends and styles. Food can be cooking, recipes, and restaurants. Daily life is exactly that – frequent posts about day-to-day life (I follow some runners who blog daily and include food and workouts in their posts). Parenting, crafting, homeschooling, religion… see how endless the possibilities are? 😳
You can also find ways to tie in more than one topic. These are just a few ideas to help you get started; sit down and really brainstorm! Start with a general topic (or two or three) and then break it down into more specific subtopics, then write a list of potential blog posts.
2. Consider being self-hosted. What does this mean? Well, if you sign up for a free blog (somewhere like wordpress.com or blogspot.com), they host your blog and can place ads on your blog. They get paid for your readers/content. This doesn’t matter to a ton of people, and that’s ok! Free may be the best option for you.
But – if it matters to you (meaning that eventually you may want to monetize your blog and perhaps you want your own fancy shmancy email address), buying your domain and paying for hosting is the way to go. I got my start on Bluehost because my domain was free when I paid in advance for hosting. I’ve used Bluehost for 4 blogs over the last decade, and I’ve been really happy with them. I also like that when you’re self-hosted, you get your own email address (you can create it with your websitename.com, like firstname.lastname@example.org).
3. Check domain availability. What will you name your blog? This is often the hardest part for people! The first thing I do when I’m thinking of a domain name is type it into the address bar. Does a website pop up? If not, I head to Bluehost and see if it’s available for purchase. If it is, I google it. Does someone else already have an “identity” based around the name you’re interested in? Be sure to check social media, too. For example, I saw that a gal calls herself Lisa Lately on Facebook, but her account hasn’t been active in years and she didn’t have many followers. The Lisa Lately I found on Instagram wasn’t even the same person as the girl on FB. So even though other people were referring to themselves by the name I wanted, there wasn’t already a Lisa Lately with a massive following who could be confused with me. I was ok with starting from scratch and creating my own version of Lisa Lately.
4. Secure your domain and get started. Choose your host, buy your domain, and pay for hosting. Again, I went with Bluehost and paid in advance for 3 years of hosting because that gave me the best monthly/yearly price (since I used a referral link like this one) and a free domain. Once you submit payment, you’ll get an email with instructions on how to log in to the admin area of your new website (eek! 😱).
5. Install WordPress and choose a theme. From the admin area, there’s a simple WordPress installation. It’s literally the push of a button. (It automatically connects you to wordpress.org, not to be confused with the .com version which you must sign up for directly on the wordpress.com website.) WordPress also sends you an email with instructions on how to log in. At this point, you can start blogging (eek!).
I opted to purchase a template, but if you don’t want to spend more money, you can choose one of the included free themes. If you want to create a logo, you can google free software that will help with that (I used Photoshop for mine).
6. Write your first post and pat yourself on the back. You figured it out! Congrats on becoming a blogger!!
Additional thoughts and optional steps:
Join social media. Go ahead and secure the @handle for your domain name (or as close to it as you can get). It would be a bummer if people who were looking to follow you on social media couldn’t find you or confused you with someone else. Certainly you can skip this step and opt to use the social media accounts you already have, if that’s your preference.
Take pictures. People really appreciate visuals. Blog and social media posts are proven to elicit more of a response when an image is attached. At a minimum, you’ll need at least one picture of yourself for the About Me section (people like to put a face with a name), and at least one picture with each post. If you struggle with photography and aren’t interested in googling ways to improve, you can search for free stock photos (there are TONS of options out there). If you have a bit of OCD in your blood, find some inspiration for keeping your content consistent. Having a color theme or some kind of branding will help people quickly recognize your posts.
Plan ahead. Trust me when I say your life will be SO MUCH easier if you plan and write your posts in advance. Knowing that I’ve already scheduled content that will automatically post at a designated time & date makes me very happy. You can blog as little or as often as you want; it’s your life! I’ve followed bloggers who posted twice a day (I could NEVER) or as rarely as once per year. If you’re interested in building a following, I would suggest sticking to a schedule. For me, 2-3 posts/week is my comfort zone. Don’t feel pressure to post every day or more often than you can commit to – in my opinion, it’s more important to have quality content than a million posts that will get lost in the internet universe. Just keep in mind that people may stop following or checking in if you space your posts out too much.
Interact with other blogs. Follow other blogs/bloggers, react with likes or retweets or repins or comments, and be genuine. I use Bloglovin (the app on my phone, the website on my computer) to follow my favorite blogs and easily scroll through all of their most recent posts in a news feed. You can subscribe to an RSS feed or use Feedly, too. There’s a whole world of people who are interested in the same topics as you, and because of technology it’s much easier to find your “tribe.”
I hope I was able to answer some of your questions if you’re considering starting your own blog! If you’ve been thinking about it for awhile, I encourage you to go ahead and take the leap. Although I can think of a whole list of reasons I enjoy blogging, the primary one is that it provides me with a creative space where I can write. Whether or not anyone reads it (thank you for being quite possibly The Only One 👋🏼), I love having my own little corner of the internet to process my thoughts in a visual way. 💗
As always, thanks for reading!