Thinking of Starting Your Own Blog?
Congratulations! Don’t worry if you don’t know anything about the big blogging world. I was once like you, an aspiring blogger, and didn’t know how the heck to make it happen.
If you are an author, photographer, a small business owner, or even just a hobbyist, a blog might be the next platform to take your interests to the next level. Trust me when I say that if I can do it, you can, too!
You would like to start blogging but have no clue how?
When I started out, I was clueless but with some great suggestions from other bloggers, tutorials, and other authors, I set my mind to learning everything I could about blogging, and I will gladly share all the information I’ve gathered with you.
Keep in mind that new technology is constantly upgrading and some of the information I’m sharing with you may be outdated already or something better might be available for your own purposes. You may want to do things differently after you’ve done some more research, and that’s is okay. I’m not above sharing my hard-knock university info with you, but it’s your blog so do it your way! That’s the beauty of the blogging industry; no two blogs are alike. The main point of this article is to get you pointed in the right direction.
Choose a Catchy Name
Figuring out the purpose and name for your blog can be the hardest part of the whole blogging process. Don’t get me wrong, this is a completely doable task; it just might be harder than you thought to come up with a domain name (the name of your blog that is yours and only yours). It can take a little bit of research to find a name that is catchy but hasn’t already been taken. Go to Go Daddy or WordPress and play around with domain names to see what is available. If nothing else, you will get some free entertainment from this exercise.
I’ve used Go Daddy to purchase the treasuresandtidbits.com domain name. Basically, this name cannot be used by anyone else. For a very minimal annual fee, the domain name is mine and mine alone. This is the name that readers will see when they go to my website. I could have gotten a free domain name from WordPress or Blogger but my domain name would have been something like treasuresandtidbits.wordpress.com or blog/treasuresandtidbits.com. There is nothing wrong with these options if you are trying to launch your blog at minimal cost.
I decided to jump right into the blogging world and go with a .com name. I personally think it looks like you are a professional blogger and are taking your blog very seriously when you own the .com version.
Blog/Web Page Building
Yay! By this point you’ve probably figured out what your blog name is going to be and are ready to check out some website building options.
Blogger is one web-building site that is available to build your website with. On the positive side, it’s free and you can get started writing posts right away. Many great authors and bloggers have started out with this free, online website builder that originates through Google. The down-side to Blogger is that you are very limited in what functions are available to your theme that you choose and it can be a pain to change the looks of things later on.
Wix is another website building company that you might want to check out. It’s a fairly new company but I have been hearing awesome things about them in the blogging world.
WordPress is the option I chose simply because I am vision-driven and liked the hundreds of themes that are available free and for purchase. I spent hours pouring over the different themes and options until I found the perfect one for me. You can click on each theme to see what functions they have until you decide which one you love most. Again, hours of cheap entertainment. 😉
TIP: I watched a video on Youtube about WordPress by Bluehost that helped a lot! Click Here to get started. It is the first of a 4 part series that will be super helpful to you.
Basically, in real speak, a web host is the engine behind the scenes. When you have a website with your own domain name, you need a host or a place to put it into the world wide web. Really, you are purchasing a tiny spot in a large server engine of cyberspace. Hosting is the basically the server equipment that stores your blog. Make sure to choose a hosting site that is compatible with the Web Page provider that you have chosen.
BlueHost is the hosting company I use to get this website onto the internet. It’s compatible with WordPress and is a great place for beginners since it is affordable. BlueHost has wonderful customer service and can help you with any problems that you may be having. I pay a small fee of $5.95/month and get unlimited space. I’m telling you about this hosting service because I love them and it’s so easy to use. Also, I’m affiliated with them and do get a small finder’s fee for every click through this link on my page. I would appreciate it greatly if you would use this link when you are ready to check out hosting options. You are not obligated to buy anything!
Some other web hosts you might want to check out are eHost, SiteBuilder, or WebSiteBuilder. One great thing about these alternatives is that they all offer free hosting for the beginning blogger.
Congratulations! You have picked a domain name, chosen a web design company to use, and decided on a hosting site. Now comes the fun part! Pick a theme for your page!! A theme is the package you download to your WordPress (or whatever web-page builder you decided on) account that determines what your blog looks like to potential readers. Many themes are available for free or you can choose to install a premium theme for purchase.
I am using the Simply Charming Theme designed by Restored 316 and it runs off of the Genesis framework available through StudioPress. I chose to purchase my theme but I also really like some of the other themes that are available from WordPress that are completely free.
You can play with all of the themes before you decide which one will work best for you. The awesome thing about themes, especially the free ones, is that you can change your them any time you want to and totally change the look of your website.
Plugins are the applications of the blogging world that help you run your website the way you need to. There are so many plugins to choose from to help you keep your website functioning. Downloading practical plugins into your website is easy to do and makes your business so much more efficient in the cyber world of web pages. Here is a list of some of the plugins I use and what their purpose is:
Jetpack – Many WordPress themes include the jetpack plugin. This plugin is a must for classy, functioning, self-hosting purposes. Widgets are easy to maintain with this plugin. (See Widgets in this article.)
Akismet – Security for your blog. This plugin maintains spam attempts and keeps malicious hackers out. This is a must! It’s like an anti-virus for your website.
Mail Poet – An email data base that collects subscribers information so you can easily send out newsletters and keep readers returning to your website.
Contact Form – Lets you readers contact you, leave messages, and comment on posts. Great for interacting with your fans.
Simple Social Icons – Makes it easy for readers to share your posts on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. This plugin makes it possible to add social media buttons to each post, page, or picture on your website.
Google Adsense – This is how you can add advertisements on your blog page. Any time a reader uses the link provided through these ads on your page, you receive a “finders fee”. Sometimes, you get paid just because your blog keeps ads in site of your readers and they don’t even have to click on a link or buy anything. This is a great way of gaining income with your website.
Zip Recipes – Create professional looking recipe “cards”. This plugin is a great addition to foodie blogs. The recipe plugin is super simple to use and looks great, too.
Simply Instagram – Connects with your Instagram account so readers can see what you have been posting on your social media.
Widgets help you achieve the look you are going for on your website. You can determine how each page of your website looks to readers by placing the widgets where you want them. Each theme has a different layout and widgets that you can move around until you love your page.
You can play with the Widgets in the appearance section of your web page. For example, I have determined that on my blog page, I want a sidebar that shows my avatar and text about me, the social media buttons, Mail Poet subscription sign up, Google Adsense space (advertisements), categories, and Simply Instagram to be visible to anyone who visits my site.
Notice that my Home page has a header at the top of the page, a slider, a welcome text, some recent posts, and some important pages. Your website will probably end up looking different because of where you place the widgets and what widgets you use.
Websites are like fingerprints; no two are alike. Now that you have read through the process of starting your own website, you can see why.
Excellent quality pictures are a must in the blogging world. As a bonus, I have included some information that will hopefully come in handy for you so you can get top notch photos on your website. A lot of times, a reader will not even stop to look at your carefully written article if the picture that goes with it is poor quality. When I was just starting out, my pictures were usually blurry with bad lighting. The more I blog, the better I am getting at getting just the right photo for each post. Here are some of the things I use:
Nikon D3200. Any camera will do in a pinch if you are just starting out and don’t want to spend a ton of money upfront. Just so you understand that a quality photo goes a long way for a professional looking webpage. If you can’t afford to take your own pictures, beg friends and family for some of their awesome photos and blog about those. A good cellphone camera works in a pinch if you take the time to edit when needed.
Neewer Lighting system is relatively cheap and can be positioned for optimal lighting on the subject. (It’s my Diva lighting system for selfies.) However, natural lighting from a window works if you do not have the funds to spend on major camera equipment and all the accessories when you start out.
There are tons of editing options out there. Some can be quite pricey and take some major time out of your day. I use an app on my phone called PicStitch that lets me play with lighting, clarity, color, etc. If you are using your computer to do your photo finishing, Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop are great options for purchase. And as always, I am always about trying to do things for free and low expense.
Try Picmonkey for FREE to add text, change coloring and lighting options, and adding embellishing touches to your photos. A well-edited photo is worth the time even if you don’t put any money into it.
Another great site to go to for FREE is Canva. This is what I used to make my featured image with.
A lot of the great blogs you see around use stock photos. I love PhotoPin because they usually have some great images for FREE or even better ones if you choose to purchase. If you aren’t a great photographer or are pressed for time, stock photos are a great option. A professional looking photo will make your blog look good and keep readers coming back.
You can purchase a membership through StockPhoto or pay for a single picture at a time. They have weekly free images that you can choose from, too. These are all top-quality images and are worth the money.
Canva has over 100,000 free professional looking images to choose from and a lot of them are FREE or very cheap.
Most bloggers want to earn some income from their websites. One way of being paid through your blog is by being affiliated with other companies on the web. Affiliations are basically contracts between you and other companies that direct income to you each time one of your readers clicks on a link or image you provide. These links direct your reader to the other business’ website using your tracking code. Each click is tracked and you are then paid by that company for a finder’s fee. Easy peasy income for you! Some of the businesses I love and am affiliated with are:
Bluehost – The web hosting company I use to run my website on.
StudioPress – Web Design company for premium WordPress themes.
Restrored316 – The company that designs all sorts of feminine themed websites.
Congratulations! Now all you need to do is write your first blog post and hit publish. No really, that is all you have to do. The sky is the limit on what you want to use your website for. Good luck! I would love to see your website when you get it up and running! Send me your link in the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!