Recently, I’ve been approached by a few friends for advice on how to start a blog. I’m so flattered that anyone would ask little old me for advice on this topic because I still feel like a novice myself, but I figure that I might as well share what I know since that’s what helped me get started.
Decide what you want to blog about.
For me, it was food. I knew that by focusing on food I would be able to stay motivated – because I love to talk about food. Sometimes, I spend an entire dinner just talking about the food on my plate. Blog about what you love because it won’t ever get old. Of course, I blog about other stuff on A Teaspoon of Happiness as well, but that’s mostly because just like sharing my life with my readers (and my family and friends when I’m overseas). I guess what I’m saying here is that while you do need to choose a general direction for your blog by deciding what to blog about – it isn’t set it stone. Have fun with it.
Blogger versus WordPress?
This is most likely the number one question asked by new bloggers, and there’s good reason. It’s a major project to switch between the two platforms, and each have their own advantages and disadvantages. There’s also a big difference in price. So do your research and decide what is best for you. Everyone is different.
When I started A Teaspoon of Happiness, I decided to go with a self-hosted WordPress blog (also known as WordPress.org). I did this for several reasons:
- I knew I had the time and energy to commit to blogging regularly.
- After doing plenty of research on the subject, I decided that the options available for WordPress users were appealing to me – specifically plugins.
Yes, I was worried that blogging might not work out for me, and I knew that investing in blogging was going to be a gamble. But, it was something that I had been wanting to do for some time so I decided to go for it.
Choose a name.
Once you’ve decided what to blog about and which platform is for you, you’ll need to choose a name. It should probably be relevant to the topic you have chosen, but it can be anything that makes you happy. However, you still need to be mindful of what name you’re choosing. So here are some suggestions:
- Make it unique so you’re easily recognizable and easy for your readers to find online. You don’t want to be lost in the sea of blogs out there.
- Think about the future: Will you grow out of your name in a few years or can it apply to possible changes in your life/blogging subject?
- Get your own domain name (.COM if you can). Even more specifically, make sure no one else has the domain you want. I would suggest securing the domain as soon as you can so you don’t end up having to change everything in the future because someone else snatched up your domain. *Keep in mind that many web hosts will provide you with one free domain registration when you purchase a hosting plan – see below.
- Get yourself matching social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and any other platforms that you think you will use. No, you don’t have to use them right away, but – just like the domain name – you don’t want your desired name to be taken if and when you are ready to expand to a new media.
- Decide if you will use your personal email address or if you want to set one up specifically for your blog.
Set up a self-hosted WordPress blog (How to set one up with Bluehost).
- Choose your web host. This is the place where all of your “information” will be located. I’m currently using Bluehost, and I have been very satisfied. They have great customer service and people to actually talk to when you need help (this opinion is based on my experience). They also make it pretty easy to set up your blog.
- Register your domain name (for free with Bluehost).
- Sign into your cPanel account and install the WordPress scripts (through the Mojo Marketplace One-Click Installs).
- You will get an account name and password to log into your blog (yourblogdomain.com/wp-admin).
**UPDATE: If you sign up for hosting with Bluehost, it’s charged all at once for the time period (1, 2 or 3 years), even though they quote their prices at a monthly rate. You may want to take this into consideration, and I’m including the information here so you aren’t surprised after you sign up.
Style your blog.
I went through many stages of styling my blog. I tried to do it with free templates, but couldn’t find one that really I liked. Then I bought a template on Etsy. It worked out well for a while, but I didn’t love the look. So, I slowly learned to tweak the CSS to change things little by little. It took me forever, and the template I had bought on Etsy wasn’t perfect. It was glitchy, and I just couldn’t get them right myself. (I’m sure there are plenty of not-glitchy templates on Etsy. I’m just saying to make sure you have some sort of technical assistance or return option if you are going to purchase one.)
I guess my point is this: No matter what visual look you’re hoping to achieve, choose a solution that works. For me, that was the Genesis Framework. Of course, I never would have purchased this option in the beginning stages of blogging, but now that’s I’m further along on my journey I felt it was worth the investment. Genesis also sells their own themes that are sold as package deals with the framework through StudioPress.com. There are plenty of options out there that are free of charge or very low cost. Even some of the free WordPress themes – specifically Twenty Twelve and Twenty Ten – are highly customizable.
Since I started using Genesis, I’ve learned to code and completely customize my site to create an original one-of-a-kind design. If you’re interested in a blog design consultation, shoot me an email, because I currently have room in my schedule to take on some new clients.
You’re all set up. So get out there and go do. Be open to any and all possibilities. Blog your little heart out. Share your life with others. Make connections with your readers and other bloggers. Document your adventures. Never be worried about what other will think of you. Seek advice from everyone and anyone you can. Take risks and be confident, but most of all, be honest and true to yourself.
Need a little more advice or inspiration? Check out my Blog Resources & Tips Pinterest board! I try to pin any information I come across that pertains to blogging so there’s bound to be something useful for everyone.
*Some of these links are affiliate links. Even though I would love for you to click them, I really hope that you use this information to decide what is ultimately best for you because that is what is most important to me.