Girl, I have to tell you. The decision to start a blog was one of the best I've ever made. When I started blogging I had no idea what it would be like. I was the most beginner of all the beginners. I wasn't starting a new blog because my previous seven blogs hadn't gone as I'd hoped. Nope. This was my first time. I had absolutely no experience with code, I have absolutely no tech knowledge, and I had no blogger friends to reach out to. I was such a newb.
But somehow, I felt like I just knew that this was something that I was supposed to do. I wanted to reach out to other mothers experiencing new motherhood. I wanted to share my knowledge and my experiences with other moms like me. Blogging was the way that I was going to fulfill my purpose that God was so clearly leading me towards, and I just knew it.
So, what did I do? Well, girl…I started a blog. You can too. I want to lay it out in black and white because I have gotten so many other moms reaching out to me asking where they should start when it comes to blogging.
When the idea first came to me that I needed to start a blog, I was completely in the dark and I had to do a ton of research before I made anything official. I wanted to do it right the first time and not make any massive mistakes that were going to cause a huge headache later. Thank goodness that I did, because I have not had one single blogging regret to date. Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of “this vs. that” examples for you because the choices I've made so far have been the right ones for me. My blog has grown and grown and grown since I launched and I can only imagine where it will take me next.
If you want to make money while taking care of your little ones at home, blogging is the avenue I recommend 100%. It's so fulfilling to write and express myself while building a community of mothers and mothers-to-be that are all in similar boats. I never thought it would be so rewarding.
So, I've laid it all out right here in this post: Exactly what you need to do to start your successful blog RIGHT NOW. You don't have to wait! You don't have to wonder if it's right for you, you don't have to go back and forth between this option or that option for days, weeks, months, or…years? Please don't do that. You don't want to look back a month or a year from now and think “where would I have been if I had just started then?”. Start now.
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Start a Blog In 10 Easy Steps That You Can Do Today
If you are thinking about starting a blog but you feel overwhelmed because it seems complicated, you're completely lost, and you feel like you just don't have enough time to sit around looking up all the ins and outs of blogging, you're in the right place. You can start a blog, finish all ten of these simple steps, and have a blog ready to go all while your kids are napping. It's not as complicated as you think it is. What's holds people back from starting a blog not that it's complicated. It's that they are scared, intimidated, or having a hard time being decisive.
Take it from me.
These simple steps are all you need to start a blog
- Decide what you are passionate about. What will you write?
- Decide that you are SERIOUS about this. You CAN AND WILL be successful.
- Pick a domain name
- Choose a blogging platform
- Choose a host
- Get started with WordPress
- Choose a theme
- Create a Logo
- Download important plugins
- Start writing
We are going to go through each step and exactly what you need to do. Don't fret. I'll hold your hand every step of the way.
1. Decide What You Are Passionate About
What could you talk about for hours on end? What do you think about every single day? Is there something that you can see yourself writing about for years to come? What do you feel comfortable giving advice about?
These are the questions you need to answer before you decide what your blog will be about. If you're looking into how to start a blog, I'm guessing you already have a good idea about this one. For me, it was “new moms”. Pregnancy and newborns is something I am deeply passionate about because of my career as a Labor and Delivery nurse and because when I was first going through new motherhood, I realized how much work it really is. I found myself talking about it to anyone that would listen. Maybe it was getting on my husband's last nerve, but it was a good sign that this was what I was meant to write about.
Don't start a blog writing about everything under the sun. Focus on who you want your audience to be, what questions you want to answer for them, and what problems you want to solve for them. Write out a few specific blog post titles that would represent who you want to be as a blogger and focus on those as you move forward.
For example, mine were these:
You don't need to stick to the ones you write down today. They don't have to be the first three posts you write. They just have to be things that overall represent what you want your blog to be about.
If someone were to see this list, would they know what to expect on your page? Would your target audience be interested? If you can answer yes, then keep going! On to the next step.
2. Decide That You Are Serious About This
To be completely honest with you, this is the best tip you're ever going to get about blogging. There are literally, millions of blogs on the internet. Thousands of people start blogs every day. But guess what? Most of them fail. Why? I think it's because people don't believe that they can do this. They don't have confidence that they can make something of themselves as a blogger.
Well, then it's true.
If you don't think you can ever be successful, then you won't be. If you decide that you don't want to spend the money to start a successful blog because you'll never make it back, then you won't.
On the other hand, if you believe that you will be successful and your blog will make you money and your dreams will be made a reality if you put your mind to it, then you will!
I promise you, if you are motivated and dedicated to doing this whole thing right, and not doing it half-ass, then you will be successful, you will gain a following, you will start helping people, and you will make money!
If you are starting a blog as just a hobby and you never want to make money off of it or make it anything more than something you do in your spare time, then you can find ways to do it really, really cheap. Maybe even free. I just don't recommend it. You have something unique and inspiring to write about. I know it. I know that if you put your mind to it, you will create something that people will love. You need to believe it too. Once you believe it like I do, be prepared to invest in yourself.
Think about what it takes a person to invest in a business outside of the online world. You would have to invest tens of thousands of dollars just to start it up! Why do people do it? Well, because they believe that their investment will pay off and they will be successful. They have to have the confidence in themselves before anyone else will. The beautiful thing about blogging as a business is that you hardly have to invest anything in it to get it going. The cost to start up is SO LOW compared to any other type of business. It's such a blessing!
Here are examples of things that you cannot skimp on if you want to run a money-making blog:
- Self- hosted platform
- A Theme that works for you not against you
- Your email provider
We will get into those things a little later. But for now, if you are serious about blogging and you know that you can do this (because if I do, you definitely can), then keep reading!
3. Pick A Domain Name
Ok, now that you are dedicated to this whole blog idea and you know what you are going to write about, choose a name for your blog! Your domain name is going to be your website address, like this www.YOURDOMAIN.com.
This is so much fun. When I was starting my blog, I just got out a piece of paper and started jotting down a bunch of things I like. Once I had all of my ideas written down on a piece of paper, I picked the best one and checked to see if it was already taken using SiteGround. We will get to this in a minute, but SiteGround is my host of choice. They make it so simple to find a domain name that is available and you get one free domain name when you buy hosting on SiteGround. Winning!
My domain name is ALifeInLabor.com. It's short, sweet, and to the point. I can write about a plethora of things under this name and it wouldn't be confusing.
Tips to picking a domain name:
- Keep it short
- Try to pick a name that isn't difficult to type, or easy to misspell
- Don't try to copy someone else's idea
- Try to convey your blog's message without being too specific
- Make it catchy
Once you find the domain name that you want, snag it! You don't want to wait too long and then realize that your name has been taken! That's the worst. If you have already purchased your domain name, keep on reading, we will get to the point where you'll need it in a second. If you haven't purchased your domain name yet, don't do anything yet. Keep reading and you can get your domain name through your host.
4. Choose A Blogging Platform
You do have options, but WordPress is the obvious choice. WordPress is the most commonly used platform so if you ever get stuck, need help, or find yourself googling “how to”s, you will easily find tutorials and a plethora of help for WordPress. Trust me, you will be googling “how to” a million times if you are a new blogger.
Another great thing about WordPress is that it is user-friendly even if you don't know code (I surely don't). It's easy to navigate and simple to understand.
The other thing that I absolutely could not live without is all of the free WordPress plug-ins at your finger tips to make everything about blogging so much easier. Without my plug-is, I would be lost.
Trying to do the free route in this area is going to limit your ability to make money. Most free platforms will not allow you to put ads on your site, will limit your ability to make any money, and most of all- you won't own your site. Don't risk it.
5. Choose A Host
Yay! We have arrived at the exciting stuff now. You actually get to start your blog RIGHT NOW. Are you ready? How excited are you? I'm thrilled for you! I remember the day that I chose my host and spent my first dollar on my blog. Oh my goodness I was nervous. But you know what? Once I did it, my excitement about my blog only continued to grow.
Ok, here we go. I chose SiteGround for my host. It's another no-brainer. I started out with SiteGround and have never had an issue, a problem, or a question about if it was the right decision. I have absolutely loved my experience with SiteGround. There have been a few times that I have had to reach out to the support team via live chat when I was lost and didn't know what to do. They are always so helpful and quick to respond.
Choose SiteGround if:
- You want your site to be fast
- You want your site to be secure
- Customer support is important to you because you don't know what you're doing
- You want a reliable host
If you need help with purchasing hosting and setting up SiteGround, check out my step by step guide to starting your mom blog with SiteGround. I walk you through every step including choosing a plan, installing WordPress and setting up your new site.
6. Install WordPress
We talked about WordPress in number four. You are going to spend most of your time blogging on your WordPress dashboard. You can immediately call SiteGround customer service to walk you through what to do to get WordPress up and running, but to be honest, it is very simple.
- Log in to SiteGround
- Click on the “My Account” tab
- Go to cPanel
- Scroll down to the middle of the page where you will see “Autoinstallers”
- Click “WordPress”
- Continue prompts until WordPress is installed
- Create a username and password
- If you have any trouble, contact SiteGround customer support
Once WordPress is installed, log in and look around! Get really, really comfortable here because you will likely be looking at this view for the rest of your blogging career. Welcome!
7. Choose A Theme
You've probably realized at this point that just having a blog isn't much. There is nothing to it! You have a completely blank slate and need to quickly learn code and graphic design to get anything done. KIDDING! You don't need to learn code or graphic design. All you need to do right now is choose a really great, good quality theme that is mobile responsive. Take a hard pass on the free themes. You aren't basic. Your blog shouldn't be either.
A theme is basically just the way your blog is set up visually. The first thing you should do is go check out the free WordPress theme that you have already installed on your site. This is not what you want. I just want you to look at it so that you kind of have an idea of what a “theme” is and what it could be. Themes can be modified and changed drastically. You could buy the exact same theme as someone else and never know it because of all of the customization that you can do.
The first thing that you need to make sure you do if you want to have a high quality, responsive theme is get the Genesis Framework. This is not the theme itself but you will need the genesis framework for you theme to live on. You will need the Genesis Framework installed prior to installing some of the best quality themes.
I bought my theme from Restored 316. I can praise them endlessly! Not only is the theme I bought absolutely beautiful, it is mobile responsive (looks good on smart phone), it is easy to customize, and they have such wonderful resources and customer service that you can take advantage of! I can't even tell you how many times I have referred to their documentation on their website to change something or customize a part of my website. They are so helpful over there at Restored 316. LOVE them.
I wouldn't choose any other combo out there. The Genesis Framework + an absolutely beautiful design by Restored 316 is the best option if you want a well-functioning, responsive, beautiful, customizable theme that will grow with you over the years.
8. Create A Logo
Now, you could go and pay lots of money for a graphic designer to create a beautiful logo for you, and maybe that's a fine idea, I don't know. But for now, when you're just starting out, creating your own logo is perfectly acceptable! I created mine with PicMonkey and I love it. It took me a couple tries to get to the logo that I have today. The first one I made wasn't perfect, but it did the job for the early stages of my blog.
What's wonderful about PicMonkey is that you can keep your design in your “hub” and continue to modify it and change it when you need a fresh logo or when you need to re-brand a little bit.
PicMonkey has lots of great fonts and images for you to use for your logo but you can also upload your own fonts and images straight from your computer. It has so many features that allows you to create the perfect, unique logo that is perfect for your brand. I highly recommend it. Try it out for free today and get your logo up on your site asap!
9. Download Important Plug-ins
Plug-ins were the part of starting a blog that I got hung up on the most when I first started. I didn't know what I needed or wanted or what the point of my plug-ins really were. I wanted someone to stop giving me a million options and start telling me what I really needed…and why.
When you don't download the ones that you need, you make your life harder. But if you download too many, you make your site slower. You've got to find a perfect balance.
For sure the most important plug-in that you will download is Google Analytics. Yet again, it's not something you have to question. Just get it. You need it if you are interested in knowing how many visitors you are getting, how fast your pages are loading, and how many page views you're receiving. Trust me, you're interested in these stats.
I use the premium version for the daily automated backups, the 30 day archive of backups, automated spam filtering, and automated malware scanning. It is a priority of mine to keep my blog safe and protected from everything that is outside of my control.
There are other fantastic features of Jetpack Premium such as automated social media posting, advertising, and SEO tools as well. Not to mention their fantastic support.
You will use this plug-in every single time you write a post. It helps you to know exactly what your post is missing in order to optimize your content for search engines such as Google.
I love the pro version of the Social Pug plug-in because it allows me to create custom social media sharing buttons for each of my posts without compromising my branding.
Simple Social Icons
I love the simple social icons plugin because it allows me to easily put social media icons in my sidebar and my footer that lead you directly to my social media profiles. They are simple and cute. If this sounds like something that you're interested in, this plug-in is free.
Of course I do have other plug-ins that I use and love but these are the ones I would start with. Make sure that if there are plug-ins on your site that you do not/will not use, delete them! You don't want useless plug-ins slowing down your site speed.
10. Start Writing!
So, it's true, you won't be able to finish this part while your kids are napping. But…you officially have a working and functional blog at this point! Can you believe it? Your dream to become a blogger has finally started to come true.
This is the most important part of starting your blog. You need to constantly publish valuable content. If you have a blog but you aren't writing anything helpful, no one will visit it. No one wants that. So make sure you are consistently writing good, valuable content for your target audience.
Be consistent when it comes to what you are writing about, the style of writing that you use, and how often you publish. If you are comfortable with publishing one post a week, then that is what you need to do every single week. You can write as often as you are comfortable with. Being a mom to a toddler and also working part time in a hospital, once a week was enough for me. Maybe it will be different for you.
Keep in mind that writing blog posts will not be the only writing that you do. You absolutely must have an email subscription list. If people are coming to your blog, and find that what you write is right up their ally, they are going to want to subscribe to continue to find your awesome content in their inbox every week.
Blogging Tips That You Can't Ignore
Ok, so you've got the basics down. You have a blog up and running, your writing your posts, but you're still brand spanking new and you know that there is more to blogging than this. You're totally right. Here are some quick, yet extremely important, tips that you can't ignore if you want a successful blog.
- You MUST have email marketing software that allows you to collect email addresses in the form of subscribers. Your subscribers are EVERYTHING to your blog. They are the ones that will keep coming back. They are the ones that will be loyal to you. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you aren't worth having email marketing because no one has subscribed yet. I signed up for ConvertKit as soon as I started my blog and I am SO GLAD that I did. My subscribers have grown so much more than I ever expected them to so soon. Trust your potential and start strong so that you can keep growing without any bumps in the road.
- Always promote your content. It would be a huge mistake to assume that people will just magically appear on your blog because it's what they are looking for. No, you have to actually give it to them. Promote on facebook, instagram, Pinterest, and tell all your friends and family about your blog. Don't be shy! I know how scary this can be when you feel so vulnerable in your writing. Don't be afraid. Put it out there and you will find that it get's easier over time.
- Blogging is all about community. Reach out, make friends, and help each other out. You can build your blogging community by commenting on each other's blogs, following on social media, and creating a positive environment with the bloggers you admire.
I know that you're going to be successful and your blog is going to be beautiful. Reach out if you need absolutely anything.