How did I Start a Blog? Well, to begin with, blogging was never something I had ever considered as a means to provide income. I decided to start a blog about a year ago as a means to help other women veterans connect and share their struggles. I soon learned the value of blogging! When you start a blog, you are able to connect to people all across the planet and often truly provide content that can have an impact on their lives! That is what happened with me. Blogging can not only be therapeutic and provide a means for creative thought, but it can also become a sole source of income for you. I work with veterans and disadvantaged women and want to share everything I’ve learned about blogging and how to start a blog because this could truly be a way to provide income. Many, like me, have never even considered blogging and have absolutely ZERO clue on even where to begin. Well, not to worry! I’m going to “dumb-it-down” for you because if you are anything like me, you have little to no knowledge of techie stuff and the semantics of how to get started.
YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO PIN THIS!
Please note this post may contain affiliate links and ads, read my full disclosure here.
HOW TO START A BLOG
1 – Decide on your niche and name
2 – Select a platform
3 – Choose a host
4 – Choose a theme
5 – Install necessary plugins
6- Write a few posts (before you go live)
Decide on a niche and name
What is a niche and how do I figure out mine?
A niche is a basic category that your blog content falls into. In order to start a blog, you have to decide what you want to blog about! For me, that was the difficult part because I could literally talk about anything and everything! For a blog to be successful, people need to WANT to read it. What can you blog about? Well, these are a few topics, however, it boils down to WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT OR AN EXPERT IN?
- Do you have a hobby that you are good (or at least fairly good) at such as crocheting, DIY, crafts, cooking, etc? Are you considered a “handy person” that others are constantly asking for advice on how to do this or that? Think about this – when you want to learn how to do something, do you go to the internet to look up “how to” articles and tutorials? Well, if you know how to do stuff, blog about it so others can learn.
- Are you an expert in something such as business topics, finance, saving money & budgeting, coupons, pet issues, resume writing and employment strategies, etc? I’m self-taught on a lot of stuff in these categories because it can be really expensive to pay to get advice from professionals. Again, many go to the internet to get advice or learn about these things. Use your knowledge to help others by writing about what you already know!
- Have you struggled with anything and have managed to pull through it? Anyone going through a struggle is so much better off when they can relate to another person going through the same stuff such as addiction, mental health struggles, financial struggles, divorce, sexual assault etc. If you have managed to pull through your own struggles, why not share with others how you did it and provide them a safe place to seek comfort and support?
- Are you an avid outdoor sports person, or maybe fishing and hunting? Do you know a lot about the best gear or best locations for these activities? Share your knowledge with others by blogging about it!
- Are you a stay-at-home mom? These blogs are hugely popular because moms like following and learning from other moms!
- Know a lot about a lot? Your blog could be set up to have more than one specific niche that could relate to another niche or 2. That is how I set up My Veteran Woman Life. I primarily blog about stuff to help others save money, but I also have a lot of content on resources for veterans as well as entrepreneur resources. Veterans and budget strategies are different niches, but they can relate to each other in the sense of veterans want to know about veteran resources but many would also like to know how to save money or start their own business.
These are just a few ideas. What it boils down to is what are you passionate about? What could you just talk all day about that others might want to hear about? The sky really is the limit on topics!
How do I pick a name for my blog?
When you pick a name for your blog, you want to be sure it relates to the content so readers will know what your blog is about. It also needs to be one that is easy to say and remember so don’t pick a name that is super long or has words that are commonly misspelled. You will also want to ensure it is a name that you can use as part of the domain name as well as for social media accounts. Take TIME on deciding on your blog’s name! You can check to see if the name you want is already in use by another blog by clicking here You can purchase the domain now or wait until you are ready to sign up for hosting (below). This is important because you don’t want to go through all the steps of designing a logo based on the name of your blog only to find out you have to adjust the domain name. This can confuse readers. When I was deciding on a name for my blog, several variations I considered had already been taken. I finally found one that was available, but in checking social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest), the name was being used by at least one of them. In the end, My Veteran Woman Life and Girl Bosses Rock were the winners!
SELECT A PLATFORM
In order to start a blog, you must have a website! Now, I am a self-professed expert on everything internet, however, I have no clue about the techie stuff. This is the part that intimidated me the most because I didn’t know how to make a website. Not to worry! There are several website platforms out there to choose from such as WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Blogger, and others. I’ve researched many of them and by far, WordPress.org is the best that I’ve found.
There are actually two different WordPress platforms FREE and SELF-HOSTED and this is where many (including myself) get confused.
When I first decided to start a blog, I chose a WordPress.com platform. Why? Mainly because I didn’t know of anything else. With WordPress.com you can create a blog for free. Now, I just want to interject here that free often sounds great but free isn’t always the best.
- No setup required
- easy to manage (great when you are NOT a techie)
- Limited options for extending your site
- Can NOT run advertisements or set up certain affiliate links
- You don’t own your site.
Like I said, I started with a WordPress.com site and it served a purpose of getting my content out there and gaining followers. But when I decided to monetize my site, I quickly learned that wasn’t an option. If you are set on blogging but just don’t have the money to invest, you can start with this free platform, then migrate over to WordPress.org once you save some money. It is a bit of work, but it is doable because I did it.
WordPress.org enables you to have a self-hosted website. Now don’t freak out on the “self-hosted” part! Self-hosted just means YOU control everything about the site. There are 3rd party companies such as SiteGround that will take care of all the techie stuff! If you ever want to earn real money from your blog, you MUST go self-hosted. Once you’ve signed up for your hosting, you will be able to install WordPress with a single click from your hosting dashboard.
- Complete control of your site and its content
- Ability to add features such as forums, online stores, plug-ins, tailored email opt-ins, widgets for connecting to your social media sites, and much more!
- Access to free plug-ins to add all sorts of cool stuff to make your blog awesome
- Is search engine friendly
The only real con that I’ve found is that you do need to learn a bit about stuff like widgets and plug-ins to know which ones you need and why – but I have included some of that here for you. Plus, you can pretty much find all that info on the internet and I have additional tutorials as well.
SELECT A HOST
There are several web hosting platforms to choose from. I use SiteGround because I had gone with Bluehost when first started, however, I had constant issues with their server knocking my site offline for extended periods of time. You can’t run an online business if your website is not accessible! SiteGround did the migration for FREE and have excellent customer service and my site is loading way faster than it was before! You can read all about my ordeal and decide for yourself – but hopefully, you can learn from my mistake and save yourself some money!
I HIGHLY recommend SiteGround for your web hosting! If you are ready to start a blog and are looking for the best hosting platform, you can sign up right here through my referral link!
Side note: during the set up you will be asked about other “extras” if they aren’t already a part of the package you purchase. Be sure to include “domain privacy” to protect your personal data and also ensure you select the option for getting the SSL certificate (this is what makes your web address https instead of http). You can opt for the “SG Site Scanner” to protect against malicious attacks and spam, but you may find that service elsewhere as well.
SELECT A THEME
WordPress.org software is free and easy with one-click installation. Once you install the software, you can begin setting up your site. One of the first things you will need to do is select a theme and layout for your blog. WordPress does come with a few free ones in your dashboard to use while you are still figuring things out, but I highly recommend investing in a paid theme as soon as you can because as with anything – you get what you pay for. Many of the free themes have limitations on adding widgets and stuff like that. If you plan to make your blog a business you really need to find a nice PAID THEME to maximize the potential of your blog. You can find some very nice ones for around $50 and you only have pay for it once! There are, however, many free themes available on the internet. If you are on a tight budget, it’s ok to go with a free theme from a trusted site like through the WordPress Marketplace, but just remember that this will limit your ability to monetize your site and make it look exactly how you want it. Here are a few of my favorite places to shop for themes!
Studio Press– If you use a Genesis Framework theme like the one I’m using for this blog, you’ll need to purchase it separately from Studio Press (they also have themes you can purchase).
Depending on the theme you choose, you will also need to install a few (free) plugins to help optimize your site. Some themes come with some plugins already installed so just check to see. These are the plugins I suggest installing before you start writing and launch your blog (don’t worry – they are all free). From your blog dashboard, select “Plugins” from the left sidebar, then search these names and install.
- Yoast SEO – This is your all-in-one SEO tool
- Really Simple SSL – Makes your site SSL proof
- Nofollow Checkbox – Adds a checkbox to the pop up for inserting “nofollow” links which are required for affiliate links
- TinyMCE Advanced – Enables advanced features like additional fonts and colors to your dashboard (especially great for customizing Genesis theme)
- WP Smush – Reduce file size – very important when adding images and other large files to site to keep it from slowing down
- WP Speed of Light
- WP Super Cache
- Google Analytics or WordPress
Aside from these important plugins, you can also find plugins to do all sorts of stuff. There are plugins for adding an Instagram widget, Pinterest widget, bible quotes, and so much more. As you get more comfortable in your dashboard, if there is something you wished you could do, simply Google “WordPress plugin to ….” and several should come up. Always read the reviews on them to be sure they won’t cause other issues to your site.
OTHER IMPORTANT AND HELPFUL TOOLS FOR WHEN YOU START A BLOG
When you start a blog, it may be a bit overwhelming and you can tend to get into a rush on publishing your first blog post. I am in a rush as a normal mode of operation! And although I pride myself on being a great writer as far as proper spelling and punctuation, even I make mistakes! One of the most helpful tools I’ve come across to help me ensure my content is grammatically correct is called GRAMMARLY. This is a free tool that you can use and even install a browser extension so it is checking everything you type. You might say “well I use Microsoft Word and it has that function as well as a spell-checker.” GRAMMARLY checks everything you type on ANY platform. In this day and age, most of our typing and publishing of content happens on the internet so Microsoft won’t help you there! The extension is really great because it tells you as soon as you make a mistake in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and word use. It also gives you the correct replacement. This is perfect for blogging because you may write long blog posts and by the time you are finished, your eyes may burn out on looking at the text and you will overlook mistakes. I know I’ve read a few blog posts in that had content that was misspelled or they used the wrong word (their instead of there) and I tend to not see their content as credible because of those mistakes. If you intend on making a business out of blogging, you never want to have mistakes in your content!! This also applies when sending emails to your subscribers.
Aside from using it for blogging, I also highly recommend it for high school and college students for writing their research papers because aside from spelling, grammar, and punctuation, it also checks for plagiarism! For anyone in business who may send any form of correspondence through social media, GRAMMARLY can make sure your content is error-free.
GRAMMARLY is a FREE tool that you can install and you can get it right here!
GET TO WRITING!
Before you go live, I recommend having at least five posts written so you aren’t rushing to keep your readers’ interest. I also highly recommend checking out other blogs just to see writing styles and stuff like that. You can also join several Facebook groups for Bloggers (get free access below) – which will enable you to check out blogs all over the world and find others in your niche to follow and learn from. These groups also help with getting initial traffic to your site after it is launched and provide so much support for problems that come up. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel! Learn from these other bloggers so you can save yourself mistakes (and possibly money)!
You should also get hot on setting up your email marketing system before your launch. Most bloggers who waited to work on their email list wished they had set it up from the start. There are several email programs out there to choose from – I use MailerLite with the OptinMonster plugin for both of my blogs and couldn’t be happier. You check out all of the tools I use for my blogs in my Profitable Bloggers Toolbox.
Ok, so I hear people say all the time “it takes a while to earn any money from a blog.” Well, it may take time to make enough to replace your current income source, but you CAN make money starting on the very day you go live. My fingers are tired from typing this post (smiley face) so I decided to make a quick video to explain how.
So get signed up with ShopStyle Collective and monetize that first post! Just be sure to make it look natural and don’t go super crazy with the hyperlinks! 🙂
Also, if you want to learn how you can make money by pinning on Pinterest, you can check out my E-course The Profitable Pinner and see how!