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So, you want to start a blog today…I’m so excited for you!
Let’s start with a little story.
I started my first blog at 2:00 in the morning one night while I was nursing my 3rd baby. I had heard about blogging, but honestly had no idea what a blog really was. So I googled it and found an article similar to this one on starting a blog. There wasn’t a whole lot of information in the post (I wish I would have read something a little more comprehensive), but there was enough info to help me with basic setup. I was intrigued by the whole thing so I picked a domain name, a host (should have done more research with this one) and set up my site. athomewithkids.com was born and boy did I have a LOT to learn!
If blogging was easy, everyone would be starting a blog, but if it wasn’t a valid way to make money while allowing you freedom of time and location, no one would be doing it.
The truth is, blogging has the potential to become your full time job so you can start living the life you want. But you can’t go into it solely focused on making money. In order to build a successful blog you have to have your reader in mind first.
- What do you have to offer them?
- What service will you provide? How will you be helpful?
- Why should your reader continue to come back to you?
Don’t worry, starting your blog set up is actually pretty simple.
Even if the technical piece intimidates you. In this post, I will break down each step so you can have your blog set up today and be on your way to creating your little piece of the Internet.
How to start a blog today in 7 Simple Steps
1. Choose your niche- what do you want to write about?
There are a million different things you could write about. Many people will have a hard time narrowing it down and will end up with a blog with no focus. You don’t necessarily have to have just one topic, but it is very important that everything relates to each other and will provide information that ONE person would be looking for.
Choose a distinct focus within a broader topic. For example;
if you want to write about pets, write to a new pet owner or a certain type of pet, or training of a pet, etc.
If you want to do a mom blog, choose a certain mom to write to (age of kids, number of kids, single mom, age of mom, etc.)
It is okay to write about more than one thing, but make sure they all gel together.
Ask yourself these questions to help you figure out your niche:
- What are you knowledgeable about?
- What do you love to talk about?
- What do others ask your opinion about?
- What do you want to help others with?
- What do you like to learn more about?
If you are not super passionate about your topic, you will lose steam and have a hard time coming up with content. Blogging takes A LOT of writing so make sure you choose a topic you could talk about or write about for hours!
2. Choose your avatar and purpose
This is one of those important pieces that many bloggers skip. You need to know who you are writing to. It isn’t enough to say, “I’m writing to moms”. You need to be more specific so that everything you write will resonate with your avatar. This is how you create a blog that gets read over and over, a go-to resource for your avatar.
You need to be able to visualize who you are writing to,
- what they look like,
- how they act,
- what their deepest desires are,
- what they struggle with,
- what they search for.
This includes basics like age, sex, stage of life, where they live, if they have kids, a spouse, etc.
You also need to go deeper.
- What problems does your reader have and what solutions do they need (that they may not even know about yet?)
- What do they care about most and where are they wanting to go in the future?
- What goals do they have and what stands in their way from meeting them?
Sit down and answer each of these questions and make sure you can visualize your ideal reader in your head. It can even be helpful to cut a picture out of a magazine of someone who represents your ideal reader and pin it somewhere so you can see this person every time you write. (Don’t stop reading this post just because this sounds silly. It helps…I promise!)
3. Choosing your domain name
This step is pretty fun. You get to name your blog! Make sure to choose a few different options in case your first choice is taken.
When choosing your domain name think about these things:
- What is your website about?
- What will people be searching for?
- What is your target audience?
- Are you branding your yourself or your website?
- If you are branding yourself, then consider using your name as your domain.
You want people to know what your site is about when they hear your domain name so don’t get too cutsie when deciding on the name.
If you don’t get it right the first time, you can always purchase another name in the future. It happens all the time and isn’t as complicated as you may think. Although, it is always easier to have the right name upfront so take some time to think it over.
Don’t buy it yet! I will show you how to get it for free in a later step! I know you’re excited, but just hang tight!
4. Choose your host
Your host is one of the most important decisions to make. Maybe the most important one you make when starting your blog. There are quite a few options out there and many that only cost a few dollars per month to get started.
A couple things to think about when you purchase your host:
- Will they be able to provide the service you need as you grow?
- Do they have a good reputation for site speed and uptime?
- What is the customer service like?
I have had to switch hosts in the past due to sites going down and a lack of customer service to get the problems fixed. I wished I had a better understanding of this when I first started.
You want a host that is proven and highly recommended.
I currently use Siteground and have nothing but good to say about them.
- Their customer service is by far the best I have ever seen.
- Their uptime rates are better than almost all other hosting sites.
- They have a 4.99 out of 5.0 rating with over 1200 reviews.
- You can get started today for less than $4/month.
- You get your domain name for FREE
This website, plus my other 3 are currently hosted by Siteground and I have never had an issue.
I have also had great experience with Bluehost and know lots of great bloggers who would say the same.
You can read more about choosing your host in, “How to choose the perfect host.”
5. Choose your platform
If you are serious about blogging, even if it’s just going to be a hobby, you need to have a self hosted blog with your own domain. Platforms like blogspot, WordPress.com, or Tumblr, give you a piece of the Internet, but it lives with them.
The problems with this are:
- You cannot choose your own custom domain (instead you will have something like, “yourdomain.blogspot.com”)
- Your blog could be shut down at any time at their discretion
- You will have very limited access to plugins and themes to help you create a beautiful website
- Google will not rank your posts as highly
- It just won’t look as professional.
WordPress is my recommendation. (Make sure you are on WordPress.org, not WordPress.com.) Here’s why:
- Over 90% off ALL blogs are hosted by WordPress.
- Over 60% of the top 100 websites are hosted by WordPress
- It’s Free!
- There are thousands of paid and free WordPress themes to choose from
- There are hundreds of free plugins that will keep your website running smoothly
- Coders are constantly making new improvements, new plugins, and new themes
- The support forums are extensive
Many hosting companies, including Siteground have one click WordPress install so getting set up is quick and painless.
I’m going to walk you through the steps as if you have decided on Siteground hosting, but the process is similar for whatever hosting you chose.
2. Click sign up and choose the cheapest plan (unless you will have thousands of visitors from the get go).
3. Enter your domain name and choose .com, .org, .net, etc. (If you already have a domain name, click the little circle that says, “already have a domain name”. If you choose a domain name that has already been taken, you will get an error message and you can try again.
4. Once you have your domain name, you will move to step 3 where you can review your information and complete your registration.
5. Now that you are all signed up, you are almost an official blogger! Click on the “My Accounts” tab (You should see your domain here) and click on the cpanel button at the top left.
6. Scroll down until you see WordPress Installer and click that button.
6. Click on “Install Now”.
7. Choose Protocol and domain name. You should have SSL with Siteground so you can choose https://. You can start a chat session with them if you are not sure.
8. Fill in site name and site description.
9. Create a username and password.
You can leave the theme section blank. I will help you choose a theme in the next step.
11. Click install and you are all set! You now have a blog and it is time to design it and get writing!
6. Find a theme
Your next job is to figure out the perfect theme for your site. You may end up going through several before you figure out what you want. There are many free themes you can look through to see if there is a good fit for you. Most of these themes can be fully customized, but may need a little coding knowledge to make the theme look the same as the demo. Others will be plug and play and you will have your website designed.
To find a free theme:
- go to appearance> themes and search through the available themes.
- Click install and then activate once you have a theme you like.
Make sure you look for a theme that is mobile responsive and has the capability to have any pages and plugins that you may want. You can preview each them to decide if it has the look you want. Just remember, it won’t look just like the example site until you do a little tweaking.
If you are willing to spend a little bit of money, this is the perfect step to spend some.
Your theme will ultimately determine the design of your website and will be your first impression for your visitors. You may not have enough money to have someone design a custom website for you, but there are tons of beautiful themes you can buy for a fraction of the cost that will help you build the website of your dreams.
My personal recommendation is Divi from Elegant Themes
Why I love Divi:
- Lots of themes and layouts included.
- Divi page builder that helps you create completely customizable pages, including your home page, about page, landing pages, and sales pages.
- One time fee option so you never have to pay again.
- All future updates included in the price.
- Support to help you build the perfect site.
If you are looking for a feminine theme, Restored 316 has beautiful themes for very affordable prices.
Basics of branding:
You don’t have to have your design completely set up before you publish your blog. If you tried to get it perfect, you would never launch your blog. Just get it out there and know that you can change and evolve as you grow.
Here are a few basics you can start thinking about now.
Colors- choose 3-5 colors that you will you will use consistently.
As you think about colors, think about these 3 things:
- Who is your avatar and what colors will draw them in?
- What feeling do you want your avatar to have when they see your brand?
- What colors align with your business? Is it sophisticated, silly, helpful, calming, etc.
Fonts- Choose 2-3 fonts that are easy to read and look good together. Stick to 1-2 regular fonts and 1 script font that can be mixed.
Photos- think about what kinds of photos you will use and a basic design so they remain consistent across your website.
Remember this does not have to be perfect or set in stone. Just give it some thought, but don’t let it keep you from getting your blog set up today!
7. Write your first posts
Now that your all set up, it’s time to get your voice heard. Take a few minutes to read, “How to write your first 5 blog posts.” Having high quality content on your site is great for retaining visitors as well as getting found on Google. High quality content will be your secret weapon for growing as a blogger.
8. Set up email
Most people wouldn’t add this as the first steps for starting a blog, but if you are serious about blogging, an email list is essential. You will want to have a system set up right away so you can start capturing your readers from day one.
This is something I suggest spending money on from the start. However, if you feel super nervous about this (I did too so I get it!), there is a great free option as well. It is just a pain to switch everything over later and I think you will want to as you grow.
If you want to start out free, start with MailerLite. This system is super easy to use and has a lot of great functions.
If you are willing to spend a little, start with Convertkit. This is what I use and I absolutely love all the features, the analytics, and the customer service.
Take a look at both to decide what will work best for you, but go ahead and sign up now. Trust me! You are going to be glad you have this step already under your belt.
That’s it! You set up your blog and ready to show the world your stuff!
I want you to be successful. So many people get started in blogging and end up giving up. Not because they are not capable, but because they never had the right foundation and information to help them make it happen. There are hundreds of new bloggers getting started everyday, but only a few take it to the level they have in their dreams. Blogging takes hard work and determination, but if you are willing to make it happen, YOU can make your blog anything you want it to be! I want you to meet all your blogging goals. Let’s get your blog set up today so you are one step closer!
I can’t wait to see what you do! Share a link in the comments so we can all take a peek at your accomplishments and cheer you on as you grow!
You can do this!
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