This post includes affiliate links, but I only share things that I LOVE & think you will too.
We live in an era where we can’t imagine living without our smart phones, laptops, and God forbid the Internet! It’s a world where anyone, regardless of class, location and means, can start an online presence… in their pj’s… snuggled up in bed (You bet I’m guilty of that one!!!)
A question I get all the time is “How do I start a blog & what are your recommendations?” The whole blogging thing was something that I figured out all by myself. I would have loved to have a friend to show me the ropes, and save me a bunch of headaches. So today I’m going to be that friend to you. This post is all about what I have learned about taking my hobby, and turning it into a blog, and more importantly, a business.
I started out with a free Blogger blog ( www.welivedhappilyeverafter.blogspot.com ) then I decided I wanted to be in this for the long run, and ended up switching so that I could have a .com ( www.welivedhappilyeverafter.com ) If you are serious about starting an online presence for your shop or blog, save yourself the headache of switching and start of with a .com
Here is a quick overview of the process:
So first, you will need to use a website host, I recommend using Bluehost. They are very user friendly & have awesome 24/7 customer service. You can sign up HERE.
One of the great things about Bluehostis that they cater to new bloggers by having walk-through tutorials, 1-click WordPress installation and updates, and a 24/7 US-based tech support. They also allow us bloggers room to grow. Once you get too much traffic, you can upgrade to a higher level plan with 1-click.
One awesome thing with using Bluehost, is they give you a free domain name- so you not only have a host, but a domain for the price of one. To get your blog started, you need to pick out your domain name. This will be your url, so choose wisely.
My domain is www.welivedhappilyeverafter.com
Picking your domain name can be tricky, as so many of the good ones are already taken. Just think of something that represents you. It should be something short & memorable. One thing that I’ve noticed is that using your actual name is classic and timeless- and it gives people automatic name recognition.
Now that you’ve picked out a name for our domain, you get to choose which plan you want. You will then enter billing info & be prompted to click next. You are now one step closer to your new blog!
The next step is connecting to a wordpress account to attach your blog to. When you pressed “next” it should bring you to a process similar to the one below:
YAY! You now have a blog!
Here are a few more steps to make you totally legit:
Now you need to set up your Social Media Accounts.
Don’t skip this part. You want people to find you, right?! It is really important to get on the train with all the main stream social media accounts. It’s easy to feel embarrassed and invisible when you look at other people’s numbers and think, “Wow! I wish I was her!” But guess what? That “number envy” never ends. I compare myself to bigger accounts all the time! But you just need to realize that numbers don’t equal loyal followers, or even great content. And besides, everyone starts at 0 followers!
With that said though, social media is what makes your blog from being just another lottery ticket in the powerball, to the winning ticket! You don’t need to be active on all of them, but you should at least start accounts on the mainstream popular ones.
Here are the biggest, most popular ones (& my honest thoughts on them):
Instagram: THE BEST INVENTION EVER! Total eye candy. While I don’t think I get viral amounts of click-throughs from Instagram, it is a HUGE social presence where you can share sneak peeks, and establish your brand without the hassle of writing a whole blog post. Think of it as free advertising. According to a study by Microsoft, they say that it takes 6-20 times for people to see something before they remember & need it. Instagram is a great way to get that awareness out there without being annoying.
Facebook: It’s great as long as people see your content in their feed. From my experience, facebook has become useless to small businesses like myself, because they charge you to show your posts and statuses to people…. and not just people who haven’t heard of you…. but the people who have actually LIKED your page… Facebook- why did you break my heart! Sometimes less than 20 people out of my 10K followers even SEE the posts. So now days, while I still post on Facebook, I save myself the disappointment and focus on the other social media accounts.
Twitter: I need to focus on this one more… But I can only wrap my head around so many things at once, so it sometimes gets pushed aside.
Pinterest: This one is seriously the BEST traffic pusher. It’s all about visual elements, so make sure your content is awesome if you want to optimize there (it would be a mistake not to!) Also, make sure that that you have at least 1 awesome portrait image in each post (like in the above photo) You will get mega traffic if you play your cards right. Pinterest is seriously what made my blog. I remember when I saw it for the first time, I thought, “This is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life!” LOL! True story.
A Newsletter: Even if you don’t send one out every week (or in my case, every month) start up a newsletter following. People can subscribe via rss, or you can start up an email list using MailChimp.
Conclusion: You may not use them all consistently, but it’s good to start a presence on all of them.Network: It’s also important to follow other blogs, network with them, comment on other people’s content (but don’t blatantly plug your content- that’s not cool in my book) And when people email, comment, or share your content, respond appropriately & thank them for taking the time!
Beautify. Beautify. Beautify.
I could write a whole post on just this topic. Branding is something I’m addicted to.
Above are examples of some of my brand kits for websites and businesses, found HERE.
Don’t get all cheap when it comes to branding. Think of your blog as a visual representation of who you are. You wouldn’t go to a business meeting in pjs with hair that looks like a rat’s nest… you can blog looking like that, (*cough* what I’m doing right now *cough*) but you want your site to look appealing so that people will have a good experience on your site.For starters, you will need a logo, favicon (which is a mini logo icon for tabs and bookmarking), blog background, and sidebar elements. If you aren’t photoshop and design savvy, don’t worry. You can find some great themes already made. Etsy and Creative Market are a great place to look.
I also do starter up logo & brand kits (HERE) to make it easy for people who don’t have the time/don’t want to DIY this part. Or you can always go the custom route and have someone design your site for you.One of my favorite parts of design are fonts. I am a fontaholic. Font’s are an easy way to dress up your blog. See my favorite “Hand Drawn” looking fonts HERE.
Blog for YOU! This one goes without saying.
Find what makes you special, and blog about that. Don’t worry about “keeping up with” or “being just like” this or that great blogger… Write & blog about what sets your heart on fire. When you focus on the reason you were put on this earth, and the unique talents that you were given, you will go far.
Personally, it does take a lot of courage for me to post content, but putting my self out there has actually has been an empowering experience for me. I’m learning that I have God given gifts, and not everyone is as creative as me, but I shouldn’t be ashamed of or scared to show my talents. I’m not perfect, but when you blog for yourself, people with similar passions will find you.
It took me 2-3 years to really narrow down what I wanted to focus on, and have my blog to be about, but I was able to mesh all my passions in one place, which is so amazing. I remember feeling like my little blog was lost in the hundreds of thousands of other blogs out there, and wondering what made me special. Then I got an idea to use one of my greatest passions (art) to do something I had never seen on a blog before: Digital Art Freebies! It was a huge TA-DA moment for me, and it’s honestly one of the biggest traffic sources for me (again, about “blogging for you”). Again, it’s not an overnight process, but as long as you persist, and rack you head for good ideas, you will do great.
So instead of picking one overly saturated general topic, blog about something unique so that you will stand out.
Also, people can tell if you are faking it. So do yourself a favor and be bold, show your fire, and be empowered.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. In a nutshell, this is basically filling your post with key words so that people can find you on Google. I don’t do anything fancy, but a few good things to do are:
1. Title Your Post Appropriately. For example, this post includes “How to Start Your Own Blog” in the title.
2. Include Keywords in your post url. For example: