Recently I have been asked a big question from several people: How do I start a blog? After creating over 5 blogs for both myself and others, I thought it was time to share my knowledge for those who might be considering jumping into the wonderful world of blogging. Each one of us has a unique gift to help others along this crazy walk of life. Blogging is such a great and powerful way to share that gift with people you never even thought you would meet!
Brand new to this whole internet thing? No worries! I love to use a fun and easy analogy when teaching how to start a blog that even the greenest of bloggers can understand. What are we waiting for? Let’s get you up and running!
What is Blogging?
Blogging can be so many things. For some, it is a way to express themselves artistically. Others use it to spread their knowledge of a topic to help people they may not be able to meet in person. Basically, it is using a website as a platform to share your artistic gift. Everyone has a special talent and/or a story to tell. The number one thing I hear that keeps people from starting a blog is the doubt they have in themselves.
“I don’t have anything important to say that people would want to read about.”
“I am not interesting enough.”
“He/She has such amazing photography. I just can’t compete with that.”
Remember this important advice and carry it with through your new journey: if you are hearing voices of self-doubt, remember, there is something pulling you towards the idea of blogging or you wouldn’t be here reading this article. Focus on your why: Why do you want to start a blog? A new career? A creative outlet? A go-to for an awesome resource? What is that gift you have that is wanting so badly to be expressed and shared with others? Let that be your driving force. Drown out the negatives from the start because those will always stop you from achieving your full potential.
I’m not super techy and don’t really understand the process of starting a blog. How does it work?
To start a blog is very much like building a house. When you decide you are going to create your own uniquely designed place to live, you have to first find the location.
1) What is your address? (Picking a Domain name)
You’ll first need to pick an address for your house to be built. Where will it be located? In the blogging world, that would be your domain name. All that means is the web address people will type in to find your blog! For example, mine is www.thisseasonstable.com. I recommend coming up with a few creative names that you like and try searching for them as you would type in a web address in the search bar. If you find one that doesn’t bring up a website, it most likely hasn’t been taken. Head over to the place that will make that domain name come alive. For beginners, I highly recommend BLUEHOST because they will host your domain name and your entire blog all from one location. You could also go with something like Go Daddy, but you will have to link it up to another website in order to get your blog to work, which can get a little complicated. BLUEHOST has awesome 24/7 online and phone support too. They are wonderful at answering any questions you might have.
2) Build your house. (Hosting and WordPress)
Once you picked a street to live on (domain name), it’s time to build your house! BLUEHOST is a platform that helps create the structure of your website, from the framing, electric, plumbing, roof, etc. Hosting helps give energy and life to your site so that it shows up on the internet. Without a host, your website cannot exist, much like a house would not really be very functional these days without the correct bones and utilities. Once you sign up for BLUEHOST, it will walk you through the steps of joining WordPress, which is the place you will be logged into when you create blog posts and make website edits in the future. There are a few different platforms you can use, but ultimately, I recommend a self-hosted WordPress because it gives you creative control and the ability to use advertising in the future if you choose. When you log in to your website in the future, it will always be through a WordPress login page. You can get there easily after you have set up your hosting by going to www.whateveryourdomainnameis.com/wp-admin. For example, mine is www.thisseasonstable.com/wp-admin
3) Time to Decorate! (Blog Themes)
So once you build a house, have electric and plumbing, it’s time to move in! Obviously, you could live in it as is, but – BORING. You need to decorate! How you arrange your furniture, the pictures you display, paint colors, plants, curtains, etc is what makes your home unique. It shows your style. The same goes when you start a blog. You want to pick a theme to help layout your site in a way that is functional to you, yet shows your style. There are tons of free WordPress themes to pick from, however, if you want to eventually monetize your blog, or like the idea of changing themes from time to time, I would highly recommend purchasing a custom theme. I stand beside STUDIO PRESS GENESIS THEMES for a few reasons. First of all, they have gorgeous themes. Mine is FOODIE PRO. It is spectacular and has a custom layout to help showcase my recipes. Second, they are optimized to help people find your content (blog posts) when you post it online. However, my favorite feature is that it has a two-part system. When you buy a Genesis Theme, you purchase 2 parts. To use another simple house analogy, the first part, or Parent Theme, it is like the frame of a house. The second part, or Child Theme, is like the decorations. If you ever wanted to change your theme, but don’t want to mess up your layout, you can purchase another Child theme while always having that parent theme in place to keep things where they should be. You never have to purchase another parent theme after the first purchase and it works with any child theme. How awesome is that!! Studio Press also has awesome customer support, so they can help you through the install of a theme into your WordPress platform.
4) Make your house a smart home. (Plugins and Widgets)
If you had the choice between the latest smart, energy-saving appliances and home security systems, you would totally take advantage of that feature right? What if I told you they were free? One of the major advantages of blogging through a platform like WordPress is using plugins. These are free apps you download easily into the back end of your site that do things like keep your blog secure, increase the ability of search engines (like Google) to find your blog post, create social media buttons, as well as add other really cool features without having to play around in the scary land of website code. If you visit the left side of your WordPress dashboard, you will see a link called “Plugins.” That is where you will add in these special features to your site. Here are some of my favorite to get started, as well as what they do:
Akismet Anti-Spam -Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from spam. Your site is fully configured and being protected, even while you sleep.
Contact Form Builder – Contact Form Builder is an advanced plugin to add contact forms to your website. It comes along with multiple default templates which can be customized.
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP) – Displays Google Analytics Reports and Real-Time Statistics in your Dashboard. Automatically inserts the tracking code in every page of your website.
Pinterest Pin It Button On Image Hover And After Post & Page Content –Pin Your WordPress Blog Posts Pages Images With Pinterest
Social Warfare –A plugin to maximize social shares and drive more traffic using the fastest and most intelligent share buttons on the market, calls to action via in-post click-to-tweets, popular posts widgets based on share popularity, link-shortening, Google Analytics and much, much more!
Yoast SEO –The first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.
Plugins for Food Bloggers:
WP Recipe Maker – The easy and user-friendly recipe plugin for everyone. Automatic JSON-LD metadata for better SEO will get you more visitors!
WP Recipe Maker Premium – Premium addon for WP Recipe Maker.
And that’s it!! I mean, there is so much more to learn along your journey, but these basic first steps will bring you closer to getting things up and running. Don’t forget, youtube is an amazing resource if you can’t quite figure something out. No one was born knowing how this blogging thing works. We have all taken the same steps you are now taking. This is why I am so confident that you can totally do this. I would like to be the first to welcome you to the blogging world! You are going to do amazing things!!
With much love from my table to yours,
Did you start a blog after reading this article? Tell me about it! Leave a message in the comments or send me an email. I want to see your new little corner of the internet and say congrats!