I love all. things. blogging. Have you picked up on that yet? It’s a serious passion of mine and I love helping others see how they can include it in their own lives. Why does blogging get me so fired up? 3 main reasons:
1. Literally anyone can do it. I truly believe we all have something to share and we all have a story to tell. You don't need to have it all figured out to get started and the overhead is minimal, making it easy to dive into this new endeavor without costing you an arm and a leg.
2. It builds this amazing little community. Oh my goodness, YOU! You are a part of this community and I can't tell you the number of people who have reached out, encouraged, thanked, asked questions, and been a part of this whole journey. I've seen it for others too. It is truly incredible and amazing to see who you can impact or help when you start blogging.
3. You can make money. It’s not the reason I got started blogging but it is how I've been able to go full time with it. Having a profitable blog won’t happen overnight but with a whole lot of consistency, producing quality content, and building an audience you can make it a career if that's what you're going for.
(If you're not convinced I also wrote this blog post explaining 6 reasons you should be blogging.)
So, if you've ever even, kinda sort of THOUGHT about starting your own blog, read on my friend. I think this post will really help you know where you should start.
STEP 1: PICK A BLOG NICHE
Decide WHAT your blog is going to be about. Are you an avid traveler, homesteader, crocheter, wood carver, photographer, floral designer, or anything else that you could talk about for hours? Are you an expert in something and could share your knowledge and experiences with others? Is there something that gets you ridiculously pumped? Picking a blog niche helps give your blog a direction and helps your audience know what they can expect from you. I wrote this blog post dedicated to picking a blog niche, so be sure to check it out for some additional inspiration.
If you have something ultra-specific in mind, great! Take that idea and run with it because the more specific you can get the better. But if you're like me and are into traveling and DIY and cooking and photography and popcorn and sailing and EVERYTHING UNDER THE FREAKING SUN picking a niche can be a challenge. Here's something you can do to get started. Pick your Top 3-5. What are 3-5ish main things you can keep coming back to? Write about these 3-5 things and use them to help give your blog a general theme.
Here’s the thing, DO NOT let picking the perfect blog niche keep you from starting your blog. I got stuck trying to narrow my own blog down to this perfect, well-rounded, very specific niche and it kept me from actually starting for way too long. Be sure to start somewhere, and know that your niche can (and probably will) evolve over time.
STEP 2: CHOOSE A NAME
Choosing a name for your blog feels like a really big deal, trust me I know. But you want to know a secret? It’s not. People are going to find you regardless of how clever your name is. Go with something simple and something that will encompass what your blog is all about. Again, if you need to change the name in the future you can. I don't want to keep encouraging you to change your mind but I also want you know that your decisions aren't the end all. If they work out forever, that is fantastic. If you pick something and it changes in a few years, that is ok too but you have to start somewhere.
So, is it better to give your blog a title or to use your name? That's completely up to you. I chose to use my name because I couldn't think of anything that fit my blog theme and I didn't want it to keep me from starting. (Because the key is always to start. You could try to decided on the perfect everything forever but sometimes you just have to go for it and adapt as you go.) The choice is completely up to you and either direction you choose will work.
See if your ideal blog name is available by doing a quick search or you can use a platform like GoDaddy to see if the domain (the URL of what your blog is called) is available. I talk about more about your domain name in Step 4.
STEP 3: DECIDE WHICH BLOGGING AND WEB HOSTING PLATFORM TO USE
There are a number of different blogging and web hosting platforms you can choose from. I use WIX as both my blogging platform AND hosting website and really can't vouch for the others.
I chose WIX because
Everything I need is in one place. My blog, website, and shop are all in one place. I don't have to know different systems or programs because it's all right there, through WIX.
Easy to use. What you see is what you get with WIX. It is a drag and drop system that makes it easy to build your own website without any experience. I'm in the blogging business not web design business here people and even I think it's easy to understand.
Cost. I knew I would have to upgrade and purchase a plan no matter which direction I went. Since it’s all in one place, the WIX plan was the cheapest option for me.
I knew I could always change. I’m hoping I don’t have to but if someday I want someone to take over the website for me or develop something crazy rad, I know that choosing WIX isn’t the end all, it’s just the beginning.
As you're researching what blogging and web hosting platform is best for you, here's what I recommend. Almost all of the platforms have a free option. Begin to build your blog and website with the free plan. Then, if you like the system and want to upgrade, you can.
If you want to get serious about blogging, you're going to have to purchase an upgraded plan eventually. The free plans are great for getting started but they generally include the hosting name in the domain name, for example: accountname.wix.yourblogname.com and have other limitations. Keep this in mind with what platforms you decide to go with, as you dive deeper into blogging you might have to update your blog plan and your website plan, etc. Like I said, something I really like about my WIX account is having everything I need all in one place so it's just one expense.
STEP 4: PURCHASE A DOMAIN
Once you’ve purchased an upgraded plan, it will include the option to link a domain name. A domain is basically the URL of your website. For example, my domain name is eachdayslow.com.
When you’ve decided on a name and know that it’s available (Step 2), it’s time to purchase your domain name. Again, there are a number of different platforms you can purchase your domain name from but I use GoDaddy. It’s super easy to use and depending on, costs something like $11 a year.
Your website platform will walk you through the steps you need to link your newly purchased domain name.
STEP 5: BUILD YOUR WEBSITE
Alright, let's do this thing! If you are anything like I was and know nothing about building a website, just remember, keep it simple. Spend your energy and focus on writing and being consistent and then you can build over time.
Again, WIX is the perfect place to start if you have zero website building experience, all you have to do is pick a theme, drag and drop some photos, write your own text and bada bing-bada boom, you have yourself a website. Just make sure your theme, colors, and fonts are consistent on all pages.
Finally, make sure you have these 3 things:
Easy way to get to your blog. Make your blog and your latest post the first thing people see or at least lead them in that direction right from the get go. You can't assume people will go to your website and check out all the greatness you've spent time creating. Make it quick and easy for them to find exactly what they're looking for by making your blog page the focus.
About Me section. You need to show up for your followers. Introduce yourself, invite them in, let them get to know YOU. You're the reason people will keep coming back for more.
Email signup. This is a bit more advanced and I'm writing a blog post about why you need an email list but just know that you should ALWAYS have an email sign up as an option. Email lists are the #1 thing you should be focusing on if you’re ever in the slightest bit, even if it’s in the way off future, wanting to take blogging to the next level. Your email list is the only thing you actually own.....not social media, not your followers, your email list. If you're not sure what to do with them yet, it's ok, have the signup as an option and collect them as people opt in to your list.
STEP 6: START WRITING!
This is what it’s all about, right!? To be a singer, you have to sing. To be a chef, you have to cook. And to be a blogger, you have to write my friend. That first blog post can be so scary, I know it sure was for me. Just remember it doesn't have to be some big, gigantic, grand event. It also doesn't have to be perfect. Get that first one written and posted and then write and post another, and another, and another. You'll find yourself a routine before you know it.
STEP 7: BE CONSISTENT AND CREATE A CONTENT CALENDAR
Speaking of routines, one of the keys to blogging success is being consistent and making sure you have a plan. If you’re going to do this thing make sure you do the dang thing ya know?!
The more you post, the more you are going to drive traffic to your website. So if you are able to write and post often with no problem, by all means, get after it. However, if you’re just getting started and are a little unsure, aim to post, at the very, very minimum, one blog post every other week (about twice a month). As you get more comfortable and into a routine, challenge yourself to post more frequently, ideally once a week.
You know how I keep saying that you can adapt or change if you need to? Well, when I first started I wanted to post two blogs every week. I quickly realized this was ambitious and had to change it to once a week so I actually felt like I accomplished something and wasn’t upset that I had underachieved. Now, I’m back up to twice a week. I'll keep saying it but the key is to just get started and you can go from there.
Another thing that will help you make sure you're consistent is creating a content calendar. Use an excel document or notebook and write down a plan for what you're going to blog about in the future. A content calendar will save you time when you sit down to write because you're not spending any extra headspace trying to figure out what to write about and it will also give your blog a focus and direction.
I have a working content calendar with blog ideas on the side and the different topics I'm writing about assigned to days in the future. My ideas come from research and using tools explained in this blog and this one too and random bursts of inspiration. I ALWAYS keep a sticky note pulled up on the side of my desktop to write down any and all ideas that come to me.
STEP 8: PROVIDE QUALITY CONTENT
Every single one of your blogs should have a focus and a purpose. Help the reader. Educate the reader. Inspire the reader. Share with the reader. Instruct the reader. Don't just write to write. Make sure your content is valuable. When you're a blogger, the reader is paying you with their time. Make sure you value that and give them something great in return.
PS this is where a content calendar is really valuable. It helps you see the different topics and blogs you're providing to your reader and helps you adjust to make sure you're giving them the best value.
STEP 9: PROMOTE YOUR WORK!
You can’t just hit publish and expect people to magically find all the awesome work you just did. You have to promote yourself and your work and let the world know what you've created. It can be uncomfortable at first...."Hey! Everyone look at what I'm doing over here!" but the truth is, no one is sitting on your website hitting the refresh button just waiting for your next post. So you have to let them know that you've created something and then let them know again and again.
Start to think of what you're creating as a blessing. If you believe in what you're writing and think your followers would benefit from it (or just enjoy it!), you need to be sharing it. Imagine: You share your latest blog post on Facebook, a friend sees it and wants to read it but is taking the kids to soccer practice and therefore forgets all about it. The next day you share a reminder telling people about the blog post you just created. Boom. Said friend sees the post and is THANKFUL you reminded them.
Promote your work on social media, Pinterest, your email list, and by good ole word of mouth. You won't believe the people who will be interested in what you're doing. Just keep in mind that people aren't keeping up with your every move, so you have to let them know, in as many different ways that you can to get them to your blog.
STEP 10: SIGN UP FOR AMAZON AFFILIATES
Remember how I said at the beginning that one of the reasons I love blogging is because you can make money doing it. I’ll say it: I want you to start making money through blogging asap! I don’t know anyone who would argue. Sure, maybe it’s not why you started writing in the first place (it never should be) but it's a bonus of doing work in the online world.
I wrote an entire blog post explaining all things Amazon affiliates that you should check out. Is signing up for Amazon affiliates a necessary step in starting your blog? No. Then why did I include it? Because it's so easy to incorporate and it doesn't take a mass following to start earning money. You can utilize it right from the get go and as you continue your blogging journey-- you're consistent, you're creating quality content, you're promoting your work, and you're gaining followers--the amount you can make is exponential. Maybe it's not your main focus but you really should sign up sooner rather than later.
Ok, that's it! 10 steps to help you start your blogging journey. I hope it cleared some things up for you and gave you a better idea of what getting started looks like. Don't expect it to be easy and of course there's no such thing as overnight success but I PROMISE you will make a difference if you keep on showing up, sharing, and loving on your people. You never know who you could impact by sharing your own story.
Now get to work my friend, the only regret you'll ever have with starting a blog is not starting sooner.
Let me know if you have any questions or anything to add!
Peace, love, and happy writing.
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Disclaimer: Affiliate links may be used throughout this post which means I might make a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you click on them.