I’ve had a friend express interest in starting a blog. I thought, “I wonder if any of my other readers are interested in starting up a blog?” I would absolutely love to write a guide but as a beginner myself I don’t feel qualified. I hope to write one eventually but what I can do for now is point you in the right direction.
The first question to ask yourself is why you want to write a blog. If you are wanting to write purely as a hobby or just for family and friends, you can get set up for free at Blogger or WordPress.com and just start writing. These blogs are super easy and simple to create, and that’s really all the advice I have for you. If, however, you’d like to make money from your writing, reach a larger audience, or offer your readers more (like an email list or the library of free printables I have here for subscribers), you’ll need a more professional setup. If you think you’d like to go the professional route, set it up that way from the beginning. I started this blog on Blogger and lost some of my readers when I switched over. Don’t let that happen to you. Think through what you want and talk it over with your spouse (keep in mind there is a small cost with setting up a “professional” blog). I’ll wait.
Oh good, you’re back! Ready to set up your blog? Here are a few things you’ll need to get started:
- A Guide. Blogging is a lot of fun but can be kind of complicated, especially if you’ve never done it before. It helps to have someone guide you through the process and explain terms. Here are three that I enjoyed (a quick note, though: you don’t have to read all three. I don’t recommend reading too many ideas at once. I’m ridding myself of that habit now. In my effort to learn everything I could, I overwhelmed my poor brain by reading everyone’s [often conflicting] advice. Don’t do that. Be kind to your brain.):
- This guide from Sarah Titus is my favorite. It is no fluff and quick, best for those who have tried blogging before or are comfortable with the internet and computers.
- This guide from Busy Budgeter is more of a conversational style and specifically for those who aren’t good with computers.
- This guide from Building a Framework is very detailed for those who need extra help or just love having all the information they can get.
- A host & domain name. Basically, your domain name is your address (mine is oneimperfectmom). A host is like the lot your house lives on. I use Bluehost and am very happy with them. They are high quality but affordable.
- A theme. A theme is what your website looks like. It’s like the paint on your house. This is actually where you will be spending most of your time. I use a WordPress.org theme and am happy with them. You can use a free theme or pay for a premium one that’s more customizable. I’m starting with a free one- that’s totally fine to do. You can always upgrade later. There’s a great video tutorial series to setting up WordPress here. You can further customize WordPress with plugins (kind of like apps on a smartphone). Here’s a list of good ones.
- Pages. These are the things that are always at the top of your website. For instance, I have an About Page, a Disclaimer Page, and a Subscriber Freebies Page.
- Posts. These are the articles you write (you’re reading one now). Many bloggers find it helpful to set a schedule. For example, I write a post on Tuesdays, sometimes one on Thursdays, and my subscriber email on Fridays. It is up to you how much you write. I like 1-2 posts a week because it keeps me writing regularly but isn’t too much. I write during Man Cub’s naps but I still have things like cooking and cleaning to do, so I can’t write every day. Do whatever works for you.
- An email list. To keep in touch with your readers and let them know of new content, a mailing list is the way to go. I also add information in my emails that isn’t available on my posts- it’s just for subscribers. I use mailchimp because it’s free for the first 1,000 readers and it’s easy to use. It’s also how I edit my photos.
- Photos. You can certainly pay for photos, but I have been able to find free photos so far from Pixabay and Morguefile.
- Additional Support
Have you ever started a blog? What was the most helpful thing to you in the beginning?