Learn how to start a blog with just a few simple steps. It’s so easy, you can create one in 30 minutes or less! Blogging has been one of the greatest (and most surprising) blessings of my life and I hope it will be for you, too.
Hi friends! We’re going to take a quick turn today from our usual topics and talk about something that is near and dear to my heart: blogging! So, if you’re just here for the DIY and home decor topics, here are some post to fill your DIY and Home Decor needs: How to Style a Console Table and How to Paint Cabinets. 🙂 Come back tomorrow for some pretties and a free printable!
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gotten an e-mail from a sweet friend or a blog reader asking about how to get started with their own blog. And while I’d love to grab a cup of coffee with each and every one of you, it’s just not possible. Not unless we can cover it all in 30 minutes with a baby and a preschooler running circles around us and under our feet. Ummm, probably no.
So, I thought I’d take a moment today and share a step-by-step guide to show you how to start a blog. I’ll also share some of my favorite resources for the continuing education of blogging. I’m a committed life-long learner, always growing and getting better in my craft.
I remember the days when I started this blog. I was so clueless. Even though I had actually been blogging at a different space for 7 years before that, I still had a lot to learn. I spent hours upon days researching, googling, studying how to blog successfully. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it will help you get started and hopefully be a handy guide for you. (Some links are affiliate links, but I would never share anything unless it’s something I love and use myself.)
How to Start a Blog: a Step-by-Step Guide
1. Choose a name: Let’s start with something fun: naming your new
baby blog! Think through this decision very carefully, considering how you want to be viewed. Do you want a niche name? Or a general name? Come up with a few variations or name possibilities. You’ll see why in just a second.
I chose The Turquoise Home, because I knew it would be a blog about my home. And I didn’t want to be too specific, because I didn’t want to box myself into a specific topic about my home. Sometimes I wish I’d just gone with my name as my blog name, but I think I can brand my name in the future if I want to. And make The Turquoise Home a part of a larger brand.
2. Buy a Domain: This makes choosing a name a little tricky. I had several names on the table when I first wanted to start my blog, but TheTurquoiseHome.com was the only domain name available, so it made my decision for me.
I also recommend buying your name’s domain, too. I own LauraNickelson.com, LauraNickelson.net, etc. That way if I ever become the next Martha Stewart, I will already have my domains. 😉 Set up your domain purchase on auto-renew. You don’t ever want to be running along with your successful, amazing blog and forget to renew your domain name and then your blog goes down as a result.
I buy my domains through NameCheap.com for around $11 a year. You can also register your domain name through Blue Host for free (see the next step).
3. Select your Host: This is where things can get a little bit technical, but don’t fear. It’s really pretty simple. I highly recommend being self-hosted with WordPress.ORG. You can go with a free host like blogspot or wordpress.COM, but at the end of the day you don’t own your content and it will limit you in the long run. I started with blogspot and then transferred my blog to WordPress.org myself. It was 2 weeks of mental anguish, sweat and tears. I think there are still tear stains on my desk.
If you want to have a professional blog from the beginning, start with WordPress.org. While this means you’ll pay a small fee for a company to host your blog, in the long run, it’s a great choice. You will own your blog and have complete freedom over it.
I personally recommend BlueHost.com for your hosting company when you start out. I started with them and they are great for new bloggers. They offer easy set-up, inexpensive monthly fees (starting at $3.95), and they offer 24/7 technical support, which is much needed when you’re starting out!
Once I got above about 150,000 page views a month, I moved over to Web Synthesis and have loved them! But I pay closer to $50 a month, so stick with BlueHost when starting out.
4. Design your Blog: One of the beautiful aspects of self-hosting is that you have free reign over your design. When you first purchase your domain, your blog is essentially a lifeless clump. You need to created the structure (the bones). I use and recommend the Genesis Framework. It’s just like it sounds; it builds the framework for your blog. And then you’ll want to add the skin, or the pretty packaging. I love the beautiful blog themes from Restored 316 Designs. I have used the Darling, Market and Captivating themes at different times and loved them all!
You will also have to decide if you want to DIY your graphics or hire a graphic designer. Think your blog header, logo and sidebar headings. I hired a designer from the start, because I had no idea what I was doing. I will be honest that it can be costly, but I am not a professional designer. A great way to find a designer is to visit a blog that you love and scroll to the bottom of the home page. Most times they will have a link to their designer there. If not, send the blogger an e-mail and ask.
I’ve also seen some gorgeous (and successful) blogs with DIY graphic design. I would highly recommend PicMonkey or Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Bundle for doing your own graphics and photo editing. (I use both of these programs to edit my photos and make the graphics for my everyday posts.)
Are you overwhelmed yet?! These few steps will get you well on your way to creating your blog. I know it seems daunting, but just take it one step at a time. It’s a learning process, but I promise you will learn it and become proficient in blogging in no time!
Golly, I wish all of these resources had been around when I started blogging. I have some amazing blogging friends that have graciously shared their knowledge in different areas of blogging. To have them all listed out in front of you? – well, it’s a gold mine! Once you get your blog set up, you’ll want to begin diving into these various aspects of running your new business well.
- Getting Noticed – This book is AHHHH-mazing for cutting to the chase of how to present yourself on social media. No fluff and straight to the point. My kind of book! I wish I’d had this book YEARS ago! I’m applying her principles to all of my businesses, not just blogging, so it’s incredibly helpful. The tagline is: A No-Nonsense Guide to Standing Out and Selling More for Mompreneurs Who ‘Ain’t Got Time for That’! Exactly what I need.
- Building a Framework – My #1 recommendation for a new blogger is this e-course and workbook! As soon as you get your blog set up, buy this e-book. Seriously. Abby writes directly to the new blogger and will walk you through everything from the tech side of blogging and setting up your e-mail to building friendships in the business and how to monetize your site. It’s a one-stop-shop for building a brand new blog from scratch!
- How to Style Your Brand – This workbook has everything you need to know to create a distinctive brand identity. It will walk you through all of the aspects of styling your brand. I highly recommend working through this at the beginning of your blog. And then revisiting it every year after that! It’s that good. Her latest book, Brand Brilliance, is coming out in early May 2017 and you can pre-order it here! I’ve seen some sneak peeks and it’s going to be amazing! I can’t wait to get my hands on this book and grow my brand even more!
- Restored 316 Business Planner – I’ve tried many different ways to keep my back-end blogging details organized. This Blog Planner is by far the best solution to my lack of organization. It’ll help you track your editorial calendar, daily goals, social media shares, stats and more!
- Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers – when Tasha realized that she was making $1,500+ each month from her affiliate marketing strategy, she started to ask around to see if other bloggers were finding the same success. To her surprise they weren’t! So, she spilled her secrets in this fantastic e-book. My personal affiliate sales have grown by 224% since I started implementing the tactics Tasha lays out in her easy-to-understand course.
- Board Booster – Once you’ve established a solid stockpile of awesome blog posts, you’ll want to share them on Pinterest. I used to pin everything manually, but now there’s BoardBooster – an awesome tool will pin for you. Such a time saver!
- Tailwind – This is another Pinterest scheduler that I use for sharing other people’s pins, but I also use it for scheduling Instagram posts! I’ve used several other programs for Instagram and this one is by far the easiest and most user-friendly. I highly recommend it! I know others use this for pinning their own pins as well.
- Elite Blogging Academy – Ready to take your blog to the next level? Ruth does an amazing job of covering all of the aspect of blogging and sharing the ins and outs of how she grew her blog to a booming business that supports her family. EBA is only open for enrollment a few times per year. Sign up for the waiting list to be notified when the next one will open.
- Haven Blog Conference – For the first year and a half of blogging, I felt like I was blogging on an island. Then I went to Haven in the summer of 2013 and met my people! Fellow bloggers who totally get me and my passion for blogging. It was an amazing, life-changing experience. I’ve met some wonderful friends through blogging, which is absolutely, hands-down the best part of this business. If you are ready to have your mind blown, I highly recommend Haven. Read my recaps here, here, here and here.
- Photography – Taking beautiful photos is a huge part of home decor, food, crafts and DIY blogging. Without pretty pictures, it’s hard to share your awesome content on social media. I started out with a little point and shoot camera and quickly realized that I needed something a little more substantial. I highly recommend the Canon T5i. It’s an investment, but it will do wonders for your photography. I also have the 50 mm lens, which will give you the beautiful detailed shots and the blurry (bokeh) background. If you want to learn more about how to use your camera, I love the Shoot Fly Shoot photography courses.
- Photo Editing – It took me a long time to figure out how to take a decent picture and even longer to figure out how to edit them correctly. But I will tell that Adobe’s Lightroom editing software has been a life SAVER. At one point I individually edited and uploaded each and every photo from my shoots. But now, in Lightroom, I can edit them and upload them all in one whole batch. Saves me no less than 5 hours per post – I’m not joking! I learned everything I know about Lightroom from my friend Beth at Unskinny Boppy. The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Lightroom will teach you all of the shortcuts Beth has learned over the years to take photos for her blog. (She’s an amazing photographer!) And I know you’ll learn a ton from her, just like I did.
I hope this helps you on your journey. Let me know if you have any questions about any of this, or if something doesn’t make sense. 🙂 I’m happy to help point you in the right direction. And I’ll update this list if I find any more awesome resources!
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