Starting a blog is one of the greatest gifts I’ve given myself. I know that sounds like a load of absolute crap, but I’m being serious here, y’all.
I’m completely, head-over-heels in love with being a blogger because:
- It allows me to channel my workaholic tendencies into something that is completely my own.
- Instead of building a business that’s limited to a single company or line of products, I get to write about things that I’m truly passionate about—lots of different things!
- I no longer have to go to a stressful work environment 5 days a week, which boosted my overall well-being instantly.
- It gives me the scheduling flexibility to stay home with our two young daughters (and cut out the insanely high daycare fees we used to have to pay).
- I get to take lessons learned from my experiences and share them with others.
- I get to be a part of an amazing community of bloggers and fellow moms, which, for someone who is incredibly awkward in person like me, is a complete dream!
…among like 87,000 other reasons. I. Love. Blogging.
It hasn’t always been that way, though. Before taking the plunge and starting a blog, I remember being incredibly nervous about the idea of putting my voice—and myself—out there in the universe.
Why would anyone listen to me?
What the hell am I going to talk about?
Is anyone even going to read this stuff?
What if no one reads this stuff?
What if I look ridiculous?
…etc., etc., etc.
So much self-doubt and hesitation. So many “what if” worries.
Then it hit me—the realization that I really hated being chained to a 9-to-5 job and working around someone else’s schedule. I hated not seeing my babies for 9-10 hours every single day. I hated working my ass off on projects, dreaming up strategies for companies, constantly trying go above and beyond, always trying to make the company better…only to end up receiving a “good job, kid” when it came time to discuss performance—or my salary.
So I decided to try to create a different lifestyle; one that I could really dig into and truly make my own.
Step one was researching work-from-home job options. When I first started researching I started to feel less-than-enthused about my options.
- Freelance fitness coach
- Clothing distributer
- Cosmetics distributer
- Health supplement distributer
Don’t get me wrong here—there are so many folks (including some of my good friends) who run these types of businesses and absolutely ROCK them. If you come across a brand or a company that genuinely clicks with you, by all means, go for it!
For me, though—a thick and cool-with-my-cheeseburgers kinda gal who could care less about make-up and hates clothes that aren’t black yoga pants and wouldn’t give up my iced coffee habit for anything less than growing small humans—none of the options really felt like “me”.
And then, as fate would have it, I stumbled across the idea of starting a blog during a late night Pinterest-searching session and something just clicked.
I could start a business based around things that I’m personally passionate about.
I could start a business and be home with my little bugs of love, like so many amazing mama bloggers out there.
I could start a business with very little start-up money compared to other businesses (which we’ll talk more about below, because it’s super important if you’re like me and not made of massive amounts of expendable cash).
I could actually do this for real.
So I researched, planned, budgeted, and then started up my very own blog. Every day I wake up and do something that feels like me.
If something in this story sounds familiar to you; if you’re intrigued by the idea of blogging but literally have no clue how to start a blog—no worries! I was the exact same way when I started this adventure, but if have the ability to start a blog—so do you. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. You really, truly do.
And I’m here to help you do just that. So go ahead and grab yourself a mug of fresh coffee or a hot cup of tea (or hell …a big ol’ glass of wine, if you’re able to), take a deep breath (innn….and ouuuut), and let’s walk through how to start a blog together; step-by-step.
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How to Start a Blog: A Step-by-Step Guide for Complete Beginners
1. Determine Your Blogging Goal
What do you actually want to do with your blog? The answer to this question will determine what you’ll need to get started.
What it ultimately boils down to is one important question: do you have any interest in ever making money off of your blog?
If the answer to this question is no, then head on over to Blogger or WordPress.com, set up a basic account, and start blogging your little heart out. Both of those platforms are perfect if you’re interested in starting a journal-style blog that documents your day-to-day activities, and is primarily shared with only friends and family members.
But if the answer to this question is yes—if you are interested in making money from your blog at some point—then you’ll want to look into getting a self-hosted blog with a WordPress.org account. (Yes, WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two completely different things. This confused the heck out of me when I started blogging, so make sure you read about the differences between the two here if you ever find yourself completely lost.)
A self-hosted site is one that you own and operate. Because you own and operate it, you can monazite it however you’d like to make some extra income.
Most bloggers who make money blogging do so in one or more of these ways:
- Affiliate Links
- Sponsored Content
- Selling a Product
The problem with using WordPress.com or Blogger is that they have really strict and incredibly limited guidelines about how you can and cannot monazite your blog (you can read WordPress.com’s policy here and Blogger’s policy here).
So, my advice to you as a brand new blogger is, if there’s even the slightest chance that you may want to make some extra money at some point from your blog, go with a self-hosted WordPress.org account from the start.
If the thought of starting a self-hosted blog is completely overwhelming right now, don’t worry. I’ll walk you through it step-by-step. 😉
2. Get Web Hosting
If you’re leaving your options open to making money off of your blog at some point in the future, then having a self-hosted blog is what you want.
The first thing you’ll need to do is find a web host (aka, the folks who “put your blog on the internet”, in simplest terms).
When I started my self-hosted blog, I was fortunate enough to stumble on Bluehost at the recommendation of (many, MANY) other seasoned bloggers who were making full time incomes from their blogs.
Bluehost turned out to be the perfect choice for a brand new blogger like me because:
- Super affordable ($3.95/month if you sign up using this link). If you go with Bluehost this is the only money that you’ll absolutely have to spend to get started blogging.
- You’ll get a free domain name! Some other hosting services have similar per-month pricing, but you’ll have to purchase a domain name separately. With Bluehost, you can easily pick and register your domain name at no additional cost, and without having to venture to a separate website (which makes things way more confusing than they have to be, in my opinion).
- They have 24/7 customer support, which—believe me—I started utilizing pretty much on day one. I consider myself to be a little bit tech-savvy, but setting up a self-hosted blog is something that I had absolutely no experience with, which lead to lots and lots and LOTS of questions. The customer support folks at Bluehost were super patient and helpful through the whole ordeal, which made getting of the ground so much less stressful than I thought it would be.
3. Select Your Domain Name
One of the biggest decisions you’ll make for your blog will take place before you even start blogging: the name.
There are technically two different “names” associate with your blog: a blog name and a domain name.
A blog name is the name of your blog. For example, the name of my blog is With Kids and Coffee.
A domain name is the name of your website. My domain name is withkidsandcoffee.com.
For professional bloggers (aka, those who are hoping to turn their blog or affiliated social media accounts into a profitable, money-making venture at some point), you really want the blog name and the domain name to be the same thing.
So how do you make that happen?
If you have absolutely no earthly idea where to start, no worries! You can read my complete strategy on picking the perfect name for your blog here.
The basic steps of towards choosing a domain name are:
- Determine your niche (what you want to blog about; who are you blogging for)
- Brainstorm blog names (the brainstorming technique that I used to name my blog is outlined here, under Step #2)
- Keep SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind (outlined in more detail here, under Step #3).
- Check for Availability, which you can do with the little widget below. Make sure you only register for a domain name that ends in .com!
4. Connect Your Web Hosting With WordPress.org
Re-read that header again, real quick. Notice that it says WordPress.org. Not WordPress.com. As confusing as it may be, WordPress.org and WordPress.com are two completely different things, for different types of blogging.
If you’re starting a self-hosted blog (which, if you’re getting hosting from Bluehost, you are), then WordPress.org is your spot.
I made the mistake of connecting a WordPress.com account to Bluehost and blogged for over a month before I realized what I had done. I then had to go through the ordeal of migrating everything from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. Thankfully, both WordPress and Bluehost have kickass customer support and they were able to walk me through everything…but do yourself a favor and set up your blog correctly from the start.
5. Build Your Blog!
Whoo hoo! You are now the proud owner of your very own self-hosted blog! Not so terrible, right? Now that you’re all set up, you get to start on the fun part: customizing your blog so that it looks and functions just the way you like it.
There are tons and tons of things that you can do to make your blog your own, but start with the basics:
Pick a Theme
One awesome thing about having a self-hosted WordPress.org site is that you have access to a ton of really great blog themes to choose from. This isn’t WordPress.com where you can pick from a small handful of themes; WordPress.org lets you choose from thousands.
When picking a theme you’ll want to:
- Go with something that looks clean, not cluttered
- Pick a theme with a white background (unless you’re a designer and can make a colored background really work)
- Don’t feel obligated to purchase a theme when you’re starting off
That last point is super important to note. While you absolutely can purchase a theme right from the start if you’re made of money and you want to, I’d recommend holding off. There are plenty of simple, beautiful, and free themes for you to use that will work perfectly as you start your blogging journey (Kale, Anissa, and Juliet are all great options).
Set Up The Essential Pages
There are two pages that you’ll want to set up on your blog as soon as possible: Contact and About.
Contact is super important for a pretty obvious reason: you want people to be able to reach out to you!
About is also important because it will help readers see you as the real human being blogger that you are, instead of just a faceless internet site that they happen to come across.
That’s pretty much all you have to do at the very beginning. You can mess around with plugins and more customization if you’d like, or you can do that a little further down the road like I did. Either way is complete fine.
6. Write, Write, Write!
Once you have your blog set up, it’s time to get to work creating some kick-ass content.
When you’re starting off—try really hard to not overthink it and just write.
The more you write, the more you’ll figure out what you really love blogging about and what you don’t.
All bloggers have mediocre (or just downright awful) posts from time to time, especially in the beginning. I certainly have. I read over some of my early blog posts and cringe over what I thought would make for a great post.
But you know what? It’s all good. It’s a process. I learned a lot from writing those posts, and the lessons I learned have fueled me forward.
So write, write, write, lovely! You can do this! You’re a blogger! It’s what you do. 😉