I’m a full-time blogger who started on this journey for one very simple reason: to stay home with my babies and help support my family financially at the same time.
Selling clothes or cosmetics didn’t feel like me. Being a fitness coach didn’t feel like me. So I started researching other options and stumbled upon folks who blog for a living.
I’ll be completely honest here, y’all.
When I first started looking into starting a blog and read the income reports from other bloggers—the ones who apparently make thousands and thousands of dollars a month, every red flag possible popped up in my head.
“Scam!” “Too good to be true!”
Those phrases caused me to proceed with extreme caution. For good reason though, right?! There are so many “get rich quick” schemes out there right now—and a plethora of multi-level marketing companies selling everything under the sun, many of which strategically target moms who are trying to stay home with their babies. (Few things piss me off and break my heart more than people who pray on the emotions that new moms feel in the months following childbirth, y’all.)
So, yeah. To say I was skeptical is kind of an understatement. I was reaaaaaaally freakin’ doubtful that making money blogging was a real thing.
The more research I did, the more I realized that starting a blog is actually very different from working at a multi-level marketing company because your ability to make money isn’t dependent on selling a line of products or getting other people to start selling them. And that’s a really huge distinction.
There are lots of different ways that bloggers make income, and my personal favorite way—working with brands to write sponsored blog posts—doesn’t require me to “recruit” people into a company, or give them a “hard sell!” for a product. I get paid to do something that I love to do—I get paid to write.
I’m pinching myself even writing those brand names out right now because I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. I have my dream job—and I created it myself from absolute scratch by taking a chance on this whole blogging thing. And this post is all about giving you the tools that you need to do the same.
Life—and Income—as a Blogger
After a few months of hard work (most of which I did from an iPhone while breastfeeding my daughter), I’ve been able to make my blog profitable. I’ve been able to start contributing real money to our family again—this time from home, part time, on my own schedule.
Am I making thousands of dollars a month right now? I actually am now! But was it like that right away? No. Absolutely not. I like to be very honest about that right up front.
While there are a lot of “making money with your blog within 24 hours!!!” types of posts out there, that’s not the reality for most bloggers.
If you’re looking for something along those lines, you’ll have to head back to Pinterest and find another post to read.
I don’t want to help you make $0.39 on an Amazon sale in a day because that $0.39 doesn’t help you. I’m here to help you build a profitable blog that can generate real, steady income for you and your family over time.
For reference, here’s what my blogging income has looked like since starting this journey:
While working very part-time (10-15 hours a week tops), I made…
$205.75 in July 2017 (my first month of monetizing my blog)
…and my income is continuing to grow steadily.
Those early month numbers may not mean much to some people, but to our family they make a difference.
That’s a bill or two that’s paid from blogging.
That’s extra money to put towards our debt.
That’s like a 10th of my weekly coffee budget covered.
(Kidding about that last one.)
But you get what I’m saying here. It’s enough to make an impact—and I’m only a few months in.
I’m so excited to see where this journey goes, but honestly, if it it stayed right where it is—it would be still be 100% worth it.
Blogging + You
So let’s talk about you, love. If you’re interested in starting your own blogging journey, you’re in the right spot.
It’s surprisingly easy to start your own blog from scratch, even if you’re not a tech person (I’m not), and even if you know absolutely nothing about blogging (I didn’t).
And I’m here to help you do just that. Walk you through setting up your own blog step-by-step.
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.
How to Start a Blog
A Step-by-Step Guide for Complete Beginners
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1. Determine Your Blogging Goal
There’s one important question all bloggers need to ask themselves at the beginning of their blogging journey: do you have interest in ever making money blogging?
If the answer to this question is no, then head on over to Blogger or WordPress.com, set up a free account, and start blogging your 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.
Why can’t you make money with WordPress.com or Blogger accounts? They have really strict and incredibly limited guidelines about how you can and cannot monetize your blog (you can read WordPress.com’s policy here and Blogger’s policy here).
If the answer to this question is yes—if you are interested in making money from your blog—then you’ll want to look into setting up a self-hosted blog with a WordPress.org account.
A self-hosted site is one that you own and operate. Because you own and operate it, you can monetize it however you’d like.
(Quick side note: WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two different things. This confused me a lot in the beginning. If you ever find yourself confused, just use this breakdown that I’ve put together that outlines the differences between the two.)
Most bloggers make money blogging with:
You can do all of these things on a self-hosted blog.
My number one piece of advice to you as a brand new blogger is this: if there’s even the slightest chance that you may want to make money from your blog, go with a self-hosted WordPress.org account from the start. It’s a bit of a pain to switch over down the road.
2. Get Web Hosting
Once you make the decision to go with a self-hosted blog, 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).
I’ve used Bluehost from the start, at the recommendation of (many, MANY) other bloggers—and I freakin’ love them!
Bluehost turned out to be the perfect web host for a brand new blogger like me because:
It’s super affordable at under $4/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 (Siteground, for example), but you’ll have to purchase a domain name separately at a place like Namecheap. With Bluehost, you can easily pick and register your domain name at no additional cost, without having to venture to a separate website and pay an additional fee.
They have 24/7 customer support, which I started utilizing pretty much on day one. Since I’m not a techy gal and knew nothing about starting a self-hosted blog, I had about a million questions. The customer support folks at Bluehost were super patient and helpful through the whole ordeal, which made getting my blog of the ground a synch.
I’ve been so happy with my Bluehost experience and cannot recommend them enough for bloggers who are just starting out. You can learn more about their plans and sign up here.
3. Select Your Domain Name
Once you decide on a web host, you’ll need to pick a domain name for your blog. A domain name is the name of your website. (For example, my domain name is withkidsandcoffee.com.)
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!
If you’re feeling completely overwhelmed, or if the names you want are unavailable, follow my in-depth breakdown of how to pick a perfect domain name here.
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.
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 wonderful 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:
1. 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).
You could also go with the mother of all WordPress themes—the Divi Theme from Elegant Themes. Currently the most popular premium WordPress theme in the world, Divi has an amazing drag-and-drop option that makes customizing your blog an absolute breeze. It’s pricy, so I wouldn’t recommend starting off with Divi (unless you’re rolling in all of the cash), but definitely worth keeping in mind for down the road.
2. 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.
3. Grab the Right Tools
Once you’ve got everything set up, you’ll want to grab the right tools. Head on over to our Ultimate Bloggers Resource Guide for recommendations on free stock photography, free graphic design tools, the best plug ins to use, how to get started with social media, how to start your email list, and more!
6. Write, Write, Write!
Once you have your blog set up, it’s time to get to work creating some original 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 recently read over some of my early blog posts and cringe over some of it.
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 now! 🙂
Okay, I’ve “Started a Blog”…now what??
Now that you’ve got the basics set up, build your blog and your brand with these great resources: