Build the Foundation for a Successful Blog

How to Start a Blog

Have you been wondering, “How do I start a blog?” In this post, not only will be I sharing my favorite products/services to get started, but I will also share some guidance on how to build the foundation for a successful blog.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through these links, it will be at no additional cost you to, but I will earn a small commission. I only share products and services that I love and use!

I’ve been in the internet space for a long time. I learned the basics of website coding in 6th grade from a friend and that sparked my passion for coding and creating websites. I had my own “blog” during high school (but we didn’t call them blogs back then) and eventually I completed a web design certificate through my local community college. I’m not a crazy awesome coder by any means, but I do have some advanced knowledge and that is why I feel confident in guiding you through the process of starting your blog :). As I learn more about digital marketing, I also plan on sharing what is working and doesn’t work for me to help you along your blogging journey!

Here are the steps to start your own blog:

Quick tips:
-I will only be talking about starting a blog with WordPress. This is my preferred CMS.
-Do NOT start with WordPress.com. You will not have the same flexibility that WordPress.org has. If you’ve already started there and want to transfer, skip to step 3 for my hosting recommendation.
-It is worth making small investments to get started (domain, hosting, and theme). It does not have to cost a fortune to start a blog.

Step 1: Find Your Niche/”Why”/Target Audience

I don’t believe you need to have a niche in order to be successful. Also, don’t be afraid to write about different topics until you find what really resonates with you. However, in order to draw traffic to your blog, you need to create at least one of two things: a way to solve a problem and/or a sense of community. This ties into your “why”. Why have you decided to start a blog? It can be as simple as wanting to write and share, and as complex as wanting to start a revolution. Either way, you need to figure out who you are writing TO. What problem are you solving? What community are you creating? If you are blogging simply to make money, your motivation will burn out quickly.

If you need help figuring this out, sign up to receive my FREE checklist and worksheet to start your own blog.

Step 2: Pick a name

If you’re having trouble picking a name, write down what you will be blogging about. Think about what inspires you. It might take some time to come up with a name that resonates with you, but if you keep an open mind, you will think of one. I thought of Petite Dreamer, because I’m petite and I’m a dreamer :). It took me a long time to decide on this one and I’m not sure if I’ll keep this blog name forever, but it’s working for me right now.

Once you have an idea, make sure you do research to see if it’s being used already or trademarked.

If you have confirmed that the name you chose is okay to use, it’s time to get a domain. I have always gotten my domain from my webhost (we’ll go over this in step 3), so you can go that route. I’ve also heard that Namecheap is a great option and after checking them out, I agree. If I need to register a domain in the future, I would go through them.

You also want to make sure that there is some sort of WhoIs protection. This protection (even at a small additional cost) keeps your information private. Anyone can look up the WhoIs info for a domain which will list address, phone number, etc. for who the domain is registered to. With the protection, that information is replaced with your provider’s information.

Lastly, never pay more than $15.95/year for a domain. Even that is a little high… You can easily find domains for $10/year or less.

Step 3: Get hosting

You need a home for your blog and that will be with a webhost. I’ve used several webhosts over the last 10 years and I recently switched to SiteGround after doing research and reading reviews. I could not be happier with my hosting through them. My website is faster, the back-end where you access the settings for your hosting is so easy to navigate (also called a cPanel), and the customer service is phenomenal!

If you already have your blog with another host or need to transfer from wordpress.com, Siteground will do this for free. They transferred my site seamlessly within 24 hours of signing up. When I had questions, their customer service was so nice and helpful. So, basically run, don’t walk, to sign up with SiteGround.

If you decide to sign up with SiteGround, the process is easy. You’ll need to select which hosting plan you want and I recommend the “GrowBig” plan because their SuperCacher is included as a premium feature (it makes your blog load faster basically). Next, you will need to register a new domain or transfer your domain if you have one already. Lastly, you’ll need to complete your info and payment information.

Step 4: Install WordPress and choose a theme

If you didn’t choose SiteGround, most hosts have a one-click install for WordPress. I recommend using this, because manually installing is a pain.

Once you have WordPress installed, you will need to decide on a theme for your blog. I highly recommend choosing a premium theme. Yes, a premium theme will require a monetary investment, but you will have support if needed and premium themes usually have more customization options.

I highly recommend going with Studiopress themes. You will expect to pay about $100, maybe a little more to get their Genesis framework and a child theme. The framework is the “foundation” for a theme and their framework can be used without purchasing an additional child theme. However, I found it difficult to customize the framework to how I wanted my blog to look, so I invested in the Foodie Pro child theme which I easily customized. There is a ton of support for Genesis themes and most WordPress developers are familiar with them if you ever needed to hire one.

If Studiopress is out of your budget, I completely understand. Here are some other great options:
Creative Market
Keep an eye on their 6 free goods every Monday. Sometimes you will find a WordPress theme.

I personally love the theme “Natalie” by DannyWP that I got as one of the free goods. Even though it’s no longer free, it is an affordable $25. This theme is easy to customize and is continuously updated. I would have kept it as my theme, but I already had the Genesis framework and wanted to become more familiar with it.

Restored 316
I’ve heard great things about Restored 316, but I haven’t personally used their themes.

Lastly, I will advise that you do not use Themeforest. Sure, they look beautiful and affordable, but if you ever wanted to change your theme in the future, your website is guaranteed to break during the change. Please save yourself the headache and choose from the options above.

The theme you choose should come with instructions on how to upload it to WordPress. If you need help, feel free to contact me and I can try to guide you through the process. Once your theme is installed, you can add widgets, customize the colors, and install plugins.

Step 5: Create a Logo

You have many options for creating a logo. Visit other blogs for inspiration. You can create your own logo using Canva or you can hire someone through Etsy or Fiverr. Once you have your logo, set it as your header for your blog.

Step 6: Start writing!

If you haven’t already started drafting posts, now is your time! I recommend having a few posts ready and scheduled before officially launching, that way you’ll be ahead of the game.

Writing was one of the hardest things for me. I finally decided to just do it. Once I got started, the ideas haven’t stopped flowing. To get ideas, I wrote down a list of topics I wanted to write about, topics I’m passionate about, and any expertise I might have from life experiences/researching/formal training.

I also took advice from the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, which says that once you have the inspiration, don’t procrastinate on taking action. Take action as soon as you can so that the creative energy keeps flowing.

Step 7: Decide what social media platforms you will focus on

When I first started blogging, I thought I had to be active on all the platforms. It was very overwhelming. I decided to give myself permission to only focus on what makes me happy (I’m giving you that permission too 😉 ). I don’t understand Twitter and I don’t think Facebook really matters for me right now. However, I do still have a Twitter account and Facebook page so that my blog posts and Instagram posts automatically get sent to them.

I decided that Pinterest and Instagram will be my primary platforms. During my first month of consistently blogging, I focused solely on Pinterest and in hindsight it was the best decision. My blog traffic increased significantly. I used Tailwind to schedule my pins and I joined group boards. I currently pay monthly for Tailwind, but I heard that the yearly subscription is totally worth it.

Don’t forget to sign up to receive your FREE worksheet and checklist!

How to Start a Blog - Build the foundation for a successful blog. Free worksheet and checklist to start your own blog #blogging #howtostartablog #hosting #wordpress

2 Comments

  1. steph
    June 1, 2018

    Thanks for the post! I am a graphic designer so I know all the technical stuff but am stuck on step 2 for my soon-to-be-blog. For some reason it is harder to be creative for my own projects. Hopefully on my next comment there will be a link. 😉

    Reply
    1. Jessica
      June 2, 2018

      Choosing a name was one of the most difficult parts for me too. What will you be blogging about?
      When you have your blog up, let me know! I would love to check it out 🙂

      Reply

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