How To Start A Blog…a tutorial with 3 simple steps to get started with a food blog, fashion blog, lifestyle blog, travel blog, diy blog or any type of blog with a bonus section with additional helpful tips.
If you enjoy reading and following food blogs, fashion blogs, lifestyle blogs or actually any type of blog, you may have wondered to yourself, “maybe I should start my own blog”.
Maybe you’ve felt a little spark inside of you dying to get out to share your passion with others or help change and better the lives of others with something you love to do.
Maybe you just want to do it as a hobby, earn some extra income if you’re a stay-at-home mom, or even grow it into a full-time career.
Food? Recipes? Fashion? Product Reviews? Natural Living? DIY Crafts? Travel? The world of opportunities is wide open…waiting for you to claim your little space on the internet.
Well, here’s some really great news…you can!
Yes, you CAN do it and it’s really easy to get started.
When I started my website almost 4 years ago, I did it because I wanted to help others learn about what’s in the foods they eat, help them to learn about reading nutrition labels, and how to make healthier foods without feeling deprived.
I remember how I felt when I began to realize how we were being deceived by the food industry, and when I learned how to take control of the foods and ingredients I bought for my family.
It was, and still is, my passion. And I wanted to share everything I had learned with anyone who would listen so they could also be empowered to make healthier food choices for their family.
And although I’ve accomplished that with my website, what I’ve received in return is so much more.
I’ve connected with so many people, literally from all around the world. Some were new to clean eating, some who wanted to make healthier changes but didn’t know how and people who were already eating clean and were “on the same page”.
I would have never thought 4 years ago that my little website would have affected so many people, but it has.
And now it’s your turn!
To help you get started, I’ve put together a quick list of “How To Start A Blog” in 3 simple steps.
And, I’ve also added a handy list of bonus resources that you will need to make sure everything runs smooth after you start your new blog.
Now, let’s get started with the “3 Simple Steps to Starting A Blog”!
The first thing you will need to do is give some thought to the domain name you will be using. The “domain name” is the name of your blog (for example, the name of my website is: The Healthy Family and Home, and my domain name is: thehealthyfamilyandhome.com).
This is a rather important step because it will need to be a name that identifies with your mission and what your blog will be about. It will also be important in terms of search engine results and traffic because you want a name that is easy to remember and type in. If you have a difficult or unusual name, (for example: healthy4lyfe.com) not as many people would organically search that name as opposed to using this more common variation: “healthyforlife.com”.
Make a list of what you will want to share on your blog, like an outline, and try to think of a good name that is a summary of that. Your name should identify with the content on your site. For example, you wouldn’t want to have a site called “susiestraveladventures.com” and the entire website be about Susie’s dog. Another example would be: when someone types into Google “hawaiitravelguide”, the website should be about traveling in Hawaii.
Here’s some other helpful tips:
- avoid using numbers or hypens
- make it unique and catchy
- it should be easy to type and remember
- keep it short (it’s easier to remember)
The most common extension, and most easily recognizable one is a “.com” extension. If the name you come up with isn’t available, you could always try it with a “.net” or “.org” extension, but I would avoid some of the others out there only because they will be harder to remember.
Once you decide on the perfect name for your new blog, you will need to check to see if the name is available. This is super easy to do by going to BlueHost.com and typing in your new blog name in the “New Domain” section (see instructions below). If you are starting a new blog, you will not need to use the “Transfer Domain” section, as this box is if you have already purchased another domain from somewhere else and will be transferring it to Blue Host.
This is the easiest part of all…signing up for hosting. For a new blog, you’ll want to make sure you use Blue Host for your hosting. Blue Host powers over 2 million websites worldwide, has 24/7 customer support (very important!), you get a FREE domain name and, a special introductory offer with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Beginner plans start at just $3.95 a month and you don’t even have to pay for your domain!
Below, I will walk you through each screen in the sign-up process to show you just how easy it is.
Make sure you follow the pink arrows on each photo to guide you along.
A. Just go to BlueHost.com and you’ll come to their homepage which will look like this and just click on the green “get started now” button to get started:
B. Choose your plan:
If you are starting a brand new blog, the “Basic” plan is the best choice. It is only $3.95 a month (36 month price paid upfront) and gives you everything you need to get started. As your blog grows, you can always upgrade to a bigger plan with more website space and bandwidth. But just starting out, the “Basic” plan is plenty enough.
C. Choose your domain name:
At this point, you should have already given some thought to a domain name that not only summarizes what your blog will be about, but is short, catchy, and easy to remember. You will type your new blog name in the “new domain” box to see if it is available. Don’t be disappointed if it’s not…there are a lot of blogs out there and the main name or even back up names you may have come up with may already be taken. But keep trying different variations (example: if eatingdelights.com is not available, try eatingdelightfulness.com or delightfuleating.com) or something like that. That may have not been a great example, but you may have to play with it or even go to your “plan b” name. And you never know, you could get lucky and the first name you pick may be available!
D. Complete Account Information:
This part is pretty straight forward. Just complete the required information and make sure you use an email address for an active account that you monitor so you don’t miss any important emails. After you set up your new blog, you can create a separate email just for your blog (example: If your blog name is salliestravels.com, you can create a new email address just for your website like email@example.com or, you can use your free Blue Host email) and update the email address later.
E. Confirm your Account Plan and any extra features:
This is where you will confirm you want the “Basic” plan for $3.95/month (36 month price paid upfront). You will want to read the “more information” section after each of the extra features to see if it’s something you want to add to your package. Whether you get it through Blue Host or not, you will need to have some type of backup program which is very important if your blog will be more than just a hobby. It would be a nightmare to have hundreds of recipes or posts on your website and lose everything without a backup. The $1.99/month price is very affordable and definitely worth it. The “domain privacy protection” is optional, but I have it on my website and the cost is very minimal at $0.99/month.
F. Complete Billing Information:
This is where you will input your credit card information to pay for the hosting package and any extra features you have chosen. Make sure you read the “Term of Service”, “Cancellation Policy”, “Privacy Statement”, “Domain Registration Agreement” and “Registrant Rights and Responsibilities”, then hit the “submit” button.
Step 2: Install WordPress:
You’re almost finished! You have your domain name secured and purchased and you’ve set up your hosting plan, so the next thing to do is set up WordPress.
In just a few more clicks, you’ll be ready to go.
A. Install WordPress in your Blue Host Dashboard:
Once you’ve set up and paid for your hosting plan with Blue Host, you will need to choose a “website builder”. This is the platform where you will “build” your website and create your posts. In your Blue Host dashboard, click on “hosting”, then on “cpanel” and you will see the screen above. Go to the “website builder” section and click on “Install WordPress“.
B. Initiate the Install:
Here is where you will want to initiate the WordPress install. It will automatically install the newest and latest version of WordPress for you with one easy click. If you are starting a brand new blog from scratch, you will click the “Start” button for a brand new install.
C. Choose Your Blog Name to Install To:
Here is where you will choose your new blog name to install WordPress to. Click on the drop down box and the only name that should appear is the new domain name you just registered with Blue Host. Choose it and click “Check Domain“.
D. Complete Website Data for WordPress:
Here is where you will complete your website info and email address, and choose your admin name and admin password. Blue Host will assign you a very complex admin password and you will have the option to change it later, but you want to make sure you choose a another complex admin name/password combo. I say this from experience because everyday I have hackers trying to hack into my WordPress account. Don’t choose obvious names for your password like “admin” or “password” or your first name, etc. This is very important! If you are starting a new blog from scratch, you will want to make sure you check the box “automatically create a new database for this installation“.
Read the terms and conditions and click “install now“.
E. Wait for the Install Confirmation:
Sit back, take a deep breath, and anxiously await the confirmation screen that confirms your install is complete. When you see it…you’re done!
You officially have a new blog on the world wide web!
Step 3: Pick a Theme:
This is where you can have a lot of fun and express your personal style. There are probably thousands of different theme variations out there to choose from and it all depends on what style or appearance you want your blog to have, and how much you want to spend.
There are a lot of free WordPress themes out there to choose from that will work just fine and are easy to navigate.
And, there are an unlimited number of paid WordPress themes you can customize yourself or, if you want to go big, hire someone to customize it for you.
In my experience, it’s very easy to customize a theme by yourself with little or no technical experience at all.
So on this part, it’s all up to you. Here’s a few options to explore to see which one is a good fit.
You can buy a single theme at a fixed cost or buy a package deal with access to multiple themes. In the four years since I’ve had my website, I’ve changed my theme 4 times, so I’m a good candidate for the package deals and have even purchased one in the past. Although the cost is more upfront, it gives you the option to change your theme whenever you want.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When you choosing a theme, it’s very important to make sure you pick one that is “mobile responsive“, meaning, it will show up correctly on mobile devices. This is very important to Google and will affect how you pull up in search rankings.
Free WordPress Themes:
Single WordPress Theme Purchases:
- Theme Forest: ($29 – $64) Theme Forest has 6,079 WordPress themes and templates to choose from in every genre you can think of.
- Theme Lab: ($69 – $199) Theme Lab offers a single theme at $69 with 20% off all future purchases, or you can purchase a Theme Lab membership for $199, which gives you free access to all new themes in case you want to change or update the look of your website as you grow. Both options give you (1) year of support and updates.
- Studio Press (including the Genesis Framework)
- DIY Themes (Thesis):
Single WordPress Themes + Membership Packages:
- Ink Themes: ($45 – $147) You can purchase an individual theme for $45 – $59 or a membership for access to 49 different WordPress themes for $147 upfront + optional $15 monthly to receive a new product each month. Bonus items included in the membership are 30 edible PSD ready banner ads, 60 editable logos, 60 editable Facebook cover pages, and WordPress training videos.
- Elegant Themes: $69 per year for access to 87 different themes to choose from and they offer a 30-day money back guarantee so it’s risk-free!
After you get your blog set up, a theme customized and even some live blog posts, there are several other important things you need to do to make sure you blog runs smoothly and that it grows. I’ve included some bonus tips in different areas of owning and maintaining a blog that I wish I had known about from day one. It would have made things a lot easier for me back then so hopefully they will be helpful to you if you’re just getting started.
Social Media accounts are very important for growing your blog and getting traffic to your website. When you set up your accounts, try to pick a name as close to your blog name as possible to it’s easy for people to find and remember.
- sign up for Facebook account
- sign up for Twitter account
- sign up for Pinterest account
- sign up for Intstagram account
You will need an email account to send your new posts to people who follow your blog. There should be an “email subscribe” widget that comes with your theme that you should fill out and connect to the email service you choose.
- Mail Chimp – I just l.o.v.e. Mail Chimp! I’ve used them from day one and have never had a problem with them. You can start out with a “Free Forever” plan and can send a total of 12,000 emails per month to up to 2,000 subscribers for FREE! Once you exceed those limits, Mail Chimp offers a “Monthly Plan” if you send out at least one email campaign each month which is tiered based on the number of subscribers you have. And, they also have a “Pay As You Go” plan, where you purchases credits as needed.
Email Optin and Optimization:
Just putting a “subscribe” box in your side bar to get new email subscribers isn’t enough. Your goal should be to capture and retain the maximum number of viewers that visit your website. You need to have an organized plan of action and can even set up and maintain targeted segmented lists with ConvertKit. You can create landing pages and convert customers with LeadPages.
One of the great things about using the WordPress platform is there are ~so~ many plugins available to help you be more productive and to protect and grow your blog. Just a word of caution though…pick the ones you really need and don’t get too “plug-in” happy because too many could cause potential problems with compatibility and the speed of your website. Here’s a list of some of the main ones that are used by most bloggers:
- Recipe: Easy Recipe, Get Me Cooking, Simmer
- Spam: Akismet
- SEO: Yoast SEO, All In One SEO Pack
- Security: Wordfence Security
- Cache: WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache
- Related Posts: YARPP, Yuzo
- Social Media Sharing: AddThis, Shareaholic, SumoMe
- Sitemap: Google XML Sitemaps
If you didn’t purchase the Blue Host back up plan, you will need to have something in place to back up the data from your website.
Even though I’ve used the WordPress platform for over 4+ years, there have been times I’ve needed help with things I couldn’t do on my own. If you already have a blog hosted somewhere else and need help moving it over to Blue Host, Fantasktic can do that for you, worry-free with no downtime on your blog. WPFixIt provides malware and virus removal, backup/restore setup, WordPress Page Speed Increase, plugin issues, theme issues and more.
If you are doing a blog that will have photos (especially a food blog) you will need to make sure they look the very best they can. Sometimes that means you need to adjust the lighting on a photo, saturation and focus to make it look its best. You will also need a program that will allow you to put text on your photos like you see on Pinterest to help them get noticed better. Either of the programs below can help you will all these things.
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6
- Adobe Photoshop Elements 14
- “Photoshop Elements For Dummies” book
Sharing your photos on Pinterest is an excellent way to get more traffic, and network with other bloggers. As your blog starts to grow, it becomes harder and harder to keep up with all your photos, pins and pin boards so using a Pinterest “pin management and sharing” program is key to getting it done in the least amount of time. You don’t want to be spending all day pinning when you could be creating new content. Tailwind not only helps you manage your pins, but provides valuable analytics to make the most of your Pinterest account.
- Tailwind – Helps you manage and schedule your pins on Pinterest. Use my referral link and get a $15 credit to your account.
Social Media Management/Scheduling:
Another big time hog is sharing your posts on all your social media accounts. The key to getting more traffic by doing this is to be consistent. Just like with Pinterest, no one has time to sit at their desk all day and post to all their social accounts on a consistent basis, everyday. Co-Schedule helps you do this by letting your pre-schedule your posts to Facebook and Twitter all at one time so you don’t have to do it everyday. It’s like putting your social media scheduling on auto-pilot.
Traffic Boosters (for food blogs):
If you are doing a food blog, another way to get traffic to your site it through food sharing sites like the ones listed below. It’s a good idea to set up accounts with each of them and submit your photo each time you do a new post. A few pointers – Finding Vegan is a site for vegan only recipes, Healthy Aperature is for overall healthy recipes, and Foodgawker and Tastespotting are for pretty much anything. However, Foodgawker and Tastespotting are sometimes very choosy and critical of the photos they allow on their site and not all of your photos may be approved. Mine aren’t! I have had many, many photos rejected by both Foodgawker and Tastespotting and I know this can be very frustrating and disheartening, but try to use the feedback they give you to make improvements in your photography.
- Healthy Aperature
- Finding Vegan (vegan only)
Blogging Education and Support:
There are so many things to know about blogging and how to be successful at it, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start or where to turn for help. I would suggest getting advice from a source that has proven to be successful and can help you with tips and tricks they’ve learned along the way. Food Blogger Pro is a membership site run by the creators of Pinch of Yum and they know what they are doing.
- Food Blogger Pro – membership site with valuable information of how to start and grow your blog (and it’s not just for food bloggers either!)
- IFB (International Fashion Bloggers)
If you are going to have photos on your website, the quality of photos is critical. I can’t stress that enough. I have photos from when I first started my blog that are shameful to look at now, but everyone has to start somewhere and learn as you go. It takes a lot of practice to learn how to take good photos…and also good instruction. Any of the resources listed below will help you not only take better photos, but even more importantly – how to use your camera to it’s maximum potential (not just the manual setting). By making an minimal investment in learning how to take better photos, I have dramatically improved the quality of my photos over the years. So much so, they been published in several mainstream magazines like “Redbook“, “Go Gluten-Free” and “Gluten-Free Living“.
- Tasty Food Photography
- Minimalist Baker Photography School
- “Plate to Pixel” book
- “Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots” book
Once you start your new blog, your main focus should be creating quality content. After you have a good start on content and begin getting traffic, you may want to look at monetizing your blog. This is totally optional, but it can help cover some of the expenses of running your blog like web hosting, etc., ingredients, food props, education and training, or even provide some extra monthly income. The “How to Monetize Your Blog” eBook has a lot of valuable information to get you started monetizing your blog. You can also earn income on your blog by placing ads on your website with various ad networks, signing up for affiliate programs and even selling your own products (eBooks, meal plans, how-t0 guides, etc). The “How to Monetize Your Blog” eBook shows you how to do all these things effectively to earn the maximum income.
- “How to Monetize Your Blog” eBook
- Google AdSense
- Gourmet Ads
- Sovrn/Lijit Ad Network
Well that’s about it for now! If you’ve taken the time to read all this, I hope you’ve learned a some new things and feel a little more confident about starting your own blog.
It’s really easy to do….the hardest part is taking the first step and getting started 🙂
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