Last Updated: April 2018
I remember my mouth dropping when I read an email that told me I could run a blog business about multiple things I was passionate about.
And do it from the comfort of my home.
Life got in my way at just the right time to make me truly believe that email was fate. Because lemme tell ya… nothing was going right.
- I was a fresh post-grad with tens of thousands of dollars of debt (and no career path in sight).
- My application for a fellowship to teach in South Korea (that I spent the entirety of my last college semester applying for) was rejected.
- Literally around 3 days after I graduated, my mother’s hip gave its last hoorah, and I became a car-less at-home caregiver.
I pretty much had nothing to lose.
Fast-forward a few years and I can say this has been one of the biggest emotional roller coasters I’ve been on, and one I’ve had zero regrets riding (and I HATE roller coasters!).
But despite this, I must tell you that it still sucks going into such a huge life shift both alone and overstimulated by all the information available at your fingertips.
But wouldn’t you rather start now and stop consuming all that information out there on how (why, when, where, etc.) to start?
That’s where this ultimate guide to starting a blog comes into play. Here’s the breakdown:
BEFORE YOU START A BLOG:
- Why even start a blog? We’ll quickly go through why you may even start a blog if you’re on the fence and curious about it.
- What should you blog about? If you’re anything like me, you want to blog about all the things that interest you. I’ll help you find the best route to
SETTING UP YOUR NEW BLOG:
- How to Setup Self-Hosted WordPress! This is the meat and potatoes everyone usually looks for when setting up their blog.
SOME TIPS TO TAKE WITH YOU ONCE YOU’RE DONE SETTING UP:
If your blog is new, it can take up to a few days for it to establish itself and be ready to use. Until then, you can take even more steps to make your blog ready for the world (and for you to be ready for this journey!).
Before you even get a domain name for your new blog, you need to have a clear game plan for what you’re doing and why.
And we’ll go over all of that right now.
Why Even Start a Blog?
Whether you’re a personal writer, wanting to document your language studies, or are someone who wants to display your travel photos in one place, blogging is an excellent medium for doing so!
Starting a blog (a self-hosted blog, to clarify) meant I had something I could take control of, and grow and mold as I saw fit.
And when I say control, I mean you have total control of a self-hosted site:
- You own your space. Free blogging platforms can shut you down for any reason they want, and all of your work would be gone.
- You’ll feel and look more legit with your domain name. No more yourblog.bloggingplatform.com. You can direct people to yourblog.com like a boss and equally feel like said boss!
- Same goes with emails, you can have it under your domain name! Need I say more?
- The site won’t place its ads on your site because it’s YOURS! Because some sites you use for free will put their logo all over the place. And that ain’t too professional!
- Customer service! If you have an issue, you’ll have someone to turn to when you’ve paid for a self-hosted site. Free sites? Not so much.
So starting a self-hosted blog is a step you can take to start gaining control over something that could become huge for you! The possibilities are literally endless as far as what you can achieve as a blogger:
- Build a community.
- Start a movement.
- Make money.
- Create connections.
- Create a career.
- Document a journey.
- Learn a lot about yourself.
- Develop your creative muscles.
So why wait?? I’m super excited to teach you how to start now!
What Should I Blog About?
It’s less important in the beginning to know EXACTLY what you’ll be blogging about for all eternity, and more important to just start.
Just keep these 3 questions in mind when trying to figure out what to blog about:
1. Are you passionate about it? Having an undying love for what you decide to write about is HUGE! It’ll get you through those burnout hiatuses because your drive to continue sharing that passion will overcome. It’ll definitely be the fuel for you to continue blogging for years to come! And if you wonder what you’re passionate about, look at what you invest your time and/or money on! Another way I’ve heard to check what you’re passionate about is to look at what you can talk nonstop about, but that didn’t work for me at first cause I’m pretty introverted and keep to myself. It really clicked for me when I looked at what I spent my time and money on!
2. Do you have a particular type of person in mind as you blog? This is something to definitely think about when you’re wanting to blog about all the things. What theme strings all of your topics together? Are you writing for newly single gals in their 30s? Stay-at-home mamas? Are you basing your posts on your location and what you can share from it? Remember to always ask yourself why you’re writing a post and how can you spin it to fit your overarching theme!
3. Is there anything you’re good at and want to share? Now, this never came easy for me because no one ever came to me to ask for any particular type of advice. I was complimented on my writing by all sorts of people my entire life but had no desire (nor clue) how to teach something that came so naturally for me. But now that I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now and it’s being noticed. I can say I’m asked and referred to for blogging advice more than anything else because of how immersed I am in the space!
Even with these things in mind, there are blog topics that are profitable because of their popularity (if that’s even a goal of yours for your blog). Scrivs talks about the top 7 profitable niches to blog about in this post, and you could try to position yourself under one. Makes sense! But however you chose to monetize your blog, know that income streams don’t happen overnight.
Also, I’m not afraid to say that wanting to monetize your blog doesn’t make you a monster. It should never be your top priority because the desperation to make money shows big time, trust me. But being intentional, strategic, and aware of the possible income streams out there is absolutely fine. Taking it slow is absolutely fine. Whatever you decide to do with your blog is absolutely fine.
Now, let’s move on to the physical act of starting your blog!
Picking a Platform for Your New Home
I love using metaphors when it comes to blogging, so with this step you’re going to be “house hunting”!
Now if you’re going to be running a self-hosted blog, I’d only recommend WordPress or Squarespace. I am 100% loyal to WordPress despite its learning curve because the amount you can customize on self-hosted WordPress is endless.
Plus there are tooooooons of tutorials of all shapes and sizes that’ll help you naviagte WordPress. Plus, you have me. 🙂
As far as Squarespace goes, I’ve tried a free trial of it once and it didn’t quite click for me. I didn’t like that I couldn’t choose my own hosting, and even though there is a lot of beautiful and customizable design options to chose from, they’re not virtually endless like what’s capable with WordPress.
If you just like to simply make things pretty and don’t have specific looks in mind that you wanna flesh-out, and need something with less of a learning curve, Squarespace may be for you.
But WordPress is the top dog, and the most-used blogging platform for serious peeps out there. And that’s exactly what I’m gonna cover here because it’s what I know best!
And hey, like I said before… I’m always here to help walk you through any questions I can when it comes to WordPress navigation! But let’s get your WordPress blog actually set up, eh?
How to Setup Self-Hosted WordPress!
Now it’s time to get into the meat and potatoes of starting a blog… actually setting up your blog!
I’ve been with more than just SiteGround in the past, but am very happy with my switch to Siteground. Haven’t looked back! =)
So here’s your step-by-step guide to physically set up your self-hosted blog with SiteGround:
1. Find your domain name!
First stop is… choosing the name of your baby/new home! It can be as all-encompassing as your own name or as clever as you can get.
Protip: whatever name you chose, it may be best to not make it too specific (like CopywriterAllDayEveryDay.com) so it gives you and your brand room to grow. This way, you won’t trap yourself in a box when you want to expand your content!
I haven’t used Namecheap before, but always hear good things about buying domain names from them (and it can possibly save you $4 buying your domain from them instead of on Siteground directly).
If you 100% know you want to do something super specific with a particular blog you’re setting up (and don’t mind making other blogs when/if you wanna switch things up), you can make the name have some type of keyword that hints to that (like pinchofyum.com… you can tell it’s a site that pertains to food!).
Or it can be something a bit abstract! Just compensate for the abstract URL you’ve fallen in love with by having a tagline that creates clarity for your reader, and have the rest of your blog spell it out for them easily as well (with the categories, blog post names, branding, etc.).
Just know that a name you want may not be available (at this point you can put the URL you want in the name field and see if it’s available). But once you find a URL name you like, check to see if the same or similar social media handles are available as well! Having similar names all across the board makes it easier for readers to look you up without having to try and guess that your name on Instagram is @ButterflyKissez85.
2. Chose a plan.
You’ll want to pick a plan that’ll serve you best, and if you’re a new blogger you’ll be choosing the “StartUp” Plan.
But first, be sure to pick the “WordPress Hosting” option for easiest WordPress install!
Done! On to the next step!
3. “Pick a Domain Name”
I have this in quotations because you already did this in step one over on Namecheap. So when you get here, you’ll be clicking the, “I already have a domain” option.
And see at the bottom?? If you already have a website (not just a domain), you can get it transferred over to Siteground for free as well! Tell your blogging friends!
Now on to the next step!
4. Fill Out Personal Info, and One Tip for You…
All of this is common practice when you are about to buy anything online, except right at the bottom make sure to bubble all the options except the privacy one. You don’t necessarily NEED the privacy one, but without it, your private info is open to the public and that is not only potentially dangerous… it’s ANNOYING! I wondered why I kept getting random emails and phone calls all the time, and I believe it’s because I didn’t make my domain private in the beginning!
Your discounted total for your first 12 months will be at the bottom. Pay and say, “yay!”
You’re now an official blog-owner! (Don’t forget to Pin this post to refer back to it! I’ll be updating it when needed.)
5.(!!) Enjoy Your New Blogging Space!
Once you have bought your blog, you should be good to go with setting up your WordPress blog!
If you have trouble navigating either Siteground or finding out whether or not you have WordPress installed, please please please chat with customer service!
They’re prompt and so so helpful! They’ll get you set up smoothly, and once you are sure you have WordPress installed… you can log into your WordPress site through this URL: yourdomainhere.com/wp-admin
That’s how you get to your self-hosted WordPress dashboard (aka the paid, wordpress.org one), versus just simply going to wordpress.com (the free version). 😉
Feel free to let me know how everything goes!
See you soon!