So you want to start a blog, eh? Not just ANY old blog. You want to start a SUCCESSFUL blog.
You have been tossing this idea around for a while, but the thought of actually doing it is overwhelming. You’re not sure where to start or what to do.
Well, Black Friday is almost here folks! And that means Deals, Deals, and more Deals!
It is THE perfect time to take the plunge and JUST DO IT. Just start the dang blog already.
Pinning all of those “How To” posts on Pinterest is great, but your dreams don’t work UNLESS YOU DO.
A year ago at this time, I was still dreaming about starting this blog. I got to the point where I had a domain name picked. I knew what I wanted to write about. BUT I had all these doubts. Then Black Friday came along (well technically it was Black Friday Eve aka Thanksgiving), and I did it. I was sitting in front of my computer looking at the 75% off sale, and I just went for it.
The best thing to do is to START and learn as you go. (Take it from someone who has spent her whole life doing the opposite and learning the hard way…)
If you are sitting on that idea, time to JUST DO IT!
You’re never going to be “ready.”
If your dream is to start a blog, then the time is NOW. This week on Black Friday Eve, it’s all you. This post will walk you through the steps you need to take to get started aka the basic steps to setting up a successful blog.
YOU are special.
YOU have been through a set of unique experiences that have shaped your life up to this point.
YOU have important things to say, and there are THOUSANDS of people out there who NEED to hear it. FROM YOU.
What is Your Goal?
How serious are you about this whole blogging thing?
Are you interested in possibly making money?
Do you want to be taken seriously as a writer?
Does the potential for growth and attention excite you?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then you need to make a little investment in yourself and your future. You need to purchase a domain and hosting. You need to own your website and the content that you produce.
If you want to start a blog for fun and you have no dreams about being a serious writer/blogger, then you can do it for free on WordPress.com or Blogger and you really don’t need to read this post. HOWEVER, I believe that anyone who wants to start a blog DOES have dreams about reaching people and having a big impact. Otherwise, why go through all of this work?
The Real Problem When It Comes to Starting A Blog (Or Starting Anything for that Matter)
The real problem is that you’re sitting there thinking things like, “How could I possibly make money off of it? How do I get readers? How do I build a loyal following? Why would anyone be interested in what I have to say anyway?”
You talk yourself out of taking any real action in the direction of your dreams, because you’re not clear on the HOW. You settle for the free option and leave yourself an out because, “What if it doesn’t work out?” Well, I think that’s a load of bull too. If you are determined to succeed, then it will work out. You have to start somewhere. Start moving. Start doing. You can’t sit there and take ZERO action and expect to get somewhere.
The issue or dilemma over what to do on the whole free platform vs. paid debate is a moot point. Your problem is self-doubt and a lack of confidence. Guess what? You don’t need to know the HOW right now. (I can help you with that later. You should also read some of these books that I recommend.) You just need a DREAM and the WILL to get started.
Don’t sell yourself short because you’re not sure how it will all work out right now.
If you are starting a blog because writing is your dream and you want to pour your heart and soul into it and really give this thing a go, THEN you’ve gotta commit, which is a little scary…but it’s worth it!
Personally, any time I spend money on myself, I feel a little bit sick inside. That’s something that I need to work on and get over. If you take the leap and invest on Black Friday, the decision is really a no brainer. Black Friday deals make starting a successful blog SO cheap.
So, if you are serious about blogging…if you want to be taken seriously…you need to put some money into it and not use one of the free sites.
There are a few big reasons for this that EVERY blogger will tell you.
1. If you use a free site, you do not own the site or the content. Your website can be shut down and your content lost at any time for any reason.
2. http://www.yourdomain.wordpress.com or http://www.yourdomain.blogspot.com looks unprofessional. Also, if you want to make any money off blogging, turn it into a career, work with brands, do any kind of advertising and/or affiliate marketing, then you need to OWN your domain and have full control over your content.
Even if you’re not sure right now, why not leave that door open? Why limit yourself right from the get go?
Start your blog the right way and avoid big headaches later on!
Step One: Get Familiar With The Basics You Need For Starting Your Blog
In case you are a total newbie like I was, I will give you a little introduction to the lingo and the inner workings. I will walk you through exactly what you need to do. Once you understand the basics, the set up is not difficult at all.
1. A Domain Name (your website URL).
Pick something catchy and easy to remember.
2. Add Domain Privacy/ID Protection when purchasing your domain.
Anyone can look up your domain owner information using the WHOIS database.
3. Website Hosting (a business that provides the technologies and services to make your website work).
Examples of web hosting service providers: SiteGround, BlueHost, HostGator, etc.
4. A Website Building Platform.
Examples: WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, Weebly.
5. A Theme (depending on which platform you choose).
A theme gives you the fonts, the colors, the layout options, etc. Examples of theme providers: pipdig, theme forest.
Step Two: Do A Little Research For Your Blog
First, you need to brainstorm a domain name. Hopefully, you already have something in mind!
The best way to figure out if your desired domain is available is to use GoDaddy. Search it up, see what’s available, and see how expensive each option will be (.com, .org, .net, etc.)
Make it catchy and easy to remember.
It should be meaningful and tell a story.
There is a story behind “Party of Alyssa Matt.”
I was on a cruise vacation with my family and some family friends. There were 14 of us altogether. Every night when we would go to dinner together, somebody in the group would let the host know we had arrived and give their name. No matter who in our “party” gave their name, the host would always call out “Party of Alyssa Matt!” when they were ready for us.
At first, everyone was like, “What the heck?!?!?! Why are they always calling out your name?!?!” But eventually, everyone decided to roll with it.
Our group went on a snorkeling excursion, and we were separated once we got in the water. All of a sudden, I hear someone yell out, “Party of Alyssa Matt!” And that’s how we all found each other again. Later that day after the excursion, we all separated again to do our thing. A group of us were walking back to board the ship when we hear someone yelling, “Party of Alyssa Matt!” Some of our friends were on an upper level of the ship watching the crowds come back on and they spotted us.
By the end of the trip, everyone was saying it and using it to greet each other 🙂
So, hopefully there is a little story behind your name.
Try to avoid special characters too (like the underscore or hyphens). I don’t think it matters either whether your have a .com or .net or .org or .co site. Nowadays, everyone just clicks links anyway or uses Google. I will give my students a specific website to type in and they will still just google it!
Before you make that final commitment to a name, search Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and any other social media platforms to make sure that your “handle” is still available. If the name you want is not in use, snatch it up quick! You don’t have to do anything else with those pages and platforms for the time being, but snatch up those handles that go with your desired domain name.
You can purchase your domain through GoDaddy if you want, but I think it just adds an unnecessary extra step.
If you follow my recommendations for hosting, you can do everything (domain, hosting, platform) all in one step!
Super easy and convenient!
Step Three: Blog Domain & Hosting & Platform. Oh My!
The host I use is >> SiteGround <<. I have been using them for almost a year now, and I am super happy.
I chose them for MANY reasons:
1. Get your domain + hosting + platform all in one step (if you choose the WordPress hosting option).
2. Free site transfers (If you do have a website set up on a free platform like WordPress.com)
3. Excellent server speed.
4. 24/7 live support team. So friendly and knowledgeable.
5. High security
6. Super easy set up
7. >> SiteGround << manages and updates WordPress for you (if you choose the WordPress hosting option). I love this because it is one less thing I have to worry about when building and maintaining my blog. There is A LOT to do…
8. They scan my site weekly and send me a report. (I have SG Site Scanner with my plan.)
9. Rarely any “down” time. Picture this. People try to visit your website and it’s not available because the server is down. GASP. You don’t want this to happen to you. >> SiteGround << has such an outstanding reputation that I don’t even worry about this happening.
So, when you’re ready…choose the option that you want and get going!
I chose WordPress hosting. I also chose the Grow Big hosting option because I am dreaming big people. Go Big or Go Home. I’m also working BIG.
Make sure you put a check in the box for Domain Privacy! It is SO worth a few extra dollars.
What About Those Other Website Platforms?
When I first started learning about this online world, my head was spinning. WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, Weebly…what do they all do!?!? Does it matter which one I choose?
For blogging, I say WordPress over any other platform 100%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There might be a slightly higher learning curve with WordPress, but I really don’t think so.
The options for customization are endless. There is a plugin for EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING that you want to add to your site.
WordPress is the best for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). You want your site to rank in search engines like Google. WordPress is the best for optimizing your blog posts to do so.
It is also easy to find a beautiful blog theme. I got my theme from pipdig. The price for a theme is extremely reasonable. You pay ONCE, and you have the theme and all updates FOR LIFE. The customer service is outstanding!
I have the Maryline theme, and I am in love with it 🙂 haha
Ok, so you have decided on and purchased a domain. You purchased your hosting and you’ve got WordPress installed. You picked out a theme and installed that too.
Now the REAL fun begins. The easiest part is done.
Now it’s time to…
Write. Write. Write. Write. Write.
Install some plugins. You don’t need to go crazy on the plugins. I recommend a few to get you started.
Set up your social media accounts so that you can promote and grow your blog.
Set up an email marketing platform.
Brand and logo and figure out EXACTLY who you are writing for. Don’t go too crazy on branding and logo at first. Just get started with your writing! Content is KING 😉
Get pictures and graphics for your blog. Make sure you have the license to post the picture.
Set up your widgets.
If your head is spinning now, do not fear my friends. I will cover all of these next steps and more in Part II.
I think we have covered quite enough for today!
Let me know you are interested by dropping your email below!
Also, let me know if you have any questions as you work through your blog set up!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I may make a small percentage of income on the sale at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I have used or currently use and ABSOLUTELY love. Income earned from affiliate sales helps to offset the cost of maintaining this blog. You do not have to purchase anything through my link, but if you do, I would be grateful.
Another Disclaimer: This guide will help you set up a beautiful blog quickly, but the success of your blog depends on YOU and the work you put into it. I hope you like to learn, and I hope you have FUN.