Welcome Blogger (or future Blogger)!
If you’re tired of reading about starting a blog and ready to make it happen, you are in the right place!
Blogging has been a game changer for me and several of my close Blogger friends. The ability to break those chains from your office or desk and carry your work around in a lightweight laptop is a lifestyle worth getting used to!
And friend, you can do it!
Like most Bloggers starting out, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to begin! Don’t worry – we’ve all been there! Even with 10+ years of digital marketing and branding experience, I still struggled with what to do first when I started my blog!
The answer… Jump right in!
Now, you may be thinking, “I’d like to jump right in… but where do I begin?”
Well lucky for you, that’s where I come in with resources, tutorials, and even a printable beginners guide to get your blog up and running. Make sure to bookmark this page… just like Rome, a quality blog won’t be built in a day!
OK, are you ready? Let’s Begin!
1. Choose a domain name
Choosing your domain name is (obviously) important when starting your blog! There are a lot of opinions out there about choosing your domain, but what I think is most important is readability.
Before you decide on your domain, ask yourself a few questions:
Is the name easy to read? If you have 4-5 words in your domain it is going to be confusing for readers and difficult to type. Try and keep your domain to 2-3 short words.
Does your name fit you? This may sound like a silly question, but your name should fit who you are and what you’re focusing on. My name, FunAndThames.com, fits me by using my last name in the title but doesn’t limit me to one particular blogging topic, which I prefer. Other Bloggers will recommend making your specific to your blogging topic, which is completely fine, but totally up to you! If you think you want to blog about multiple topics I would lean toward keeping your domain neutral.
Is your name unique? As much as you want to have a trendy, catchy name, make sure your name won’t be confused with an already popular phrase. For example, ‘Home is Where the Heart Is’ is a cute name for a home and family blog, but obviously it’s a popular phrase which means your posts may not be as visible when people are searching for a home and family blog. Instead, using a play on a phrase or word could make for a cute, catchy domain and lead to more blog views.
If you need help finding a domain name, or if you need to see if your domain is available, there are a lot of domain name generators out there. One of my favorites is Name Mesh which allows you to type in relating words and generates domain options.
2. Host your site
When setting up my blog I had no clue what it meant for someone to ‘host’ my site. I thought I could just get my domain name and then design a page. What I didn’t realize was that everything I put on my page needed to be stored somewhere. That’s exactly what a ‘host’ does! Simple!
There are lots of companies out there who are willing to host your site, but whoever you choose, make sure they hit two important marks… ease and speed. Here are a few of my favorites:
Wix – Not being very tech-savvy, ease was important to me when I started my first website. At the time I chose Wix, which allowed me to build and host my site all within the Wix framework. All I had to do was choose a template of how I wanted my site to appear and drag and drop! It really was that easy! This option is a bit more expensive overall, but you can pay monthly verses paying for a year (or more) in advance. You can also skip to step 6 and get started there!
SiteGround – While I don’t use SiteGround personally, I know a lot of other bloggers who do and have liked them a lot. The setup is easy, but remember this is a hosting site, which means they store all the data from your blog, but you would need to design your site in WordPress. Not familiar with WordPress? Don’t worry – we’re going to cover that too! 🙂
Bluehost – After my site began to grow in size, I wanted more customization so I decided to switch to Bluehost. I’ve loved Bluehost for many reasons… First, it was extremely easy for me to convert my domain name. Second, their one-click WordPress download saved me a ton of time and made that whole process a lot less confusing. Third, their customer service has been wonderful for this technologically challenged gal!
3. Download & Log Into WordPress
If you’re not using Wix (or a similar drag-and-drop host), you will need to become familiar with WordPress. If you’re not tech-savvy, WordPress can appear intimidating. Don’t give up! We are going to walk step-by-step through what you need to do to get going on the technical side of things!
Once you’ve downloaded WordPress, simply setup a username and password to log in, and you’re ready to move on! 🙂
4. Framework & Child Theme
OK don’t get too overwhelmed by those ‘Blogger’ words… they’re intimidating now but they won’t be soon, I promise! And trust me, becoming familiar with these words is a lot less intimidating than learning code! 🙂
You’ll notice in WordPress that you automatically have a theme applied to your space. WordPress themes are perfectly fine, but they limit customization, which can make your blog feel generic. Your blog should be as unique as you, so I recommend the following steps!
- First things first, download Genesis Framework. Your framework is essentially the basic building blocks of your site and you don’t want to be without them!
- Next, you want to choose a theme. This is the fun part!!
Your theme is what makes your site pretty and uniquely yours! You want to make sure you choose a theme that works with the Genesis Framework. I chose my theme from Restored 316 and I absolutely love all of their lovely, totally feminine site themes.
There are lots of theme options out there, it’s just a matter of finding one that fits your personality and blogging goals! Studio Press, the creators of the Genesis Framework, have a number of themes that obviously work seamlessly with Genesis!
Another great option for beautiful, functional themes is Feast Design Co. Their themes are seamless and beautifully laid out (which your readers will appreciate)! They even offer a ‘Design It For Me’ option where they will completely design your website for you, so you can focus on writing instead of the technology!
5. Email Setup
One of the (many) mistakes I made when first setting up my site was not setting up a customized email. Luckily you get to skip straight to this step!
Your host will allow you to set up several free email accounts to manage your tasks. You could just use a Gmail or Yahoo account, but some email accounts will send any automated emails you send straight to spam. Do yourself a favor and set up a few free accounts using your blog name. You’ll thank me later 🙂
How to avoid this? Make sure your email is customized to your blog!
Here’s how using your Bluehost email account:
- Log into your Bluehost account and click ’email’ at the top of the page.
- Click the ‘Create an email account’ link. You’ll be prompted to name your email so it looks something like firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Choose a Webmail client. Basically, this is just the host of your email account.
I use Bluehost, but if you’re using one of the other two hosts listed above, below are the links with instructions on how to connect and configure your email with them:
You can set up as many emails as you like. Some suggestions would be;
…and so on! You may want to set up several to keep your subscribers separate from your contact form, subscriptions, and affiliates.
6. Social Media
It may seem early to start your Social Media accounts, but now that you have the basics it’s time to start teasing your site and building an audience!
Having social accounts activated and ready to share was something I wish I had done when setting up my blog. I missed out on a lot of opportunities to build a following before I even launched my site! Luckily, you can avoid this! Soon you will be adding accounts to your site and you want visitors to be able to follow you from Day 1!
There are lots of social media platforms out there, and you want several so that search engines will have more resources to pull from. I suggest starting with the ‘Fabulous 5’.
You’re welcome to visit my pages to see how I’ve set each of them up. We will talk more about managing your social media sites later, but for now, let’s focus on creating your pages!
I know, I know, another ‘blogging’ term! Don’t worry, it’s simple and I’ll walk you through Plugins and how to install them!
Plugins are essentially items that function with your site to display specific items. For example, Pinterest offers a ‘Pinterest Pin-It Plugin’ which will add a Pin-It button to each image in your posts. All you have to do is install and activate the Plugin… and there you go!
Installing and activating plugins is simple! Just follow these steps:
- Log into WordPress
- Click ‘Plugins’ on the left sidebar
- Click ‘Add New’
- Search for the Plugin you want to install
- Once installed, click ‘Activate‘
It’s really that simple!
You’ll find you will add more and more plugins as you grow your site, but before you jump into posting blogs, make sure you have these plugins:
Akismet – As new as your blog may be, there are spammers out there ready to attack your site. Don’t worry, though! Akismet is great at detecting and deleting spam from your site!
Simple Social Share – Remember when I said you’d thank me for having you set up your social media accounts? Well here’s why! Once you install the Simple Social Share plugin, simply go to Appearance (on the left-hand side), and click Widgets. Add your Simple Social Share widget to the area where you’d like your social media accounts to display. Any account you add will automatically show the social media icon on your page!
Yoast SEO – SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization… which simply means when someone searches for something – a recipe for example – your site will come up! This plugin helps you optimize your SEO for each post! It’s a must have!
Pinterest Pin-It Button – Like I said in the plugin example above… this plugin allows your readers to easily share your images on Pinterest by adding a Pin-It button to each image.
Choosing a photo for your blog is really important! Remember, you are the ‘brand’ for your blog. You are marketing yourself, so make sure to have a professional (looking) photo ready to use!
Once you have your photo chosen, log into Gravatar (you’ll have to set up an account) and upload your photo! You will link Gravatar to your WordPress account, so anytime you change your Gravatar, it will change on your site! Simple!! 🙂
9. Write your ‘About Me’
Wow! You’re ready to start writing!! Now that you have the ‘tech’ aspect of your blog ready to go, it’s time to write your first post!
Introducing your readers to who you are is especially important to growing your blog. This post will be something you find yourself editing as your blog grows, but for now, just be you! The more personable you are in the ‘About Me’ post, the more your readers will feel that they know you and will likely want to engage with your further!
You’re welcome to use my ‘Bio’ page as a resource if you want an idea on how to create a fun and informative post that is enjoyable for your audience!
10. Dive in!
If you’ve done much research on starting a blog, you will know that there are lots of resources out there for bloggers, especially for bloggers ready to begin their journey. It’s so amazing when Bloggers are willing to share their own tips, tricks, and experiences instead of viewing all things as competition!
Abby is the author of Building a Framework: the Ultimate Blogging Handbook, where she walks through what to do after you’ve done the basics of setting up your blog. Her writing style is personable and easy to follow yet relevant, and by the end of her book, I felt as if I’d known her for years! It’s a must have for beginner bloggers! Plus she has some great printables to help you manage your site!!
Abby has just recently re-launched her ‘Building a Framework’ series and is offering special discounts! Make sure to grab your copy before the price goes up on March 20!
Click here to Grab Framework before the sale ends!!
And you’re off! I know the setup can be tedious, but if you’re here, you’ve made it! Congratulations!
Don’t expect to memorize all of this information – no one else does! Take advantage of my free printable to keep you on track through the first 10 steps to begin your blogging journey!
Make sure to bookmark this page for access to all the links for easily completing each step!
And remember… You’ve got this!!
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