How to Start a Blog This Year
If you are looking to start a blog this year, have a read of this! Setting up a blog can seem really daunting, but it’s actually very simple. Use this handy guide to figure out how to start a blog you can make money with.
The first step is to think about what you want to achieve from your blog. Do you want to make money from blogging? Do you want to use it as a personal diary? If you want to make some extra income from advertising on your blog, you will need to create your blog on a platform where you can set up affiliate marketing, which is easier on some platforms than others. WordPress is a super popular platform for bloggers, although there are other alternatives such as Blogger, Wix and Weebly. My blogs are all set up with WordPress as you have the ability to really customise and make it your own, and you can monetise it!
Confusingly, there are two different versions of WordPress. So which to use, WordPress.org or WordPress.com? Well, this goes back to the first step. If you are a personal blogger not looking to monetise your site, you can create your blog for free on WordPress.com. If you are a business or blogger looking to earn extra income from your blog, you should choose WordPress.org. If you choose this option, you’ll need to choose a host and a domain name.
Consider self hosting for a number of reasons. You can have your own domain name (such as www.wildflowerva.co.uk), which looks way more professional than wildflowerva.blogspot.wix.co.uk etc. It’s easy to create a professional-looking email address on your own domain too, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. You will also own your blog. Free blogs are ok but are really limited, and you don’t actually own them as the platform is in charge.
There are MANY web hosts out there. I am with Siteground and can’t recommend them enough. They aren’t the cheapest out there but I think it’s worth paying the extra for the amazing customer service. When I’ve tinkered with my site and messed something up, they have fixed it in no time. Other options are Name Hero, BlueHost, InMotion and Dreamhost, to name just a few. Most of these will have one click WordPress installation, meaning once you’ve set your account up it’s super easy to add WordPress to your site. The peeps at Siteground installed my first one for me, but on subsequent sites I’ve done it myself and it is so easy to do.
Once you have chosen your host, hosting plan and installed WordPress you can then start to think about the look of your site. Another reason to have a self hosted WordPress site is the range of themes (i.e. looks) you can choose from. Some are paid for, some are free. I chose to buy a theme template from Etsy – it meant I didn’t have to get involved in all the coding and designing and I could have a pretty site straight away (yes, I’m impatient!).
These are really easy to install onto your WordPress platform – you should get instructions with the theme when you buy it but you essentially just upload it into WordPress, uploading the Genesis framework first then the actual theme. Many people use the Astra theme with the Elementor framework as it’s relatively straightforward to use, but I use Genesis and a SkyandStars theme. If you want to check out some free themes, I have a load saved on my WordPress Pinterest board. Have a look online at the difference between Genesis and Elementor (and Divi, to throw another one into the mix) and decide which you like the look of.
One thing to note – if you buy a theme for WordPress, these will usually only work on the self hosted WordPress.org. They won’t work on the WordPress.com. Also, make sure you choose one that is responsive, meaning it will look great when viewed on both mobiles and desk tops. Check before you buy!
When you have installed your theme, you can start to create your blog! You can create your pages, such as your home page, Contact Me, About Me etc, and also your posts (which are your blog posts). Your posts are displayed on a specific posts page.
You will also need to install some plugins on your WordPress site. These are basically little apps that help your site run smoothly or provide a function. I’ll go into more detail on plugins in another post, but I would recommend Install Headers and Footers, Yoast, Akismet (anti spam), Updraft Plus, Monster Insights and Tinypng (if your site is going to have a lot of images). Siteground also offers their own plug in SG Optimizer which I find really good at optimising my site.
I’m in a few blogging groups on Facebook and one common question seems to be “When should I launch my blog?”. I always say as soon as you can! You don’t have to wait until you have 10 blog posts, or 20 blog posts, to launch. Done is better than perfect, and if you’re like me you’ll be constantly tweaking and changing things on your website anyway! To start to monetise your blog however you need to make sure you’re getting web traffic. Different advertisers have differnt requirements, but most of them will want you to be having some traffic to your site. The best ways to get organic web traffic are working on your SEO and your Pinterest. Pinterest is a huge driver of traffic to websites (nearly half of my web traffic comes from Pinterest!) and can really help increase your site views. Climbing up the Google rankings doesn’t happen overnight though!
If you want to start a blog this year, go for it! If you want a hand with your Pinterest, either optimising your existing account or creating you a new one, please get in touch via the Contact page.