Why, hello there!
Are you an internet lover? Do you often find yourself losing hours to surfing the web? Do you like writing? Creating? Getting your thoughts out into the world? (And maybe even earning money while doing it?)
Have you ever considered starting your own blog? It’s a fulfilling, rewarding hobby – and it can actually turn into a career!
Blogging is how I landed myself an apprenticeship; it’s how I marketed my first successful Etsy store and it’s how I earn myself a pretty solid side income. It’s quickly become a passion of mine and it’s opened far more doors than I’ve ever thought possible. I’ve met friends, learnt unbelievable things and been a part of this great online community.
So do you want to grab a piece of the blogging pie and start a blog of your own?
Well, let me help you out . . .
Should I Start My Own Blog?
Now, while I absolutely love blogging and would sing its praises from the rooftops were I not:
A. Terrified of heights
B. Not insane
I do not want to recommend blogging to everyone. It’s not for everyone and, while you would make me a hell of a lot of money in referrals if you were to start a blog through my links, I only want you to start a blog if starting a blog is right for you. So here’s some honest advice about the reasons to blog – and the reasons that starting a blog may not be right for you.
Blogging is not something you can spend five-ten minutes a day doing. Many people will look at blog posts, think “wow – that looks easy; I could totally do that!” and not think about what goes into it.Well, think about it. Seriously – look at this post and take a moment to think about what went into making it.
So you see – we have to spend a lot of time on blogging. It’s a fun process, definitely, and you’ll learn a lot of transferable skills through it – but go in with your eyes wide open. Maintaining a quality blog will take up a lot of your time.
As you probably gathered from that quick look at the blogging process, blogging is not quick or simple. It is hard work.
A large misconception is that blogging is easy. It’s taking pictures (come on – anyone can do that, right?) and writing a little bit around those pictures. Except it’s not.
Taking high quality photos that people will share? Difficult. Writing content that is helpful and engaging? Difficult.
Remaining constantly inspired? Mastering search engine optimization? Learning to edit images? Conquering software other people haven’t even heard of? Building an audience from literally nothing?
D I F F I C U L T.
Lots of competition.
The blogging market is over-saturated. Does this mean you shouldn’t try? Hell no!
I started blogging when the market was over-saturated and I’m still here! Loads of bloggers are thriving. However, if you’re expecting to write a post, instantly go viral and become an internet superstar . . . you might want to check those expectations at the door.
Can be demoralising.
Look . . . I’m going to be real with you here: blogging can be demotivating as hell. When you first get going, you will have no audience. None. Nobody. You’ll essentially be talking to yourself; screaming into the void.
And you might be that way for a while.
It can take time to build an audience – much less a loyal one. How does that feel? Well . . . it isn’t great. However, if you keep going and push through that stage then you’ll find that the rewards are 100% worth it.
This ties in to our previous point – blogging takes time to pay off. No, not an insignificant amount of time, either.
It can take years. If you’re turning to blogging as an easy way to make a quick buck, you’re out of luck – you could get lucky, but in all likelihood you won’t be earning for a while.
So those are a few of the downsides to blogging. If you can’t handle any of those, then maybe blogging isn’t for you. Or maybe you want to start a small personal blog instead of diving straight in.
However, if you’ve read all that and are rearing to go and face the challenge, then let’s move on to the rewards . . . the good things about blogging!
Great skillset – that is applicable in the real world.
This is one of the best reasons I would suggest that teens get into blogging; when you blog, you’re already working within the constraints of a real job. Let me explain. I work as a content marketer; this means that I do everything I do for my blog . . . for another company. (And get paid for it!) Literally everything. The SEO, the post creation, the marketing, the images . . . all the everyday skills that I learnt from creating and maintaining my blog (skills that every blogger has) are skills people are trained to have. Skills that look amazing on a CV and skills that you can actually use outside of just blogging.
Talk about a worthwhile hobby, right?
Blogging is probably one of the most rewarding things ever. It’s impossible to describe the feeling, but sharing your work with people and cultivating your own little community is amazing.
Let’s face it – how many of your vices can you say that about? Binge watching The Inbetweeners might be fun, but it sure as hell isn’t productive. Blogging not only is productive . . . blogging turns everything else productive as well! You want to binge watch that new show? Great – you have material for a TV review!
Do I even need to talk about this one? Blogging is so creative – and there are no constraints. You can delve into graphic design, creative writing – even video editing if you want!
And last, but certainly not least . . .
Blogging pays. Well.
One of my absolute favourite things about blogging? It pays. You can earn money for doing the things that you enjoy. Even better?
It pays well. You can earn through affiliate marketing, sponsorships, advertising space and more! From your bed! (Or, even better, from a beach.)
How To Start Your Own Blog
Get a brief plan down.
Why? Getting a plan down will help you to identify what you want from your blog, what you need to do to achieve that and it will help you breeze through these steps
Tip: Look at other blogs; identify ones that you like and use them as inspiration.
Seriously, though, brief. Don’t overthink this or you won’t get anywhere; besides, the great thing about blogging is that you aren’t restricted in any sense. What you start off doing is not at all what you need to be doing down the line.
Just get down some general ideas of what you want your blog to be about. What topics you want to cover; whether you want to blog for business or for personal. This will help with the next part.
Choose a domain name/blog name.
Why? Because this is what your blog is known as – this is what your blog will be referred to and how it will be found. (Your domain = your URL)
Tip: If you really can’t think of anything, try a random blog name generator – or just combine two things you love. “Crystals and curls”, “Travelling on tiptoes”, “Biscotti and books”
Okay, now this I would think about a little more. While it is entirely possible to change your domain name later on down the line, it’s hard work and you can lose a large chunk of your audience.
Why? Because your hosting is essentially your rent. When you own a website, your domain name and your webspace are owned by another company (hosts) that offers them out to you.
Tip: cheaper isn’t always better. Your hosting takes care of things like your site speed, you safety, how many visitors you’re allowed, etc. Some hosting plans have limits to them – so you might pay £5 a month, but only be allowed 10,000 visitors.
This is the only part of the process that’s going to cost you – and, in all likelihood, it won’t cost you that much anyway. Depending what you need from your hosting provider, it can cost you as little as a few pounds a month!
You’ll need a hosting provider that allows you to integrate WordPress. Naturally, I’ve included some of these for you below. This will make your life 1,000 times easier as you won’t need to install anything; you just choose your domain name, choose a WordPress hosting plan and they set it all up.
- WPEngine – This host is absolutely great if you need a bit of extra support. They take care of literally everything for you. If you want to start a serious blog with real earning potential, this is the host you want. Not as cheap as the others, but the extensive service and support they provide is where they excel and your site’s performance will be flawless.
- BlueHost – Directly recommended by WordPress. Brilliantly cheap – only $3 a month with a free domain name.
- SiteGround – Also directly recommended by WordPress. Also brilliantly cheap – I think the lowest is £2.45 a month with a free domain name.
- 1&1.com – The one I currently use.
Why? Because WordPress is the best for website creation. It’s free, open-source software. There is an unlimited amount of support; unlimited demos and tutorials; unlimited amounts of plugins and themes. Not only is WordPress the easiest, I’d argue it’s the most feature-rich too.
Okay, so let me briefly explain what you need WordPress for. Once you have your online webspace ready to use (hosting), you need to build a website to put in it. The hosting is the land you own and WordPress (or whichever site builder you use) is the house you build on the land.
Choose and install a theme
Why? Because themes are what makes your blog look all pretty and professional!
Tip: It may actually be worth buying a theme – paid themes offer more one-to-one support and are often faster. The code behind them is typically cleaner and they perform better. As a large part of SEO is site speed, this can be very beneficial.
Your theme is essentially your blog design. Themes are premade website templates; you just fill them in with your content to get your blog looking how you want it. Obviously, you can edit your theme until your heart’s content – and there are great page-builder plugins that let you do everything from scratch, but your theme is your framework.
While you can find free themes, if you want to start a professional blog I’d recommend a paid theme – just for that competitive edge.
Here are a few that I like:
Install any necessary plugins
Why? Because plugins add functionality to your site. Whatever additional bells and whistles you want your site to have will come from a plugin
Tip: This is where having a plan can really help – if you want a shop page within your site, you’ll need an E-Commerce plugin. Try not to add too many plugins that you don’t need though as they can slow down your site.
Plugins are God’s gift to WordPress. They’re little pieces of additional software you can add to your website to make it do all kinds of exciting things. You want a drag-and-drop page layout creator for every post? You just install a plugin. You want to integrate a store into your site? Install a plugin.
I was creating one of my gift guides – this one, if you want to check the design out – and was running into the small issue of displaying images in a gallery under a larger image with those images hyperlinked. What did I do? Download a plugin!
There are loads of free plugins; there are also a lot of paid ones, but you won’t need them for a while. You can download plugins straight from the WordPress.Org site, but it’s worthwhile taking a while to look through plugins and decide which ones your site needs.
Draft up some content; add in some pages
Why? Because, even as a new blogger, people are going to want to read more about you and get a sense of who you are before they dive in and follow you.
Tip: an About Me page is a great way to start this.
When you’re just starting up, you’re going to need to work for your audience – and when you don’t have much blog content up, you’re going to need to convince them some other way. Flesh out your blog a little bit; create some pages and give people finding you something to find.
Link all your social accounts/make them
Why? Because half of your marketing will take place on social media, so you need to set them up! And social media is a great way for people to follow your blog.
Social media is one of the sharpest tools in a blogger’s arsenal – so get it out as soon as possible.
Get your branding sorted out
Why? Because branding is what makes your blog yours. It makes your blog instantly recognizable.
Tip: I wrote a post dedicated to helping you sort out your branding here!
Branding is an essential part of your blog design – it’s your logo, your images, your fonts, your colour scheme . . . everything. Branding helps to create not only a uniform design across your blog, but also a recognizable one. Your audience will be able to instantly identify and connect with you.
Publish your first post!
Why? We’ve been over this – because people need content to interact with or there’s no way that they’re going to follow you!
Tip: Don’t worry too much about this! Just let your personality shine through – remember a good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow.
This is the fun part! You now have all your background work done and you’re ready to put it all to good use. Your first post doesn’t have to be mind-blowing or perfect; if anything, you could simply use it as a way to announce your intentions and tell readers what you’re going to bring to the table.
Congratulations; you now have a blog!
Whew – you still alive? Doing alright? Fantastic.
So . . . there we have it. You now have a blog! If you want some extra tips, have a nosey around my Blogging 101 advice folder!
- 20 Interesting Ways For Bloggers To Collaborate
- Why Your Blog Needs Google Search Console + 10 Great Ways To Use It
- How To Create FREE Blog Infographics
- Why You Need A Blogging / Editorial Calendar + FREE CALENDAR
- How To Gain Genuine Page & Site Views // Blogging 101
- How To Slay Your Blog Design and Branding
- 15 Easy Things You Can Do To Improve and Perfect Your Blog
- Blogging Networks for Brand Collaboration and Sponsorship Opportunities
- Blogging Habits For Better Blog Growth
- Making Money With Affiliate Marketing Guide