I’m pretty sure it feels like there are more blogs than there are human beings alive on this planet today. Or at least, sometimes it feels this way. For real though, WordPress alone hosts nearly 75 MILLION blogs – and there are other companies out there that are in the same business as WordPress (source).
This doesn’t mean that all bloggers are super-skilled or that even a fraction of those blogs are regularly updated or even still active. So, the good news is there is still a chance for those of us who are passionate about sharing our area of interest/expertise with others via a blog. I, for one, started a blog to help bring others more into this world of healthy, natural living, this organic life if you will.
I’ve learned a lot about blogging since I started my blog a few years ago, especially considering I essentially knew nothing about blogging when I set out. I’ve compiled some of my top tips to get you on your way to blogging and decided to share them with you all! I wish someone had done the same for me, so I hope to help others out who need a little push in the right direction with this mysterious blogging thing.
Feel free to comment or contact me if you have any other questions that aren’t answered or clear here!
1.) Choose a Domain Name/URL
This is a big one! I went through a couple of names before settling on my current name. One of the tricky parts about this is that you may have a name all picked out for your blog, but the URL could be unavailable. For example, my blog is called This Organic Life, but alas, thisorganiclife.com was not accessible to me. I had to settle with a much longer URL of thisoriginalorganiclife.com, which I’m still not the biggest fan of.
So, I suggest thinking a lot about what you want your blog name & URL to be. I also suggest making the two match so that you have a really solid identity. Finally, consider the length of your URL. Mine is preeeeetty long. I suggest only a few syllables so that it’s memorable.
2.) Choose a Host
Bluehost is not only affordable (starting at $3.95/month), but it also has excellent customer service. I have had some not-so-pleasant experiences where my entire blog has showed up only as scary-looking letters and numbers. With Bluehost’s live chat feature, I’ve been able to solve problems like this in minutes. They are always there to help and are extremely knowledgable and responsive.
Another great thing about Bluehost is that you can purchase hosting AND your domain name through them in one easy transaction.
3.) Choose a Blogging Platform
WordPress is by far the most popular platform to run your blog on. It acts as the software within which you manage your blog from the back-end.
I have used it for years now and love it. It is extremely user-friendly and has a myriad of themes and plugins that coordinate with it to enhance your blog easily.
After choosing your domain and Bluehost (if this is what you choose), you can download WordPress from right within the Bluehost dashboard. When you are logged into Bluehost, visit the “Website Builders” section, then click the WordPress logo to begin downloading the software.
4.) Choose a Template/Design for Your Blog
This is one of the most important parts of developing your blog. Once you have your domain name, host, and blogging platform, you need a template to make it look pretty.
Consider what you most want to accomplish with your blog. How do you want your readers to feel when they visit your site? What kind of a design do you want? Soft colors? Bold & bright? Clean & crisp or fun & complex?
I have gone through a number of templates for my blog. I semi-cringe when I think back to what it used to look like. If you Google “WordPress themes,” you can find thousands upon thousands of templates. Some are free, some are fairly pricey, and others are decently priced, say $30-$50.
I started with free themes but realized that in many cases, paying a little something really did increase the quality of what I was getting. I believe what I use now ended up costing around $100. But, the great part, is this is a one-time payment to purchase the theme, which includes indefinite updates. You only have to pay money if you want to purchase a different theme at another point down the road.
I currently use Foodie Pro on the Genesis Framework. Genesis Framework is a fantastic framework for building your WordPress site. It is super-customizable and many themes are compatible with Genesis, so you simply choose a theme you like that will run on the Genesis framework.
Here are a few of my favorite sources for WordPress themes:
5.) Add Content
Once you choose your theme/template and get it all set, it’s time to add pages & content. This may seem like a pretty obvious step, but when I started my blog I wasn’t entirely sure what the must-have content/info to include was or what pages to make.
So, other than the obvious blog posts that you will craft and share over time with your readers, what are the other things to have on your website? Here are some top pages to add:
Connect with your audience. Share a bit (or a bunch!) about yourself. Tell your readers what your blog is all about. They want to know what they are in for and why they should be interested in what you have to say.
Perhaps consider making an “About Me” page and an “About This Blog” page (or something named more creatively) to distinguish between you as an individual & your story and what your blog’s mission is.
People will want to know who to reach you. And you will want this too once you get going, because sometimes those who reach out to you through your blog may be looking to partner with you in exciting ways! Spammers write gibberish comments on your posts; legitimate, interested readers reach out to you through a contact form on your blog or through an email address you provide.
If you are going to share an email address on your Contact page, consider creating a free one through Gmail that is your blog name, rather than having a personal email address shared.
If you have work elsewhere or have been featured on other blogs, websites, publications, etc., tell people! This may be a page you add a bit later on in your blogging career, but it’s something that gives you more legitimacy as a blogger.
If you have any links you love and want to share, do it! Make a page devoted to this, especially if it fits your blog’s vibe. This is a great way to promote others that may even reciprocate the love.
Most of the frequently asked questions you’d get may be answered in your About page, but consider things that people might wonder about your blog, especially if some things aren’t clear, and compile a FAQ page. This may also curb people contacting you just to ask basic questions that end up clogging up your inbox.
Social Media Links
This may not be its own page, but rather, included in your sidebar of your blog, but linking to all your social media outlets is a must! Social media is how your readers will really connect with you in a more personal, day-to-day way. Don’t forget these babies!
By this point, you are pretty set! Steps 1-5 will really get you going in the right direction of blogging.
However, I know starting a blog or website is a lot of work. Part of this process is knowing when to outsource. Let’s face it, if you’re a blogger (or want to be one), chances are you want to be spending your time writing and sharing your passion with your readers, not figuring out how to connect your URL to a host or design a logo.
After years of blogging that led to a love for developing websites and social media marketing, my husband and I started Carpenter Creative Co., an online presence boosting business for bloggers, creatives, nonprofits, solopreneurs, and small businesses. We offer everything from website setup to social media marketing to photo & video services. So, if you’re looking for a little (or a lot of!) extra help, get in touch, we’d love to help out!