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Hello everyone! I don’t have a tutorial or any crafty project today. Instead, today I will be writing about how I started my blog! I started my blog February 2015, and since March has just wrapped up, that means I have just finished my second month of blogging! I’ve learned a lot over a short period of time, I’ve also made many mistakes, but also developed some new blog friendships along the way. I am definitely no voice of authority, and I may be wrong on some things– as I still have a lot to learn– but I’ve written up my experience so far in hopes of helping other newbies who want to start a blog. I’ll be putting together info I learned along the way in this next series of posts.
If you’ve already decided to start a blog, then you probably already have a niche or general topic in mind. Make sure this is something you’re really passionate about and that the topic is something that updates occasionally or can expand and grow along with your blog. For example, fashion is something that changes all the time, so a fashion blog will continually have new topics. Crafting is a topic that can develop along with you, because you can always learn new crafts or think of new projects. If you choose to write about something very specific, limited, and never-changing, like “purple dots”, you may find that you’ve run out of different things to say about purple dots after showcasing all your expertise. Make sure the general topic is something you can write about at least once a week.
Now that you’ve decided on your topic/niche and have thought of a blog name, you’ll need to start building your website. First, you need to determine if you want to have a free blog or if you want to self-host. You can get a free blog from sites like Blogger and WordPress.com. Your URL will be something like http://www.YOURBLOG.wordpress.com or http://www.YOURBLOG.blogspot.com, unless you buy your own domain, then you can have http://www.YOURBLOG.com. I highly recommend registering for your own domain right away, even if you go with a free blog. I believe that it helps with branding and establishing yourself and your blog. It will also make your site easier to guess if someone remembered your blog name but not the URL. However, decide if you want to self-host before registering for a domain, because some hosting packages include a domain.
If you want to register your own domain, you can do so through sites such as GoDaddy and Namecheap. They also have hosting plans, but you can also just register a domain without hosting. I haven’t used GoDaddy before, but I have used Namecheap to get my own domain in the past. Click here to get your own domain from Namecheap and use the code SUNSHINE in April to get 20% off shared hosting and special pricing on transfer/registrations of popular TLDs (.com, .biz, etc).
If you decide to try out a free blog first, most hosting services will be able to help you transfer your website if you want to self-host later. I decided to just jump straight into self-hosting to avoid the hassle of transferring my site. I also wanted the freedom to do what I wanted on my site, which can be limited if you choose a free blog. For example, if you want to monetize your blog, your options are limited because on WordPress.com, you are not allowed to have image ads or third-party ad networks like Google AdSense.
If you decide to go with self-hosting instead of a free blog, you’ll have to select a hosting service. I did a little research and there are many hosting services to choose from. You’ll want to do some research to compare reliability, speed, performance, features, plans and pricing. Two that I read many good reviews about are SiteGround and BlueHost. They seemed to both have a good reputation in reliability and speed. SiteGround offers a monthly hosting option if you’re not really ready to commit for a longer term, but BlueHost does not. Comparing their basic plans, SiteGround’s disk space was limited to 10 GB while BlueHost was unlimited. For their basic plans, SiteGround was cheaper than than BlueHost. I thought about it for a while and I decided to go with SiteGround. Since this is my first blog and I’m not going to get a lot of traffic nor am I going to need much disk space, I decided to just go with the cheaper of the two. Click here to sign up for Siteground or BlueHost.
So far, I’m happy with my choice. I managed to lock myself out of accessing my own website TWICE (and I’ve only had this blog for two months!) and I got immediate help through their live chat support. I was actually helped by the same representative both times, and he kinda remembered me the second time. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing on my part. Hehe.
After taking care of the hosting and URL, it’s time to actually build your site. I honestly don’t know much about this area in terms of different programs and site you can use to build your site. I believe Blogger has its own website building method with templates. I used Squarespace before and they have themes for the design and you build your site by using drag-and-drop widgets.
As for WordPress, I did learn that there is a difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Think of WordPress.com as another site like Blogger or Squarespace where you can build your website and pay for their hosting or sign up for a free blog. Meanwhile, think of WordPress.org as the site where you can download WordPress, which is basically a free, open-source program to build your website, and you can use whatever host you want. I use SiteGround as my hosting service and they took care of all the WordPress set up for me.
For my site’s design, I used a WordPress theme called Customizr Pro. I paid for the pro version, but there is a free version of Customizr that you can use too. I like this theme a lot because it allows you to customize the theme a lot, it has a slider and a featured post option. However, I did have to do some work to customize the color scheme for this theme because I didn’t like any of the available options.
For my site’s header image, I played around with a few things before settling on this gold desktop theme. I actually purchased the background image (of the desk with the glitter, tape, flowers) on Creative Market. It is by Kate Maxwell, and I love all of her styled photos! I used that as the base and edited my blog name into it with Photoshop.
That’s all for today! For my upcoming posts, I’ll be covering things such as social media, my promoting experiments, and how I increased my blog traffic. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and I hope it was helpful!
Was there something I missed? Something I got wrong? Or want to add your own tip? Please feel free to comment below!
Click here to read part 2: Gaining Traffic – A Guide to Link Parties and Optimizing Your Thumbnails.
It explains how link parties work and how to edit your photos so your thumbnails are more eye-catching.