Blogging is something that has definitely taken off in the last few years. I know it may be a confusing process-it took me 3 tries to actually begin! And even then, I had a hard time “figuring out” how to go about doing so. Of course, the first thing I did was Google everything! How to start a blog, what to write, when to write, how to publish, on what platform…Ultimately, I ended up choosing a few well-known bloggers and sat on their websites, taking notes on alllll the information they had to offer.
When people ask me, “what do you wish you knew BEFORE you started blogging?” I can come up with a huge list of things. There was SO MUCH information out there I just couldn’t keep up! I responded, “I wish that there was a guide or handbook, telling me which steps to take and how to take them.” Now, I know that blogging isn’t a “one size fits all” kind of thing, but it would be easy to get a slew of guidance all in one place. *DING* Lightbulb moment.
Now that I am into my 5th month blogging, I feel as if I have a little more knowledge than I did back then, and I thought, hey, I need to share this! Let me make this easier for at least one other person out there, who is eager to begin their journey and doesn’t know where to start. After all, I wish I came across a post like this when I first started!
Read now or pin for later!
So what goes into a blog?
I can’t tell you EXACTLY what will go into your blog (I don’t know your niche, your goals, your posts, etc.) but I CAN tell you the foundation of a blog. This is what I spent the most time researching when I was just starting out.
**Please note that the apps and program I mention are ones that I actually use and recommend. Some are affiliate links, and some are so great that I would recommend them time and time again. Know that this in no way guarantees that your blog will take off or make you millions; it is just a few routes and suggestions you can take to begin your journey. I am NO EXPERT by any means nor do I pretend to be.**
With that being said, let’s get to it!
This post contains affiliate links, which doesn’t charge you anything extra, however, if you make a purchase through my link I may make a commission. All opinions are mine, and I thank you for trusting my suggestions. Read my full disclaimer here.
Why do you want to blog/your niche
Before anything else, you have to start off with your why. Why do you want to blog? What are you hoping to get out of it? What are you trying to give readers/followers? Are you committed to posting once a week, once a month, etc.? Is this something that you are passionate about? Is there a need for what you are sharing?
These questions lead to your niche. Your niche is something you have information/authority about, and want to share your passion with others. My advice-please don’t just choose a niche that is “popular”. You will come to dislike writing about it and defeat the purpose of blogging. (IMHO)
There are many websites to choose from, that you can start your blog on. Some of the popular ones are WordPress, Blogger, Wix, Weebly. I have tried out Wix and Weebly (not pertaining to a blog but more so a school project); I haven’t tried Blogger (it wouldn’t have fit with my future needs), and finally landed on WordPress. I enjoy working on WordPress as it gives me an opportunity to monetize my blog and it is also pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it.
There are two types of WordPress sites: .com and .org. To learn the differences and which one would suit you better, refer to this article. This one is what ultimately made me decide which to choose. This is important to know, especially if you plan to monetize your blog at any point.
You would also need to be hosted. Popular hosting sites include Bluehost, SiteGround, and GoDaddy. Each hosting has its pros and cons (like anything out there) and ultimately I decided to go with Bluehost as it fit in my budget and needs at the time.
When I signed up for Bluehost it gave me the option to install my WordPress site with “one-click” and made it incredibly easy for me to get started. Bluehost plans start at $3.95/month (billed in annual increments) with my affiliate link. I like Bluehost because I think it’s a great starting point for new bloggers. Their customer service line is available 24/7 (great for all timezones!), and it is great for monetizing in the future. They also offer a free domain name for the first year and a free SSL certificate.
In all transparency, I have heard good and bad things in regards to Bluehost. While no program is perfect, I suggest you do your research to find out which hosting platform will be a right fit for you. A few things to consider are: customer service hours, compatible websites, length of hosting, price points, reviews, etc.
Sites like WordPress offer (paid and free) themes to create beautiful websites. A theme is important for a few reasons:
a.) it shows you care about your site and those who visit it
b.) shows your branding
WordPress comes with a few free themes,which is a great point for those just starting up. Eventually you’d want to move to paid themes, because they can offer more features than free themes can. Some of my favorite themes come from Pretty Darn Cute Designs and Bluchic. They offer many feminine themes for WordPress sites.
While a paid/pretty theme isn’t required, it is a great opportunity to “decorate” and make your website user-friendly. I recommend that when you make your first $100 or so, that you put it toward a brand-new, gorgeous theme for your website!
With blogging comes graphic creation. Most times you want to include pictures on your blog, real and stock photos.
There are two ways you can do this-create your own (DIY) and purchase pre-made (DFY).
You can create graphics using programs like Canva and PicMonkey (and more). I currently use Canva for all my graphic creation. I love Canva because it provides the sizes of various social media graphics, as well as templates. My most FAVORITE feature in Canva is the resize option (paid version). It allows you to take one graphic and resize it to various social media platforms (in case you’d like to post similar graphics to multiple platforms).
Another thing I like about Canva (for work) is that you can add your own fonts and brand colors! There is soooo much you can do with Canva!
As for PicMonkey, I know that it is similar to Canva, however I don’t currrently use the program. You can get more information about PicMonkey from this video.
DFY (done for you)
Sometimes you just don’t have time to sit and create your own graphics. Maybe its on your future “to-do” list, but as of right now, it’s just not feasible. Or maybe you feel you’re not creative and would rather have premade graphics. All of this is okay-and there are so many options out there!
Here are a few of the stock photo sites and premade graphic sites I use regularly:
a.) Ivory Mix My favorite a go-to place for stock photos for my business!
b.) Lady Boss Studio Gorgeous and branded graphics
c.) Creative Market Graphics, fonts in perfect bundles
d.) Styled Stock Society Save time and get access to over 1,800 gorgeous stock photos for less than $25/month!
Other resources for your blog
As you build your blog, you will find that you might need some other resources. A few things to consider are: email lists, planners/organizers, various courses/ebooks/trainings, etc..
When you’re first starting your blog, you won’t need all of these resources, but as you go on, you will find yourself in need of a few of these things.
Above all, start off by collecting emails so that you can build an email to send your blog posts to! I started off with the free plan of MailChimp, but found the program slightly confusing. I do love that there was an app that I downloaded and could check stats on, however I ended up switching over to MailerLite and I’m glad that I did!
MailerLite is extremely easy to use and almost self-explanatory. They don’t currently have an [IOS] app, however I can check everything right from my desktop. I can also schedule campaigns, create landing pages, automations, etc. Starting an email list from the beginning is crucial and you won’t regret doing so. Sign up for MailerLite through my link here. It is free up to 1,000 subscribers! A great starting point for those just beginning to build their lists.
Staying organized while blogging is sooo important! From planning out posts, to scheduling them, to keeping track of affiliate links, etc. You also want to set some important goals for the future of your blog.
One of my favorite planners is called a Goal-Slaying planner. In this planner you can plan out achievable goals and includes everything you need to slay them! Snag your planner using my affiliate link.
I also use blogging schedules from some of my favorite bloggers! Check out Start a Mom Blog for a great schedule that helps make money.
There are so many courses/ebooks/programs/trainings out there that boast that they prepare you to blog, or can help you make money or succeed. And while it is all so confusing to figure out what actually works and what doesn’t, I’m happy to share with you the programs I have used and LOVE. Please note that purchasing and going through these programs does not guarantee that you’ll make money, but I feel that it DOES lead you in the right directions, and have provided me with the income to support my special needs daughter, spouse, and I comfortably (in Hawai’i!) Some are affiliate links and others aren’t, but I recommend them all.
The best things about these courses/ebooks is that you can do them from the comfort of your home, in your own time. (As busy parents, I feel we can totally appreciate this!)
a.) Blog by Number by Start a Mom Blog – a guide on how to start a blog
b.) 30 days or less to freelance writing by The Horkey Handbook – learn how to get paid for writing blog posts
c.) 200+ writing niches by the Horkey Handbook – find your niche!
When you get into social media, I highly recommend this Pinterest course: Pinterest with Ell.
There is quite a bit that goes into blogging, but once you get the hang of it, it will be a breeze! My suggestion is to get your foundation down, then go into more like affiliate marketing (monetizing your blog), sharing your blog posts, scheduling tools, business tools, etc. You can do it all if you put your mind to it!
Once you get your foundation set, check out these other blog posts to help you with the other components of your business: