So you’ve decided to take the leap of starting a blog! Congratulations and welcome!
I’ve been blogging on and off for the last 7 years. I blogged on the same Blogspot website for nearly 4 years and then took a much-needed hiatus from blogging. Since then, I have been a starter but not really one who follows through with much. Not because I don’t know what to do, but actually the opposite. I know more than I can utilize right now. I just haven’t had the drive to get through the suck. I haven’t had the motivation to go past designing the site or I felt that it was too niche and therefore wasn’t authentic to who I am or the lifestyle I believe in. That is, until I launched this site.
You see, everyone has their own reasons for blogging. For me, it is a combination of wanting to reach people and help them through my journey, but also to make a full-time income online. Before you start your blog, you need to think through your person reasons for blogging in the first place. And while, “Because I want to,” can be a valid reason, it may not be enough to get you through when you have no motivation to write.
Right now, take a moment and think through your WHY for blogging.
Through the process of creating your blog, you will have to discover your “Why” for many different things. This “Why” isn’t about what you will be writing. But instead, Why did you choose a blog as your medium of choice?
Consider these questions:
- Why is a blog the best way to say what you want to say?
- Do you like to write?
- Why are you drawn to a blog?
- What are your preconceived ideas of what this will look like? (aka, what are you expecting?)
- What are you hoping to get out of your blog? (customers, clients, income, grow an audience, therapy, nothing, etc…)
Your “Why” will help you recognize what kind of blog you want to start.
If you are wanting nothing out and your blog and simply want to write into the abyss, you may want to consider a FREE blogging option such as Blogger or WordPress.com (*** WordPress.com is NOT the same as WordPress. It is a free, basic version of WordPress that doesn’t require outside hosting or a domain.) If this is you, a post on starting these types of blogs is coming… But for now, feel free to contact me and I can walk you through the steps!
However, if you have any inkling that you may want something out of your blog in the future, I would recommend a self-hosted website. This does require a small investment upfront, but in the long-run, the creative freedom is so worth it!
I would choose creative freedom over free-but-basic, any day!
So, you now know your “WHY” and you have decided to start a self-hosted website. Let’s do this!
What do you want to blog about?
If you have done any research about starting a blog prior to landing here, you may know a big about the niche controversy. Some people believe you HAVE to have a niche to be a successful blogger. And while, this is partially true, I don’t think you need to feel limited or overwhelmed by the idea of a niche. You need to have a focus, but that doesn’t mean you need to be stuck with only writing about one thing.
This is where your second WHY comes into play. By now, you know why you chose to blog, but now you have to know what you want to blog about and WHY.
I will use my blog as an example, I tried to start this blog completely niche-free. I didn’t want to be limited or hindered in what I could write, so I said, “I will just write whatever I want”. But that was too much freedom. I ended up writing nothing because I had no focus. I would question why I was writing anything in the first place. I finally sat down and went back through all these steps that I am taking you through. I asked myself:
“Why blogging in the first place?” —–> “What are my goals from this blog?” —–> “What do I want to talk about on my blog? —–> “WHY do I want to talk about that?” —–> “WHY is it important?”
For me, this process took me a few days, but everyone’s timeline will look different. These questions helped me narrow down my focus or my niche | Living Freely. Every single thing I write is written within that filter. When someone comes to my blog for the first time, my goal is for them to understand that immediately and use my focus to connect with them on a deeper level, because that is their focus too! They want a life that is flexible and free to do something. Maybe it’s free to work online (hello, Starting a blog series!), or free to eat without fear and judgment, or maybe it is free to homeschool their children in a non-traditional manner… You get it. My focus (or niche) helps my readers know what I am all about and what they can expect when they read my posts.
Consider these questions:
- What is really important to you in your everyday life?
- What are you truly passionate about?
- Why do I feel this is important for others?
- What have I struggled through that I can help other’s deal with?
- Is this something I could see myself writing about for more than a couple months?
- What are things in my life that I value? (authenticity, honesty, openmindedness, faith, etc…)
- What do I search for frequently online? (aka, how I am spending my time online?)
If this all seems a little overwhelming to you, don’t stress just yet! You don’t have to know EVERYTHING about your focus just yet. But having an idea of what you want to write about will help you in the process of establishing and starting your blog.
Name your blog
So now you have a basic (or strong) understanding of what you want to write about. Your brain my have even taken this huge roadtrip down the starting a blog highway. You are picturing how you want it to look, thinking through blog post ideas, and maybe even over researching things. But before any of those dreams can become a reality, you have to get this blog up and running and to do that, you have to name your blog.
If you’re anything like me, this is what will be the biggest snag for you. I am absolutely TERRIBLE at creating blog names. Actually, I’m just terrible with names in general. In many of stories I will just not name characters because I draw a blank. I will know their biggest fears, the grandmother’s sister’s job, all the details of their home, but their name…. nothing.
I honestly think it has to do with how final a name is. When you name something, that is it. It now has it’s own identity. And I start to doubt everything. What if I hate writing about this, then I will be stuck with that name! What if I don’t like the name is 2 months? What if other people hate my name and never come to my blog?
Take a deep breath.
A name actually isn’t the most important part. Many people don’t really care what your blog is named. They come for your content, not your name. If you create good content for your audience, they won’t care. I promise.
People come for your content, not your name!
Consider these questions:
- What am I going to write about?
- What are 10 words that describe what I am writing about?
- Who am I trying to reach?
- Is this name available? (check social media, google, websites, and more!)
- If it’s not available, can I create a variation that is?
If you think through a few of those things and are still stuck, consider using your name, like I did. or go onto forums/social media and ask people for suggestions. Describe what you will be writing about and your goals and see what people come up with. Some people are great with names!
If this process takes you a while, take some time to write down those blog post ideas you have. Maybe even write the actual posts on a word document to copy into wordpress later.
But the number one thing. Don’t stress. Seriously.
Buy your Hosting
This section includes affiliate links. I only promote products I actually use and care about. If you were to purchase with these links I will get a small amount of compensation from your purchase, which helps me have the ability to run.
You have now decided Why you are blogging, What you are blogging about, and What you will call your blog. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of starting a blog, the technical details. Now, you need Hosting. Let’s define a few terms I will be using before we go any further.
Hosting is where your website files are located online. A company will host all your website files for you so that it can all be seen online for a fee. It is also where you attach your domain to your website.
A domain is the actual website name (or URL) that you type into the browser
(such as my website, http://www.ericagilliam.com). You can choose your domain.
So where should you host your website? You are welcome to do a basic google search for yourself, but I have had a bit of trial and error and want to share with you what I recommend. My first web hosting was through DreamHost. It was definitely NOT a dream. The minute my site got hacked for the first time, we lost all access to the website files and our hosting company was not even remotely helpful. It took over a week to get our site back online and even longer to access our files. It was TERRIBLE! After that, I did extensive research on web hosting. I didn’t want to be in that position ever again!
That is when I decided on BlueHost. Bluehost is one of the most widely used web hosting sites and you can see why. They are very helpful and easy to work with. I have been using Bluehost for nearly 2 years now I have never had any problems. Anytime I had an issue they walked me through all the steps or even fixed things for me. I currently have no complaints about their customer service. I’ve been really impressed!
Signing up is extremely easy. Simply click on the image above or HERE and click sign up. Want to know an awesome part? You get 1 year of a domain for FREE, included with signing up. So you know that Blog title you decided on? Now you get to turn it into your domain!
Set up WordPress
Once you have signed up for BlueHost, you can now use the one-click wordpress install (So awesome!!). So setting up wordpress for a site is super easy.
- Log in to your bluehost account.
- On the Menu, click WordPress Tools
- On the left side, click New Install
- Under Domains Make sure the drop-down is your new domain name
- Leave Path Empty
- Site Title = Your blog name
- Admin Username = The name you will login as AND the name of the person who will publish all your posts. It’s hard to change this, so I recommend making sure it is something you are good with.
- Admin Password = Your password to log into your website’s wordpress account. You can change this later.
- Admin Email = your main email where all your emails will go to. You can change this later.
- Click Install WordPress
- Go to: http://www.YOURDOMAIN.com/wp-admin/ (Now, I don’t actually mean type in yourdomain.com, you have to put the domain that you just created there.)
- login using the username and password you just created.
That’s it! Now WordPress is set up on your website!!!! Guess freaking what? You now have a blog!
Well, once again, Congratulations and welcome to the blogging community! I am so excited to have you here with us. I’m sure there are all kinds of exciting things going through your minds and I encourage you to write them all down as you think of them. Also, take some time to familiarize yourself with WordPress. Click around, maybe write a post or two.
Coming soon, there will be more amazing content coming for personalizing your blog, writing, social media, and more!