Starting Your Blog: Part 1 – How to Create Your Blog Site
Have you ever wanted to start a blog? I’m pretty partial to them myself, so I can definitely relate. They are an extremely fun way to show your creative side and help or teach people something you are passionate about. Oh, and maybe make an income as a side benefit. If you are wanting to start a blog but have absolutely no clue where to begin or the different nuances that can go into starting a blog, then please keep reading. You’ll probably have read many of these in order to begin your new journey into blogdom, and I think you’ll also be surprised by some of the shared tips below that I’ve discovered by trial and error!
Below is Part 1 of this 3 Part Series in How to Start your Blog.
What Topic is Your Blog Addressing
Is there something that you really LOVE to do? Or even something you are very obsessive about? You don’t even have to be an expert. If you are excited about something and are willing to put in the work to learn more about that passion and then turn around and teach what you have learned? That’s your Blog!
The first thing that you want to do before anything is decide what you want to blog about.
Different types of blogs:
This type of blog is a mish-mash of different subjects that you are interested in. It’s not quite a Personal Blog which is typically more like a journal, but a Lifestyle Blog is a way for you, as the creator, to have a few different topics you are passionate about and compile them into the same blog.
This one is rather self-explanatory. And I suppose I shouldn’t be sexist…it could be a Dad Blog! It’s tips and tricks for parenthood. New parents, experienced parents, and help with different facets of a parents’ life.
This type of blog is definitely more laser-focused on a certain topic. Are you going to write about Dogs? You could have a whole blog centered around the raising, training, grooming, and health of dogs.
Or maybe mosquitoes? Yep, I’ve seen a blog centered around mosquitoes. I was itchy for hours after reading it.
Basically, you can have a niche in anything if there is an audience for it and you believe you can write posts on it for a few years.
In order to learn if there is an audience, there are a few different research tools to use such as:
These different tools will provide a historical search volume based on the different keywords you will be, or want to be, posting about.
Please see my post on How to Build an Online Business for more information on these as well as additional tools.
Fashion and Beauty:
This one is based around fashion and beauty. Yeah, I guess I don’t really need to spell that one out, huh? If you have a passion for fashion and make-up and want to help other women or men in discovering their different styles, then you may really enjoy this blog style.
Are you a foodie? Do you love baking? Or cooking? Is there a particular specialty you have when you do cook or the foods you like to eat? Maybe vegetarian Italian food. Or the best foods on the southern hemisphere of the globe. It’s such a popular blog type, and the possibilities are endless.
People are so passionate about vacations and traveling. If you like to travel and would like to give other travelers tips and inspiration on things to do and places to go, then this may be your schtick.
6 and 8-packs rule the day. If you can wash clothes on your abs and want to tell other people how they can also accomplish that, or if you’d like to explain Yoga poses or marathon hacks, you may be a fitness blogger!
In the same realm as a fitness blogger, but this one is more geared towards actually helping individuals come up with a plan of losing weight or even tricks and mindsets that can be used to accomplish the weight loss as well.
Oh finance. How much I love thee. Ok, not so much, but who doesn’t like to make money? A finance blog could also be used to teach someone how to save for retirement, investments, how to make a side-income, paying off debt, and many other aspects of finance. If you love money and know the ins and outs of it, you may want to think about this type of blog.
*Tip* Before Starting the Blog Creation Process
- Decide which Blog type you’d like to create:
If you do not know what you are going to be blogging about, take about 10 minutes and brainstorm on a sheet of paper or a word document. Just write down the different things you like, things you enjoy doing or researching. You will need to enjoy writing about your chosen blog topic as you will be writing about it quite a bit. At least one post a week is typical and those are usually going to be about 1500 words to about 5000 words per post.
Hosting for Your New Blog
One of the first things you will want to do as a new blogger is set up your self-hosted website. This allows you to completely control all aspects of your blog. This is anywhere from how you’d like it to look to how you’d like to monetize your blog.
Whether you are monetizing immediately, or even eventually, you will want to have a self-hosted website. What does this mean?
It means that you will not want to have a free blog, unfortunately. The free blog sites, in order to remain free, show ads on those webpages, and the ad revenue then goes to the host of your free site. You would also not have a choice on where the ad content that is already on there is shown.
On top of that, there are some ad networks that may not work on a free site if you did choose to add more ads to your site in order to earn your own ad revenue.
Take Control of Your Blog
As a final nail in the proverbial head… the domain name you choose (this is the name of your website like yourcompanyname.com) would also not be as professional as what you would get on your own self-hosted website.
It’s the difference between a domain being ImInBiz.wordpress.com and the domain name of ImInBiz.com. When you think about it in a more sensible way; would you trust a website to sell you something or advise you on something you find important if the site name itself didn’t look professional? Or would you maybe look at it and choose to go to a different website instead that looked to be more reputable?
Choose Your Hosting Service
I personally use and love the hosting company: InMotion Hosting. The reasoning is not even because it’s so close to the name of my own website (No relation). It was the fact that they had the most reasonable price for what I was wanting. InMotion Hosting has already integrated WordPress into the websites, which you will definitely want for your blog, and it also had the most added freebies upon sign up from what I’d seen from the competition.
InMotion Hosting also had great reviews from what I was able to find. I know that a lot of other bloggers recommend other hosting sites, and I’m sure those are wonderful as well, but for me, the freebies, the reviews and the all-around platform that my website would be on, sold me on InMotion Hosting.
Below are a few other things you will want on your site that you may find very useful!
Did you know that you want your domain to be private? No, I don’t mean private as in not being able to find it. Let me break it down a bit.
When domains are set-up, by law, they are registered under the name of the person or entity that creates them. That means as someone who probably does not have a business name set-up, the domain will list your personal information. When someone checks the details of your domain name, they will see YOUR information.
You will want to invest a little bit extra in order to get the added peace of domain privacy to avoid identity theft as well as avoiding spammers getting your information.
It’s a must when setting up your website, and not something I’d known about when initially setting up my site. Luckily, I discovered my mistake before going live and on a secondary lucky note, it was VERY CHEAP especially for the added security.
If you are using InMotion Hosting and you did not set it up during your initial purchase, no worries! Login to your Account and then at the top of that page you’ll immediately see a section called “Manage My Account“.
Choose Register Domain under this section, and here you will find the option to set up Domain Privacy.
Dedicated IP address:
This is not necessarily a requirement, but more of a “nice to have” feature. It is one more thing that will increase your SEO score, which you will care about, and some software requires that a website have its own IP address as well. You will want to look at the software you install on your website to ensure this is not a requirement if you choose not to have a dedicated IP address.
This IP address will also ensure you don’t share an IP with the other websites on the server that you are on through whichever hosting service you use.
This allows your website to have faster load time as it will not have to sort through all the other websites using the same shared IP. This will be huge when you are blogging and trying to keep users on your site.
Speed is More Appealing to Your Customer
When trying to attract users you do not want another component to slow the load speed down of your webpages when you want them to keep clicking on your content. The stickier your customer finds your site the better! They’ll keep reading, keep clicking, and then become a true fan and continue to come back again and again!
If you do decide that a Dedicated IP Address is right for you, and it’s not purchased during the initial registration, simply log into your InMotion Hosting account, then scroll to just below the Manage Your Account section. There you’ll see the cPanel section. Once cPanel is showing, look for Purchase Dedicated IP and click it. From there, the platform allows you to purchase the IP address for your website.
An SSL Certificate is also an item that will increase your SEO score, as Google really likes the trusted authority your website shows when it’s more secure. This will change your website from being http://ImInBiz.com to being https://ImInBiz.com.
It’s more than just changing your website destination name though. It’s a way to reduce tampering with your website or the traffic that will be passing over it. When you are trying to protect not only your own personal information but that of the users that may click on your website, an SSL Certificate is something that is so easy to do to mitigate those risks.
A great site that explains this, even more, is a Google developers site here.
In order to set up your SSL Certificate, once again you’ll be logged into your InMotion Hosting account, then scroll to just below the Manage Your Account section and you’ll see the cPanel. Once this section is seen, click on the chosen method of SSL Certificates. There is the Free Basic SSL option, or you could select the Dedicated SSL Certificate. The free version does not have quite the same authority that the Dedicated SSL Certificate does, but when just starting out, it should definitely do the trick!
WordPress for Blogs
WordPress is such a powerful tool for a blogger. It’s the backbone of your website. In fact, 34% of the web pages on the internet use WordPress which is a pretty impressive statistic! Below are some important factors you will want to include on your WordPress site.
There are many different and free themes you can choose from when you are creating your WordPress site, however, I have not yet been able to find a free theme that does what I want, as easily as I want, or how I want it to be done.
I spent at LEAST 50 – 60 hours trying to make one of the free themes work. I got so frustrated. If I can’t even design my website, how in the world am I supposed to build a business on it?! I researched a lot into different themes that could be used, and the user-friendliness of those themes and I found the Divi WordPress Theme.
Yes, it’s a theme that has to be purchased, but you pay for the ease of use and you can download it on as many websites as you end up creating. Once I installed the Divi theme, I had my website designed and published in less than a day. What a relief and I no longer felt like pulling out all of my hair or spitting at my computer screen.
When you are creating your website, one thing to think about is how you want your menus to look as well as the different names of those menus and possibly even Sub-Menus.
When I visit a website, one of the first things I do is check out the Menu in order to scope out where the content will be that I may be interested in looking at.
If I’m searching for something specific, then the Menu is something I use to narrow in on the answer I’m looking for. If you see a name in the Menu bar that says something like Click This Here Button, you won’t click it…who knows where it’s going to go?
Or you may actually click it just to see where it’s going to go. Huh. But I think you can see where I’m heading with this one.
Make your website easy to use and easy to navigate for your user. Think of how you want your users to experience your website and start organizing it based on that.
**TIP** Make sure you have an About Me included in your Menu! Surprisingly, this will be one of the most viewed pages of your website and is very important. There’s a wonderful resource for this through Amy Porterfield’s Podcast site.
Like your Menu, there are Categories of your website. If you have a Fitness website, then you may have different menu items such as Nutrition and Exercise.
Under Nutrition, you may have different categories like Recipes and Best Foods for Toning Up. As another example:
Exercise – the categories could be Yoga, Cardio, and weight training.
It’s an easy way to organize your website for your users, as well as yourself, to ensure that what you’re posting about can be located in a straightforward and logical way.
What in the world is a Permalink?! Well, let me tell you.
A permalink is quite simply the link to the page or post you’ve created on your website. Why is this important? The post name or page name needs to fit what your post or page is about and preferably contain the keywords that you are writing around.
An example would be this post page name: itslifeinmotion.com/how-to-start-a-blog-for-beginners. If I didn’t change the permalink, it would default to something like itslifeinmotion.com/?p=page101.
Once again, this is something that is good for your SEO score AND it is more friendly on the eyes and fingers when typing it into a search bar. Something to consider though – after 70-71 characters the title gets cut off, so use a word counting site like WordCounter or use the character count feature in your own Word document to ensure you stay under those limitations of characters.
How to Setup Permalinks
Changing the default setting for Permalinks is very easy! When you are provided your WordPress site, the editing of your site itself will be done from yourblogname.com/wp-admin. Go to this site and then on the left side menu and select Settings and then Permalink Settings. The recommended selection on this page will be Post Name. When you select Post Name for your Permalinks, it will automatically apply the name of your Post as the Permalink on any posts that are created.
**Tips for Permalinks**
The Permalink can be changed at any time during the Post creation, but try not to change it after it is Published. When you start changing the link, especially if you’ve linked it to other posts or have created a link from Social Media there are just too many points of failure that you will need to ensure you change as well. After all of your work, you do not want your links to start failing. A good deterrent on failing links is to not change them after you’ve published your content.
**Formatting Tips for WordPress**
One of the things I have done to streamline the process for publishing my posts is to create a template for my Posts. It can get a bit irritating to set the same formatting standards over and over again when you prefer things to be pretty cohesive and inline with the brand you are trying to create. Luckily, I was able to do this very easily with my WordPress Divi Theme.
I created a Post page as I normally would, but instead of actually filling out all the Heading fields, text fields, and picture fields, I made sure they were just all arranged as I wanted them with the text being formatted as well and then saved the template to my library.
Now when I create a post all I have to do is open my template, fill in the blanks, and just make little changes for the topic I’m addressing.
I have found a very good video by the creators of Divi showing how this is done if you are a more visual learner.
Plug-ins You Need for a Successful Blog
By far the best SEO Plug-in out there, in my opinion, is Yoest. It has EVERYTHING. I use the free version, and I have yet to run into anything else I actually need. There might be a time when I upgrade to the extended version that has a fee, but for now, I’m very excited about this free plug-in.
Before I go any further in explaining Yoest and why you want it or another similar to it, I’d like to explain why I’ve been mentioning SEO on this post like crazy. There is a reason.
If you are a blogger, this is one of the main ways to receive organic traffic to your website. (Organic traffic is any traffic that comes to your website from a web search that has not been paid for with an ad or some other purchased method.)
If you are not sure what SEO is, here is a quick dime store explanation –
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
This is a way to “optimize” your website to be indexed by search engines and the better your webpage and content optimization, the better chance you will have of being on the first page when someone searches for your topic. This means more traffic.
More traffic = more revenue depending on your chosen monetization methods. The increase in traffic also means more people that you can help with your content! Win-win!
Back to Yoest – The plug-in itself will tell you if the posts or pages you writing are even SEO friendly and will TELL you how to FIX it! The plug-in will let you know if you do not have a good ratio of Headings to text and if you have other errors in your content that will hurt your SEO score.
Aside from the post and page content, it also assists in connecting your website to the different search engines and lets them know that your webpage actually exists.
Who knew this was a thing?
Yoest also assists you with their built-in features connecting your page to Social Media through the plug-in if you are not comfortable with manually coding these changes into your website. I was not comfortable and very much appreciated this feature!
The Akismet plug-in surprised me by how essential it would actually be. When you create content and publish your posts, there are robot spammers that will automatically comment if you have that turned on.
Which most do…what better way to communicate with those you are trying to help, right?
Before I activated the Akismet plug-in, I received quite a few spam comments that I had to then go in and delete. I couldn’t imagine having to do this possibly hundreds of times for every post I published.
This is when I discovered Akismet. Extremely easy to install and activate and it pretty much just runs itself. Highly recommend this plug-in, and you are able to use it for free!
I chose to actually pay a little for the plug-in. This is a different type of plug-in in that it allows you to choose how much you think it’s worth for you to pay for it. You can choose $0, so it’s all up to you!
Social Media and Share Icons (Ultimate Social Media)
When you are building and growing your Blog, and even when it’s established, the ability to allow your content to be shared across the various Social Media sites is EXTREMELY important.
What a compliment a customer gives you to take a post you have written and then share it to their Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest account!
You just need to do your part in making this process as easy as possible. It’s free publicity after all.
There are a few different plug-ins that accomplish this, but I personally really enjoy the free version of this plug-in so much that I didn’t feel a need to look elsewhere!
Oh, VaultPress. I can’t even describe how much I love this plug-in. I use two different back-up plug-ins. The first came with my hosting service and is called BoldGrid Backup which is also great, but I don’t necessarily have a trusting nature.
I prefer to have my hot little hands on my own back-ups.
VaultPress keeps a back-up within their service, and I am also able to manually go in every week or so and download the latest back-up of my entire website to my laptop. Seeing those backups in my computer storage as well as in their safe-keeping makes me feel so much more secure. There is so much hard work put into a Blog and all the content included, that it would be absolutely heartbreaking to lose everything.
For me, the peace of mind in having my hard work saved in multiple places means the world and is so worth the very minimal fee that they charged me. If this is something you’d also like to do, click on their link here, and I only chose their Personal plan. It’s the cheapest version they supply for the extreme peace of mind I keep mentioning.
There are definitely other free options for a back-up, and again, if you have a more technical background, it would be very easy to go into the back-end of your website and create your own back-up.
Personally, I needed and wanted a bit of assistance and reassurance on this aspect of saving the future of my website and chose the easier option.
Start a Blog Part 1: Wrap-up
Starting and building a blog in two words: FUN and CONFUSING. A little contradictory isn’t it? Yep! I have never worked harder or had more fun! The content creation, the design, the FREEDOM that I have when I’m working on my OWN business is so empowering! I can’t really explain it any other way. If you want to start your own business, and you’d like it to be a blog, you will not regret it!
As I stated in the first part of this post, this is only Part 1 in my 3 part series of how to start a blog. Part 2 will be all about what goes into creating a post. Part 3 will be all about pictures, creating printables and email marketing. I can’t wait to share the different tips, tricks, do’s and don’t’s that I’ve learned along the way!
Are you going to be starting a blog, or already have? Let me know and I’d love to share and learn from you as well! Please leave a comment below or shoot me an email if you have any more tips you have also picked up.
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