Blogging, Budget

Starting a Blog: When You Don’t Know Where to Start

 

how to start a blog

 

If you already consider yourself a blogger then check out my post: Blog Resources: Frugal Edition. It has TONS of resources that all bloggers need, and they are all FREE! Need advice on upping your Pinterest game, creating beautiful graphics, and becoming a social media expert? 

*This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

 

Why Start a Blog?

If you are like me then you have contemplated starting a blog for years. You are finally ready to take the plunge, and I’m here to tell you everything I know! If you are questioning, “Should I start a blog?” then here are some reasons why you SHOULD:

  • you are an expert on specific topics

  • have skills that others could benefit from

  • You want to document various aspects of your life

  • have tons of free time and need to fill it with lots of blog posts 😉

  • want to learn something completely new!

  • you want to empower yourself and grow your confidence!

Free vs. Self-Hosted

A few months ago I wouldn’t have been able to tell anyone the difference between free and self-hosted. My experience with free hosting is that about 4 years ago I had a free blog through blogger, and I may have posted twice. I never shared my blog because I wasn’t passionate about it. I wasn’t invested in it because it was a free blog so I didn’t have anything to “lose”.

When I decided that I wanted to take my blogging seriously I knew that I had to invest a little bit of money into it, or else I wouldn’t put any time into it. That may not be the case with everyone, but it definitely was for me!

I wish that I could say that I did tons of research on the hosting site that I should use, but I didn’t. I literally typed in “starting a blog” into Pinterest and read one of the first legit looking blog posts about hosting sites. ha! What I came across was gold, and I decided on HostGator. It was a great decision!

 

One of the reasons that I chose to pay for a host was that I wanted to monetize my blog. If you aren’t interested in making money from your blog then here are a few more reasons why free hosting isn’t as great as it sounds.

  • A self-hosted blog looks more professional.

  • If at any time the free site decides to disappear then there goes your blog content. 🙁

  • If you ever decide to self-host you may have to pay to transfer all of your content.

  • limited theme support

  • no plug-ins allowed

  • limited monetization

I chose a self-hosted WordPress.org blog. WordPress.org with a self-hosting service allows you to customize most features and add plug-ins that you desire on your site.

 

Hosting Service

Choosing a domain name and setting up your hosting service is fast and simple through HostGator! The “baby plan” comes with:

  • 24/7 365 support

  • unlimited domains

  • disk space (unlimited)

  • large bandwidth (unlimited)

  • 99% uptime guarantee

  • 45 day money-back guarantee

  • $100 GoogleAdwords credit

  • online website building software

  • one click install for WordPress

  • email marketing


HostGator offers three options for hosting plans. You can save 25% when you use this link. The more months that you purchase up front, the better your price. I paid for 12 months up front, and if I could go back I would have bought 24 months in advance. You live and learn. 😉

 

hostgator plans

If you are just starting out or if you are unsure then you can choose the Hatchling Plan and upgrade it at a later date.

 

Choosing a Domain

Choosing your domain is simple. You type it in the box and then continue choosing your hosting plan.

choose a domain and hosting plan

Before your complete your purchase, you can add-on additional services. I HIGHLY recommend purchasing the SiteLock Monitoring. This will check your website for hackers daily. You can also add a professional email and systematic backups for your site. Adding additional services

Who knew that you could start a blog within a few clicks and for only a few bucks a month. As a budget-minded person, $3.95 a month to work on a passion isn’t a lot of money.

 

One-Click Installation

Once you have purchased your hosting plan then you can log in and get to work! Click on the “Hosting” tab.hostgator dashboard

Next, click on the WordPress-1 Click Installation.

one click installation for wordpress

Select your domain and click next. Once you type your name, blog name, and other required information then you are all set with your self-hosted WordPress blog. Now you can start customizing your blog using http://YOURDOMAIN.COM/wp-admin.

install wordpress on your blog

WordPress Walk-Through

The dashboard on your new WordPress site is your best friend. Become acquainted with it. 🙂

 

Blog Posts

Across the top of the page you will see +New. That is a short-cut to add a new blog post or page. You can also create new posts by using the side-bar on the left side of the page.

wordpress dashboard

Categories/Tags

Underneath the “posts” tab on the left side-bar you can add categories and tags that you will use to organize and categorize your blog posts.

You can set up your categories so that they show up on your menu. The great thing about WordPress is there are numerous ways to do the same job so you can find which way is easiest to you.

 

Media

The Media tab is where you will upload photos and videos. You can also upload photos and videos while you are editing a new post by using the “Add Media” button.

 

Pages

Pages and posts are two different animals. These are the main parts of your blog. For example, I have a home page that displays my most recent blog posts. The other pages are “Contact Me, My Story, Printables”. Your pages are also what will show up on your menu depending on how you set your menu up.

 

Comments

The comments tab is where you will go to approve, delete, and reply to comments left on your blog posts. You will also see a conversation bubble highlighted at the top right of your screen when you have new comments that are awaiting approval. 🙂

 

Appearance

The appearance tab will be one of your most used tools for your blog. These essentials are located under this tab:

  • themes

  • customize

  • widgets

  • menus

  • header

  • background

  • editor

Here you can choose your theme, change your colors, display widgets on your pages, and add deep links through the editor.

 

Plugins

This tab is where you will find ALL of the plugins that you will want to have on your blog. Some of my favorite are:

  • Mailchimp (Mailmunch)

  • Shareaholic

  • Google Analytics

  • Social Media Widget

  • Jetpack

  • PDF Embedder (for printables)

 

Settings

The settings tab is where you can customize how your blog looks and how certain plugins are used. Play around with this tab because it has a lot of vital customizing tools that I wasn’t aware of for a while.

 

Get to Blogging

Now that your blog is up and running you can start creating the influential posts that you have always dreamed of creating.

I suggest having 3-4 blog posts complete and ready to post before going “live”. Some will advise you to have more and some will say you don’t need any. I had three and think that was a good number to start with. Having draft posts ready is another way to reduce stress.

I can’t wait to read your future blog posts! 🙂

Did you find this information helpful? If so, then let me know in the comments and share on social media. 🙂

17 thoughts on “Starting a Blog: When You Don’t Know Where to Start

  1. Starting a blog is such a cool challenge 🙂 The amount of time spent on customizing the appearance of your blog is just unbelievable… But it’s so rewarding at the end 🙂 Blogging is a great hobby!

    1. It’s definitely a challenge but so worth it! I have loved learning so many new things and knowing that I taught myself some new tricks. 😉 Thanks for the feedback!

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