How to Start Your Blog and What I Wish I Knew When I Started Mine
So, you want to start a blog! You came to the right post. Starting a blog is a great way to dip your toes in the waters of online business and entrepreneurship.
This post is based on my own personal experiences, and some of the links present are affiliate links. For more information, please see my Disclosures.
How to Brainstorm Ideas for Your New Blog
Let’s start by getting out a journal and turning to a blank page. You can start by writing “my blog” in the center, and then begin drawing branches outwards containing different ideas. Write ideas for topics you’d like to blog about, and write ideas for the name of your blog.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:’
- What am I most interested in?
- What am I so excited about that I could talk about it all day long?
- What do I have experience with that could help other people?
- What is something that I don’t know very much about, but I’m excited to learn about?
- What are some potential ideas for products or services I would like to offer through my business?
Remember, there are no rules or limits! This is your blog and business. It can be anything you imagine it to be.
This is one of my original brainstorming drafts where I decided what I wanted to focus on with my business. I chose the name “Strong with Purpose” because it is adaptable, could be used for a variety of different topics, and can grow with me as a business—and it has! Since I originally brainstormed for my blog, I’ve branched out into blogging about mindfulness, meditation, spirituality, crystals, recipes, and more. I’m glad I chose a name that has allowed me to expand into many different niches, because I am definitely a multi-passionate entrepreneur.
The beauty of blogging is that you do not have to know everything and have all the answers to get started! You simply have to get started. You learn and grow as you go.
So, when brainstorming your blog & business name, try not to limit yourself too much! Leave some room for possibility to unfold.
Allow yourself to write down many different options and variations of similar sounding names.
How to Start Your New Blog
Hosting, Domain Registration, Email Management
I use Bluehost for my website hosting, domain registration, and email management. I’ve been using them for 6+ years with ease. They have a great signup deal where your domain name is free for the first year, and they give you a reduced price for however many years you commit to. You also get free SSL certificates to make your website secure, and they make it so easy to set up. This makes your website “https” instead of “http.” Other companies make you pay a lot extra for this, and it is more complicated to manage.
How to Claim Your Name – Checking Availability
Once you’ve decided on a few variations of your desired name, you should check the availability.
Your Website / Domain Name
When you go through the Bluehost signup, you can create a new domain name or use an existing one. Since you’re starting a new blog, you can type in your desired name. Bluehost will immediately let you know whether or not that name is available. Alternately, you can use Hover to register your domain name, and then point your Hover domain to your Bluehost hosting account. I mention this because Bluehost’s free domain for the first year is a better intro deal, but a-la-carte, Hover has a better total price for your domain name (including privacy protection) from year to year. You can always start using Bluehost, and then switch to Hover later.
While there are many different options for your domain, .com is still the most popular option. There’s also .net, .blog, etc. Still, I would recommend going with .com if it’s available.
Your Social Media Accounts
You’ll want to check all the social media platforms to see if there is anyone else using your desired name, like on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can use this site to automatically check your desired name’s availability on many sites.
Your Limited Liability Company (LLC) Name
It’s a good idea to form a limited liability company (LLC) in your state, so when you’re choosing your domain name it’s a good idea to check the availability of the LLC name as well. If you’re located in the state of Michigan like I am, you can use this search to see if anyone else has formed an LLC with your desired name. Otherwise, you can Google your state’s name followed by “LLC Search” to get to the right page.
Having your own LLC will make things easier for legality and tax purposes. You can open a business bank account and credit card in your LLC name to keep your business finances separate from your personal finances. You can use a spreadsheet to track your LLC’s income and expenses. You then enter the totals into your taxes each year.
Forming your LLC is fairly simple and you can do it all yourself. In the state of Michigan, it requires filling out one CSCL/CD-700 form, taking it to your local county clerk office, and paying a $50 fee. Then each year, you file an annual LLC statement online and pay a $25 fee.
- Canva – I use the free version of Canva to create images, PDFs, and presentations for my blog.
- Evernote – I use the free version of Evernote to write my blog post drafts, as well as save any bits of information that I may need later.
- Tailwind – I use Tailwind to schedule my Pinterest posts. It does wonders in automating my Pinterest posts in a strategic, fun way. You can sign up for a free trial which allows you take as long as you need to post your first 100 pins. Check out this post to read about the success I’ve experienced with using Tailwind.
- MailChimp – I use the free version of MailChimp to manage my email list. It is completely free until you have over 2,000 subscribers.
- Creative Market – Buy or sell graphics, templates, photos, fonts, themes, and more on this peer-to-peer marketplace. They have just about everything you may need for creating digital content. Plus, they regularly give giant free bundles of resources. Perfect for the creative entrepreneur!
- Astra Theme – This is my favorite free WordPress theme that works great with WooCommerce. It is super fast and highly customizable.
Useful WordPress Plugins
I enjoy using the free versions of all the plugins below:
- Classic Editor – The New WordPress block editor is unnecessary. I prefer to use the Classic Editor plugin to use the previous editing method.
- WooCommerce – This plugin allows you to set up an online store on your website. I also use the WooCommerce Shipping & Tax, and WooCommerce Stripe Gateways plugin.
- Updraft Plus – Backup/Restore – This plugin makes it easy to back up your entire website, save it locally or save it to Dropbox, and in case anything happens to your site, enables you to completely restore it from that backup. It is important to back up your site before making any major changes, such as upgrading to a new version of WordPress, or installing a plugin you’ve never worked with before.
- Yoast SEO – This plugin enables you to see how well your posts are doing for search engine optimization. It allows you to add a focus keyword to each post. You’ll want to include your focus keyword in your post URL slug as well as in your H1 (first heading) text. Since I started using the Yoast SEO plugin, about half of my blog traffic comes from search engines.
- Akismet Anti-Spam – Inevitably, bots will comment on your blog posts in an effort to redirect people to their malicious website. This plugin will automatically filter those comments into the “Spam” category so that you can delete them. This will prevent those comments from getting instantly published to your blog.
- Social Share WordPress Plug-in – Accesspress Social Share – This plugin enables you to add social media share buttons to all your blog posts.
These plugins are useful, but you do not have to have them installed in order to get started with your blog.
Here are some good ideas for your first blog post:
- Share your story; talk about where you’ve been, where you are now, where you’re going. What’s your “why?” What drives you?
- Write about something you have personal experience with.
- Write about something you are interested in, but would like to learn more about.
It is okay to use information from books, scientific research, other websites, or any other source, as long as you give proper credit to that source. You would create a “References” section at the bottom of your blog post. Label each reference , , etc. Then, use that same numbered reference at the end of the sentence where you use that information. To see one of my examples in action, check out The Problem with Pesticides, which is my most heavily researched blog post.
The essentials to include in every blog post are:
- Information. It can be stories, experience-based, research-based, or simply information that could be useful to another person in any way.
- At least one shareable image. You can easily create your own graphics using Canva. It allows you to import your own photographs or use their free stock photos. It is important to include text with your blog post title as well as your website URL.
- An email list opt-in form. You can use MailChimp to customize an opt-in form for your email list.
- A disclaimer. If you are sharing any information related to health, it is important to have a disclaimer on your website. I have this text within my website footer: The information shared through our website is for informational and educational purposes only. It shall not be construed as medical advice, nor as a replacement for professional medical advice, diagnosis and/or treatment of a health problem, illness, or disease.
In time, you will find a reliable workflow for blogging. Here’s the process I use:
- Write blog post in Evernote.
- Create images for blog post in Canva.
- Format, finalize, and publish blog post in WordPress.
- Use Tailwind to schedule Pinterest posts onto many boards across many months.
- Post about blog post on other social media accounts.
Ways to Monetize Your Blog
- Affiliates – Consider which products you use and love. A lot of companies have their own affiliate program that you can apply to through their website. You can then talk about those products in your blog posts and get paid if someone clicks through the link and makes a purchase. It is easy to sign up with ShareASale which is a platform that has many different companies with affiliate programs. You can also sign up with MagicLinks which allows you to create custom affiliate links to products available on many different websites.
- Products – You can use the free WooCommerce plugin to create a store on your website. You can use it to sell physical products, or digital products like printables, ebooks, or online courses.
- Services – You can offer any kind of distance services such as coaching or consulting.
You do not have to start monetizing your blog right away. It is better to build your blog by writing about things you’re passionate about and incorporating monetization later.
What I Wish I Knew When I Started My Blog
It is more important to be of pure intention than of perfect action. ―Ilyas Kassam
When I first started my blog, I was so unsure of myself. Rather than post an imperfect blog post, I would draft it and then never post it all.
Your first few blog posts will be rough around the edges, and that is completely okay. It is better to hit publish sooner rather than later.
Through taking imperfect action, you will gain confidence. Trust that you will improve as you go.
You don’t have to have your blog looking exactly the way you envision it in order to publish your first post. Setting everything up initially can be a little challenging, but once you have everything the way you like it, it becomes a lot easier.
You’re allowed to make your blog anything you want it to be, and you’re allowed to take as much or as little time as you need. Sometimes it takes me a day to complete a blog post from start to finish, and other times it takes me weeks or months. It all depends on the complexity of the post and how much energy I dedicate to the process.
Blogging is a seriously fun endeavor, and you deserve to blog about topics that excite you.
It is completely okay to write one blog post halfway, then start another one. My blogging habit thrives on randomness interlaced with intense focus. I have a lot of quarter-written posts or half-formed ideas, and I circle back around to them when I feel like exploring that topic again. You may operate entirely differently than I do, and that is okay. Whatever works for you, works for you!
You need to publish blog posts consistently in order to make blogging a sustainable habit in your life. Doing even one blog post every few months is better than not doing one at all. Over time, you can increase your frequency. Nowadays, I post around 4-6 blog posts per month.
Did you like this post, but need more guidance? I can help you with anything technical, design-related, or something else. I would love to work with you ASAP, so contact me and let’s do this!