Starting a blog was the best thing I ever did.
It was also possibly the most frustrating and hardest thing I have ever done in the realm of my professional life (short of earning my doctorate degree which ended with 2 years of total misery while I completed my dissertation!)
I had no idea where this road would take me, but I did have high hopes and faith it would take me down a different career and financial path than I was currently on based on what I read had happened for others.
They made it sound so easy!
I quickly learned it was anything but easy! (Don’t give up on starting your own blog – keep reading for the second part of the story!)
I look at myself as a fairly technical savvy person and in fact, at one point I had even filled in to teach elementary and middle school technology for a couple of years. I had also started and successfully built several businesses from the ground up, so how could this be any different?
I looked at my blog like a business from the beginning. As a prior school counselor and with independent college consultants being a rapidly growing segment of entrepreneurship, it was the logical path to take. (source)
What held me up? How to actually start my blog.
Once I purchased the domain, I had to figure out what to do next and I was stopped dead in my tracks. Not temporarily, but for months (and I am being totally serious here!) I read everything I could find (which was actually a HUGE mistake), I followed directions on blogs that promised I would have my site up in 20 minutes (beware – some of those are still out there!), and when I would hit a glitch they didn’t cover I had no idea how to continue.
This was in 2013 so there were not nearly as many resources available as there are now. However, when I read in my Facebook groups, and read my emails, there are still so many people that have no idea where to start!
I didn’t tell you this personal story to scare you or make you feel like you can’t do this. YOU ABSOLUTELY CAN!!
Looking back, I made it much harder than it is. I just felt like I was reading a foreign language and it wasn’t clicking in my mind. I also think I actually read too much.Are you making starting your blog too hard? This step-by-step detailed plan for beginners will simplify it for you! Click To Tweet
Have you ever read so much new information instead of feeling like you learned something new that should prepare you for the next step, instead it created more overwhelm and frustration? I definitely made that mistake!
The biggest mistake in the middle of all that reading was wasting my time reading blogs that I should have known wouldn’t help me. Let me explain.
Have you ever read an article that gave you a list of actions that need to be done to complete a task (like starting a blog) yet there are no directions on how to complete the task?
When I started ‘it started with a blog’ my goal was (and continues to be) to provide detailed posts with actionable steps so you can successfully start your blog, grow your blog, and make money from your blog.
Anyone (yes, I said ANYONE) can start a blog! And anyone with a strong work ethic and discipline can start and grow a highly successful blog.
Can it be completed in 20 minutes?
Yes, in the literal sense, meaning you can have a website with your domain set up. Can you literally start a blog and have it up and going and start writing blog posts in 20 minutes and have it looking like a blog ready for visitors like we envision in our mind? The answer would be no.
This is the reason I put together this detailed step-by-step plan for you!
Keep reading for a quick overview of my 8-step plan to start a successful blog (you can click on each icon if you want to jump forward to that section and use the back arrow on your browser to return), then the top questions I get asked about starting a blog, and finally, the nitty gritty details of how to implement each of the 8 steps to start your own blog!
You will also find some special goodies along the way to creating your blog so be on the lookout!
And if you have any questions, always feel free to shoot me an email and I will help you any way I can!
You got this!
8 TOP QUESTIONS ABOUT BLOGGING
Before we jump into the nitty gritty, let’s cover some of the questions I get asked most about starting a blog!
1 | HOW DO YOU ACTUALLY START A BLOG? I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO CODE AND I CAN’T AFFORD TO HIRE ANYONE.
Starting a blog can be done pretty quickly! However, it is the tasks of setting it up properly, creating content, and finding your audience that takes the most time.
While many people can set up a blog and have it making money in a month or a couple months, typically speaking those people have set up prior blogs and they are not just learning the information.
Being a blogger is not difficult! You do not have to know how to code and if you follow the steps I have laid out, you will be able to start your blogging journey with little to know tech knowledge at all!
2 | WHY WOULD PEOPLE WANT TO READ ABOUT WHAT I DO OR ABOUT MY FAMILY LIFE?
Many people do not think of the internet sites they visit as blogs. They also do not realize that almost every business has a blog even if they never visit it. I share numerous examples in my post on why you should start a blog to give you a visual of the endless opportunity!
If you are not interested in turning your blog into a business, then writing about your family life, adventures, etc., is the perfect choice and you will find people that relate to your story and that are willing to visit and read your blog.
However, if you are interested in turning your blog into a way to earn income, it is best to write about a topic that people are searching for an answer to when they are online. It is fine to incorporate your family life into your blog, you just wouldn’t be writing about it as your blog topic (called your blog niche.)
3 | HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO START A BLOG?
Starting a blog does not have to be expensive. In fact, it is likely the least expensive way to start a business and start earning income!
You don’t need anything fancy, there is no storefront rent to pay, no inventory to purchase, and no fancy tools that are needed. You don’t even have to go out and buy a new wardrobe that is suitable for working with the public (unless you want to) because you will be working from home!
There are a few essential tools you need to get your blog started, and then you can grow it from there, adding additional tools as you go. Of course, you will need a computer and an internet connection.
Outside of the obvious (the computer and internet), you will need to purchase a hosting company to host your website and your domain URL (your website address.) For the basic ‘get started’ plan, this will be around $5 – $10/month.
An optional expense but one I recommend is an email marketing plan, which can be free to $30/month for a super basic plan.
In my post Ultimate List Of Blogging Tools & Resources, I share my top recommendations so you can see some things you may want to add as your blog grows.
4 | WHAT KIND OF EQUIPMENT OR SOFTWARE DO I NEED TO START A BLOG?
The equipment you need is a computer and the internet. I love my laptop because it gives me the flexibility to work anywhere I want at home as well as if I want to go to my favorite coffee shop (one of the many benefits of being a blogger!)
The ‘software’ you need is free if you use WordPress. Everything I talk about and teach is centered around building your blog with a WordPress site, although there are other alternatives. WordPress isn’t actually considered software, but rather a content management system.
5 | I KEEP READING ABOUT BLOGGING PLATFORMS, THEMES, AND HOSTING. ARE THEY ALL THE SAME THING?
It can get confusing when you decide you want to start a blog and all this new lingo keeps appearing! I understand, because I felt the same way!
Blogging Platform – The blogging platform I use, write about, and teach, is WordPress and specifically, WordPress.org (NOT WordPress.com). WordPress is used by 61.0% of all known content management systems, which is over 34% of all websites. (source)
Your blogging platform is the content management system that houses your blog. Essentially, once you purchase your domain, in order to start your blog so people have a place to visit you online, you have to choose your blogging platform, which ultimately is your website.
Other blogging platforms outside of WordPress are Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly.
Theme – Your theme is the style of your blog. Have you ever noticed all the differences in websites when you visit them? Some of that is because the owner or designer of the website personalized it, and some of it is because of the theme they are using.
I use the Impreza theme, and I love it. I have used it on 4 different blogs, which says a lot because I have always gone back to it when starting a new blog.
Hosting – Web hosting is the service that allows you to have a website or web page on the internet. Your website hosting company is a business in itself that provides the services you need so people can view your website.
6 | HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO START A BLOG?
Starting your actual blog does not take that long! It can actually be done in 10 or 15 minutes if you have done it before and have your domain purchased and just need to install WordPress (which is technically all that needs to be done in order to start writing your first blog post and you use a free theme that comes with WordPress so it is already installed.)
However, getting your blog ready for visitors is much more involved than simply setting it up. It is not hard! It simply takes following the steps I lay out for you to get it ready for visitors!
7 | DO BLOGGERS MAKE ANY MONEY … I MEAN, REALLY?
YES! Bloggers make money!
Do all bloggers make money? If they are willing to work consistently, learn and develop business strategies and systems, and they have chosen a blogging niche that answers a question people are searching for online, there is serious money to be made. Bloggers can earn from a couple hundred dollars a month to thousands, and upwards of in the hundred thousands per month.
8 | AFTER I GET MY BLOG STARTED, HOW MANY HOURS A WEEK WILL I HAVE TO WORK TO QUIT MY JOB?
This is a common question because so many people are unhappy in their current jobs! They also want the flexiblity of creating their own work schedule and the opportunity to prioritize their family. Blogging has allowed me both of these things so I can enjoy every minute possible spending time with my grandson. I cannot imagine my life without this opportunity, which is why I created ‘it started with a blog’ so others can have the opportunity to spend each day creating their own schedule.
To answer this question, it all depends. How much income do you need to replace your current income? How quickly do you want to replace this income? Are you willing to work tirelessly to make it happen?
YOUR STEP-BY-STEP PLAN TO START A BLOG
Choosing what you are going to blog about is called your blog niche. This is your main topic and what you will be writing about.
Most people choose a niche they are already familiar with because this is what is comfortable for them, and it also takes less time researching to provide valuable information to their audience.
The reason this is the first step in starting your blog is because many people choose their domain (website URL) based on their blog niche. Once you have your blog topic solidified, you are ready to move to the next step, choosing your domain name.
Picking your domain name is one of the most important steps in starting your blog. It is how people will find you online. It is possible to change your blog name later, but it is a process that is better to avoid whenever possible. Getting it right the first time is the best way to not have to spend time on the task so you can spend your time creating valuable content for your audience, marketing your blog to create new readers, etc.
These two posts will help you pick the best blog name:
Figuring out how to select a website hosting company can get super confusing if you are a new blogger. I want to keep things as simple as possible for you, so I am not going to dive deep into this topic.
As your blog grows, you will likely change your hosting provider to keep up with the demands of your blog. If you keep the same provider, you will definitely be changing the plan you need to handle your growing website traffic. Don’t stress about this part of your starting your blog. You can always change your webhost provider if and when you want to do that. I recommend starting out with Bluehost. It is great for new bloggers and what I used to start my first two blogs.
As a new blogger just starting out, you need a basic service that provides excellent customer service and 24 hour availability. An article on choosing your webhost provider emphasizes the importance of what it calls the 3 S’s – speed, support and security. (source)
Setting up your domain is essentially purchasing it and registering it with a Domain Name Server (DNS). You don’t have to purchase your domain from the same company you choose as your hosting provider. However, as a new blogger I recommend you do purchase them together because it will keep the setup simple.
Installing WordPress is a super simple and fast process! You can actually complete this in about 5 minutes.
If you use Bluehost as your website hosting service, they have the WordPress database already set up for you so you don’t have to do a step by step install yourself. This is actually the case for most hosting providers.
Once you have successfully installed WordPress, you need to secure, optimize and speed up your website before you start writing and publishing content. You do this in the WordPress settings.
Your theme controls the visual appearance of your WordPress website. With thousands of options available, choosing a great theme that fits your blog niche can be confusing even for experienced bloggers!
There are free themes and paid themes. There is nothing wrong with using a free theme when you start out. This gives you time to research the theme you will ultimately purchase and use long term to grow your blog. Many new bloggers are trying to start their blog with minimal expense so they don’t want to spend the additional money to purchase a theme. After all, when it’s free why pay, right?
There are some significant differences between free and paid themes. While many of the differences are not noticeable when someone visits your blog, they are noticed on the backend by the user (which is you if you are building your own website.)
A couple of significant differences is a free theme has limited options for personalizing your website, and they do not have technical support available if you have questions or need help. When you purchase a theme you can choose exactly how you want your website to look and personalize your theme around it. The one reason I recommend a paid theme for new bloggers if it is financially possible is because of the technical support. Even now, I use my Impreza theme technical support several times a month and it is priceless to me.
A plugin is a piece of software that is installed on your website by adding it to your theme. There are thousands of plugins available and they can be free or purchased. If you visit the WordPress.org plugin page you will find over 55,000 free plugins available.
The purpose of adding a plugin to your website can be for two different reasons.
- Optional plugins offer a certain look or function to your website that is not built in to your theme.
- Necessary plugins that increase the security and functionality of your website.
Writing your first blog post is super exciting! After all, this is what you have been working toward since you first decided to start your own blog.
Many bloggers sit down to start writing. They open up the empty post on their computer screen, and then they freeze staring at the black cursor blinking at them.
I recommend to all the bloggers I have worked with over the years to never sit down to write a blog post without your arsenal of information. Once you open up that post screen, be ready to start typing so you are not in this frustrating situation.
What is in your arsenal of information?
- The Post Topic
- The Key Points Of The Post
- General Notes Of What Will Be Covered Under Each Key Point
Your WordPress blog is simply a whole bunch of pages and posts that provide valuable information about your niche to people visiting your website (aka blog.) Keeping this in mind, there are essential pages every blog should have to make it complete no matter what kind of blog you have.
These pages don’t have to be complete before you open your site for visitors; however, my recommendation is that they are complete first.
Detailed directions for each of the 8 steps are being added as quickly as possible so if you are stuck on any one step, bookmark this page and check back daily for the detailed posts to start your blog!