You’ve heard about people “living the dream” and using only their laptops to earn a living. One of the main tools to becoming a digital entrepreneur is having a blog. However, getting set up with one can be intimating if you have never blogged before. Here’s how I started my own tuffmommablog.com and the tools I used to build it out.
First, you should know, there are a number of different software products and systems you can use to start a blog. However the king of blogging systems continues to be WordPress. Why WordPress? As of April 2016 WordPress sites power 26% of the Web. Let that sink in for a minute. There are over 500 sites created on WordPress daily. It is the most popular, easy to use, modern, fully customizable, world-wide CMS systems available. (CMS = Content Management System) Don’t take my word for it though, all these stats and details can be found here.
Here’s how to start a WordPress Blog: Step by Step
As an overview, here’s what you’ll be learning from this blog.
- What Type of Blog You Should Start
- How and Where to Host your Blog
- The Process for Installing WordPress
- Installing Plugins
- Connecting ALL of your Social Media
- Building a Subscriber List
- The Process for Starting to Write
- Making it Look Amazing
- Growing Your Followers as Fast as Possible
- Connecting With Others
1. What type of blog you should start
Your first step to launching your first blog is to get clear on why you want a blog to begin with. Are you doing it just to share your life with friends and family? Will it be a personal diary of sorts? Or, are you hoping to make money from your blog and build a business around it? Figure this out first. The difference is, if you plan on making money with your blog, you will need to “Host” your own web site, but if you are simply making a personal blog that you can show to friends and family, you can use an already hosted one at WordPress.com. Personally, I recommend hosting your blog as your own web site. This way you are in control of your content and have the ability to be sponsored, post ads or run affiliate offers. (I’ll get more into this later.)
2. How and where to host your blog
If you chose the blog type that allows you to make money, then you are are going to follow these instructions to get hosted. Hosting means your Web site or blog will be placed on a server or other computer so that it can be accessed over the Internet. Basically, this means the digital files will be sitting somewhere so you can build your blog and own it (unlike free blogging platforms and websites). For the record, 99.9 percent of all websites, including this one that you are reading right now, are hosted.
I personally recommend you use Bluehost for hosting for a few reasons, 1. it’s cheaper than most, 2. it has amazing customer service 24 hours a day, 3. it has fast web page loading, 4. it is really easy to use and 5. you get a free domain on sign up (your custom name for your website eg: www.yourcustomwebsite.com). You will notice most bloggers use and recommend Bluehost too as their preferred hosting service. The cost is as little as $3.95 per month.
Now you can select what plan is best for you, if you are just new I suggest you get the “Starter” package, that way you can still host an epic website with everything you need at the lowest price. You can always upgrade later on as you grow.
Next, choose the box on the left and decide on your new free domain name:
You’ll be taken to a page where you can decide on your package and some extra services:
For your account plan, you can choose basic hosting plans for 12, 24, or 36 months. I recommend you go with the 12-month plan for $5.95 as anything can happen within a year. Then again, if you are someone who is very passionate about making your travel blog last, then get the bargain at $3.95.
For the add-ons on the list, you don’t need Search Engine Jumpstart or SiteLock Domain Security. You can pay for the Site Backup Pro if you’d like but I recommend instead you get the the free plugin called “Updraft Plus”, it’s much better.
After your domain is secured and processed, it will once again offer you some more services but I suggest wait until you are in and search for your own theme you are after.
It will then prompt you to “Change your Password” to access your Bluehost account. Change your password and then it will take you to your back office where we can then Install WordPress!
3. The Process for Installing WordPress
WordPress is one of the world’s largest publishing platforms. If you use WordPress for your blog it will be fully customisable and the sky is the limit to what you can do with it. I read recently that 60% of websites on the internet are WordPress based so you know you’re in good hands with them!
Bluehost really makes it easy with a one-click WordPress installation, which saves you from struggling through it or hiring someone to do it. On the cPanel, BlueHost’s home screen, half way down the page you’ll see this button:
Click through and it will take you through a simple installation process. When it asks you where you’d like to install it, choose your domain (http://www.YOURNEWBLOG.com).
After a few minutes once the WordPress site is installed, you will get your log in details or you can click on the top tab “View Credentials” then half way down the next screen you will see your new blog site with a view button which will also refer you to your log in details. (Video walks through this)
From that, you will be able to log in to your new website at www.YOURNEWBLOG.com/wp-admin) and your name and password. From that page, you’ll be able to log in to your WordPress dashboard:
4. Installing Plugins
When you first start with WordPress, you have the create it how ever you like, what Plug-Ins are add-ons that help with making your site to how you want it. Majority of plug-ins are free on the internet, some ask for donations and some have premium downloads. But here are some freebies I personally use!
In the left side bar, click on where it says “plugins” and select “add new” to search for new plug-ins. Then on the right side of the page at the top you will see a search bar.
Here are some recommended plug-ins to get:
Contact Form 7 – Possibly the easiest and best looking contact form incase someone wants to contact you!
Facebook Like Box – It will allow you to show your Facebook Fan page as a widget allowing people to like it then and there!
Social Media Widget – This allows you to put Social Media Icon’s in your sidebar so your visitors can see your social media’s
Google Analytics by Yoast – Installs Google Analytics, this will allow you to track all the visitors to your page, where they are from and how long they stay on your page for.
Updraft Plus – This is the plugin I use to back up my website for free! It is one of the most recommended plugins in the world.
WPTouch Mobile Plugin – This makes your website look good when viewed on a phone or tablet
Akismet Anti-Spam – Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from spam
Kiwi Social Share – Social Media Share Buttons & Icons – Really beautiful & simple social media & share buttons + icons. Simplicity & speed is key with this social media share plugin.
WS Facebook Like Box Widget – Provides easy and quick way to build Facebook followers in your blog. You can fully customize the Facebook like box easily.
Yoast SEO – The first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.
5. Connecting ALL of your Social Media
Now you’ve secured your personalized website domain and have installed WordPress and the recommended plugins, it’s time to create some Social Media accounts for your new Blog. I suggest starting with creating a Facebook Page, get a Twitter account, create an Instagram account, of course get a Snapchat account, get a Pinterest account and finally, I would also suggest making a GMail account with your desired username too for Youtube and Google+.
Even if you don’t use them, it is better to secure the Social Media names just in case someone else tries to grab your brand identity. Trust me, it’s so annoying when someone else is running around with your brand identity as their username, so make sure you create these now!
Also in platforms like Facebook’s Pages and Youtube channels, after you reach a certain amount of like’s or followers, you get the option to change your url (eg: www.facebook.com/VashonBorich/). Keep an eye out for when your following builds so you can change that to your own brand. Instagram and Twitter do that automatically when you make a profile.
6. Building a Subscriber List
Now you might be wondering “what is a list” or “do I really need a list?” A list is a marketing term for all the people who have subscribed to you whether it for a weekly newsletter, a specific course you may have made or whatever the purpose of your list may be. The bottom line is, “YES! You really do need to build a list”. Ask any successful small business, blogger, marketer, anyone that is making money on or offline what they think and I guarantee they will agree with me.
So why do you need a list? An email list is essentially your most valuable asset when building a website as it will collect and store all the name and email addresses of people who are interested in the same things as you and want to hear from you. This is sort of like its own Social Network but it’s directly between you and your subscribers.
The list is where you can keep your followers and fans up to date with what you have been doing. You’ll do this by sending out a bulk email (to everyone) perhaps once a week or whenever you feel necessary. Great things to share with your list, might be…
- Recommended products that you use
- Perhaps a sponsored or affiliated product you may have
- Notify people of a meeting or event that you may be attending or hosting
- Warn people about something that you urge people to stay away from
- Share important tips and helpful links
Of course, the bigger your list the better. However, you should start getting in the habit of sending emails to your list even when you first start and only have 1 or 2 people on your list.
So, what list collection and email marketing system should you use? There are services like Mailchimp which have free options but I do NOT recommend using a free service. Once again your list is very valuable and important so you want to be building it with a trustworthy company. You get what you pay for. There are many out there, but after using several companies, I highly recommend GetResponse.com. This company has so much to offer. Not only do they provide an easy to use email service, but they also include a Free App to check the numbers of your subscribers, where they are from, what time they subscribed, what list campaigns you have put them in and a really easy to use web form plugin for your website sidebar. It is also less expensive than most competing email marketing software companies.
Click here to Get 1 month FREE with GetResponse!
7. The Process for Starting to Write
Now that you have a blog, it’s time to write your first post and start producing great content! Here’s how you do it:
Log into your WordPress site (http://www.YourDomain.com/admin) and click on “New.” This will automatically open up a new post.
Then follow these four steps:
- Type a Great title that makes people want to read what you write
- Start typing your blog post. Be sure to add images, videos, files, links and any supporting docs that help you tell your story.
- “Save Draft” as you go so as not to lose what you write due to a power outage or lost internet connection. (Oh, the sad stories I could tell.)
- Once you are satisfied with what you have written, click the blue “Publish” button. Your first post will now be live! Check your work by going to YourDomain.com to view it.
Uh oh, you have writer’s block? What should you write about? I have found that the best blog posts are written with one specific topic in mind focused in an area that you are very familiar in. This is not only good for your readers but for search engines like Google and Bing too. One of my favorite ways to come up with a topic is to use this tool: Hubspot’s Blog Ideas Generator. With this tool you simply type in three nouns that represent your expertise. For example, I typed in Karate, Mom, Blog and got these 5 great ideas for blog topics.
- Why We Love Karate (And You Should, Too!)
- 20 Myths About Motherhood
- How To Solve The Biggest Problems With Blogging
- The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Karate
- Think You’re Cut Out For Being a Mom? Take This Quiz
Hmmmm… there are some good ideas there!
Still stuck? Try this.
I got this idea from a fellow marketing friend. Have you ever wanted to know something and looked everywhere on the internet for it, then after hours or searching you find it? I guarantee you’re not and the only one that has tried looking for the information you were seeking. I also guarantee someone else will look for the exact same thing. Why not write a post about it? Collect all the information you found out and write an article. I bet the people who land on your site will be thrilled and no doubt take interest in more of your posts too!
To be successful, you will need to be consistent. I’d personally recommend you try and write between 2- 4 blogs for the first few weeks so you create a decent amount of content on your site, then try at least write once a week. Be careful not to try and write too many posts in one sitting though as the quality of your posts may slip and won’t be as good as when you’re on point!
Another tip if you get a little stuck while writing. Think of one of your favorite blogger’s recent posts or an article you may have come across on the internet recently. Then, go through what you like about it. Maybe you liked the layout? The photos? Headlines? How it’s written? Think of all the qualities you liked about it and implement those to your posts! A great free tool for finding blog posts and articles by topic that went viral is to use BuzzSumo.com. Here you can type in a keyword, like “karate” and then see what the most shared posts are across the internet. Take one of those headlines and expand on it. If they wrote “10 Reasons Your Child Should Take Karate.” Perhaps you write a blog post titled, “20 Reasons Your Child Should Take Karate.”
8. Making it look amazing
Before you do this step you should aim to have a minimum of 10 posts on your site. By doing this, it will be easier to move everything around, see what looks good and what doesn’t. You’ll also be able to try out new layouts instead of moving around an empty site. So, get to writing if you haven’t already! Decorate your space later.
If you’ve completed your 10 posts, Kudos! It is now time to bring out the artist inside you and go shopping for what you want your site to look like! There are hundreds of free themes in the WordPress back end under “Appearance” then “Themes” in the left hand tool bar. You may find a great one for you there. If by chance you don’t find one that speaks to you, you can always go to Google and search something like “Free WordPress Blog Themes” and find your perfect design there.
Once you have your theme installed and your layout is looking great, it’s time to start thinking about going the extra mile and making it stand out from the crowd. You can make your own logo, header’s, favicon’s and customized background tailored to your blog and showing your personality. This will give you the x-factor and separate your blog from the crowd. One of my favorite free graphic design tools is Canva. You can quickly create some beautiful custom art for your blog.
If design and color are just not your thing not to worry, there are resources you can use. One of those great resources is Fiverr where you can get everything you could possibly need for your website starting at $5 a gig. I’ve used Fiverr for years and it is my go to place for freelance designers. My advice for using Fiverr is go for gigs that have 1000’s of good reviews and try be as specific as possible. Even if it takes a few days longer than other lower reviewed gigs, the quality will be more consistent giving you a better chance of a great looking end product.
9. Growing Your Followers As Fast As Possible
Building a professional blog can be challenging if you are brand new or aren’t very technically savvy. But, if you are focused on making a successful blog you have to decide to put in the hours, learn the skills and never give up no matter what it takes to make it happen.
You have two choices when growing your blog.
- The long way. Spend countless nights watching Youtube turorials, performing Google searches and drink copious amounts of coffee until you get it all figured out.
- Get some help from a pro. If you want to kick butt online as fast as possible you need a mentor/coach or professional to guide you. This is truly the short cut to success.
If you start looking in your local community you’ll probably find, like I did, that there really aren’t many (if any) local courses on Social Media and building a profitable blog. In fact there really isn’t a college course you can take that won’t be obsolete by the time you graduate. Why? Because the internet is forever changing trends, coding and algorithms which means it can’t be taught at institutions. This is literally because what works today may not work the next and therefore isn’t sustainable for a curriculum. Plus, new social media sites and players are constantly being added to the fray. Sounds a bit overwhelming right?
So where do you get the help and training you need? You seek out people who are already successful online and ask them to mentor you or coach you. I personally, offer opportunities for you to be coached by me. You should also seek out industry events and live online courses that show you the latest tricks of the trade. This group and online academy, headed up by my dear friend Rhonda Swan, is where I got my first start: The Freedom-preneur Academy
This Academy is constantly being updated with new information and events to help make its members, like me, more successful. Personally, I signed up as a lifetime member because of the shear amount of value this group brings.
10. Connecting with others
If you’ve gotten this far and followed the step by step instructions, by now you should have your own customized website with a unique domain. Your social media sites should all be connected to it and you should have 10 or more published blog posts on your site. You may be also starting to go through the Freedom-Preneur Academy courses and learning all the shortcuts to building your blog.
Congratulations! I really mean it. You are on the path to making your blog a great success. What should you do next? Start connecting with others.
You’ll want to do this by share a snippet of your blog content across your social media sites that all contain a link back to your blog. An easy way to send your blog links and a short description to all your social media accounts at once is with this tool: BufferApp
You should also seek other bloggers that have similar topics to you and make friends, comment on each others posts to make engagements go up. Strive to build a great network full of talented bloggers. Remember to also send out newsletters to your subscriber list every week or so. As simple and silly as those things sound, from that I have been approached by companies wanting to collaborate, people wanting to work together on a project and companies offering sponsorship opportunities.
It is amazing how it all works!
(Secure your domain now at BlueHost)
I hope you got some value out of this post. If you have set up your own WordPress blog because of this, please share a link to your blog in the comments below. I would love to follow you and see how you evolve. Also, should you have any questions feel free to reach out to me either by commenting below or sending me a private Facebook message here. Finally, if you feel I’ve missed an important point or if something is outdated in this blog post, please share in a comment below.
Much success to you on your journey as a blogger!