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Looking to get started with blogging? I know it can seem intimidating. There are so many things to do! But take it from me, a very non-technical person, it can be done by anyone. I’m here to help you take it one step at a time with how to start a blog, and if you get stuck Google is your best friend.
Let’s start with the fun stuff. Whether you’re blogging for fun or trying to make a living out of it, you won’t want to skip these steps in order to avoid headaches in the future.
Choose a topic (or topics)
Choose a name
Choose a Blog Topic
Do you want to blog about food? Fashion? Travel? Parenting? How to knit dog sweaters? The legality of weed around the world? You can write a blog about anything you want, and the more narrowed down, the better. That being said, rules are meant to be broken. It’s your blog and if you want to talk about everything you love, go for it. This step is just to help you with the next step which is…
Choose a Blog Name
There are a lot of blogs out there. You want to stand out and make sure someone else hasn’t already taken the name you want. I suggest making a huge list of name possibilities in a word document. Don’t leave any ideas off the list, no matter how bad they might be. You need a ton of bad ideas to get to the good ones, and you never know what might spark a new idea. Something else to consider is how it looks when it’s all written out in one word, as it likely will be in the web address and on social media. You’d be surprised to find how many innocent words can be put together to make dirty ones.
Check Domain and Social Media Availability
Once you have two or three names you really like, check around to make sure they’re not already taken. A plain name.com is going to be easiest for people to find, but don’t rule out .biz, .net, and the like. Also check social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat) to see if anyone is already using this name. Even if you can get something similar you think will work, people searching for your blog on Twitter might still think they found you when they’re actually following some hyper-political nut job.
Great! You’ve got your name and a big ol’ glass of wine and you’re ready to dive into this thing called blogging. We’re going to do three more steps.
Buy a Domain
Your host is where your blog resides. They basically have really big computers that can keep all your hard work safe. If you don’t want to spend money on this you can let WordPress host your site for free, but you don’t get a professional looking url and it can be a huge headache to move to a different host (called self-hosted) in the future. I recommend going with Bluehost because they have great prices and service, plus you get a free domain.
There are several plan options, and they’re billed a year at a time but broken down into monthly costs to show their value. Take a look through the features you think you might need and don’t be afraid to start small if you’re unsure about making an investment because they’re all going to be pretty good quality for a beginner.
Buy a Domain
This is the address of your blog. If you’re naming your blog Jump Rope Nation, you would probably want jumpropenation.com. You’ve already made this decision, so type it in and keep moving. See, you’re doing this!
You don’t have to choose all the add ons to your plan, but if you really want to know what you’re doing click on “More Information” or do some googling to make sure you’re making the right choice for you and your blog.
Enter your payment information and skip the upgrades for now, you can always look into that later. Let’s get you a blog!
Now you can check your email and keep your confirmation from Bluehost in a safe place. It will contain information you’ll need to finish the process.
Login to your Bluehost hosting account (not webmail) and click on cpanel.
Here you’ll login with the information you received from Bluehost. Next, click on WordPress.
Click the green “Start” button.
Make sure your domain is showing in the box, then click the green “Check Domain” button.
Check the box next to “Show Advanced Options”. In our example, you would enter “Jump Rope Nation” as the site name. Choose an admin username and password, you’ll use these to login to WordPress when you’re done. Check the box for the terms and conditions, and click “Install Now”.
You did it! You have a blog! If you want to work on it go to http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin and enter the login information you chose.
Now the fun really begins. I recommend going through the themes available in WordPress. I used a free theme for a long time before I was ready to invest in something more personalized. If you want to look super profesh right out of the gate, I highly recommend using the Genesis Framework. That’s what I use now, with some customizations. There are also many other options to buy that will be ready to go and make your site look great.
One of the great things about WordPress is all the useful plugins available to you. Too many plugins can slow your site down, and some don’t play well together or with your chosen theme, so if you’re having website problems, try getting rid of some of your plugins and see if that helps. That being said, here are a few of my favorites that I use.
Akismet – Avoid spam comments without lifting a finger!
Easy Recipe Plus – This recipe card allows my recipes to show up properly in Google search results. I am considering a move to another kind because their isn’t much support for this one anymore, but it is still working great for me. I’ll update in the future if I change!
Instagram Feed – This plugin displays part of my Instagram feed in the sidebar. I love how clean the look is.
Shareaholic – These are the social sharing buttons at the bottom of my posts that make it easy to share to Facebook, Twitter, etc. I am also considering changing this for a number of reasons, but it does work well at what it is meant to do.
Tweetily – I’m not a huge fan of Twitter, but this automatically tweets out old posts at a set interval, so there’s always content on my profile!
Yoast SEO – This gives me a checklist of ways to improve the SEO of my blog posts. I love how simple it makes SEO optimization!
Driving Traffic to Your Food Blog
You’ve worked so hard creating content, now how do you get people to actually come to your blog? Here are a few ways I drive traffic to my food blog:
Tools for Food Blogging and Photography
Here are a few of my tried and true tools to help me with my food blogging and photography!
Tailwind – I use this to schedule pins on Pinterest. They make it easy to add one post to lots of boards at once and optimize the time the pin goes live.
Buffer – I use the free version of Buffer to schedule my Facebook posts and some of my tweets on Twitter. I like it because you can set it up to send to both social platforms at optimized times in one post.
Forkified – Forkified is a site I created for buying and selling food photography props, backgrounds, and gear.
Tasty Food Photography – This is my go-to resource for learning food photography. It covers all the basics and is really inspiring. It’s written by Lindsay Ostrom of the super popular blog Pinch of Yum.
Plate to Pixel – This is also a very useful and beautiful book on food photography, written by the incredible Helen Dujardin.
If you still have questions about starting a blog feel free to leave a comment or email me. I love blogging, and would love to help you get started on this path as well!