How To Start a Blog 101

Here is everything you need to know to start a blog. It's not all pajama pants and coffee, though that is the proper wardrobe (pants optional). There's some work to do too.

Pink and Yellow flowers over a computer keyboard How to Start a Blog Text Overlay



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Blogging is almost like a game on the internet called "Break the Internet." Instead of building buildings in Minecraft with bricks, you are creating worlds with words. And you win when you go viral. In theory.

And because of that, it's really easy to get sucked in. Just like everywhere else on the internet, a little fun can kind of turn into an addiction and depression because all the validation is based on superficial things like popularity.

You start off with noble and humble intentions: I'm going to start a blog to have fun. But in time, the internet takes over your mind, and the next thing you know, you bought 25 things to make your blog prettier than that one girl's blog, you are worried about your numbers not being high enough (they will NEVER be high enough), you have taken 17 courses and watched 52 free webinars on blogging, and you have no idea when it happened, but you stopped having fun.

It's never too late to have fun.

But it is important to realize that blogging isn't just a revolution, it's an evolution. Every reason you have to start a blog may change in the course of blogging, and you want to base some decisions now on that probability.

So let's first...

Establish Some Goals


I think the most important question at this point in the game is to ask yourself why you want to blog? And why do you REALLY want to blog?

Because the possibilities in answering that question means a very different strategy between them.

Some other questions to ask...


  1. Do you want to make money from a blog?
  2. If so, how much? Passive Income or Career Income?
  3. Do you want to blog to position yourself as an expert in a field?
  4. Do you want to be a professional writer?
  5. Do you just want to vent therapeutically and connect with people facing the same struggles?
  6. Or maybe have fun doing the thing you love and connect with people who share the same interest?


Then from there you probably need to ask yourself these questions:


  1. How much do I want to invest in this?
  2. How much money am I willing to pay monthly for this?
  3. How much time do I want to spend weekly on this?


For the record, there seems to be some kind of correlation with time and money because the bulk of the products for bloggers on the internet is based on "saving you time," so you can get a lot done faster if you pay more money, or you can save money by investing some good old-fashioned time and hard work.

The other part you probably need to visit is if you are starting or running a business, you have more goals to consider.


  1. What exactly are you trying to sell? Products? Services? Get more people to your store offline?
  2. Where do you plan to sell products? Directly on your blog? Or through another online store? 
  3. Where do you think your potential customers are online? Facebook? Instagram? Pinterest? Forums? 
  4. Are your potential customers already searching for you or your industry? 


With these thoughts in mind, let's move on to step 2:

What Should I Blog About?


Choosing a good blog topic is kind of crucial because the internet really likes niche. You don't have to go niche, but you still want to have a clear "What you're about" to be quickly obvious when people hit your site.

Think about that for a second. When you're surfing the internets, if you run across a food blog about recipes and find a bunch of posts about blogging or creating a food blog, you start to kind of want to leave and find a blog that has recipes. If it's too confusing, it kind of feels like you have to work to go through that site. You don't want to make your readers work to figure out what the hell you're about.

So choosing a good blog topic(s) helps you establish that connection at first sight / site.

You can mix and match topics, but you should be able to state it clearly and concisely like


  • Recipes and DIY Crafts
  • Parenting and Wine
  • Witchcraft and Weight Loss
  • Planes Trains and Automobiles


If you don't already have a clear idea of what you should blog about, you can consider attempting the following ideas:


  1. Write a list of things you know a lot about
  2. Add to that list the things you are Qualified to talk about and can verify it on the site (degree, certifications)
  3. Consider how you plan to drive traffic to your site and what's trending, popular, and evergreen with that. For instance, if you plan on using Pinterest, check out their popular categories. 
  4. Now try to find the Venns (like a Venn Diagram, find which ones fall under all 3 categories, and which ones fall under 2 categories, etc.)
  5. Most importantly, which topic is something you would love to write about, you want to write about it, and you can stomach having to write about it even when you don't want to write about it?
If you are trying to sell things, whether you sell something you make, or decide to do affiliate sales, you also want to go with a topic that your customers are searching for, wanting to read, and gets them excited to have your thing...

You can also flip that, like if you want to sell something but have no idea what you want to sell, pick a topic you love, and then find things to sell in that niche. 

Bicycle with flowers: Make Money Affiliate and Direct Sales Directory


I have oodles of options listed on my Direct Sales and Affiliate Directory. 

Then you probably want to create what Rachel Miller calls a Bumper Sticker. Word your topic in a way people want to proudly put it on their car. 

The reason I say this is because the bulk of your traffic will come from people sharing your posts. You don't want to write about things people are too embarrassed, ashamed, or just trying to pretend to be the opposite to share it. You want to write about their flag. The thing they wave proudly in front of other people. The thing that they want people to think they are like... I call these Identities.


  • The intellectual
  • The beauty queen
  • The Liberal / Conservative
  • The rebel
  • The athlete who will run that extra mile push yourself harder!
  • The Type A Personality I can do it better and faster
  • The Creative
  • The Religious Person / AntiReligion Person / Spiritual Person 
  • The wealthy guy who can't eat dinner at a place who uses paper napkins


So whatever your topic is, you want to feed that Identity and make it a cause that people would proudly endorse to make themselves more popular in their minds.

And some topics are difficult topics, especially on Facebook, like religion and diagnoses. You want to word things in a way that appeals to people's privacy and puts a positive spin on things. When it comes to Facebook (i.e. the Facebook page that's a blogger's must-have), they actually want you to avoid using words like Christian or Islam or Cancer or PTSD. Instead of "Living with Cancer," you might want to go more "Surviving and Thriving" and in the subtopics somewhere Overcoming Cancer. So it's like you have to portray what it's about without using the words.

How to Come Up with a Blog Name


You want to do this before getting a website because you will most likely want your blog's name in your domain address.

It's almost impossible to have a simple name anymore, like Blog.com because all those domains are taken. So as you compile a list of ideas, you want to...


  1. Go into Google and search the names and see what pops up. If there's high competition or another company with that name, you might want to avoid it to avoid confusion. Plus you don't want to compete with other people for Google rankings. If you find a name that isn't being used much yet, it's pretty easy to rank number 1 when people search your exact name. 
  2. You also want to find any site that sells domains, and do a domain search if you plan on buying YOURNAME.com and see if that's available. I recommend Lyrical Host because they are my hosting provider for my non-Google blogs. 
Options to Consider...

Do You Want to Blog As Your Real Name? 


If you plan to write or position yourself as an expert, you probably want to really think about branding yourself as your birth name or a nickname. Other people who should probably consider this are creatives, artists, photographers, even cake decorators... 

I mean like name your blog after yourself. 

YourName.com 

I read somewhere that the best fiction author name is Two Syllable First Name and One Syllable Last Name like Stephen King, but I'm not sure how accurate that is. It does rather seem easy to remember when it's like that. Like if your name is Elizabeth Porter, you might discover Lizzie P. is easier to remember. 

Which then makes you consider writing under a pen name, and I don't recommend it unless there's a good reason to stay anonymous like writing about your own mental illness. I used to think if I could get a boy's name, or gender neutral name, people would be more apt to take me seriously, but I've discovered nobody really cares or pays attention. Offline, they notice that stuff. Online, you are lucky to get them to read your article beyond the headline let alone the author name and bio. For real, a good 55% to 95% of the people who share your post will probably never read it. And about 10% of the comments seem to come from people who didn't read it. It's kind of disturbing at times, but you get over it. 

Name Your Blog The Identity People Want to Be


But if you decide to name your blog something other than your name, and there are many good reasons to do that, you probably want to aim for words that accurately describe what your blog is about and the Identity people want to be. 

My favorite blog name for this reason, a name that tells you exactly what you're about to read and an identity many women enjoyed boasting being a part of is Moms Who Drink and Swear. It's the perfect name. People who didn't even read her blog liked her Facebook page just because the name was something that resonated deep within their soul they wanted to be part of that and then tell everyone about it. They wanted the t-shirt. 

Insane in the Mom-Brain is another great and, as she would say, "fantastical" name. 

A blog on your own poetry might be Wine and Rhyme, Cuddling with Books, Poetic Ramblings of a Broken Heart (that's more Adele).... 

Naming your blog a name that people would want the bumper sticker on their car with just your blog's name makes the "get more traffic" and "grow my social media" part so much easier. Remember, they put things out there that they want people to identify them as, not things that they think they truly are. 

Pick a Topic Relateable Noun 


If you were writing about Britain, you might name your blog The Red Telephone Booth. 

If Harry Potter were writing about his adventures, he might name his blog Platform 9 3/4. 

Robert Frost might name his blog featuring his poems something like Two Roads, Yellow Wood, Divergence, The Road Less Traveled, Underneath the Undergrowth.

Pick a Topic Relateable Verb that your readers are trying to do


A great example of this, excuse the language, is Unfuck Your Habitat: a blog and book on cleaning your house. Clean Your House must have already been taken. 

A recipe blog on eating healthier might go with Heal your Diet. 

It really kind of helps to use a thesaurus or come up with your own list of creative synonyms and metaphors. 


Once you've come up with a name, then it's onto WHERE?

Where to Start a Blog?


Now this is where life gets a little complicated.

Some things to keep in mind here...

Your investment you are willing to make.
Do you plan to blog and sell things on your site?
What functions beyond blogging would you like?

and also...

While it's possible to move an entire blog from one platform and one hosting to another, you are way better off if you can pick a place that you plan on living for a long time.

With that said, there's 3 things to consider for WHERE to blog.


  • The Blog Platform 
  • The Hosting
  • The Domain


The platform is the place that makes your blog posts. It's where you type the words, and it automatically takes those words and puts it into a blog post and usually creates a thumbnail of that post on your home page. A better buzz word for it might be CMS (Content Management System) but I like Platform.

The Hosting is the actual computer hardware, the servers, who is going to store your files (your posts, your photos, etc.) and share it with the world on the internet. Popular hosting providers include Bluehost, Go Daddy, Host Gator, SiteGround --> none of who I recommend, but they are popular enough to help you categorize this concept as that thing. My favorite hosting is Lyrical Host for reasons I mention later.

The Domain is your address such as www.myhouse.com VS www.mybluehouse.com

In some cases, the platform and hosting are the same place. In other places, it's not. Anywhere that offers hosting usually offers domain registration (that's where you claim your domain so you can have permission to use the address, and so nobody else takes it).

Some options to consider that I recommend... Let's first get through the ones that are easy to explain.

Blogger: Free


Blogger / Blogspot is completely free to use. They provide the platform (blogger) and the hosting (google). Your domain will be something like yourname.blogspot.com but then you can purchase a domain like yourname.com and attach it to your blog for free.

The upside is because it's totally free, even if you stop blogging, you still have your stuff.

The downside is that, I can't say they are limited in design because they really offer the most flexibility if you can code your own site, but if you don't know how to code, there's a lot of limitations to design. They have some free templates. One of them I would actually use. And then there are 3rd party templates for free and some for sale. Most of the 3rd party templates do require some coding, but there are many tutorials to help walk you through the basic things, and enough tutorials for you to learn even more.

The other downside is that you don't actually own your site. Google can shut you down at any given time. I've not known them to do that with Blogger blogs, but some of their features have been known to disappear / change.

This blog is powered by Google's Blogger.

Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace


All 3 of these places offer a very easy, drag and click, web design. They have various monthly plans. But they are often very limited in things like with Wix, once you choose your template, you can't change it. Weebly is difficult to export or integrate with 3rd party apps.

Now things get complicated when I talk about ...

Wordpress


There are 2 versions of wordpress. They are totally different things. It's so confusing.

Free Wordpress


The free wordpress is on wordpress.com. It's hosted by Automattic. They have a free option that gives you the domain yoursite.wordpress.com and then you can pay for extra things. I recommend this route if you plan on blogging just to write. If you want control over the design, sell things, or have additional function (i.e. plugins), or even your own domain, then you are better off going with a different option.

Self-Hosted Wordpress


This is the popular one among bloggers. Basically you go to any wordpress hosting provider and sign up for one of their wordpress plans. You end up paying less a month going this route than paying for the paid features in the free wordpress.

The upside is when you pay for your own hosting, you own your site. Not Wordpress.

The other upside is you have a lot more control in the design and function.

The upside and downside is that while it's more user friendly than trying to code a blog from scratch, it is still complicated enough that it takes time to learn it. It can be pretty frustrating at times trying to get your site to do the thing you want it to do.

The other downside is it can get pretty expensive because while there are free themes and free plugins, the paid ones actually do the thing you think the free ones are going to do, so it's really easy to find yourself buying things for your wordpress site. It's almost like a hidden fee, but it's not a hidden fee. It's a hidden shopping.

I still recommend this if ever you plan on doing any of the following:

  • Sell physical or digital products 
  • Want a newspaper or magazine style home page
  • Create a collaborative site with multiple writers
  • Provide recipes that you want an easy to print recipe card
  • Want to enable rich pins
  • Provide downloads like PDF's, fonts, zip files... 
  • To sign up for ads and control where the ads are going

Now quick thing, and I hope it doesn't add to the confusion, but if you start looking at hosting companies to compare for Wordpress, you'll find some of them have Regular Websites where you can install wordpress on it for free, and Wordpress websites at like $2 more a month. First of all, only an asshole will try to sell you two different products at two different prices and try to tell you they are the same damn thing. It's just sadistic. But they aren't the same thing, not just by price, but also by performance which then gets you wondering, is the cheaper version enough to get by? And I am here to tell you I tried that, and no it's not enough to get by. The cheaper product where you pay for a regular cloud based website and then install wordpress has a lot of limitations as to how many people  can visit your website, your memory, and then a bunch of tech stuff that even the best geek would struggle to troubleshoot, like you have too much javascript running at once. It's not worth the headache. Trust me, with a blog, there are a billion other headaches you need to tend to you don't need to volunteer extra headaches. Which is why I recommend the transparency in a company like...

Lyrical Host


If you opt self-hosted wordpress, I recommend going through Lyrical Host. I am an affiliate, and if you use my coupon code, I make a little money and save you a little, BUT I chose this out of all the affiliate options. I'm not recommending them because I'm an affiliate. I'm an affiliate because I recommend them. I do use them for all of my self-hosted websites.

Quick run down as to why I recommend them over the other options:


  • Transparent Pricing
  • Actual Free Tech Support
  • Free goodies
  • Customer Oriented
  • Great Facebook Group
  • They plant trees
  • You don't need an FTP thingy like Filezilla to access your files


But the main one is the actual free tech support.

 Best Headache Prevention: Actual Free Tech Support 

Most hosting companies offer free tech support when the problem is on their end. If you have problems with Wordpress, they want more money. If the problem is from any external source that isn't their hosting, they want more money. Go Daddy wanted to charge me $300 to help me find the malware in my site.

With Lyrical Host, you can put in a ticket for any tech related issues like if you can't get your fonts to load properly. If you don't know how to code a wordpress site to sell your own themes, you almost need a place that is willing to help you resolve wordpress tech issues beyond wordpress's forum.

I finally stopped wasting 40 to 60 hours of my life to get my website to load properly.

Save 10% with Coupon Code:  BeHappy 

Once you decide where to start a blog, it's time to play.

Setting Up Your Blog


So you got the name, the domain, and you decided your platform, the next thing is to CREATE!

You have 3 main areas of emphasis at this point in the game:


  • Function
  • Content
  • Visual Design


If you're using Wix, you probably need to do this backwards because you can't change your template. But if you are with something where you can change your template / theme, just pick one for now and let's get this other stuff out of the way...

I personally find it easiest to get some content up there before messing too much with design so I can see how the design is going to look with content. These themes, especially in Wordpress and Blogger, look very different when there's no content than when you get content, especially since you have to customize the look before you have any idea if it's going to give you the look you want.

Function


You want to kind of map out how your website is going to work. I usually think about all the ways people find my site, and then envision a tour guide deciding where they should go next. You guide them like a tour guide based on the Call to Action(s), like in some places, you  might do a "Go Here or Go There" and in other places, you might do a "Get a free thing" and then to a page for "Subscribe"

Most people will probably find your blog via each individual post. For instance, you write a post, you post the post, and then you share it on Facebook and pin it to Pinterest, people will find you on Facebook and Pinterest, and their first sight of your site is that blog post, not your home page.

Some people will manually type your home page to find you, but most people will click on your home page to learn more about you.

So while the home page is often what most people think is the first impression, it usually is a second or third impression.

From your blog post, you have 3 primary places to try to get that second click to manage the flow of your traffic...


  • The Top Navigation / Menu Bar
  • The Side Bar (if you opt to have one or two of those)
  • Within the post


Secondary places include:


  • Bottom of the blog post (like related posts)
  • The Footer


So you kind of want to decide where these people are going to go. What do you want them to do?


  • Buy products
  • Subscribe to your email
  • Read more posts
  • Follow you on Social Media
  • Join your Group
  • Comment
  • Donate


And each CTA (Call to Action), thing you want them to do, has its own hacks and finesse about them.

For instance, if you want people to buy products or shop, you want more than just an ad in your sidebar. You want to write about the things that get people who would want to buy your product reading and then write in a way that invokes the emotion that gets them excited to have your product. And then you want to embed links within your post.

Email Subscriptions usually sucker people in with what the internet calls a free optin, so that would entail coming up with a free download people are dying to have they can't resist, making a landing page for that download that shows pictures of it, content about it, and has the sign up form, and then linking in posts/sidebar/menu via a graphic, button, or text trying to sell the free thing.

Read more posts... Wordpress has various plugins to get a Related Post feature at the bottom of posts. Blogger has some options too like that. You gotta be careful they aren't putting spam posts in there. They both offer widgets / gadgets to feature popular posts... But the best thing to do is to write about something, and then put your own related post (picture and link or text and link) handpicked that you think would go well.  Like if the person is reading this article, then they would love to read these other ones I wrote. You can decide those things better than an automated plugin, and you have more control in how it looks.

You definitely want social media follow buttons somewhere on your blog (usually the sidebar, but sometimes the footer), and the most common place to ask for social media follows is to highlight one or two social media places and have that as a call to action on your Thank You for Signing Up page to your email subscription.

I've seen many blogs ask people to join their group via a hero image in their footer or a good graphic (like join my group with a square around it) in the sidebar in addition to it being a call to action in free courses they offer and somewhere in the series of pages you see as you sign up for their email.

Most people just ask a question people can answer in the comments, but in my experience, the best way to get comments is to join a blog hop and ask a question people would want to answer at the end of a post.

Donate... I've not seen any blog attempt this beyond setting up a Zazzle store and donating the money they earn in sales or FB donations button that Facebook is doing. Now the petition sites and politician sites do have a donate process, and the best thing for that is to look at their function with their donate requests and try to mimic that on your blog. Most of the time, they sell their cause, the fight, as opposed to themselves or the nonprofit. There's usually a "Sign up to help" and then a popup or page in the sequence requesting a donation to be made.

But you can kind of see how the web function flows in all these scenarios. You kind of want to at least envision a map of this in your brain. You can also consider writing it out somewhere like Flowmap (which is free for one active project).

With this also, you want to plan your pages. What pages do you want to have? Which ones will be in your menu? This includes


  • Landing Pages
  • About Me
  • Contact Me
  • Services
  • Blog (if you have a static home page)
  • Shop
  • Resources
  • Portfolio
  • Reviews
  • Start Here Page
  • Product Pages (some plugins like Woo Commerce will create these for you)
  • Privacy Policy
  • Affiliate Disclosure
Then you also want to think about what links you want 

  • In your sidebar
  • Highlighted on your Home Page
  • In your footer
  • Things you'd like to place within posts

A lot of it is about timing and placement. You want to be INTUITIVE about where you put this stuff. 

It's about placing the right link at the right time in the right place. 

Jane clicks on your blog post from Pinterest because she wants the bookshelf you have in your picture on how to decorate your living room, and she reads about where you found that bookshelf or how you made it, and at that moment she wants to.... buy the things to make her own bookshelf from Amazon? Make the DIY Flower vase that's on the bookshelf? Buy the perfect books that are must-reads and pretty enough for the book shelf? She might not see those things in the sidebar if you put it at the top of the sidebar because she doesn't want those things until she's read about the bookshelf halfway down the post. If Jane gets bored of the bookshelf and decides she likes your talk about the living room at the beginning of the post, that's when Jane is ready to read more about living rooms or shop for her living room or maybe sign up somewhere or follow so she can read it later. 

The magic of the internet is that it's intuitive.

Most of the popular sites are popular because they made the function intuitive to its users. FB people can figure out how to use FB's  features because they put the button in the first place most people are going to look for that button. 

Wordpress users may also want to decide what plugins they want to use. Generally, you have plugins for things like...

  • SEO
  • Graphics for Social Media (open graph)
  • Sharing Posts
  • Related Posts
  • Image Optimization
  • Comments
  • Page Builders
  • Cookie Consent

After you got a mindmap of how the users will flow through your website and a sitemap of the pages and where they will be...

Content


We already decided the topic earlier in this post. So now you kind of need to decide what you are going to write about.

For many blogs, you can kind of wing it and write about whatever you want to write about, but if you want to optimize yourself for growth, traffic, and longer times on your site, you probably want to create an overall content plan.

SEO is a buzzword for basically making your site visible to the robots so they can match you in search results to people who are looking for you. If you blog about automotive, readers searching automotive words may not find your site in Google if Google's robots can't figure out that your site is actually about automotive. So SEO is the art of making sure Google knows you are there and what you are about.

With that said, SEO robots don't have eyes like you and I. They figure out what you're about based on many things like the

  • words you use, everywhere, not just the blog post but the menu, the sidebar, and they have to be words where you can highlight the text (not words in pictures, though Pinterest can read words in pictures), and they kind of label the words as important to less important based on heading tags, size of font, bold, etc. 
  • pictures' file names, the descriptions, the alt text, etc. 
  • sites you link to
  • the people who visit your site
  • places that link to you


You want a content strategy that enhances what you are about.

So the first step is to pick ONE keyword for your blog. Like this blog is Blog/blogging.

That's your primary keyword, and to start, you probably want to center content around that. In time, you can venture into other keywords like for this blog, I might do Pinterest, Facebook, Writing and Writers, Indie Book Publishing...

So you want

  • one page of content to include that word in your menu 
  • that word in the text somewhere in your sidebar
  • blog posts centered around that word


Then you should create 3 blog posts that center around that keyword. Blog posts are doing best at this point that answer a question. Swing on down to Quora and find 3 questions about your keyword, and just simply answer them in 3 blog posts. Grab some photo that kind of envisions the look you want from Pixabay or Unsplash and make those your featured image. It doesn't matter too much what you go with you can change them later. Publish those blog posts.

You also want to go ahead and create your pages. You don't have to tweak them to perfection just yet, but get a rough draft of what you want your pages to be. But publish them so your pages are visible options to link to.

You can also kind of create a content plan and/or schedule, or you can wait until you tweak your blog to do that. But at some point, you'll want a list of blog post ideas to write, with headlines that are click-worthy, that support your keyword, and choose how often you plan to publish posts (once a day? once a week? once a month?). But you might go ahead and start writing a list here and come back to it as you go.

Remember, people say "Content is King," and by that, they mean that what people want is your words and ideas. This is probably the most important part of a blog.

Visual Design


So now that you got some posts and pages, you can get a better idea of what design to go with. When messing with Blogger and Wordpress especially, it's difficult to see how a theme is going to look until you use it like you plan on committing to it.

Now for me, I like to choose my brand stuff now. This is when I choose

  • a color scheme
  •  a logo
  • a visual vibe (cartoons or photos? Soft or Edgy? Feminine or Neutral?)
  • fonts
  • mood board...

But if you are trying to make a free theme or template work without having to do much code, you might want to play with that first and let that choose your colors and look.

So you kind of flip flop between trying out themes and getting an idea of visual branding options. 

Most free themes don't let you change the color to any old color, like when it says you can change the colors and it's free, MOST OF THE TIME it means it gives you 3 or 4 color schemes to choose from. They wouldn't make money if they didn't offer the full spectrum in ONLY their "premium" version of that theme.

A couple Theme Ideas...

Now in Wordpress, you can also look into Page Builder plugins and then find a free theme that works well with it. For my one wordpress site, I use Roseta theme with Beaver Builder (they offer the most with their free version), but I'm thinking of going Elementor because it seems more user friendly. Some people are in love with Divi ($89 a year or $250 one-time) and Elementor ($40 a year for one site, but many get by with their free version). But the page builder plugins usually gives you more freedom with a home page design than a theme by itself.

Bluchic Themes + Elementor... Bluchic's themes are generally designed to work well with the free Elementor helping you create a really beautiful website without having to know much about code.

The other option in Wordpress, and it's really an easy button for a beautifully designed site, is to consider getting the Genesis framework and getting a theme for that. I'm an affiliate because I feel like the Genesis Framework is a rock solid way of getting a beautiful website without having to pay thousands for a graphic designer and without having to invest a lot of time learning how to code or use Wordpress.

The way they work is you buy the framework for $59.95, and then you buy a theme (usually about $60).


Hello You Designs will put hearts in your eyes. I'm not an affiliate with them, but I have a non-lesbian crush on their designer(s).

Some places to find themes / templates:

Bluchic Themes: $$ Wordpress themes; affiliate link. 

Georgia Lou Studios:  $$ Wordpress and Blogger Themes and one free blogger template plus many free awesome worksheets.

Gooyaabitemplates: Free Blogger Templates

For free wordpress themes, your best bet is to Google, "Free Wordpress Themes," and look through all the posts of Top X Free Wordpress Themes but fair warning, many show free and paid themes in their posts.

This blog is on a template I can't find again to recommend it, but I've tweaked the code so much it's not really that template anymore at all anyway. So this blog in particular pretty much is coded by me.

Because I'm an affiliate with Bluchic, I'm just going to throw in some eye candy... It was time for a picture anyway...



But after a somewhat painstaking process of trying out themes, customizing them, finding out they don't do what they were supposed to, and trying the next one, possibly caving and buying one because those usually DO do what they are supposed to do, and finding your color scheme and fonts and branded look that matches the personality of the content, you are ready to tweak...

So you want MATCHING

  • logo/header
  • Call to Action Buttons
  • social media icons
  • and anywhere else you can match things.


You also want to decide a visual strategy for pictures.

Do you want photographs? Illustrations? Dark colors? White colors?  Bright Colors? Do you want glam looking quotes (signature font and a sans serif)? Or maybe book nerd looking quotes (typewriter font)? Fantasy? Artsy watercolor look? Do you want people? Faces? Faceless people like just the hands with half the head cut off? Objects? Nature? Travel shots? What kind of filter do you want on most of them?

You can also decide your visual strategy for social media. You almost want to create a template (by the time it's all said and done) for the types of pictures you'll be using like:


  • Your featured image (it will be a thumbnail on the home page)
  • Your horizontal images (for Facebook and Linked In)
  • Your vertical images (Pinterest, Insta-stories)
  • Your square images (Instagram, twitter, FB, thumbnails, even Pinterest, it's really the most versatile size)


You also want to decide where you'll be making these images. I use Photoshop, but if you don't want to pay monthly, Canva is really the best free option. PicMonkey is a great in-between because it does way more things than Canva, like Photoshop quality design options, but it's more user friendly.

Remember, the simplest designs anymore do so well because minimalism is in. Just make it appealing and emotionally in tune with the content.

Once you have a good theme and visual design happening, it's time to go back into your content and tweak them with better photos and some calls to actions. Update.

Now you're ready to commence your regularly scheduled programming.

Now that you got your Blog as a Noun, it's time to Blog as a Verb

At first, it may feel like you are talking into a void with a new blog. It will feel that way too with a new social media. But keep talking so that the content is there.

Decide how often you're going to post.


Try to stick to that schedule because everyone loves consistency. In fact, consistency is more important than volume / quantity. So the timing is really up to you on your schedule and comfort zone.

Decide a post marketing plan.


After every post, what do you  do with it? Kind of decide where you want to post your post like Facebook profile, page, group? Pinterest? Linked In?

The important thing is to share what is popular and working on each social media platform. Like instagram isn't really the best place to share a link to a specific post unless you are gramming as a business. But Insta-users love a photograph of the work in progress with a link to your home page in your bio.

You might find yourself repurposing content which is another way of saying making new content from old content specifically for certain social media. For instance, video does well on Facebook and is vital for YouTube, so you may want to make videos to promote blog posts. You might want to take your own photos related to the story in the blog post for Instagram. You might want to make quote graphics for that post. You definitely want to create a Pinterest Graphic with the title overlay on the graphic.

Create an Email List


You want to find a company to handle bulk emails and collect email addresses. Most people use Mailer Lite. I like AWeber and ConvertKit.

Most bloggers provide a free optin in exchange for an email address.

Then you have to create content for your emails, and design the email look. Many "experts" say the best emails are like you are emailing a friend. Just a note. No need to get heavily infatuated with design and photographs as those easily get marked as spam.

But you want to decide a consistent schedule to send emails out highlighting blog posts, things you're selling, things you're doing, or just simply to say hi I'm still here how are you?

You might also consider learning about drip emails and automated systems.

Verify Your Site with Pinterest


If you plan on linking your blog to your pinterest account, you probably should go and verify your site so you can easily track your pins from your site. The best tutorial on Verifying Your Site with Pinterest is on Tailwind. PS. There's a plugin for Wordpress.

I have to take a minute to tell you that Tailwind is awesome. I am an affiliate there too because I personally use them and like them. Signing up with them is a great step toward increasing your traffic via Pinterest, and they have a great free plan.

Get Your Sitemap going with Google and Bing


The process is a little drawn out, and I explain it in this blog post: The Bare Necessities to a KickAss Blog. 

But the main thing is to familiarize yourself with these two places and make sure they have your sitemap. It's important to really maximize on people searching for you in Google and Bing. But if you don't do this step, they can still find you. It's not creepy at all.

Affiliate Stuff


If you were planning to do affiliate marketing (where you make a little commission from sales your blog brings people), now is a good time to decide what you want to promote, and apply to be an affiliate. Many places will take you on blind, but many places also like to know where you are blogging. So now that you have a beginnings of a blog, you may want to go ahead and apply. You can also wait until you have more regular posts and traffic. It's up to you.

But you do eventually, if you go this route, want to create a list of affiliate places, and keep it handy as to where you can find codes.

You also want to plan some content for this.

Blog As You Learn


Take some classes and read up on things like


  • SEO
  • Increasing Traffic
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Graphic Design
  • Writing Sales Copy
  • Writing good headlines
  • Writing better
  • Guest Writing
  • Getting Published in Other Places
  • Content Calendars and Scheduling


Find some good blogs to follow (like this one and the ones on this list). Find them on the internet and sign up for the emails, but most of us don't email every blog post, so you want to also find us on Pinterest and other social media.

You might also keep a scrapbook when you see ideas because the best way to learn isn't from what people tell you to do, but by watching what they are doing. It's really easy to see a writing style you want to try your own way, or a design concept you may attempt with your colors...

Also I recommend two amazing blogging courses that are Free!


AND


So after reading all this, what is your next step?

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 Blue background with colorful pink and yellow tulips, a yellow overlay with a frame cut out to see the original image clearly, How to Start a Blog Pink white and gold notebooks and office supplies on a white background with diamond or jewel like shapes in gold foil framing the words How to Start a BlogA pink and yellow flower on top a  white computer keyboard with How To in white text on black rectangle, start a blog in pink text and white text on black rectangle: Blogging 101