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Thinking about starting your own blog? Whether you want to blog about food, like me, or something else… YOU TOTALLY SHOULD. It’s so easy to get started!
But, I can understand if you are anxious about it. I was, too.
In January 2014, I decided to start Bowl of Delicious. I knew NOTHING about anything technology related, I had no idea what a “host” was, and I was wary of spending money on a host when I didn’t know if I could make it back or not. I was never much of a writer- what if my posts were just plain bad? What if no one read my blog? These are the things that went through my head.
I’m only a little over a year in, but I can tell you, with confidence, that none of these things should stop you from starting a blog. There are SO many resources and so much support online, that you will never need to be a “techie” person. In terms of upfront cost- I made back much more than what I spent within the first year on a host AND an awesome theme (see below) with an income of about $600 (which, by the way, keeps going up and up. By a LOT. It’s really exciting!). And, my traffic increased to over 50,000 views/month by the end of the first year (this, too, keeps increasing substantially!).
So go ahead, start a blog! Here are the 3 simple steps you need to take to start.
And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to help you!
Step 1: Naming your blog and hosting
To start a blog, you need a good name, a domain (mine is bowlofdelicious.com) and a host. I highly recommend using Bluehost. There are other hosting sites out there, but Bluehost has excellent and fast customer service 24/7, they are very affordable, and they are reliable.
Confused about what hosting is? Think of a host as a landlord, and the money you are spending on the host as rent. You are renting a space on the internet for your blog. Easy right? A good landlord would be attentive to things like if your apartment needs something fixed, and a bad landlord would ignore it and leave you to your own devices. Bluehost is a good landlord :-)
1. Choose a name for your blog. This was the hardest part for me. When I thought of “Bowl of Delicious,” I knew that was the one. It was memorable, related to my content, and the domain was available!
Having trouble thinking of a name for your food blog? Use the formula I used: “food-related item” + “of, and, with, on, etc.” + “food-related item.” Teaspoon of cinnamon. Dash of yummy. Honey and lemons. Fresh and tasty. Olive oil and Rosemary. Cheese on Everything. Using this formula was very helpful for me, when I realized a lot of the names I wanted had a domain already reserved. (And here is a very good resource about choosing a domain name, too!)
And use your friends and family for this- get ideas from them and get their opinions. It’s very helpful! You can get an initial idea about what domain names are available by checking them using this tool from Bluehost:
2. Sign up for a hosting package. Head to bluehost.com and choose which hosting option you want. I recommend using the starter plan. You will pay in one lump sum up front, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run. And, you can always upgrade to another plan if you need to!
3. Register your domain. Once you choose your plan, you will register your domain name. I recommend choosing a domain name that has a “.com” availability, since it is the easiest to remember and the most well-known, but there are other domain extensions such as “.net.” If you already have a domain name registered, you can also choose to use your existing domain name with Bluehost.
4. Finish setting up your hosting plan. You will be asked for personal information, credit card information, and any settings/add-ons you want for your hosting plan. Here are the settings I used. Domain privacy protection means that any old person can’t just find your name and address.
Step 2: Installing WordPress
WordPress is the most popular blogging software out there, and it is so easy to navigate. There is a huge amount of support, and the navigation is so intuitive that you will have an easy time creating posts and organizing your blog.
Note: there are two different kinds of WordPress blogs. You will be setting up a self-hosted blog, meaning you are using your own host (explained above) and running WordPress via that host. This enables you to run advertisements and monetize your blog. There is another version of WordPress that does not require your own host; it is a great place to start if you just want to “dabble” in blogging (visit www.wordpress.com for more information). However, you will not be able to monetize your blog if this is the option you choose.
Here’s how to install WordPress once you have your hosting set up!
First, log into Bluehost. This will take you to your homepage. Scroll down to the “website” section, and click on “install WordPress.”
Follow the prompts to install WordPress. Click on “install now.”
Install WordPress to your domain. It should show up automatically, and will likely be the only one to choose from. Select your domain, and click “check domain.” Continue following prompts to install WordPress.
Log in to WordPress. When you are done installing, you will be given login information. Click on “admin login.” The link should show up right away, or, you can access admin login from clicking on “my installs” and “admin login.”
You’re done! Now, log into WordPress with the username and password your were given from your WordPress installation. Whenever you want to log in to work on your blog in the future, you will go to this URL. Bookmark it, so you don’t have to go through the Bluehost site again!
Step 3: Choosing a Theme and Beautifying your Blog
Congrats! You now officially have a self-hosted WordPress site. Now, it’s time to personalize it and make it your own by choosing a theme.
There are a number of options when choosing a theme for your site. Here’s a run-down of the two I am familiar with.
Option 1: Choose a free WordPress theme. This is a great place to start, especially for your first few posts as you are getting used to the blogging world. However, you will find that may of these themes have a lot of limitations, and you may not be able to customize it as much as you would like. I used the free theme Chip Life for the first 6 months of my blog, and it served me well!
After logging into WordPress, hover over appearance and click “themes.” This will take you to a page where you can search and browse for themes. Here, you can preview themes before you choose them to see what your site will look like.
Option 2: Get the Genesis Framework and a Theme from StudioPress.com. This is what Bowl of Delicious currently uses. The Genesis Framework is a foundation that can run many different themes easily. StudioPress.com themes work with the Genesis Framework to create beautiful, customizable themes that are much more flexible than free WordPress themes. I currently use the Foodie Pro Theme by Shay Bocks. I love, love, love it.
You will need to purchase the Genesis framework and a theme to go along with it. The Genesis framework is a great investment because if you choose to hire a designer to develop a custom theme for your blog in the future, they will be able to design the theme to use with the framework you already have.
Just go to the StudioPress.com website, and browse the StudioPress Themes Click on each theme to learn more about them, including browsing sample websites and the cost. Once you’ve chosen a theme, follow the prompts to buy both the theme and the framework! Easy peasy.
Done! Now, you’re ready to blog!
Congrats on your beautiful new blog! I hope this information was helpful. When you are done setting up your blog, I’d love to see it! And if you have any questions, feel free to contact me using the form below. I’d love to hear from you.
Good luck! :-)