If you asked me in college what I would be doing after graduation, I’d have told you without hesitation, teaching preschool. Then I graduated, and though I had a degree, excellent references and a full time position with benefits, I could not make ends meet. Ever. I ended up doing 2-3 jobs and babysitting at any chance I could just to attempt to break even. I got burnt out from this and ended up running a psychology practice for about 5 years until kid #1 came and I stayed home full time. Fast forward to kid 3 being born and a few months later, I started this blog… a few months after that I started posting on it… and within a year, I found myself helping to support our family working from home as a blogger! Now, 5 years after starting, we have been able to continue to have me blogging from home, which allows me to help at the kids’ activities and classrooms, be a Girl Scout leader, and so many others things- because I’ve got this amazing gig where I work from home. Could I ever have forseen this? NO way. Would I change things? Not at all. I feel like one of the luckiest people I know.
How to Set Up a Blog
Start by purchasing your domain. You can do this at GoDaddy, 1&1, NameCheap, and many other websites that offer domain sales. Usually, you can get your first domain for just $.99 for the first year!
You can also purchase hosting through these websites. For example, in the image above, 1&1 offers hosting from .99 a month.
Note: I do not recomment purchasing a “website” through any of these companies. We’re going to install WordPress, and website builders aren’t always as “user-friendly” as they claim… so it’s best to use WordPress.org and learn it sooner rather than later.
Use the directions on your host’s website to install WordPress. While the process is similar across the board, there are different cPanels, navigation items, etc that are unique to your host’s settings. I like to use 1&1 because it’s simple for domains, but GoDaddy is simple because it walks you through the entire process of installing WordPress.
If all else fails, do a search for “how to install WordPress” and it will walk you through it. Be sure you are installing on wordpress.org, as wordpress.com does not allow monetization – and it doesn’t have many of the features .org does.
Log into your WordPress admin. yourwebsite.com/wp-admin is the website you will use each time you log in, so it’s best to bookmark it to save time. I put mine on the bookmarks bar so it’s super easy to access.
Look to the left on your dashboard. You’ll see “Appearance”. Hover over that, then click “Themes”. There are many FREE themes available to use, so don’t feel like you have to spend money at this point. Just be careful to choose a theme that has good ratings.
Once you choose a theme, you need to install it – then click Activate (or live preview if you want to see it in action first).
Now that your theme is chosen, it’s time to write your first post. I do this before installing any plugins, just to get the hang of where everything is at.
After your first post is published, you’ll notice that a few things are missing. You need to add “categories” (look on your dashboard to the left, and click “posts”), tags, pages, and plugins. With plugins, less is more. Choose a few that you “must” have, and leave it at that for now. I recommend using an SEO plugin like Yoast, as well as a spam blocker like Akismet.
Just like with the theme installation, you’ll click “install” and then “activate”. Outdated plugins can crash your website, so again, be careful and remember that less is more.
After you’ve chosen your theme and plugins, added some categories, and written your first post, now it’s time to write several more posts before going LIVE. Think about the reason you’re starting a blog, and write a list of blog post ideas. I recommend writing at least 5 posts before going LIVE, and advertising your blog.
Don’t forget to set up your social media accounts. Try to match your blog name, so it’s easy to find you across all platforms.
Want more blogging tips? Check out How to write your first blog post , 7 ways to be a more efficient blogger, and blog post ideas that get good traffic!
For more tips for promotion and blogging, visit a few of my favorite bloggers:
- Food Blogger Tips for Promotion by Ellen Blogs
- Promote Your Blog Locally for Free or Cheap by Biannual Blogathon Bash
- Self-Promotion for the Incredibly Shy & Anxious by Pretty Opinionated
- Taking Yourself Offline by The Guavalicious Life