Before launching my blog, I had no freaking idea what to even begin to research. I opened and closed Google, searching “blog” and then immediately closed out of the the page because SO MANY ARTICLES PROMISED GOOD THINGS. Then, I surged Pinterest and typed in words like “how to start a blog” or “beginner blogging tips” and (after the dread of an abundance of information subsided) I began reading for hours and hours about SEO and social media traffic tips. Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s a little intense.
It kinda makes you want to bring a hammer down on your computer (but don’t because you need it).
SO, from one possibly more advanced beginner to another, here is what you need to know before you launch your blog. A spillage of knowledge for your first steps.
In other words, here what I did to fully prepare for a launch. I AM SPEWING ALL I KNOW.
1. Decide your niche. Are you a travel blogger? Too broad, no you’re not. Are you a travel blogger who blogs about the frugal restaurants in exotic cities? Perfect, that’s specific and will target a small audience dedicated to your knowledge.
You need to decide what you’re passionate about and make it specific. Then you need to ask yourself what you want to teach others about this niche. What questions might they have? How will you share the answers with them?
This helps you create a mission for yourself and for you readers to understand.
2. What is your domain? It’s time for the title. Need help? I gotchu, sweet cheeks. Write down 20-30 adjectives that defined what you want your blog to be about and then start intertwining and twisting the words around until you land on one you love. Then check the availability on social media and on domain sites and if it’s taken, start over, love.
Tip: Make sure your blog name describes your mission and means something personal to you. DUH. But also, make sure it isn’t something that could change soon. For example, don’t call it “Sarah in her Twenties” because what happens when you’re 30? Rebrand? Paid silence? Pretending for as long as possible? Don’t get stuck in that mistake.
3. RESEARCH. RESEARCH. RESEARCH. I am reading every single day about new subjects in order to gain insight into the blogging world. As I said in the beginning, it is overwhelming but keep going. Need somewhere to start? Go to Pinterest and read MORE posts just like this on “how to start a blog”.
Here is a couple things you could research.
Blogging Platforms. Look up where to put your blog. Users prefer different platforms but after my research, I found myself on WordPress. I have used it before and love the user friendly tools. It makes it very easy to edit themes and create a website you love.
Speaking of themes, I decided to go with a theme outside of WordPress. Not that WordPress themes are bad in any way, I just found a website with a ton of really creative themes that really fit what I wanted.
Either way, truly invest in your website so you don’t have to change the entire website design later down the road. I went with a theme from Themeforest. Their themes are stunning and that way I don’t have to pay a professional to do it later on. So to sum up my advice, pay for the theme you want now instead of redesigning it in a few months.
*HELPFUL HINT*– If you are still considering paying for a theme but aren’t sure if it will be worth it, let me tell you from having two different blogs.. it is. On the paid theme, I’ve had tech help available to me that has solved problems I couldn’t Google and fix on my own. Also, I love the look of my website instead of the underwhelming feeling I had when creating my first blog. I mostly made the purchase because I knew that in the long run, I didn’t want to have to re-do the entire site. It’s worth it.
This leads me to my next point…
4. Invest in your goals. I know you probably don’t want to hear this but you have to invest in your dreams. I know, I know, you’re broke AF and the pasta in your fridge has to last you another week. We’ve all been there.
BUT if you expect to start a blog for free and not pay for anything at all, you may make it harder on yourself in the long run. Actually, to be honest? You’re not believing in yourself and you need to understand that blogging success is not free.
Let’s start with investing in web hosting. So, when looking up how to blog, you probably have run into the web hosting suggestions from 60 thousand billion bloggers. Let me help you out there.
What the heck is web hosting? Web hosting is the business that provides the technologies for your website to be viewable online. That includes your domain, security, email address, technological help and more. I didn’t really understand why I needed to do this until I read up on it. The biggest reason I wanted the package I chose was for security purposes. Keep the bad people away from my good people. This protects visitors who come to your website so their information isn’t risked in providing it to you.
I go more into depth about web hosting in this post here.
After researching the best web hosting sites, I chose to go with Bluehost. When you’re researching, you’ll find that they pop up as number one A LOT. They are the #1 recommended web hosting by WordPress.org. SO, considering I used wordpress as my blog platform, I wanted to have a good hosting site to back me up.
I have had a breeze working them thus far. They have a plethora of tools you can use to grow your blog such as ads, email marketing and tons more. I definitely recommend at least checking them out. They’re cheap as hell and have so much to offer.
PLUS, if you do- you get quite the deal. How much is a latte at Starbucks? $4? Probably more, right? You can join Bluehost right now for $3.95/month. That’s one latte a month. ONE LATTE of a basic white girl. Hence the reason I wrote this post that goes step by freaking step on how to set up web hosting on your blog. —–> Start a Blog for Less Than a Latte (YUM)
The other web hosting site that comes up is the WordPress version, who also have a great stake in the web-hosting field. 5% of online users visit a WP Engine site every single day. Not to mention they also have wordpress as a website builder so they know their products pretty darn well.
This would be another great option for web-hosting. It truly just depends on your taste. I love Bluehost and that’s why I use them. WP Engine also has been blessed by several other bloggers. But you do you boo thang (Bluehost… cough, cough).
5. TAKE TIME to build your blog. I know you are probably very anxious to post your thoughts but CALM down for one second. You need to first build a blog that is easy to navigate and looks appealing to someone stumbling onto your site.
Take the time to learn about widgets and how to embed them. Learn about categories and what pages to set up on our blog. I have one for each category, a home page and an about me page (with more expected to come).
I probably spent over 80 hours creating my website to how it is now. (Did your heart just die a litte? I think mine did just typing that..) It still gets tweaked because it’s not perfect. Learn about plug ins and TAKE BREAKS. You won’t build your website in a day.
Patience is key so you don’t destroy your computer or yell at people you love.
6. CREATE A CONTENT PLAN. I know you want to just write and post your little heart out but you HAVE to be patient in creating your blog plan. You MUST think ahead. If you just start up and don’t have any social media plans or future blog posts written, you’re setting yourself up for a huge challenge.
I started writing and creating content 3 months before my launch date. I created a social media calendar with posts created for 2 months in advance and a blog schedule with posts written for 3.5 months out.
Hear me out. I know you’re excited but if you go into this without a plan, at some point you will get lost or stuck. Creating goals and setting up a way for you to propel your business forward is going to truly help you in the long run. If you need help creating this plan, send me an email! I am more than happy to get you started. For now… here is what I recommend.
- Create a list of blog post ideas.
- Decide how many blog posts you will share a week.
- Create social media accounts for at least Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. (WHY Pinterest? I know you’re thinking it- I did. Pinterest is highly visual and draws traffic to visualization. What do YOU search on Pinterest? Clothes, food, travel, fitness… I just knocked out four HUGE niches that bloggers write about. You need to be active on Pinterest so people click through to your site.) Just freaking do it.
- Create plans for each social media account. Plan out 4-7 Instagram posts for the first month or two. Plan out 2-5 posts on Facebook a day for the first month or two. As for Pinterest, set up a business account (it’s easy, just switch your profile in the settings). Then, I highly recommend using Tailwind unless you want to physically pin 10-20 images a day. This website re-pins images for you. You set up certain keywords and it uses that to generate a certain number of pins to your boards and group boards if you’re a part of them. This way you don’t have to worry about gaining a following, it does it FOR you. Less work = awesome, am I right?
- Create a calendar. I have a planner laid out with what will be posted when. I like the paper version so I can physically cross off tasks or cram something in if needed. This calendar will save you and allow you to set your intentions for the day.
NOW, make sure you keep up with writing ahead! Write new content and share it if you want to but make sure you continuously create new content and schedule out posts. It is a lot of effort going into this blog so don’t let it come to slamming halt after your first few months of plans are done! YOU GOT THIS!
7. Create your content. Here is why you started your blog in the first place! Write, write and write some more. Edit your content and come back to it to make changes. Always make sure you EDIT. You’re not perfect and sometimes when we write, we just throw our words onto the page and have to come back later to fine tune it.
- Categorize your posts. DO IT so they’re to find and use relevant tags that will make it come up in searches. Think of SEO (search engine optimization). This is how relevant your content is to a user’s search. For example, tagging your post “travel” will throw you in a pile of thousands of other blog posts. However, tagging your post “travel in Bangkok Thailand” narrows it down to users who truly want the information you’re writing. Do you get my drift?
- Next, recognize the importance of alternative text on your images. When you import them into your blog posts, make sure you are adding alternative text with tags that are relevant to the image and that post. It will help you show up in search engines.
- Titles! Make your titles are user captive. For example, saying How I Lost Weight vs. How I Lost 10 lbs. after Joining Yoga will capture interest a little differently. You grab niche interests and share a little bit of the content. This will lead you to fans that are interested in your niche and who will hopefully stay with you throughout your journey.
- Images. YES, you heard me. Make sure you develop some type of basic photography skills so you can stop uploading strange selfies and such. Think of what captures YOUR attention and than practice how to recreate it so your audience can enjoy. Use photoshop, picmonkey or canva to create pinnable images. They are all fantastic.
8. SHARE SHARE SHARE
Get on social media and START SHARING. At the very least, create a Pinterest and Instagram account. How did you find this article in the first place? Was it Pinterest? Start PINNING my friend. Pinterest is where people go to learn how to do things online and you need to spread your knowledge in that market.
If it’s too much to handle, use one of these great sites to help you out. There are two that are all over the internet.
Tailwind schedules pins for you and is not only for Pinterest but ALSO for Instagram. Double whammy, eh? This one is used widely and is well known among bloggers. It helps you find relevant hashtags and schedules reminders for when to post your content.
Boardbooster is the other popular choice among Pinterest lovers. This also schedules pins to specific boards and what not. You are able to also set up repinning on boards of your choosing which is great for recirculating your content. I like boardbooster a little more for this reason but try both (free trials) and see what you like more! I’m all about the free trials, baby.
8. Lions and tigers and affiliate marketing, OH MY!
What the heck is affiliate marketing and how are people making money doing it? Affiliate marketing is the idea of you sharing a business’ product in order to gain the business and yourself a small profit. So, pretty much, you love a product and you want to share it with your audience but the company wants to pay you for promoting that product.
This happens by you signing up for an affiliate program with a company and they give you a link in order to track who visits their site because of you. It’s simple, right? You just have to research and list out what programs will work for you. Also, don’t share products you don’t love. This is about trust and loving whatever products you recommend.
Here is a few ideas to get you started in the affiliate program world.
1.ShareASale.com – This website is freaking awesome for bloggers just starting out. (Honestly, I love that they root for the underdog so I love this about them).They aren’t afraid of new bloggers and they have THOUSANDS of affiliate opportunities to get you started including ones for every day usage/fun like…
All the way to blogging tools like…
2. CJ Affiliates is another great site that is a little more picky with who they allow into specific affiliate programs. My two biggest ones on CJ are…
3. Outside programs. For example, often times your hosting method will have an affiliate program like the WP Engine site or BlueHost. Other times you can get referral credit to go back to your account. I know BoardBooster and AirBnB do this for example.
This is a lot… I get it.
SO, if you’re freaking out like I was- I did what bloggers do best and I turned to another blogger to help me out. I scoured the internet for help. I launched into the House of Brazen’s guide “How to make your first affiliate sale in 24 hours.”
No, I didn’t make my first affiliate sale in 24 hours.. but did I learn hella good tips to promote my affiliates online while also being a genuine human being? Hell, yes. So I would recommend her guide any day to any one who needs help with Pinterest and affiliate marketing.
9. Take a deep breath. I know this is overwhelming. Honestly, you won’t learn everything you need to know right away. You just have to start doing. I learn every day. However, you need to make sure you are somewhat prepared to put in this kind of work and effort if you want to succeed in blogging. My biggest helpful hint to you is that when you get to an article and you feel like chucking your computer, take a deep breath and think I can do this. I promise you that if you are willing to put in the work, you can do this.
Here is a visual checklist I created for you to get you started.
TACKLE HEAD ON BABY CAKES YOU GOT THIS.
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a small compensation.
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