Do you have a passion for writing?
Have you been thinking about starting a blog, but don’t know where to start?
A lot of us have gifts, talents, and life experiences that others can greatly benefit from. Blogging is one way to share your passion and expertise as well as make a good income.
The building process will lead you to that point, which frankly is where I’m at right now. But each day you take one step toward reaching that goal and find your voice online.
Some of us love to journal while others enjoy writing in a more educational format. I came from a newspaper background, but had always wanted the freedom to write in my own voice. It’s so great that we have boundless opportunities today to do just that, and truly make a name for ourselves.
There are several benefits to starting your own blog, especially if you are a freelance professional:
- Networking with like-minded individuals
- Guest blogging opportunities down the road
- Income from sponsors and affilates
- Establishing a brand name
- Reaching new connections on social media
The best way to get started is through a self-hosted website using WordPress. With the right host provider you can upload this easy-to-use platform which is mobile-ready. There are thousands of both free and paid templates to choose from along with many plugins to help make your blog look and function great.
I personally decided to sign up with Host Metro after taking a look at competing companies. They offered the best packages at a very low prices, which includes your own email and WordPress installation. I’ve included my own affiliate link here, which means I receive a commission for every sign up.
Take a look at the different top host providers here as well if you’d like to make the same informed decision that I made. This list will change frequently, and so you will want to revisit this if you plan on starting out later.
Most of these services have technical support and a simple dashboard where you can easily install WordPress and set up your email account.
Here’s an example of what this might look like from my provider:
Next, decide on your domain name and make sure it’s easy to know what you’re about, and available on social media. Mine is sort of long, and the norm is to create something that is shorter. You can also use your name instead and brand yourself that way. Take the time to write out ideas and make a firm decision — this will be the hub of all of your online properties.
Your hosting provider will also include your domain name in your package, and so you can get that all set up in one place. If you already have one that’s simple to transfer over — they can help you get that done.
Once you have that set in place you can choose from a list of free templates or use a professional one like I did at StudioPress. All these can be customized, and some are easier than others. I find that the Genesis Themes to be fairly simple to set up, but if you’re not into that sort of thing head on over to Fiverr where you can find an affordable freelancer to help you. These designers can also get you started on your own logo!
There are endless opportunities to make your website exactly the way you want to with WordPress! Other shared hosting services like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly are also good, but don’t offer the range and flexibility of a self-hosted website.
After getting all set up with website hosting and installing WordPress you will want to have the right plugins in place — this is very important! Not only do you need extra security to block spammers, but you will need to have a good opt-in box in place from your email service provider and social media icons installed. Here’s a must-use list at WpBeginner to take a look at.
Email will be the lifeblood of your blog as you attract new subscribers. This can all be set up with a free service from MailChimp, which offers automation, tracking, and sign up forms. A paid version is available, but you can get all of this set up now at no cost. As mentioned before there are plugins available to help you integrate their service into your blog, and if you’re using a theme like mine the pop-up widget is already included.
The next important thing to add is your social media accounts. You may already have this established or are starting from scratch. I would say to stick with the main ones first: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Add more later as your following grows. Pinterest is especially important as you can re-pin content and also pin your own to attract subscribers to your blog. If you’re unsure how this all works head on over to Peg Fitzpatrick’s blog, who explains very well how to get started.
There are less people subscribing to RSS feeds these days and more finding out who you are through their mobile phones via social media, and so it’s very important to have this in place. Even if your accounts are new you will want to place them on your blog in order to grow your following.
Blogging is a rewarding and creative way to get your brand name out there, attract new clients, and establish yourself as a leading authority. These initial steps will help you get started, but I highly suggest you check on Jonathan Milligan’s Blogging Your Passion to really learn how the process works, especially when it comes to monetizing your efforts.