You might be thinking: What’s a post about how to start a blog doing on a DIY and crafts site? Aside from the fact that Destination Decoration is a blog, of course. My reason is that “How to Start a Blog”-like articles or similar posts helped to get Destination Decoration off the ground. And misguided or not, I tended to gravitate towards blogs that I resonated with for these articles (read: DIY and craft blogs). Now, since then I’ve discovered some helpful blogs beyond the crafting niche like The Nectar Collective and byRegina, but I still enjoy stopping by those craft blogs that helped me to get my feet wet with blogging.
In that same vein, I’m hoping this post resonates with any of you that are wanting to start a blog, crafter or not. Blogging has been a great avenue to share my projects, to meet new people, and even make a little money along the way.
So if you’re ready to take the plunge and start a blog, follow along! Stick with it because it’s a long post, but it’s packed with a ton of great information.
First Things First
Before you start a blog, you’ll have to decide your platform. Despite the fee, I recommend a self-hosted WordPress site (wordpresss.org). Why, you ask? For several reasons. First of all, if you start on a free platform like Blogger, you do not own your content. Technically, Google owns all of your hard work and since they own it, they can take it down at any point. Rare, but I’ve heard of it happening. The second reason I advocate for WordPress is that there is more functionality than Blogger or wordpress.com. You can customize your themes more easily and have more options for plugins. Finally, if you ever want to make money from your blog you’ll need to be self-hosted. Blogger does not allow the placement of advertisements, Etsy shop marketing, or any sponsors.
Alright, so you’ve decided that you’d like to create a self-hosted WordPress blog. What happens now? The first thing you’ll need to do is select and purchase a domain name so that no one else can have your same domain. The first step to finding the perfect blog name is knowing what you are going to write about. Are you going to be a food blogger? Will you write about crafts and DIY? Is your area of expertise technology? I recommend not writing about anything and everything because you’re less likely to attract an audience that wants to read about a wide variety of subjects. This is called choosing your niche. If you’ve got your niche, use this to create a domain name. Your domain name usually will be related to your niche and tell your reader what to expect when coming to your blog. If you need help, check out this tool for finding the perfect name: Bust a Name.
Now that you’ve got your name, you’re ready to purchase the domain. When purchasing a domain name, you have two options: you can purchase your domain name separately from hosting or purchase the domain and hosting together.
I recommend keeping it simple and bundling your domain name and hosting. Bluehost
is an excellent host for new bloggers.
Why I Recommend Bluehost
- They are relatively inexpensive. If you sign up through my Bluehost link, you can get hosting for as little as $3.49/month.
- Their customer support has been very helpful. I’ve had very few issues, but the few that I’ve had have been solved in a helpful and timely manner.
- You get a free registered domain with your hosting package.
- If you decide blogging is not for you, Bluehost will refund you for any unused months.
(Full disclosure: I am a Bluehost affiliate, which means when you sign up for Bluehost I get a percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. I would never recommend something I don’t use and love and Bluehost is no exception. PLUS, you get a discount if you sign up through my link.)
How to Start a Blog with Bluehost
1. Navigate to the Bluehost site. This is where you’ll get a few extra bonuses for signing up through my affiliate link. Click on the green “Get started now” button.
2. Remember that awesome domain you decided on? Great! Here’s your chance to use it. To register your domain, type your chosen name into the “new domain” box and click next.
3. Enter your account information.
4. Continue to the “package information” section. Choose your plan. Bluehost charges you upfront and the longer you commit to, the cheaper it is. When I started, I went with the 36 month plan because it ended up being the cheapest and I wanted motivation to commit to long-term blogging. Choose the plan that works best for you. (To start out, the basic plan should be plenty for beginning bloggers.) Again, Bluehost will refund you for any unused months.
Feel free to add any of the add-ons if you feel they’re appropriate, but know that you can always add them later if you change your mind.
5. Enter your billing information and agree to the terms of service.
6. Congratulations! You are now registered for a Bluehost hosting account!
7. Create your password. Make sure it’s a strong password and don’t forget it!
8. Login to the Bluehost account. Make sure you login to “hosting” and not “webmail”. (You may want to bookmark this login page for further use.)
9. The next page you see will have a pop-up that gives you the option to “get started with helpful resources” or “our team will get you started”. Feel free to click either, but this tutorial will show you a lot of what you’d be shown in the tutorial, so you can click out of the box.
10. Once the window is closed, you’ll see the Bluehost dashboard. The next thing you’ll need to do is to install WordPress. Click on the “install WordPress” button at the bottom of the screen to get started.
11. This will bring you to a WordPress installation screen. Select the domain you’d like to install WordPress to and click “Check Domain”.
12. Check the box to “show advanced options” and enter your information. Click “Install Now”
13. Wordpress is now officially installed! Check your email for an message from Mojo Marketplace. This will have a link to your WordPress login page (DIFFERENT than your login to Bluehost).
Writing, Designing, and Blogging on WordPress
Now you’re ready for the fun stuff: creating and designing your blog! Login to WordPress with your username and password. The next page you’ll see is your WordPress dashboard, the bread and butter of your blogging experience.
After getting familiar with the WordPress dashboard, this will probably be one of the first things that you’ll want to tinker with. Start by choosing a theme. A theme is a visual template for your site. You have the option to pay for a theme or grab a free theme. Far and away the most recommended premium (paid) theme I’ve seen is the Genesis Framework by StudioPress. It’s highly customizable and the building blocks of a beautiful and functional site.
Writing Blog Posts
Decide how often you’d like to post. This may depend on your niche. For example, I would have a hard time posting 5 times a week because that would mean 5 craft projects, 5 rounds of photographs and editing, and 5 tutorials. For a lifestyle blogger, however, this might be more manageable. The best advice I have for you is to solve your readers’ problems. What could they be struggling with in your niche? Write about it! Helpful posts are the best posts.
Driving Traffic to Your Blog
While some bloggers may start writing because they like to write, most bloggers don’t want to be shouting (or writing) into the void. Check out How I Went from 10 to 1,500 Daily Views in 2 Months to see some of my best tips for getting your writing seen.
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