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When people find out I’ve solely supported my family, with my blog, since April of 2018, they always ask me tons of questions, including “How do I start a blog?” First things first… I want you to ask yourself one very important question. Do you have time to dedicate to your blog? I’m not talking about a few minutes every three weeks or when it’s convenient to you. I’m talking about time every day to research, write, take pictures, share on social media and engage with your followers and other bloggers. If your answer is no, you are probably not ready. But if your answer is yes, I’m providing the first 5 steps you need to take to start making money.
Step 1: Decide on a Name
If you don’t already have a name in mind, sit down with your family or friends and brainstorm some ideas. Think about your name, things that you love, the area where you live, the audience you want to speak to etc. Think about what you search for when you’re looking for things online and try to incorporate what you love into a name that is not too long, easy to remember and is catchy (if possible).
Once you’ve come up with 3 favorites, search to make sure they are available as domain names (.com) and on all social media channels (instagram, facebook, twitter, pinterest, youtube, etc.). You want your name to be the same in all places so that people can easily find you. If it’s available on all but one, consider trying another option. Claim those social channels asap! We’ll come back to them in step 5.
Step 2: Starting a Blog
When I first created my blog, I had no idea that there were two different WordPress sites. While they both offer free templates and are very much the same in the backend, I learned that WordPress.org is preferred by most agencies and brand influencer platforms (those are the folks that will be paying you for sponsored posts).
WordPress.org will give you the best experience since you are just downloading the WordPress software vs. using only what WordPress has to offer. This allows you to use your own custom .com name and requires that you set up hosting with an outside company. You can also upload plug-ins and customize code, database and files easily. You can also purchase any theme and don’t have to settle for only the WordPress options.
Step 3: Sign Up for Hosting
Over the last two years, I’ve learned something very important. Just because a hosting company is big, doesn’t mean it’s good. I was with a larger hosting company and was pleased with the service for the most part. Then BAM… they increased my annual rate by 2x!
I posted in one of the blogger groups, asking for recommendations for hosting companies and was told to contact David at New Blog Hosting. It was followed by person after person agreeing and swearing that switching to New Blog Hosting was the best decision they ever made. I sent an email through the website and within 30 minutes, David personally responded. He made the transition so easy and has fixed any issues quickly. He speaks to his customers with respect and explains things in a way that non-tech people can understand. His rates are reasonable and affordable. Now, like all the other bloggers, I highly recommend David at New Blog Hosting to everyone who needs a new hosting company.
Step 4: Find and Install a Theme
While WordPress does offer templates, I found a ton of amazing templates on Envato. Templates will run you around $49. You can view their live demos and see what your site will look like. I recommend scrolling through them, open the ones that catch your eye and then choose your favorite.
Installing can be a bit tricky but most offer installation for an additional charge. You can also hire a designer (I do that on the side, wink) to put together your entire website for you, but of course that would be a bit more pricey as you are paying for their time.
If you’re up for the challenge, you can do it yourself, but keep in mind that it’s super time consuming and a process to learn. If you want to save yourself time and aggravation, consider paying someone to do it for you.
Step 5: Set Up Your Social Media Accounts
Now that your blog is set up, you’ll need to set up your accounts on all of the major social media channels. This is where you are going to share your blog posts, once you start writing. You’ll find that each channel has a different audience, so it’s important to keep up with them all and post consistently. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll want your social channel username to be the same throughout, so hopefully you secured the names already in step 1.
Set up your profile and cover images in a similar fashion. You want people to recognize you, based on your style, colors, etc. That’s your branding. Every channel (as well as your blog), should look similar.
Start by sharing one post, once a day. Get to know your audience. Share things about you, ask about them, engage with your target audience. Let them know you’re there and what you’ll be providing them on your blog and social channels. Give them a reason to follow you.