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For those of you that have at least a mild interest in starting a blog, let me just begin by saying that it is the best job (or hobby) EVER. I don’t see how anything could possibly beat it. Let’s just talk about why that’s the truest statement in the world for a minute…
- You are your own boss. You want to take a week off for a vacation to California? Do it. Want to work in the morning and then get off at noon? Done. You don’t answer to anyone but yourself!
- You can write about whatever you want – there are no rules. You can have a food blog, a lifestyle blog, a DIY blog, OR you can combine all three and write about food, DIY, and random stuff going on in your life. The point is, you can do whatever you want because (see first bullet) you are your own boss. Woop.
- You have something that you built from the ground up, which is the BOMB.com. It’s so much fun to watch your blog grow, from the days when you were jumping up and down because you had 50 views to the days when you are jumping up and down because you have 15,000 views, the process is always exciting. And when it starts to really become super successful and really grow, you can look back and know that this blog is your baby, that you built it from the ground up.
The most common thing I hear when friends of mine talk about starting a blog is this: “I can’t imagine that people would actually care about my blog and want to read it. I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say.” I felt the exact same way before I started my blog. Why would people want to follow me? Read about my food? Read about my life?
But – people really do. If you are just real and blog like you are talking to a friend, your followers will build and build and build. If you have been wanting to and thinking about start a blog for a while, just DO IT. Seriously. It starts slow, but it is so much fun and so rewarding. And if you just want it to be a hobby, that’s totally fine! If you want it to eventually turn into your career, that’s also great! I started my blog about two years ago, and my income from blogging is almost double what I make at my full time job. It’s possible to form a successful career from blogging, it really is. You just need to take that first step and go for it, even though it’s scary, and even though you might not think people will care about what you have to say (they will).
So…grab a cookie and let’s get started.
The First Steps
Starting a blog is easier than you think, and it’s faster than you think. The first thing you need to do is figure out what you want to blog about. Envision what you want your blog to be. Once you have an idea about that, you need to think of a name! These two steps are super fun.
I knew for years that I really wanted to start a food blog, so I kind of had this running list of possible names. And one day, when I finally decided I wanted to go for it, I created a word document and copied down my pre-existing list of names, along with a bunch more that I brainstormed right then. Have several that you like, because chances are, a bunch of them will be taken already (I will explain how to check if a domain name is available a little later).
Once you know what your blog is going to be and you have several names that you love, you need to pick a hosting service. I use Bluehost, and I absolutely love it. Not only do I have experience using Bluehost with The Garlic Diaries, but I also worked for a church when I lived in Georgia and my main job was working on their website. They also used Bluehost as their hosting service, and it is just awesome.
Having a hosting service is kind of like renting out a space on the internet for your blog, so you want to make sure to pick a reliable server so that your website runs at its highest rate of efficiency. Not only is Bluehost the best hosting service out there, but their customer service is also top notch. Any time I have had issues with my website or the church’s website that I used to work for, they were prompt on customer service, it was easy to get someone on the line, and they fixed the problem immediately (and are super nice in the process!).
Set up Hosting with Bluehost
1. Click here to access their main page.
2. Click the green “Get Started Now” tab.
3. Select your plan. I would recommend starting with the basic plan. It’s the most reasonably priced, and it has everything you’ll need for a while.
4. This is when you find out if the domain names you have chosen are available. If you use Bluehost as your hosting server, you actually receive your domain name for free. You would normally have to pay for your domain, so that’s a nice little perk! Start trying out different domain names to see what’s taken and what’s available. Just type the name into the domain box, click next, and see what happens.
If the domain name is available, you will see this screen, and you’re all ready to create your account!
5. Create your account. Fill in all the account info (seen in the picture above) and select your package.
Buying the 36 month package is more expensive right up front, but it is a WAY better value in the long run and will end up saving you a bunch of money. If you really aren’t sure whether you want to blog for a long period of time, go ahead and purchase one of the shorter packages, but you’ll get the best value with the 36 month deal.
Now enter your payment info and you’re all done with this part!
6. Create your password.
When you click the “Create Your Password” button, you’ll be redirected to this page:
7. Log into your Bluehost account now that you have created your password. Make sure you are on the “Hosting Login” tab and not the “Webmail Login” tab.
8. Once you log in, you will see your Bluehost dashboard. Now that you have your hosting server, you need a platform. Hands down the best platform, in my opinion, is WordPress. It’s user friendly, offers great themes, and is just all around a great system. Click “Install WordPress” at the bottom of your Bluehost dashboard.
This box will come up. Click “Install.”
Specify which domain you would like to install WordPress to.
Once you click “Check Domain,” the window below will come up. Check the box that says “Show advanced options,” and fill out the information in those blanks. Add in your website name, what you want your admin username to be, create a password, and enter your admin email address. Check the box that says “I have read the terms and conditions,” and click “Install Now.”
And let it finish installing!
Once it’s done installing, check your email. You should receive a confirmation that your WordPress install has been completed. This email contains important information, so don’t delete it! It provides the URL to your website, an admin URL (which is how you access your website’s dashboard to create new posts, respond to comments, etc…), your username, and your password, which you need to log into your admin page.
9. Log into your website! Click on the Admin URL that was in the email that you received (note: your Admin URL is always just your website’s URL with “/wp-admin” added at the end.
This is your dashboard, what you will see when you log into your website.
Select a Theme
10. Now that you have your server and your platform all set up, it’s time to make your website pretty. I love this part! You get to customize your blog and make it look just how you want. To access the themes that WordPress has to offer, run your mouse over “Appearance” on the left column of your dashboard and select “Themes.” From there, you can search through free themes that WordPress has to offer or you can click through the premium themes, which cost some dollasss. I payed about $150-ish for mine, which might seem like a lot, but MAN was it worth it. It’s a one time fee, and anything you can do upfront to set your blog up for success (like a BANGIN’ theme), I would absolutely recommend doing.
I use “Foodie Pro Theme” by Genesis. Genesis makes amazing themes, and Foodie Pro is absolutely perfect for food bloggers – it was literally designed for food blogs.
When I was installing this theme and customizing it to my website, I followed these video tutorials from Minimalist Baker like my life depended on it. I can’t even begin to explain how much these helped me, because when you are new to WordPress, everything kind of just seems like it’s in a different language, and it’s a lot of self teaching. So detailed tutorials like this are BOMB.
And now you’re all done! WordPress and blogging can seem overwhelming at first, and it takes some exploring and self teaching to really become fluent in the system. But there are TONS of tutorials out there to help you figure out the basic (and less basic) stuff, and once you get the hang of it, it’s easy peasy!
Go make some fantastic blogs, people! And when you do, make sure you share them with me so I can read your awesome posts ?.