Since you ended up on this page somehow, you’ve admitted that you’re at least kind of interested in starting a blog. It might sound like a totally daunting task, but the best way to find out if you want to have a blog is to just start one. You don’t need to have a whole business/finance/advertisement plan prepared, or even any writing skills, just a little motivation to try something that you could potentially fall in love with.
Starting a blog is actually extremely easy. You don’t need to know how to code (you’ll probably learn a bit just out of curiosity!), you don’t need a ton of money (the host I use costs just a few dollars a month, so fill a jar of coins and you’re covered), and it doesn’t have to be a full-time job (I’ll go months without posting, and then post 3 times in a week—you can literally do whatever you want).
While there are some free blogging platforms out there, like Blogger and WordPress.com (there are two versions of WordPress, one is free and the other requires a few dollars a month), I honestly recommend going all the way and starting a self-hosted WordPress blog. Why?
- There are endless possibilities for your blog in terms of design
- If you get really serious and want to branch out even more, you can easily add a shop to your website
- It’s a lot easier to look more professional with a self-hosted WordPress blog than on other platforms
- Tons of bloggers are making the switch to self-hosted WordPress, meaning you’ll be ahead of the game and jumping into a community of people on the same platform as you (so lots of help available!)
- You won’t have to switch over later (which could end up costing a lot more money than you would’ve paid by just starting self-hosted)
Head here to learn how to set up your own WordPress blog!
The Basics Of WordPress
Now that your blog is set up, you’ll want to play around with your WordPress dashboard to figure out where things are and how to do things like post, add widgets, and customize your theme. I’ll start with the links on the side of your dashboard:
Posts: You’ll be using this one a lot! This is where you create new posts. You can also decide which category they belong to, add tags to them, and set a featured image.
Media: All of your images will be stored here. That’s basically its only purpose!
Pages: Unlike posts, pages don’t get published to your main blog feed, but are great for making important information available to your readers. Some basic pages you’ll want to make are About and Contact, but you can create as many as you want!
Comments: This is where you can monitor any comments being made on your posts. You’ll probably only need to come here if you want to delete a bunch of comments or see if you’re getting a lot of spam comments.
Appearance: You’ll notice this link has a lot of sub-tabs when you hover over it. “Themes” lets you edit which theme you’re using, “Customize” lets you change some basic design features of your blog (like colors, logos, and layouts), “Widgets” lets you add new widgets to specified areas throughout your blog (like in your sidebar), “Menus” lets you add navigation bars to your blog with links to important pages (like the one on top of this blog), and “Editor” is where your code lives, so if you have something specific you want to change about your blog design (like font sizes or link colors), you’ll probably be editing a CSS stylesheet in here.
Plugins: These are one of the best parts of using WordPress! Plugins add new functionality to your blog, and these are some of my favorites:
- Disqus – this is a really popular commenting system that I use on my blog. It lets your readers comment on your posts by signing in through their Twitter or other social accounts, and you can check out what it looks like by scrolling to the bottom of one of my posts!
- jQuery Pin It Button – you’ll notice that if you scroll over an image in my post, a little pin pops up that you can click on to pin that post. This is the plugin I used to do that, and it’s super easy to set up!
- Yoast SEO
– if you don’t know what SEO is, basically just know that there are some things you can do on your blog that make it show up more in search engines, bringing in more readers. This plugin makes it incredibly easy to maintain good SEO on your blog, and it will guide you through setting everything up when you install it.
Users: Since you’re going to be the only writer on your blog, you won’t need to use this page.
Tools: Unless you’re trying to import stuff from an old blog, you won’t need to use this page either!
Settings: This is where your blog and plugin settings pages are. There’s a lot in here, but the main settings you’ll be messing with are:
- Tagline – this is the tidbit of info that shows up next to your blog name when it shows up on google and in the tab on your browser. Mine is “College + Life Tips” for reference! You’ll find it under General settings.
- Front page – if you’re just writing blog posts, you don’t need to mess with this setting. If you decide you want a dedicated home page though (to show off courses or products), you can change this setting to “a static page”. You’ll find this under Reading settings.
- Blog posts to show at most – if your blog is loading slowly, it might be because you have too many posts displaying on your front page! A good number is anywhere from 3 to 6 posts. You’ll find this under Reading settings.
- Permalinks – for the best SEO, I’d suggest setting your permalink to “post name”. That way your links don’t have a ton of unnecessary numbers and dates, and look so much cleaner!
Some Helpful Resources
Since I started blogging over two years ago, I’ve found some fantastic tools and websites that helped me get where I am today, and these are my favorites!
BoardBooster – this is a Pinterest scheduling tool that helped me grow my account by almost 2,000 followers in 3 months, and is by far my favorite blogging tool! It’s only $5 a month (after your free trial ends!) and is totally worth not buying Starbucks for one day.
Canva – you don’t need Photoshop to design a great blog post graphic, and Canva is a fantastic substitute that’s completely free to use!
ShopStyle Collective – This is one of my favorite affiliate programs. It allows you to create affiliate links and widgets that display products listed on their site. When someone clicks on those links, you’ll receive a compensation. Read here to see I went from earning cents a month to hitting the $100 mark!
Here are a few posts I’ve written to help you get started, and find the rest in my archives!
- How To Earn Money For Your Blog
- How To Grow Your Blog With Tumbl
- Things To Consider Before Editing Your Blog Design
- How To Find A Beautiful Blog Design
- Investments Worth Making For Your Blog
- Websites That Offer Free Stock Photos For Your Blog
- How To Find Your Blogging Niche
- How To Customize The MailChimp Signup Form On Your Blog
- How To Get Readers To Look At Your Old Posts