It’s no secret that blogging is BIG, but when I started 8 years ago TODAY I had no idea what this realm had to offer. I thought I’d start a blog in my spare time at high school for something to do when I was bored. Little did I know, this very platform would allow me to travel, work with some huge international brands and make some great friends.
Why start a blog you ask? Basically I think everyone needs to have a blog. Blogging is both a creative and emotional outlet where you can share absolutely anything. It’s also really fun too to have a hobby which you can take anywhere with you – we all have smartphones right?
With that being said I’m going to dive into one of my most asked questions:
how do you start a blog?
One: Get Hosted
Hosting costs money but trust me, it’s a great investment!
I can tell you from my own experience that if you start off un-hosted and have to move your blog to a hosted website later it’s a major headache. I wish I had started off this way from the start but I had no idea what I was doing, so here I am to help you.
Now before we dive in I should mention that if you’re a rookie, this hosting business can be more than confusing. Especially when they all offer difference services and prices. I am suggesting this option to you as I know it’s easy to use and I use it myself.
My choice of host is Bluehost, you can find it here. At $3.95 a month it’s the price of just one coffee.
Bluehost also offer really great 24/7 tech support and they will answer all of your questions, even if they’re super obvious – I do it all the time.
Two: Choose A Name
Now in all honestly, this is going to be your hardest step – you need a blog name.
You’ll need to decide this when you go to sign up to Bluehost or whichever hosting site you’re going to use. This will also most likely be what you use for everything – think social media accounts, marketing, business cards etc. so you want to make it professional but still you.
Some things to keep in mind when choosing your Blog Name + Domain:
- I’d suggest using .com because it’s the most universal, although it’s usually used for commercial websites to sell products.
- Don’t include numbers unless it’s your brand. No one wants to look at StolenInspiration394.com vs StolenInspiration.com.
- If your mind is drawing a blank, a fail safe option is your name or like I do, (Kendra Alexandra) use your first and middle name.
- This domain can contribute to the traffic you get so if your blog is about Fashion using Fashion within the domain is a head start in the SEO game.
when choosing a domain name: use your common sense!
If I could go back now I would probably change my blog name to my actual name but Stolen Inspiration after 8 years just sounds like anything else. So if you mess up, it’s not a big deal. BUT if you’re just starting imagine getting it tattooed to you head; it’s what you’re going to be telling people when you network, the name people reach you on and what they know you for.
From there all you need to do is install your WordPress.org website on Blue Host, which you can find easy instructions for here or again, if you get stuck contact Blue Host, they’re the best.
THREE: Find A THEME
Now that you have your blog hosted, here comes the fun part – you get to pick your theme.
There are a heap of options when it comes to choosing the look of your website. They can be both free or paid for. I personally have always used paid ones, but there are some great free and customisable themes in the appearance tab of WordPress. The best way to find free layouts is to just google “Free WordPress Themes”, super easy.
I recommend buying themes just because you know that the coding will be correct both on desktop and mobile. If you have any problems you have someone to ask about it too. This is a huge help when you’re starting out because trust me, you can easily spend hours trying to fix code you messed up!
One of my favourite places to find themes is Themeforest. It has the largest selection of layouts I’ve seen and they vary in price. It’s great if you have a small budget, some are just $12!
My favourite paid layouts that are under $150:
Monstera | Kindred | Matchstick | Silk | Hive | Gema | Balance | Accendo
Or if you aren’t too sure, this bundle of 5 themes is only $99 which gives you some options for now and the future.
FOUR: Gather Your EQUIPMENT
Now that you have your entire blog up and ready to go you need to start thinking about the equipment you’re going to need to produce amazing content.
There’s no rule that you need to spend thousands on a fantastically fancy camera to take great photos. You’ve most likely already got the equipment to do this at home: your phone!
If you’re looking to invest in a camera you have a few options. I’d suggest that if you’re starting out with blogging and don’t know much about cameras to get a basic DSLR or an advanced point and shoot.
I own the Canon G7X point and shoot which I bought to take travelling (although I mostly used my phone). It’s a great choice which let’s you play with the manual settings as you would with a DSLR. It’s also super easy to navigate. I like that you can connect it to your phone with WiFi so you can edit your photos on the go. Perfect for the busy traveller!
I personally have gone through a few different DSLR bodies. I started with the Nikon D3000 + kit lens which was a great beginner camera and a cheap DSLR. Then when I learnt to use my camera I upgraded to the Nikon D90, and now I own the Nikon D610. The thing about DSLRs is that it’s mostly about the lenses you use and your skill. A great way to do it is buy a cheap DSLR but invest in an amazing lens. This way if you outgrow your camera you can keep your lenses. Then when the time comes, swap the body without it being a huge shock to the wallet.
Along with your camera, you need the memory card. I buy mine from Amazon here because they’re a fraction of the cost. Extras you can get that would be helpful like a tripod and even a flash are a personal preference. If you shoot self portraits a tripod and a remote are essentials!
Here are links to all the pieces that I currently use myself:
Memory Card | Nikon D610 | 85mm Lens | Remote | 50mm Lens | Tripod | Canon G7X
The last thing you’ll need and most importantly, you need a laptop! I’m sure most of you will already have one but any one will do. It definitely doesn’t need to be the most expensive. As long as you can connect it to WIFI you’re good to go and you can start a blog.
SIDENOTE: IMAGE EDITING Software
I personally use Photoshop and Lightroom to edit my images. If you’re new to blogging and you don’t have the spare money, you don’t need them. Lightroom is great for batch editing and colour grading. Photoshop I find super easy to do anything else (from graphic design to skin retouching).
If you are just starting out, why not try editing with the free VSCOcam app on your phone? It offers so many great adjustments, filters and I know a lot of people who do this instead of loading their photos onto their computer!
FIVE: WRITe YOUR FIRST POST
Congratulations, you’ve made it to your first post. Now, what are you going to write about?
I don’t want to start sounding cheesy right when we’ve made it to the end, but you should always blog about what you love and what you know.
What do you know better than anyone? Do you love this topic? Do you want to tell your friends about it on the daily?
If you write about what you know and love, you’re more likely to craft something amazing. Don’t blog just for blogs sake, make it worthwhile to your readers or else they won’t come back. It’s also your passion for this topic that will be your motivation on days when you just can’t be bothered to blog – and trust me, they will come.
Now in 2017 there’s a blog for almost any topic possible so you need to find your niche and the earlier the better.
What sets you apart? Why would someone want to read your content instead of someone else’s? What do you offer your readers?
I have to say, I still struggle with this. It’s hard when there are so many different areas to just pick a specific topic to talk about for ever. It doesn’t necessarily mean limiting your freedom of discussion, but think of it more like honing in on one direction.
Now that you have some idea about what you want to say, go ahead and start writing!
Consistency is key when it comes to blogging and keeping readers interested. A great way to stay consistent is to plan ahead of time. Even just jotting down a list of topics you’d like to write about can give you a head-start. I now write any great topics I have down in my reminders. This means I don’t forget when the time comes to start writing.
Another must is to always proofread. I’ve been guilty of running out the door after publishing a post, thinking “I’ll proofread it later”, only to come back and cringe at my 10-year-old spelling. Just do it, ALWAYS.
Most importantly though – be yourself! 🙂
I hope this guide has helped you get an idea of what’s involved. Or at least, what to think about before you start a blog. I thought it would be more interesting to cover the “equipment” side of starting a blog. I get so many questions about it after all.
Go ahead, have fun with it! If you have a blog yourself please leave it below, I’d love to read them.