This week, the blog is going a bit technical. Even if you are not interested in blogging, I hope you will still find some inspiration. No worries! I will be returning to the normal schedule next week.
When I was 14 years old, the preacher handed me an Adobe Dreamweaver CD with a question:
“Would you like to build the church website?”
It took me an entire summer staring at a computer screen to finish the site. Although my first website was horrendous, it opened my eyes to the internet universe.
From there, I built my first blog using Blogger at age 15. I don’t remember what I posted, much less why I built the blog. What I do know is I have started and ditched 4 blogs since then.
Let me clarify. I’m no expert on blogging. But I can help if you have the same question I did at 15 years old:
How do I start a blog?
Disclaimer: NO affiliate links below. If I missed any incredible resources, let me know in the comments below!
Start a Blog
The first choice you need to make is what content management system (CMS) to choose. What is a CMS? I promise – it is not scary.
Content Management System – A software designed to make it easier for you to create and manage digital content.
By the way, I created the definition so don’t quote me on it. 🙂 From simplest to most difficult, here are the best three CMS options:
- Squarespace – If you want to build a beautiful website in as little time as possible, this is a good choice. Despite its ease of use, Squarespace lacks customization and functionality. If you plan to be serious with blogging, I would recommend WordPress.
- WordPress.com (recommended) – This is what I started with! WordPress.com is easy to use but will offer more flexibility and functionality in the future. They have a free and paid version. Once you start with this, you can always migrate to WordPress.org later on.
- WordPress.org – Wait? There are two WordPress options! I know – it took me a long time to figure out the difference. WordPress.org is the industry standard and offers the ultimate flexibility, customization, and features. There is a steeper learning curve, but I found it was worth it.
Can’t figure out which one to use? Read this: WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
If you decide on WordPress.org, I would recommend hosting with Siteground (not Bluehost).
Set up an Email List
Once you complete your blog, I recommend setting up an email list. It is never too early to start! Email allows you to develop a more personal connection with your readers. Two great email providers to begin with include:
- TinyLetter – Easy to use but not as functional. Does come with a landing page! Free.
- MailChimp (what I use) – A little bit harder to use but more functional. Free, but you do have to pay to access more advanced features.
Take the Next (3) Steps
If you are brand new to blogging, these are the next 3 steps you need to take:
1. Write Consistently.
You will be tempted to make your blog perfect in the beginning. For the first year, focus on writing rather than trying to make your blog “beautiful”. Over time, you will learn the importance of SEO, responsive design, two-factor authentication, analytics, and…
But none of that matters. Seriously.
Write and do it consistently. Usually, no one will be paying attention to your blog in the beginning. And that is okay! It gives you the opportunity to experiment without worrying what people think. And as you continue to write, work on your blog a little bit at a time.
Put writing and creating great content first. Everything else will follow.
2. Set a Schedule
When are you going to write?
Oh, just whenever…
If you write whenever you feel like it, you will never feel like writing. And your blog will look empty and sad. Trust me. To write consistently, you need a schedule.
- How many times? – Are you going to write twice a week? Once a week? Once a month? Decide what will work best for your lifestyle. To start off, once a week is a great goal.
- What day? – If you are anything like me, setting a goal of “how many times” will not be enough. Saturday night, you’re going to ask yourself, “Wait? Did I post something already?” Set a specific day and communicate that to your friends. Keep yourself accountable.
3. Find your Voice + Niche
Why should you write consistently? Why set a schedule? Let me share a story with you.
In 2015, I decided to start a food blog. It was something fun to do with my sibling since I knew nothing about cooking or baking. And I posted anything. Every single week, whether it was good or terrible, it went on the blog.
After 1 year, I realized my food blog needed to be more focused. There are a million food blogs out there! How was I helping? Why should anyone care about what I was writing? This is when I discovered a specific niche:
Helping people pack healthy meals.
This is something no one else was talking about. This was how I would help other people. Guess what. It took almost one year of consistent, weekly uploads to discover that niche.
As you write, you will discover your own personal voice and niche you serve. So keep writing.
Happy blogging! And don’t stop typing.
Want more information on blogging? Here are some great resources to get you started:
- Smart Passive Income – Pat Flynn shares great information, advice, and strategies for building a platform.
- WPBeginner – This site has been a lifesaver for technical questions. Awesome resource!
- wpmudev Blog – I have never used any of their products, but I often search their blog if I can’t find answers anywhere else.
- ProBlogger – A blogging classic. I know a lot of people who love this site but have never personally used it.