Thinking about how to start a blog? Here are some tips to make it easy, affordable and fun to be successful!
Back when I first started blogging, I literally sat down one day, chose a theme, installed it on my free WordPress.com site and boom, I was a blogger. It wasn’t the world’s prettiest blog, and it wasn’t nearly as fancy as my blog today, but I was blogging. And maybe even more importantly, people were reading. My site wasn’t monetized, and since it was about my life as a parent of a child with autism, it was a niche blog. I didn’t have high hopes but it felt good to write about it. It felt even better to reply to other parents who said it helped them.
I was hooked. That free blog back in 2007 sucked me in. Traffic was good and I made friends. But then I stopped blogging for a little while in late-2009. Autism in real life was so much, so overwhelming, I couldn’t face writing about it more. Reliving it was tough, even if others were getting something from my stories. I stepped back and then stopped writing on it entirely. That blog still exists today, comments coming in frequently, but I haven’t written on it in many years. It was good start and emphasized something I already knew: the power of online community is amazing.
It wasn’t long before I missed blogging, I just didn’t want to blog about autism further. I switched to WordPress.org to start a blog, bought a new domain name and blogged for a couple of years about our spontaneous move to the south. It was a great way to avoid loneliness from being the new girl in a snobby neighborhood of disinterested people. It also was a testing ground for trying new things. I got to know WordPress really well. Then I learned more HTML, then CSS, and even Java. I improved my previous Photoshop skills and started working on my site design. I even brushed up on affiliate links and ads. It gave a small taste of very rural, farm-ish southern living from the eyes of a California girl. I had a lot of fun!
It was also affordable. I did it with only the most basic of expenses. I had hosting for $4 per month, I bought the Genesis Framework for around $60 and I think I spent about $30 on a child theme. That was it. I didn’t buy a single course, a single ebook, a single ‘how to blog’ document at all. Not only were they not nearly as popular as now, but I didn’t want to wait. I also knew that when something broke, it would be beneficial if I was able to fix it instead of paying someone else and waiting for them to have time. Best decision I ever made!
Seven years after starting my first WordPress.org self-hosted site (basically meaning I bought my own domain name and pay for my hosting), I am able to do almost all I need to do on the blog. I can design my logo, fix a line of code and install and tweak a new theme. I’ve even coded a new theme but it turned out that I didn’t like doing it that much. Still, it’s a skill I’m glad to have. All the time spent learning has paid off.
When people talk to me about blogging, they often ask me what to do first. After we talk about their domain name and hosting, we talk about the theme. I tell all my clients that it’s great if you have a plan you really want, but if not, that’s okay, too. Blogging isn’t concrete. It’s not black or white. Website themes can be changed daily, and while a brand is cool, we don’t want to live or die by it.
And that’s the ticket right there: fluidity. Blogging back when I started wasn’t real well-known and there weren’t near the resources there are today. Don’t get me wrong, resources are great, but don’t over-rely on them. You don’t need a perfect logo, a color scheme to last throughout the years or a site that’s shining and spotless from the minute you launch. Getting caught up in all the tiny details can spoil the fun.
I’ve met so many bloggers who had a fantastic blog idea in their head. They knew what they wanted to write about and they wanted to get started. Then they heard that they have to have a brand, that they need to take 16 courses on how to write and how to monetize and how to brand their brand…and they give up. It’s too much. They quickly become overwhelmed and what was once a fun idea is now work.
Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t over-complicate blogging. It doesn’t need to be work to start a blog.
It really is as simple as buying your domain name, installing your theme, and writing.
Find your voice. Be yourself. Write.
The rest will come. Monetization will happen. Improved design will happen. Your overall theme and look will evolve. But don’t let the enjoyment get removed by making it all happen at once. It’s okay to let things progress slowly. Having a blog shouldn’t be a chore, but if you have a To Do list that’s 17 pages long, and will cost you thousands of dollars, how much fun is that?
There are people out there trying to convince you that you have to take a course, spend $500 on a series of lessons on blogging or purchase high-end packages on getting social media followers.
Here’s a secret: you don’t need to buy any of that.
Investing in your business is always a good thing, but get going, start the process, begin building your traffic and continue to educate yourself. You’ll learn soon enough of the areas in which you need help.
Start writing. Share your stories. Take pictures and include them in your posts and social media shares. Which leads me to my next point: you don’t need to social media the heck out of everything right away either. Secure all your profiles, then put them all on the shelf but one. Focus on building that traffic and using that to promote your blog. Or don’t promote it at all for a while, just enjoy writing.
Blogging is big business now, but don’t lose confidence in yourself. You don’t need all of the bells and whistles. Many bloggers today with numbers out of this world will tell you, they had none of that extra stuff. They built their businesses by learning as they went. Having a ‘you must do x and then xx and then xxx…’ system isn’t required. There is no one way or a right way to blog.
Just blog. Get yourself online and start sharing content. Eventually, maybe you’ll want to drop $50 on a course on maximizing your Pinterest followers or $200 on marketing on Instagram. That’s not wrong, and can be very helpful, but it’s not required. Don’t overcomplicate it. Let all that extra stuff go and just start.
It’s that simple.