Blogging has always come natural to me. I am a writer, always have been. My thoughts are best expressed in writing. Just ask David about all the love notes I have written to him over the years. I’m just plain bad at expressing myself while talking, writing suits me.
I decided to start my blog back in 2014 – a year that marks a huge transition in my life. I had finished grad school the year before, got and lost a job, moved back home with my parents, got my career job, moved to Virginia, and got engaged. It was a year full of ups and downs and it felt natural to write about all of those feelings. Over the past three years I’ve blogged about some of life’s biggest events and have been able to share them with all of you. Some days I feel incredibly inspired to blog, and others I don’t. I’ve never put pressure on myself to create content. Everything I write about, I want to write about. It’s an outlet and it’s a lot of fun!
Over time, this blog has transformed into more than just an online diary. I make a little money doing it, so that’s fun! I’ve had a lot of people ask me why I blog and how I got started, so I decided to put together a post that includes all that information and hopefully inspires some of you to do the same.
1. The Why
First, determine why do you want to blog? Do you have an awesome fashion sense you want to share? Are you a really good cook and want to try out new recipes? Do you enjoy writing or taking photos? You can have any reason in the world to start a blog. There are no rules to the type of content you write about. Just make sure that you don’t stray too far off from your niche. For example, if you want to blog about fashion, I wouldn’t write posts about computer games as well – and vice versa. Once you nail down a genre, your audience will expect similar content from you. That’s not to say you can’t write about it all, I would just limit your variety a bit!
Second, come up with a name. You know what you want to write about, so what name is going to give that impression to new readers? I chose Simple & Inspired because it’s how I aim to live my life. Once you determine the name, do a quick Google search to make sure that name isn’t already being used.
2. The What (All That Technical Stuff)
After you have determined why you want to blog, what you want to blog about, and what you want your blog to be named, it’s time to get started. The technical stuff can be a little daunting, but I’ll try to make it simple for you. I set up my blog completely on my own. I don’t necessarily recommend it, but it’s totally doable and a really great skill to have!
The first thing I tell anyone who wants to start a blog is to use WordPress as a content management system. Not only is it pretty much the industry standard, but it’s super user-friendly, and it’s the best for Search Engine Optimization (aka you show up high in Google/Bing/Yahoo searches).
Other reasons to use WordPress:
- It’s easy to customize
- There are tons of free themes to use
- There are plugins available for just about any feature you’d want to include on your site
Head over to WordPress.org and set up a login. With wordpress.org, you will be able to have your own domain name (instead of www.simpleandinspired.wordpress.com) like simpleandinspired.com. This also means that you own all the content on your site. Yes, with those free sites (blogger, Wordress.com) you do not own your content.
Next step, go buy your domain name. I would suggest using one with a .com, since this will add to your SEO as well.
- Keep it short and sweet
- Make sure the name of your blog is involved
- Limit the dashes and other punctuation you use, unless it’s completely necessary
Where do you buy a domain name? Sometimes your hosting site offers packages where you bundled the domain and hosting together. However, nothing’s easier than going to GoDaddy.com and purchasing it there. You can also do searches for domain names to see if the one you want to use has been taken or not.
Lastly, you must host your site on a server. There are endless hosting sites out there for WordPress. I use Dreamhost, which can be a little pricey, but they have a one-step setup for WordPress which makes everything so much easier. They also have great customer service. There’s also HostGator, BlueHost, Google even has a hosting portion of their site. Just do your homework, find out how much it costs to host per month and if they integrate well with WordPress.
Full Disclosure – I host this site and 5 others on Dreamhost and I spend about $25 a month to do so. There are certainly cheaper options out there though.
3. What’s Next?
Once you’ve decided on your name, you’ve downloaded WordPress and set up your hosting, it’s time for blogging!
Here are some tips:
- Keep your content consistent so your audience can expect new things from you and continues to come back to your site.
- Download the Google Analytics plugin for your blog. This will show you how many people are coming to your site, what they do when they get there, and if they come back for more.
- Create social media channels to share your content on. I prefer Facebook and Instagram, and Pinterest is a huge traffic source for me. (Hint – treat Pinterest like a search engine, not a social media channel – it will do wonders for your traffic.)
- Connect with me! I’d love to follow along on your blogging journey!
I hope this information is helpful! If you’d like more information on anything I hit on specifically, just let me know. I can always do a deeper dive into the technical stuff!
Good luck and happy blogging!