Welcome to Part 2 of How To Start A Blog, where I’m talking allll about the tech side of things…aka most peoples LEAST favorite. Here’s where I’ll break it all down for you in the easiest way that I possibly can.
Be sure to check out Part 1 of How To Start A Blog, where I talk all about taking the plunge and getting over the fear – which is what most often stops people right in their tracks.
In the words of Marie Forleo, “everything is figureoutable”…literally, EVERYTHING.
When it comes to starting a blog, it can feel super overwhelming. BEEN THERE! The trick is to break everything down into MUCH smaller steps, which is exactly what I’m hoping to help you with today!
Just over 4 years ago, my now good friend Steph, over at Stupid Easy Paleo came across my story for the very first time. Steph was basically a celebrity in my eyes, and her website was one of the first that I came across when I changed my diet in 2013, so when she reached out to ask if she could share my story on her website, I justtttt about DIED. I was SO honored.
Steph mentioned that I should really start my own blog before she shared my story…and that was the only nudge that I needed to really get going.
Before that moment, I’d considered starting a blog, but I was pretty much TERRIFIED. As I talked about in Part 1 of How To Start A Blog, I questioned EVERYTHING and I doubted myself.
Now I look back and laugh, because if I had continued to believe what fear was trying to tell me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I now have the incredible opportunity to help thousands of other people, all because I took a chance on my dream. I had no idea what the outcome would be, but I went for it anyway.
I’m not someone who’s naturally tech-savvy. Hi-five if you are! It’s taken serious dedication and effort to get my business to where it is today, but it’s been SO worth it. If I can do it, so can you.
How To Start A Blog – Part 2: The Technical Side
Finding The Right Platform
I run my blog through WordPress and LOVE it. I’m not saying that WordPress is the right choice for you, it just happens to be what I use, and obviously I’m only speaking from experience here. There’s a ton of other blogging platforms out there, and it’s worth researching to really find the one that’s going to work best for YOU.
I know…it’s confusing. That’s why I’m here to break it down!
When I first started my blog in October 2013, I had NO idea what I was doing. I’m also someone who really likes to figure things out on my own, and often learn lessons the hard way. This is why you can learn from my mistakes. 😉
I’d vaguely heard that WordPress was the best platform to start on, so I went ahead and typed in “wordpress.com” into my browser. BAM, instant results!
I started my blog out on WordPress.com and then soon realized it was the wrong platform for me. WordPress.com doesn’t allow for much customization, and cannot be monetized…so if you’re planning to actually earn money just from blogging and/or build your website into a business, wordpress.com is NOT for you.
I learned the hard way and eventually paid someone to move my website over to WordPress.org – which is where I still am today, as it’s fully customizable.
Utilize YouTube & Google
It’s EASY to become so overwhelmed by a project or task that you want to accomplish on your website, that you straight up quit all together, before you even get started.
Trust me, I GET IT. I already told you in Part 1 of How To Start A Blog about the many, many times that I wanted to throw my computer through a window. I wasn’t kidding, haha. Learning to start and run my own blog was SO frustrating in the beginning, but that’s exactly when I realized the true power of YouTube and Google.
Between YouTube and Google, all of your questions can be answered in just a few clicks. Whenever I came across something that I didn’t understand (which was basically every 2 seconds), I literally typed my question into YouTube, and BAM, the answer appeared. It’s like MAGIC.
I would click on whatever video I thought would be helpful and would press pause with every single step, go back to my blog and perform that step, and then continue doing this process until the task was complete. Sometimes I’d watch the video 2 or 3 times, just to be sure that it all made sense. These videos literally told me exactly what to click, as they break it down step by step. They essentially saved my life. Or maybe just my computers life.
This works every. single. time.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, simply break every large task into much smaller, more manageable steps. This makes it so much more doable AND saves your sanity, all at the same time! Win, win!
Of course you can always hire someone to do all of this for you, but I think there’s something to be said about knowing how to run your own website before putting it into the hands of someone else.
I’ve built my entire website, including my membership website completely on my own. It wasn’t easy, but I have a determination that runs deep, and that’s made all of the difference.
There will come a time in the near future that I’ll be handing all of the technical parts of running my website off to another person, but I’m still SO thankful that I now understand how it all works. This is coming from the same girl that got dizzy just LOOKING at computer code. If it’s possible for me to accomplish, you can too. One step at a time.
Find A Host
A host is a service provider that keeps your website up and running. Without a host anyone who visits your website would get an error page.
Just like blogging platforms, there are a zillion different hosts that you can choose from to run your blog. I started my blog out on Bluehost, which worked great for a bit…until my traffic grew.
I hesitated even bringing this company up, as I don’t like putting anything or anyone down, but I also want to share my honest experience.
Once my traffic on my blog started to grow I experienced issue after issue with Bluehost, especially with my website crashing for hours at a time, multiple times a day. After many frustrating calls where nothing was resolved, I finally decided it was time for a new host. This is why reading through reviews before you decide to pay any company for their services is super important.
In came Siteground, who I’d heard great things about from several of my blogger friends. I decided to switch over to them and have had nothing but the BEST experience, even as my traffic has continued to grow. Their customer service is top notch and they’re easy to get ahold of and have always made sure that my issue is resolved before they let me go.
Siteground is pricier than some other hosts, but I’ve found that the money I spend is WELL worth it for what I get in return. Running a blog that brings in traffic and produces income costs money for sure, but that’s exactly why I’ll be breaking down how I make money in next weeks post!
I’ll talk much more about this next week when I give you all of the details of how I actually make a full-time income from my blog, but I wanted to quickly touch on it here as well.
My friend Liz over at Real Food Liz mentioned signing up for Amazon Associates, and so that day I once again Googled how to do that and then I signed right up. I started adding in Amazon Links for the ingredients in my recipes, and slowly but surely, I started to bring in a small amount of money, which has grown drastically over time!
Get Them On Your Email List
When it comes to keeping in touch with your audience in a way that you actually have control over (unlike social media, which can change at any moment), creating an email list is KEY. I started out and still use MailChimp to manage email list, where people can sign up to get my weekly newsletter and can also get instant access to my free eBook, 10 Steps to Paleo.
I know just how overwhelming your email inbox can become with all of the offers that come in on a daily basis, so being given an email address is not something that I ever take for granted. This is why I always strive to provide VALUE to my newsletter list. They’re the ones that are supporting what I have to offer, so I always aim to give them my very best.
I almost always send a weekly newsletter (typically on Wednesdays), which includes some sort of information that I don’t share anywhere else, along occasional exclusive and sneak peek recipes, my best tips and advice, special offers, and more! Being consistent with keeping in touch with your audience is really helpful, as these are the people that most WANT to hear from you.
Offering something for free when people sign up for your email newsletter is a great way to get people on your list as well. I created my eBook, 10 Steps to Paleo, as a free tool that anyone who signs up for my newsletter can instantly download. You can create a free, simple PDF in Canva (or even just in Microsoft Word) to offer to anyone who signs up for your newsletter. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but it should provide something that people really need. These free offers are simple to set up through MailChimp just by using YouTube.
Even if you’re just someone who wants to start your own blog, you’re welcome to sign up for my newsletter to see exactly how I do things!
Ahhhh, social media. Some people love it and some people hate it. I don’t believe that social media is an absolute must for building your business, but it sure is really helpful.
I first started my Instagram account in April of 2013 as a way to share the recipes that I was creating. I had recently changed my diet in February of that year and had friends asking me where I was getting my recipes from. With this new found energy that I had (thanks to my diet changes!) I had the ability to get creating in the kitchen, which in turn, began to make this lifestyle sustainable for me.
I’m allllll about quick, simple and delicious dishes, which is exactly what I started to share on my Instagram account. Once I started my blog, I was able to utilize Instagram as a way to send traffic to my new website.
Fast forward to now, and I’ve grown a substantial, completely organic Instagram following – and yet Instagram, and really all of social media has drastically changed. Instagram now limits the amount of people that can see my posts, unless I pay them. Same goes for Facebook and Pinterest. It’s the name of the game these days, and I’ve learned to be okay with that. I don’t own these platforms, which is why starting and growing your email newsletter list (as mentioned above) is SO important.
Years down the road I started my Facebook page, and then my Pinterest account. As much as I wished that I’d started these accounts earlier (don’t we always seem to wish that we’d started earlier?!), I’ve realized that it doesn’t so much matter WHEN you start, it simply matters that you actually START.
Get all of the other nonsense (fear, confusion, overwhelm…) out of your head and just START. One itty-bitty step at a time, and before you know it, you’ll have a blog!
I’ve learned SO many lessons along the way, as I’ve realized that nobody starts out having all of the answers.
The last bit of advice that I want to share with you today comes from my dad. He shared something similar to this with me a couple months back (it’s now just in my own words), and it’s stuck with me ever since –
Make sure you’re enjoying the PROCESS. It’s not about the destination. When you’re young (as I am) you’re so focused on the end goal, and just getting to where you want to be. Suddenly you’re older (like my dad) and you’ve accomplished all of your goals…but what if you didn’t enjoy what it took to get there? You’ll look back and realize that it all went by in the blink of an eye.
Even hearing this recently changed how I’ve approached my entire business. I’ve realized over the years just how many things I’d been doing “wrong” with my business – say starting on the wrong host, not starting my Facebook and Pinterest right away, not having a clue that I should enable Rich Pins on my Pinterest (I literally learned this just a couple weeks ago), waiting to start my email newsletter list…the list goes on and on and on.
But you know what? Each of these lessons has given me a priceless memory that I’ll never forget, and to me, that’s what it’s all about. Now, instead of becoming overwhelmed when I learn something that I wish I’d know years prior…I simply laugh it off and realize that NOBODY has all the answers…even those that pretend that they do.
I’ve learned to enjoy every step of this journey (although sometimes I have to stop and remind myself too), because experiences are what make up this beautiful life.
Have any questions that I didn’t answer here? Simply leave them below in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!
I’ll be back next week with Part 3 of How To Start A Blog – where I’m talking all about how I make a full-time income from what I do!
HOW TO START A BLOG – PIN IT FOR LATER:
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