Have you been wanting to start your own blog, but aren’t sure how? Or, are you doubting that there’s a message for your audience? I’ll share everything you need to know. We’ll call this How to Start Blogging 101. Grab a notepad and let’s get going!
Why I started blogging
Honestly, I think this is website number 5 or 6 for me! I started blogging probably in 2008 when I created a site to share book reviews, recipes, and more. Throughout that process, my focus shifted and I started learning about cooking from scratch and eating real food.
I played with a few other sites too and even did some freelance blogging and social media management for small businesses. I was having fun online and loved the idea of making my blog into my job!
Throughout the years, I let those websites fade away as I tried different passions. I had one really strong experience though where one post on one site brought me at least $50 in affiliate income each month. That always sat at the back of my mind as proof that this does work.
In 2020, Milk Glass Home, my little pandemic baby, was born! I wanted to share my experience of setting up and running a simple, sustainable home by buying & fixing up secondhand furniture, setting up a garden, and more.
Since then, I’ve been steadily adding posts, creating content, and growing my blog. My dream is to turn it into my full-time job!
Reasons to Start Blogging
Oh, my gosh, there are so many reasons to start blogging! Typically, the main reason is that bloggers feel like they have something to say. Maybe there’s living a different life than their friends and family and want to teach others to do the same. Or, maybe they’re in search of community.
Many bloggers have aspirations of making their blogs into a profitable business so they can supplement or offset their income.
- Generate passive income
- Teach others how to do something
- Share a message with others
- Connect with people in a community
- Tell their story
- Be their own boss
- Create products to sell
Regardless of your reasons to start blogging, there is a place for you! People are looking for people with the message you want to share. Be brave!
What is the cost of starting a blog?
I remember wanting to start a blog for a long time before I finally did it. I was so nervous about the expenses. Money was tight…I thought there was no way I could spend money on this project that may or may not make me money!
At the very beginning, I went with a free wordpress.com website thinking that would be good enough. Especially if you’re on a tight budget…free is best, right?
But those free platforms like WordPress.com or Blogger are like renting your house when you really want to own it. There are limitations on what you can publish and your advertisements. They need to make money from your site, right? So they’ll find a way to do so. That takes away from you.
Even if you’re a blogger on a budget, here are the most essential expenses for starting a blog:
- Register your domain name ($5-15/year)
- Website hosting ($5+/month)
What is a domain name?
If we think of a blog as a house, your domain name is the street address. It’s what people will type into their phones or laptops to get to your website!
Registering a domain name is easy. It’s harder to find one you like!
Where to register a domain name
There are so many websites out there that let you register your domain name! That part doesn’t matter as much as hosting. Feel free to get the cheapest domain name out there and simply point that domain to your new hosting servers (sounds more complicated than it is).
Some popular places to register domains:
Personally, I like keeping things really easy and I register my domain where I get my hosting. It’s easy, even if it costs a few dollars more, and I only work with one company.
Remember that you need to renew your domain each year! If you don’t, you will lose your name. You can also register for multiple years at once or set your account on auto-renew. I lost my first blog due to a domain registration issue and I lost steam after that. Don’t let your domain registration lapse!
Tips for choosing a domain name:
Plan for growth
If your name is very specific, it may be harder to grow it in the future; think katiebakescakes.com. What if Katie wants to bake something else?!
Check for similarly named sites
So many bloggers find out *after* they start their blog that there’s someone with an almost identical site out there! Do some googling. Check the social media platforms too see if your handle’s been taken!
Minimize commonly misspelled words & punctuation
My name is Rachael. Do you know how often people misspell my name? If I wanted my name in my blog name, I’d need to buy the misspelled domain name and forward people to my real site! Skip the underscores and dashes too.
If you want to write about something specific, it can be helpful if your blog name reflects that. For example, sourcreekhomestead.com is going to be a homestead website. I can tell that right away. Sourcreekstories.com sounds like something else.
Stick to .com
When people think of a web address, they automatically assume .com. If you use something different, people might struggle to find you.
Snag your social media accounts
Even if you’re not ready to launch your social media accounts, grab them ASAP! You never know when you’ll want yours but it will be taken by someone else.
What’s the difference between domain and hosting?
Remember our metaphor about a blog being like a house? Your hosting is the plot of land you build on. People will enter your domain name (your street address) and arrive at this particular piece of land with your beautiful blog house.
The hosting company allows you to use their servers to send people to your domain name.
When people are first starting out, they often want to pay the least amount possible to save money. I totally get it! I’ve used the cheapo plans myself.
But you know what eventually happens?
You realize your cheapo plan actually sucks and is cheap for a reason. Maybe your blog starts to grow and your site crashes. Perhaps you’re being hit charged fee after fee. Maybe you can’t reach a single real human and are hitting your head against the wall!
Been there, done that.
Start with a reputable host
My cheapo plan was going okay, but I had to pay extra per year to have an email address. When I decided to start a second website, I was going to have to pay nearly twice as much per month.
Although the service had been fine, it didn’t make sense to pay more for a subpar platform.
Over the years, I’ve heard so many bloggers recommend the same hosting companies.
Of the 3 options, Bigscoots and Siteground are more commonly used for beginner bloggers. They offer a variety of hosting options and can be really affordable.
Siteground often has promotions for discounted monthly hosting to draw in new bloggers, but watch for how those prices might rise after the year. They can handle sites of all sizes and are great for new bloggers who want to stay in one spot as they grow!
WP Engine is amazing for bloggers with powerful websites getting high traffic. It’s meant specifically for people blogging through WordPress (what you’ll be doing), so it’s ideal for that purpose. However, their basic monthly package is $25/mo for one site and that’s with a yearly package!
Bigscoots is a hosting company that offers both shared and managed WordPress hosting. In the shared hosting plan, you are sharing server space with other websites. This is a more affordable option. They also allow for you to use designated server space, which is great for when your blog starts to grow!
Bigscoots vs Siteground
Both of these are great hosting companies! They offer very similar plans and both companies have great reputations.
Although Siteground’s prices are sometimes cheaper, they advertise that their most basic plan (1 website only) is normally $14.99. To have unlimited websites, you’d have to pay $25/mo. I don’t like to register for a website using a promotional price because then what happens next year? It might be cheaper for now, but I don’t want to have to move hosts next year because the price is too high.
Even without sales, Bigscoots is ridiculously affordable. Even on their lowest plan for $5.95/mo, you can host up to 5 domains! I was being charged more than double that at Dreamhost and still had to pay for email.
You really won’t go wrong with either of these hosting companies! They have excellent ratings and many, many happy customers.
Which host do I use?
Of the three websites, I use Bigscoots. They’d been recommended by bloggers I follow again and again for their excellent speed, minimal downtime, and great customer service.
I checked the prices and was shocked that I would pay less using Bigscoots than a cheap plan somewhere else.
They have plans as low as $5.95 per month and they allow you to host up to 5 websites! This is great for bloggers who want to add a subdomain for an online store or who just want to open more websites.
Plus, Bigscoots has ridiculously good customer service. They reply to my messages almost instantly and when I use their chat box, I have a real, personal conversation with another human.
Their servers are basically never down and I was shocked that it took less than an hour for my site to get fully transferred from my previous host. There was no downtime. No lost traffic. It was just so easy!
I’m currently using the 155cc plan for about $8.95/mo which allows for unlimited domains, free daily backups, 10 GB of storage, and 200 GB of storage. Plus, email was included!
The cheap site was charging me $14/mo to run 2 sites and I had to pay $20 per year for email. That’s about $80 more per year…for less.
How to start a blog
Let’s recap. So far, you have your:
- Domain name (address)
- Hosting (build site)
Know what’s missing? Your house! Your blog is your house. To start your blog, you need to install your content management system (CMS). Don’t let that phrase fool you – this is just WordPress!
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
Wait a minute, didn’t I just say not to use wordpress.com? But now I’m saying we need to install WordPress? What’s up?!
WordPress.com – Start a free blog with yourname.wordpress.com or pay $$ every month to use your custom name; get reduced ad revenue
WordPress.org – Install free software that allows you to build a custom site; Get yourname.com; infinitely customizable; get all your ad revenue!
Wherever you host, you will be able to install WordPress.org so you can start your website. Here’s how to install WordPress on Bigscoots! If you get stuck, you can email Bigscoots and they will probably actually install it for you.
How do I write my first post?
Once you have WordPress installed on your site, you’re ready to start blogging! You can go to yoursite.com/wp-login.php to sign in. From there, you’ll see the inside of your website. You’ll be able to create posts, make pages, etc. You’ll get to choose a theme, write your posts, and start building this little house from scratch.
I’ll be sharing more tips about blogging in the future, so be sure to sign up for email updates to get all my new posts!
Did this post How to Start Blogging 101 help you?
What questions do you have next? I want to help you make your blog perfect!