You know that you want to start a blog – SO many ideas a-flowing BUT you don’t know the first thing about building a website. Well, you are in good company because neither did I! I just launched my site 3 months ago so I wanted to write this for others to benefit while it’s all still very fresh in my mind!!
A little bit about Clipper City House. My blog was inspired by our custom home build that we continue to design & upgrade. I have various blog posts published on home decor, home design & home DIY projects.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through a link and make a purchase, it will earn me a small commission, at no additional cost to you! See our disclaimer for details.
Getting Started with Your Website
As you will read in any “how to start a blog” search result – you have to pick something that you are passionate about because you really do have to be genuine! Otherwise, it’s not worth your energy and others will not join in on it!
Another generic intro is to set goals. This is true of any business – and life in general! Write them down & revisit them monthly!
I started with some blog research on Pinterest. I read tons of posts about finding your niche & setting goals but no real tangible way to go about it.
So today I bring you – how I did it! There is definitely more than 1 way. This is just how I did it and I hope one if not more things in this post helps YOU!!
Before I get into it, I just want to share that I am computer savy but not website development savy. I didn’t know what a widget was, SEO’s definition OR what a plug in was…. SO yeah. Every single step I had to learn myself!
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
I had no idea that there was a difference between wordpress.com & wordpress.org. How confusing is that? So not knowing the difference (and being too quick to jump the gun) – I went and spent $300+ dollars with wordpress.com thinking that was the entry costs for a website. By the way, I did call and cancel – with a full refund!!
WordPress.com was really hard for me to navigate for some reason and I didn’t get very far. I was frustrated to say the least.
This frustration went on for a while until I decided to set a goal date for myself to get my blog launched!
Once I picked my date, I let others know so that they could get excited! I was staying up wayyyy later than I am used to at night working on figuring out how to build my site!
I purchased my domain name through wordpress.com. I’m actually going to switch it over to Blue Host so it’s all in one place! There is typically a monthly fee for a domain name but mine came free for the first year.
Website Hosting Service
I actually don’t recall how I got clued into Blue Host but boy am I glad I did. I called them and told them that I wanted to switch over to wordpress.org and they took care of it for me while I was on the phone!!
Also, I know I called and IM chatted them with some really basic other questions about things that they did not need to help with but they did!! Game changer. If you are going to be starting a website, go with Blue Host for sure.
Purchasing A Theme
The next thing you are going to need is a theme. I started off with one of the basic free themes from wordpress. Do you know how long it would have been and how much code it would have taken to customize that into something more worthwhile? Get a theme – it’s worth the money! It adds all the pretty touches, features, fonts, etc. in one upload. I used Restored 316. Bluechic also has some really pretty themes!
I also purchased the Genesis Framework add on which gives me some additional features for my website structure. I don’t think I’m using it to its full capability yet
Set Up Basics
Home Page – a theme should pretty much set this up for your but I decided to add the following things to mine:
- Logo – I created mine for free on Canva!
- Automated photo slide show gallery
- Latest from the blog – blog posts previews – this was a widget I added from the Genesis Framework that I mentioned above
- Instagram feed
- Clickable Social Icons & search box
You can see the plugins that I use for each item above in my downloadable must have plug in list.
About Page – tell others who you are and what your website is all about! Use this as an opportunity for you to sell yourself!
Actual Blog Page – this generally comes standard with any blogging tailored theme within wordpress.
Side Bar – you can set this up on the widgets page so that it will appear on every page. I have a hello & welcome message. I created this as an image in Canva and simply uploaded it into the widget section! I have plans to expand this part of my site very soon!
Disclaimer Page – the main purpose of this page is to let others know that you use affiliate links. You will want to ensure that you regularly update this page with new affiliations.
Contact Page – how people can get in touch with you? You should encourage contact for comments, questions, feedback, collaborations – you name it!
Subscription Sign Up – I used a few different widgets & plug ins to make it easy for readers to subscribe!
Here are all the places you can subscribe on my site:
- Contact page
- Pop up subscription box
- Subscription box at the end of every blog post
Email Service, Freebies & Landing Pages
I highly recommend using Convert Kit. It’s completely free up to 1,000 subscribers! I think it is perfect for someone like me that is just getting started. I use the Convert Kit platform for so many things:
- Email subscription list
- Auto generated email to new subscribers
- Notification of new blog post to current subscribers
- Auto send & download of my freebies
- Landing pages for freebies
- Pop up subscription boxes
I also decided at the last minute to run a giveaway to encourage others to sign up! That worked well but honestly, I still didn’t meet my launch weekend goal. I do believe that it helped promote others to subscribe! The person that one the giveaway actually unsubscribed, ouch, so maybe that wasn’t the best idea?
I launched with 3 posts. I had good intentions of launching it with 7-10 but I don’t think 3 set me back in any way. I definitely underestimated how long it takes to write a proper blog post. You’ve got to have the right content, perfect pictures, affiliate links – all the bells & whistles.
Later in my blogging series, I’ll be sharing a checklist of all the things I include so that every post has it’s best chance to succeed!
Another thing I struggled with was affiliate links… I was not an account that was accepted into reward style on my first try. My Instagram still had personal stuff on it and was not cleaned up. I also think having a website helps too. I was counting down the days to apply to reward style so that I could actually start monetizing on all my hard work! I just recently got my reward style account and am loving it so far. If you need a referral – please don’t hesitate to reach out! Now I get to go back through my old blog posts and get everything linked but totally a worthwhile use of time!
There are so many other options for affiliate links as well.
Another thing you will read a ton is why you need affiliate links, lots of people make a good portion of their income from affiliate links. I have a near term goal to increase the affiliate links on my site! Wish me luck!!
Don’t Miss My Blogging Tips Series!
I hope this post was helpful to you in some way! Please reach out with any questions! Coming soon the blogging series will continue on the following topics:
- Promoting with social media
- Gamechanging tips & tricks
- Creating beautiful photos
- Landing paid partnerships
Happy Blogging Friends!