There are lots of reasons to start a blog. Maybe your family lives on the other side of the world. You can easily keep them updated on your life. Yeah, you could just call, but that’s a lot of phone calls. And you know Aunt Martha is going to keep interrupting you and Uncle Joe can’t hear. Maybe you have information that you want to share with the world. Perhaps you just want a private journal that won’t get lost. You may even be able to make an income with one.
There are so many options and information out there! That is both the good and the bad of it. I’ll walk you through how I set up this blog in one day with 5 kids and multiple interruptions. Feel free to look around.. I did a lot of research beforehand but there were questions I didn’t even know to ask. Until I confronted them head-on. Add on 5 kids and I was more than a little overwhelmed.
What is hosting? This is the company that provides the services and technology for getting you on the internet. Yes, you can find free hosting. Blogger, Wix, Weebly, and WordPress all offer free hosting. The “cost” though is that you don’t own it. You’re not even renting it. For the most part, it’s going to look as your landlords want it to and your very name is going to be an advertisement for them. Samanthas31corner.com would be Samanthas31corner.(landlordsnamehere).com. While they may let you pick out your own “curtains” in terms of layout and themes – they still control the wallpaper. They can also kick you out at any time. You don’t even have renter’s rights with a free blog. All your work and research can be gone in one day with no notice to you.
With a hosting plan, you own it. Samanthas31corner.com is mine. I control how it looks, what ads may be in place, and all content.
Bluehost (click here to sign up for bluehost) is a very popular hosting site. Starting at $3.95 a month for your introductory rate it comes with lots of free options. Blogs such as Makingsenseofcents.com run on Bluehost and recommend it all the time. They offer 24/7 customer support, a free domain name, and 1 click WordPress install. You want WordPress. The vast majority of blogs run on WordPress for a reason. It has an intuitive panel and is easy to use. And because so many people use word press, if you ever have a problem with it issues are easily googled. You don’t have to go through customer support. Bluehost also comes with a money back guarantee with in 30 days and $150 in Google offers. Ebates also offers $10 back on your total here. (read more about rebate sites here)
Siteground is also very popular. (click here for siteground) It also starts at $3.95 a month and Momsmakecents.com runs off of it. They also offer wordpress (because, once again, it is what you want!) along with other platforms. Bloggers I know seem to have an easier time with it than Bluehost. I am in several blogger groups on facebook and have seen a lot of complaints about Bluehost lately. People seem to either love it or hate it and for those that hate it Siteground is their solution.
Bluehost has been the industry top dog for a long time. And they are comfortable where they are. Siteground is putting in a lot of hustle to be better.
Setting up WordPress
Pick a theme. If you’re as picky as I am this is not going to be as easy as everyone says it is. I started with a theme I loved but… All my pictures posted in a green box. Nothing else on my page was green. On reflection though, you’re not really going to know what theme is going to work for you until you work out the kinks of your blog. You think you know what you’re going to blog about. After starting though, I’ve changed the category menus 3-4 times to better reflect what I was doing. So for now take any theme- just don’t be too invested in that one.
Imagine your blog is a club and the plug-ins are your employees.
Akismet was a free plug-in that came with my site. He is basically the bouncer at the front door. He blocks spam and security risks from getting on my blog and continually monitors the “floor” to make sure everyone is behaving themselves while here.
Jetpack is the bartender. All information goes through her to be sorted and put to use. You can go to her to see what people are coming to your blog for and what they do while there.
Mailmunch is the doorman. He’s in charge of getting people to come back. The newsletter sign up at the bottom? That’s mailmunch encouraging you to come back and see us again. He takes your information to mailchimp for me. Mailchimp stores your email address and handles contact information.
Sumo is the public relations manager. The floating bar of share tools to your left is Sumo. Don’t you hate it when you’re scrolling a really interesting article but you can’t find how to save it to pinterest? Sumo makes sure that doesn’t happen to your site. Users can easily share. Which means they can come back even if they don’t want to sign up for your email list. Sumo also tracks how many people are coming to your page and how they got here. If you want more readers then Sumo is your go to.
YoastSEO is the trainer. She’s in charge of telling you how to do your job. If you get too wordy Yoast is going to let you know. She tells you what goes where and how to optimize your blog for search engines. She’s going to remind you to put in a subheading and break up your paragraphs.
Google Analytics is your media person. He connects you to – Google Analytics. Google is everything online and the plug-in is basically a spy to sit on your blog and inform Google on you. Which you do want. If you’re going to run Google ads on your page then it doesn’t matter how many visitors Jetpack says you have. It matters how many of them Google acknowledges. You want to make sure Google “sees” every one of them.
Yes! We’re here already! Hopefully, you have an idea what you’re going to blog about but it will evolve and change. First, get a few posts up and interact with it. In a few days you’ll end up playing with your theme. Which is ok! I went through 6 before I was happy with this one. I will come back and get more in-depth about setting up your blog. Right now though, you need to write!