Have you ever considered starting a blog? No? Well, maybe you should! Here’s why – a blog can be fun to write, you get to learn loads, you get to help people with the information you share AND you get to make money (let’s be honest here, we all need to earn money!). Want to know how to start a blog in just a month? Well then I guess you’ve come to the right place!
Whether you’re looking for a way to get out of the 9-5, or just want to try something new for yourself, writing your own blog can be a really fulfilling thing to do, and it’s really not something that’s out of your reach – I promise. I’ll be honest with you, when I started Slightly Sorted, I had NO clue what I was doing. That’s really not an exaggeration. Well, I knew how to use Word, and I knew how to send email and do a lot of on-line shopping, but beyond that – not a lot. But that’s one of the great things about blogging – if you want to, you can just learn as you go along and enjoy the journey. And it’s not as complicated as you might think. Hard work, but not complicated.
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The main purpose of this article is simply to explain what I did in my first month to get up and running with a fully functioning site. That will give you a good idea of what’s involved and whether you’d like to do something similar. Now, you will find plenty of articles, and posts on Pinterest, telling you that you can start a blog in 15 minutes. Well, no you can’t! You can sign up for web hosting and install WordPress in 15 minutes, if you’re lucky, but that’s not the same as creating your own blog or website. (If you don’t know what hosting or WordPress are, don’t worry about that for now!)
Setting up a blog is fun, and you’ll be really proud of yourself when you’ve done it, but do not let anyone tell you that it isn’t time consuming and hard work! It’s 100% worth it, but make no mistake, if you’re going to fit this in around your 9-5 then you’re going to need to put in more than a few late nights. Now, if your ultimate goal is to get out of your 9-5, then you’ll probably be fine with that. If you’re not in a rush and you just want to see how it goes, then give yourself a couple of months (or more) to get through all these steps. I don’t want to put you off starting your own blog – quite the opposite – but I feel that some of the advice around is a little misleading in terms of letting you know how much work is involved, and I want to be honest with you.
One more thing before we get down to it! You do not have to spend a lot of money on any of this. As you’ll see below, I chose to purchase a couple of things for Slightly Sorted, but my advise is to go with everything free to begin with. Most hosting and services offer free trials, so don’t part with your hard-earned cash unnecessarily. I’ll tell you more about how I started building sites for free in a moment!
I’m going to be building up the ‘blogging’ section of Slightly Sorted as we go along, so expect lots more help in the not too distant future. But for now, let’s get to it… here’s what I did – and what you can do too – to set up my blog in one month!…
How to Start a Blog – First Steps…
I chose to get started using wealthy affiliate, because you can start building a website right away for free, and I’d heard good things about them. I got two free SiteRubix websites to have a play around with – great to help you decide whether building a website is something you’ll enjoy doing, without having to part with any money. The sites include the full version of WordPress (WordPress is essentially software which you use to build your site). You also get lots of free video tutorials, suitable for absolute beginners, telling you what you need to do. Although you can keep these free websites for as long as you like, they’re not really suitable in the long-term for your own blog. That’s because the hosting provider owns them, not you, so in theory they could take them away at any time. You need to own your own site.
I decided to get my own site by signing up to the full version of wealthy affiliate after a couple of weeks. As well as getting to own your own website (or multiple websites if you want), you get access to more in depth training. But you absolutely do not have to do that! This isn’t a sales pitch, I just found this method to be an easy and convenient way to get started.
As I mentioned already though, most hosting will offer a free trial or low-cost trial initially, just do your research before you decide which one you want to go with. A couple of the most popular, in addition to wealthy affiliate, are Siteground and Bluehost.
Choosing Your ‘Niche’
If you don’t know already, your niche just means the subject you’re going to write about on your blog. Maybe you already know what your niche is going to be, or maybe you’ll need to spend some serious time mulling it over! Either way, I’d recommend you read my post on choosing your niche, because it’s such an important decision. It may also affect the name you choose for your blog, which is something you need to decide on once you’ve chosen your niche. It’s no good choosing yogaforyou.com then deciding that you’d actually like to write about photography! Generally you’ll be able to select a domain name through whatever hosting platform you choose, and they make it a pretty simple process for you. I’d always recommend going for a .com rather than .net or other variations – it’s easier for people to remember.
In my post on choosing your niche, I mention that the best advice I came across in choosing the niche for my own blog was from a guy called Paul Scrivins. He offers a free 12 day email blogging bootcamp which I can’t recommend highly enough. It’s very honest and down to earth, and tells you what you really need to know. It covers all aspects of blogging, not just choosing your niche, and I’d be surprised if anyone isn’t very impressed by how much information there is for a free resource!
Starting To Write Your Blog!
The next big thing is the most important bit – starting to actually write blog posts! Nothing complicated about this, I just started writing. My advice here? Just go for it! Don’t worry too much or doubt your abilities, if you’re enjoying writing then it will shine through, even if it takes a while to develop your style.
Since Slightly Sorted is a general lifestyle blog, I had a lot of freedom in deciding where to start. I chose to start off simple by writing a few articles about bullet journaling, since it’s something I’d been trying out. I knew that a lot of people had heard about it but didn’t really know what it was, so I thought that explaining the basics would be helpful.
Some good advice I came across in the free email blogging bootcamp I mentioned – start off by writing about something you know is popular within your niche. You can develop more unique posts further down the line, but begin with something that you know people want to read about. Generally that means stuff that will help them, rather than something that’s quite personal or about you.
I started off with a free theme for Slightly Sorted. A ‘theme’ just means the template you use that creates the style of your blog. There are plenty of good free ones out there, so don’t pay for one right away unless you really want to. I already had my eye on a theme I’d seen (by pipdig), so I decided to invest in that. For me, it was a worthwhile investment as I love how the site looks now. I justified the cost by reminding myself that all the other resources I’d used so far were free!
The next thing I did as far as visuals are concerned was to select images to go with my blog posts. This is important as it can be really off-putting to see an article with loads of text and no images to break it up, however interesting the content might be. I went for a mixture of my own photos (just using my phone) and free stock images. There are some lovely free images available on line, I’d particularly recommend Ivory Mix for a really wide selection, and I also found a few high quality ones on MakeUpSavvy (like the one below). The site I use most frequently for free photos now is Unsplash.
- Update! – I’ve now written a whole post on where to find amazing free online stock photos *
One more thing you can do for free to improve the aesthetics of your site is to download some interesting fonts. I signed up to Creative Market for free, they send out a weekly email with six free creative resources, usually including at least one lovely font.
Next up, I signed up for a Pinterest business account. Pinterest is THE best way to promote your blog for free, and setting up your account and boards is pretty straightforward. The only difficult bit is not getting distracted by all the interesting articles you’ll find – it’s so addictive!
When it came to creating my account, promoting posts and creating graphics, I didn’t really know what I was doing initially. I took a free training course on Ivory Mix, then to actually create my graphics I used Canva, which is pretty straightforward to get the hang of.
A little further down the line, when you get serious about promoting your blog on Pinterest, I highly recommend this manual, but for now you can just get yourself a business account and experiment with a couple of pins!
Affiliates – The Best Way To Start Making Money
And finally, I signed up for a couple of affiliate schemes! This is the most straightforward way to begin monetizing your site. It means that when you link to a product using your affiliate link – let’s say it’s a book that you’ve read and recommend – and someone reading your site clicks on the link and goes on to buy the book, you get a small cut of that. The person purchasing the book doesn’t pay any more for it than they would if they hadn’t gone through your link, and the amount you make off one sale is small, but it all adds up – sometimes quicker than you might think!
I also watched an interesting video on affiliation on Skillshare (on a ‘two months free’ taster package). They also have some fantastic mini-courses on different aspects of starting a blog and building a website.
If you decide to use affiliate links on your blog, be sure to only recommend products that you’ve tried yourself and recommend, or have spent time thoroughly researching and believe your readers could benefit from. Otherwise you’ll just lose your credibility and the trust of your readers.
How to Start a Blog… Next Steps!
And that’s it! One month down the line and I had a fully functioning blog to be proud of. And there really is absolutely nothing stopping you from doing the same thing if you want to!
When you start out, it’s easy to start comparing yourself with well-established bloggers and start to feel like you’re not good enough. If that happens… STOP! Remember that all the big bloggers were at the beginner stage to start off with – if you’re determined, then just keep going. You’ll surprise yourself with what you can achieve!
During the first month, my confidence was boosted by some positive feedback and my first affiliate sale ($3.25 if you’re interested, shout out to the person who spent $99.99 in TJ Maxx, thank you for making my day!) My earnings have grown considerably since then, and I love being able to do something I love and make money from it.
After the first month of hard work, I was free to shift my focus towards writing good quality posts to help people out. In the end, that has to be your priority if you want your blog to be successful.
That said, blogging is never ‘done’, and your site will never reach the point of being finished! There’s always more to learn and discover! After the first month my next step was to sign up for Tailwind, which is a service that schedules your pins for you on Pinterest and saves you tons of time. That will make no sense to you if you’re new to Pinterest, and I really wouldn’t worry about it for now if that’s the case! I’ll be posting lots more content in the blogging section of Slightly Sorted in the very near future, including lots on Pinterest, so keep an eye out for more coming soon.
I hope that this post has helped you out if you’re considering starting up your own website or blog. I’ve purposefully only covered the basics here, as too much too soon can be really overwhelming when you’re starting out. But I hope this has given you an idea of what’s involved in setting up a blog, and offered a path to follow if you fancy giving this a go for yourself! Once more, I would really recommend this free 12 day email blogging bootcamp if you’re thirsty for more information. I loved it.
And that’s it! Get in touch if you’re starting your own blog, I’d really love to hear how you’re getting on. And let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help you out!
I really would recommend starting a blog to anyone who’s willing to put in the work and reap the rewards. Good luck and happy blogging… YOU CAN DO THIS – REALLY!!!
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