First off let’s just make sure you’re here for the right reason!… This post is going to tell you everything you need to know about how to start a Journal Blog (aka a Blog Journal). As in, you want to make your own blog. If you want to know how to start a journal then go to this post here, and if you want to start a blog about journals then go here!
Right, now that’s out of the way, welcome to this post all about how to start a Journal Blog!
What is a Journal Blog?
A Journal Blog (aka a Blog Journal) is simply a journal in blog format. It’s an on-line journal that anyone can view on the internet.
In some ways you could say that all blogs are on-line journals because they are updated regularly and formatted in date order, unlike standard websites which are comparatively static. If you want to start a regular blog or website (or you just want to get on with it and don’t want to know more about Journal Blogs!) then this step by step guide is fantastic.
But a Journal Blog (or Blog Journal… ok for me to stop saying that now?!) differs from a standard blog because it is personal in nature, even though it is publicly available to anyone who wants to see it.
While that doesn’t mean that you have to share your deepest darkest secrets (you know you have some!), it does mean that you’re using your Journal Blog to share your personal perspective on the events or topics that you choose to write about.
Those events or topics might relate directly to your day to day life and things that have happened to you, or they might be of a more external nature such as your views on current affairs or your foodie journey.
Let’s have a look at a couple of examples before moving on to why you would want to start a Blog Journal, and how to create a Journal Blog.
If you want to skip straight to the blog creation process without reading more on Journal Blogs, then hop over to this simple helpful step by step guide, or scroll on down towards the end of this post for a summary of the process.
Examples of Journal Blogs vs Regular Blogs
Here we have a some good examples of a regular blog, a regular blog which is almost a Journal Blog, and a couple of Journal Blogs.
An easy example of a regular blog is this one right here! Slightly Sorted is written in blog format, so is like a journal in that respect, but I don’t blog about my own life, events, perspectives or feelings.
Because this is a personal blog rather than a business blog it’s fine to share my own views on what I write about to some extent – and readers tend to like that – but in general readers come here for information rather than to know what I think.
Also, blogs like Slightly Sorted are generally written with the intention of being found, so the writers will often choose to write about popular subjects (blog niches) and use SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to rank higher on search engines.
They will also often be monetised with things like ads, affiliate schemes (don’t worry if you don’t know what that is, we’ll come back to it!) and product sales.
It’s important to note that you can absolutely do those things with a Journal Blog too (there are many Journal Blogs that generate significant income), but the writers of Journal Blogs often don’t write with those purposes in mind – as we’ll see in a moment when we go on to why you would want to write a Journal Blog.
Semi Journal Blog
Now let’s look at a blog which is moving towards being a Journal Blog, but isn’t quite one. The lines are blurry and that’s one of the great things about blogging in general – you’re totally in control of your content and the nature of your own blog!
For this example I might as well indulge in some shameless self-promotion since it fits in with our purposes!
My author blog (Tara C Steele) is there to promote my books, but I write about topics I find interesting on the blog section and I write them from my own point of view with my own opinions – like this one on parallel universes!
I also don’t write using SEO, because this is the kind of site that people will find from looking it up directly or via my books, and it’s not monitized.
And now for a couple of blogs that fall firmly into the category of Journal Blogs.
There are so many different genres that fall within the category of Journal Blogs that it’s difficult to pick just a couple. From blogs centering around cooking, to fashion, to gardening. What they all have in common though is that they have a personal commentry and perspective.
The first example of a Blog Journal that I want to show you is Diary of the Dad.
This is a really fun site written by a dad (obv) where he (Tom) talks all about his day to day life as a dad. At the time of writing the first posts I can see on there are about how his birthday went, whether or not he thinks parenting has become more difficult, and an illness he had.
You can immediately see how all of these topics are personal in nature. You can also see how, if they were not well written, they could be very boring to read about! However that’s not the case at all as the writing really brings the stories to life and keeps the reader engaged.
You can also see that a lot of the photos on this blog are of the author himself – another big indicator that a blog can be considered a Journal Blog.
The next example I have is The Book Smugglers. I’ve included it because, as well as just being a really nice blog, it’s a good example of how Journal Blogs can also be about specific subjects rather than just life in general – in this case books.
It also has two authors, so remember that Journal Blogs don’t necessarily have to be about just one person.
Why write a Journal Blog?
There are many reasons people love to write (and read) Journal Blogs!
Most of the time the reason people write personal blogs like this is that they want to share their ideas and opinions with an on-line community.
You might want for that to be a really large on-line community, or you might be more than happy if just a handful of readers visit your Journal Blog every now and then.
Similarly, some people are motivated by the prospect of making money with a Journal Blog, others don’t really give that a second thought.
You might want to write a personal blog like a Journal Blog to get your thoughts out of your head and on to (virtual) paper, or to gain clarity on your own views and opinions, to help break down taboos, or to influence people to support a worthy cause, to raise your own personal profile, or to build an on-line presence.
Basically there are tons of reasons for wanting to write a Journal Blog!
Whatever your reasons are, they are valid and should be respected!
How to make a Journal Blog
And finally we move on to the biggie… how to start a Journal Blog!
I have a fully comprehensive step by step guide on how to start a blog which you’ll find really helpful, but first let’s go over the basics.
I recommend creating your Journal Blog on WordPress because it offers so much flexibility going forward and you can create so many different styles and formats using WordPress (don’t panic if you don’t really know what I’m talking about yet, I’ll explain more!).
That said though, if you’re in a hurry then you might prefer to go with a service like Wix as it’s very quick to set up and can also result in beautiful and professional looking blogs. I have a whole post on how to set up a blog using Wix here with step by step instructions, along with example blogs I have created on Wix myself.
If you decide to go with WordPress though, as most bloggers do, there are a few basic steps you need to follow.
WordPress is just the name of a Content Management System used to create blogs and websites. It’s basically where you go when you’re on the computer creating and writing your website. I am writing this content for you in WordPress as we speak!
Essentially, these are the steps you need to take to create your Journal Blog in WordPress:
- Set up HOSTING – a web hosting service is the service you use that enables you to post your website on the internet. You can’t have a blog or website without some form of hosting.
- Get your DOMAIN NAME – the name of your site eg slightlysorted.com
- Set up WORDPRESS
- Get a THEME
- Start to write your JOURNAL BLOG!
- Sign up for affiliate schemes if relevant (optional)
Don’t worry if this all sounds a bit complicated and intidating! It really isn’t once you get your head around it – I knew absolutely nothing about blogging or websites, or anything like that when I started, and if I managed it then you can too!
I’m going to give you an overview of what each step involves. You may find that’s enough for you, but if you want something comprehensive that you can literally follow through step by step then go to my guide on how to start a blog as it walks you through every little thing that you have to do.
The only thing you need to differently is skip the step on ‘choosing your blog niche’ (which is the subject of your blog), because you already know that you want to write a Journal Blog – the rest is the same!
This page uses affiliate links including but not limited to Amazon links; as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you!
Step 1 – set up hosting
I recommend going to bluehost to set up your hosting account, as they provide a very simple service that’s low cost and reliable.
They also make things easy by taking care of some of the steps that other hosting providers ask you to do for yourself, like installing WordPress.
I encourage you to go for the inexpensive $2.95 a month option as it really is all you need at this stage (that’s about 2.16 GBP – just change the country option in the top right to change currency).
Step 2 – Get your domain name
If you’re using bluehost for your hosting, then there are a couple of stages at which you have the choice to get your domain name. You can either do it as part of your initial set up, or you can go ahead with setting the hosting account up and choose your domain name later – the options are clear during the set up process.
For this step you basically just have to find a name for your blog which a) you like, and b) is available!
I recommend a .com address because they tend to be more memorable and universal, but it’s fine to go for another extension like one that’s specific to your country.
As for the name itself, try to work out something that’s not too long – think about whether people will be able to remember it and how long it might take to type it into the address bar!
Remember that if you run into any issues during this set up process then just switch to the step by step guide and follow along there!
Step 3 – Set up WordPress
If you’ve chosen to go with bluehost then you will have the option to have WordPress installed automatically.
If you’re going with another hosting service then they should make it clear what you have to do to install it – it’s generally just a case of navigating to the correct place on the hosting service dashboard and clicking the button/s!
Once WordPress is installed, you need to delete any unnecessary plugins and change a couple of default settings.
First off, go to ‘Plugins’ then ‘Installed Plugins’ on your WordPress dashboard. It will look something like this:
Tick any plugins that you have in the list, apart from your bluehost plugin if you have one, or any plugin that is directly related to your hosting provider (it should have the hosting provider’s name in it).
Once they are ticked, deactivate them, then tick them again and delete them.
Not to sound like a broken record, but if you want to know about plugins in more depth then hop over to my full guide on setting up your blog.
Next, go to ‘posts’ in the main left hand menu and if there is a default post already there (probably titled ‘Hello World’ or something similar), click on ‘trash’ to delete it.
Then go to ‘pages’ in the main left hand menu and delete the default page in the same way.
Now you have a nice clean slate to start off with!
Next go over to ‘Settings’ on the same left hand menu and choose the ‘General’ option.
Fill in your blog title, a tag line if you want one, and set your time zone and how you’d like the time and date to appear on your site. Leave the ‘WordPress Address’ and ‘Site Address’ fields alone.
And then finally, go back to ‘Settings’ and this time choose ‘Permalinks’. This setting determines the format of your urls (web addresses).
Ensure that the option ‘Post Name’ is selected and save changes if necessary.
There are more things you can amend in the settings, but these are the essentials and anything else can be done at a later date.
Step 4 – Choose a theme!
My favorite step!
The most important thing about your blog is almost certainly going to be the writing, but I love how completing this step makes you feel like you’ve really created something and are well on your way to being a fully-fledged blogger!
A theme is just like a template really. Your content will fit into the design of your theme, and that will determine the look of your Journal Blog.
You can get free themes and premium themes, which you have to pay for.
If you don’t want to spend any money at this stage, there are some great free theme options to choose from.
Because I love designing websites and like my sites to look really good, I always buy a premium theme, but it’s just down to personal choice.
To install a free theme, go to ‘Appearance’ on the main left hand menu in your WordPress dashboard, and click on ‘Themes’. Click the ‘Add New’ button at the top of your screen, browse the themes, and click ‘Install’ when you find the one you want, then ‘Activate’ – simple!
Remember that your blog doesn’t have any content yet, so unless the theme you’ve chosen comes with demo content, you’ll have to wait until you have some content before you can see how your blog looks with your new theme.
I generally don’t have the patience for that, which is one of the many reasons I love Pipdig premium themes and use them on most of my blogs and websites (I’m not an affiliate – I just really like them).
They also have the most amazing customer service I’ve ever come across, and are great value for money, plus when you buy one of their themes you get access to tons of helpful WordPress guides.
Here’s an example of what some of the Pipdig themes look like. You can see how any of them would work brilliantly for a Journal Blog:
You can go over to the Pipdig website to take a look at all the themes available. If you do get one then you’ll also get clear instructions on how to install it – which is easy.
Step 5 – Write your Journal Blog!
Now the bit you’ve been waiting for – you get to start writing your Journal Blog!!
I won’t go into any detail here as you probably already have a fair idea about what your want to write about and how you want to write by now.
However, if you’d find it helpful to have a post with some help on that then just let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do!
For guidance on how to write your post in the WordPress block editior, check this post.
And if you don’t want to use only your own photos on your blog, then this post will help you to source the best free stock photos to go with your blog posts.
Optional Step 6 – Sign up for affiliate schemes
You might not be interested in monetizing your blog at this stage, in which case you can just ignore this step.
To be honest, even if you are interested in motetizing your blog I would suggest that you follow up on this step at a later date and just focus on creating content to begin with.
One of the most common mistakes for new bloggers is to focus on motetization over valuable content – in the end this gets you nowhere because people will only want to visit your site if it gives them a valuable experience, and no visitors equals no motetization!
However, it can be fun to sign up to an affiliate scheme and gives you a little boost if you happen to get a couple of dollars income early on!
Basically, an affiliate scheme is where a company pays a third party (the ‘affiliate’ or ‘associate’) commission to send customers to their company.
The most well known affiliate scheme for bloggers in Amazon Associates.
I’m an Amazon Associate, and if I put a link here to an Amazon product like this and you go over there and buy it, I’ll get a few cents commission for facilitating the sale.
There are tons of affiliate schemes for products and services, some of which pay out hundreds of dollars and some of which result in a bit of pocket change!
You can apply for the Amazon Associates scheme here.
Enjoy creating your very own Journal Blog!
I hope that this rather long post has helped you to understand how to start a Journal Blog!
I may have said this several hundred times already (sorry!!), but just want to make sure that you know that you can get extra help in the form of a full walk through of the process in my step by step guide to setting up your blog.
I wish you lots and lots of luck in your new venture!
Enjoy your blogging journey!