I seriously get asked ALL the time how people can get into this crazy world of blogging. I even taught a course at LDS Business College this last summer about creating a managing a website (which of course includes a blog). So many people, especially right now given our political landscape, are wanting a platform to make their voice heard. Often our advice is actually; don’t start one. It’s really a lot of work. My sister and I get so excited helping out a new blogger, and then they end up losing interest a few months later. So, let’s get real for a minute.
Blogging might look like a super fun easy way to make money from home, and it is. It is also a TON of work. You will even do it for quite a while before you gain any sort of traction. My first post on this site was October 29th, 2009. That is SEVEN years ago! My first blog was even longer ago (started in 2006). I’ve been doing this for a long time to get where I am, so my first advice is don’t have visions of grandeur of starting your blog and suddenly having thousands of followers. Sometimes that does happen, and it’s like a lightning strike, you never know when and where it will happen. Plan on it taking a really long time, and to be “talking to the air” for a while before people actually start tuning in.
If you ever want to make any money blogging, you will need to be on a self hosted wordpress installation. What this means is that you sign up for hosting some place like BlueHost (which is the cheapest way to get started), and you install wordpress on your own domain name (such as familytechzone.com… except you can’t have that one, obviously!) This is the ONE mistake I see bloggers who are just starting out making. They aren’t sure if they are really going to keep at it, they just want to give it a shot. It’s easy in that situation to think that you can start off on a free platform like Blogger or WordPress.com, but let me just tell you right now, that’s NOT the way to go. Even if it’s just a hobby blog for now, and you don’t really intend on making money, it’s a good idea to pay for hosting. There are a few reasons for this.
- Free platforms own your content. If my entire blogging history is on Blogger, and for whatever reason Google decides to shut Blogger down (as they have done with other products), then all of your content is GONE. If someone complains about your site and tells Blogger you are in violation of their terms of service, all of your content… GONE. It’s just not a good idea to have your content inside a platform that you don’t own. Plus, they can always change their terms of service, and suddenly you are in violation. Such as wordpress.com sites that won’t let you have any ads.
- Free platforms don’t let you customize your site they way you are going to want to. Most are quite limited in what you can do. With a self hosted wordpress platform, you can install all sorts of plugins that will help you make your new blogging job easier! You can also get your site to look exactly how you want it to look.
- Eventually you will want to move. Every single blogger, as they get bigger, decide they need to be on self hosted wordpress.
After you have decided that self hosting is the way to go (because it is), next you will need to install wordpress. Bluehost makes this super easy for you to do by adding a simple “install wordpress” button. I’ll be putting together a more in depth tutorial on this a bit later.
Then you will pick a theme for your website. Themeforest.net has a TON of really great options. Make sure your theme claims to be responsive (meaning that it will adjust the design for mobile users). Mobile traffic is making up at least half of all web traffic right now, so having your theme look awkward on a smart phone will definitely hurt you in the long run.
If you are looking to monetize your blog (as in make some money from it), sign up for adsense. You don’t have to have any content yet, just a domain. After your adsense account is approved, make sure to add a few ads to your theme.
Next step is to write! Get a few posts in, they don’t have to be amazing, just start filling your site with content, so when your amazing stuff gets some traction, it won’t be a desert wasteland of content!
There is literally SO much more I can say about every single one of these steps, so I’m crafting a course right now! If you want to know as soon as it’s released sign up below!
Once you’ve started writing your content, the best way to get traffic is to start sharing your posts on social media, and to keep at it. You will want to quit, you will get bored, your passion will eb and flow. Just keep plugging away, writing away. Pick a topic that you will be passionate about. A topic you have been passionate about for a long time before you even started your blog. Your passion will come through in your writing, and people will respond to it. Good LUCK! It’s really the best job in the world.
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