Why I Decided to Start a Blog
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I have diverse interests and I wanted this blog to reflect that variety. I know many people cite the importance of finding a niche and focusing on that particular topic but I haven’t decided if that’s what I want to do just yet. I’m a multifaceted person and I think my readers have many interests too.
Before I published my first post in early December, I spent a bunch of time listening to podcasts about blogging, reading various blogs about blogging (like this one, this one and this one) and signing up for social media accounts. I was already using Twitter for work and Pinterest for fun – especially home decorating ideas and recipes. As far as Pinterest goes, it’s apparently best to have a Pinterest Business Account so you can keep track of your analytics. I updated my regular account to a business account without any difficulty. It’s easy to install and free.
I didn’t know what Google + was but I signed up for it anyway and I started Instagram and Stumble Upon accounts as well. I’m still not sure how to properly use Google + but Instagram and Stumble Upon are intuitive and easy to use.
In addition, I joined a few Facebook blogging groups where bloggers of various levels ask questions, promote posts and learn about the blogging process. These groups are great. The bloggers are very friendly and helpful.
Because one of my main reasons for blogging is to be creative and express myself through writing, I started to put together a few blog posts in Google Docs before signing up for hosting. I also keep a running list of topic ideas on Evernote that I have running on my phone and desktop. Since the writing is only one part of the puzzle, I also began putting images together for each post. I primarily use Canva which is fantastic.
If you are thinking about starting a blog I would recommend that you put some of this work in ahead of time. It will make your first few days online a bit easier knowing that you have content and ideas lined up.
Based on what I learned off of Pinterest and the Facebook groups, I decided I would start a self hosted WordPress.org site. Essentially this means that I would have my own domain name (www.mynamehere.com) and pay a hosting company for my little spot on the web. There are other options (blogger, wordpress.com, squarespace) but I personally felt a self hosted wordpress site was the best option for me.
After investigating a number of different options for hosting I chose to go with Siteground. I read decent reviews about their service and response time and read some negative reviews of some of the other hosting companies. They also had an amazing Cyber Monday deal so I decided to sign up.
The registration process was fairly easy and Siteground’s live web chat customer service representatives helped me along the way. I did get disconnected a few times from the web chat, which was frustrating but ultimately it worked out. They explain how to set everything up on their website in easy to understand terms, which I appreciate since I’m unfamiliar with the lingo.
When I first signed up I hadn’t decided on my blog’s name yet so I registered with a temporary name initially (I wouldn’t recommend doing this). Then I kind of left it for a while. I was nervous about actually starting and I couldn’t figure out a name even though I started thinking about it when I initially decided to start a blog. The Siteground people even emailed me several times telling me to set up my site and get moving. I thought this was a nice touch and it helped encourage me a bit.
Once I finally determined the name, I reconnected with the customer service people and they gave me a hand with setting up the actual site.
As one of the set up options once you sign up for hosting you can choose set up WordPress which I did. Again, their website is pretty comprehensive and provides step by step instructions. There are two WordPress options – .org and .com. I still get confused between the two but for a self hosted site that does not include “wordpress” in the URL you have to go with WordPress.org.
Siteground gives you a few free theme options to start off with so I chose a simple one called Cohen. My blog was on the Cohen theme for the first few weeks and then when WordPress came out with the 2016 theme I went with that one.
One of my goals for the next month or so is to find a premium theme which will make the site a bit more functional and easy to use. If you know of a great theme please let me know in the comments!
The dashboard is pretty confusing for a first timer so I can explain some of the elements:
Posts – where you can let your creativity go wild, write away and add media, images etc. You can save your posts as you work on them and once you hit publish you’ve formally put your first post up online!
Appearance– where you can choose your theme, change your widgets and do other things that I haven’t figured out yet 😉
Widgets– the little spots on the side and bottom of the blog where you can add your social media icons, disclaimer, advertisements etc. I added a small about me section, social media sharing section, subscription section and disclosure paragraph.
In my earlier research I found a few lists of important WordPress plugins to include initially. On that basis, I installed:
Akismet – protects against spam
Favicon by Real Favicon Generator – see that little square on the left side of the web address? That’s a favicon. I had no idea until a fellow blogger suggested that I change my favicon and I looked it up on google. This plug in helps you personalize your favicon.
Google Analytics for WordPress – this helps you keep track of how many people have visited your website, where they came from, how long they stay on the site etc.
Insert Headers and Footers – does what it says – lets you insert a header/footer.
Jetpack – also provides you with insight into how your site is doing.
Limit Login Attempts – since there are malicious spammers out there it’s important to make sure you have security measures in place to block these people from logging in to your site and hacking it (although I’m not sure why they’d want to hack my site but I digress).
Sumo Me – this plug in allows you to insert sharing buttons which makes social media sharing that much easier.
Word fence – another one of those security plug ins.
Yoast SEO – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps you get your site found by search engines. This plug in helps you figure out if you’re ticking off all of the boxes. I don’t know much about SEO but like everything else – it’s a work in progress.
So that’s how I started!
Goals for Month Two
My goals for my second month of blogging are:
- Finding a proper premium theme to make my site more user friendly
- Keep statistics on how many followers I have so I can see how to best increase these numbers
- Write one blog post per week
- Figure out some sort of editorial calendar (if you have any suggestions please let me know!)
- Learn more about Pinterest optimization
- Learn more about SEO
Maybe these are too many goals but we’ll see how it goes….
Is there anything I forgot to do in my first month of blogging? Please let me know in the comments
To read more about my blogging adventures check out these posts: