Why I Decided to Start a Blog
In the fall of 2015 I decided to start a blog. My goal is to reach out to working moms, people facing a thyroid cancer diagnosis and individuals considering law school and the legal profession. I also wanted to support other parents whose child may have been diagnosed with Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome.
I have diverse interests and I want this blog to reflect that variety. Many blogging gurus 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.
Before I publishing my first post (almost two years ago!), I spent a bunch of time listening to podcasts and reading blogs about blogging and how to start a blog (like this one, this one and this one). I also signed up for various social media accounts. I was already using Twitter for work and Pinterest for fun.
Before I started blogging, I didn’t know what Google + was, but I signed up for it and began exploring. I also started Instagram and Stumble Upon accounts as well. I’m still working on how to 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.
Check out this post –> Twitter Tips for Beginners
The Professional Mom Project is a self hosted blog using WordPress.org. This means that I 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 feel that a self hosted wordpress site is the best option for me.
Because one of my main reasons for blogging is to be creative and express myself through writing, I put together a few blog posts in Google Docs before signing up for hosting. To keep up with post ideas, I have a running list of topic ideas on Evernote. As anyone getting set to start a blog knows, writing is only one part of the blogging puzzle. Since so much of the internet is visual, you need Pinterest friendly and sharable images. I primarily use Canva,which is fantastic, to put these images together.
If you are thinking about starting a blog, I 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.
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After investigating a number of different options for hosting I decided to go with Siteground. The reviews about their service and response time are quite positive and the reviews of some of the other hosting companies weren’t as strong. Siteground also offers an amazing Cyber Monday deal. When I saw the deal pop up I decided to go for it.
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. Siteground’s website is easy to understand, which is super helpful if you aren’t familiar 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.
Once you sign up for hosting you can choose set up WordPress as the framework for your blog. The Siteground website is pretty comprehensive and provides step by step instructions.
Don’t forget – 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.
I updated my theme last year to the Market Theme by Restored 316. This theme works on the Genesis framework, which is a bit easier to navigate.
The WordPress dashboard is pretty confusing for someone just starting a blog so let me 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.
A Plug In is a piece of software that adds specific features to your wordpress site. Some key Plug Ins to install when you start a blog include:
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.The beginner's guide to starting an awesome blog! #blogging Click To Tweet
There you have it! Starting a blog can be stressful but it’s also lots of fun and can lead to endless possibilities.
To read more about my blogging adventures check out these posts:
- Helpful Tools and Resources for Bloggers
- 5 Blogging Mistakes I’ve Made and You don’t Have To
- What is Anchor.fm and How to Use it
- The Best Blog Posts of 2016
- 5 Things I Hate about Blogging