In my last post, I talked about some of the reasons WHY blogging is a great idea for any mompreneur. Now I’ll get to the fun part – the basic technical aspects of starting your own blog. Even if you decide to have someone else set up your blog or website for you, it’s a good idea to get familiar with this stuff so that you can navigate your blog on your own.
Registering a Domain Name
Coming up with a short, catchy domain name is an important step to setting up your blog. You can search any domain registration site to see if the names you’re considering are available. Once you find a name that you like, you’ll need to register it. It’s quick and inexpensive (should cost you around $10). Sometimes your hosting company will include one or more free domains with their services. You can go through any domain registration company, but we recommend dreamhost or bluehost for reliability.
What platform do you want to use?
A platform is simply what site you will use to create your page. There are many options to choose from but the top 3 that the majority of professional bloggers use are WordPress, SquareSpace, or a custom-developed-site. The first two are your more affordable options, but we’ll discuss the pros and cons to each.
- Allows users to construct a website through a simple to use control panel
- Includes: analytics, social media sharing, commenting, tablet/smartphone layouts, & SEO capabilities right out of the box
- Provides more of a full-service set of services as opposed to WordPress which requires outside plugins to add functionality
- Huge learning curve
- Customizing can be complicated and can require knowledge of html/css
- You own your content
- To have all of the flexibility, you have to purchase a domain name and web hosting
- Thousands of plugins to help customize your blog and run smoothly
- If you own a shop, you can easily run payments and purchases right from your wordpress site
- Gives you complete control over your content and design
If you plan on blogging professionally, WordPress or SqaureSpace are your best options.
(Quick side note in case you’re considering using blogger.com – About the only advantage to blogger is that it’s free. Because Google owns it, they can take and use your content at any given time without notice and without permission. It’s also very limited in customization. It’s an ok place to have a personal, limited blog, but don’t even consider it for any professional purposes.)
Self Hosted Vs. Free
This is the difference between having myblog.wordpress.com as a domain name vs. myblog.com. Having a self-hosted blog will open up your options for customization A TON, plus you can advertise and have sponsored content. No advertising is allowed on a free site. If you expect a decent amount of traffic to go through your site at any point, you’ll need to invest in a good hosting company. It will cost a little more per month than the cheaper hosting companies, but it’ll be worth it in the end. You never know when your blog will go viral and you’ll want a company that can handle it when it does. Media Temple, DreamHost, and BlueHost are all good options. Host Gator & Go Daddy are not recommended.
WordPress Plugins we love
- Commentluv or Disqus (keeps a public record of all of your comments) (you don’t want people to have to login or type in a code to leave a comment)
- W3 Total Cache (clears up and compresses your WordPress files)
- Jetpack (tracking)
- Akismet(spam filter)
- Google Analytics (demographics. If you join a blogging network or affiliate network, you’ll need all of these numbers)
- Wp Smush.It (compresses big pictures)
- All in One SEO pack (every post has a box at the end with the title, description, keywords)
- Contact Form 7 (so readers can email you directly without putting up your email address)
- Shareaholic (allows people to share your content)
- Simple Social Icons
- Google Keywords (shows you what people are searching for – which you should include in your keywords)
- WordPress Editorial Calendar
Designing Your Blog
Where to find beautiful blog themes:
- elegant themes
- creative market
- theme x
- restored 316 designs
- Angie Makes
Get to know your blog’s backend!
You can hire a designer to do all of the initial work for you, but unless you plan on having them on call 24/7, you’re going to need to learn a little about how certain things on your dashboard work.
Create blog graphics for free
There are some really great free websites that make it easy to create beautiful graphics quickly.
- canva (good for pre-sized layouts, ads)
- picmonkey (add fun fonts and graphics to photos)
- spoken.ly (great for automated quotes)
- pinstamatic (great for screenshot images)
Stock photo sites (all photos are free for anyone to download, edit, & use):
Basic Blog Start Up Costs
Domain name : $1-$12
Hosting : $5-$50
Blog Theme: Free-$200
Unless you are highly tech-savvy, you’ll also probably need to hire a web developer/designer to install and customize your theme for you. It’s also worth getting some professional graphics created for you if you can afford it. Install + graphics can run you from $50-$1000.
Now that you’re equipped with all the basic knowledge you need to go out and start your own blog, you might be wondering, “Now what?” Easy, just read my next Blogging 101 article! (Sign up HERE to be notified when it gets posted). That’s right, Part 3, the final and last glorious article in this series is all about how to create good content and boost your blog’s reach via social media.
(Shout out to mommy blogger extraordinaire, Kristen, over at When at Home for many of these helpful links and useful information!)