Carolina and I have been blogging collectively for the last 10 years! It has truly become our passion as well as a full time income source. We both started from scratch, knowing nothing, and not making a penny. We were new moms at home with babies and looking for a creative outlet.
Blogging gave us that and so much more. Not only do we get to share our passion and make a difference with others who relate to us, but we also help financially support our families while being at home with our kids.
It’s a win-win!
We started this new blog together so we can share everything we know and are continuing to learn about blogging because a shared passion for the both of us is talking about blogging! We blog about totally different topics and we’ve got different approaches, so we’re excited to share here on this new blog that there is no ONE way to success.
Below is our first post, where we’re sharing the very basics on starting a blog. We hope you find it helpful and if you have any questions, hop over to our Facebook group and leave us a question!
Want to get a PDF version of this guide with more detailed information? Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll send you the guide.
Here are our 10 steps for setting up a blog:
1. Decide on a general theme or topic that you’re going to blog about
Before you decide the name of your blog, spend some time contemplating what you want to share with the world on this blog of yours. What are you passionate about?
This is likely to evolve over time as you go along, but if you have a general idea of what your basis is, this will help you pick a good blog name from the beginning.
2. Purchase your domain
Your domain name is your blog’s address and is this part of your blog —> www.yourdomainname.com. You will be deciding your name, checking to see if it’s available, and then purchasing it. Domain names generally cost around $15 a year, although you can get deals when you’re first signing up.
Some people like to have both their domain name and hosting in the same place. We recommend you do this if you find a trustworthy host or a really good deal, such as “get a free domain when you sign up for hosting”.
We personally have our domain and hosting separate. Our domains are on NameCheap.com and our hosting is currently on InMotion Hosting. We didn’t always have it set up this way but we do now because if end up having issues with our hosting, we can easily move our blog if our domain is through a separate company.
We love and recommend NameCheap.com for purchasing your domain.
3. Pick your hosting platform
There are several different platforms on the web where you can create your blog, both free and paid or self hosted. We personally love and only use wordpress.org, which is the self-hosted version. This means you have to install this software on your paid hosting account (WordPress.com is different and not what we recommend). The endless options for customization, optimization and monetization make it an easy choice. Plus it is easy to find tutorials and support for any changes you want to make.
If you opt for wordpress.org (we highly recommend it!), you will need to acquire hosting – this is what allows the site to be viewed on the internet.
4. Purchase your hosting
There are a lot of different web hosts out there to choose from. We have been through about 6 hosts by now. Most hosts will usually handle any blog that is just starting out but once you grow you might run into issues – this is why we’ve had to move.
We both currently use and highly recommend InMotion Hosting. We have been with them for over a year, our sites haven’t been down a single time and we haven’t had any issues with them. They also have very affordable starting plans and as your blog grows you can move to a bigger plan if you need to.
If you get your hosting with them right now, you can get your domain for FREE for the first year. Click here to take advantage of this deal.
5. Install Genesis (optional)
After you’ve purchased your domain and web hosting, installed WordPress and all that jazz…it’s time for the fun to start!
The “theme framework” of your WordPress blog is going to be like the foundation and bones of your house. The better the foundation, the smoother everything will run and the easier it will be to integrate plugins smoothly. Studiopress is where you can find lots of great themes, and Genesis is their top one.
Carolina and I both use Genesis on our blogs. The reason we purchased the Genesis framework rather than using a standard free one is because Genesis is coded well, which allows us to easily customize our sites, gives us better SEO capabilities, faster site speed, and there is 24/7 tech support.
When you use a free theme, you risk having all of your customizations wiped out when they update and you have to deal more often with things going wonky on you, as well as risking poor coding and not as much compatibility. We would highly recommend making the investment!
You can read more here about all the benefits of Genesis.
6. Install Child Theme (optional)
Your child theme is going to be your blog’s curb appeal. It’s the face of your blog and what makes it pretty and visually appealing. You don’t need a child theme, you’d be good with just your Genesis framework theme if you wanted, but child themes definitely bring a professional and customizable look to your blog.
Here are some of the themes Carolina and I have used and loved:
• Restored 316 Designs – clean and feminine designs that are eCommerce capable. Our new site, Create Your Dream Blog, is using The Market Theme.
• Hello You Designs – beautiful, eCommerce capable themes. Jessica is currently using the Hello Darling theme on her site.
• Feast Design Co – we both have used themes created by Shay Bocks, and Carolina is currently using the Foodie Pro theme on her site.
• Elegant Themes – the popular Divi theme is part of a package that comes with Elegant Themes, and you can find Divi being used all over the web right now. It makes it easy to create beautiful sales pages, although the downside is that it’s not compatible with Genesis.
All of these child themes come with different types of customization. Be sure to see how they look in the free demos before you purchase so you can have an idea of how they look in action. You can also ask in our blogging group if anyone is using a theme you’re interested in so you can see how they’ve customized it on their own blog.
It will take you about 1-3 hours to customize your theme but don’t be scared – there are plenty of tutorials online and more than likely someone will be able to answer your questions in a Facebook blogging group.
7. Install Plugins
Plugins allow you to add awesome features to your blog. Installing a plugin is really easy – all you have to do is click on “Plugins” on the left side menu and then click on “add new”. This will take you to a page where you can search from the plugins by name.
Here are the ones we definitely recommend using:
Akismet Anti-Spam: This helps control the amount of spam comments you get.
Back up Buddy: This backs up your blog content.
Comment Email Reply: When a person leaves you a comment you want them to know when you’ve replied. This plug in sends them an email with your reply so they can come back to your blog and comment back.
Genesis Simple Hooks: this is to further customize your Genesis theme without having to edit the HTML code. This plugin will ONLY work if you installed the Genesis framework.
Jetpack by WordPress: this offers a lot of different customizations so play around with it once you install it.
Shareaholic or Social Warefare: this will add social media buttons to your blog posts so people can easily share them.
Simple Social Icons: this allows you to add your social media links to your sidebar or footer.
Wordfence Security: prevents your site from hacks.
Yoast SEO: we will have to explain more in depth what it does, but this is a must-have to help you customize your posts for search engines as well as social media.
Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights: This plugin allows you to easily track your Google Analytics.
8. Set up your social media accounts
You’re going to want to open social media accounts for your blog. Both of us have accounts with the following social media platforms:
The main ones that we focus on are the first three. It’s best to figure out which platform you enjoy the most and where it seems your audience hangs out the most as well, and choose to focus on those platforms.
9. Set up your Google Analytics accounts
You want to know if people are visiting your blog and what they are reading. Google Analytics will tell you all of this and more. Plus if you ever start working with brands, they will want the date from Google Analytics so setting this up is important.
Go to analytics.google.com and log in or create an account. When you click on “Sign Up” it will ask you basic things about your site like your domain, what your site is about, etc, and then it will give you a code you need to insert in your blog.
Once you have that information, go back to your WordPress Account and install the plug in Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights if you haven’t done so already. Click on “settings” and follow the instructions on the screen to connect your WordPress blog to your Google Analytics.
10. You’re all set – start writing blog posts!
That’s it! All the necessary steps to set up your own blog are complete. We know it might sound like a lot, but once you start doing each task you’ll realize how easy it is and how fast you get through some of these steps.
Once you’ve done all of these tasks, you are ready to start writing blog posts and sharing what you want to share with world.
Have questions? Post them in the group!
Additional Helpful resources :
Blog By Number – If you want a very detailed tutorial or course on how to set up a blog, we HIGHLY recommend this e-book and course. It covers every single step, with screenshots and all. It’s the type of information we wish we would have had when we started our blogs years ago.
Our tech guy – Grayson helps keep our accounts secure, updated, and generally helps us with any techy questions we have. He’s very affordable!
Jessica’s blog planner – I went ham at the end of last year and created every printable and worksheet you can think of to help with blogging. I use these planning sheets all. the. time. Our Facebook group members can use the code createyourdreamblog to get 25% off the purchase price.