Thoughts By Natalie
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How to Start a Blog

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If there is one question I get emailed about from you guys over and over again it’s a version of this: I want to start a blog…but I’m not sure exactly what steps to take. Help! Lucky for you, today that help is here ;) Today I’m sharing the basics for getting started on your own blog. Consider this Blogging 101…

First things first, what is your blog about? It can be worth it to spend time brainstorming exactly the kind of content you’re planning to create. Is it a food blog? A style blog? A DIY blog? All of the above? It should be something you could share endlessly about, because you are about to become a content creator!

Next, you’ll need to pick a platform. There are a lot of options out there, both free and paid. I went the free route for years using Blogger, but now that I have a self-hosted WordPress blog I have to say that’s absolutely my recommendation. WordPress is easy to use and customize design-wise, plus you can have your own domain name, which makes you 100% more legit.

Assuming you go the self-hosted route like I recommend, you’ll need to choose a hosting service and pick a domain name. There are tons of site you can do this through, but my recommendation is BlueHost. That’s who I personally use because they have good rates, excellent customer service and the option to cancel at any time. More importantly (to me, at least) is that they prohibit pornography, nudity, and other adult content on their servers—I love them so much for that, I had to support them!

When you sign up, you’ll have the chance to pick your free domain name so be sure you have that picked out in advance. I recommend registering for 36 months at $3.95 per month (which is $142.20 upfront). This is the best deal cost-wise, especially since there is no contract and you can cancel at any time. As far as the domain name goes, ideally it should match the name of your blog. For example, this blog is called Thoughts By Natalie and the URL is thoughtsbynatalie.com. That makes it easy for people to remember and come back!

Though content is what really matters, the appearance of your sight is pretty close in importance so you’ll want to find, download and install a theme. There are a lot of themes available out there at a low cost—usually under $50. You definitely don’t need to be spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to hire someone to customize it for you, especially if you’re just starting out and testing the waters. You may just want something simple or prefer to keep costs low—in which case there are tons of free WordPress themes out there. However, if you’re wanting something more customizable or more specific than the free themes that are offered, Themeforest is a great place to find a premium theme.

Before you go public with your site, make sure you create an about page so people know who you are, what you’re about, and what they can expect as they read your blog.

Lastly, consider investing in a nice camera. Blogging is a very visual thing, and the better your photos are, the more likely they are to get shared, which means more people will find your blog and read it! It’s unbelievable what a difference a good quality photos can make. I personally use a Nikon D3300 and I highly recommend it. Need to snap a photo of yourself? I use a tripod and remote clicker for style photos all the time and love them both!

MY BLOG PHOTO ESSENTIALS

 

You absolutely can keep it simple and use your phone if it has a nice camera function, but if you can make it work to set aside money to invest in a nice camera, it makes a big difference. For times when you can’t snap your own photos, Death to the Stock Photo and Unsplash are great resources for free-to-use photos.

Now all there is left to do is start posting! And that’s all you ;)

What other questions do you have about blogging/social media? Leave them in the comments and I can put together some other blog-related posts for you ;)

P.S. Already have a blog on Blogger that you want to move over to WordPress? I have a guide for that here.

Photo via Death to the Stock Photo

(Disclosure: I am a BlueHost affiliate and may make a commission when you sign up to use their services. I recommend BlueHost because it’s what I use, and I’ve been really pleased with it!)

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  • dylcia
    September 30, 2015 at 6:22 am

    Would love to know how you created such a big instagram following. Any insights on how to get more followers?

  • Nathaly
    September 30, 2015 at 9:42 am

    I started a blog but sometimes I spend so much time away because I don’t know what to write about. I have different thoughts but can’t seem to get them organized enough to not be jumping from one idea to the next in the post. How do you organize yourself to know what you’ll be writing about on a specific date and how do you get your ideas from?

    • Natalie Borton
      October 2, 2015 at 10:37 am

      I find that creativity begets creativity—the more I write/come up with ideas, the more easily it happens! I definitely keep lists on my phone of content ideas as they come to me.

  • Kelly D
    September 30, 2015 at 11:55 am

    Any advice on monetizing a personal blog?

    • Natalie Borton
      October 2, 2015 at 10:36 am

      Great question! I personally monetize this blog through affiliate links and sponsored content—but maybe I need to do a blog post on that!?

  • Kimberly
    October 2, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Hi Natalie! I just love your blog so much! Very inspirational and I find the whole aesthetic to be very clean and gorgeous. Might I ask who was your blog designer? Or did you use a specific theme on WordPress?

    Best wishes and good luck on your shop!

    • Natalie Borton
      October 2, 2015 at 10:35 am

      Thanks Kimberly! I used a WP theme :)

  • Kate Daw
    October 5, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Hi Natalie,

    Really enjoy following your posts and love you style too! although we do not have a MADEWELL where I live BOO!!!

    I have been blogging on blogger for a year or so and I wanted to move over to word press. I have followed and read your instructions on how to do this and I have signed up to Blue host. I have a problem though….I have installed word press and i am at the stage where i should click on my WP admin URL which I have this should then send me to the WP dashboard. However it doesn’t, when I click on the link it sends me to my URL and states this page is not available. I am yet to discover the WP dashboard to move further on in the process to transfer my old posts. I wonder if this is because its a custom domain? or because I bought a template when using blogger. Anyways any advice would be appreciated. Thanks Kate