If you’re like me, then you’ve noticed that a lot of people are blogging. And, it’s not just that they’re blogging – they’re making money while they do it.
You’ll see post titles like:
- I quit my job and now I’m blogging full time!
- Follow your dreams and blog!
- I made $60k in month and you can too!
- Screw the 9-5, work at home so you can be with your kids.
Okay, it might not be those exact titles, but I’m sure you’ve seen something similar.
And, the way you felt when you read those titles?
You might have felt Skeptical, hopeful, or curious followed with thoughts like:
- Is that even possible?
- Yes, I want that too!
- BUT, come on, how do you actually do it?
I’ll answer a few of those questions at the bottom of the post, but before you get overwhelmed by all of those questions that are bouncing around in your head, the first question that you really need to ask is: how do I start my own blog and do I want to do it?
You’ve come to the right place. Because today we’ll talk about how to start a blog when you’re overwhelmed by all of the options. And, we’ll touch on one of you’re biggest questions: is blogging right for me?
Before we dive into how to start a blog, you’ve got to answer a quick question:
- Is blogging right for you?
The thing is, this isn’t an easy question for me to answer. But, I can share with you why I started a blog. It led to me leaving my job, so I think it’s a story worth sharing…
Why I Left My Job to Start a Blog Instead
Let’s rewind a few years…
My husband was just finishing up his PhD in Musicology. Don’t know what that is?
Yah, I didn’t really either.
The cliff notes version is that it’s a fancy degree in the history of music.
He rocked that part of his life. He finished even though we had a three year old and a 3 month old (who cried constantly, but that story is for another day).
The point is that despite this huge accomplishment, life was stressful.
- We had a baby who cried round the clock.
- We were at the end of our contract with our graduate school housing.
- My husband didn’t have a job lined up after graduation.
- We had a threenager.
- I told my husband I wanted to quit my job.
- We adopted two kittens because, hey? Why not add more to our life.
I look back on that time and I wonder how we even made it through.
But, the crazy part?
I was due to return back to work. Even though I worked as a preschool teacher, my salary could not cover childcare for my two kids. I would have been paying the school $100 every month to work full time and have my kids in full time care. And, I told him that it wasn’t worth going back to work.
I told him that I’d make money blogging. Yes, I wanted to start a blog.
I had this crazy idea that I could cover my salary with a blog that I would build from scratch. It’s this little place that you’ve landed on right now. And, this little slice of the internet became the only reason that I could stay home with my two kids and still pay the bills.
But, my big questions were:
- What the heck am I going to write about?
- What’s going to be my name?
- How am I going to pay the bills?
That journey is for another day too, but I will say that through tremendous faith and sleepless nights (thanks to the baby and this blog), this blog is still my lively hood after accruing one hefty mortgage, one more baby, and lots and lots of startbucks white chocolate mochas.
If you have a reason like I did to fight to stay home and monetize a blog, these next steps are for you. And, I’ll be here to teach you while you do it.
Let’s dive in…
To Blog for Cash or Not to Blog for Cash…
After hearing my story, you should know that I started blogging because I needed to stay home with my kids and still pay the bills. So, I started off with a clear goal of making money through my blog.
But, that’s not always the case. You’ve got to figure out what’s right for you.
So, here’s the first question to answer:
Which Blogging track do you want to take?
- One blogging track is because you hope to monetize and make money from the blog.
- The other blogging track is just for fun.
It’s okay if you want to start a fun blog at first and then monetize later.
Your blog options are going to look a little different depending on your answer. There’s no “right” answer, so be honest with yourself. There’s all types of bloggers.
If you want to start a blog for fun, you can start a blog on blogger. I don’t know the in’s and out’s of blogger, so I’m going to send you to my friend, Dyan’s, blogger tutorial. She really knows her stuff, so you’ll be in good hands.
For those of you who want to start a blog because you see the potential for cash, you’re going to want to follow these 5 easy steps.
Tip: I started with a self-hosted site and downloaded wordpress instead of using blogger because almost every professional blog out there eventually makes that change. Naturally, that’s what I recommend you doing too.
5 Easy Steps to Start a Blog When You Don’t Know Where to Start
Okay, let’s chat about this for a minute. I know. You want to dive right in and get started, but can you pause for a minute?
Because this is important…
If you want to make money blogging, you’re going to have to write a lot of content. And, if you’re going to write a lot of content, you need to know a lot about a specific topic.
After you’re done setting up you’re blog, you’ll be ahead of the game if you stop to focus on what you do best. I’ll even tell you how to figure that out…
Pause here and download this brainstorming sheet.
It will tell you exactly what you need to think about to choose a blog topic and then a name. It will help you so you can write on your blog for years and years to come.
For example: If I could go back, I would change my name from Happily Ever Mom to something else. I don’t like the implication that life is a fairy tale. But I can work with the name because it’s not too specific like Happily Ever Babies…or Little Ones Ever After…(terrible examples, but you get the idea!).
Those specific names would have kept me stuck in a time frame that my kids (and I) will grow out of eventually.
Get the idea?
Keep it purposeful and open-ended by downloading the brainstorming cheat sheet HERE. Then, we’ll search for a name.
2. CHOOSE A NAME
Did you grab the brainstorming cheat sheet? No?
Grab it now and fill it out because it’s going to make this step much easier.
Because you filled out the sheet, you know exactly why people come to chat with you. You know what it is that they want answered AND how they feel after they talk to you.
Now answer this: what’s the common theme?
Look at your brainstorming sheet and see what you filled in during the patterns section.
That is what you should be writing about.
Of course, there’s the “last 2-5 years” section too. You can absolutely write a blog about that as well.
Time to turn that theme into a blog name!
Think of verbs or descriptive words related to your theme. Think of a noun related to your theme.
Now, try to find some combinations.
A few of my favorite blog names are:
- The Busy Budgeter
- Living Well, Spending Less
- The Realistic Mama
Just to give you some inspiration. Each example gives you a sense of what you types of information you’ll find on their blog.
Once you’ve got an name idea, you can search here at the domain search that I use to see if the name is available.
But, don’t get frustrated.
I have to warn you that lots of names are already taken OR people have bought them so you have to pay them a crazy amount of money to buy the domain name.
- Stay patient.
- Get creative.
- And, try to find a “.com” that will work.
This step is worth the time and energy, so take you’re time.
Remember, there’s a back page on the brainstorming cheat sheet for figuring out a blog name. Use it until you find a domain name that’s available!
Once you’ve purchased the name, you’re ready for the next step…
3. YOU NEED A HOST
And, no, I’m not talking about something out of the movie, Poltergeist.
You don’t need to know the technical explanation for this, but imagine that you’re blog is your home. It’s what you get to decorate and where all of your “furniture” is (aka your posts).
But, “where” is your blog house located exactly?
It’s hosted on a server. In other words, it’s your house’s land or property.
A blog (your house) needs land (your server) and a host is your real estate agent.
It turns out that just like buying a house, choosing a real estate agent is a pretty big deal.
Here’s what I did for hosting, that may work for you too:
I chose Blue host to start. It was cheap and a relatively easy investment when I first started my blog. They had quick and easy customer service and did exactly what I needed them to do: Blue Host gave me virtual “space” (or land) in order for my blog to exist so that people could come visit. You can sign up for it HERE.
Keep in mind that a year or two from now, you may have to find a new real estate agent and upgrade to a different host.
Imagine that Blue Host is actually a land that’s suited for condos. So, you’re going to share all that property with other people who bought condos too. That’s what you’re signing up for: a shared server.
Now imagine that once you’ve got a bunch of kids in your house (aka readers), you need a little more space. In other words, you need you’re own property (bye bye condo living). This is when you should upgrade. I don’t recommend sticking with Blue Host for more than 1-2 years. That’s just the timeline that worked for me.
Once I was around 100k pageviews monthly, I left Blue Host and upgraded to TechSurgeons. I CANNOT say enough great things about them. They don’t have referral links, I just think Jay and his team are awesome, responsive, and a great value. Check them out when you’re ready.
So, First step:
- Sign up for Blue Host.
- Choose a 1-2 year plan only.
- Plan to upgrade hosting when you need more space for all your raving fans.
Okay, let’s move on…
4. Upload WordPress
I’m not even gonna lie to you.
My husband uploaded wordpress for me.
*hides in shame*
Listen. In my defense, it would have taken me a MONTH to do something like this. I am NOT a tech-savvy lady. So, I’m handing this over to my husband who will tell you exactly what to do because he is a tech-savvy guy (and ridiculously patient, too).
I promise. You’re in good hands.
Hey guys, I’ll try to keep this quick. If you signed up with Blue Host then it’s as easy as a click of a couple buttons. Really.
First, go to your Blue Host Account and find the Website section. Then select Install WordPress. Click Install and choose the domain name you are installing WordPress to. There are some other options on the page, but if you leave everything else as default, you’ll be installing WordPress blog as the main page on the website. To finish, just click Install Now.
But what if you don’t have Blue Host? Well, many hosting sites will have similar processes. If they don’t, then I recommend following the WordPress instructions found here. Here’s a quick rundown of the manual process:
- Download WordPress (click here). It’ll download as a .zip file. Just unzip it on your computer for now.
- Go to your web host and create a designate a server and MySQL user who will have access to the database.
- Find and rename wp-config-sample.php to wp-config.php, then edit the file and add your database information.
- Upload the WordPress files to your server. If you load it straight to the root rile, then your blog will be the homepage (www.example.com). If you want it on a subpage, then create a subfolder first and then upload it to the subfolder (www.example.com/blog).
- Now visit the URL to activate the WordPress installation script.
Those five steps may seem a bit much, so before you dive into that, confirm that your hosting site does not have a WordPress installation tool. (Also, at this point, think again about whether or not you want to go with Blue Host! There’s a reason so many bloggers recommend them – because Blue Host makes it easy on you when you’re starting out.)
Okay, it’s Katie again.
That was embarrassingly straightforward wasn’t it?
*insert slight sarcasm*
But, seriously…it’s not too bad, right?
It’s fine by me if you call your spouse over to do it for you too. No judgement here.
Okay, moving on to my favorite point – step number 5!
5. WRITE! *squeal*
Let me tell you…
You are SO ahead of the game right now.
You brainstormed why people come to you and then you chose a name that reflects that theme.
(All thanks to the cheat sheet that you filled out.)
Now, you get to write about it!!
I’m seriously thrilled for you!
Here’s the thing…
At the heart of any successful blog is someone helping their reader. I go into crazy detail about that HERE. But, the truth is that you’ve already taken the steps to figure out how your new blog is going to help others.
Now, it’s just time to write it all out.
- Get inspired.
- Keep the idea of “helping” at the core of everything that you write.
- Have fun! <— I even give you permission to watch Scandal why you do it. Yep, that’s the kind of blogger that I am.
Quitting my 9-5 to start a blog and be home with my kids is one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made.
Did I make that bold enough to get my point across?
I’m never going to pretend that blogging doesn’t take hard work.
But, let me tell you something…
- We all have to work hard.
- We all have to put food on the table.
- We all have to make BIG decisions about how best to support our families.
Why not make it happen by doing something that you love and something that gives you flexibility?
You’ve already taken the big leap of faith by starting a blog. And, that is the first step towards something awesome.
I couldn’t be more thrilled for you!
Stay in touch and learn more along with me in my weekly blogging newsletter. This is a secret list JUST for people that have started a blog through this post.
It’s going to be good. I cannot wait to see you there!
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