How I Started A Blog – And Why You Should Too
If you are reading this, I would imagine you have even a tiny desire to start a blog. Whether you want it just as a hobby in your free time or if you want to make it your job, you want to start a blog. I’m sure you’ve read all of the Pinterest articles: “how to start a blog in 30 minutes,” “how to make your first $100 in a week!” You are probably overwhelmed.
This was me when I started my blog. It was a bit of a process! But I’m here to offer some guidance and encouragement for those of you who have watched me start my blog and are wondering if you should too.
Note: this post is not sponsored but it does contain affiliate links to products I used to start and keep this blog running. See my full disclosure policy here.
First off… YES, YOU SHOULD START A BLOG.
Why Do I Blog?
The main reason I even started blogging in the first place, even before I started Life With Cattitude, is because I have always loved to write. My friend Becca (who wrote this guest post), recommended I start a blog as a way to cope with some anxiety I had at the time. I started THIS blog because I hated my job and desperately wanted an escape. Fast forward to now, I love my job and I’m still blogging and getting better every day! So, whether you’re wanting to make your blog a hobby or a job, yes, you should start!
How Did I Start?
The first thing you have to do when starting a blog is figure out your niche, or your main topic. My niche is mainly beauty with some lifestyle and even a little health and food thrown in. Are you a stay-at-home mom who likes to share stories of how you juggle your kid’s routines? Are you a law/medical student who wants to write about how to keep it together when you’re going crazy? Are you a photographer? There are literally so many options, there is no limit.
That’s not to say you HAVE to focus on that one niche! Like I said, my tagline is beauty and lifestyle, but I like to throw in some relationship advice, some recipes, some travel posts, etc. The sky is the freaking limit!
To Host Or Not To Host?
I had to decide if I wanted to keep my free, hosted wordpress.com blog or go self-hosted (meaning I bought my own domain). Since one of my goals was to make a little income with the blog, the second option was the best way to go, so I bought my own domain… after three hours of brainstorming titles until I settled on Life With Cattitude.
I will probably do a whole post dedicated to “hosted vs. self-hosted,” but I’ll give you the abridged version as to why I self-hosted with Siteground. When you use a free .com WordPress blog, you have very little creative freedom. You don’t get to have a huge variety of beautiful themes to choose from, you don’t get to install plug-ins to make your life easier, and you don’t get to make as much money if you have ads on your website. Not to mention those ads are chosen by WordPress instead of you. If you have ideas for your blog other than just simply writing, self-hosted is the way to go.
I’m sure you’ve seen the multitudes of different platforms, but I’ll give you the main reasons I went with Siteground above any of the others.
- First and foremost, their customer service is phenomenal. It’s not bots, they are real human people! I was up till 3 am one night doing all sorts of code work and I thought my website had crashed and I lost all my work. I messaged their help department and the rep was able to recover everything within five minutes. Bam.
- Everything is always super fast and squeaky clean.
- Their plans are incredibly cheap, as low as $3.95 a month (which you get if you use my link)! And it’s even cheaper when you purchase a long-term plan, like one to three years!
If you get overwhelmed with how to start once you sign up, customer service can pretty much do it for you!
Once you have everything all set up, now you need a theme! I personally went with one from Wacky Jacqui Designs because they were pretty but easy on the eyes. I personally click away from blogs that have clashing colors or everything is too cluttered. Nice and simple is the way to go! Another good thing about spending a little money on themes is that generally, the designers can help you with any coding you don’t understand!
Once you have your platform selected, blog created, layout chosen, maybe a nice “about me” page, it’s time to create some posts! Your first post doesn’t have to be amazing. Trust me. I cringe when I look back at some of my first few posts. I was trying way too hard! Just be yourself, write what you want to write, and you will learn along the way! I personally recommend downloading the Yoast SEO plug-in to help you format your posts!
Market, Market, Market
Unless you plan on just writing for yourself, you want people to see what you create, right? So, you have to market yourself and your stuff! There are sooooo many ways to do this and I’ll probably write a whole post on this, but this is the main way that I market my posts and my blog, even when I’m sleeping!
Social media! I use Instagram and Pinterest mostly to market my blog. Understandably, I got a little blacklisted by my Facebook friends from when I was involved in a network marketing company so I mainly focus on those two platforms. I downloaded a sharing software called Tailwind, and it has been a total game changer. In just a few weeks, I went from 9k monthly views to 15.2k monthly views on Pinterest, and my engagement rate on Instagram has also grown. It takes away the need to be on social media 24/7 and lets you automate the process! It is one of those blog investments that is WELL worth it!
I know why you might have skipped everything else to get here – you wanna make the money! I will tell you it is entirely possible to make money on your blog, even enough to quit your full-time job, and there are SEVERAL ways to do it. HOWEVER – it is not an immediate thing. It’s not even a somewhat fast thing. So you may get a little discouraged when you’re six months in and you’ve only made a few bucks. Don’t worry! The money will come! It takes a lot of diligence and patience, so blogging for money is not for you if you’re expecting to get rich quick or be able to quit your job in a few months.
Here are the main ways I monetize my blog:
- Affiliate marketing. This means that I promote other products and get a small commission on sales. This is the most effective way to make money on my blog, and by far my favorite! This is what I refer to as my “coffee money,” because it basically pays enough for some treats every now and then. I have several different affiliations, such as Amazon, Shareasale, Rakuten, and other random cosmetics companies on my Instagram. EllDuclos writes a perfect post explaining affiliate marketing here!
- Adsense. By far the SLOWEST method of monetizing. For the sake of transparency, in six months I have made less than a dollar. Monetization by ads works well once you have more traffic and are getting thousands of views a month (which is totally possible) but it is SLOW in the beginning.
- Offering products/services. Become a social media manager! Are you a resumé professional? Offer sessions where you can help people create hire-able resumés. Are you a blog coach? Help someone improve their blog! Write and sell an e-book that solves a specific problem your readers may have. I am currently crafting my own e-book which is a comprehensive makeup guide from start to finish.
Let me bottom line this out for you: I promise there is no reason for you not to start your blog if you’ve been wanting to.
Competition? There’s competition in any industry.
No one will read your stuff? Trust me. There is an audience out there for you.
Not good enough? GURL PLEASE.
My inbox is always open for anyone who may need some more encouragement or help starting a blog! There is a world of resources out there, I promise! I also promise that you can do anything you put your mind to, and you can crush your goals. Let’s do it!