This is a really important post for those of you that are interested in starting a blog. I have been blogging for close to 6 years now. I made many mistakes early on, which caused me lots of stress and money. I am here to tell you everything you need to know to get started the right way, so you can avoid unnecessary stress and experience success immediately! I really wish I had this information when I started. To say I learned the hard way, would be an understatement. By following the below steps, you can set up a successful blog from the get go.
If you are wondering, it is possible to make money blogging. I’ll provide some resources below to help you learn how. I left a well paying, web design job to become a freelance web designer and blogger. Be warned, it takes a lot of dedication, commitment and many hours of work to build a career as a real blogger, but it is possible (and worth it!). I work more than I ever have before, but I don’t mind it. It usually doesn’t feel like work. I love what I do. I genuinely enjoy blogging. Even if you just want to do this as a hobby (which I decided last summer to make it one again, it took too much of my time), it is still beneficial to follow the below steps. The below steps will also help you grow your traffic.
This is probably the most important step in starting your blog. WordPress.com and wordpress.org are very different platforms. WordPress.org is a robust and powerful blogging tool. It allows you to customize your blog, using “plugins”. Plugins are software created by different developers that allows you to expand the functionality of your site. There is basically a plugin for anything you want to do. But the information you write is not yours, WordPress can at any time take your site off if someone finds it inappropraite or for any reason WordPress goes down. I personally use a WordPress software on my own hosting platform. Since I own a web design company I also sell hosting for my clients. If you would like to know my prices jump over to http://www.client.rokitdesigns.com/cart.php?gid=13, this will take you right to the price list of hosting packages. Some as low as $5.95.
Now you might think WordPress.com is good enough too. However, you will not be able to customize your site as much and as easily, as you can on WordPress.org or having your own web hosting plan. You also cannot run ads on wordpress.com. If you are just starting out, ads might not be of concern to you, but as you grow, you will likely want to run a couple of ads. When you are blogging seriously it can get expensive and to be able to continue blogging in the long run, you will have to earn some money, in order to support your efforts. So, you will want to have the option of running ads. There are lots of posts around the internet about the difference between having your own website, wordpress.com and wordpress.org, google it, if you are interested in learning more. Every blogger I know, ends up migrating to their own website eventually. Migrating to a your own web site plan is easy, your are more than welcome to ask me and will set up a tutorial article as well.
LOGISTICS: HOW TO SET UP YOUR NEW BLOG
- .’Hosting your own site is a breeze, simply go here http://www.client.rokitdesigns.com/cart.php?gid=13 and walk thru the step-by-step process on ordering your hosting plan and domain name. I am a reseller through HostGator so as your traffic grows, you can scale up with me easily. The good news is you have me as your own little IT Hosting Manager for you making sure your website is perfect all the time and never goes down.
- STEP 1 – Choose a hosting plan, if you want start out small and move up the later when you need to. The smallest plan I have is Up to 3GB Disk Space, Up to 30GB Bandwidth, 3 EMail Accounts/Lists, Cpanel, QuickInstall Software. QuickInstall will come in handy later to install the WordPress software, this will automatically update the software for you when needed, another handy tool.
- STEP 2 – Order the domain name. Again the website will walk you through the steps. If you do not have a domain name choose ‘ I want Rokit Designs to register a new domain for me.’ and type in your desired somain name, choose a domain extension and click continue, if its not available it will help you choose. You can go here before hand and play around with domain names with a handy domain checker tool. Found here http://www.client.rokitdesigns.com/domainchecker.php. * Free Domain Registration applies to the following extensions only: .com,.net,.org,.us,.info,.biz,.eu,.name,.it,.nl,.pro,.co,.ch,.li,.fr,.asia.
- Check off the domains you want, scroll to the bottom and Click to Continue.
- Step 3 – Choose your billing cycle and click Add to Cart
- If you pick a ODD domain name it will ask you to configure your domain, simply fill in the info and click Update Cart, if not it will skip this step.
- Step 4 – Confirm Order
- Step 5 – Check out, Fill in all the information and choose Complete Order and pay by PayPal.
Once this is done you will receive several emails, the important email will contain information on your CPanel, the nuts and bolts of your website. Use the login and password and login to the CPanel. You will really only ever need the EMAIL section and one time the Quick Install. So quickly under Software/Services click on Quick Install .
- Under Blog Software click on WordPress, then continue. Fill in your Admin Email, Blog title, User name, First and Last name. DO NOT TOUCH anything in the INSTALL WORDPRESS box. Make sure Enable Auto Upgrades is checked.
- Click Install Now. When completed the website will direct you to your new wordpress website. If your domain is not fully propagated it may take 24 hours to see your website under the actual domain name.
- You will also need a “theme”, which basically means a designed website template. You can find free ones. Or you can purchase more robust ones for really reasonable prices. The Foodie theme from Studiopress is a great option. It is simple and clean and it will allow your photos and content to standout. The Genesis Framework is considered to be the best base for starting a wordpress.org site, so make sure that you purchase a theme that has the Genesis framework. Genesis has built in search engine optimization (aka it will help your blog rank better in Google searches), great security features and much more.
WORK ON YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS
You don’t have to start out as a superb photographer, but start honing that skill early on. Nice photos make a world of difference. People are more likely to click through to your post or pin your recipe, when it is accompanied by a beautiful photo. If the recipe looks appetizing, they are much more likely to make it. I really can’t stress this enough. I started out taking iPhone photos. They were horrible. Even if the recipes are good, those posts get no traffic. As I take time to update the photos, those posts get a ton of traffic. Same recipe, different photo, much different results. I am now slowly working on recreating and re-shooting those recipes. Save yourself the time and start working on photography early on.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR PHOTOS:
- If you are going to blog seriously, you need a DSLR camera. This entry level model from Canon is perfect to start with. Most bloggers I know use it. If you get really into photography, it’s really easy to sell your camera on Amazon and upgrade to a more professional model. That’s what I did!
- The Tasty Food Photography eBook from Pinch of Yum is the best book I have found on food photography. I have several books on the topic and this eBook, is the most clear and easy to follow for beginners. Almost every blogger I know has used this book to improve their photos.
- The best thing I did was take a food photography and styling workshop with Diane Cu and Todd Porter of White On Rice Couple. I learned a ridiculous amount and it was worth every single penny. If you are reading this between June 5th and June 7th, you are so lucky! Their workshops usually cost around $1,000, but it is currently available for live streaming for free! You can view it here. After the free viewing period, the price will be $99 (or $129 depending on when you purchase it). Which is still a steal! These guys are really good.
- Look at food magazines and food blogs, not just Paleo blogs. Study their photos, save or pin the ones you like to refer to later.
GROW YOUR TRAFFIC
- Create great content. This is really important. Good content will be shared and will get people coming back for more. If you hope to make blogging your career, the first thing you need is solid traffic. You can sign up for Google Analytics. It’s a great way to keep track of your blog traffic.
- Offer a newsletter opt in form from the start (even if you don’t plan on sending out a newsletter yet). This is the one thing I would change if I could. I wish I had collected email addresses from the beginning. Social media is great for connecting with your audience, but you don’t have control over what happens to it, such as all the Facebook algorithm changes in the last year. Your newsletter is really important. You can always access your readers via email and tell them about new and exciting stuff going on. People are busy and don’t have time to check their favorite blogs regularly. A weekly newsletter is a great way to let your readers know what is going on in your corner of the internet. Two popular services with varying functionalities are MailChimp and Aweber. MailChimp is free up to 2,000 subscribers.
- Be active on social media. Connect with your audience through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Google Plus.
- Connect with other bloggers in your niche. I started to see real growth with my blog once I became friends with other bloggers. When people know you, they get more excited and motivated to share your work with their audience. Plus, it is so nice to have people to share your successes with and vent about your challenges. A great way of meeting other bloggers is to regularly leave thoughtful comments on their blog posts. Trust me, we notice! Of course, social media is great too. I have made several friends on Instagram!
HOW TO MAKE MONEY BLOGGING
This is a huge topic that needs a post of it’s own. There are a lot of creative ways to make money blogging. If you plan to do this seriously, even if you have a full time job, it will be important to make some money. Blogging can get expensive. It requires a lot of time, ingredients, props and website maintenance costs. If it is costing you money, chances are that in the long run, you will abandon it. For you to be able to do this and help people, it will be important that you make some money to cover your blogging efforts.
There are various ways to make money, including running ads through Google Adsense. Amazon also has a great affiliate program called Amazon Associates. There are so many options, including working with brands directly and promoting relevant eBooks, as well as creating and selling your own products. It is really important to be authentic and only promote products that you wholeheartedly believe in and/or use. This way, it is a win-win for everyone. You can make recommendations that will help your audience live more healthfully and you can also make some income to help you keep blogging.
If you would like to make money, blogging, I highly recommend reading Earn Big Money Blogging. This eBook has everything you need to know about earning money from a real food blog, a health blog or even a mommy blog! You can download it HERE.