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Setting up your blog takes time, but using the right tools and a one step at a time approach will help you fight the overwhelm!
I talked previously in How to Start a Money Making Blog Part 1 about WHY you should start a blog. What follows are all the steps you need to take to get your blog set up. I’ll talk about the essential programs, courses, and tools I used, as well as how to monetize your blog from day 1, how to drive traffic to your blog, and how to craft content that converts in future posts. But you can’t monetize what doesn’t exist, so the first step is to build that blog framework!
Don’t have time to read the whole post? Skip to the bottom where I talk about the NUMBER ONE THING I recommend to get you started off blogging on the right foot!
Step 1: Decide on a Name
You want to be careful here, and take your time. You’re going to be using this name a lot, and you want it to be representative of what you really want to do. When I chose Coquette Kitchen, I wanted something playful, pretty, and food oriented, as primarily what I do here is talk about all things food. I had a few other names in mind, though, and honestly, this wasn’t my first choice. But my first choice was taken! Le sigh. But I’m absolutely happy with this name – and I hope you like it too!
Once you have a short list of names you think will work you should:
- Google it to see if it’s available! You can also check for the availability of domain names on Hover. This website is also where you’ll go once you make your decision! What’s a domain name you ask? It’s the website URL/address. If it’s taken, you can’t use it, but don’t worry if it is. Like me, you may end up liking something else on your short list more!
- Test out your short list on a friend! I actually recommend testing 2-3 names out on a friend or two who’s opinion you trust.
- Check for the availability of the name on Twitter, Facebook (we are talking a page here, not a whole separate account), and Pinterest. If the name is already taken, I wouldn’t necessarily rule it out, however, I would also check for variations. In other words, I’m on Twitter as @coquettekitchen, but if that had been taken, I might have tried @coquettekitchenblog instead. However, if it had been taken by another food blogger, I absolutely would have moved on to another name, because I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes. And frankly, if you want to make money, you want to build a brand, and you don’t want that brand getting confused with anyone else’s!
Once you have done all this, you’ll make your final decision. The you snap up that name on Hover, as well as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Step 2: Hosting, Framework, and Themes
Honestly, I can tell how serious someone is about blogging with just this one thing.
Most profitable blogs are hosted on WordPress.org – NOT wordpress.com. If you are on WordPress.com you get a free platform, and it is super easy to use and set up. However, what you give up by using the free platform is control. On the free platform you can’t structure your site how you want, you can’t run or place ads, and, in general, they control it and not you. But we want to be able to make money, so we are going to use WordPress.org. This means you need hosting (think of it like paying rent for your blog to live out there on the web), as well as a framework and theme.
Now, there are free themes out there, but we want to make money, so we want to look, feel, and BE professional from Day 1. So we’re going to go ahead and set up our website from the start with a great host, framework (this is all the technically techy stuff that makes your website run like a website), and a great theme that is out of the box optimized for mobile users.
Here are my recommendations for hosting, framework, and themes:
- I absolutely love Siteground. They have made my blogging experience EASIER. They have a great response time, and their customer service is SUPERB. Which means something in the early days when you are trying to figure out how to put square pegs in round holes on your website. I can’t recommend them enough. I almost went with another company, which you may have seen other bloggers recommending, but in the end I am SO GLAD I didn’t!
- Studiopress Genesis – this is the framework most bloggers use. They’re a great company, and I highly recommend this. You need the framework to support your theme. Don’t know what a theme is? That’s up next!
- Theme – this is the structure of how your blog looks to the world. There are a lot of companies that make themes for the Genesis framework, but I am partial to the themes from Restored 316. This blog is running the Savory theme from Restored 316, but I had a hard time choosing because I like so many! If you’re not a fan of those, though, Studiopress offers many as well!
Step 3: Branding
I wanted to mention this one before we talk about installing your theme and plugins, because you have to make some decisions here that directly impact how your blog is set up. Personally, though, I think this part is fun. You get to decide here how your business will look to the world. Why now, you ask?
Because we want to look and feel professional from the very beginning.
It helps build trust and loyalty, as well as gets you out in front of the pack. You’ll be able to foster brand recognition from the very beginning, which will be helpful down the road.
Here are the top things to think about when building your brand:
- What colors will represent your business? You’ll want to choose 5-7 different colors. This post helps explain why you need so many. To get your colors I suggest browsing Pinterest. Make a secret board on Pinterest with your blog name, and then pin things to it that you think represent the look and feel you’d like to achieve with your blog. You can then head over to Canva and use their color palette generator, which will give you the hex codes (the bit of script you need to change colors on the web).
- Next you’ll want to think about fonts. I recommend not getting too crazy about this, because copyright laws are complicated. So I’d choose fonts that are free and open for everyone to use. You’ll also want something that is easy to read on both mobile devices and desktop. This website uses Playfair. If you want to shop for fonts, though, check out Creative Market.
Step 4: Install and Customize
Honestly, this is the part I got some help with. Help from my super awesome husband! That said, I’m pretty handy, and if I’d had more time, I could have done all this myself. Each of these sites has great tutorials, and I also had the added benefit of tutorials in one of my favorite blogging resources, Food Blogger Pro. It takes a bit of time – honestly, I am still trying to get my blog laid out the way I want. So the most important thing to remember here is don’t freak out and think everything has to be perfect right away. That just isn’t possible.
We want to be professional, but perfection isn’t possible.
If you wait until things are “perfect” you will never start a blog. So do what you can, a little each day, and eventually you’ll get there!
But let’s get things started:
- Download WordPress.org
- Sign up for and register your domain with Siteground.
- Install Genesis Framework.
- Install Restored 316 theme.
- Customize theme with your name and colors by going to appearance in the WordPress navigation bar.
Step 5: Essential Plugins
The following is a list of the plugins (or add ons) I am currently using to make my site work the way I want it. The first two are all about security. You now have a piece of internet real estate, one that will hopefully be quite lucrative to you in the future, so it is important that you protect it!
A Few of the Plugins I Use to Optimize My Website:
- Akismet – not only does this plugin provide stats, it helps protect you from spam. Ain’t nobody got time for spam!
- Sucuri – this plugin helps protect and back up your site.
- Yoast – this plugin helps with SEO. Don’t know what SEO is? It means Search Engine Optimization. Did you eyes just glaze over? Yeah, mine too. Basically, SEo is how your site works with Google so that people can find you. If someone googles brunch recipes, I want my site to be on the first page of search results. SEO is how I’m going to get there. But there is so. much. to it. And it changes all the time. That’s why the Yoast SEO plugin helps. Its the absolute minimum you need to do for SEO.
- Social Warfare – This plugin is SO handy! It lets me set the text and images for each of the main social platforms. In other words, it lets me specify what photo and photo description I want posted when someone posts or pins something from my page. And since the majority of blogs get their traffic from Pinterest this is critical. I think this plugin is one of my number one time savers.
- WP Recipemaker – this provides the handy little plugin that I build my recipes in, which also helps with SEO. If you’re doing a food blog, this is one of your essential items. There are other options out there for recipe markup, but this one is my favorite mainly because of the great customer service!
My Number One Recommendation to Get You Started Blogging:
Does all of this sound overwhelming? It certainly can be. I have felt overwhelmed at many stages of building out this blog. So I have one final recommendation for you at this stage. Its a comprehensive, SUPER easy to follow guide on How to Start a Blog. Suzi, from StartaMomBlog.com put together a Blog By Number E-Book and course. I actually didn’t find this until I was well on my way to building out my blog. I WISH I’d had it in the beginning. If I could go back to the beginning and give this to myself, like a fairy blogging godmother, I SO WOULD!
But even though I’d already built out part of my blog, though, it has been tremendously helpful. I really can’t praise it enough. Suzi breaks starting a blog down into really easy to follow steps. And because she’s a mom who’s trying to do this whole blogging thing from home in her spare time, she always takes time into consideration. Which means her e-book and course are PRACTICAL.
Planning a finance blog, or a blog about pets or something that is decidedly NOT a Mom Blog? Don’t worry – this will help you no matter what kind of blog you want to start. It doesn’t have to be a Mom blog. Suzi priced it with frugal Moms in mind, though, so it is a relatively small investment that could pay back big time. Because let’s remember – we want to work from home! We want to build profitable blogs. And we want to do things as best we can from the start.
Which is why this is my number one recommendation for anyone who wants to start a blog.
Get her book and e-course, and then email me (info at coquettekitchen dot com) and let me know how it’s helping you!