Starting this blog was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.
It gives me an outlet for creative energy, allows me to connect with people from around the world, and allows me to share one of my most favorite topics: beauty.
One of the questions I see and hear all the time is: how do I actually start a blog? I wanted to put together a step-by-step guide that is (hopefully) clear and concise. Creating a blog can seem overwhelming at first, but it really doesn’t have to be.
Follow these steps and when you have questions, log on to youtube, a.k.a. youtube university, to watch videos on any technical aspects of blogging.
Any time I have a question or forget how to do something, I go to youtube and type in my problem, for example “how to add a new plugin to a wordpress blog.” The more specific your question, the better. There is so much information available, don’t be afraid to ask!
Six Steps to Staring Your Own Blog
Step 1 | Choose Your Domain
Step 2 | Choose your Host
Step 3 | Install WordPress
Step 4| Choose Your Theme
Step 5 | Customize Your Blog
Step 6 | Create Your First Post(s) and Publish
Step 1 | Choose Your Domain
Your domain will be your blog name (a.k.a. I’m “www.GirlGetGlamorous.com”). You can either purchase this through GoDaddy or if you choose Bluehost for hosting, they will give you a domain name for free.
This will be the actual site your readers go to. I recommend at this point to 1: purchase the name for at least 2 years and to also put your payment plan on auto pay and auto renewal. You don’t want to do all the work of building a blog, only to lose it in a year!
Once you find your blog name, I also recommend locking down the social media sites for your name: Instagram, Facebook business page, Pinterest, and Youtube. I signed up for youtube before I started blogging, so I’ve had to leave my name as “mollykirker” there, which bugs me as I’d love to have a cohesive name across all the social media platforms. So it’s a good idea to get them all locked down immediately.
If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with the thought of social media, you can also use a service (that I talk more about in Step 7) called Tailwind, that schedules your posts and publishes them for you.
Step 2 | Choose Your Host
There are plenty of hosting options, but the most reliable seem to be Bluehost and Siteground. Both have hosting options for under $10 a month. I recommend doing private hosting, it’s usually a $1 more per month but hides your address from the world wide web.
I personally use Siteground, because I have three sites hosted on the same account, so I need my account to be able to keep all running quickly. No one wants to wait for pages to load. Siteground had a great package for multiple blogs or sites.
Bluehost is a great option for someone who only needs or wants to host one blog, as you also get your domain name for free. Tons of other bloggers I know use it and are very happy with the service.
Both are affordable and come with customer service help either via chat, email.
Once you sign up for hosting, they will walk you through setting up your hosting account.
Step 3 | Sign up + Install WordPress
There are many different blogging platforms: WordPress, Squarespace, and Blogger. Each has their merits, but for me, WordPress has been the easiest. WordPress has excellent SEO, search engine optimization, features, which means it will be easier for people to find your blog on internet searches. (Make sure you are signing up for wordpress.org. WordPress.com is the version with free hosting, but you can’t advertise on it.)
To me, you can have the most beautiful blog in the world, but it doesn’t matter if no one see its. WordPress design templates have evolved mo much over the past three years that I now think that most are just as gorgeous as Squarespace.
The backend of WordPress can feel a bit overwhelming at first, but just take an afternoon to play around with the features and as always, consult youtube for tutorials if something doesn’t make sense.
I highly recommend Oh Joy’s book for blogging “Blog Inc.” It has a ton of great SEO advice that you will want to use. I did and it helped many of my photos and posts become #1 on google search. This makes me happy, not because I want to be #1, but because people are actually finding the posts and advice that I’m working on.
Blogging should improve the lives of your readers, so when they are able to find my posts and use the information, it truly brings me joy.
WordPress also allows you to use “plugins” which are basically apps that improve the function on your blog. Most are free or very affordable. I love Jetpack and Yoast SEO.
Step 4 | Choose Your Theme
WordPress has many free themes that you can start with, or you can also purchase a theme of off Themeforest. This is where I have purchased my last two themes, which cost $49 and $59 respectively.
The reason I switched from the free themes to paid themes was 1: I wanted some custom features that I could only get with the paid themes. And 2: the paid themes tend to be updated a bit more frequently, so the security features stay current. The fee is a one time investment, so it was worth it in my opinion as both themes were under $60. I’ve definitely spent $60 on less important things (2-for-1 margarita night, anyone else with me? haha).
Step 5 | Customize Your Blog
This is where the blog set up gets really fun. You are going to want to choose your blog logo, colors, etc.
I personally enjoyed playing around and doing some of the design myself. But there were elements I just couldn’t figure out and I had to hire a designer for. Or maybe you are just not into html coding and blog layout. That’s cool too.
There are two places you can find and hire designers affordably: Fiverr and Envato.
I have used Fiverr many times and been very happy with the results. Envato market (which owns Themeforest) has similar design options. They have great price points, all my jobs that I’ve ordered have cost between $5-$200, depending on the level of complexity.
Whichever you choose, I’ve found it’s best to email with a few different designers before hand, to make sure you communicate well. At first, I just choose the most expensive designer, thinking that the price must mean they were the best This wasn’t the case and I actually had the worst experience with that designer.
On Fiverr look for a level 2 seller or a Pro seller, and check out the number of reviews they have. Email them before purchasing to make sure they can handle the job you are looking for.
My tips on working with an online-only freelance designer:
1: make sure you communicate well and your personalities are compatible.
2: know what you want and need, express it clearly, in extreme detail (down to the font color, people!) and make hand drawn sketches if necessary, photograph them on your phone, and send the sketches to the designer. This will help you get the best work and help the designer give you a fair quote for their work.
3: create a temporary blog password to give to the designer that you change after the work is done.
Step 6 | Create Your First Post(s) + Publish
Here is where blogging gets super, super fun! You finally get to create content.
I recommend creating an “About Me” page. Pages are different from blog posts. You can link pages on your main menu and pages don’t fall back in chronological order like blog posts do.
And “About Me” page lets your readers know what is unique about you, your blog, and why you want to blog.
After this is done, you can create your first blog post. I recommend writing a few posts and saving them as drafts, which you can do right on the post creation page in the upper right hand corner. This way you can have a back stock of posts and publish a post a week or twice a week to start and help get the ball rolling.
Once you are ready to publish your first post, first, you will make your blog public (a.k.a. publish it), and then hit “publish” on the blog post page.
Yay! Congratulations, you’ve published your first post and created a beautiful blog.
Step 7 | Social Media
I recommend using your social media accounts, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. to let me know you’ve published a new post. Pinterest is a great way to get new traffic and new people who might not be able to find your blog normally.
Instagram is also great for that. Make sure to use hashtags so that new people with similar interests can find you!
Tailwind can help schedule and publish Instagram and Pinterest posts for you. If you plan a few hours once a month, you can get all your social media scheduled for the month. Here is a link to get your first month free. Great way to test it out and see how it helps you with growing viewership.
I know creating a blog can seem really intimidating. I really hope these steps help break down the process clearly and make it feel more simple. Bookmark this page and come back to it as often as you need!
Another aspect of blogging that I get asked about is equipment. While it’s nice to have a fancy DSLR camera, it’s not necessary. I started blogging on a 12 megapixel camera that I got for free from my credit card reward program. Haha, yep, glamorous! Phones have gotten so sophisticated over the years that your iPhone 8 Plus probably takes even better photos than my little old camera.
Were the photos and quality the best? Nope. But they wouldn’t have been anyhow. I was brand new and most of my shots were poorly lit and my videos had no microphone.
The key is to start. My friend Candace and were discussing how much fear can hold your career and life back. So many times I have erased entire videos (weeks of work) because I decided it “wasn’t good enough.” But truthfully, for most people, your early work isn’t going to be your best. You are practicing, learning what works for you and your readers, and improving with each post or video.
Now I use a Panasonic Lumix G6 DSLR camera (they offer a G7 as their updated model now). I like this because it has a flip out screen, which is great for self filming and self taken photos to make sure you are in the shot properly. It was $800, which felt (and still feels!) like so much $$ to me. I had $500 from a Christmas work bonus and that was all I had wanted to spend. But deciding to get the G6 version was a smarter move on my part, because the flip out screen is key for working on your own. In the long run, the extra $300 I spent over my holiday bonus was a good long-term investment.
Panasonic now makes an amazing slightly smaller LX 10 camera (great for traveling or day-to-day vlogging), with 4K video, a flip out screen, and amazing photo quality for around $550. I plan on holding on to my current G6 camera as long as possible, but if I need to replace mine, this version would be the one I’d purchase. I like the idea of having the same photo quality, but in a more compact camera body for traveling and taking to beauty events.
Some things to consider:
1 | A nice camera is great to have. This could be a worthwhile investment once you decide you truly love blogging. But just start with what you have. Use your phone, use your old family’s 12 megapixel camera, whatever. Just start.
2 | Focus on photo quality (again, this doesn’t mean the fanciest equipment). Google or youtube search for photography 101 tips. You want to make sure whatever your are photographing (yourself or a product or space) is clear, properly framed, and well lit.
3 | In hindsight, I probably would have and should have invested in lighting and audio equipment right away and before purchasing a DSLR camera. There are tons of affordable options for both on amazon. These are the box lights I now own and use. I also have an adjustable Diva ring light. For my camera, I bought a clip on Rhode microphone, which has improved the sound of my videos a ton. The total investment for the box lights and Rhode microphone was under $130. The adjustable ring light was definitely an investment light, but I do use it for every shoot. You could also try adding a front facing steady light instead.
Again, once you have all the equipment, most brands have youtube videos showing how to set it up. If the brand doesn’t have demo or instruction videos, a youtuber definitely will. Search away!
As always, I hope this information is helpful! Please leave a comment or ask away if you have any more questions.
Thank you for reading!
xo – Molly