How to Start A Hobby Blog
So you want to start a blog? You’ve come to the right place. There is so much information out there..."blogging is hard"... "it takes time"..."you can make $10K a month in just a few months!"
While I’m sure for some people that true, I a firm believer in ‘results not typical’ method. Don’t get me wrong, I dream of making tens of thousands of dollars a month on my blog! But I’m also realistic. Before beginning any new endeavor, especially one such a blogging I have 2 suggestions.
Give it your all for at least a year before throwing in the towel.
Start with realistic dreams/goals.
This isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight or something you can do all in one day. Go at your own pace and decide to do something every day, even if it’s just the tiniest thing.
So let’s get down to it. How to start a blog...
*This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy.
Step 1: Topic or Niche
Make a list of the things you enjoy doing or talking about. I suggest this because it’s fairly easy to write about things that you already love to do! And more than likely you are already an expert in it, so you will have some sort of authority.
Some of the popular topics include: how to make money, personal finance, health and fitness, food, beauty and fashion, lifestyle, and personal development. These are the top performing niches to earn money. If the topic you are passionate about is not listed, but be discouraged! It’s still possible to earn an income in other niches. However, I would suggest starting with the broadest topic you feel comfortable. Then as you grow traffic and a following you can evaluate what people are reading and narrow down.
Step 2: Platform
Now that you have your topic figured out, it’s time to pick your blogging platform. In my opinion and in the blogging world, there is really one option...self-hosted. This means you own your own site. It also keeps your web address nice and clean when someone tries to find you there isn’t a bunch of extra stuff at the end of your names like .blogspot or .blogger etc.
However, if you are insistent on having a completely free blog, Blogspot and Blogger are a few options. Wordpress.com is also an option. I will advise, however, if at any point you do decide to start earning money from your blog, you will need to switch to a self-hosted site.
And this is a pain in the A, so why not start right from the beginning!
Step 3: Hosting
There are several hosting companies out there. The one I suggest is Siteground. I personally use them for this site you are looking at right now! And I love love love them! Their customer service is above and beyond helpful and so nice! They do all the hand holding and will even get everything set-up for you if you aren’t a tech person.
I will admit, I’m fairly comfortable with computers but even this stuff is a little beyond me. So I tried to do everything myself (because that how I learn) and I ended up breaking my site. Like a complete blue screen of death BROKE! Y’all I was fa-reaking out! So I got on live chat with Siteground at 2 AM and they were so nice! And they fixed everything! In like 5 minutes! It was awesome. And I promised them I would never touch that ‘backend junk’ again!
Getting started with Siteground is so easy! First, you need to choose your hosting plan (StartUp, GrowBig, or GoGeek). The StartUp plan is the one I'm on now. If I ever get crazy and start having multiple sites I'll have to bump it up. For now, it's working just fine.
The next step is to choose your domain. You have 2 options here, you can purchase your domain through Siteground or you can purchase from a third party. People have strong arguments for both options. I say do whatever is easiest for you! (For purchasing from a 3rd party see step 4 below.)
Lastly, you review and complete your order. That's it! Easy peasy!
Step 4: Domain
Picking a domain was probably the most stressful part of starting a new blog. It seems like every name I wanted at the time was either already owned by someone else (even though they weren’t even using it for anything! THE NERVE!) or it was considered ‘Premium’ and the name owning people wanted $85 million dollars for it! Ummm...NO!
So don’t get discouraged if the name you had your heart set on is unavailable. Consider it a rite of passage!
I would also suggest going to this website, https://www.namecheckr.com/ to find out if the name is available on all the social media platforms too! It’s a pretty neat site.
Step 5: Set-up Wordpress and Pick A Theme
Now you have your name and hosting, you are ready for the fun part! Installing Wordpress and making everything look pretty! Installing Wordpress is the easiest thing EVAR! You basically click a button and then wait a minute or 2. Done.
Once you get logged in you are ready to go! I suggest looking around and getting familiar with everything. If you are at a complete loss, check out this FREE Wordpress course by Grayson Bell. He is like a superhero to mom bloggers everywhere! https://imarkinteractive.teachable.com/
He walks you through all the tabs and buttons to get yourself familiar with Wordpress.
Now you can work on setting up your theme. You can either use one of the FREE themes built into Wordpress or you can purchase one. Many people suggest using a free theme to start and then purchasing one or hiring a designer once you are making some income. This is totally up to you and what you feel comfortable with. However, if you are interested in some other themes besides the free one here a few places to look.
I went through TONS of themes before I settled on something. Partly, because I just love setting up new themes and partly because I can't decide on anything!
Paid for Themes
(NOTE: There are several options for paid themes. I would suggest using Genesis and a Child Theme. This is one of the most popular routes and there is a reason for that! ;-) Two great popular places to search for themes are:
Step 6: Content
Whoever coined the term Content Is King, wasn’t kidding. I won’t lie, this is something I struggle with myself. Sometimes I sit down to write and I can find every distraction in the world. Like the hangnail on my finger which is keeping me from typing. I’m the queen of planning! Planning is my way of procrastinating! Cause it’s like I’m being productive, but not really because nothing is getting done, I’m just making another new to-do list. :-O
My best advice, set aside at least 15 minutes to write everyday (This pot calling kettle! So just know that I’ll be working on the same thing over here!) However, I’ll say since setting that as my goal, every time I DO get a chance to sit down and write, I set my timer. And by the time I get to my 15 minutes I’m so engrossed in writing that I just keep going and the words seem to start flowing. It’s amazing. Getting started is half the battle.
Step 7: Email
Setting up your email early is one of the best things you can do. Social media is so unpredictable with all its changing algorithms. I think they just do that to make people angry and make bloggers completely LOSE IT! Every few months.
Having a growing email list is the best way to combat this. Your email list is YOURS, so that means you set the rules! It’s also a great place for your people to truly get to know you. If you are engaging with them on a regular basis, they become your friends. And that’s really what we are all after, friends that have similar interests. :-)
Step 8: Social Media
I may have gotten these slightly out of order because you probably want to get your social media accounts set up from the beginning, but that doesn’t really mean you have to focus on them until later.
Just get them set up so no one steals your name you worked so hard to figure out!
But now that you have your content going strong and you’ve started your email list with some killer opt-ins. It’s time to add in some social media to boost your traffic and find more friends.
The most popular forms of social media currently are:
Although Pinterest doesn’t want to be considered a form of Social Media, let’s be honest, everyone throws them in that category anyway!
I would suggest just focusing on ONE thing until you get in a groove and feel totally comfortable before moving on. This is because social media can be super overwhelming! And also a time suck. So if you find yourself spending hours trying to get 1 image just right maybe take a step back from social media and future out what would be the best thing to work on.
Step 9: Network
Networking is one of the best parts of blogging. Most of the public seems to be of the opinion that blogging is such a taboo form of work, they just don’t seem to GET IT. Finding your people, that know the struggles is so exciting! And it’s so fun to meet and encourage ladies who are going through the same struggles! And once you’ve figured out something new, you just want to shout it from the rooftop to folks that have been there and completely understand and can shout right there with you!
Step 10: Make Money
Making money through ads is probably the easiest way to earn money through blogging. You set-up an ads account and you earn a few cents when people click on the ad link. This also takes a long time to earn decent money until you get to some larger ad companies.
Affiliate sales are a very popular way to earn money. When you are an affiliate to a program you have various links on your blog post (see links throughout). When people click on your link and make a purchase you get a small commission, with no added cost to the customer. It's really a win for everyone.
Writing sponsored posts is a great way to earn income. Most people write about stuff they love and use all the time. So why not get paid by the company to talk about a product you already love! Just make sure it actually IS a product you love!
Products are the biggest way to earn income for your blog. Products can be both digital and physical. Digital products are things like online courses, ebooks, downloadable PDF's, etc. Physically products are things you actually send in the mail.
Step 11: Build and Grow
Now is the time to build and grow your blog. You have all the tools to implement a successful blog. Now it’s time to narrow down your process, start streamlining techniques. With practice, many of these will become second nature. In the beginning, it may take you several hours to write a post from start to finish, once you have done it over and over you should be able to speed up and write a lot faster, create your images faster, etc.
This may also be a great time to enroll in a focused course to improve your skills. Advanced SEO training, or a Pinterest Deep Dive.
Always keep learning and making forward progress!