You probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that my inbox is full of emails regarding recipe questions and ingredient substitutions, but the other most common question I get is about blogging.
Particularly, how to get started.
So, today I thought I’d take a moment to share some easy tips!
Why would you want to start your own blog?
- Maybe you have a health coaching business and want a better way to connect with your clients (and find new ones!).
- Or, maybe you have exciting travels that you want to share. In that case, I’m jealous of you.
- Or, maybe you just want a personal website that you can share with close family and friends, to showcase your favorite food photos or baby pictures.
- Or, perhaps you had to move halfway across the country in one car with your husband, your dog, and any personal belongings that you could both squeeze into that car…. which means you didn’t have room for your favorite recipe collection. That’s how my own blog got started, over 5 years ago! It was an easy and clutter-free way to keep all of my favorite recipes in one place. It wasn’t until later that I started experimenting with making those recipes healthier (and, in many cases, tastier).
Luckily, starting a blog is pretty easy. All you need is 15 minutes of time to compete the following steps!
Step #1: Pick a domain name.
First, you’ll need a name for your website. Write down several ideas, then go to BlueHost.com to see if that domain name is available. Don’t be surprised if your first few choices are taken– there are LOTS of websites out there! But, I’m sure you’ll find one that you love. Those of you who have been reading here for a while know that Detoxinista.com wasn’t actually my first domain name, but it’s WAY better than the one I had originally gone with. (My old name was based on an inside joke among a close group of friends… so it didn’t make much sense to anyone else.) You know a domain name is bad if you’re too embarrassed to say it out loud, or don’t want to share it with strangers, so be sure to pick something you like!
Also, take some time to think about the topics you’ll want to blog about when picking a domain name. You want to establish your niche, but you also don’t want to paint yourself into a corner. Had I given my own domain name some more thought, I may have actually gone with a different one, since the word “detox” can be a little off-putting to some people– even if my interpretation of the word tends to be more generalized. Live and learn, right?
Step #2: Choose a hosting plan.
There are two options when it comes to hosting, depending on your blogging goals:
- Free Hosting. If you want to blog for purely personal reasons, like sharing baby photos with your family, and you have no intention of growing your blog into something bigger, then a free blog from WordPress or Blogger may be a good option for you. These platforms include free templates to help you get your website up and running in no time, and cost you nothing– a major perk. Your domain name with one of these free sites will be something like http://mynewblog.wordpress.com, or you can pay a small upgrade fee to use a custom domain name (like the one that you chose in step one).
- Self-Hosted. If you want to create a more customized blog with room to grow, particularly if you ever want to run advertising on your site, you’ll need to purchase a hosting plan from a web host like BlueHost, which is recommended for WordPress sites. This type of hosting is pretty affordable, starting at just $4.95 a month, and includes a free domain name when you sign up!
The self-hosted plan is what I recommend if you want to customize your blog’s look, especially if you plan on signing up for any sort of ads in the future (which can help off-set your hosting costs). Transferring a blog from a free site to a self-hosted site later can be a real pain, so it’s easier to just start with that in the first place. A $5-per-month hobby is still pretty affordable, if you ask me!
The best part of using BlueHost is that they set up WordPress for you with the click of a button, so you don’t have to be technical at all. (They also have a live chat feature in case you have any questions!)
Once WordPress has been installed for you, they’ll send you a confirmation email with all the details you need to get started.
*Note: If you want more direction setting up your self-hosted blog, please see my Step-By-Step Guide.
Step #3: Get Creative!
This is where the fun really begins. WordPress offers plenty of free themes, so you can choose one you like and dive right into creating your content, or if you’re like me, you may want to find a theme that can be customized, to make the blog design your own. Here are a couple custom theme options to consider:
- Atahulapa. This is the free theme that I currently use for this website. It has a pretty easy-to-use interface, so you can customize your site to look how you want, without getting into too much code. (I know very, very little code myself… so this is key.) The con to using a free theme like this is that it can take a lot of time to get it looking exactly the way you want it to, so if you have the patience to experiment and to do a lot of Google searches to find the answers you’re looking for, this may be worth it to you.
- Thesis theme. If you don’t have time to experiment with a free theme, or you’ve tried that but it was too complicated for you, you may prefer to purchase a more professional theme, like the Thesis theme. For a one-time fee, you’ll get this theme along with access to their community and direct email support.
- Genesis Framework (with Foodie theme). Many food bloggers are starting to use this theme, and with good reason– it’s a clean design that is mobile-responsive, and it has a built-in template for recipe pages! Considering that I add my recipes individually using HTML code at the moment, this theme sounds really appealing… and I may just switch to using it very soon.
That’s really all there is to it! However, there are a few “extras” that can make your blog even better, if you’re feeling up to it.
- A Good Camera. If you want people to find your blog or pin your content to Pinterest, good photos are a must. I don’t consider myself to be a very good photographer, but luckily my camera does a lot of the heavy lifting for me. I started this blog using a basic point-and-shoot camera, but my photos got a lot better when I upgraded to using a Sony Alpha DSLR camera. I’ve been using that camera for nearly 5 years, paired with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. (This lens makes the subject crisp while keeping the rest of the photo blurry.) I have just recently upgraded to using a 50mm f/1.4 lens, which takes even better photos, but it comes with a higher price tag, so I’m glad I started with the other lens first.
- Photoshop Elements. Since I’m a professional designer by day, Photoshop is already loaded on my computer, but it’s an expensive program to own if you don’t need it on a daily basis. When I was a college student, I relied on the much more affordable Photoshop Elements program for all of my designing needs, so I’m confident it will have everything you need for editing blog photos, too. You can even download a free trial first, just to make sure.
- Plugins. WordPress plugins can help improve your blog, by making your favorite recipes easier to print or adding a “Pin it” button to your unique content. Some of my favorite plugins include: Easy Recipe, jQuery Pin It Button for Images, and Comment Reply Notification.
Once you have WordPress up and running, how much time and effort you put into blogging is completely up to you. Hopefully, the niche you’ve chosen is something that you’re really passionate about, so that blogging doesn’t end up feeling like “work.” Blogging can take up a lot of time, so make sure you love doing it for free– just like any other hobby. If you end up making some sort of income from it in the future, it’s just an added bonus!
I hope that answers any questions you have about starting a blog, and feel free to share any more questions or comments below!
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and I will earn a small commission if you make a purchase using them.