Hey my blog has just celebrated it’s 2nd Birthday! …. and I didn’t even notice!! lol
Well it was recently my Birthday as well and I’m in the middle of planning our next road trip, so this ‘major event’ didn’t get the attention it deserves. So what did I learn from 2 years (on and off) of blogging? And what are my 3 tips on how to start a blog?
In summary I would say: it’s a lot of fun and a lot of work!
You see, I started this blog as a way to share our vacation pictures with our families and friends. And something unexpected happened: people from all over the world started reading it and liking it!! Whao, that was mind blowing! Truly!
So I decided to take it to the next level and to share even more of our travel & experiences and in a more organized manner. This is where Road Trips around the World 2.0 starts and the real story begins…
Before I tell you the rest of the story, let me point out that to celebrate my Birthday,
I created a Mini Pocket Guide of Medieval Castle Vocabulary.
I love medieval castle and hope you do too!
It’s super cute and super useful. If you haven’t downloaded your, you really should!
Check it out here: Mini Pocket Guide.
So I was ready to take my blog to the next level, but before relaunching it, I started by doing tons of research, I really mean tons and tons. Countless hours browsing the web for the best advise, the best how to, and the best way to do it. I’m like that, I need to be prepared, ready, and know I’m doing things the best way I can. So I researched the topic and research it some more.
If you google ‘How to start a blog’, you will approximatively get 1,300,000,000 entries. 1.3 billion?! That’s quite incredible. Let’s not even count how many ebooks you can download on the same topics. It’s easy to get lost there and never start blogging.
A lot of the guides out there, are giving similar type of advise, split generally into the 3 to 5 main steps, to transform a regular Joe into the King of the Blogosphere:
1- Get a domain name
2- Get your blog set up and online
3 – Write posts
4 – Get traffic
5 – Make money (optional)
It is that easy…. It kind of is… and yet … it kind of isn’t.
For each of these 5 points, there are probably also billions of blog posts giving detailed advise on what to do and what to not do.
That’s really good! Sooo helpful.
What’s the downside? Well, if you spend too much time reading about those, you will never start your blog!
But you asked me for some tips. So here there are:
My first advise would be: Start before you are ready
If you sweat it for too long, it’s not gonna happen. So go ahead, do it, and you will learn things along the way. You will learn the technical bits as and when you need them. You will learn stuff about yourself too and that’s what matters!
My second piece of advise: Don’t be afraid
It is kind of scary to put yourself out there. Well at least it is scary to me. But it is also liberating and deeply rewarding. Some people are going to agree with you, like you, praise you…. Some others will not. The good outweighs the bad, so don’t be afraid!
If it’s something you’ve been wanting to do, then do it. What do you have to loose?
Third little piece of wisdom : Share your passion, don’t deny the World your uniqueness!
Being able to do the things we want to do, is a luxury in our world. If you have what it takes, which means if you have access to a computer & internet, then you are amongst the lucky ones. Don’t deny the World your gift and passion. Don’t deny the World your uniqueness.
Voilà! These are my 3 tips on how to start a blog!
You might kind of hate me right now for not giving you the nitty-gritty ‘how to’ you were expecting.
I don’t want you to feel like I cheated on you. The reason for it, is that I don’t feel entitled to give you advise on the subject. I’m still new to the blogosphere and there are so many experts out there, so many people with so much more experience. But if you want more of my opinion on the topic then you can keep on reading.
So let’s run through the 3 first steps listed above:
1- your domain name
Choosing a domain name is like THE most important step you will take. You could change it later, but it’s really not advisable. So take the time to find what really is best for YOU.
Keep it short, don’t use signs like – or _, look at what others do, search & use key word in your niche… those are all valid advise from experts.
I would say, find the domain name that works best for YOU. That you will feel comfortable with along the way. That you really really like. The domain name that you can have on your business card without feeling awkward. Speak it out loud, test it on your friends…
My domain name, roadtripsaroundtheworld.com, isn’t short. It’s not the most user friendly. It’s not going to rank first in Google… but I like it! At least I didn’t choose road-trips-around-the-world.net or road_trips_around_the_world.com!!
2- Get your blog set up and online
There are countless blogging platforms available online. No need to code, no need to be an html or css wizard to blog.
I started Road Trips around the World on WordPress.com. WordPress.com does it all for you. You can start blogging for free, in which case your domain name will look like this: roadtripsaroundtheworld.wordpress.com But you can buy your domain name so the ‘wordpress’ in your site url disappears.
WordPress.com is really good to start with. Chose a free theme and you can start blogging.
But if you’re serious about your project, you should go straight to the combo: Bluehost + WordPress.org.
Bluehost + WordPress is what I chose after countless hours of research. You can do your research too and you might end up selecting another combo, but if you ask me, this is what I recommend, and I’m not the only one!
Bluehost will host your site while WordPress.org will be your blogging platform, where all the fun is happening.
So go ahead and check out Bluehost and WordPress.org. And in case you are wondering, my theme is called Accelerate. It’s a free theme but I like it.
Yes the Bluehost link above is an affiliated link. If you click on it and decide to use Bluehost, I will get a commission.
A word of caution: the costs of having a web hosting provider adds up very quickly.
At the moment, Bluehost most popular package is $5.95 per month. That’s really good for unlimited space and all the other goodies they offer, but when you check out, it means that to get this price you will need to pay for 36 months in advance which totals of $214,20. In addition, you might want some of the other services offered. For example I really appreciate the Domain Privacy Protection which means that my personal address will not be displayed anywhere on the internet. It’s $ 0,99 / month so an additional of $35,64 for 3 years. Oh and getting a back up of your precious work might be a good idea too 😉
Total is going to be less than $100 per year but you have to pay upfront for 3 years to get the best deal. It kind of test your commitment to blogging, doesn’t it?!
If you chose WordPress.com because it’s free, you need to know that you can transfer to wordpress.org later. That’s what I did. It’s not painless but it’s manageable.
3 – Write posts
So you are all set up and you can write your first post? Congratulation, the fun and the hard work begins.
Find your voice, write from the heart, be sincere, post original content, use beautiful pictures… you know all that.
– First keep in mind that if you post once a week, you will ‘only’ have 52 posts by the end of the year. It’s a lot and yet it’s very little compare to big blogs out there. Get writing!!
– Think of your blog structure before you start.
Pages are static. Your “about page”, your “contact page” will be displayed in the top menu.
Your post will be in your blogroll.
So decide before starting what your blog will look like and what will be in your pages and what will be in your posts.
You might not create all your pages at once, but you should know what will be up there. I’m still working on this 😉
– When you are just starting, keep your blog private (or off line or unactivated, depending on your blogging platform). You just wrote your first post and want to share it with the world right away. I know it’s tempting. But right now, you probably should work on your pages, your menus and all your setting to make your blog really personal and good looking.
The reason is that, apparently, you have 10 seconds to convince people that your blog is worth their time. If you publish your first post and there is nothing else on your site, chances are that people who land there will never ever come back.
By keeping it private for a while, it gives you a chance to work on it, built it a little and make it right. I’m not saying you should work on it for a year! But have 5 to 10 posts ready, your ‘about page’ and maybe have some of the usual widgets installed too (Pinterest anyone?!).
– Browse your dashboard and all the sections to know what’s there. Customize the appearance of your theme, test loads of them. Fill up the settings section. Install Wordpres SEO by Yoast plugin and start optimizing your SEO right away. Think of what your main categories should be and what tags you will be using….
– Make mistakes, learn from them.
– Have fun!
That’s it for now! I realize I could probably keep on going but I don’t want to bore you to death. If you want any specific info, let me know.
To summarise, it’s not rocket science to start a blog but it’s a real commitment to keep it going.
Do not hesitate, you have nothing to loose by starting your own blog!
I hope you found this a little bit useful or maybe a little bit entertaining!
At the very least, I hope I motivated you to start your own blog.