When I first started blogging, I was completely overwhelmed. I had no idea what I was doing, and I ended up in tears more than once.
Not only did I not know what to do, but I didn’t know the blogging language either, so I couldn’t Google things because I didn’t even know what terms to use.
I know I’m not alone in this. Learning a new skill can be very overwhelming, but I am so glad I kept going because today I love blogging, and things are going much more smoothly!
I’ve been getting FB messages and emails lately from people asking me for advice/help with their blogs and websites, so today I want to share what I know so it can help someone who may be struggling like I used to be.
If you have questions on things I don’t cover in this post, please feel free to leave a comment below, and I will make sure to get back to you asap.
There are a number of different blogging platforms to choose from, and the most popular is WordPress, which is what I use for my blog (and so the one I know the most about). I went with WordPress because it was the most popular, so I figured there would be the most support and resources out there for it (which I think is true).
My friend Carmen (Little Blue Anchor) used to use Typepad, which she was very happy with. I only looked at it briefly, but it did look easier to use than WordPress. It almost looked more intuitive.
She switched to Square Space, which is a different look than Typepad/wordpress/blogger, and I feel like Square Space sites look more professional.
This is also a good option too if you’re looking to make a website rather than a blog.
Monetizing or Not?
I can only speak for WordPress for this because I know nothing about monetizing on other platforms. First thing you need to know if there is a difference between WordPress.com and wordpress.org. If you want to monetize, you need to use wordpress.org.
What is monetizing? Basically earning money from your blog. See those ads I have on the side of my blog? That’s how I monetize. When I first started blogging, I was on wordpress.com, which means I wasn’t monetizing, and it also means I was hosted by WordPress.
When I decided that I wanted to monetize, I switched to WordPress.org, which meant I had to find another host. I went with GoDaddy, which I am really happy with (they have lots of sales, and their customer service is awesome- which is helpful when you need to call crying).
Another reputable hosting site is BluHost.
Finding a Theme
The right theme is key to an aesthetically pleasing blog.
I’m going to explain blogs using an analogy of a house.
Think of your host (GoDaddy) as your house’s property and your blog platform (in my case WordPress) as the foundation of a house. Now, think of a theme as the structure of a house. You purchase the house (blog theme), and then once you move in (install it), you can decorate it (customize) and fill it with your things (add your content). You can also make renovations (make larger changes by changing the HTML and/or CSS), but that is more advanced.
If you want to get more advanced, you can even build your own house (create your own theme). According to Carmen, this is pretty simple on TypePad, but I wouldn’t even go there on WordPress unless you have some serious skills and a lot of patience.
Also, there are so many nice themes out there that you really don’t need to create your own. You can get themes from WordPress (some are free, some you pay for), or you can purchase your Theme from a third party.
There are lots of great themes on Etsy (and all over the internet), and I found mine on Etsy from a store called 17th Avenue Designs. I love their themes- they’re really pretty and clean and feminine looking. They also have great customer service.
Don’t get too overwhelmed with choosing a theme. I obsessed over mine more than necessary, but I am finally happy with the look of my blog. You can always change your theme too (build a new home :p), so it’s not a big deal.
Creating Your Sidebar/Widgets
When I first started monetizing, I knew I wanted ads and such along the side of my blog, but I had no idea what they were called.
They are called widgets, so every separate image along my side bar (the social media icons, my photo, newsletter sign up, ads, etc.) are widgets.
Your sidebar is prime real estate- it’s where you promote yourself, your services/products, and your ads. Different themes have different sidebar widths (mine is 250px).
In your blog’s dashboard (the behind the scenes portion of your blog), you have a whole bunch of widget options, which you can drag into your sidebar.
I’m not going to talk too much about widgets because they are laid out pretty clearly in your WordPress dashboard, but you can leave comments if you have more questions.
How to Monetize
Okay so I’ve told you that it’s possible to monetize your blog, but now you might be wondering how to do this.
There are a few different ways to do this, and Jenny Sansouci does a great job of covering this in her post How I Got Started Blogging as a Business (reading this post is what inspired me to monetize my blog).
Some of the more popular ways to monetize are through Affiliate Programs, Ad Networks, Sponsor Posts, and selling your own products. Companies will also sometimes send you free things to review, so you wouldn’t receive money but you do get products, which is fun.
With affiliate marketing, you become an affiliate for a certain company or product, and you receive a percent of sales if someone buys the product through your site.
With Ad Networks, and you receive money every time someone clicks on an ad (you usually don’t have control of what the ad is). This is generally only profitable for very high traffic sites.
For sponsored posts, a company will pay you to review one of their products and write a post about it.
So there is a bit of blogging 101 to get you started. As I said, feel free to message me with any questions! I am by no means an expert, but I know enough to be able to put together a pretty well functioning blog, so I will do my best to help you out.
Is there something else blog related you’d like me to post about? Let me know! I’m thinking of doing a post on my favourite online resources for blogging (i.e. what I edit my photos with, create my eBooks with, etc).