So, one thing-
1999 was 20 years ago.
Geocities was the place to build your *NSYNC fanpage. You could join a Yahoo! mailing list to connect with people who wanted to talk about shared interests. It wasn’t impossible to get a firstname.lastname@example.org email address, because before Facebook, everyone was taught not to use their real name online. It was the new wild west.
And it was glorious.
That was the first year I started learning how to build things online. I was, of course, instantly obsessed. This coincided with an equally voracious obsession with Britney, so I began to churn out Britney fansites, going from crappy free hosts like Homestead.com, to eventually paying for my VERY OWN first webspace through Dreamhost.
Since then, creating stuff online has just kind of been my thing.
It feels like every year since the “blogger bubble” first reached its apex in 2012 has been “the year” that blogging is deemed to be OVER. Honestly, it’s clickbait. Blogging will never be over. It will definitely change, and grow, and move from platform to platform, but the internet is FOR creation. It’s the best blank canvas in the whole world.
And blogging is only going to continue to get even bigger in 2020.
Starting a blog is easier than ever.
There are so many free tools available to use, the only thing you really need to invest in from day one are a domain name, and web hosting. It’s important to secure these two things in particular early on, because without a domain name, you’ll be left with a URL like:
Having a domain name is important for a couple of reasons, especially if one of your goals is to grow your blog down the road.
If you really want to start killing it from day one, the second thing I recommend is securing web hosting early on. You don’t have to. You can use a free blog host, like WordPress.org, or Blogger.com, and run with those for a few months while you get your feet under yourself.
I really recommend not doing that, and here’s why.
I’ve done it before. I’ve done it a few times before, and every single time, I end up feeling frustrated, extremely limited in what I can do, and pissed off that I wasted all this time trying to customize something that has extreme limitations in HOW MUCH it can be customized.
The free hosts are great for sharing pictures and news with friends and family members. But, if you want to start a blog, like an actual, for-real blog, free hosts aren’t going to give you the tools you need to be successful and continue growing long term.
Here’s the first thing you need to do to start a blog:3>
Before we get to any of the fun stuff, like design and content creation, we gotta get the domain name and hosting account out of the way first. You only have to do this once, and then the sky’s the limit.
Choose Get a new hosting account and then the Register a New Domain option.
Enter your domain name into the field there, and then scroll down to choose your plan.
Right now, SiteGround has three plans to choose from: StartUp, GrowBig, and GoGeek. I recommend going with the cheapest StartUp plan, because you can always upgrade in the future when you need to. SiteGround Customer Support is SUPER responsive, and will answer any questions you have about the process when the time comes.
Tip: StartUp only allows for one domain name, so if you have immediate plans for a second website (for example, if you know you’ll be selling a product with its own website right away), GrowBig will work better for you.
By this I mean: choosing your WordPress theme, picking colors that you’ll use frequently throughout your blog and stuff related to your blog, and setting up your social media accounts.
Here’s what I recommend –
Get started with Pinterest right away
Register your blog name on the other platforms (like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.), but don’t worry about making content there yet. Use Pinterest to grow your traffic and build an audience. More on that here.
Keep your theme simple
Go for a simple theme that doesn’t need a lot of customizing out of the gate. WordPress has tons of free designs you can use, or you can opt to go for a drag and drop theme builder like Divi. This is what I use, after struggling with free themes for years. I hated paying for it initially, but I would never go back. More on Divi here.
Set yourself up now
Use an organization system like Google Drive, Asana, or Dropbox to save all of your blog related files to. And USE FOLDERS FROM DAY ONE. You will not regret it. Having a copy of your blog and blog files saved to the cloud is also a good idea in general.
Don’t steal photos
Never use images you find through Google Search. Instead, use a free stock photo site, like Kaboom Pics, or Unsplash.
Think about making money
When you’re ready to start making an income with your blog, consider affiliate marketing. It’s a really accessible way to bring in some coin without having to put in the upfront hours by creating a digital product, or offering a digital service. More on affiliate marketing here.
There is actually a bottomless pit of recommended strategies, tips, how-to’s, and paid products on how to be successful at blogging. Algorithms are always changing. In 2020, blogging is still as relevant as ever, and the best way to get started is just to do your thing and be yourself. Yes, it’s a saturated field, but that’s more reason to be unique.
Don’t worry about finding your niche. Don’t worry about following EVERY SINGLE tips and tricks post you find on Pinterest. Concentrate on writing great content, sharing your posts on Pinterest, and getting eyes on your writing.
To read some more of my strategies, check the library out.