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5 Things You Must Have to Start Your Own Blog
Starting your own blog, or website, can be terrifying and incredibly exciting at the same time. There’s so many options for how to get started. Some people will suggest one tool or service to use, whereas others will tell you something completely different.
It’s hard, at first, to know what it is that you will truly need, and what to spend money on. If I could, I would honestly do everything for free. But, you can’t make money without spending a little bit of money. So, I’ll let you in on what you actually need, and the cheapest way to go about it!
Whether you’re new to blogging, have been blogging , or just thinking about starting a blog; the choices for everything you need, to have a successful blog can sometimes be overwhelming.
I have done a lot of research into services and tools for blogging over the past year and a half; along with trying quite a few tools and services out for myself. And, I have come up with a list of 5 things that are must haves and that I would personally recommend; even to a brand new blogger who is not tech savvy, at all.
I know it can be technologically frustrating in the beginning when starting a blog. Even with all of the advice you can get, all the books or ebooks you read, and all of the posts you read; it will feel like you have barely scraped the surface of all there is to learn.
I get it, I’ve been there, and for some things I am still there. I am still learning, every single day. More so on the days my children actually nap. I’m here to help guide you in a direction that will help you. And, to help you choose the right (easy for non tech savvy people) services and tools. And also, so you don’t waste your money trying out tools that are not necessary, or difficult to figure out.
To have a website and your own url; you must have some type of hosting and a domain name. (If you don’t know what a domain name is, it’s simply the website address; mine is http://www.stresslessbehealthy.com.)
Your host company should also provide you with a professional email address, it should be firstname.lastname@example.org. This will be very useful when you start your email list and send out emails to people on your list. Also when you start reaching out to brands or simply trying to look more professional.
Now, the first host I had was Bluehost. A lot of bloggers may recommend them to you, turns out that Bluehost has one of the better paying affiliate programs. (Meaning that Bluehost pays a commission to the blogger who referred you to them.) As far as I know, most host companies have an affiliate program; so it’s not a bad thing. But, I personally would not recommend Bluehost…I had some issues with them and their customer service. (And, almost every time I see a post in a Facebook group about which host to go with; there are always plenty of comments saying the same thing about Bluehost, so I’m not alone in not wanting to recommend them.)
Bluehost is one of the cheaper hosts, as well. So, now you’re probably which host company I do recommend, and who has a comparable price to Bluehosts plans.
Well, I love my current host; SiteGround! Their prices are extremely similar to Bluehosts (I’m hesitant to say exact because there’s usually promos going on for new users.) The customer service is amazing! Before I was even a paying customer they took the time to research how I was supposed to do something for my site (that I had asked Bluehost for help with and was given nonsense as an answer). In fact, the representative from SiteGround provided me with an article from Bluehost to help with the situation I was in (the representative from Bluehost did not such thing…).
They also have clear hosting plans depending on your needs, check them out here! One of which, is a specific hosting plan for those using wordpress.org for their blogs; which is the next must have.
WordPress is wonderful, easy to use, and there are so many resources to learn how to use it. Other bloggers have written full posts, have tutorials, and have made videos on how to use it. (I’m starting to get good enough now to do this!)
If you choose Siteground as your host, it comes free; installing wordpress from SiteGround is super simple, especially if you choose a wordpress plan. Plus, wordpress.org is free with hosting. DO NOT use wordpress.com if you ever want to start making money from your blog!
WordPress.org is how I was able to easily set up my website, choose my theme (how my website looks), and customize it. With wordpress you can also have plugins and widgets. Plugins make life simple when you’re trying to do something complicated on a website, for us non tech savvy people. Like connecting google analytics or your amazon affiliate account, or another outside site, to your site.
WordPress is also where you write and publish all of the material that goes on your website. It’s where you organize the material into different sections on your site.
This is where you will spend most of your time working on your website. It’s like the kitchen to your website, whereas what other people see is the final product or meal.
3. Email Service Provider
I used convertkit last year for about 3 months and absolutely loved it; thanks to Suzi from Start a Mom Blog who pointed me in their direction with a co-hosted webinar. It is life changing, well, at least when it comes to email marketing; or sending out automated emails in an organized fashion. It’s actually simple to group together certain subscribers depending on what they subscribed to and to make sure they get what they signed up for. In short, it doesn’t give me a headache trying to figure it all out.
I was using mailchimp before I switched to convertkit (my brother suggested mailchimp because he had heard it was good). I was struggling with mailchimp trying to get anything to work. It was horrible, I felt so lost and frustrated. I knew exactly what I wanted mailchimp to do, but couldn’t find the option to do it. Even when I found something close to it, it wanted me to upgrade my membership. And I wasn’t about to upgrade my membership to feel more frustrated and confused.
Convertkit is super simple to use, even for true beginners.
They actually walk you through setting up your opt in form and first email sequence. There are plenty of videos showing you exactly how to do something, and their employees are super helpful, as well. You’ll receive emails to help you get started, and you can always email them back if you have questions or need help. They even wrote an ebook called The Complete Guide to Email Marketing; they have so many different resources to help their customers succeed. If you want to succeed in email marketing, I highly recommend you check them out!
If I haven’t convinced you to check them out yet, they teach free courses once in a while, as well. Such as their Product Creation Master Class, along with useful webinars!
I currently use mailerlite for my email service; they are quite similar to converkit, but aren’t as fancy. If you have no money to put towards your email service provider, and have under 1000 people on your email list, then go with mailerlite; they are free up to 1000 subscribers. I have no intention of even thinking about switching from mailerlite until I have to start paying. And even then, I may stick with them because they get the job done and are easy to use!
4. Canva (canva.com)
Canva is amazing and I recommend it to everyone, whether you have a blog or not!
I have used quite a few different tools trying to edit photos and add text. With many editing tools, it’s hard to resize pictures and edit them to be exactly how you want them for the platform you’re going to be using them on. Canva has done all the work for us, especially when it comes to pictures for social media. You can choose different layouts, and already completed(beautiful) pictures, to use on pinterest, facebook, twitter and instagram. You can even create your facebook cover or twitter head on here and not have to worry about the size because it’s premade for you!
It takes all of the hard tech work out of creating beautiful social media posts and pictures (and printables, most of my printables were made with canva). You can even create wedding invitations and announcements for just about anything on this site. It’s pretty awesome!
You can gain access to my printables by subscribing!
5. Social Media Accounts
Alright, so we are in the age of social media; so, it’s quite obvious you will need to be apart of it to get your stuff out there.
What I would recommend to do first, as soon as you grab your domain name; grab all of the social media handles with that same name, or as similar as possible, just in case you need it in the future.
Next, figure out where your audience hangs out and make those accounts look nice.
Then you’ll want to automate all the ones you’re going to be using, except for one. The one you don’t automate will be the first one you obsess over til you have it giving you good traffic (the amount of traffic will vary depending on a lot).
Don’t get overwhelmed with social media, though. It can be extremely overwhelming, especially starting out. Make sure you focus on your writing and your site design and presentation before trying to get traffic from social media platforms. You may get disappointed with your traffic if you don’t. Think of it this way, you can’t expect people to want to come back to your site if you haven’t found your voice yet, have barely anything on your site, or if your site looks like it’s from the 90’s.
*Hint- most blogger get the majority of their traffic from Pinterest, including myself, so I’d recommend starting there. Pinterest can be very time consuming, mostly because it’s just so much fun to be on once you understand how it works. I personally use Tailwind and spend about 5 hours once a month scheduling ALL my pins for the month, that way I don’t have to worry about losing traffic if I forget to pin for a day. Get a FREE Trial here!
A Few More Things You’ll Need…
As my site keeps growing and I keep learning, more will be added to this list! So, if this page looks different the next time you come visit; it just means that I have broadened my horizons. Like I said before, I am learning every single day. I want to keep this page as updated as possible to help you out. To give you an honest look at what I personally use and would recommend. And the 5 must have things in this list now I don’t see going anywhere, ever. They are all amazing and I wouldn’t trade them for anything! (And, all of them are free to start off with, except for hosting; unless you go with a fancy email service provider.)
If you’re still thinking about starting a blog, PIN THE IMAGE BELOW! That way you’ll have an easier time finding this list in the future.
Let me know what you think of these if you have tried them before or currently use them. Or, if you have a difference of opinion, go ahead and share that below in the comments.
If you are still on the edge about starting a blog or not; read 8 Benefits of having a Blog as a Mom!!
Or, read The Top 10 Reasons to be a Work at Home Mom