So you want to Start a blog? Let me tell you starting a blog or any business for that matter is tough. But doing so with babies and toddlers underfoot or working a full-time job can feel downright impossible. But it isn’t, I promise. That’s because so many moms, including myself, are doing it every day!
This post will help you set your blog up for the success it deserves by doing what many bloggers miss – laying the proper foundation from the very start.
If you have a desire to share your ideas, create/sell a product, provide a service, or start a ministry… then it’s time to start your blog today!
And yes, a blog is a business. So don’t be tempted to treat your dream of starting your own blog as a hobby if you want to get the results you desire. You need to treat it like a business right out the gate. And you don’t need a solid eight hours a day to make that happen, either.
But we’ll get to that later!
Let me start off by quickly defining what a blog really is. Your blog is the vehicle for your business. It’s what brings people to your business through your sparkling and unique personality and the valuable content you create and share.
So, then what is your business? Your business is your actual cause, idea, product, or service that you’re offering to your ideal community.
The distinction between blog and business in many cases (as it is with my blog) is a fine line. What’s important is that your mindset is ready for business – no matter what your blogging mission actually is.
How Do You Start a Blog That Thrives?
Your blog will take time to grow… that’s a given. But if you put a solid foundation in place, have a vision that keeps you focused, and develop systems early on in your blog – your success of tons of visitors, subscribers, and customers will happen so much sooner!
Just remember, it’s not as simple as just throwing up a website and getting to work. You must, must, must build a solid foundation and the proper framework for your blog.
***And even if you already have a blog but never took the time to build the proper blog framework, it’s never too late, so this is for you too!***
This post will give you the 4 steps to start your blog the right way. Too many bloggers and business owners get frustrated early on because they didn’t take the time to do what I’m getting ready to walk you through now.
I’m going to warn you, though. This post is extremely long and thorough! I’m not trying to be long-winded for the mere sake of it. I save that for my husband!
But seriously, I worked hard to put together a resource you can return to again and again. So, bookmark this post so it doesn’t get lost… I’ve packed this post full of resources you’re going to want to come back to later!
Are you ready to start your own thriving blog?
Be sure to grab your FREE copy of this amazing Blog Planner and SEO Checklist below to make the process of creating, optimizing, promoting, and monetizing your content a breeze!
1 – Write Your Plan
The first step in the process of starting your blog is to visualize and understand what it is you really want to accomplish with your business. This isn’t always clear in the beginning. It may seem like you’ve got your concept down-pat until someone asks you to explain what you do … and the stuttering begins…
There’s wisdom in writing down the vision for your business and keeping it nice and simple. That means, don’t be tempted to make it super “sophisticated” – which is just code for over-complicated.
Been there… Done that!
Start out with your end desire in mind. Don’t be afraid to really go with the BIG vision in your heart. Still… Big, not complicated; there is a difference.
It may seem over-the-top crazy right now but just go with it. You’ll be in good company with all the crazy dreamers out there who sacrificed to make our lives better. I’m glad they didn’t let fear water down their dream! So don’t let fear cause you to water down YOURS!
Know Your Customer Avatar
As you write out your vision, it’s an absolute MUST to visualize who you’ll be helping. That’s your customer avatar – the person who is waiting for your idea, service, wisdom, product or anything else you’re offering to gift to the real world and not just something taking up space in your head.
We’re all waiting for you, so don’t forget about us in the process of creating your vision.
Ask yourself these questions to help get you started…
Do you have a product that’ll solve a problem?
Who needs your help and how badly do they need this help?
Will your blog be a resource that will make a difference?
Do you plan to provide a service that’s designed to make someone else’s life easier?
Again, who needs this help and how would their life be positively impacted by it?
It’s always a good sign when your customer needs what you have in a major way. Concentrate on how their lives will be positively impacted, changed, and transformed by what you have to offer. Think about where you want to lead them.
This is important… do not be tempted to create a group of people, but create ONE person as your ideal customer, subscriber, reader.
A rookie mistake that I believe ALL bloggers make (including myself) is to see your tribe as a massive group filled with many different personalities, needs, and desires. When, as hard as this may sound, you must really see your audience as one person.
Create your perfect fan and build an “avatar” with a name, face, hopes, and problems; and craft everything you write, offer, and do around that person.
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The more you know about your tribe, the easier it will be to find them with your carefully targeted marketing so you can provide them with the products and/or services they need (books, blog posts, ideas, courses, inventions, etc.) and blow them away!
You also need to become an expert on your tribe. You need to know where they live, hang out, and also where they shop. You need to know what they like, what they love, how they communicate, and what’s important to them.
And here’s a BIG one – know their fears, problems, annoyances, and what keeps them up at night!
Now that you’ve written down your concept (What you’re offering) and Who you’re offering it to – it’s time to focus on How you plan to get it done.
This is the nuts and bolts of your business plan. Oh, I didn’t tell you were writing a business plan?
Oops… Don’t worry you’re doing great.
Don’t stop now!
Know Your Numbers
I didn’t say it earlier because the words “Business Plan” can be intimidating. It was for me. But it’s really not that bad, and look how great you’ve done so far!
All you’re really doing is setting yourself up for success! So, like I said, now you’re going to write down your plan of action. We’ll start with your budget.
No matter how “boring and intimidating” this step may seem, don’t skip it! You need to carefully determine ALL costs associated with starting your business. This will vary tremendously depending on the type of business you’re starting.
Some of the expenses you want to consider for your blog will include the supplies you’ll need, costs for advertising, people who you may need to hire (work you’ll need to outsource), and monthly maintenance expenses for your website and social media.
For some ideas of blogging tools and their costs, check out my detailed post on the blog automation tools I use.
Don’t let the initial costs of start-up get in the way of starting your dream. The good news is starting a blog isn’t that costly upfront and there are many free or super low-cost options to get you started. That way, you can upgrade as you start making money later.
Here’s a great post from SmartBlogger that goes further into detail on creating a blog budget, and they have a cool budgeting spreadsheet right in the post to help you with your numbers.
Know Your Daily Action Plan
Now that you’ve earned a Ph.D. in understanding your tribe and having numbers your CPA would be proud of, you’re almost done with your business plan.
Believe it or not, business owners pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for the information that you took the time to discover on your own! The only thing left to do is to be clear on the actions you need to take to get your desired results.
You need to be absolutely sure the tasks you’re working on are the “right” actions. It doesn’t make sense to do all this work preparing your business for success if you spend time doing things that aren’t fruitful.
Your daily actions have to line up with the overall vision for your business. If they don’t, it’s highly unlikely you’ll see success in your business.
If you’re not exactly sure what your daily activities should be, go back and review your vision. Look at the end of your vision and reverse engineer what it’s going to take to grow and nurture your blog to that place. You can design and create the life and business you want to have!
For example, do you need to create fabulous content that will establish yourself and brand as an expert? If so, content research and curation should be built into your daily/weekly priorities.
I Only you know your blog and what needs to be done and you’ll learn even more as you keep growing. Just beware of the unrelenting power of resistance which plaques creatives and entrepreneurs alike.
Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles beautifully brings to light the struggle of this invisible, yet ever-present resistance; which works to block us all from our dreams.
It helped me recognize I’m not alone in my struggle with insecurity, distraction, and self-sabotaging behaviors. This book was a real game-changer for me. And best of all, it’s a super quick read!
Another roadblock for bloggers and business owners is Shiny Object Syndrome. This is when there are so many… too many paths to take and so you either try to take them all or shut down altogether.
Don’t fall for it! Create your plan and stick to it long enough (at least a full 3 months) until you see results. If you see that it’s a bad plan after sufficient time and testing… you’re free to choose another path!
2 – Add Your Blog into Your Real Life
Once you complete your business plan, you need to make a firm decision that you’re a business owner NOW. This step could have been rolled into number one, but I believe this one needs to stand on its own.
Even if your business is becoming a freelance writer or starting a lifestyle blog – you’re a business owner. You have to respect your new decision and integrate it into your life.
This first step to adding your business into your life is making sure your family’s on board.
That’s extremely important! You’ll need your husband and children’s help doing many of the things you used to do before becoming a business owner. And please don’t launch into this new venture thinking you can doing everything you used to AND run a successful business.
You need help, so you don’t crash and burn from pure exhaustion. Your business should enrich your family – not run it into the ground. And a burnt-out momma will do just that! And there can be balance in the Mom Biz life.
Instead, use your family to help you achieve your dreams, and you’ll be a happier, healthier you and your family deserves that, and so do you.
Any new endeavor requires new habits, actions, and daily routines. You can’t expect your business to grow and be successful if you only work it when you feel like it or have a free second. Never decide to work only when you have that stroke of genius.
No… you have to MAKE time – every day.
If you’re a mom or have a full-time job outside the home – your time is slim. But NOT non-existent. You’ll need to be skilled at the art of saying no and scaling back your life, at least in the beginning.
Even if you seriously have only one hour a day to work on your business – you’ll still be successful if you stick to that one hour EVERY day.
Darren Hardy teaches in great detail on the powerful concept of the compound effect in his book – The Compound Effect Basically, he shows readers how small changes made consistently, over even a very short time, will have exponential results. I strongly recommend this book which really gives us all hope that we don’t need a full 8 hours a day to make a BIG impact!
So there, you can stop telling yourself you don’t have enough time! And instead, decide what time you need to work – and do it faithfully.
I personally work every day for at least 2-3 hours before my children get up for school, and when my 23-month-old son takes his afternoon nap for 2 hours. I sometimes will try to catch up on work stuff in the evening, but I’m honestly too tired, so I stick with the early hours instead.
Now, once my son is old enough and all 3 of my kids are in school for 8 hours a day; I won’t need to work at these crazy, early hours. But for right now, I sacrifice so I can be fully available to my family. It was hard in the beginning but only took a few weeks to get used to.
**Update: My son is now in preschool! So, my days are now fully dedicated to work and my evenings are all about my family! It’s working extremely well for my family now. It’s my new season.**
Overall, becoming your own boss is harder than you can imagine. But if you’re pursuing a calling and not just a paycheck, you’re off to a great start.
Now that you’ve laid the foundation, the first thing you want to do is to get your blog up and running. So you need a website which will serve as your home-base. And that’s extremely important to know because through social media is an excellent and widely-used tool for getting your message out – it’s not your platform.
Social media sites are really in charge of EVERYTHING that goes on their platforms, not you. They can change the rules anytime they see fit, and those changes may or may not be beneficial to you.
You want to use those very effective platforms to do ONE thing – drive all your fans and followers straight to your home-base (your website). If you don’t have one, that’s a big, rookie mistake. Don’t be a rookie. And think like a professional.
You’ll need to make 3 choices when setting up your website. And just be aware these are exactly the same regardless of whether your business is a blog, a service-based business, or selling physical or digital products. No matter what you’re offering – you need a place to call home. So, let’s get started.
Choose Your Platform
You need to choose your site’s platform. This basically means the place where you’re going to “house” your site. There are a few platforms to choose from, but one platform has risen above the pack and become the industry leader. (Source)
WordPress is easy to use and best of all – it works really well. They also provide great support to their customers and that’s EXTREMELY important, especially if you’re not tech savvy.
Another awesome benefit is the enormous community of creators who build plug-ins, tools, and themes designed to work directly with your WordPress site. If you’re looking for a great theme, I’ve used Web-Savvy-Marketing themes when creating sites for other business owners and they look awesome.
There are two different types of WordPress sites:
WordPress.com – This version allows you to host your site on WordPress servers, and they allow you access to update content. There is a free option, however, your domain name will include the .wordpress.com (subdomain) and you have very limited storage space and customization options. There are premium options that provide for a little more flexibility that range from $2.99 – $24.92 per month.
WordPress.org – This is the more common version of WordPress that most website owners use. Its what’s called the self-hosted WordPress option that allows you to host your site on the hosting provider of your choice and provides for the most flexibility and customization. This version allows you to host your site on your own server and is highly recommended.
There’s a little more set-up on the front end but you’ll have complete control over the look or your site, how it operates, and how you’re able to make money. This version is the hands-down winner if you want to really operate a business because you need complete control and this is the version that delivers that option.
Choose Your Hosting
If you decide to go with a self-hosted WordPress site (WordPress.org), you’ll need to set up hosting. Hosting is simply a server that houses your site and allows others to find it. So, your hosting is EXTREMELY important. The upside is hosting is very inexpensive across the board. But most of all, you want to be sure your hosting is reliable and has excellent support and customer service.
The clear winner in my experience is BlueHost.com. My husband and I have been customers with BlueHost for many years and have only good things to say. And let’s just say, we’ve made a number of mistakes along the way and needed BlueHost to walk us through the process and sometimes even come to our rescue! And they always delivered. My top-2 favorite things about Bluehost is that 1) They don’t allow pornographic websites, and 2) They are available 24/7!
All you need to do to get started is choose which plan you want by clicking on the image below. If you’re just starting out and you have to be more mindful of your budget, just choose the basic plan. They make it easy to upgrade when you need it at any time.
Choose Your Domain Name
Finally, you need to choose your domain name, which is your website’s “online” address. My domain name is www.familyfelicity.com. You may already have a domain name and if you do that’s great, but if not it’s not difficult to find one.
Just use the simple BlueHost search feature below to see if your desired domain is available. If not, you’ll need to keep trying until you find one. If you don’t already have one, Bluehost will require that you choose one at setup. But the great thing is that it’s absolutely FREE for the first year (included with your hosting package).
Here are some simple tips when trying to come up with your name:
- Keep it short and easy to remember
- Use keywords for your business niche if possible
- Don’t add symbols in the name
- Use a .com name if possible
Once your hosting & domain name is set up, Bluehost makes it easy to setup your website with a WordPress 1-Click Install which literally takes about 2-minutes. Simply answer a few questions about the name of your site, and your username and password, and now you’ve got your own legit website!
Now you’re ready to start adding your content. This is the fun part where you get to tell everyone who you are and what you have to offer. I’ve added a video below created by BlueHost to help you navigate through the process and make it a little easier.
The next video helps you to create your first blog posts.
4 – Build Your Email List
Building your email list is something you MUST begin doing from the very start of your blog. In case you didn’t know this already, your email list is your future gold mine. Basically, this group of individuals who liked what you were offering so much that they gave you their email address for your free goodies are now starting on a journey with you.
As a subscriber, they’ve taken action with you. You asked them to sign up for something and they did. This may not seem like a big deal, but I assure you it is. A person is much more likely to purchase something from you later down the road if they’ve already conducted business with you in the past.
Even if you don’t have plans to sell products on your blog, at some point you’ll want your readers to “do” something. And it’s your faithful subscribers that’ll be more likely to do it than the random visitors that come and go to your site.
And the stats are there to prove it!
So how do you capture these email addresses?
You offer them something of great value to them for FREE. This is the basic, no-frills way to build your email list. There are many more ways, but it’s too much to discuss in this post. We’re already at 4,000 words here!
You can offer a free guide or book if you’re an expert in a particular subject or industry. You can offer a valuable service for free like a website audit if you help blogs run their social media. Don’t be tempted to offer a “free consultation” though. They’re not as effective.
You also need to create noticeable and convenient places for readers to opt-in to what you’re offering, so make sure they can be found easily like on your sidebar, within blog posts, and even as a pop-up offer.
Once you start to capture these emails, you’ll need an email service that’ll deliver your freebie to your new subscriber. As well as allowing you to communicate with them regularly to stay in contact. This is where your readers get to know you and is the perfect place to offer them great stuff both free and paid to make their lives better.
There are many email service providers doing great work, both free and paid. I used to use Mail Chimp which was free for me because I didn’t have a very big list at all, and is a great start. But there were many things I was having difficulty doing so I later switched to ConvertKit which was created especially for bloggers like us.
I started to notice a huge migration of bloggers running to ConvertKit and I did my research to see what all the fuss was about. I’m glad I did, and my email list has been growing ever since!
If you need more step by step instruction on how to build, grow, and nurture your email list you definitely need to invest in Crystal Paine’s Build Your List 101! I personally took this course and she doesn’t leave a single thing out, including the best way to stay in regulation with the new GDPR data collection laws.
If you have a growing list but want more juicy details and step by step instructions on how to nurture those new subscribers and turn them into a highly engaged and ready to buy fans… you NEED Inbox Invitation Course! Sarah does a phenomenal job showing her students how to make email easy and make money through your email list. You can check out her very inexpensive course HERE!
After laying the foundation for your blog, you’ll need to understand how to properly and quickly drive traffic to your site, set up your monetization strategy, and like I said above, grow your email list.
And to do this effectively, you need education, my friend!
In the beginning, I didn’t want to invest ANY money into my blog until I was making money. It took me a few years to realize I wasn’t making any money because I wasn’t investing in my blog!
So, I searched and searched for blogging courses that didn’t require me to get a second job to pay for them, but gave me all the goods I needed to reach my blogging goals. And I found them!!
You can check them out for yourself here: 9 Blogging Courses to Grow Your Blog Insanely Fast for Under $100!
For courses that teach you how to fully set up your blog and get started beyond what we’ve discussed in this post, check out these amazingly helpful courses.
Building a Framework
This course was created by Abby Lawson from Just a Girl and Her Blog. I’m sure you’ve heard of her… she’s amazing! This course is EXTREMELY affordable at $97 for all the foundational blog information you get. It’s crazy that’s she’s never raised the price!
This course literally walks you through every step of starting, growing, maintaining, and even monetizing your blog. Yes, the whole kitchen sink is inside this course. If you’re new to blogging or feel like you’ve missed some steps along the way, this course will be your go-to resource!
Blog Start Up 101
This course was created by Crystal Paine of MoneySavingMom.com. She has a tremendous amount of expertise about blogging successfully and recently launched a new blog, YourBloggingMentor.com which is a wonderful blogging resource. She has a wealth of courses under her blogging belt and this is the one you need to invest in if you’re brand new to blogging.
If you haven’t launched your blog yet or your blog is extremely new, this is the go-to course for you, plus the price is such a bargain. But don’t let the low price make you think it’s not packed with value. She walks you through every step you need to take to get your blog set up the right way and handle all the tech that’s necessary in the beginning stages.
Getting started with your dream business is easier than you thought, right? In just 4 steps you can have a blog that’s ready to interact with the world!
That’s exciting and I can’t wait to hear what type of blog you’re going to start.
Please share your comments, questions, or thoughts below as other readers and I would love to help you get started on your business journey!