I often field questions from emails with tips on how to start a blog sharing activities they do with their own kids.
Here’s a quick how to guide to get started with the basics of blogging.
This post contains affiliate links if you’re interested.
How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps:
Choose a Blogging Platform
What’s a platform?
The platform is how you’ll blog. What is seen from the back-end. Readers can barely tell the difference from reading the website, but the back-end (where you’ll write your posts, design your blog, etc) is completely different.
There are two major blogging platforms (there are more, but these are the 2 most popular, and 2 that I’ve used).
Blogger: Its free. Its basic. Its right out of the box. A great place to start if you don’t know what you want to blog about, just trying it out, and want to see where it goes. Your site is hosted for free by Blogger.
WordPress: WordPress.com is also a free, right out of the box option. Your site is hosted for free by WordPress.com.
WordPress.org is the other option (usually just called WordPress, or self-hosted WordPress), and the option I highly recommend if you’re at all serious about blogging because down the road, you’ll eventually want to make the switch and its a pain in the butt to do that (I’ve done it, its not impossible, just a little bit of a pain).
Self-hosted WordPress costs. You need to host your website through a hosting service. The hosting service is where all your files will be stored (think of it as a public folder to pull images, data, and other information from).
For starting out, I highly recommend Blue Host as a terrific hosting service. They have easy WordPress installation in their dashboard for quick installation to get you up and running fast.
Step 1: Host your site at Blue Host and install WordPress
Choose your URL, or Domain Name
Probably the hardest decision, and most important, is what to call your blog.
Your domain name will reflect the name of your blog (hands on : as we grow’s domain name is handsonaswegrow.com). It should be easy to remember, somewhat short and easy to type (you’ll be doing it a lot!).
Some things to consider when choosing your domain name:
- Will the name still be relevant in 5 years? (i.e. you won’t have a baby or toddler forever)
- Is it descriptive of what you’ll write/blog about? Having words that are frequently searched for can help you in the long run.
- Is it catch-y and easy for your readers to remember?
- Is it a mouthful? Can you tell someone over the phone what your domain name is without having to spell it? (Something I really wish I would have thought when I named mine.)
- Re-think before using .net or .org or other extensions if .com is already taken. Take a look at the .com – are they competitive with what you’d blog about? Your readers will often use .com without thinking and end up there instead of your site.
You can register your domain at the same place your host your website, or do them separately. I have always registered my domains with Network Solutions.
If you are at all concerned about your physical location, I would highly recommend adding on private registration to keep your address confidential (otherwise anyone can find it).
Once you get your domain, you’ll need to point you DNS (name servers) to your hosting company. Your hosting company should have more information on this.
Step 2: Buy your domain name at Network Solutions
Customize Your Blog
Choose a theme for your blog. After years of redesigns and learning along the way, I highly recommend the Genesis Framework for WordPress and using a child theme to make it yours.
Genesis is amazing for SEO (being found in search engines like Google) and you definitely want that. It also has many out of the box child themes (a theme that works within it, to make it yours) that you can find on StudioPress.
Find more information on StudioPress 101.
Step 3: Make it your blog on Genesis Framework
Write Your First Blog Post!
Now that you’ve decided what you’ll write about and what you’ll be called. You can get started writing!
A few do’s and don’ts for blogging about kids activities:
- Don’t take others’ photos without asking.
- Do link to others whenever you are inspired by them.
- Do decide if you’ll use your child’s names publicly (remember, the whole world could potentially see your blog posts, including the creeper down the road).
- Do decide if you’ll use your own name as the author of your blog.
- Don’t share what you’re not comfortable for the world to know.
- Do talk with your spouse or other important people in your life about what you should and shouldn’t share on your blog. Where is the line drawn to how personal you will get?
- Do decide whether or not you’ll show your child’s face to the world.
Step 4: Decide your boundaries. Write your first post.
Promote your blog posts
Get on Social Media! Places to be for blogs that are geared for parents are: Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
Start a newsletter list as soon as possible. Whether you’ll be actively writing emails to them or not. Every time someone comes to your site that might be the last time they’ll come, unless you have the opportunity to contact them again. Newsletters are amazing for this and I love using Mad Mimi, its free to start, as well as the cheapest, simplest of all the newsletter services I’ve tried.
Get to know other bloggers. Join the Kid Blogger Network on Facebook and meet like-minded bloggers.
Promote your blog posts in kid-friendly and parenting linky parties (a place to share on others’s blogs) and share on their Facebook pages. Join the newsletter on the Kid Blogger Network to get daily reminders.
Step 5: Get on social media & start an email list at Mad Mimi
Advance Your Blog
Of course, this is just the beginning of blogging. You’ll either get addicted like many bloggers do or it’ll pass you by.
If you decide to advance your blog to the next level, some things to think about are:
- Learning about SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Learn to take good photos. You may need to invest in better equipment (camera and lenses). I highly recommend a DSLR and shooting in AV mode (and manual if you’re up to learning it!)
- Make your photos ‘pinnable’. Pinterest is a huge source of traffic for kids activities, crafts and whatnot. To optimize that traffic, you’ll want to make sure every post has a vertical photo. If the photo isn’t obvious what the post is about, consider adding text (you can use PicMonkey, it’s free, or Photoshop Elements).
- Learn about what caused page speeds to slow down. Optimizing images is something to be sure you do from the get-go.
- Learn more about blogging with SkillFeed tutorials.
What I currently use for my site
What I’ve recommended above is for when you’re starting.
Along the way, changes will be made. Hosting is one of those because hosts can only handle so much traffic (and you don’t want to pay for it when you don’t really need it yet).
- Web Hosting: Web Synthesis
- Domain Registered: Network Solutions
- Theme: Custom Designed Child Theme by Emily White Designs on Genesis Framework
- Plugins: Gravity Forms, PopupAlly Pro, Display Widgets, WordPress SEO, Genesis Simple Share, Akismet, Soliloquy, W3 Total Cache
- Newsletter: MadMimi
- Camera: Canon 70D
- Lenses: Sigma 35mm 1.4f, Canon 50mm 1.8f, Tamron 24-50mm 2.8