Guide to Starting a Successful Blog

I started my blog in September of 2016 and have fallen in love with it. I have gained so much including writing skills, a new and supportive community of friends, and most of all- An enjoyable hobby! I have decided to write my own Guide to Starting a Successful Blog. I will go over the basics of physically starting a blog using WordPress, Self-Hosting, Choosing a Domain Name, and Customizing your blog to your liking! 

If you’ve already got the basics down and want to read my Tips and Tricks on creating good quality content, then scroll down towards the end of this blog post!

First things first!

To run a blog and create content, you’re going to need-

  •  A computer, smartphone or tablet. I prefer to use my cellphone appose to my desktop computer! Whatever you’re most comfortable with.
  • Successful blogs take time and effort!
  • Basic computer knowledge.
  • A credit card (or debit visa) for a small investment, if you chose to Self-Host your blog. It would be well worth it in the long run!

Why is Self-Hosted the better option?

When a website is hosted by a free site, including mine, you will see .wordpress.com or .blogspot.com etc at the end of your URL. I started my blog for personal pleasure and passion which is why I chose the free option, but if you are looking for success and profit from your blog, then here is why you should self-host:

  • When hosting through a free site such as WordPress, they gain FULL RIGHTS to your content! 
  • Once again, if you are serious about blogging, then you must be prepared for the “start-up” cost. If that isn’t an option for you currently and you still want to create content, then I would recommend WordPress. But keep in mind that you are forfeiting the rights to your content to them!
  • It can be difficult and sometimes costly to transfer your WordPress blog to a Self-Hosted blog (one of the reasons I have yet to make the switch). If you’re in it for the long haul, I would seriously recommend paying the small fee for the rights to your Domain Name.

Hosting |

Like I previously mentioned, I do not have a self-hosted blog therefor I did my research!

Mostly Morgan suggested Host Gator because they have unlimited disk and bandwidth space, they have great 24/7 tech support, and it is incredibly affordable.

The cheapest plan (which is all you need) is only $2.78 a month! I’m pretty sure they charge annually to make things more simple which rounds up to roughly $33. She was also kind enough to give us a coupon code MOSTLYMORGANBLOG for 25% off (this is her affiliate link which means she does get a small commission from people who choose to use her code).

Choosing a Domain Name |

Your domain name is your brand! It is also your URL (Example: My domain name is Just Jo Beauty). This is something you should take time to think about.

Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding on your domain name:

  • Try to avoid using numbers. It does not look professional!
  • If you are really stuck, use your name! I chose to include my nickname (Jo) in my domain name!
  • Try to be unique, but stick to your topic! Do not name your fashion blog PuppyLover333.com. When people search for Fashion Content, they won’t bother to click on your blog because they might assume your posts revolve around Dogs!
  • Use key words (Example: for a beauty blog you could include Makeup, Mua, Beauty etc.) It helps improve your rank on search engines, which also increases blog traffic!
  • Keep it short! No one wants to type in a 30 letter URL. They might misspell it or even forget it!

Creating your Blog |

After you have purchased your domain name (or chosen to use a free hosted site), it is time to download WordPress and start creating your blog (aka The Fun Part).

WordPress Basics |

This is what the WordPress app looks like on a smartphone.

Theme |

I have spent countless hours going through the amazing free themes that WordPress has to offer. I personally use Sela, but I have used Button 2 and Penscratch 2 in the past! I love these themes because they are all simple, classy and easy to use!

My blog with the Sela Theme activated.

Best of all, WordPress makes it extremely easy to customize your blog to your personally liking including the fonts, colours, menus, widgets & plugins, Headers, Backgrounds and more!

WordPress also has many themes that you can purchase, as well as many other websites!

Pages and Menu |

I had a difficult time figuring out how to create a navigation bar for my blog. Pages is where you’ll create your menu! You’ll go to Pages> add new and write an About Me Page including- 

  • Your name
  • Age
  • What you do
  • Why you started blogging 
  • Hobbies

You’ll also want a Contact Me Page with a business email, and some specific pages that categorize your content.

It took me a while to realize how simple it actually was.
Widgets and Plugins |

WordPress makes it extremely easy to search and install free widgets and plugins to improve your blog and customize it to your liking!

I personally use-

  • Instagram Widget

This widget was free and easy to install directly from the WordPress app. When linked with your Instagram, it displays your 6 most recent posts directly on your site which increases followers and traffic. It also adds visual appeal to your site!

  • Search

The free theme I chose did not come with the search widget already installed, although I’d consider it a must. It makes searching for specific posts and content much simpler for your readers.

  • Social Media

Networking is very important. This widget easily links your twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc to your blog which makes it easy for your readers to follow you and connect with you!

  • Subscribe

This enables you to add a subscription button to sign up for emails whenever you post, which builds up your list!

There are so many other great widgets and plugins that you can search and find. It’s all personalized and custom to you!

My Tips and Tricks |

I have been blogging for several months and can honestly say that I am a rookie and still have so much to learn. I am in no means a professional or perfect. I still make mistakes and have room to improve.

But- I believe in myself and I am proud of the content I post. I have grown in many ways and want to share with you what I’ve learned and improved on!

Here are my tips on creating good content and gaining followers:

  • Titles Are Important

When choosing a title for your blog post, you want to be very direct. This will increase your chances of ranking higher in Google’s search results. For example: When someone is searching for a review on the L’Oreal Infallible Pro Matte Foundation, they are going to search in Google “L’Oreal Infallible Pro Matte Foundation Review” and google will sift through the millions of posts out there including those keywords, and choose the result that best matches what the person is searching for!

Therefore, you’ll want to be direct with your titles and try to include what your reviewing or discussing multiple times in your post to boost your chances of appearing in the search results and gaining blog traffic.

  • Visual Appeal 

Having a clean and simple design for your blog is key. It should be very easy for your readers to navigate your website, otherwise they will click off and find something more simple!

It is also important to be visually appealing to your readers. Including pictures and colour in your blog posts keeps the readers entertained and helps them better understand the discussion.

  • Photography

I am no professional myself, but it is extremely important to include some sort of photography to your posts!

I personally use my smartphone to take product shots, flat-lays, and close up makeup shots, but most bloggers tend to invest in a quality camera. I have purchased plain black and white bristle boards for 50 cents each at the dollar store for my flat-lays, as well as some fake crystals to improve my photography and make it unique-

Example of how I use bristle boards and fake crystals for photography.

It is intimidating for your readers to see a 1000 word posts relating to one specific thing. Separating your thoughts into paragraphs and including multiple photo’s throughout improves the quality of your content dramatically.

  • Connecting With Your Readers

It is important to stay connected with your readers. When they leave a comment on your post, try to reply back whenever possible. This creates a bond between you and your community where we all share support towards one another’s blog.

I try to follow almost every lifestyle/beauty blog that I find. I enjoy reading their posts and finding ways I can improve! It’s a great way to get inspired!

***

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you learned something new from this post to improve your blog somehow!

Jo xx

Link to my Instagram

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