A Word of Encouragement
It is an eye-opening experience starting and maintaining a blog. One of the best pieces of advice I can give is, if you love it, don’t give it up.
I began this blog years ago and have had to take time off frequently due to various things like moving or caring for a parent. I thought about dropping it because I wasn’t posting regularly (don’t misinterpret this, to be successful you need to be consistent), but I have found that my site is still pulling in views and my affiliate links are still getting clicked even when I am not posting. It makes sense if you believe you will be back, to let it ride so you get to take off from where you were not begin again from scratch.
It is completely natural to be feeling a bit doubtful, overwhelmed or just wondering if all of the time you are putting into it is worth it. You’ll make mistakes, but you’ll learn from them. There is an audience for really everything, so be sure to pick a subject that you are passionate about.
My second piece of advice is please, please, please do not compare yourself.
I started networking and built up three Facebook groups, I led link parties and did lots of work with other bloggers. I started “blogging school” which was a great idea if I was doing a course or launch but I was new and just did it to help people. I noticed many of my friends who started when I did, some who didn’t have the greatest looking blog and fewer posts with little effort were crushing it. I was not. It was very hard to figure out. I also had a group that I worked with teaching them all I knew about link parties, take my entire group and start a new group of their own doing exactly what I was doing. Ugh! You have to be ready for people who aren’t team players. As a natural born teacher, I really loved helping others. What I realized is I had to make a choice. I can help others and spend all of my time focused on them or I can launch books and courses to do the same thing and advance myself at the same time.
I closed all of my groups and said goodbye to networking. I have since found that I can learn and grow on my own. However, lots of people thrive in groups, so if that’s you, go for it.
Know Your Why
I truly believe that we all have a voice and can make a difference in this world. It doesn’t matter whether it is DIY, Food, Decorating, you may think who cares after a while, but the posts I read are posts that share the heart of the author. They tell stories that stir memories and I leave feeling changed, happy, blessed! So if you stick with it, keep learning and sharing your passion in this incredible journey, you will see success!
My daughter and I began a blog and a YouTube channel at the same time. She has been faithful to her YouTube channel all of these years, while her blog was shut down the first month. It wasn’t her thing. Me, on the other hand, while I love filming…editing and all come more difficult and I love to write, so no matter how tempted I am at times to stop, I CAN’T. I love designing graphics which is blogging. I love affiliate marketing which is blogging. I love writing to help others which is blogging, so I can’t stop regardless of the return, I just love it.
Basics for Setting Up Your Blog
The Very First Thing You Need
Setting up a blog requires hosting. I have used several hosts over the years. You change based on services and how fast you grow, along with price.
My recommendation for beginners is Blue Host. You will get your domain for FREE, so don’t pay for that somewhere else.
I just began my store, Cottage Life Decor, and I am using Blue Host dedicated site hosting. You don’t need that level for starting a blog unless you are using massive storage. The good news is they have different levels of service depending on your needs and you can upgrade at any time.
If you work with a web designer as I did on this blog, I had to move to a hosting site that worked for her design and our collaboration. The hosting site for Your Home Your Happy Place is Flywheel. I know I had great support as I started with them. They also offer FREE migration (moving your blog from your current host). That is a huge headache you don’t have to manage yourself.
I had a blog several years ago and I used a free theme offered at wordpress.org. It was fine. However, I would visit other blogs and just think WOW! How did they do that? Where did they get that awesome title banner? Well, after lots of research I found there are some great sites that offer some really awesome themes and now I think my site looks amazing too!
Using some e-books, I learned things about Themes which are the templates that your words sit in. I started reading about Parent Themes and Child Themes…yes, it was like another language. But here is what it means. A Parent Theme is like a Dress Form and the Child Theme is the Dress you place on it! So to understand it completely, you need to realize that the dress cannot be used without the form to hang it on. So make sure you purchase the Parent Theme first!
To use the designs that I recommend you will want to have the Genesis framework (which is a Parent Theme) from StudioPress.com After purchasing your Framework you can pick a Child Theme on their site as well or visit Restored316designs.com to see the many Child Themes offered there. My first design was “DIVINE”. Here are some other popular designs you can choose: Delightful, Darling, and here is sample of one shown on multiple devices.
Sprinkle! Isn’t it gorgeous?
Pulling It All Together
I used several E-Books to build my blog. Yes, you are building it. If you want to create something lovely, you will need to watch videos and read how-to posts on setting up your blog. Honestly to get the most updated information on setting up a blog, I recommend going to YouTube and searching that. There are tons of free sources that you can watch if you learn best that way. But if you are bookworm, I will provide a few good reads to get you going.
I know, “what is a plugin?” Yes, there is a completely different language for blogging, but when it comes to plugins, you are going to LOVE them! They do miracles with the touch of install and activate. They can add a store, add “pin it” buttons, track your analytics, increase your speed, the list really is diverse and endless. But you do need them to begin. Most plugins are FREE and some have upgrades available for premium services. Here are several plugins you will want to use to get started.
(Updating! …until then, do a search and you’ll find tons. I’ll have it updated by May 30th)
There are lots of FREE email plugins that you can use, however, they have their limitations.
Some email plugins have conflicts with other plugins while many have limited numbers or functions until you upgrade. The easiest to begin with that is FREE is Mailchimp.
If you already have a significant number of subscribers or you have a product to sell, you will want to check out This is much more more than an email collector. It will divided your emails by interest, know not to keep asking for an email of someone you already have signed up, it has forms that are easily made and much, much more. I will write a review of it so you can get more details and add the link here.