Hearing and Answering God’s Call Series (Part 5)
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Starting a Blog from Scratch
In Mindfulness in Faith and Food’s call series, I have talked about finding your call by using the clues checklist. I explained how clues, signs, and circumstances lead me to believe blogging was my call. Perhaps you feel like starting a blog is your call as well, but you don’t know where to begin. Don’t worry; I can walk you through the steps I took to start a blog.
When I started blogging, I was starting from scratch. My blog facebook page and pinterest account had zero followers! I didn’t even have a personal Instagram account! I remember looking at my zero followers on my facebook and Pintertest pages and thinking, ‘how am I ever going to get people to read these blog posts? Jump to seven months later, and I am so surprised at how much the Mindfulness in Faith and Food blog has grown. Since I started from scratch, I thought a post about how to start a blog from scratch might be helpful. So here are the steps I took to start a blog from scratch:
Step 1: Pray
I believe we should remember to pray before every choice we make. When I pray, I ask God to lead me and help me know what is the right thing to do. Praying before working on my blog helps me feel closer to God and helps me remember why I started blogging in the first place. I also pray that I am careful with my words and write words that God would want me to write. I am sure I mess up at this sometimes, but I hope that I focus on what God wants me to say instead of letting my emotions, insecurities, and biases rule the blog.
Step 2: Determine your Niche
Your niche is the topic you feel knowledgeable and passionate about. This is the topic you are going to discuss in your blog. Your topic can be broad like “being a mom” or specific like “how to save money with a big family.” My blog is called Mindfulness in Faith and Food, and discusses nutrition as well as what I call my personal “God Moment” stories. I also emphasize the importance of mindfulness in our eating habits and in our faith journey. See why the name fits so well? You will pick your name in the next step.
Along with figuring out your niche, you should probably think about why you want to start a blog in the first place. Knowing why you are blogging will keep you motivated during the times when you aren’t making money or getting as many likes. When you are in a blogging slump, focus on your purpose.
So why are you blogging? Do you just want a place to record your thoughts? Are you hoping to help others by teaching, inspiring, or encouraging your readers? I am hoping my blog provides tools that are helpful to other’s lives, and I hope my ‘God Moment” stories provide hope and encouragement that just maybe God REALLY IS working in our lives TODAY. When times are hard and our faith and hope is weak (I have been there), I cling to these stories. I remember God really DOES care, LOVE us, and is truly INVOLVED in our life.
Step 3: Determine your Blog Name and Domain
After you determine your niche, you need to pick a name. You may want to make a list of possible names in case your first choice is taken. You can use this name to come up with your domain name. This is the blog web address. The web address is sometimes a variation of your Blog name. Fortunately, my blog name wasn’t taken so my blog domain name is www.mindfulnessinfaithandfood.com. I registered my domain name through the hosting company, Bluehost.
Step 4: Pick Your Host Site
I picked Bluehost, and I am so happy I went with them. After researching, I felt Bluehost was the way to go. You can use other free platforms, but if you even think you MIGHT monetize your blog one day, I would go with a selfhosted platform like Bluehost. Self-hosted means you own your blog and the content. I also like Bluehost because I can take care of several steps on one site. I was able to register my domain through Bluehost and install WordPress. Plus you can get your domain name for free if you decide to use Bluehost! Since I was just starting out, I picked the least expensive Bluehost package. I figured ‘why spend a bunch of money before you are making money?’ If you want to look through the great Bluehost plans click here.
Step 5: Install WordPress
Next I installed WordPress. This is WordPress.org NOT wordpress.com. WordPress is a website creation tool. In other words, you build your blog through them. You can install WordPress through Bluehost. You just need to login to your Bluehost account adn click the wordpress icon to install!
Step 6: Select a Blogging Theme
Now that you have WordPress you can play around and customize your blog. You do this on the WordPress Dashboard. I would first select a theme. Again, I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on this blog since I wasn’t making any money yet, so I picked one of the free Themes. I picked the “Twenty Fifteen Theme.” I think this is a nice free theme and seems to work well for blog style websites.
Step 7: Pray and then Write a Post
Again, I pray for me to know what God wants me to say, and that I remember that my true purpose is helping others. Now you can write your first blog posts! I decided to write several posts in draft form before going live with my blog. I wanted my blog to have a little substance and depth before the blog was viewable. Having 4 or 5 post already written before going live just looks nice and more established.
Step 8: Write an ‘About Me’ Page
You don’t have to do this yet, but I think having a place where readers can find out about you and your topics helps establish your blog’s identity. You can always write a short ‘About Me’ page, and go back to make changes as your blog evolves.
Step 9: Add Plugins and Play around with the Appearance of the Blog
Now you have to play with the appearance of your blog and add plugins. A Plugin is software that can add specific features to your blog. Plugins are a BIG part of creating your desired blog, and many plugins are free. I recommend adding plugins for “sharing buttons” so that readers can share, pin, and like your post by simply clicking a button. I used the “Ultimate Social Media” plugin for my sharing buttons. “ImageInject” was one of the first Plugins I added. With ImageInject, I am able to easily search for free images and photos and insert them into my blog.
I also installed a subscriber sign up form through Mailchimp. People sign up to receive email updates whenever I publish a new post. These are just three of the many plugins available.
You are Now a Blogger!
Setting up my blog takes time. I played around in the WordPress dashboard until I was satisfied enough with the blog to go live. I am still often making changes here and there as I learn more and more.
That is it! Now you have a blog! The next steps are to promote the blog and look into monetizing your blog.
So you have a blog, now what? Check out my blogging work schedule to see what things you should be doing each month, week, and day as a blogger.
Did you find this post helpful? Did you decided to go with Bluehost through the links on this blog? If so, let me know so that I can celebrate with you by being one of the first to promote your blog through one of my social media accounts!
Part 6 of this series, “Monthly Blogging Routine Including a Promote Blog Checklist
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