I always have people approach me about how I got my start blogging, reviewing, and making money. “Where do you sign up? I wanna get FREE stuff too!!” they all say to me… Getting free stuff is nice, but that is not the only reason I blog. I decided to become a blogger because it gives me a creative outlet, and somewhere to meet some amazing people during this journey we call life. So…
Here it is- Bubby’s Mommy’s Guide to Becoming a Blogger, everything I know in a nutshell!
I am going to tell you how I got started, and what to do, step-by-step. Everything shared here is personal experience, trial and error, personal opinion and preference. I will explain hosting, domains, becoming a reviewer, and how to monetize your site.
Step 1: Having a Niche
Before you can get started doing anything, you need to think of what kind of site you will have. Will you write about family? Recipes? DIY Projects? Solely do reviews? Tech and Gadget stuff?
This is the most important decision you can make when getting started. I say that because everything on your blog will most likely be about that niche. Mine is a Mommy Blog. What that means is I write mostly about family topics. I also blog about DIY projects, easy recipes, reviews of toys, and mom stuff, and share a piece of my own experiences and moments with my readers.
You have to decide what fits your interests and personality. Don’t be afraid to ask other’s what they enjoy reading about online. This can also help you to have a site gear towards things people want to see.
Step 2: Picking a Domain Name
What is a domain name? A domain name is your web address, what people use to find your site on the internet!
Wikipedia definition: Domain Name System, or DNS, is the most recognized system for assigning addresses to Internet web servers (aka “Internet hosts”). Somewhat like international phone numbers, the domain name system helps to give every Internet server a memorable and easy-to-spell address. Simultaneously, the domain names keep the really technical IP address invisible for most viewers.
This is the second most important thing. When someone thinks of your site, your domain name will be the first thing you want them to remember. You want ti to be something easy but relevant to your site, and the theme or niche you are going with. Most people use the name of their site, others shorten it up, and others use something altogether different.
There are 2 types of domains that you will come across: Top-Level Domains – Sub-Level Domains
Top-level domains are the ones with just a .com, .org, etc. at the end, like mine. (bubbysmommy.com)
Sub-level domains, like those you will get through Blogger.com or WordPress.com, these will have something like mywebsite.blogger.com or mywebsite.wordpress.com
Sub-level domains do not look as professional to companies as a top-level one will.
Before naming your site, go to a site like GoDaddy.com, and see if the name you want is available. (You do not have to buy it through them, I used them just to check availablilty.)
Step 3: Free Site or Self-Hosted & What are my Options?
This is where, for some, it starts to get a little confusing. There is a HUGE difference between a free site and a self-hosted site, and most people do not know the difference.
Free site: Blogger.com and WordPress.com are both examples of Free site. You can build a website for free but you lose a lot of really great features when you do it this way.
Pros of a free blog:
- There are no initial start-up costs. Free programs like WordPress.com and Blogger are easy to set up and maintain without any prior website design knowledge.
Cons of a free blog
- Unless you pay for your own domain, you’ll have the WordPress.com or Blogger domain tacked onto yours, such as www.example.blogspot.com.
- Free blogs appear less professional than self-hosted ones.
- You have less control over your blog. For instance, people who self-host their blog with the WordPress.com software can download plugins to expand their website’s capabilities. A free WordPress.com blog doesn’t allow this, limiting you to only a few options.
- CSS functions and theme selections are also limited on free blogging platforms.
- You have a limited amount of bandwidth, video time, and memory space.
- Free platforms usually limit your advertising options, meaning that it’s harder to make money from your blog.
Pros of a self-hosted blog
- You have full control over your blog, including in its layout, search engine optimization, advertising revenue, additional functions, and more.
- You can install custom themes to brand your blog.
- You have complete access to your backend files, which allows you to make any necessary code changes.
- Using a third-party host usually costs only a few dollars per month.
Cons of a self-hosted blog
- It requires an initial investment.
- It can be intimidating to new bloggers.
When I first started out, I had the WordPress.com free edition, but when I realized there were no plugins, I immediately went to the GoDaddy site since they have some of the better pricing for someone starting out. I will say this, if you go from GoDaddy to another host, be sure to call your NEW host to help you move all of your site stuff! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THIS ALONE unless you know what you are doing!!
GoDaddy was a bad option for me because I wanted a fully customizable theme, and when I started getting Plug-Ins, my site bit the dust. Images wouldn’t load, plug-ins didn’t want to work correctly, etc. I now use DreamHost. The Pro of GoDaddy is that you can either use them to buy your domain name or use them for a self hosted site and they are super cheap. The Con is that their platform might not be compatible for what you want to do. With DreamHost I pay $10/month (paid one time annually it equals $10/mth), and am provided with much better support, and service. There are tons of hosting options out there, but those are always my go-to when referring a new blogger.
There is also a HUGE difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
- WordPress.com is FREE and does not include plug-ins, as well as many other great features WordPress.org offers.
- WordPress.org is used when self-hosting.
If you do decide to sign up for DreamHost, Enter Promo Code BUBBYSMOMMY and you will receive your domain free for life* (the duration of your business with DreamHost)
Step 4: Choosing your CMS (Self-hosted only)
The next great debate once you figure out your hosting situation will be deciding what CMS (content management system) to use. If you are on Blogger, you are using free-hosting, and you will most likely just buy your domain name and point all traffic there.
However, if you are using self-hosting, you need to decide which available CMS you will be using. Many blog sites use WordPress because you can do most anything with it. I use WordPress because it is easy to understand, I was familiar with it prior to blogging, and I never have any issues that I cannot fix myself.
Of these, I will always recommend WordPress for blogging. Again, I love it, and have never had an issue with it. Also, I have not used Drupal or Joomla! That being said, moving on to our next step of getting started.
Step 5: Setting up your site
This will be the fun part! Now you have a webpage, domain name, and a CMS and picked the hosting that best fits your needs. Now you start editing your site. From here I can only offer advise on WordPress stuff, as I have not used Blogger and do not understand it. And I have never used Joomla! or Drupul, so I am also lost on those as well, but there are tons of videos available on YouTube, and many bloggers that do use it, and swear by it. If you have questions, please comment below, or contact me via the contact form here on our site.