Resources for Bloggers
Ever thought of having a blog of your own? In July 2016 when I started Ally’s Cooking I had NO idea where to start. I figured it out eventually, but here’s some advice from a friend 🙂
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I use all of the products listed below and recommend them because they are companies that I have found helpful and trustworthy. Please let me know if you have any questions about anything listed below!
How to Start a Blog: Step-by-Step
But first, you need to determine if you want a free blog as a hobby, or a self-hosted blog (this is what I do!). You can view the pro’s and con’s of both here. The next steps below will focus on a paid, self-hosted blog.
Choose you blog’s name and buy the matching domain
This is going to look something like yourblogname.com. I used GoDaddy since you can easily see if your domain is available! Beware, this step can take longer than expected; there are a lot of names already taken! I recommend making sure your name is also available on common social media sites.
Cost: around ~$15 a year
*Tip: pay more for Domain privacy- keep your personal information safe!
Choose a reliable web host.
Your website is going to “live” on this host’s server. I use SiteGround for my hosting, and I started with the lowest level, which was about ~$4 per month.
*Important: After you get your SiteGround account created, go back to GoDaddy.com. In your profile, go to “DNS Management” and change the “Nameservers” to the new ones SiteGround gave you. There will be two, and they should look something like “ns1.usm25.siteground.biz” and “ns2.usm.siteground.biz”.
This will be your new “home base” for your blog. Here you can write posts, upload photos, customize the look and feel of your website, and so much more! Get the free download here.
Tip: Make sure you’re downloading wordpress.ORG and not wordpress.COM!
Install a WordPress theme
Okay now it’s getting fun. The theme will determine the look and feel of your site. There are plenty of free themes to choose from, but I HIGHLY recommend investing in a paid theme that is well-designed, responsive, optimized for search results, user-friendly, and has a support team. I use the Genesis theme ($59.95) and their child theme Foodie Pro ($129.95). Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it’s worth every penny.
Install WordPress Plugins
You’re almost there! Here are the most helpful (FREE!) plugins I’ve found and that I use:
- Askimet: Anti-spam! A must-have.
- EasyRecipe: This formats your recipes for search optimization, (VERY important to get on Google’s good side).
- JetPack by WordPress: This will be your OBSESSION! Site stats and traffic.
- Social Warfare: This creates easy “share” buttons on your posts and photos for social media.
- UpDraft Plus: Regularly scheduled site back-ups.
- WordFence Security: Anti-virus and malware scans.
- Yoast SEO: Because search engine optimization (SEO) will make or break your blog’s traffic.
Tools I Use
After a lot of research, I went with the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Digital SLR with 18-55mm STM Lens. It’s the “entry level” camera because I couldn’t rationalize spending $2,000 yet. Maybe one day 🙂 But for now, I LOVE this thing.
I use the Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop and Lightroom) for about $10/month. SO worth it.
Also, I highly recommend Canva for creating beautiful Pinterest graphics and visuals for your blog.