10 Steps To Create A Blog You’ll Love

I’ve been blogging–at the same blog!–for 6 years. This puts me in the seasoned veteran category (if not expert, in some people’s minds–an notion that makes me snort) which means that I frequently get asked blogging advice.

“How do I start a blog?”

“How do you make money blogging?”

“How do you avoid getting all stressed out?”

While not claiming expert status on the topic, I do have some strong opinions, which I’m happy to share with you. 😉 I hope it helps you in your blogging journey…

Create a Blog You'll Love

How to create a blog you’ll love:

1. Choose a Blog Name

…or more specifically and importantly, your domain name (what will be your blog’s address “example.com”). Refer to this article on Allume on branding (by yours truly). Follow the steps in the article to  check name availability on all social media fronts and domains at knowem.com , and snag your online identity on Twitter, Google+, and a Facebook fanpage.

I’m a great advocate for personal branding–meaning, using your name as your blog address and online identity. Starting your blogging journey with your name (rather than a cutesy blog title) will allow you to instantly connect with your readers with what is the online equivalent of an introductory handshake, and give you freedom to try different topics and directions while maintaining a consistent name and address.  Need more convincing? Read “He Calls Me By Name: A Fresh Perspective on Personal Branding.”

As soon as you have a name you love, purchase your domain from NameCheap (that’s my friend Gretchen’s affiliate link) or another domain name registrar. Cost: $10-15/year.

2. Choose Your Blogging Platform

Blogger, WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Squarespace. Where will you park your blog? This article by my friend, Gretchen, explains the top blogging platforms and their various pros and cons (she explains better than I can why I am on the platform I am! lol). My personal choice: WordPress.org. It’s not free, but your setting yourself up for success, without the hassle of switching to a stronger platform if you need it in the future. But if you don’t want to spend the money, you can totally start on the free version of WordPress (WordPress.com) and switching from the one to the other is not that much of a hassle.

3. Purchase Your Hosting

If you chose a free platform (such as WordPress.com or Blogger) in step 2, you can skip this step. If not, it’s time to spend some money getting yourself a custom domain. This will cost you about $50/a year–a small investment if you view your blog as a entrepreneurial venture.

I use and recommend HostGator; BlueHost is another popular option. (Links are my friend Gretchen’s affiliate links–thanks for supporting her blog!).

4. Choose a Layout or Theme

You own a blog! Now you choose what style of layout or theme you will use. There are plenty of free layouts and themes, but I use a purchased or “professional” theme, Genesis Prose by StudioPress. This part of my blog is all over my head, that’s why I hire my friend, Gretchen to set this stuff up. (Are you getting the impression I wouldn’t be blogging without her? You’d be right. And that’s her affiliate link again.)

5. Brainstorm Goals for Your Blog

Why are you doing this? If you’re completely new to blogging, you may not be entirely sure, and that’s ok. It might take a while to figure out if blogging is a good fit for you and how it enhances your life and the life of your readers. You can start blogging without knowing where you’re in the long term, but I do recommend having at least some short-range goals or you will easily get distracted and not accomplish much of anything.

  • Is your goal to connect more deeply with friends and family? Then you can needn’t follow the loads of advice for growing and marketing your blog.
  • Is your goal to improve your writing skills with the accountability a public blog provides? Great. Then don’t let anything distract from your writing.
  • Is your goal to make income? Then take your blog seriously, and spend time doing research and reading informative articles and not just chatting around on facebook and twitter.

Goal setting helps me be intentional and focused with my blogging time, and I get the most satisfaction out of my blog when I maintain both a personal goal and a goal for my readers. These goals have evolved over time, but currently my personal goals for my blog are to improve my writing skills and have an outlet for my creativity, and my goal for my readers is that they would find practical encouragement to live a thriving life.

6. Start Writing

You don’t want to release your blog to the world till you have 5-10 posts, simply because fewer people will be return-readers if the first time they visit your blog there’s not much to see. Also, by the time you’ve written 5 posts, you should be able to tell whether this blogging thing is a good fit for you (if not there’s no sense in sharing it). So, start posting, and work on filling in your about page. You will also probably want to provide a contact page, a resource page (great place to include affiliate links), and a page of sites you love and recommend. As you write, keep a conversational tone and be yourself. Authenticity is the key to engaging your audience.

7. Introduce Your Blog to the World

When you’ve got your site set up and a few posts written, it’s time launch! This can be as simple as just telling your Facebook friends it’s live, or you can go wild with a giveaway or something to draw in more than just your personal contacts. What you want your blog readers to find is a site with an authentic person behind it, that offers them something, be it inspiration, instruction, or encouragement. When your visitors arrive, be present in the comments, thanking them for taking the time to visit. You may also want to create some business cards that make it easy to share your blog address with people you meet in real life.

8. Decide Your Approach to Social Media

How will you share (or ‘promote’) your blog on social media? Will you have a twitter account, a Facebook page, Pinterest boards, Instragram, Youtube channel, or be on Google+? All the options for social media can get overwhelming. My advice is to choose one or two that you like and don’t stress about the rest. Also, don’t worry about all that advice about how often to post on facebook or twitter. Do what feels natural and authentic to you, because your voice on social media, just as on your blog, is going to have the most impact when you’re being yourself. 

Take note: you don’t have to do social media at all. It’s entirely up to you–your goals for being online, the time you have available to you, and what enhances your blogging journey. Me? I post randomly on Facebook and rarely on Twitter. I use Pinterest and Instagram for my own enjoyment, though I allow public followers on all platforms. I can’t keep up with the multiple conversations I’d be having if I shared every post I wrote on every platform. I prefer to concentrate my efforts and interaction on my blog.

9. Choose a Blogging Schedule That Works for YOU

Some people post every day. Some people when they feel like it. My personal advice is to post as frequently as you have quality content to offer. If it takes you 3 weeks to write a post you feel is worthy to hit ‘publish’ on, that is totally alright. Quality wins over quantity. But I also recommend that you watch for a pattern in your output, and attempt some level of consistency so your readers know what to expect. If 2 posts a week feels natural to you, then make that your goal and stick with it as much as you can.

10. Monetize your Blog

This step is entirely optional, but here’s my personal thoughts on making money on your blog: it’s a matter of stewardship. You are spending hours every week writing posts, creating graphics, interacting on social media, and seeking to serve people with your efforts. Setting up a few links or side bar ads is simply a way that you can see some return on your investment of time.

You need not fill your sidebar with blinking ads, or make every post a sponsored post, but you can learn to use affiliate links when you share a product you love or review a book, and you can be open with your readers about the fact that they can bless you by using your link to make Amazon purchases. Doing so will make it possible for your blog habit to at least pay for itself, if not build into a nice side income if your blog grows. Learn more about affiliate links here.

Well, that’s 10 steps to a great blog, but I’ve got a bonus tip for you. You can do everything listed above, but if you don’t remember this last tip, you will be miserable and I will have wasted my time. So, here’s my final and most important tip:

Bonus Tip: Have Fun!

I’m serious. Blogging is enough work that you should not do it unless it enhances your life in some way. If you stop enjoying your blog, then stop blogging or change your approach. Blogging is not for everyone, and you’re not a failure if you figure out it’s just not for you. It may take you 3 different blogs or several years to find the blog you’re made to write. And that’s ok. Embrace the journey and don’t freak out.

Further Reading:

Check out my book, “More Than Numbers: Blogging for People, Not Stats” (it’s free!) which tells the story of my first 4 years of blogging. Also, I have contributed regularly for 1 1/2 years over at the Allume blog–you can find my posts here. Last but not least, my series from early 2014 details how I’ve found freedom in blogging.

My favorite sites for learning more about blogging:

  • bloggingwithamy.com–especially geared toward those using WordPress.
  • problogger.com–hard core, professional blogging advice.
  • allume.com–gets more into the heart behind blogging, but with great informative posts, too.
  • gretchenlouise.com–writes tech info in a way I can actually understand, and her content is especially geared toward personal bloggers.
  • CopyBlogger–I get completely submerged in this site–so much high quality content!
    TheBlogMaven–my newest, favortest blogging mentor. This gal knows her stuff.

Oh, and one more thing–if you write a blog, or start one as a result of this post, I totally want to visit! Share the link in the comments, ok! Happy blogging!

28 responses to “10 Steps To Create A Blog You’ll Love”

  1. Cindy Avatar
    Cindy

    Thank you for this great post! I’ve been doing a lot of research on blogging to make extra income.All the information was a little overwhelming! I work full time,so I am limited on time.So all these articles I’ve read had discouraged me,a little.Thinking I had to keep up with all the social media sites to be successful.You really have helped me decide to go ahead and create my blog! Thanks again!

  2. Stacy Avatar

    Trina,

    Love this post. So, so helpful and encouraging!

    Just wondering about changing my blog name. I use WordPress.com and Bluehost. I purchased my domain name when I started a few years ago and just recently renewed everything for the upcoming year. Can I keep the same blog and just change the name? How does that work and how costly would it be? I thought of using my name when I started but I was scared. Of what, I don’t know other than just putting my self out there like that. I feel a lot more freedom now to be me. Praise the Lord for the storms that got me there. Thanks for your help!

    1. Trina Avatar

      Hi, Stacy! So excited you’re here! I have to confess, though, that your question goes beyond my hardly-working knowledge of my own platform. lol I’m gonna totally recommend my friend and webmistress gretchenlouise.com for those type of questions (maybe I can get her to comment here?)

      As to personal branding (naming your site after yourself) I totally get the hesitancy…took me 3 years to make the switch. But I now I really love the flexibility it has given me to go where the Lord leads as far as my content…

      The storms that got us here…amen, sister!

    2. Gretchen Louise Avatar

      Hello Stacy! It looks like you’re actually using WordPress.org which is hosted on Bluehost (so you shouldn’t be paying WordPress.com for anything unless you originally bought your domain there or are paying for some sort of a redirect). The process of changing your blog’s domain name is a fairly straightforward one, especially since you are already set up with Bluehost. You’d buy a new domain through Bluehost, change it to your primary domain, change your blog’s domain in the database and WordPress settings, and set up redirects. Bluehost’s tech support may be able to help you through it, or it’s something you could hire done by most WordPress VAs. Hope that helps!

  3. Melissa S Avatar
    Melissa S

    I have been mulling over the idea of starting a blog for months now. This post about blogs was perfectly timed for me and thoughtfully written. I know what I’m going to do now. Thank you for your help!!

    1. Trina Avatar

      Melissa, I’m so glad my post could help you! Be sure to come back and share the link to your blog when it goes live!

  4. Kristi Ladwig Avatar
    Kristi Ladwig

    Hi! I have enjoyed looking over everything! It will be interesting to see what I come up with. I’m going to attempt the suggested reading in my “free” time…(hehe)…I am excited to get started! Thanks for the post and oh by the way…missing ya’ll in Bama!

  5. Jess Avatar
    Jess

    Love this! I stopped my blog a few months ago and am excited to start from scratch with a new one in the future. The name has been up in the air for a while now. I love the idea of using your name but spelling my last name is confusing to people – any advice? My first and middle names are common and taken!

    1. Trina Avatar

      Well, Jessica, usually phone conversations are the only real problem with a name that’s tricky to spell–online we’re always just clicking links or copying and pasting anyway, right? I have seen names funkier than yours working fine as online ‘handles’. Check out the “Fresh Perspective on Personal Branding” post I mention, and read the comments–lots of great discussion there on pros and cons of using your name.

      1. Jessica Avatar
        Jessica

        Great – thanks for the quick feedback! You’re totally write in the clicking and copying – I didn’t think of it that way.

  6. Sonya Cates Avatar

    Thanks for the good advice. I will be definitely incorporating more affiliant links on my blog. I have a party blog. Here is the link. http://wp.me/p1n3qh-s5. I also published my ebook of creative baby names that I was telling you about. You can find that link too on my blog.

    1. Trina Avatar

      Hi, Sonya! I can’t wait to check out your blog (and that book!–still looking for names for this kiddo!)

  7. Lisa Avatar

    This is great advice nicely laid out. 🙂 I so agree with what you said about being present in comments – it really makes a nice community. When I started my blog the purpose was to simply let people know how Lilly was doing and how they could pray for her. I got a lot of comments then. But I did not reply directly because I was trying to stay more focused on Lilly’s care. But once she died, comments dropped off. I can tell by stats I still have my readers, but I guess I already had established my “non response” pattern and that is what they’re used to. When I do get comments now, I try to always respond. But anyway, I wish I had taken more time to do that in the beginning of the blog. (Though maybe not – staying more focused on Lilly’s care was important too!) I urge bloggers to read your “More Than Numbers” book too – it is fantastic! 🙂 My head is often filled with posts I’d love to write. But lately I’ve been trying to focus more on the kids and homeschooling and all. I agree that it’s not the frequency though – it’s the quality of the post. And I think a posting pattern tends to help. 🙂

    1. Trina Avatar

      Lisa, you make a good point that even the advice to ‘stay active in the comments’ may not be the right thing for you in certain seasons of blogging. I’m glad you made Lily a priority even over community on your blog. I know your posts met a lot of people where they were at, and I’m sure they understood why you didn’t always find time to respond.

  8. Jennifer Avatar
    Jennifer

    Hi Trina, I am a huge fan but don’t post comments because I am usually breastfeeding while reading your posts. However this post merited a formal sit down at my computer :o) you are a great woman and blogger and I adore your style!! I am in florida but if I ever make it up to ny I will definitely be stopping by! I could talk for ever but my main point is, the only thing I am good at is writing. All other blog related tasks I would have to learn and conquer from scratch. Is this something I should jump into, in your honest opinion? Background, I quit my job as a lawyer to be a stay at home mom and I am thriving taking care of my toddler, six week old and my husband. Well that’s all for now! Happy Fall, love enjoying the “weather” vicariously through your orchard post, it’s sadly still 95 degrees and humid here! Hugs, Jennifer

    1. Trina Avatar

      Jennifer, I LOVED your comment–so been there with the whole breastfeeding/blog reading thing! LOL Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I live part time in Alabama, so it’s not such a far fetched thing that we could meet someday!

      Yup. You can write a blog if the only thing you can do is write. That’s pretty much all I could do…until I learned to play with picmonkey (now I like making pretty graphics, too. ;)). If you have a passion for sharing words, a blog is a great tool for that, and can enhance this season of your life if kept in balance. When and if you want to go further and do more with your blog than just write, there are always friends and family members who love an excuse to use their tech skills. I am really as non-techy as it gets, but I blogged on blogger the first few years and did nearly everything myself. Check the post i mention from Gretchen’s blog to help you pick out a platform. My guess for you is that blogger or WordPress.com would work well.

      Have you read my “More Than Numbers” book yet? it may help you you with a further glimpse behind the scenes of one writer’s blogging journey.

      Blessings,
      Trina

  9. Emily Gardner Avatar

    Love this Trina! If only I had done personal branding from the beginning… 🙂 Maybe sometime in the future!

    1. Trina Avatar

      It’s ok, Em–it’s not for EVERYONE, it’s simply the option I recommend when people ask me. 😉 Thanks for coming by!

  10. Trisha Avatar

    Great advice, Trina, especially for newbie bloggers like myself! There is always something new to learn about blogging. Thanks so much for sharing these tips!

    1. Trina Avatar

      You’re so welcome, Trisha, I’m glad you found them helpful 😉

  11. Shannon Avatar

    Love, love! I especially appreciate the validation in #9 with blogging quality over quantity. Generally, I only blog 3-4 times a month and am always feeling like it should be more often, but with other writing endeavors and homeschooling and special needs, oh my…it just threatens to become a burden that it shouldn’t be. It should be…you know, the Bonus Tip. 🙂

    Lots of food for thought and encouragement here, even for those of us who have been blogging for years. Thanks so much.

    1. Trina Avatar

      Hooray! Yeah, I’m blogging less than I feel I ‘should’ lately, and yet it feels so right. So, I think we’re doing OK, Shannon! 😉

  12. Gretchen Louise Avatar

    Great tips, friend. Thank you for all the link love. 🙂 You’ve taught me a lot about an intentional yet relaxed approach to blogging!

    1. Trina Avatar

      relaxed. ha. yep, that’s me. lol
      And you have taught me when it’s time to take what seriously.

  13. Rachel @ reprezent98201 Avatar

    I just want everyone to know that your book, “More Than Numbers,” is awesome. It was such an encouragement (as I am quite a small blogger!) and you are a blessing. 🙂 Thanks for this follow-up post!

    1. Trina Avatar

      this means so much, Rachel! I’m so glad you’ve been encouraged. 😉

  14. Jeni Elliott Avatar

    Shared this on my blogging board. Great tips – good for you!

    1. Trina Avatar

      Thanks, Jeni! I’m honored you shared my post!

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