I did it. Finally.
I’ve been wanting to launch a “Blogging: Behind the Scenes Series” ever since I started this journey, and here it is at last.
Every month I will be sharing with you what goes on “Behind the Scenes” of this great little blog of mine. Raw, unfiltered, honest, and hopefully very helpful to those going through the same journey. Whether you are in the beginning stages, or an expert blogger, or even just thinking about starting your own blog/website, there is always something to learn and takeaway from someone else’s experiences.
“A smart person learns from their own mistakes, but a wise person learns from the mistakes of others”.
This is the very first month of the “Blogging: Behind the Scenes Series”, as it was on March 7, 2017 that I took a leap of faith and launched it.
It is my hope that my experiences help you answer some of your own questions, that my recommendations help you implement some new techniques, and that my mistakes keep you from making them yourself. It is with a humble heart that I share my struggles and successes as I understand we are all together on this journey one way or another.
So…. without further ado….
Investing in Abby’s “Building a Frameworks: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook” gave me the tools and confidence to believe that I too could make a successful and thriving blog. It’s an information packed eBook (and now eCourse), that covers everything you need to know in order to launch and run a successful blog. From choosing a domain to working with brands, she lays it all on the line. Every aspect of blogging you can think of she discusses (creating content, building your email list, important plug-ins, tackling social media, affiliate marketing, and much more). It is without a doubt beneficial to all levels of blogging expertise, and thus far my best investment to date.
This past March, being the first month this blog launched, there where a million things to tackle. I will walk you through everything that took place this month so bear with me, it might be lengthy. I am a nurse, not a web-designer (haha), so needless to say some things have taken a little longer to figure out and put together. Nevertheless, I’m very happy with how it’s all coming together.
*This post contains some affiliate links. Click for more info.
The very first thing I worked on this month, as well as the previous weeks before launching my blog, was trying to learn as much as I could. While my kids slept, and any other little time I found in between, I spent reading articles, eBooks, tutorials, videos, and anything else that would help me better understand. You name it, I read it! Through my research, I stumbled across Abby’s eBook “Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook” and stuck to it, since it is packed with all the vital information I was looking to learn in an organized manner. Once I had a blueprint to follow, I said a prayer, took a deep breath, and well……… the rest is history.
Here’s the breakdown……
BlueHost– Following Abby’s recommendation and reading some reviews on my own, BlueHost seemed like the perfect choice for me. I followed the instructions on her eBook step-by-step which made it very easy. So far, BlueHost has been great. Their package included registering my domain for FREE, one custom domain email, SiteLock Security, and a few other perks. You can register with BlueHost through my link for $3.95/month (normally a $7.99/month value). I opted to go for the 3 year enrollment plan. Paying in advance gave me a bigger sense of accountability.
WordPress– Once registered with BlueHost, while continuing to follow Abby’s step-by-step instructions, I proceeded to install WordPress at no additional cost. It was a one click installation from the BlueHost dashboard.
Gmail– Despite my free Bluehost email, I opted to open a Gmail account for my blog. It goes along with every other feature Google has to offer, which you can’t go wrong with.
Pinterest– With my new Gmail account I created a new Pinterest account. I could have converted my personal one to a business account, but I felt I wanted to have a blank slate to work with.
Facebook– I haven’t had a personal Facebook account for nearly 8 years now. So, I opened a brand new personal one (which I had no clue I needed in order to create a business page). I then created a “Love and Paper Flowers” page and started to gather friends. It took me a while to figure out the ins and outs of Facebook again, as well as the use of my page. So many things have changed since the last time I was a Facebook user. Definitely a lot of “firsts” this month, that’s for sure.
MailChimp– After looking at different email marketing campaign options, this one seemed like the best fit for me to start with. You can create a FREE account for the first 2,000 subscribers. I haven’t yet tackled the mastery of creating a campaign, sending a newsletter, designing a landing page, or creating a freebie…. but it is definitely on my endless to-do list, haha….. However, I created a “Sign-up Form” for my home page that integrated nicely with my theme, thanks to a step-by-step article by Restored 316 Designs.
USPS P.O Box– By clicking through one the many great references in Abby’s eBook I came across this information packed article by Amy Lynn Andrews, “12 Things to do before making money online”. Amy explains that if you plan on building an email list (a must-have these days), by law, you’ll need to include a physical address for every email that is sent. I highly value my privacy so I elected to pay for a USPS P.O. Box address instead.
Restored 316 themes– From the start, it was crucial for me to design a blog I would be proud of visually as well as contextually. Restored 316 has a wide variety of feminine themes that are clean, elegant, and joyful. I opted for the “Simply Charming Pro” which I love. It is a “child theme” of Genesis Framework, and it only works with self-hosted platforms such as WordPress.org.
Genesis framework– I wanted a rock solid foundation for my site from the very beginning. It is best described as follows: “Genesis Frameworks empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Whether you’re a novice or advanced developer, Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go”- Genesis framework team. Think of Genesis as the car that drives your site, and a child theme as the paint and upgrades. They also have a great selection of “Child Themes” to accommodate any budget.
Genesis simple hooks– If you are anything like me and coding isn’t your thing, this plug-in is a lifesaver. It allows you to add code to different areas of your blog without messing with your theme files. However, it is exclusively for those using the Genesis Framework.
Yoast SEO– I’m loving this plug-in. Allows you to edit your content’s meta data to increase your SEO. It also provides you with an analysis check list of each post regarding the readability and SEO of your content. It is a very user-friendly and powerful plug-in.
Akismet anti-spam– Protects your blog against spam and malicious log-in.
Google analytics– A powerful tool that provides you with the insights of your blog traffic. It offers detailed reports of your blog’s visitors and where they came from. I also use Jetpack site stats for comparison.
Note: You can download all of these plug-ins and many more from your WordPress dashboard.
DOWNLOADS & RESOURCES
Canva– If you aren’t using Canva yet you are probably missing out. It’s a FREE app for image editing and graphic creation. I downloaded the app to my iPhone and it’s been very convenient. I create feature images for my site and pins for Pinterest in minutes. It provides you with ready-to-use templates depending on the social media platform you want to use them for.
* You can find all of these resources and many more in my FREE “Blogging Resources and Recommendations” page.
TIPS AND TAKEAWAYS
- Affiliate marketing- Most of the things mentioned above have affiliate programs you can join once you’ve bought their product. I managed to register with a few, although there are still some to look into. However, just because they have an affiliate program doesn’t mean I would sign up. It is the programs, products, and services that I absolutely love and use that I would recommend to my readers. Honesty policy is number one in my book.
- Investing in your site– The very first impression people take when they visit your site is from what they see. Even before content is read readers start to formulate an opinion on who you are and what your style is. While visiting dozens of blogs during my research phase, blog design was something I payed close attention to. It was really important for me that I got all of those things right from the very beginning, even if that meant investing a few dollars in great products. It is ultimately an investment, especially if you are looking to monetize your blog.
MISTAKES AND CHALLENGES
- Consistency- My current goal is to post at least twice as week. Recently becoming a stay-at-home mom for my two kids while trying to also create a blog and make it successful has proven to be somewhat challenging. You can read a little bit more on my transition from a full-time-working mom to a stay-at-home mom here, along with some tips and takeaways.
- Comparing– Ever since starting my blog I’ve come across fantastic blogs and websites with amazing content and appealing images. It is really easy to get caught up in the “comparing” game, and ultimately all that comes out of it is self-doubt and discouragement. I’m learning to use those bigger sites as inspiration instead of intimidation. Reminding myself that I just started, and that they too where at the beginning stages once.
- Keep learning– There is so much to learn still. I think even an expert blogger can agree with the fact that learning is an ongoing process. Finding the balance to learn new material, implement it, create your own, and promote it, takes an enormous amount of dedication, effort, and perseverance, especially when life itself is happening all around you at the same time.
- No regrets– This month for me was packed with new challenges, however there hasn’t been any regrets or mistakes I can think of up to this point. So far, all I’ve learned and implemented is working nicely. Thankfully!
There are still a million things for me to check off the list, so I expect next month to be just as busy. Sometimes it feels like the more I check off the list, the more they appear (haha!).
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What did you find helpful in the beginning stages of blogging? Feel free to comment below.
Related: “Start A Blog Today!”.
Till next month my friends,