The Low Down Dirty Truths About Starting a Blog

The Low Down Dirty Truth About Starting A Blog Featured

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9 Not So Easy Steps To Start A Blog The Right Way - Blogging Tips to Make Money Blogging

I am exhausted with all the how to start a blog posts. I even seriously contemplated writing a “starting a blog” post. Until one day I talked to my husband about it. He explained to me that my perspective comes from a unique place.

Check out my income reports with the links at the bottom of this post.

For two years I studied, researched, learned everything I could about blogging and the industry itself. I researched Niche sites, personal blogs, blogging for money, selling courses. You name it I have at least a little bit of knowledge in it. However, many bloggers are just regurgitating the same BS they were sold.

It’s really nothing against the other bloggers, they probably just don’t know any better. It doesn’t stop the fact that you are reading the same thing over and over. I’m stopping that trend today. This is the last How To Start a Blog post you need.

Was the last post you read along these lines?

  • Step 1: Pick a URL
  • Step 2: Use this hosting
  • Step 3: Sign up for WordPress or Squarespace
  • Step 4: Pick a theme
  • Step 5: Post Content
  • Step 6: …
  • Step 7: Profit!

Here is the problem with every single one of these posts. It doesn’t tell you the full story. Blogging, setting up a blog, building an email list, selling anything, is difficult as hell!

It isn’t this easy. It isn’t 7 steps to a money making blog or start a blog in one weekend and make lots of money. Anyone who tells you this is doing nothing more than trying to get eyes on their website. There is so much more to each of these steps that nobody tells you. Until now.

Step 1: Start Writing Content

I know what you are thinking, “how the hell do I write content if I don’t even have a blog yet?”

Well let’s take a look at the typical plan. You pick a name, pick hosting, pick a theme and then you start writing content and marketing that content. You read about how you should have a posting schedule of twice weekly. It takes you 5 months to get enough content posted to actually grab the attention of enough people that you get enough visitors to your site regularly.

You want to build this blog to be as successful as possible as quickly as you can right? Then the very first step is to write content.

By getting into a routine daily of writing content for your blog you are essentially setting yourself up for avoiding the biggest culprit of blogger burnout, writers block.

Set yourself up to have 40-80 posts ready to go when you launch your blog, this is enough content for people to stick around. As well as enough content to pique the interests to get more people to your blog. Keep in mind, while you are writing content you can continue on to the next steps so as soon as you are ready to launch you can do so.

Step 2: Pick a Domain name.

NameCheap is where I registered my domain. Yes that is an affiliate link and I do make a commission if you register your domain name through Name Cheap.

Prices vary for what type of domain you are getting. However, Name Cheap is inexpensive and their setup is easy to use. My husband insists on separating domain name and hosting because if you end up in a dispute with your web hosting your domain can’t be held hostage. It’s just general good practice.

As far as picking a domain, seriously this could take weeks. It took weeks to figure out the domain name for this site and it was one sleepless night on a whim that Rob mentioned it. I got lucky because it was perfect for how I wanted my site branded.

You will have your heart set on something and it will be taken. You will love an idea and someone will poke holes in it till you hate it. The struggle of picking a domain name is real.

Pick something that makes sense for you. Your name should compliment your brand. It should be easy to remember. Shorter names are better and easier to remember though I’m sure there is an argument to be made for

Step 3: Pick Hosting

When I first started my blog I went with Dreamhost. Since then we have switched over to a cloud server with Digital Ocean. I absolutely love Digital Ocean, but I have a website developer on hand.

If you do not have a techy person available to you and you are not capable of setting up a cloud server instance, I highly recommend SiteGround. With my developer walking me through the different hosting companies I can say without a shadow of a doubt SiteGround is the better host company to go with when you are first starting your blog.

I’m not a big hard sell person but I want you to think of this blog as a money making business. Do not skimp on the most important thing by going with a sub-par hosting service that might go down with a spike in traffic. Go with SiteGround.

Step 4: Install WordPress

I personally use WordPress for the ease of everything. It’s the blogging platform I know best. However, it is not the only one out there. There are so many different blogging platforms out there. Joomla, Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix to name a few. Some blogging platforms charge while others are free. Which is part of the draw for

The downfall to using WordPress is that about 20% of the web is built on WordPress, which means it’s a target for outside attacks. To prevent this from happening there are a few things you can do.

Make sure you keep your themes, plugins, and wordpress updated with the latest updates. You’ll also want to create back ups of your site frequently.

In the near future my husband, the IT guru, will be writing a few guest posts on disaster recovery, best practices, along with a few other posts. Make sure you subscribe to get notified on everything.

Step 5: Pick a Theme

Sure just grab any theme and use that. When I see bloggers write about this step it irritates the crap out of me. They don’t tell you what to look for in a theme. They don’t tell you about responsiveness. Plus they give little to no tips on how to customize the theme. Picking a theme honestly is the most time consuming step and a lot goes into it.

There is so much to consider when picking a theme I could create an entire post and even a series of posts about it. I’m going to give you the basics of what you need to look for in a theme below.

Matches your brand

Does the theme you are looking at match your brand? If you were not the creator of this blog, would you see the design and feel as though it matches or suits the brand of the website well?

When going through themes be sure to try to match as closely as you can to the layout you envision. The least amount of work you need to put into the theme the better. Changing colors or fonts is not difficult but adding a jumbotron or large banner to your site can be a little more time consuming. With the right theme it’ll be done for you.


People like to throw around terms without really understanding what it means. I’ll be flat out honest with you. Responsive Web Design is not my strong suit. In fact I still struggle with this concept.

Basically responsiveness in web design has to do with the way a website behaves. A site should work well no matter the screen size, browser, or even orientation that it’s being viewed on.

Your website should work well not only on a 24 inch flat screen monitor but also a 5 inch phone or tablet. It should work in Chrome and in Firefox. If the theme you pick works great on Chrome but doesn’t on Firefox you will lose possible readers. If the theme you pick works great on your desktop or laptop but looks horrendous or is unreadable on your smartphone, then it’s not a responsive theme.

Easy to Customize

The last thing you want to do is take a theme and use a theme and not customize that theme. You will want to add logos, pictures, or change the color scheme or fonts used. So when you pick a theme make sure it’s easy for you to understand and change.

If you are having difficulty changing a certain aspect of your theme, do a google search for an answer. Each theme is different so be sure you know the name of your theme.

Play with the Themes

Before you pick a theme, pick out 4 or 5 you really like that meet the qualifications of what you are looking for in a theme. From there you will play around with them. Add pictures, change wording and fonts, really get a feel for the themes. This will help you to narrow it down to the theme of your choice.

Step 6: Customize your theme.

This is the part where you will go through and spend weeks on end customizing your theme. If a blogger is telling you how you can build a blog in a day, a weekend, a week. RUN! Unlike some bloggers you probably have a job, children, a business, a family, and obligations that will prevent you from doing this. Unless you are a professional web designer and developer building a site in a weekend is the biggest lie a blogger can tell a new blogger.

Not to mention if you are only spending a weekend to build your website you are doing it wrong! This is your blog, your brand, your business. You will spend hours on this website teaching, selling, spreading the word, and whatever else your blog is about. The bloggers that are trying to sell you on blogging as a get rich quick tactic are terrifying and quite frankly shouldn’t have a blog.

You will spend the next 2-6 weeks customizing your blog, making sure everything appears where it needs to appear. Making sure it loads quickly, the pictures are right, the positioning is good, that no matter what device you are on your blog will be displayed in the best way possible. You will make sure your blog is enticing, informative, gets right down to the point, and has that sparkle you want it to have.

Do you want people to come to your blog and spend hours on it, or do you want them to click away as soon as they see it? Spend the time working on it. Make it right!

Step 7: Email List Building

Reach out to your entire facebook friends list and see who would be interested in your blog. Message each person personally. What’s the worst that happens. Someone you barely spoke to in high school says No? BooHoo. Next.

You could easily get your first 100 subscribers from doing that tactic alone. Then you can start working on getting your first 1,000 subscribers by posting on social media. Create a landing page that gets people to sign up for your list before you start posting. Share some of your posts with that list. Create a free small email course, or send out a free product as an incentive.

When you are ready to go live with your blog you will email your list and let them know to check out the finished product. This will help you to get people to your site.

5-29-18: You may have heard about GDPR and if not you will want to look into it. GDPR changes the way bloggers do business. This post from Blogging Tech Tips will help you to determine if you need to be GDPR Compliant. Additionally, Rob has an affordable ebook that gives you actual strategies you can use to keep your blog from being subject to GDPR – including custom code to block email form submissions from EU countries – plus it works on any email list service!

Step 8: Go Live

It’s time to go live. You have all 40 posts ready, you have all your images created, you have social media planned out. Go ahead and go live. Pull down the maintenance page and go live.

Do not expect thousands of visitors that first day. Just start marketing your blog on Pinterest and social media. Keep writing, keep marketing, and keep working at it.

Step 9: No, you will not profit…right away.

It may take months or even years before you see a profit from your business. I personally have not seen profit, yet. I’m a new blogger, and I hope one day to update this post and say, “Hell yea, I’m living the life I want.”

Update 1-17-18: Hell yea, I’m living the life I want. Ok, not quite, but as of December 15th 2017 I became a full time blogger. I’m also seeing massive growth over the last few weeks on my blog. In fact, this month looks to completely replace all of my previous income from side gigs. You can check out December’s Income Report here.

In order to profit on your blog you need to be consistent in building your list, posting regularly, and sharing to your social media channels. You need to have strategies in place to build your business as a blogger. You need to know how you are going to monetize your blog and what steps you need to take to do so.

For more information on starting a blog here are some things you will need to know before launching:

For posts on marketing your blog check out:

Other helpful posts:

I believe the key to building a blog and a business that makes money is simply to continue working at it. Dedicate yourself to learning new things about blogging, take courses, and keep posting.

Income Reports

Recommended Products and Courses

Follow me on Pinterest and pin this post to return to it throughout your blog building time. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy

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January 2018 Blog Income Report
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  1. I’m so happy I came upon this post! I’ve been toying with the idea of starting my own blog off and on for months. I’ve just decided recently to really go for it and to do it right in order to be somewhat successful. I’ve seen dozens and dozens of those same “how to set up your blog in 10 minutes!” posts that are so vague and leave me more confused than when I started. I’m excited to take your advice and run with it and see how rewarding blogging can be.

    I’m really not a big social media user and I know that can be a huge part of becoming successful in blogging. Any tips to building up your social media profile?

    1. Author

      Hi Samantha,

      I’m glad you found this useful. In the next few weeks my husband and I will be launching a blog that talks all about everything that goes into blogging. He’s a tech guy with 20 years of experience. He’s looking to share the techy stuff that all bloggers should know when starting and running a blog. I’ll be handling the marketing aspect of blogging. As soon as the new site goes live I will update this post. Additionally, make sure you subscribe for announcements and time management tips and advice.

      Social media can be a big aspect in blogging however the only platform I really pay attention to is Pinterest. Pinterest is where my readers mostly are so I spend the majority of my marketing time there. That will change here in the near future when I start building more of an audience and community on Facebook. The key to success in blogging is finding where your specific audience hangs out and investing your time in that platform.

      Have you chosen a blogging niche yet or are you thinking you’d like to go more lifestyle blogging? If you need help with choosing a niche my husband and I wrote a two part series on choosing your blog niche. Find Your Niche/Deciding What To Blog About helps you to determine what you want to blog about.

  2. Hey Crystal, I agree with you that content should become a top priority on a blog. Great work on this!

  3. Thank you so much for writing this post! I took the plunge and started a blog in January and STILL cannot figure out customizing my theme and launching my site. After all the blogs I read claiming “you don’t have to be tech savvy” I was almost ready to give up. Appreciate your honesty!

    1. Author

      Don’t give up. If it’s something you want to do, go for it. Google your specific theme and wordpress. Most of the themes will have an FAQ or a board with questions and answers for common problems.

  4. Hi. Good article. I do have a question…how do you make your money? I’ve been blogging for years but not for money. More personal stuff. My story. My journal. Thoughts?

    1. Author

      I make money via advertising and affiliate marketing. Depending on the amount of traffic you get to your blog will determine what type of advertising company you can go through. Affiliate marketing really can go through any place that you personally love. I am a huge Amazon fan so I often use affiliate links through Amazon. I also have affiliates for other products I use and recommend. I will be putting together posts soon on ways to make money using a blog. Be sure to subscribe to get my new posts delivered to your inbox weekly.

  5. Thank you for this! I have been kicking around starting a blog but couldn’t believe it was as easy as everyone made it seem! I am still planning on it but your post has given me more insight and direction than most.

    1. Author

      You are welcome. I’m glad I could give you a bit of direction in starting your own blog.

  6. Thank you so much for this post! I tried to start a blog a few years ago and got so discouraged because it seemed like it was just so easy for everyone else. Lately, I’ve been thinking about trying again, and this honesty and realness is just what I needed!
    I love the idea of writing a bunch of posts first! Seems like it’s a no brainer that everyone should start that way, now that you mention it!

    1. Author

      I wish I had known to have a bunch of content ready first. I ended up narrowing down my content after a few months when I really figured out what it was I enjoyed writing about. Writing a bunch of content first before starting your blog helps in figuring out exactly where your niche(s) are. I’m glad you are thinking about giving it a go again. If it’s something you enjoy doing you should absolutely go for it.

    1. Author

      You are very welcome. I’m glad you find it helpful.

  7. Thank you for sharing your experiences, I’ve been thinking about starting a blog, I’ve been researching and I just knew that what I was reading about how easy it is, and how you can make big bucks easily was basically ridiculous. Now I know I’m on the right track, by taking my time and really planning out each step. I also had the idea to write a lot of posts ahead of actually starting.

    1. Author

      Content should always be the #1 priority on a blog. Without content your blog goes no where. I wanted to share an honest and open account of what it really takes to start a blog and make money from it. I’m glad you appreciate the post.

  8. Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou 😘

  9. Honestly, this is one of the best posts i’ve seen written by another blogger. I’m setting up my blog at the moment and I appreciate the frank talk on how difficult it will be! I want to be realistic on how difficult it will be and how hard i’ll need to work. No business is sunshine and roses and blogging is a business. When I want to jump ahead of myself or get frustrated I can refer back to this. Thanks for the honesty!

    1. Author

      Thank-you! Blogging isn’t for everyone and in no way is it easy. However, if you have the passion and the drive to work hard on a blog, it can be a rewarding experience.

  10. Thank you!!! Thank you!! This post was SO good to read! You’ve just confirmed everything that I’ve thought for so long about how it’s not so “easy and quick ” to start a blog. Your information is invaluable and has reassured me that I am definitely on the right track!

    1. Author

      I got so discouraged a few years ago when I started my very first blog because of the it’s so easy mentality surrounding blogging. My goal is to give everyone the real and honest truth that blogging is not easy. It takes hard work and dedication. If it’s your honest passion you will love blogging, otherwise it is in no way a get rich quick option.

  11. I am so glad to see this! When I set up my blog, I was shocked at how long it took me and I still have trouble with some things. I remember thinking that there was no way someone set this up in 10-20 minutes! That’s how long it took to put my payment info in! Just kidding. Maybe. I had this topic written down to post about from day one!

    1. Author

      If blogging is something that someone is passionate about doing I don’t want them thinking it’s easy and get blindsided by all the work it actually takes. Blogging is not an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of work to do it right and be successful at it. I kept seeing those start a blog and make money in 20 minutes posts and it really got to me because I knew it wasn’t that easy. I’m glad others appreciate this as well. You absolutely should write your own post on what it actually takes to start a blog. Email me a link and I’ll share it out on my social media and pin it as well.

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