The Frugal Girl is most definitely not a blog about blogging. But I get blogging-related questions pretty frequently from readers who want to start their own blogs.
And since I’ve been at this for 11 years, I have a little bit of expertise to share.
So, I thought it would be handy to write down everything I would love to know if I were just starting out now. That way I have a place to send people when they ask me questions.
1. Go with WordPress.
I know there are some other good options out there, but WordPress is well-established as a leader in the blogging world.
It’s a safe, solid choice.
2. If you want to eventually make money with your blog, start a self-hosted blog.
You can get a blog for free on WordPress.com, but the money-making options there are a little bit limited. If you are pretty sure you want to take this seriously, fork over a few dollars a month for a self-hosted blog rather than a free one.
(I started free on WordPress.com and then moved my blog over to self-hosted a few months later. Save the trouble and just start with self-hosted!)
3. Try to pick a topic you LOVE with your whole heart.
Blogging can be a long slog if you are not doing it for the love of your subject. You will get discouraged and want to give up if you don’t have a heartfelt passion for what you are writing
Frugality is in my bones, and I don’t think I will ever get tired of writing about it!
Bottom line: If you blog solely for the money and you will be ready to quit in a flash because it will take a while before you make any money.
4. Start with Bluehost, which is super affordable.
My best advice for newbies is to go straight to Bluehost and sign up for an account. You can get your domain name there and install WordPress on your new domain.
(WordPress is the software for your blog; Bluehost is the place your software will live.)
Bluehost is very well set-up for new blogs, and you do not have to be technically-inclined to set up your blog with them.
Their services are basic, but they only cost a few dollars a month, and you’ll have complete control over your blog (which is not true of a free WordPress.com blog).
So, go with Bluehost, and you can always switch to Agathon as you grow.
5. Don’t overthink it. Just get started.
Decide what you want to write about, pick a domain name, make a Bluehost account, and…
It’s easy to get stuck in the preplanning stages, thinking you have to have everything perfectly set up before you publish anything.
Here’s the truth: almost no one will be reading your blog at first.
You will probably stink it up at blogging when you start, and it’s no big deal.
You can have a very basic blog design, you can be sort of terrible at writing, and you can have bad photos.
Just get started, and you can practice as you go.
5. Be mindful of how much you want to share.
If you choose to be anonymous, you can be a lot more free with what you write about (but do keep in mind that being anonymous is a little bit difficult on the internet in 2019. There’s always a chance someone will figure out who you are.)
For me personally, I write my blog posts assuming that everyone I have ever met in my entire life might read what I write.
That means I have a pretty tight filter over what I say, which can be hard at times (I’d love to share more than I do!)
But the upside of this is that I do not ever have to worry that someone will find a blog post I wrote and be shocked/hurt/embarassed.
Everything I write is meant for 100% public consumption.
6. Be kind. Be you. And serve your readers.
Your readers are people with feelings, just like you. Treat them the way you’d want to be treated.
Be kind even to the ones who are rude to you. I’ve seen a kind response soften somewhere around 84.83% of cranky readers. 😉
If people want expert advice from a licensed professional, they can find that any number of places. But they will come to your blog to hear from YOU, a person. There’s only one you; let that shine through.
Serve your readers.
Entertain them, teach them, inspire them, guide them…there are all sorts of ways that you can serve your readers, and if your heart is focused on serving, then you will figure it out what that looks like for your niche.
7. Don’t take negative comments too seriously.
I could REALLY have used this advice in my early days, when I let every negative comment get under my skin.
If there’s truth in the comment, listen and learn from it.
But if it’s some ridiculous comment, based on error and assumptions, ignore it and carry on with your fabulous self. 😉
Also if you look at that person’s comment history in your dashboard (you can search by their IP address) and you notice that they only ever comment to say something negative…well then, you have my permission to give their opinion very little weight.
Sunday 5th of January 2020
I'm going to keep this in case I decide to start a blog on the topic I REALLY want to blog about, which is binge eating disorder. I once tried to start one before but it wasn't on that topic. It did okay and even had a comment or two! But I didn't have the passion to be able to sustain it.
Sunday 15th of December 2019
There are two different Wordpresses: dot com and dot org. Can you help us understand that? After 11 years with dot org I still can't explain it!
Are you willing to tell why you switched from BlueHost to Agathon? I have been very happy with BlueHost; their site is very complex but their phone assistance is fabulous.
Monday 16th of December 2019
So, Wordpress.org is where you go to download the Wordpress software for a self-hosted wordpress site. Which, if you have Bluehost, is what you've got!
On Wordpress.com, everything is basically done for you; no host needed.
I'm with Agathon because my site is too big for what Bluehost offers. I think Bluehost is great for starter blogs and small-medium blogs, though! If it's still working for you, I see no need to change. :)
Tuesday 3rd of December 2019
I've been a quietly lurking reader for many years, and this is the first time I've been motivated to make a comment! :-) First, thank you so much for this information on how to start a blog. It has some helpful information and now I have a related question... Once you start the blog, how do you actually get people to read it? :-) . I started my own blog in May, but have struggled with finding readers. I can't even get my blog to show up in a Google search, which likely means it's not generating enough hits to "matter"?
Tuesday 3rd of December 2019
Hi Nikole! Google does take time to rank your site and place you well in search results. You can help things along by reading about the best SEO practices.
You can also work to connect with other bloggers in your niche; comment on their blogs, follow them on Instagram, Twitter, etc. Over time, this will help to get your blog out there in front of other audiences.
Growing a blog readership takes a lot of patience, so don't get too discouraged too fast. Hang in there!
I clicked on over to your blog, and I didn't see an About page. If you don't have one, I highly recommend making one and putting a link to it in your header. People want to know about the person who is blogging, and what the blog is about. :)
Mary ~ Reflections Around the Campfire
Wednesday 27th of November 2019
I didn't start blogging until after I escaped from the workforce, so I have nowhere near the experience that you do, Kristen. But I would like to offer the following comments . . .
Give serious thought as to the true purpose of your blog well before you create one so that (1) you know what your goals are and have a plan to accomplish them and (2) choose a format that will best help you achieve those goals. Better to think it through and plan ahead than to keep changing horses in mid-stream.
Decide on how often you'll post and stick to your schedule whether that schedule is once a day, once a week or once a month. That will keep you disciplined in your writing and your readers will know what to expect. If you know you'll be skipping a few posts, consider letting your readers know as a courtesy to them.
Before launching your blog, take the time to write a dozen posts ahead of time, and work to keep your queue filled. That way you'll never be scrambling to complete a post when life gets hectic. And, believe me, it will.
As Kristen said, let your personality shine through. If you do, your blog will reflect your passion for your topic and allow readers to engage better with you.
Have fun with your blog - blogging is a wonderful way to share information, make new (virtual) friends and express yourself creatively. Enjoy the adventure!
Tuesday 26th of November 2019
I think I chose too narrow of a topic. After reading lots of blogs about frugality I realized all their advice was aimed at family life. As a mature never married single I wanted to share what a frugal lifestyle looks like for ONE. After 2 years I ran out of tips to share. I still want to blog but AFrugalSpinster.wordpress is just sitting dormant right now. The tis you shared today will come in handy if I ever resurrect it.
Tuesday 26th of November 2019
Hi Linda, I used to follow your blog, and I miss reading it. If you ever start again, I would enjoy hearing your ideas!