I started Those Positive Thoughts in November 2016 and since then I have learned a great deal about how to blog and how to promote your blog, with help from my boyfriend, Ash, who has years of experience in IT. I’m very lucky to be with someone who had the time and knowledge to help me set up and grow my blog, if I had started my blog without this help then the initial process would have been very overwhelming.
Last month my cousin asked me to help him set up his very first blog and with there being so many ways you can start a blog with lots of different options to chose from right from the get-go, I felt the best way to help was to invite him round for a blogging day! I of course loved this, I mean we had a whole day dedicated to blogging!
Our blogging day reminded me just how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned about blogging. Which prompted me to write a guide for beginner’s to help you start your very own blog and love it right from the start.
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links which means if you sign up for one of these services, I’ll get a commission for helping you start your blog, at no extra cost to you.
Before you set up your blog
Step 1: choose the perfect blog name
Before you dive in and set up your blog, you need to choose your blog name. Think about the impression you want to leave when people read, hear and speak your name. Choosing your name is one of the most important steps to creating your blog.
You want your blog name to be:
- Easy to remember
- Easy to spell
- Relate to you or your niche
Things to check:
- Check your blog name doesn’t spell anything negative in the URL e.g. https://thosepositivethoughts.com
- Check your blog name is available on all social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube etc.)
Once you have chosen and are happy with your blog name, do a quick Google search to check that on one else has this name.
How to set up your blog
Step 1: Set up your social accounts
Now that you have chosen and bought your domain name, set up your social accounts with your chosen name. It’s best to do this step straight after you have bought your domain to make sure you get the account name you want
Step 2: Choosing your blogging platform and hosting
Why you should have a self-hosted blog
When you set up your blog you have the choice between a self-hosted blog or a free blog. I will always recommend having a self-hosted blog especially if you want to create a professional image. With a self-hosted blog you will have full control over your blog such as the layout, changing the theme, installing plugins and adding advertisements. With a free blog you are very limited with what you can change, you will also have “WordPress” or “Blogger” in your domain name. Most importantly, if you ever want to earn any money from your blog (which I’m sure you do) then it’s important that you have a self-hosted blog. Brands will also be more keen to collaborate with you if your blog is self-hosted as they will take you and your blog more seriously.
Choosing your blogging platform
There are a number of platforms which you can choose from to start a blog, such as WordPress, Wix and Squarespace. I have been using WordPress since the start of Those Positive Thoughts and I’m very happy with how easy it is to use!
Why I recommend WordPress
I would highly recommend using WordPress as your blogging platform as it’s extremely easy and simple to use. It’s also the most popular blogging platform which means there are thousands of free guides, videos, and resources out there to help you along the way, which also means you will never have to hire somebody to help you! As WordPress is such a popular platform, there are tones of beautiful blog themes which you can choose from, which means you can really make your blog unique and stand out amongst the crowd. There are also lots of free plugins which you can easily install with WordPress, to make your blog even more unique and beautiful!
Choosing your hosting
Choosing the right hosting site for your blog is super important as it can improve your SEO and increase traffic to your blog. There are a number of different types of WordPress hosting options available such as BlueHost and SiteGround which are the two which hosting sites I’ve used.
BlueHost is one of the oldest web hosting sites and the site I decided to host my website with during my first year of blogging. I chose BlueHost because it’s very fast and simple to set up and it’s also WordPress friendly which is perfect for beginners. If you choose BlueHost as your hosting this means your WordPress blog and domain name will be free as you can buy these all in one deal. Plus there’s a 30-day money back guarantee in case you change your mind!
Step 4: Set up Google Analytics
Google Analytics is the industry standard for website and blog traffic reporting. It’s super easy and free to set up and will only take a couple of minutes. Google Analytics is simply amazing! Through it you can track things like:
- How many visitors your blog has received (daily, weekly, monthly etc.)
- Which pages are the most popular
- How people find your blog
- How long people stay on your blog for
- Which device people use to view your blog
Don’t skip this step! Google Analytics is necessary start tracking your pageviews and progress from the very start. Plus, it’s very useful to know when you are building and growing your brand. You can create a Google Analytics account with your Gmail login information
Customise your blog
Step 1: choose a blog theme
When you are just starting your blog and you don’t want to invest too much money into it yet, you can choose a free theme. For the first year and a half o blogging I used a theme called Nuclear Child which is a free theme from WordPress. I simply spent some time editing it and adding plugins. I now have a theme form PigDig which I have paid for.
Step 2: create your logo
I created my first logo for Those Positive Thoughts right at the start of its launch. However, as my graphic design skills wasn’t all that I soon invested in a new logo from Autumn Lane Paperie. Personally, I think it’s worth investing in a professional logo right from the start, whether you make it yourself or reach out to a designer. You don’t need to spend a lot of money either, my logo cost £15 and I’ve been using it for over a year. Now that’s a good investment!
Step 3: take professional photos or use free stock images
To create a successful blog you need to have a lot of skills, one being photography. When you first start your blog you can use free stock images until you decide to create your own photos. Some of my favourite websites to get free stock images from are:
I used free stock images when I was first started my blog and while I was developing it, but I then decided to use my own photos. I felt like the free stock images were really handy when you first start your blog but I noticed that the images I was using were also being used on loads of other blogs. This meant that my blog didn’t stand out and I really wanted my blog to be unique and represent myself and my brand.
Add necessary site pages
Before your official “launch,” and before you start posting regularly, you need to create a few specific pages on your site.
Step 1: disclosure, privacy and comment policy
If you ever want to earn money from your blog, it’s necessary to include a disclosure, privacy and comment policy on your site. You can check out my disclosure page as an example.
Step 2: write an amazing about me page
Your about me page is the most important page on your blog because it’s where people go to find out about you and your blog. Spend some time writing about yourself and about your blog, you could include the reason why you started your blog and the purpose behind it. You can check out my about page here.
Step 4: write your contact me page
Another very important page is your contact page. This is how brands will contact you for potential collaboration ideas, it’s how other bloggers will reach out to you and it’s how readers can ask you questions. On WordPress you can easily add a contact form to your page, just like I have with mine. It’s also a good idea to set up a professional email address for your blog, for example mine is [email protected] and I have another which is called [email protected], which is for any queries in relation to my shop. By setting up an email address for your blog, you will look like a professional and you can keep your personal and blogging emails separate.
Step 5: publish your first blog post
It’s a good idea to publish your first blog post on the same day you set up your blog, this will keep you feeling motivated and excited! When I first launched Those Positive Thoughts, I published four blog posts, one for each of my categories. I then had several blog posts in my drafts, this meant I had time to develop my website and still schedule blog posts every week.
Promote your blog
Here are some promotion strategies that have worked for me.
Join a community
One of the best strategies for getting your blog in front of readers is by joining a Facebook group. It may take some time to find the right groups which you can resonate with but it’s worth the effort, eventually you will make friends and find collaboration opportunities. Some of my favourite Facebook groups are:
- Blogging Boost
- Bloggers Supporting Bloggers
- Lavendaire Lifestyle Community
- Creative Superheroes
- The Miracle Morning Community
The best way to become noticed in Facebook communities is to be social and helpful. don’t just post links to your content and not share other peoples work. Answer questions and help others thrive, and they will support you in return.
Since day one Pinterest has been my number one source of traffic to my blog. Make sure you set up your business Pinterest account for your blog and start pinning high quality pins as soon as possible. In January 2018, Pinterest alone bought me a whopping 273k pageviews from Pinterest in one month!! In fact, I reveal all of my Pinning strategies in my e-book “Grow Your Blog With Pinterest”.
If you want to find out about my blogging journey feel free to send me a message or comment below! I would love to hear from you and I’m happy to answer any of your questions!