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When you first start researching how to start a mom blog, it can get overwhelming. People are throwing terms you can’t understand out there in these super-lengthy tutorials that are way over your head.
But all you can articulate for the Google search box is “how do you make a website?”
I’ve been writing online for nearly 8 years. Sometimes I forget where I was 8 years ago. I didn’t even know what a blog was, much less how to start one!
How to Start a Mom Blog the RIGHT Way
There are so many things I wish I could go back and tell my new blogger self. Things that would save me countless hours upon hours of grief and limited the amount of time I spent climbing up an almost impossibly steep self-taught learning curve. Oh, but I can’t.
The next best thing I can do is teach all of you what I would do if I had to start a blog all over again, knowing what I know now.
First: How to Make a Blog the Hard Way
I remember the day deciding I wanted to learn about creating my own blog. I was 3 days post-partum with my second child and I was going stir-crazy. My mom was staying with us to watch my oldest while I tended to the new baby, and I had a lot of downtime on my hands during feedings.
I literally immersed myself in all the reading material on blogging I could find. And after three days, I emerged from this super study session with a blog idea yet still no clue how to make a blog in reality!
It took me another day of research to actually figure out how to get started. Now that I know what to do, I can repeat the process in 10 minutes.
I started my first blog using a lovely website template (explained below), had an easy time of it, and started thinking I could have more than one blog at once. So I started a couple more websites, but went with a different template. Boy, was that the wrong thing to do! I was blown away by how hard it was to use certain blogging templates, and I really kicked myself for not duplicating my first effort. Instead of the process being easy over and over again, it was excruciatingly difficult. The blog you are on right now was originally built on a NOT USER FRIENDLY theme that I got from ThemeForest, and it took A LOT of work to get it to look and function properly. (I finally had to hire a web designer to make it look the way I wanted to.) Not to mention all the times I crashed my site because I tried to do something above my knowledge level.
So what do I recommend for someone who wants to start a blog but doesn’t know where to start?
The Advice I Gave My Best Friend
The reason why starting a blog is so confusing is that the blogging basics aren’t usually explained in easily understood actionable terms. In order to save you TONS of precious time, I am going to tell you the optimal way to start a blog.
This is the same advice I gave my best friend of 20+ years when she came to me last month for my blog start-up advice, so you can rest assured it’s golden. I would never lead her astray, as I would never point you in the wrong direction.
I promise you will like the result. So barricade yourself somewhere for 30 minutes where your kids can’t touch you and let’s get to it! 😉
How to Start a Mom Blog – List of 3 Simple Steps
1) Create a Webhosting Account – The first step to making a blog is signing up for webhosting. For this I recommend Bluehost. Many bloggers I know and trust started out with BlueHost and stayed with them until their blogs got really big. For a few dollars per month, you can’t beat their basic hosting package and they have a simple dashboard upon logging in. I like simple. The best part about Bluehost is that they make the next two steps super easy. In fact, they can kinda be lumped altogether because you basically do them all at once through Bluehost. Click here or on the banner below to sign up with Bluehost.
I CAN NOW OFFER BLUEHOST PREFERRED PRICING!
If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog, this is a great time to snag this deal! I don’t know of any other legitimate business you can start for this amount. We’re truly living in an amazing era!
Bonus: If you sign up through me, you’ll also get a FREE DOMAIN NAME (a $15 value) with your hosting plan in addition to the rockin’ ebook below!
YOUR FREE STEP-BY-STEP EBOOK!
Now for something even more exciting – I have a super special bonus to tell you about!
My good blogging friend Suzi has put together an ahhhhh-mazing book that walks you through all of the major things you need to do to give your blog a jumpstart kick in the pants. I loved her book so much (it was seriously so good I wish I had written it myself), I approached her about the possibility of working together and she agreed to make a special edition of her book just for me TO GIVE TO YOU!!
The first 100 people who start a blog through Bluehost using my link (<<click here), will receive a FREE COPY of her book, Blog By Number (a $17.99 value!)
UPDATE: ONLY 43 COPIES STILL AVAILABLE as of 11/21/16
I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. I WISH I had had a book as comprehensive as hers when I was first starting out. It’s literally a blueprint of what you should do in the early days of your blog to make sure you’re getting your posts seen in Pinterest and Facebook.
She covers the process of creating killer pinnable images for Pinterest, explains which Facebook groups you should join to network with other bloggers, and basically guides you through the creation of your first batch of blog posts with catchy titles, ensuring your hard work has a chance of being seen.
With this ebook, you also get access to her massive (detailed) blog planner that contains blog post checklists, an editorial calendar, a blog vision board and more as shown below!
To get this ebook from me for free, all you have to do is this:
- Start your blog using the Bluehost tutorial in this post or in the guide you can request via email below
- Install the theme of your choice using Bluehost’s one click install (I explains themes and install below as well)
- Email me at lena <at> whatmommydoes.com with your URL/blog name to let me know you’ve completed steps 1 and 2
- I will reply with your special code to redeem your free ebook! I’ll send you download details AND move you over to my exclusive Blog Growth Mailing list reserved only for people who start a blog using my tutorial. On that mailing list, you will receive weekly emails containing important information on building a killer blog in the early days. I don’t want you to have to do this all alone like I did! ?
With this blog startup tutorial,Suzi’s ebook, and direct guidance from me, you will be totally set to hit the ground running with your first round of posts AND have a blueprint to follow to get your blog seen in the early days! All things I never had and wish I could go back and read.
I truly hope you decide to join me on my crazy blogging adventures. 🙂 Visit Bluehost here and read below for the setup details.
If you’re strapped for time? I’ll email my blog startup checklist to you!
If you would like to use this tutorial to start your blog but don’t have time right at the moment (or maybe you’re at work and can’t walk through this tutorial right now), you can get a free copy of this checklist emailed to you by signing up for my Start a Blog Newsletter. This is an especially good option if you’re viewing this page on mobile right now. Just click here to subscribe using your name & email address, and once you confirm the email newsletter subscription, you will automatically receive a download link for the PDF checklist via email.
If you’re ready to get started now, let’s do this! The instructions start below.
IMPORTANT: Please note that Bluehost bills upfront for annual hosting packages. There are two main advantages to them doing this. I want you to know about this now so you don’t go all the way through the setup process only to realize it when it comes to Step 4: Billing.
- By billing upfront you are able to avoid any billing issues that might effect your site being up. You don’t want to get a new debit/credit card a few months from now and risk your hard work by forgetting to link your new card information to Bluehost billing right away. I like having the peace of mind that my webhosting account is paid up for a year or more at all times.
- You are able to ensure that your domain name, and for all intents and purposes your brand, are paid for and cannot be purchased out from underneath you by someone else. If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, I recommend the 36-month hosting; if you are looking for the shortest term, the 12-month package is what you want. Honestly, at this point in my blogging career, I am looking at a way to secure my domain name for the next 25 years or more…this billing stuff gets confusing if renewals come too often and I can’t afford to lose my domain name or hosting due to a billing mistake. Anyway, just my two cents – I don’t want you to be caught unaware!
With all that said – if you want to have a MONEY MAKING BLOG, you absolutely need to pay for hosting. And if you are serious about earning income from it, you don’t want a month to month deal. TRUST ME.
–> Select a Domain Name – During Bluehost registration, you will be asked to specify a blog name, a.k.a. your domain name, a.k.a. your web address. You know, like www.YourBlogName.com. This is where you’ll want to come up with a creative & cool blog name that tells the world what your blog is all about. You’ll be able to check for that name’s availability at this point. If it’s not available, don’t worry. There are millions of different blog names to choose. If you’re favorite isn’t available, consider trying a variation on that name or going with something similar yet slightly different.
–> Choose a Hosting Plan – During registration you will be asked to choose between a 1-year contract, 2-year contract, etc. Choosing a longer hosting term usually results in bigger discounts.
2) Install WordPress with One Click Install – Literally all it takes is one click and your new website will be rocking the best blogging platform available! Once you’ve signed up for Bluehost, navigate to your Account Dashboard and look for the “Install WordPress” button. Click on that, then on the WordPress installation screen, click “Start” to begin installation. Bluehost will take care of the coding magic behind the scenes and Poof! you will have a nice platform on which to perform the final step of setting up your blog.
3) Purchase the Genesis framework and find a Cute Blog Template (can be combined into a single step or done in two parts)
Now you need to take the final step. You have signed up for Bluehost above and installed WordPress. Now you need a way to display your blog on the web. You do this by publishing your content using a blog template (also known as a theme).
Free vs. Premium vs. Custom Designed Theme Templates
You’ll want to choose a functional and nice looking blog template. Let’s run through the three options available – free, premium, and custom theme templates.
- Free Blog Templates – If you are starting your blog on a tight shoestring budget, then you can by all means start with one of the free themes that comes with WordPress and change to a paid theme later on with the click of a button.
- Premium Blog Themes – However, if you want to have a nice looking blog that makes you money, I highly recommend you go with a premium theme. A premium theme will come with a lot of features and pre-formatted sections so you don’t have to spend a ton of time working on the layout, background, colors, and fonts to make your blog look nice. You can get started with this option for $79 – $130 depending on the theme you choose.
- Custom Designed WordPress Theme – The version of my blog you’re looking at is actually a custom design done by Laura at PixelMeDesigns. This design cost over $600, but by no means should you pay for a custom design when you’re just starting out! First of all, I’m a big believer in a blog paying for itself (call me frugal) and second of all, when you’re first starting out you don’t really know what you will ultimately want in a blog template, so if you were to get a custom design now, I’d bet good money you’ll have to get another one at some point when you realize all the things you didn’t ask for originally.
My Theme Recommendation If You Want to Make Money from Your Blog
If I was to start all over again as a beginning blogger, I wish someone would have told me to go straight to a premium theme. They’re nice enough to look professional, but not so expensive that you can’t justify the expense before making any money. I wasted a lot of time searching for a free theme that didn’t look basic, and eventually ended up going with a premium theme anyway. So that’s what I recommend to everyone who’s serious about making an income generating blog.
When you really get into blogging, you’ll be spending a lot of time writing, learning about social media, etc and you will wish you weren’t also worrying about how to move the email subscription box around or how to change your blog’s background color scheme. A premium template has all of that set up for you in a neat little package.
Bottom line is – I would save your money for a custom theme for when you’re really ready for it and can justify the expense, and just go with a nice looking premium theme that’s better looking than the free ones but more affordable than custom. For this I recommend themes designed on the Genesis framework (this is what my custom theme is based on and what I recommend for anyone who wants to start a money-making blog).
What is the Genesis Framework?
This one takes a little explaining, as it can be confusing. In order to create the best blog you can (in my opinion), you will want to create it on the Genesis framework. Genesis is sort of the platform, or base, for many different types of blog templates. Once you have the Genesis framework, you must then get a CHILD THEME to use with it. I think it’s easier if you think of the Genesis framework as Microsoft Excel and the child theme is a ready-made Excel document with pre-formatted colorful cells and formulas already in place. The child theme designer has already done the hard work for you. All you have to do is upload the template and start tweaking it to your taste (changing colors, placement of headers, etc).
A company called StudioPress makes the Genesis framework. StudioPress also makes its own child themes, but you can also get child themes from other designers.
TIP: If you decide to get a StudioPress child theme to operate on the Genesis framework, I recommend purchasing them as a single package on the StudioPress website. You will receive a discount by doing it this way. For instance, if you were to purchase the Jessica theme and Genesis framework in one transaction, you would get both for $129.95. Not a bad deal for your very own standalone professional-looking website, if you ask me!
My very 1st blog was created using the Lifestyle Theme from StudioPress (which requires the Genesis framework), and it was by far the easiest to create even though I knew the least about making a website back then! I regret ever going with another theme provider, and all of my future blogs will be built on Genesis. So that’s why I only recommend Genesis to new bloggers. It gives you so many bells and whistles for a great price and the support forums and tutorials are second to none. You will be able to customize your site in practically any way you choose. There are tons of cute templates to choose from. But even better than that, keep in mind as your site grows and you can afford a custom blog redesign, your designer will be able to build something phenomenal on the Genesis platform. All my favorite bloggers use it!
StudioPress offers so many awesome blog template options for different types of blogs. I know many many bloggers who use Foodie Pro, which is a lovely clean template great for showcasing pictures. I am also partial to the girly and fun Pretty Chic theme.
For further details and a better understanding of the whole Genesis framework/child theme thing, I recommend reading the Genesis for Absolute Beginners document (free!) from StudioPress.
If you look through the StudioPress templates and don’t find one that strikes you as perfect for your blog, I do have a few other recommendations from trusted designers. These designers also use the Genesis framework to design their themes. I am in love with some of the newer girly looking themes available, so these might be what you’re looking for if you want a more feminine look to your blog.
Just remember that you will need to separately purchase the Genesis framework in order to use these blog templates. It’s not a complicated process; it just adds an extra step.
Recommended Blog Themes
I wrote about my 15+ favorite blog themes in this post. I’ll also go over a few options below!
Pretty Darn Cute Designs
This designer has some beautiful blog templates designed on the Genesis framework. Here’s a link to the selection of Pretty Darn Cute blog template options. I’ve been a long time fan of Modern Blogger Pro and I think the Fun Theme could be great if you think you might want an ecommerce store of some kind attached to your blog.
Lovely Blog Templates from Restored 316
Restored 316 specializes in creating chic, trendy, and feminine WordPress themes using the Genesis Framework for women-owned blogs. Their themes are gorgeous. They range from simple & chic to colorful & trendy and run about $50 each (before you purchase the Genesis framework which is $59.95). You can browse the entire Restored 316 blog template collection here. I’ve shown a couple of my favorites below:
Some of the Restored 216 themes are ultra feminine and minimalistic. This is a preview of the Tasteful theme and how it looks on various screen sizes.
Have Questions About Starting a Blog?
So there you have it. My straightforward guide to creating your own blog in 3 simple steps. Once you’ve completed the steps above, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to answer any other questions you have along the way as you make your blog your own.
Sometimes I just need someone to ask me the right question…it’s so easy to forget what you needed to know as you were getting started & I just need a quick reminder.
More Useful Stuff
I’ve tested lots of junk so you don’t have to!
This is a growing list of all the blogging networks, affiliate programs, etc that I recommend above all else.