2.5 years ago I started my blog and I have loved having it. I thought I would write a post with the things that helped me MOST as I’ve figured things out in this blogging world. Frequently, I get emails and direct messages asking these questions so I thought it was finally time to write it all out.
this is a photo from the night I convinced my husband to start a blog
I started my blog in September of 2015. I had just had the sweetest baby boy (Don!) in February and fell head over heels in love. The thought of going back to work was so hard on me- I felt like I was meant to be with him. But we needed my paycheck, so after a 10 week maternity leave, I headed back and negotiated a 4 day a week work schedule.
Being with Don 3 days a week still didn’t cut it. I wanted to see him more! So I started dreaming up ways to make money from home. Previously, I had had a blog that had been popular (it was on fashion, lol). Maybe I could make money blogging? So I did a ton of research and pitched it to my husband.
I was SOOOOO excited! He was skeptical, but didn’t see the harm in me trying. It cost around $230 to get the blog started (which was a lot of money for us). Slowly but surely, it started taking off. In August of 2017, I was able to quit my job to stay home and blog full time. It was (and is!) a dream come true!
pick a good name
When you’re a blogger, you’re known by your blogging name, so you need a name that fits you, your blog, and is unique! Do a ton of brainstorming and then make sure to google each one. I was originally going to choose a name with the word “Dawn” in it- as a play on words with my son’s name. Finally I played around with words I wanted to include and I got to At Home with Ashley, which I still love!
I liked my blog name because- it is easy to spell and remember. It was available on all channels (I did have to shorten it for Twitter and Pinterest- so a shorter name would have been better). And lastly, it incorporates the niche I am in- home decor.
Don’t pick a name that is super similar to someone. Be creative and really think on it over at least a week. Ask your family and friends for advice in case you are overlooking something with it. It is worth the time to really have a great name!
pick a hosting company
If you are starting a professional blog where you are hoping to make money, you need to be self hosted (aka- don’t use blogger). Why? You can make money from a blog in three ways- by selling your own product, having ads, and having companies pay to sponsor you. In order to sell product and have ads, you need to be self hosted. You can have sponsorship’s through blogger, but your site will look less professional.
That means you need a hosting company. This is who you pay for your blog address and they make sure your site runs smoothly (even when you have high traffic). They also help protect you from hackers. A host is where your blog “lives” so its important to choose a host that you trust and one that has good customer service.
From the first day I started my blog, I’ve had Blue Host and I’ve loved them ever since! When I first began my blog, I was on a tight budget so I liked that they are a good combination of price, speed, and reliability. They have worked great for me since, so I’ve stayed with them.
how to set-up your domain name
This is a full tutorial for the technical start up of a blog, I have more information below with courses I suggest and some other tips
Step 1: Visit Bluehost.com
Click the “get started now” button and then select a hosting plan that fits your needs. (Normally, if you are just starting out I recommend the basic plan). Just so you know, you can always upgrade your plan as you grow.
Step 2: Domain Name
Since you’ve decided on your domain name already, you can enter it now (then hit next).
If you want to double check that it is available, you can try it out in the box below. Bluehost gives a free domain name with each new hosting account created so I’d suggest doing that route (since its cheaper and easier for you).
Step 3: fill out your account and billing information.
Step 4- Select your package.
Review the package information and decide what term/add-ons are desired. I believe I choose 12 months at first since I wasn’t sure if my blog would take off or not, but now I wish I’d done the 36 months since you save money the more you pay upfront.
There are other services available on this screen, but I’d suggest you don’t worry about those yet. You can always add them later if you decide you want them.
Step 5: Insert payment information and accept the terms.
Step 7- Congrats! You officially are being hosted through Bluehost!
They will send you a welcome email.
Step 8: Create your password.
Make sure to review the requirements for creating the password. If you need help you can always click the “Suggest Password” option. Create a strong password so you aren’t hacked and make sure to remember it!
Step 9: Login.
Go ahead and login and start getting familiar with your new Bluehost account. Now that your account has been created, WordPress will automatically install.
Step 10: Pick a Theme.
This is where you will make your blog pretty! Your theme is what makes up the visual part of your blog (the fonts, colors, background) so picking one that represents you is important. Here you will need two products to get you started- first up you need the Genesis Framework which gives you the main building blocks for your site. This costs $60.
Secondly, you need your child theme. I chose the Darling theme by Restored 316 Designs. This costs $75. For me, this $75 was super smart- I got a gorgeous blog and they were super helpful as I’ve set it up and tweaked it over time. If you are looking for a beautiful blog, I 100% recommend Restored 316 Designs! I adore my theme and they have stunning options (if your are wondering what theme to get, they have a great quiz here).
Your blog is now up! Now you’ll spend a bunch of time making it yours.
Learn from others
I wanted to give you some other tips to get you started that were hugely beneficial to my growth. There are bloggers that have pretty much perfected different aspects of blogging. Learn from them! I like to always be taking one course at a time so I’m continuously learning and growing. Below is a list of my favorite courses I’ve taken over the past few years.
When I was just starting, I took a course that goes over the basics of starting a blog. Well, that’s no longer available.
But I found an amazing course I think you’ll love! It’s called Create your Blog Dream. It gives awesome starter advice on how to write posts, growing an audience, photography, and social media. It absolutely set me on the right foot! I 100% suggest starting with the book when you are first beginning out with your blog.
My favorite course I’ve taken to learn a pinning strategy is The Pinterest Launch Plan. It’s affordable and so well done. I love the clear way that it is taught and it gave me a plan for how to grow my traffic through Pinterest. It also showed me how often to pin, what to pin, how to get people to see my pins, group boards, etc. I also use Tailwind to schedule pins.
I started my blog by taking pictures on my phone and editing them on there too. Since then, I’ve upgraded to a real camera and have slowly learned to take better and better images. I share the exact camera and lens I have here. I use picmonkey to create graphics for my blog (like Pinterest images and Instagram stories).
My editing used to take forever. I knew that I had to streamline it so I learned Lightroom. I took the course The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Lightroom and feel proficient at editing in Lightroom now. Plus it is insanely fast to do! I also love that she has a home decor blog so her tips were extra helpful.
One way to make money on blogs is by using trackable links when sharing products you love. It really is an art though and I love how Tasha teaches it in her course Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers. She is also a home decor blogger and I learned some income changing tips from her.
share what you love
My last tip is to write about what you love. If you’re writing 3-5 blog posts every week, believe me, you better love it! And more than that, a natural passion will take you far! If you find unique ways to do things or simple ways to make someone’s life easier, you can make it as a blogger.
I suggest writing down what you are passionate about and coming up with a mission statement. For me, I believe that everyone can have a home regardless of their budget or size of their home. We’re all meant to live our best lives right now. And I love spreading that message in many different ways.
I hope these tips have been helpful for you as you’re starting your blog! If you have a message to share, there is someone who is meant to hear it. Never forget that!
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.