Steps to Building A (Hopefully Successful) Blog:
Welcome to my brand-new blog. At the time of this post little InkForMiles was only four days old and in those four days I have made multiple mistakes and have learned more about blogging than I knew a week ago. There is so much more to this experience than I thought and while this blog will require a lot of work I am excited about it.
In my experience, I always happen upon a blog when it is already established and has found its voice. This isn’t surprising because it takes time for a blog to generate traffic and rise high enough in the ranks to reach the first page of Google and the first page is where I live. But in these last four days of researching, googling, watching YouTube videos and go back to fix the things I’ve done wrong, it has crossed my mind once or twice that it would be nice to know more about the blogging failures as well as the successes. I’d like to see to the step-by-step, behind-the-scenes building of a blog, the hits, and the misses. If only so I won’t feel as stupid when I take hours to discover something that turns out to be ridiculously simple.
So this is what this section of my blog will be about. Every month I will post an update on InkForMiles and share its journey with you. I will discuss the things I have tried, the mistakes that I have made, and any courses I have taken and if they have helped me.
If I should become fabulously successful one day than I hope these updates will inspire others and give them a how-to on what to do to build their own travel blog. If this blog should fail then people will know what NOT to do and I guess that’s a win too…not for me though. So here is update number one!
**Disclaimer: This post contains an Amazon Affiliate/other affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase I will receive a commission at no additional cost to you!**
I went round and round for days trying to think of a name that captured what this blog is about. I kept putting ideas into Google only to find out they were taken, or if it was free, I would then decide I hated it two minutes later.
Advice: Don’t rush this part. Take time to figure out a name that sums up your blog’s message. Be witty and clever. Pull up a thesaurus and try to find an alternative to “adventure” or “nomadic”. Spend days obsessing about it like I did, because that’s what it took to find the right one!
When you have some ideas put them into NameCheap. This site lets you search potential domain names and see which ones are free. When you have your choices narrowed down, head over to Google to see if any of your potential names are already being used as a username on someone’s social media account. You’ll want to utilize Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc so it would be good to have the same name on each.
Going through the next step of the process and picking a hosting site was incredibly easy. I was able to buy my domain name and set up my site on Siteground in about ten minutes. It was simple and affordable. I don’t have any experience with other hosting sights so I can’t tell you which is better but all the reviews I read for Siteground were positive which is why I chose them in the end. If choosing them turns out to be a massive mistake, never fear, I will be sure to let you know.
The hosting plan I picked was only $5.95 a month and the cheapest one was $3.95 a month. My domain name only set me back $15.95 for the year. So if you are interested in starting a blog you can rest easy knowing doing so won’t break the bank. After you have signed up with Siteground you can download WordPress free directly from them. WordPress is how you will actually make the magic happen.
Downloading WordPress, picking through themes, test-driving the perfect layout, picking and discarding plugins, learning what everything was and how to navigate. There is a lot to do within the first few days and if you are a beginner like me you have to learn as you go. Thankfully, there has been a wealth of resources available to me and even though it took longer than I want to admit to figure out the difference between a post and a page I got there eventually.
Here are some resources to help you in your early days.
When you download WordPress on your hosting site you will have access to a bunch of free themes. But it should be noted that Free Themes aren’t as customizable and are not updated as often because there isn’t a lot of incentive for people to spend time working on something they are giving away for free. But if you are just starting out and you want to get your sea legs before diving in then one of the free themes are a great option.
Premium themes cost money, money, money but it doesn’t to be too much money. If you browse through Theme Forest you will find themes as low as $10 USD. If Elegant Themes is more your style then a payment of $89 USD will get you access to all of their themes for an entire year. $249 USD will give you lifetime access to their themes. This could be ideal for those that want to play around with different themes and mix it up regularly.
Elegant Themes https://www.elegantthemes.com/
Theme Forest https://themeforest.net/
*I personally went with a premium theme on Theme Forest. I like how I have been able to customize my site. Also, I feel better knowing I have support if I run into any problems. So far I have already run into an issue and I received a response within 24 hours. So no buyer’s remorse here.
Canva is great for creating logos, banners, and other graphics. It’s also perfect for getting your pics Pinterest ready. They have layouts specifically for Pinterest and other social media platforms. Give em a try for free!
Uploading Beautiful Free Pics
Best Plugins To Start
This will protect your blog from being buried alive with spam.
Contact Form 7
This form will allow your readers to get in touch with you and send you emails through your site.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization. This plugin will help you tweak your posts so you rank higher on Google. You’ll want this one for sure.
This plug-in will analyze all the traffic to your site and break it down for you by country, demographic, time of day, etc.
Use this to get your email list and newsletter going. Service is free up to 2,000 subscribers. You will be able to keep your loyal readers updated about new content and services.
The Yoast SEO Plugin has been essential in helping me fine-tune my posts and make them SEO-friendly. If I didn’t have this plug-in I flat-out would have been doing everything wrong. I wouldn’t have known what I needed to focus or how to structure my post from the title to the images. I recommend this plugin and suggest you take the time to learn all you can about SEO. If we make Google happy maybe we can all live on the first page!
Okay! I hope my suggestions can help you get started on building your own travel blog. If you have any more questions please ask! It’s only Day Four but so far things are going very well behind-the-scenes of InkForMiles.
Read Update Number Two where I give some advice on courses that can help you get your travel blog on the right track!