Let’s just be perfectly honest, it took me months to prepare my blog. You can find many articles on “how to start a blog in 15 minutes”, but I don’t buy it. If you really want to start blogging, take the time to do it right and make it truly your own!
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I’ve always been a writer, and I knew that one day it would just be a natural step for me to turn to blogging. I only wish I’d done it sooner! Granted, I had my reasons for putting off starting a blog. When you have young children, just the thought of adding one more commitment can be very overwhelming. So I waited until then kids were a little older.
Now that I had more time (HA!) I could brainstorm what to blog about. I’m passionate about many things: reading, writing, cats, fashion, food (though I hate cooking), decorating, parenting and wifeing, nail polish… How do you pick a topic? Or a niche, as they like to call it here in the blogging world. I initially decided to blog about books. Because I’ll be reading a lot anyway, why not blog about it? Then a blog name. Something with “book” or “reading” in the title? No, I wanted to stay away from that, just in case my blog took a different turn (and I’m so glad I did, but more about that later). I had already been writing out content on my word processor, but it took me a long time to finally muster up the guts to purchase a domain name. Making big decisions gives me anxiety. And this decision felt HUGE! At last I settled on A Cozy Blog. Go Daddy and Hover seemed to be the most popular places to purchase a domain, so I just picked one and went with Hover. Step one, done!
Then I needed a hosting site. I read that it’s better to have a self hosted site on wordpress.org rather than a free one on wordpress.com. Ok! And since I’d read about many bloggers using bluehost, I decided I may as well too. Once I downloaded wordpress I was good to go! But wait, if I wanted my blog to look unique and pretty, I needed to buy a theme. As it turns out, most themes are compatible with Genesis framework. So first I purchased that, then I bought a “child theme” from Pretty Darn Cute Design. I’m currently using the Pretty Sweet theme, and wow do I ever love it! Plus the customer service is impeccable! I highly recommend them.
Once I had that installed, I just needed to customize everything. Oi. I am not technically inclined. At all. It took me a long time to figure everything out. Before I starting posting, though, I had to get security and backup for my site (I use vaultpress). Honestly, I’m still not sure how all this works exactly and how to use it. Something I plan to work on more in the very near future to ensure I’m covered in all areas.
Also, there are so many courses and eBooks a blogger can purchase to up their game and earn more money. And I have my eye on some of them. Not everything at once though, I gotta pace myself. Luckily there are tons of free resources for bloggers to use: Canva for creating visual media, Mail Chimp for email lists (another project I’m still working on) and lets not forget good ol’ google and pinterest.
Now, this is just a quick gloss over on how I got started. I researched a lot of blogs to get as much info as I possibly could. If blogging is something you’ve thought about doing but don’t know where to start, I recommend checking out this post by Building a Framework. Oh, and please make sure to let me know if you’ve started a new blog recently so I can check it out!!
- Domain name with Hover – $46.94 CAD. I’ll need to renew this in a year. I also purchased an email account which was silly, you can get a free one from bluehost, so I could have saved myself some cash. Oh well, live and learn.
- Hosting with bluehost for 1 year – $141.32 CAD.
- Genesis by Studio Press – $83.10 CAD (automatically includes all updates).
- Pretty Sweet “child” theme from Pretty Darn Cute – $69.30 CAD.
- Vaultpress (to secure my blog) – $54.06 CAD.
Total Expenses for me to start up my blog – $394.72. And I love everything about it!
Goals for my first month
I officially launched A Cozy Blog on June 30, 2017. I had a lot of goals for the month of July, some of them quite out there. The thing is I really didn’t know what to expect! Now that I’m getting the hang of it, I know how to better set goals for August. But here’s what I initially wanted out of July:
- Goal → Reach 100 page views. I actually hit 148 page views this month. This is by no means a big number, it just feels big to me lol.
- Goal → Add affiliate links and ads. I did sign up with two programs (more info on that below), but would still like to eventually branch out and make more connections 🙂
- Goal → Earn $100. Did I come close to this goal? Nope. Am I happy about it? Absolutely! I’ve learned so much and had oodles of fun blogging this month. Technically I only earned about $0.78, so I think $100 may have been an unrealistic goal for me for my first month. Especially since I only have the means to do it part time.
- Goal → Start an email subscription. I got set up with mail chimp, but I really need to get my but in gear and figure out what I’m actually going to do with it. (help?)
- Goal → Write 15 more posts. When my blog launched I only had 5 posts, and this is my 13th. So, no this goal didn’t get reached. That’s fine. I’m still learning just how much work blogging actually is. I’d rather put my heart and soul into a few posts, than write a lot of blah posts that don’t mean as much to me.
Google AdSense – $0.78 (not even worth talking about)
Amazon Associates – $0 (note: I signed up a week before the end of the month!)
Goals for my second month
- Reach 500 page views. That number feels so crazy to me. But I think I just might be able to do it. 🙂
- Earn $100. Same goal as last month, but I’m determined to get there!
- Write 10 more posts (at least).
- Reach 10 subscribers and create at least one newsletter. I honest to goodness want to use this tool and connect with people on a more personal level, so hopefully I can come up with some fab ideas this month.
- Social media – mostly I want to learn more about how to use social media effectively along side with blogging, especially Pinterest. If I’m able to increase my followers by 50%, I’ll be super happy!
What I learned
- Blogging is so fun but so hard. Even though I’m totally having a blast, there were a few times I thought about trowing in the towel. First of all, putting yourself out there is nerve racking. Every time I hit the “post” button I have a moment of “Oh my goodness, someone might actually read that!”. Then there are those times when I wonder if anyone really cares. But whenever I catch myself thinking like that I say, “Self! You got goals, girl. You’re making life better for your family, and you’re reaching out to others.” There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.
- My blog vision changed. I started off just blabbing about books as I read them. I loved it. But it wasn’t long before I felt compelled to write about other things. It turns out I have a heart for people, especially people who are going through stuff, especially people who are going through stuff similar to what I’ve gone through. Maybe I’m still figuring out my “niche”, but I predict more deep and feelsy posts for my blog’s future!
- Starting a blog costs a lot more than I thought it would. Especially for a Canadian. But it’s so worth it. There are definitely less expensive ways of doing it, but I knew I wanted complete control over my site, I knew I wanted it to visually reflect my personality, and I knew I wanted to be able to monetize my blog. Most of all I wanted to have a site I’d love and be proud of.
- I learned that I still have a lot to learn! Especially when it comes to utilizing social media, creating subscription emails, ensuring site security and backup, analytics, marketing, and not to mention better time management!
If you happen to have any tips or advice, please don’t be shy! I’m open to all ideas and opinions. And remember to leave your blog info because I’ll probably want to go read it. Also, I just want to encourage you if you’re on the fence about starting up your own blog. If you’ve got something to say, people will want to listen. Even though there may be thousands if not millions of bloggers out there, there’s only one you. ♥