So you have tons of ideas, you know what your style is and you have a unique voice. But, you’re unsure of how to get it out there. You have questions about blogging platforms and you’re confused about self-hosted. Awesome! Because you’ve come to the right place. I’m here to clear off all your unanswered questions. Read the simplest guide to start a blog in this post plus win an awesome WordPress theme and calendar.

The simplest guide to start a blog - Zakkiya Hamza | Inkstruck Studio

I’ve been meaning to write a post on blogging for a while now. I’ve had e-mails from lovely readers who want to know how I started this blog and how I’ve grown over the last one year. As much as I love replying back to the e-mails you write, I think a post like this will help many of you. And to mark the end of my brand anniversary giveaway, there’s some exciting stuff to be win this time.

{This post contains affiliate links. This means that I will earn a small percentage if you decide to buy from one of the links you click below.You will not be charged extra.}

1.CHOOSE YOUR NICHE a.k.a DO WHAT YOU LOVE.

When you start a blog, the first thing you should be is passionate about it. If your intention is to only make money or get famous fast, it won’t work. You can only fake it for a short while because you’ll burn out eventually.

[bctt tweet=”You can only fake it for a short while because you’ll burn out eventually.”]

For example, you’re amazing at creating paper flowers. You know the ins and outs of creating them but you find out that there are hardly any blogs doing it. Instead, you feel that it won’t go down well with people and start a food blog because say everyone loves good food.

Let me tell you what you’ll end up with

  1. You won’t have time to create paper flowers which is your true passion because believe me when I say blogging is a full time job.
  2. You’ve missed the perfectly good opportunity to start something that could be BIG with your expert knowledge of paper flowers.
  3. You may end up making awesome recipes but you’ll find yourself struggling to be creative because it’s something that doesn’t come naturally to you.

What I’m essentially trying to say is that for something to work long term and ultimately become a full time business, you need to be passionate about it. And then work hard in building it.

2. SELECT A NAME FOR YOUR BLOG

Think long and hard about this one ! You’re going to start a blog that may become the bread and butter of your life. You need to decide what people are going to know your blog by. When I chose a name for this baby right here, I wrote down things that describe what I wanted to blog about.

On one side of the paper I wrote down different materials like watercolor,acrylic,colored pencil,ink etc. On the other side I wrote adjectives like awestruck, delight, joyful etc. I wrote down a lot more catchwords and kept comparing until I ended up with a few I liked.

Grab a pen and paper because this is what I want you to do now. Take as much time as you like.  Take a week or a month even and then come back to this post. Make sure you have a few that you like. Are you done? Now hold your horses right there! Before you decide on the name, you need to check whether it’s available. That’s the reason I asked you to select a few you like.

Hop over to https://www.whois.net/ and cross check your names for availability.  The process is pretty straightforward. It’s going to let you know whether the domain is available or not. Once you’ve ensured that your name is available as a domain, you’re ready for the next step.The simplest guide to start a blog - Zakkiya Hamza | Inkstruck Studio

3.CHOOSE YOUR BLOG PLATFORM

There are so many platforms out there and comparing each one of them would probably be a whole new post. If you search for blog platform comparison on google, you’ll find tons of posts that do a great job explaining each.

I started on “Blogger” which is a blog platform owned by Google. Sounds simple? That means if anything goes down with it, Google will take care of it. For me to start a blog on Google made perfect sense because duh! look at Google’s reputation. I loved being on blogger. With the many tutorials available online and the amount of HTML my brain could handle, I created a very simple blog. Don’t laugh! I was really proud it back then. Haha! But here’s the thing. If you want to do something, overcome that fear and just start. Dip your toes in, take up that challenge and every little thing will fall in place.

[bctt tweet=”Dip your toes in, take up that challenge and every little thing will fall in place.”]

 

Silly beginner blog

About a few months later, I wanted to rebrand and re-do the entire look of my blog. I wanted a homepage and an e-commerce shop within the blog. At this point I was certain that this was what I wanted to do. I ditched blogger for self hosted WordPress which was expensive but worth every penny I spent. If you’re crystal clear about what you’re goals are and you want to turn this into a full time business, then invest in a self-hosted WordPress blog.  But being self-hosted also means that you’re on your own. If anything goes wrong, you’ll need to find a solution for it.

Now you’ll need a hosting provider. That means you’ll need a third party that will help put your website out there for readers to enjoy. This is the point you start spending money. There are a lot of reasonable plans out there that will not create a huge hole in your pocket.

I’ve been with BlueHost for about a year now and absolutely love it. There are plans as low as $3.95 per month which you can upgrade anytime. You’re billed annually but in a situation where you want them to stop being your host, they’ll return your money. Amy Lynn Andrews has an in depth tutorial on how to set up your website via BlueHost.

The simplest guide to start a blog - Zakkiya Hamza | Inkstruck Studio

To make things easier, I’ve created a visual guide that explains everything. You’ll want to pin this because you’ll definitely want to refer back when you start a blog.

The simplest guide to start a blog - Zakkiya Hamza | Inkstruck Studio

 

 

4.CHOOSE A THEME

Congratulations on choosing your preferred blog platform to start a blog. Now , depending on which one you’ve chosen, you may want to choose a theme.

For Blogger

You can easily tweak the HTML to get the preferred look you need. But if you’re terrified of doing anything at the back end of your blog, you can choose a pre-made themes start at  as low as $15 but please make sure you do proper research before making a purchase.

A few places you can find Blogger templates are

For WordPress.com

What I love about WordPress is that they already have a selection of beautiful pre-made themes some of which are free and some paid. The free ones do not lack quality one bit.

Find pre-made themes at

For self-hosted WordPress

If you’re tech savvy and love fiddling with the back end of your blog, you’ll probably not choose a theme. Or if you’re someone looking for a unique design for blog, you’ll want to hire a designer. If you’re on a budget, themes are your best friend. You can either install them yourself(all developers have guidelines) or hire an expert to install one. Hiring an expert will cost you additionally but will save you considerable amount of time.

Inkstruck Studio currently runs on the theme Meadowbrook by Angie Makes which I absolutely love. I love how easy it is to set up and work around. The thing I absolutely loved about the theme is that it is integrated with an e-commerce platform. That means I can have my shop within the website itself.It also has the option of having a homepage where I display my products, blog posts and other information about my brand in a nutshell.

Please note that this is not a child theme and does not run on Genesis. If you want to have a child theme, I would absolutely recommend Restored316 designs by Lauren. They have beautiful and feminine websites that will make you swoon.

Other places you can purchase themes from:-

And this is a basic outline of what you’ll need to do when you decide to start a blog. I also want to list out a few things once you’ve done creating one.

1.Post consistently

This is one of the most important aspects of having a blog. You need to show up and be consistent. I’m not saying post everyday of the week. Everybody’s schedule is different and there may be a lot time constraints. But try posting at least once a week. For example, I create in-depth tutorials and I take a lot of time to get everything perfect. I can only post once a week because I have a toddler at home, I need to find time to do client work and I  need to be present on social media as well. Pick a day that’s best and blog away!

2.Stick to your niche

Like I mentioned in the beginning, once you’ve decided on a general topic to blog about, do it. You have the responsibility to provide your lovely readers the chance to learn all about what you know and what they want to know. It’s okay to go slightly off topic once a while. After all you know what’s best for you.

3.Promote on social media

At this time and day, social media plays a very important role. But you don’t need to be every where. Choose any two you love and be consistent there. Drive traffic to your blog through these sites.

4.Take good photos

I’m crazy about good photos. I love taking them to show what I’m trying to convey. This helps visually attract readers which is what you ultimately want for your blog. Make use of natural light to get beautiful,bright photos. Edit it in a free software like Picmonkey or use an advanced editing option like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

Well I really hope this post has inspired you to go ahead and start a blog you’ve always dreamed of. And to make things a little easier, here’s an amazing giveaway for you. The lovely Angie of Angie Makes and Carmia of Clementine Creative have generously sponsored today’s giveaway. You’ll be able to win an amazing responsive WordPress theme of your choice by Angie Makes and a wonderful printable 2016 calendar to brighten up your desk. The combined price of which is $80. Isn’t that amazing? Here’s what you need to do…

The simplest guide to start a blog - Zakkiya Hamza | Inkstruck Studio

How to enter the giveaway!

Please follow the instructions given in the Rafllecopter widget shown below. The giveaway will end on 9:00 P.M. GMT on 1st March(Tuesday). The winner will be announced on Facebook, Instagram and the widget below on 2nd March(Wednesday). If you’re viewing this in your e-mail, you’ll probably not see the widget. Please hop over to the post in your browser to access the giveaway.The free entry is the only mandatory option. All other choices are optional and even if you don’t have any of the social media sites you can still enter.This means you don’t need to do every one of the choices listed below .Entering with all the choices will nonetheless improve the chances of winning.Giveaway is open worldwide and both the prizes are not physical products that will be mailed to you.

Good luck!

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