How To Start A Blog In 8 Easy Steps

How To Start A Blog In 8 Easy Steps

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Know What You Want To Write About

Updated 7/27/2017

Before you start a blog, you need to determine what you want to write about.  What are your interests?  What do you like to read? Pick a niche. When I first started blogging, I was going to blog strictly about sports, but as I began to think about it more, there is more of a niche for parenting bloggers. I do occasionally write about sports, but it’s not the main topic of my blog. Deciding what you want to write about is important because it’s more difficult as the months go by to change it up.  So make the right choice the first time and stick to it.

When you first start out blogging, the quality of your posts won’t be as high as they will be down the road.  I am one year into blogging and I almost laugh at my first attempts at blog posts. Better posts come from practice and following other experienced bloggers.  You will spend a lot of time trying different types of posts, but staying true to yourself is vital to being successful as a blogger.

Choose Your Blogging Platform

My blogging platform has always been WordPress.  For me, there really hasn’t been anything else as close as to all of the flexibility and plugins that WordPress offers.  You can start blogging on WordPress for free today at WordPress.  I do also see some bloggers give good remarks to Blogger, but since I have never used it, I really can’t speak to its performance or options.

I do recommend going ahead and buying a hosting account that offers WordPress hosting.  For the past year, I used BlueHost, but recently switched to eHostBlueHost was great.  The only reason I switched to eHost was because of the price to renew.  Both BlueHost and eHost offer similar features pertaining to WordPress.  I will say that migrating your WordPress database if you do choose to switch providers can be daunting.  I will be creating a separate blog post that describes all of the steps necessary to successfully migrate your site. Update: I no longer use eHost after major issues with my site. I am now hosting my site with SiteGround.

If you do choose to go with WordPress, you will have a slew of plugins and widgets at your fingertips. Here’s a list of plugins I recommend you download and install right away:

  • BackWPUp – one of several outstanding WordPress database backup plugins. You will want to download one right away and set up regular backups. I customized mine to do a daily backup to a folder on my server at 11:00 at night.  I get a report sent to my email every time it is completed. Not having a backup of your WordPress database is a mistake.  I nearly lost 300 posts when I migrated to eHost, but because I had a backup, I was able to recover EVERYTHING.
  • Google Adsense – when you decide to monetize your blog, the Google Adsense plugin is a must-have.  It takes away the pain of manually placing ads on your site.
  • Sucuri Security – One of the absolute best security plugins out there for WordPress. It is essential to have site protection 24/7, and Sucuri does just that. I had my site hacked early on and it was a PAIN to recover everything. Sucuri audits site activity, monitors for malware, provides an additional layer of security, and checks for file integrity.
  • Yoast SEO – This is the former WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. It’s the most popular plugin available to optimize your WordPress site for SEO.

Create A Domain Name

Your domain name is your main marketing tool to get traffic to your site.  Use this opportunity to create a perfect name that fits your site. Many web hosting providers also offer domain names as a part of a hosting package.  I currently use BlueHost as my domain name host.  Sites like Namecheap.com also offer really cheap domain names.

Register your domain from $.88 at Namecheap.com

Make sure that the domain name that you pick is clear and easy to remember. Don’t choose one that will confuse your visitors.  Be creative! Make the name catchy and easy to type into a browser.

There are many different types of domains (.com, .net, .org, etc).  Go with a .com URL as 90% of the websites in the USA end in .com.

Free Whois with every domain

Design Your Blog’s Layout

The most important thing you can do to market yourself as a blogger is to spend a lot of time designing your blog’s layout.  Again, WordPress has a lot of very good free themes out there, and there are also premium themes available at relatively nominal fees.

  • Logo – Create a logo that represents your brand well.  I use Adobe Photoshop CC along with images from free sites such as Pixabay to create my logos. A logo goes so much further than plain text.
  • Menu – If you are going to have a menu as a part of your site, WordPress makes this option easy.  You can create your menu by using pages, categories, tags, etc.  Make sure that you have an effective “About Me” page that tells your visitors who you are, what you write about, and how they can contact you.  Later down the road, creating a media kit will take your blog promotion to the next level.
  • Sidebar – It’s easy to overload your sidebar with junk that you just don’t need. I limit my sidebar to my “About Me” blurb, a subscribe form, my social media contact information, my social media feeds, and the rest is left open for ad space.
  • Legal information – Always have copyright information in an easy-to-read location on your blog.  If you plan on using affiliate links, the FTC requires you to disclose that on your site.  Although I have a Disclosure page within my blog menu, I also post affiliate link disclosures at the top of every blog post I write for affiliates.  This is VERY important.  If you do not disclose your relationship with affiliates, the FCC will shut your blog down.

Write Your First Post

Now that you have your blog set up, you can finally focus on why you are doing all of this! Sit down and write your first blog post.  You will be eager to get it live, but spend extra time proofreading, adding images, links, and other important information that your readers will find useful.  There are many different ways to structure a blog post.  I will share with you a common format that I use for my posts:

  • Creative and Catchy Title – one that encourages your visitors to read your post.
  • Image/Featured Image
  • Header 1
    • Body
  • Header 2
    • Body
  • Header 3
    • Body
  • Summary/Conclusion
  • Call to Action

In WordPress, I always choose 2-3 categories that best fit the topic and use about 5-6 tags. If you install the Yoast SEO plugin, you will have additional options at the bottom of your post. Yoast will ask for a keyword along with the option to include the snipit that appears in search engines.

Share Your Post On Social Media

Now that you’ve written a dynamite blog post (or at least I hope that it is!), it’s time to get the word out to your social media followers to check out your post.  It’s not enough just to publish and be done with it.  You can connect your blog to all of your social media accounts to maximize its exposure. One extra step I take is to publish every blog post to Pinterest. Pinterest is a fantastic avenue to increase and drive traffic to your site.  I also use Hootsuite to schedule (and reschedule) posts.  Share your blog post more than once, and don’t be afraid to respond to all comments.  Respond immediately and with sincerity.  By engaging with your followers, you will increase their loyalty (and you’ll network with fellow bloggers at the same time!).

How To Increase Page Views

Go above and beyond using social networking to promote your posts!  Be active!  Be responsive!  My goal is to respond to a minimum of 3 comments on other blogs per day.  Join blogging groups on Facebook – there are tons of them.  These blogging groups allow you to promote your social media and/or your blog posts.  They are fantastic for meeting and interacting with new bloggers.

Use Twitter to its full advantage.  Tweeting a post only once does nothing for promotion.  Retweet older posts, and be sure to retweet other bloggers as well. The purpose is not only to drive attention to your blog, but to make new connections and find new blogs.

Submit your blog posts to all of the major search engines to increase page views.  This is where configuring your SEO in Yoast is so important.  You want to put all the keywords in your site that you want visitors to use to find you.

Monetize Your Blog

When the time is right, and that may not be for months, years even, monetize your blog.  Google Adsense is a great place to start.  Actually, I recommend it be set up as soon as the blog goes live.  If you have a post that goes viral, you want to be able to reap the benefits from the ad views.  The key to generating money from Adsense is TRAFFIC and lots of it!

You can also choose to host ad space for a fee on your blog.  This is something I’m going to be doing soon for my sidebar.  I have a ton of space available.  Do your research and find out what other bloggers are charging for ad space and set your prices accordingly.  This is definitely information you want to put on your “About Me” page and/or your media kit!

There are many sites that pay bloggers to provide content.  I recommend doing a search for these on Google and find the ones that appeal to you the most. Some of these sites are very restrictive on which content they select, but it pays to get your name out there and attempt some sponsored posts for some extra income.

Another popular way to monetize your  blog is through affiliate marketing.  Signing up through sits such as Shareasale (read my review of Shareasale) will give you access to thousands of merchants from which to choose. Read my post, How to Use Affiliate Links on Your Blog to learn exactly how affiliate marketing works, and how you can make extra income with it.

Happy Blogging!

Blogging should be fun, but there is a lot of work involved in making it successful.  Planning ahead, staying organized, and doing things right the first time around will go a long way into bringing loyal readers back for more. If you have any questions, or would like more tips on how to build a blog, feel free to email me at jeremy@goaskyourdaddy.com.

Need blog post ideas?  How about 100 Free Blog Post Ideas?

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A Heart-to-Heart Conversation With My 8 Year-Old About Santa Claus

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My kids constantly surprise me with the things they say and do. Sometimes I just have to sit back and take it all in.  One of those types of conversations happened between me and my 8 year old daughter recently. I felt like I was being interrogated in a court room over the existence of Santa Claus.  See for yourself…

Daughter:  Dad, how does Santa Claus deliver all of those toys to every kid on Christmas?  He can’t be in all of those countries at once!

Me:  It’s Christmas magic.

Daughter:  No, magic isn’t real daddy. I’m starting to think that Santa Claus isnt’ real.

Me: Of course he’s real!  Haven’t you seen him at the mall talking to kids?

Daughter:  That’s not the real Santa Claus.  He’s just a regular man in a Santa costume.  Do you really think that he can fit down every chimney in the world?  Look how wiggly his belly is!

Me:  Santa has helpers that talk to the kids before Christmas to find out how many of each toy he needs to make.

Daughter:  Here’s what I think, daddy.  You and mommy are really Santa Claus. After we go to bed, you go to the store, buy all of the toys, put them together before we wake up, and pretend that Santa Claus delivered them

Me:  Uhhhh, that’s just crazy talk…..

 

Fall Fun at Caesar Creek!

This past weekend, we took a little drive to Xenia, OH to a wonderful place called Caesar Creek for some pumpkin painting for the kids (and wine for the adults!).  We didn’t stay too long as it was a little chilly, but the kids had a blast playing outside and decorating their pumpkins.  Here are a few pictures from our adventure!

 

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Despite the chilly weather, little man had a blast painting his pumpkin!
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My daughter and oldest son are so creative! Their pumpkins are now on display on our porch – perfect for Halloween!
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Don’t you just love the face my 6 year old created?
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My daughter stopped running around for a second for a quick pose.
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Little man sees wide open field to play in. Little man must explore!
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My 6 year old taking a quick break from playing pretend tackle football with his older brother.
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Wherever there is grass, the boys will surely roll around in it!
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I think he was hiding from his brother or sister here.
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My oldest showing off his Alabama colors!

Do Movies Have An Impact On Kids

Hey guys!!  Many, many thanks to George Schalter for contributing this guest post.  I hope you all enjoy it!

Two movies that our kids have really enjoyed in their young lives are the How To Train Your Dragon movies. Once they saw it, our older one had to read the Cressida Cowell books, while our younger one traced out pictures of dragons. Their favorite party was one where the cake was shaped like Toothless. They even persuaded their grandmother to play dragon games  with them. That was the clincher for us – kids are influenced by movies!

The Visual Medium’s Impact

In the UK, there is a ban on junk food ads during children’s TV programs (though they are exposed to these visually attractive and many times funny ads, during the hours they watch TV with their families). In this article one boy is quoted – he actually said he could ‘lick the screen’ after watching an ad for junk food!

The visual medium has an impact. It’s a well-researched fact that age-appropriate and well-designed visual content, can have a positive impact on kids over two. For younger children there is nothing better than actual play and real life, for good cognitive development. Even among older children, it’s always smart parenting to watch content together and talk about it, instead of just letting the kids watch what they want. Before selecting games, parents can Common Sense Media reviews to decide on appropriateness. Brains in children are young and plastic, leaving them open to influence. It would be sad day indeed when kids start believing that the world they see on a screen is the real world around, and totally miss out on the real world we live in.

The Importance of Depicting Strong Characters and Relationships

Movies and virtual games dominate the content devoured by children. The advertising for movies starts from before the movie is even released. When kids are bombarded from all around by a movie and its characters, it makes sense to say that kids are affected by these characters. Children’s behavior is deeply affected by the movies. If kids see a lot of violence towards women, kids, animals or any other character, there is a good chance of their extrapolating that real life would be similar, especially if they come from troubled backgrounds with nothing contradicting reel life. On the other hand if kids see strong female and male leads who are egalitarian and fair in their relationships with others, their belief systems will include the very same values.

3 Movies and their Impact

  1. Wall-E

This is a terrific movie which helps kids realize the amount of e-waste we generate. With devices proliferating, the problems of e-waste are taking on gargantuan proportions. Few adults and fewer kids realize the amount of e-waste we generate. Shot through the eyes of a cleaning robot, it shows how lonely loneliness can be and how thrilling love can be. It’s but natural to love the character of Wall-e and root for him as he chases his chance at happiness.

  1. Ratatouille

We all loved this movie. It’s a visual delight and throughout the movie we wanted the underdog hero to triumph. The odds weighed heavily against him, but his perseverance pays off in the end. The kids made themselves chef’s hats and we found them frequently in the kitchen stirring pots and offering help. This movie helps kids understand the phrase ‘chasing dreams’ despite difficulties.

  1. The Lion King

This is a classic thanks to some marvelous storytelling. Parts of it were a little scary for our younger one when he watched it for the first time, but our kids love this movie. In fact we have watched it more than once. It’s a great movie to help kids understand responsibility and to face up to fears.

Wrap Up

Yes, movies have an impact. Should we stop kids from watching movies? Not at all. Things we as parents must emphasize:

  1. Movies are not entirely real
  2. Movies are just another form of entertainment
  3. The same story can be told by different people in different ways emphasizing different aspects of the story. Talk about the characters and their viewpoints.
  4. Talk about cause and effect of actions observed in some movies.
  5. Talk about how things might be different in our world.

It always helps to read a fellow parent’s take on movies and how it has impacted their kids. It might help parents see beyond the entertainment element in the movies they watch.  We don’t go to parenting schools, so it’s always a help to read what a fellow parent has to say!

 Author Bio:

George Schalter loves being a dad. He and his wife share the joys and responsibilities of bringing up their two children. As believers of good all round education, they spend a lot of time playing with their children and spending time outdoors. As George is the writer in the family, he blogs at Educational Kids Games.

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Dawg Fans: Don't Give Up On Kirby Smart!

Dawg Fans: Don’t Give Up On Kirby Smart!

Hello loyal readers!  As you probably know, I bleed Georgia Bulldog red and black.  This has been a roller coaster start to the 2016 season.  A first-time head coach and a true freshman at the helms has made it a very interesting beginning to the season.  From getting absolutely pounded by Ole Miss, to losing the Tennessee game on a prayer (literally), to getting beat by measly Vanderbilt, this team just seems like it hasn’t found its identity.

I am getting very frustrated with recent chatter about how Georgia shouldn’t have jumped straight to Kirby Smart before considering other options.  Fans around the country are already saying Kirby should be fired.  I just can’t grasp how comments like these are already being made on a brand new head coach 7 games into his tenure. We gave Mark Richt 15 years before enough was enough.  Can we not at least give Kirby several years to build his team?  Most of the players aren’t even his recruits.

He’ll Get the Job Done!

I’m here to urge all UGA fans (and maybe convince myself) to not give up on Kirby Smart yet.  This guy will get the job done.  Nick Saban groomed him well and he is a UGA alumni and former player. It always takes time when a new coach takes the lead to get a winning team together. Nothing happens overnight – especially in college football. Kirby has proven through his years at Bama that he has the leadership skills needed to be a successful coach in the SEC.  He’s helped win some very big games for the Crimson Tide, and it’s only a matter of time before that experience rolls into Athens.

Jacob Eason Will Improve!

Jacob Eason has been performing exactly as I expected a true freshman quarterback to perform in his first 7 games. I see many things he’s doing wrong today that he will correct as he gains experience.  He’s done a fairly decent job passing the ball, but accuracy is something he needs to work on.  That too will come with experience.

Nick Chubb is Still a Great RB!

We all know Nick Chubb worked his tail off following his gruesome injury in the Tennessee game last year, and he looks like he’s almost back to 100%.  There is something different about Chubb this year though.  He’s only had a few games where I have felt like the old Chubb was back.  Maybe it’s because defenses are stacking the box to reduce the chance of him breaking out into big dashes.

Luckily, we’ve had solid performances this year from Sony Michel and Isaiah McKenzie. These two guys are perfect supporting cast members for Chubb. I’m actually beginning to become convinced Michel is faster and more talented than Chubb is, and that’s saying a lot. These guys aren’t turning the ball over much, if at all.  Ball control is crucial to winning in the SEC.

Our Defense is Getting Better!

Defensively, this team has done ok, minus a few games here and there.  I think we will see an improved defense towards the latter half of this season and an even more improved defense going into next season.  There have been plays where I think Kirby was outcoached, and then plays where it looked like it couldn’t have been drawn up any better.

Hunker Down, Dawg Fans!

So Dawg fans, although this has been a disappointing season, let’s not forget that we wanted the change, and we got it.  Mark Richt did a lot for UGA, and in some ways is still doing a lot for the school. Most of the players on the current team are HIS recruits – not Kirby’s. I think the change in coaching was needed, but it’s going to take more time to get this team up and running smoothly.  I, for one, will not be calling for his head this year.  To me, this season is all about finding out what we have and how to make it work.  There is no question we have a ton of talent just waiting to win us a national championship.  So let’s be patient and give Kirby an opportunity to build a winning team.

I’m headed down to Lexington on November 5th to watch my Dawgs take on Kentucky.  We stomped them last year, so I am hoping for the same result this year.  I’m a little nervous about it this year because we should have stomped Vandy, but came up short.  Will we come up short again?  I hope not!

Go Dawgs!

Dear Kids

Dear Kids, Volume 20

Dear Kids,

We had a super cool weekend!  I had been away for work from Tuesday through Thursday. Being away from you guys for that long is so hard!  I always look forward to play time after I get off of work, and when I can’t do that, I get depressed!  Here are some pictures of our fun weekend playing outside.  I love you all!

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