The First Year of Blogging – What You Need To Know

The First Year Of Blogging: What You Need To Know

Here is a real view of what life is like for a blogger starting out.

To be a successful blogger, you need to have a long term view. This is because there are a lot of things that go into creating a blog that you need to learn (from writing posts and photography, to mastering social media).  But you will begin to master these skills the more you do it. And you will get to see your hard work pay off only after a year or so of blogging.

It is easy to start a blog, the hard part is building it month after month.

I see so many people give up after their first month. These people make the same 2 mistakes.

The 2 Common Mistakes New Bloggers Make

The 2 Common Mistakes New Bloggers Make

1. Too Many Topics

Beginner bloggers start a blog with WAY to many topics. They want their blog to be about “fashion, travel, food, and fitness”. They call it a lifestyle blog. There are uber successful lifestyle bloggers out there, but they usually started their blog with one topic.

The problem with blogging about too many topics in the beginning, is that it is hard to build momentum. By the end of the first month what will you have? Maybe one post on fashion, one recipe post, and one post about your fitness day. That is not a solid blog.

Instead, say you really wanted start a food blog – then you should focus on that. And by the end of the first month you should have 6-10 recipes posted. By the end of the month you will know which sites to submit your recipes to so that you get traffic. You will also have started learning the best ways to take photographs of your food.

That’s how you build momentum.

2. Not Enough Posts (Aim for 20)

The people I see starting blogs don’t create enough content to give themselves a chance of succeeding. After a month, they’ll have 3-4 posts.

It’s like building a bicycle. Too many people try to cycle off after they just get the wheels. You need the whole bike to be able to get anywhere.

Set yourself a goal of 20 posts. Or if the posts take a long time to create, like your own recipe posts, aim for 6-10 in one month. Push yourself hard to get a high number of posts onto your blog, in a short amount of time. You’ll feel a level of achievement – which will then spur you into month 2, month 3, and beyond. 

How I Started

I started Home Tree Atlas in February 2013. I launched the site with 20 posts about basement design ideas. That is something no new bloggers do. Launch with a lot of posts.

When I launched I was able to get 10-30 visitors a day straight away thanks to:

  1. the number of posts I had and
  2. thanks to Pinterest (I created a mood board for each of my posts)

10-30 visitors a day is not normal for beginner bloggers. Most newbies will get maybe 2-3 visitors a day after a few weeks. But I was able to do it because I launched with a lot of posts about the same topic, and heavily used Pinterest.

When starting my blog I wanted to focus on building it, which I knew at that time meant writing a lot of posts. So that’s what I did. I didn’t focus on money, traffic, or the design of the website. I focused on just writing posts and sharing them on Pinterest. I didn’t start adding adverts to my site until 8 months later. Even then I was only making around 20 cents to $1 a day.  It’s tough work in the beginning.

Hack the System – Tips on How to Start a Successful Blog Fast

Here are some blogging for beginners words to live by: “Do something, and share it”.

Create a recipe, then find the websites that shares recipes. Create a DIY project, and then share it on crafting websites. The more original things you can do, and create, the faster you’ll build your traffic.

If you can create something and share it, your blog will grow faster versus just writing about something.

How about doing a challenge or an experiment? A post about “How I Became a Vegetarian for a Month” is much better that “Tips for Becoming a Vegetarian”.

“Do something, and share it.”

You’ll also want to get as good as you can with a camera, as fast as possible. Photos help spread your posts – especially on Pinterest (the number one source of traffic to my site comes from Pinterest). It doesn’t take much to be good with a camera. It’s mostly about lighting. Check out my post on beginner photography for bloggers [coming soon].

Get Started – Build A Successful Blog

The 2 things to remember when starting your blog are 1) focus on one topic to blog about and 2) push yourself hard to produce a lot of content in the first month. This is important because if you can get that feeling of achievement after your first month, you’ll be spurred on to keep building your blog.

I have put together a simple guide on how you can set up your own blog in just about 4-5 minutes: How To Start a Blog – Your Step by Step Successful Launch Guide.


Behind The Scenes: How Much Do Bloggers Make ?

How Much Do Bloggers Make? A Look Behind The Scenes

How much do bloggers make? It depends really. Bloggers who are able to keep posting consistently, break through the 1 year mark, and keep going can make anywhere between $1000 a month to $30,000. I’ve even know a blogger who is earning up to $80,000 a month. Now this is a huge range of earnings, so what determines how much they are making?

Below I go over the 5 factors that determine how much bloggers make, and how they make money blogging from home. The most important factors are: how long they have been blogging for and where on the income stream ladder they are.

This is a real life look into what makes bloggers successful, and what it takes to start a successful blog.

If you want to set up a blog, you can follow along with my simple step by step guide here: How To Start a Blog – Your Step by Step Successful Launch Guide

Bloggers Making $5,000 – $30,000

Bloggers Making $5,000 to $30,000 a Month

Let’s take a quick look at some bloggers who are earning a lot with their blogs.

Pinch of Yum

How much they make: Between $20,000 – $30,000 a month

Blog topic: Food

How long they have been blogging for: 4.5 years

Sources of income:

  • Affiliate earnings
  • Speaking at events
  • Food photography book
  • Ads
  • Other products they have created

Just a Girl and Her Blog

How much they make: Between $6,000 – $13,000 a month

Blog topics: Craft projects, DIY, and home decor ideas

How long they have been blogging for: Just over 2 years

Sources of income:

  • Affiliate sales
  • Ebooks
  • Ads

Those are just 2 examples of high earners. There are also a lot of bloggers who are earning around $1,000 to $3,000 dollars. If you want to hear stories of bloggers making a living from their blogs, then sign up to the launch of my new book coming out soon:  My Blogging Life Inc [coming soon].

There are 5 factors that these bloggers have in common that make them successful, and determine how much they are making.

The 5 Factors That Make a Successful Blogger

The 5 Factors That Make A Successful Blog

1. The Blog Topic

Successful bloggers know how to make money from their blog topic

Some blog topics have better potential for higher earnings. Financial topics for example have high payouts for adverts that you can put on your blog, they also have high earnings for affiliate products too. But competition is fierce among financial blogs.

You can create a successful blog around any topic. Just a long as you can build a good sized audience who is interested in your subject. I knew a blogger who’s blog was about space news and had articles talking about each planet. He would always say that there are no adverts related to space. This meant that any ads he put on his blog would have really low earnings. But because he gets so much traffic, the small cents he make from the ad clicks adds up into the tens of thousands of dollars.

The more popular the topic (such as food), the more options you have when it comes to earning money. But there is more competition.

If you can build an audience, then you can build an income – no matter what topic. You just have to know your topic in and out, be unique, and figure out the best way to monetize your blog (this takes experience).

2. Number of Posts

Successful bloggers have produced a lot of content

The more posts you have, the more ways people have to find your blog online. Right now my home design blog Home Tree Atlas has 240 posts.

Most of your posts will just create a trickle of traffic. But there will be a few (say 1 in 50 or 1 in 100 posts) that will be your hit posts. These will drive up to 80% of the traffic to your site. It’s hard to tell what a hit post will be, that’s why you need to keep creating top notch content.

Your posts need to be evergreen – this means posts that are timeless. A post about “what I did today” is not evergreen or timeless, and doesn’t provide much value to readers. Whereas a blog post on “How to Turn a Basement into a Family Room” is a post that can keep driving traffic to your blog.

You don’t have to have a lot of posts. But it is a good mindset to have. That you have to keep going, keep creating content to make money and to build a successful blog.

To get away from creating lots of posts to boost your income, you need to start jumping up the income stream ladder – seen in the 5th factor below.

3. Blogging Experience

Successful bloggers have been blogging for a number of years

Bloggers will always say that it took them a long time to create a successful blog. It takes close to over a year to really see your hard work payoff. This is because the longer you have been blogging for:

  • the more posts you have (the benefits of this I mentioned earlier)
  • the more spread out your posts will be on social media platforms
  • the more people have found you and are following you
  • the more other blogs and sites have linked to your site
  • the more trust you get from search engines
  • the better the understanding you have of your audience – what type of posts they like, what problems they have, etc.
  • the better your blog becomes – you’ll learn how to write better posts, take better photographs, and learn the best ways to run your blog. These are skills that you get better at the more you do them

4. High Up on the Search Rankings

Successful bloggers are high up in the search results

You can easily find out what people are searching for on Google, and how many people are searching for it every month.

Say you are starting an online food blog. You’ll be able to see that 14,800 people a month search for “turkey meatloaf recipe”. Now that would be a good post to write about, in terms of traffic numbers (but maybe you have no interest in turkey and meat loafs – keep looking for an idea that fits with you).

If you can get high up on Google’s search results for a post that a lot of people are searching for, then you’ll have a boat load of traffic coming into your site, which can be converted into income.

These are the 2 basic principles when it comes to ranking high in the search engines:

  1. You have been blogging for a while. The longer the better. I saw a bump in Google traffic after 12-13 months from starting my blog.
  2. The more people that link to your site, the more powerful your site is seen by Google. You want to be linked by well known sites. I’ve been featured on Huffington Post. I did nothing special. I just kept writing and trying to figure out what people wanted to read. And they found my site.

This is something to keep in mind when blogging: write posts that people are searching for and know that when people link to your website, the more powerful your blog becomes.

I only go to submission sites (CraftGawker, etc.) and use social media (Pinterest, Facebook, etc.) to promote my blog. I don’t go out trying to get links. There is too much bad stuff happening with people trying to take advantage of the system. Their blogs usually get punished by Google.

5. The Income Stream Ladder

Successful bloggers use their blogs to launch products

You need to know how to make money blogging on the different levels of the ladder. If you want to create a healthy living making money from a blog, then you need to move up the income stream ladder and start creating your own products.  Here are the different levels and ways how bloggers make money.

Blogging [Behind The Scenes]: The 3 Levels of Bloggers

Level 1: The Intern

Once you have a number of posts up, say around 20+, you can start adding ways to make money with your blog. The first 2 ways are the easiest, and most accessible for beginner bloggers:

Google Adsense: When you sign up for Adsense, Google will give you a piece of code that you simply copy and paste into your blog. Google is then able to read what is on your blog and then post relevant ads. Say your post is about lighting ideas for your home – then Google will put up ads about lighting companies, home renovators, etc.

You need a lot of traffic and blog posts to earn a lot from Google Adsense. A general rule of thumb would be that for every evergreen post (posts people are always searching for) you create earns about $1 per month.

It is possible to earn a lot of money through Adsense, but it is best to focus on moving up the income stream ladder rather than just producing lots of content.

Amazon Associates: Say you’ve written a blog post about your new camera that you will be taking with you when you travel to NYC. You talked about how great it is, the features it has, and what you’ll been taking photos of. You then link to the same camera on Amazon.

If someone reads your post, clicks on the link to Amazon and then buys the camera, you get a commission from that sale. This is called affiliate sales. Anything on Amazon can be linked to, from kitchen items and electronics, to home decor pieces – and you earn a commission.

The commission from Amazon Associates is quite low – around 4-6%. But once you’ve got some experience here, you can start looking for products that have commissions going up to 40% and above.

Level 2: The 9-5

Bloggers who get to this stage understand what it takes to build a blog. They have a steady stream of traffic, and they have a routine that publishes posts consistently.

Bloggers at this level understand their blog’s audience well. They know what blog posts and topics are popular with them.

Ad Networks: When you have built a solid blog, with good traffic, you can start applying to other advertising networks. You can start experimenting with different advertising networks to see which works best, and earns the most with the traffic you have.

Higher Level Affiliate Sales: With a good understanding of your audience, and having traffic in the thousands, you can go out and look for products that would be a good fit with your audience. These are products that other people/other bloggers have created that give you a commission every time someone from your blog buys one.

Say you have a food blog. You can promote other bloggers’ cook books that have affiliate programs. Pinch of Yum has a Creamy Cauliflower Sauce Cookbook that costs $9. But if you link to it from your food blog and someone buys it, you get 50% of the sales.

Now that you have looked at what other people are selling online, you can start to think about creating your own products.

Level 3: The Startup Founder

Once you have tens of thousands of visitors a day, you have a one powerful blog.

This is when things get really exciting. At this level people start their own studio of sorts: where they create products, which become businesses. This takes their earnings to a whole new level. The products that can be created include:

  • ebooks
  • courses
  • apps
  • software
  • membership programs
  • physical products
  • events

This is why people say a blog is not a good business, but is a great way to launch businesses. You have the audience in your hand, an audience that you know so well and have built yourself. You don’t need to go out looking for them, and spend money advertising to them.

With a new product you can create an overnight success. Since you have the traffic, and you already know what people like. You can even test out your new ideas on your audience before launching anything.

Moving up the Ladder

The first stages of starting a successful blog are gruelling. This is the time when you need to be busting away to build your blog, only to see a trickle of traffic and earnings. But once you start building an audience, start building momentum, you can start moving up the ladder. This is when your hard work in the early days really pays off.

What Makes A Successful Blogger? A Behind the Scenes Look

Getting Started – Create a Successful Blog

Building a blog is a fun journey. One that can pay off in big ways if you can stick it out, and work hard.

Follow my simple set up guide here to get started building your successful blog.

Or you can check out my blog post on what to expect in the first year of blogging, and what are the 2 things you need to do to launch a successful blog quickly: The First Year of Blogging – What You Need To Know.


6 Super Easy Ways to Create Handmade DIY Business Cards

Handmade DIY Business Cards

Every design element that you add to your business card will increase the cost of it getting made.

Say you wanted double sided printing, embossing, foil printing, multiple color printing or a shaped card – it starts getting expensive.

So why not save and create your own DIY business cards. Even if you aren’t looking for an inexpensive option, creating your own handmade business cards lets you be creative, show off your style, is personal, and fun.

Going Beyond Business Cards

If you get a stamp or hand embosser made, these can be used on your business cards and also for packaging, seals, or to customize stationary. It’s a great way of getting high quality printed designs for low costs – ideal if you are just starting a business or a blog.

Different Levels of DIY

In the collection of homemade business cards below, you’ll see different levels of DIY techniques being used.

Level 1 – All Homemade: Writer Darryl Wee created business cards that were made completely from scratch. His past published articles were recycled to create handmade paper – then a blender pen was used to print his contact details.

There are many different ways to create your own DIY business card. In this post you’ll see 6 creative techniques:

  1. Using stamps
  2. Using a blender pen
  3. Using stickers
  4. Embossing with a custom hand embosser
  5. Cutting shaped cards
  6. Painting the edges of the business cards for a premium look

Level 2 – Fifty/Fifty: Another way of creating your own handmade cards is to go to the printers and get some basic business cards made (say with just your contact details). Then when you get home you can start adding some high end touches, like using a hand embosser, watercolors, or paint the edges of the card.

The 6 Creative Techniques

1. Get Creative with Stamps

A stamp of your logo or contact details can also be used for any packaging materials you need, seals, or business stationary.

Some quick ideas on using stamps to create your own business card include:

  • Use more than one stamp (for your logo, contact details, and or a graphic)
  • Use stamps with different ink colors
  • Layer stamps on top of each other. Create a base layer with one color, then stamp over it with another color. For example create a black rectangle on white card, then use red ink to stamp your contact details onto the black rectangle

Double sided stamped DIY business cards by The Awesome Project

Double sided stamped business cards by The Awesome Project

Streethearts Half Printed Half Stamped Business Cards

The logo for this business card was UV printed at a printers, the back side was then created using a stamp – an example of a fifty/fifty DIY business card – designed by Heydays

Add some watercoloring to a stamped business card for pops of color - by Likadi

Add some watercoloring to a stamped business card for pops of color – by Likadi

A custom key ring stamp let's Mikey Burton create a business card out of anything nearby

A custom key ring stamp let’s Mikey Burton create a business card out of anything nearby

Custom round DIY business cards by Artbar

Custom round handmade business cards by Artbar

2. Transferring Ink onto Card

Another way of adding text and graphics to card is to use a blender pen/marker or transfer pen. For a good blender marker, try the Prismacolor Colorless Blender Marker.

All you need to do is simply print what you want transferred using a laser jet printer, or a photocopy machine (the big ones). You then place the paper face down onto the card, and go over it with the blender marker. Since it will be in reversed, you’ll need to print in reverse to get it showing the right way.

Darryl Wee's recycled paper and blender pen DIY business cards

Published stories by Darryl Wee were recycled to create the card for his new business cards. A blender pen was used to transfer the contact details. 

Blender pen DIY business cards, with added edge painting - by Alexandra Whitter

Another blender pen DIY, this time with added edge painting – by Alexandra Whitter

3. Playing with Stickers

There is a lot you can do with stickers. You could have your own stickers printed for you. Or you could buy blank stickers and use a stamp on them.

Play around with different sticker shapes and color combinations.

Martyna Wędzicka handmade business cards made using stickers, plastic acrylic sheets, and a Sharpie

Martyna Wędzicka business cards made using stickers, plastic acrylic sheets, and a Sharpie

DIY business cards created with printed stickers - with the added bonus of a stamped message or animal paperclip

After using card and printed stickers, there is still space for Oh Hello Friend to add a stamped message or animal shaped paperclip to her business cards

4. Branding with a Hand Embosser

A hand embosser is a great design tool to have. Just like a stamp, these can be used on business cards, packaging, stationary, labels, and seals.

Sommelier's DIY business cards made using 2 stamps and a hand embosser

Putting it all together – Sommelier’s DIY business cards made using 2 stamps and a hand embosser

DIY business cards made using 3 stamps (2 ink colors) and a hand embosser

Another business card made using a hand embosser, and 3 stamps (2 ink colors) – by Durham Brand & Co.

5. At Home Die Cutting

Amazon has a ton of different cheap paper punches that create different shapes. If you take a look here, you can see punches that create circles and floral shapes.

From there, you can then stamp your logo and contact details onto the cards – or use any of the other design techniques mentioned in this post.

Using an oval crafting punch, Wordcake was able to create handmade custom shaped business cards

Using an oval crafting punch, Wordcake was able to create handmade custom shaped business cards

Caroline Armelle used kraft paper, a doily nesting die cut, and a stamp to create her unique business cards

Caroline Armelle used kraft paper, a doily nesting die cut, and a stamp to create her unique business cards

6. Edge Painted Business Cards

Paint the edges of your business cards to add a special design touch.

DIY gold edge painted business cards by Camille Styles

Gold edge painted business cards by Camille Styles

Multi-color spray painted business cards by IS Creative Studio

Multi-color spray painted business cards by IS Creative Studio


How To Start a Blog – Your Step by Step Successful Launch Guide

How To Start a Blog - Your Step by Step Successful Launch Guide

I had no idea how to start a blog. “What’s the difference between a domain name and blog hosting? Where do I get hosting? And what is HTML?” When I started my home design blog Home Tree Atlas I was pretty clueless about all of this.

The thing is, it is a lot easier than most people think. Nope, you don’t need to be an IT wizard or have any special skills. It’s as easy as creating a Facebook or Pinterest account. I’ve learned a lot since starting Home Tree Atlas, which now has been featured on Huffington Post and Apartment Therapy. Here I’ll show you, step by step, everything that you need to know to set up a blog.

I would like to send out many MANY thanks to Jacob. If you are thinking about setting a blog up and have no idea where to start–go to him! He is so incredibly helpful. Thank you, thank you Jacob you are such a dear – Joelle

4 minutes, that’s all it takes to get your blog up and running. I’ll also give you tips on how to make your blog look good, and how to create your first custom pages.

First I’ll give you a quick walk through of all the things you need to do to create a successful blog, then I’ll go through in detail the steps for setting up your blog.

The 2 Things You Need To Know Before Starting Your Blog

The 2 Things You Need To Know Before Starting Your Blog

1. The Tools You’ll Need – What is A Domain and Hosting? A domain name is your address on the web i.e.

A hosting account is a place where you store all of your blog’s files (photos, text, the theme). Every time someone visits your site, your host sends the files to their computer. All you need to do is sign up with a hosting account (I use Bluehost) – then you can just log into your blog and write posts, while your host does everything for you.

2. A Free vs Paid Blog: A lot of people wonder if they should just use a free blog. It all really depends on what you want to use your blog for. If you just want a travel blog to keep friends and family updated back home for a few months, then I say keep it simple and use a free blog.

But, if you have high ambitions for your new blog, whether that be anything from a fashion blog, travel blog, advice blog, to a food blog, photography blog, a video blog, a family blog, a running blog, or a personal blog, then you’ll want to avoid starting a free blog. If you want your blog to become something bigger – like it having a shop, having a large number of visitors, wanting to learn how to make money blogging (from ads, affiliate sales, and your own products), having your own domain name, and be in complete control of your site (which you won’t be with a free blog) – then you’ll need to go with a paid blog. This means signing up with a top blog hosting service – like the one I use. This will cost between $3-5 a month. I’ll show you how to start a blog website on a hosting account in the steps below.

Note: Home Tree Atlas and Ministry of Canvas are both hosted with Bluehost. For only $3.49 a month, Bluehost will host your blog, give you a free domain, and install WordPress for you – Ministry of Canvas is an affiliate partner with Bluehost.

A Quick Beginners Walk Through – How To Make a Blog in 4 Steps

How To Make a Blog in 4 Steps

Step 1. Setting Up Your Blog in 4 Minutes – Domain Name and Hosting: I’ll walk you through how to get a .com website. The first thing we need to do is set up a hosting account on Bluehost. Here you’ll get a free domain included with your account and Bluehost will install WordPress for you.

The cost of your account will vary from $3-5 per month depending on the length of your plan (12-36 months). You’ll be paying this upfront to save you money. But if you decided later on that you want out, Bluehost will give back your money for the months you haven’t used.

If you don’t have a name for your blog yet, check out my post here for creative ways of brainstorming one

Step 2. How to Install WordPress on Your Domain: Once you have your hosting account, you can then get Bluehost to install WordPress on your new domain. You can find the steps of how to do this below.

Step 3. How to Design a Blog with WordPress Themes: WordPress themes let you easily change the look of your blog. Installing a theme is one of the first things I did when I started my home design blog, and I’ll show how to do it and where to find good looking themes.

Step 4. I’ll go over the first 5 things you need to do when you’ve set up your blog:

  1. Permalinks: Changing your posts URLs (uber important!)
  2. General Settings
  3. Tidying Up Your Blog
  4. Set up New Pages (About, Contact, etc.)
  5. 2 Plugins I Always Install Straight Away

I’ve recorded a video that show you the steps for starting your blog and getting set up with WordPress. Or if you would rather read through the tutorial, the step by step guide is written out below.


The Full Guide for Starting a Blog

Step 1. Setting Up Your Blog in 4 Minutes – Domain Name and Hosting

So once you have your blog name, you’ll want to go here to the Bluehost sign up page. Go with the “Starter” plan:

How To Start A Blog - Hosting Plan

Then type in your blog’s name into the “I Need a Domain Name” box:

Blog Set Up

The next page is where you’ll enter your account details.

In the “Package Information” section you’ll get to choose the account plan. The longer the plan, the cheaper it is month to month. For example the 24 month plan is $3.49 a month vs. $4.49 for the 12 month plan.

This is all paid upfront to save you money. You are not locked in though. If you want to cancel after 5 months, Bluehost will refund the months you haven’t used.

The only add on you’ll need is the “Domain Privacy Protection”. This is so your address and contact details are not made public.

Wordpress Blog Set Up

You’re are now done creating your blog’s hosting account, with a free domain. Now we need to get WordPress onto your new blogging website.

Step 2. How to Install WordPress on Your Domain

This next step is easy since Bluehost will do it for you.

You need to login to your Bluehost account and click on the “Install WordPress” button:

Installing WordPress On A Domain Name

On the next page click on the “Install” button:

Wordpress Blog Set Up

Then click on the “Check Domain” button:

If a warning comes up saying “installation directory is not empty” check the box for “OOPS! Looks like something already exists there!”

Wordpress Blog Set Up

On the next page go ahead and click on the box that says “Show Advanced Options”. Enter in your blog’s details. Then check the “I have read the terms and conditions” button, and then click the “Install Now” Button.

Bluehost in now installing WordPress’s blogging software onto your domain. In a few minutes you can visit your domain and you’ll see your new blog.

Step 3. How to Design a Blog with WordPress Themes

Now that I’ve shown you how to start your own blog, let’s start building your new website so it’s looking good. If you want to change the look and feel of your blog, you’ll want to find a theme that you like. To do this, log into your online blog by typing /wp-admin after your blog’s url – so

On the left side you’ll see a tab that says Appearance – hover over it and then click on “Themes”. Here you’ll find a collection of free blog templates. If you click the “Add New” button you’ll see a lot more themes. You can use any of these themes by hovering over the one you want and clicking on the Activate/Install button.

If you want a premium theme that comes with added features and better designs, I would recommend searching through the themes over at ThemeForest. Check out their best seller, The X theme.

If you buy a theme, you’ll be given a zip file to download. Once you have the file downloaded, go back to the theme section on your blog. Click the “Add New” button at the top, then the “Upload Theme” button to upload the zip file. You’ll then need to activate it.

Warning: Beware of free themes from unknown websites. There are a lot of free themes out there that will have code that will give someone access to your blog website so they can make changes.

Step 4. The First 5 Things You Need To Do When You’ve Set Up Your Blog

The First 5 Things You Need To Do When You've Set Up Your Blog

  1. Permalinks: Changing your posts URLs (uber important!)
  2. General Settings
  3. Tidying Up Your Blog
  4. Set up New Pages (About, Contact, etc.)
  5. 2 Plugins I Always Install Straight Away

1. Permalinks: The number one thing you need to do as soon as you have your blog set up is change the permalinks. This is the URL WordPress creates every time you write a post. The default setting is a number. So if you were to write a cooking blog post on mac and cheese, the url would be which isn’t good, especially when it comes to getting visitors from search engines. We need to change this so that your url will be something like

To change it, log into your blog ( and go to the “Settings” tab on the left side. Then click on “Permalinks”.  Here you’ll want to click on the “Custom Structure” circle and paste this into the box: /%post_id%/%postname%/

Wordpress Permalinks

2. General Settings: Head on over to the “Settings” tab on the left side of your blog’s dashboard. Then click on the “General” tab. Here you’ll want to enter the “Site Title”, “Tag Line”, and “Email Address”.

Next click on the “Discussion” tab (we’re still under the “Settings” tab). And under the section “Before a comment appears” check the “Comment must be manually approved”. This helps stops comments from spammers show up on your website.

3. Tidying Up: When you first create your blog website, WordPress includes a few example posts, pages, and widgets. I get rid of these so that I have a fresh, clean blog to work with. Click on the “Posts” tab. If you hover over the post’s title you can click on “Trash”. Do the same over on “Pages”.

On your online blog you have a sidebar full of irrelevant items. To get rid of these items, hover over the “Appearance” tab when you are logged into your account and click on “Widgets”. To get rid of a widget, you simply drag it from the right side to the left side. I get rid of everything except the “Search” widget.

On the left side under “Available Widgets” you’ll see one named “Text”. Drag this across to the right side. Now you can write a little bit about what your blog is about and title the widget “About”. This will help visitors to your blog instantly know what your blog is about.

4. How to Set Up Your Own Pages in WordPress: Say you want to create an “About” page, or “Contact” page – to do this go to the “Pages” section and click on “Add New”.

In the Title section write “About”, then in the big box write a little something about yourself and your new blog site.

Now you need to add this page to your blog’s menu bar. To do this head on over to the “Appearance” tab and click on “Menus”. You are going to need to create a new menu. Once you have done that, just select the pages you want (i.e About) then click on the “Add to Menu” button. Now you’ve added your About page to your blog’s menu.

5. The Power of Plugins: Plugins let you add powerful features to your blogs. There are plugins that let you install a music player onto your blog, a photo slider, or help you create an online shop. The two plugins that I installed first let me create a WordPress contact page, and stopped spammers from messaging me and commenting on my posts.

Head on over to the “Plugin” tab on go to “Add New”.

How to Create a Contact Page: In the plugin search bar type in “Contact Form 7”. Now go ahead and click on the “Install Now” button for the Contact Form 7 plugin. Next you’ll have to click on “Activate” to use the plugin.

Once it is activate, head back to your “Plugins” section and you’ll see that “Contact Form 7” is installed on your blog. Click on “Settings” under Contact Form 7. Then click on “Add New”. You can play around with the settings if you want (remember to include your email address so the messages are sent to you), but when you are done, click on the “Save button”.

At the top it will say “Copy this code and paste it into your post, page or text widget content.”. Copy that code, and then go and create a new page titled “Contact”. Paste in the code into the page to create your contact page. To add this page to your blog’s menu bar, you’ll need to go to “Appearances” –> “Menus” and add the page to the menu.

Blocking Comment Spammers: You will get a lot of spam comments. The plugin Askimet will block these comments. If you go to your “Plugin” section you should see that Askimet is already installed. You do need to activate it, and get a special key from the Askimet website. It is simple to do. You just need to create a account, which is free. They will give you a key code which you copy into the “Settings” under Askimet on your “Plugin” page.

Moving Forward

If you’ve reached this stage, you’ve got yourself one powerful blog set up. Now all it needs is your voice and your posts.

Where to go from here? Now that you know how to start a blog, and have yours set up, let’s keep the momentum going. Here are some of my other posts that will help you launch and build a memorable and successful blog:

  • Where to Get A Blog Logo/Header Made [Coming Soon]
  • Your First Month of Blogging Checklist [Coming Soon]
  • Take a step back and read this one: Before Starting a Blog – Read This [Coming Soon]

Get Creative: Brainstorming Blog Name Ideas in 7 Steps

Getting Creative: The 7 Steps for Memorable Blog Name Ideas

I know how hard it is to come up with blog name ideas. When you are getting started, coming up with a blog name is the hardest step. Setting it up as a .com, getting WordPress – all of that is easy.

You’ve got to get a bit creative, to create a memorable blog name and one that you love. The good news is that there are steps you can take to be a creative generator who will come up with a unique blog name. There are 7 steps that I will take you through on how to name your blog.

I would like to send out many MANY thanks to Jacob. If you are thinking about setting a blog up and have no idea where to start–go to him! He really pushed me to dig deep. He not only helped me develop my blog name but how to set the entire blog up too. He is so incredibly helpful. Thank you, thank you Jacob you are such a dear – Joelle

Step 1. Write a Paragraph Defining Your New Blog

Step 2: Creative Exercises to Build a List of Words and Phrases – Finding Inspiration

Step 3: Brainstorming Blog Name Ideas

Step 4: The Best Blog Names Checklist – The 4 Signs You Have a Good Blog Name

Step 5: How to Check if Your Blog Name is Available as a .com

Step 6: What to Do if Your Blog Name is Not Available as a .com

Step 7: Registering your Free Blog Name Domain

**I recommend not checking right away if your new blog name ideas are available as a .com. This will hurt your brainstorming flow. If you keep working through the exercises, you will see that you can create much stronger and memorable name ideas.**

At the end of the post I’ll show you how to check if your name is available as a .com and what makes good blog names.

Step 1. Write a Paragraph Defining Your New Blog

Whatever blog you want to start, whether it is a photography blog, a beauty blog, a music blog, a business, crafts or Christian blog – the first step to brainstorming a blog name is to write out a paragraph that really defines what you want your blog to be about.

Get as specific as possible.

Keep asking yourself who, what, where, when, why, how questions:

  • Who? Who do I want to write for, who do I want coming to my blog?
  • What? What will I be writing about, what will I be doing/creating?
  • Where? Is my blog going to be about a special place (a State, the outdoors, in the kitchen)
  • Why? Why am I starting a blog, why do I care about the topics I’ll be blogging about?
  • How? How will I be blogging – through photographs, videos, tutorials

If you want to start a food blog, what kind do you want to start? Will it be about: food for kids, about Japanese food, simple recipes, BBQ cooking, creativity in the kitchen, eating with friends, vegetarian food.

If it is a food blog for vegetarians, what kind of vegetarians? People living in the city, people with kids, runners, yoga enthusiasts…

Also ask yourself, what is the reason for wanting to start a blog. Is it to help others (if so, what do you want to help them with specifically), or showcase what you do. Here are some examples:

“I want to start a makeup and fashion blog because… I love experimenting with edgy styles. I look overseas for inspiration, from India to Japan. I want to show off my crazy style and show people where are the best places to shop.”

I want to start a fitness blog because… I use to be unhealthy. I want to help other people become healthy by simple living – simple workout routines, simple eating discipline.”

“I want to start a lifestyle blog because… everyday I go out and try something new. I want a blog that helps me to stay creative – by writing about my creative projects and lifestyle. I will be posting about photography, fashion, and recipes.”

“I want to start a travel blog because… I want to let my friends and family back in Ohio know what I’m doing on the other side of the world. I’m going to be adventure backpacking across Southeast Asia, and I’ll be rock climbing, and road tripping places I know people back home have never seen.”

“I want to start a food blog because… I miss home. I’ve been living in North Carolina for 3 years now. My blog is going to be where I get to post the recipes I have brought over from India – my home. It is through cooking and being in the kitchen where I feel like I am back in India. I get to play with spices. I also love going to the market and photographing people buying their exotic ingredients – there is so much flavour and life there. I might even try making some fusion recipes.”

You don’t have to have everything figured out straight away. Things can change as you go a long, my blog has as it’s grown. But you do need to have a solid theme to start your blog from.

Developing Your Blog’s Theme

You want to create a strong theme for your blog. A) Because it will really help you come up with a good blog name and B) your blog will be more memorable to your visitors.

Food is not a theme. Vegetarian cooking is getting better. Vegetarian cooking for runners is a memorable blog theme.

Traveling is a weak blog theme. Backpack travelling is getting better. An Adventure backpack travelling blog (that posts about rock climbing, caving, road tripping) is a strong theme.

Family is to general. A Country Family Living blog where you talk about sustainable living – now there is a strong theme.

A lot of people think if they come up with a specific theme, like Vegetarian Cooking for Runners, that they will be limited in what they can write about. This isn’t true. Yes a lot of your posts should be around the main topic, but you can branch out. In a way, you are creating a lifestyle blog. A blog on Vegetarian Cooking for Runners can branch out sometimes:

  • Why not write a post on the best running trails around your city
  • Do a bit of nature photography
  • Talk about food markets around town
  • The best vegetarian restaurants while you were visiting Greece
  • Going away on a Yoga retreat

These are posts that a lot of runners and vegetarians will be interested in reading.

Say you started an Adventure Backpack Traveling blog, you could include posts on:

  • Food while on the road
  • Life back home
  • Photograhy

Yes you can write about other things. But try and tie it in some way to your main theme. This way your blog will be really memorable for readers, and they’ll be coming back every time you post.

Step 2: Creative Exercises to Build a List of Words and Phrases – Finding Inspiration

Now we are going to start building a list of phrases and words that we can use later to brainstorm blog name ideas.

We have already written out the definition paragraph from step 1. From the definition paragraph we should be able to see some general word ideas/phrases/themes.

I want to start a food blog because… I miss home. I’ve been living in North Carolina for 3 years now. My blog is going to be where I get to post the recipes I have brought over from India – my home. It is through cooking and being in the kitchen where I feel like I am back in India. I get to play with spices.  I might even try making some fusion recipes. I also love going to the market and photographing people buying their exotic ingredients – there is so much flavour and life there.

From the paragraph of someone wanting to start a food blog, we can see some interesting words and themes (which I have italicised):

  • North Carolina
  • From India
  • Home
  • Playing with spices
  • The market
  • Exotic ingredients
  • Fusion

Now let’s do some creative exercises to add to our word and phrase list.

Creative Exercises

The goal here is to build up the longest list you can of words and phrases.

Divide your list of words and phrases into 2. On the right side you have the words that related to the general topic of your blog (food – spoons, spices, napkins, menu, etc). On the left side is the list of words that relate to your specific blog (India – naan, henna, sari). Later on we will mix and match the two sides to create ideas.

And keep in mind what i said at the beginning of the post, don’t check if a name idea is taken as a .com. Keep going, and you’ll find a lot of ideas.

Creative Exercise #1: The Power of The Thesaurus

The thesaurus is my number one tool when I am brainstorming name ideas. I use this one.

If you want to start a food blog, then begin by entering food related words into the thesaurus to build your word/phrase list:

food: feed, meal, cuisine, cookery, menu, table, daily bread

cook: culinarian, heat, simmer, sizzle

market: barter, bazaar, fashion

home: family, native, local, casa, habitat, country, hometown, homeland, land, neighbourhood, hills, roof

(You can take the words you find and put them back into the thesaurus to see what you get)

land: shore, soil, grounds, district

spice: aroma, color, savor

exotic: colorful, mysterious, remote

Right now we are starting to get a strong list of words that we can use later to brainstorm good creative blog names. We’ll be coming back to the thesaurus as we go through the other creative exercises.

Creative Exercise #2: Finding Inspiration on Pinterest

Let’s go and find some inspiration. I’ll be using Pinterest. We are going to search for some of our words, and see what pictures pop up. From looking at these pictures, I’ll be able to come up with more words and phrases that I can add to my list:

India: Festival of Colors, elephants, temples, flower markets, riverbeds, henna tattoos, Palace, shepherd, yoga, sari, street cart, fabrics, kashmir, teal door, sunset

(You can get specific) Indian restaurant: mosaic, lanterns, pillows, banana leaf (I’m liking this), Naan, curry, textiles

kitchen: spice rack, fridge, copper pans, pantry, cooker, blender, chopping board, kitchen plants, cook books

market: floating market, meat market, stalls, fruits, crates, umbrella stands, baskets, scales, chills

Take some time searching for different words. In my case I would keep going with food related words, North Carolina, spices, and words from the thesaurus list we created above. Who knows what pictures and ideas will pop up.

You can also take the words from this Pinterest list, and enter them into the thesaurus for more ideas.

Creative Exercise #3: Ask Yourself Some Questions

Keep brainstorming ideas by asking yourself all sorts of questions.

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • How?

What’s in a kitchen? Forks, spoons, knives, plates, dinner table, families, cooker, flames, aromas, a window.

What ingredients do I alway use?

Who else makes things other than a cook/chef: Tailor, craftsman, baker, designer, blacksmith, potter

Where are some other places where things are made: Workshop, studio, garage, library

What are some Indian words and phrases related to food? What is the Hindi word for chef or kitchen?

What do I enjoy most about cooking?

Who am I writing for?

Why is India so important to me?

How is Indian food/Naan/ect. made? What tools are used?

Keep asking questions, and you’ll keep getting word ideas.

Don’t forget you can take the words you come up with in this exercise and enter them into the thesaurus or Pinterest for more ideas.

Moving Onto The Next Step

By now you should have a long list of words and phrases that can be soon used to come up with name ideas. If you don’t then you’ll need to go back to the “defining your blog” stage (step 1), and really write out specific things that you want your blog to be about.

Step 3: Brainstorming Blog Name Ideas

Brainstorming Blog Name Ideas

Let’s get the list of words/phrases you’ve created. Here is mine all mixed up (yours should be divided into two – the general words, and the specific to your blog words:

North Carolina

From India

Back in India

Playing with Spices

The Market

Exotic Ingredients







Daily bread




















Teal door



Banana leaf




Now it’s time to start coming up with ideas.

Pick out words that are unique, memorable, and that puts a picture in your mind.

Mix and match words. For me I would be mixing kitchen/food words with Indian related words.

My favourite words from the list are banana leaf, sari, and shepherd – so I’ll be mixing words with these to create name ideas:

Banana Leaf Kitchen

Banana Leaf Diaries

Simmering Banana Leaf

The Colors of the Banana Leaf

Banana Leaf Feasts

Cooking in a Sari

Sari Sari Spice

The Shepherd’s Dinner

My Henna Table

The Khana Market (Khana means Food)

A Spoon of Spice

Those are just some quick combination of words and ideas from the list I created earlier. My favourite blog name idea is Banana Leaf Feasts.

Step 4: The Best Blog Names Checklist – The 4 Signs You Have a Good Blog Name

The Best Blog Names Checklist – The 4 Signs You Have a Good Blog Name

How to Pick a Blog Name – Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing your blog name:

  1. You want your blog name to be memorable and unique to who you are and what you are going to blog about.
  2. It should be a name that paints a picture in your mind (this is what makes a name memorable). So it should not be something generic like ‘Food and Me’ or “My Travel Diaries” but something like “Spices of my Life”, “The Yellow Kitchen Door”, “Backpack Chic”, “Wondering in Fields”.
  3. It should be a name that you love. Keep brainstorming until you’ve come up with one.
  4. You want to get your blog name as a .com

Step 5: How to Check if Your Blog Name is Available as a .com

To quickly check if your blog name is available as a .com, enter your name into the search here – this is where I go to check if a domain name is free. You want your blog name as a .com.

If your name is available, then great. We can move onto getting your blog name registered and set up. Follow my step by step instructions here: How To Start a Blog – Your Step by Step Successful Launch Guide.

If your name is not available, there are a few things you can do to work around this.

Step 6: What to Do if Your Blog Name is Not Available as a .com Domain Name

Available good blog names are hard to come by. If I have a name that is not available, what I like to do is take my favorite blog name idea and try to modify it until I find an available .com. I really liked the idea of having “Banana Leaf” in my blog name, so say my name idea was “Banana Leaf Feast”, then I would check if “Banana Leaf Chef”, “Banana Leaf Spices”, “Banana Leaf Dinner” or “Banana Leaf Eats” were available.

  1. So changing a word is one way to find an available .com
  2. Another way is to add a word onto your blog name idea
  3. The last option would be to check if your second favourite name is available, or try and brainstorm a new name

Step 7: Registering your Free Blog Name Domain

How To Register a Blog Name as a .Com

Once you have your .com blog name, the next step is going to be registering it. I’ve put together a step by step guide that shows you how to set up hosting for your blog (the guide also explains what hosting is) and get a free domain name: How To Start a Blog – Your Step by Step Successful Launch Guide.

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