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How To Start a Blog – The Ultimate Blogging Resource

By January 26, 2015Blogging, Business, Resources
Here is some amazing information on how to start a blog successfully! I have compiled everything I have learned over the past few years to one location to help you on your journey to blogging success!

So you are starting a blog? That’s AMAZING! Welcome to the club! You are making a wise decision to either make a lucrative side income or if you have the same desire as I do, to become a full time blogger. I am not there yet, but I am on my way and I am sharing important details about what I have learned over the past few years in hopes of helping you speed up your process.

This article contains affiliate links* because I am a blogger trying to make it in this big bad world. I hope this article will help you! Thanks for understanding. 

 

How to Start a Blog - Resource Guide to Launching a Succesful Blog So You Can Work From Home via www.artsandclassy.comI wish I had known more about the art of blogging when I first began my journey with Arts & Classy back in early 2012. If you want to hear my whole story, you can check out a recent interview with me over at Olyvia.co where I share stories about my career in the entertainment industry, run ins with celebrities, and my blogging tips and recommendations.

It is my mission to share all the details and pertinent information with you, so that you can launch your blog/business with success!

Although I will say that blogging is an art form, and learning it can take some time if you aren’t super internet html savvy. Be patient with yourself if and when you get frustrated. Sometimes you run into little techincal road blocks that can make you want to pull your hair out. Do not fear, you will get through it. I promise!

With a blog you have ability to change your life and the lives of others by sharing whatever your passion or advice you are trying to spread around the blogosphere. Stay true to yourself and your content. I never thought blogging would open so many doors and opportunities to work with reputable companies and other bloggers as it has in my life! It’s pretty incredible and I am now hooked. I hope you experience the same!

Here is what you need to know about creating a blog from scratch…


Platform 101:

WordPress.org is the best option in the sense of customization and self hosting. I began my blog using Google’s Blogger. This was the quick and cheapest way to start a blog because it costs absolutely nothing to start.The draw back to this is you will have domain like mine used to be… www.artsandclassy.blogspot.com.

This may not bother you and if you don’t have a decent budget to start I recommend it. You can purchase your custom domain name later and decide if you want your site hosted on WordPress.org.

When I made the switch to wordpress there is a handy plugin that re-routed all of my posts  from blogger to my customized site. I did lose a few posts in the process, so make sure to back up everything before making the transition.

If you are thinking about making the transition from blogger to wordpress I recommend this ecourse I used to help you make the transition easy! The course is $37 normally, but if you purchase using my promo code ARTSANDCLASSY you ca get it for 50% off! That’s a total of $18.50!


Web Hosting 101:

GoDaddy* – I have been using GoDaddy for about a year and a half now for my web hosting, and I actually purchased my domain name through them too. I have not had any serious issues while using them and their customer service department is pretty great!

When I was having some issues with page loading time, their customer service department was there for me (even at midnight) to advise me on somethings that I could do to alleviate it. Their team even told me about a great plugin called P3 Profiler they created to help pin point what other plugins I have that could be negatively effecting my website’s page loading time. Super helpful!

Things like this, make me want to continue my business with them.

Save Now! $1.99 .COM at GoDaddy!
BlueHost* – I have not worked with Bluehost before, but I have heard phenomenal reviews about them, and their start up web hosting is very inexpensive. Since other reputable sites like Olyvia.co, byregina.com, and LivingWellSpendingLess.com use this web hosting, I feel confident recommending them to you as another option.


Blog Design 101:

When I started blogging back in 2012, I was using a classic template that Blogger offered. I customized it to have a white background and was able to make small custumizations to make it my own. I have seen a few blogger/blogspot blogs that have a pretty cute and chic design. However, I am not too savvy in html coding. I know the basics. If you are more knowledgeable in html you may enjoy the possibilities with that avenue.

In the past, I also used the free WordPress them Swift, because it is SEO optimized and has a fast page loading time. After about a year of using the Swift theme, I decided I wanted to invest in a prettier theme that was more cohesive with my design.

BluChic* – My current theme is called Lynette. I really love this theme because it is really beautiful. In fact, all the themes at BluChic are sophisticated, gorgeous, and feminine. This theme cost a little more than other themes at $79.00, but I am so happy I invested in a beautiful page for my readers to come to.

I have been using this theme since November of 2014 and I have no complaints and have received many compliments on the design.

Studio Press by Copyblogger* – I have not used any of these themes yet, but I may consider it in the future. A blog is always evolving, so I never rule any design change in the future or with any additional blogs I may want to start down the road.

They have a wide range of choices and the themes cost a l little less than BluChic ($30-$50). They have A LOT of choices that could fit any budget. Most themes are really flexible in customization too.
StudioPress Premium WordPress Themes


The Art of Blogging 101:

You already have a blog, but now you’re trying to grow and make more money doing it.

I hate when I read some bloggers saying that they spent a year growing their blog without monetizing it and I think to myself, what a waste of a year! There is a healthy balance of building your readership and making money while doing it. Just don’t make it your main focus. People will see right through that. If you are constantly posting articles that are clearly sponsored in some way, you may lose people. Be genuine!

It’s not an easy thing…running a blog. I know this because I started by knowing absolutely nothing about it with no assistant or any other collaborators. It was all me. I went on creative impulse only. As I learned the ins and outs I had to go back into most of my older posts to fix, edit, reformat, and change some graphics.

I now know it’s best to go into blogging with a plan.

But I do give myself a little leeway because I didn’t know any better. You only know what you know at any given time. If anything this epic blogging journey has inspired me even more to figure out the puzzle that is “blogging.”

Hopefully this article will help you from going the same route I did in the beginning.


Making Money 101:

Associate/Affiliate Programs:

Amazon Associates is the only program I actively use. Why you ask? Because everyone on the planet orders from Amazon. Especially if they have a Prime membership. With a 2 day free shopping option, and the click of a mouse the products they love and use appear at their doorstep. The convenience factor is key with Amazon. I have had some success with this program too and they pay monthly. My payments are direct deposited into my bank account every month. I love it!

I believe the referral % rate started at 4.0% and once you refer a certain amount of products that people purchase, they up your referral percentage. This is continuous as your refer more and more products. There is a lot of room for growth with this program.

Mom’s Affiliate Network* is a great network to work with because they have a lot of opportunities for newer bloggers, whether it is with using banners or writing sponsored posts.They also pay per lead, for example, the link above (if clicked on) will in return I will receive a small commission for sending you to their site! In fact, they pay $2 per lead, so if you sign up today, you can add their link to your blog to start generating an income solely on leads to their network! It is a win win for everyone. That’s the beauty of making money online.

 

Ad Networks:
The more page views you get, the more you can earn. These are the five networks I use for ads on my site.

Adsense is a PPC network (aka Pay Per Click) and can be quite lucrative. A large portion of my blogging income comes from this network. I can create any size banners I want and can place them where ever I want on my site. I believe the only regulation is that you can only put 3 banners per page. Also… DO NOT CLICK ON YOUR OWN ADS. Google can bust you for this and you will get kicked out of their program.

Adsense has a payment threshold of $100 and you have the choice of being paid by check, or having funds direct deposited to your bank account. I chose the latter. It’s nice, around the 22nd of each month I have more money!!

Content.ad is a network that I have been using since the end of 2013 and I am pretty happy with it, because the income I receive is really passive. They are a CPM network which means I get paid per impressions (aka pay per thousand views) of my site. This means I will make some sort of revenue as long as there is a substantial amount of traffic coming to my site. If someone clicks on one of those ads at the bottom of each post or on the sidebar I make more $$! They pay me via Paypal and they have a $50 payment threshold you must meet. Otherwise it rolls over to the next month. Their payment timeframe is within 45 days, so it’s not an income I really rely on. It’s more like a fun surprise when I see that they sent me money.

Infolinks* is another passive income network that is based on impressions on your site. The more traffic the more you make. There are about 5-6 difference ad integrations for your site. I have found that using all of the integrations can make your site look a little busy and distracting. I stick with the text links throughout an article and also text links at the beginning and end of each post. Test out what works best for you. Like Contend.ad they pay via paypal and have a $50 threshold. They also pay within 45 days. Another fun surprise income when you do receive it.

ShareaSaleis a commission based affiliate network where you can apply to promote several companies and products. This program is awesome! Once you are accepted to a few programs/companies within the site you can easily find pre-generated banners, links etc with your special affiliate code to easily copy and paste into your post or site side bar. I have worked with this for the past year now and I am loving it. They have a $50 payment threshold and you have the option of direct deposit to your bank account. I highly recommend ShareaSale*!

EJunkie* is similar to ShareaSale but works with a different set of companies. Once you sign up to be an affiliate you apply for specific programs within companies to promote products. They pay via paypal, but I am not sure if they have a threshold. I have not had too much experience with this network yet, but I hope to change that this year!

Media Groups:

Sverveis an awesome place to connect with other bloggers post “tips” aka your blog posts (to gain more exposure) and connect with companies. Once you have entered all your tax info (so they can pay you) and you earn some endorsements for specific topics you specialize in, you will begin to see campaigns popping up in your account. You can access these and see what the companies are requesting and apply for the campaign. December of 2014 is when I was engaged in my first awesome campaign and it paid me over $200 for writing 2 posts along with $100 gift card for product. I am love Sveve more and more each day and it has helped me make more blogging efriends!

Izea* and Sponsored Tweets* (now owned by Izea) are great and quick ways to make a couple bucks, although you can engage in some lucrative campaigns. So far, I have been engaged and paid for some tweets which were a few bucks here and there. Every little bit counts! Both programs also require you to apply for campaigns and this includes writing a brief description as to why you would be a great candidate. One to two sentences usually works.

Get Sponsored by Big Brands

Business2Blogger* is a wonderful resource for bloggers to connect and also check out their job board that is updated weekly! Similar to Sverve and Izea, you apply for the job and say why you would be a great candidate and hope the company picks you.

Cooperatize* is another fun group that I just started working with. I have done one campaign with them and the payout was super easy. Just fill out your published profile and they will match you up with the appropriate companies. Their whole submission process is pretty too. Just stay on top of your deadlines.

Linqia* is a media group that I have just joined and I so badly want to participate in. From what I have read you have to have over 100,000 page views a month to even be engaged on campaigns. I am patiently waiting on that day to come.


Resources I Use 101:

I finally found the editorial calendar that keeps me motivated and really inspires me to keep plugging away everyday with my blog. Before this calendar, I didn’t keep an editorial planner, and now I realize why it is super important! EPIC BLOG : One-Year Editorial Planner* is my saving grace and I am so excited to start 2015 with it!

For graphics and image editing I started with Photoshop* and I still love it when it comes to resizing my large images before uploading them. In fact, now that there is a Creative Cloud* option, Photoshop* is affordable with the program Lightroom for the total price of $9.99 instead of being about $500-$600! What a savings!

I also now use and amazing site called Canva to edit and create a design aesthetic for my posts and pinterest images. This site also has pre-formatted standard size templates for Blog Graphics, Twitter Headers, Facebook posts, and Pinterest Graphics etc. I have found to be a very valuable resource and its FREE!

To build my email subscriber list I use Mailchimp and Mailmunch to acquire massive amounts of emails. These are both free to start with, but you can upgrade. Mail chimp requires you to upgrade once you have 2,000 email subscribers.

I use an iPad Mini* with retina display daily for many of my blogging tasks and I have a MacBook Pro Laptop* that I do my daily blogging on. I also have an iPhone 6* and I probably use this the most when I am out and about to respond to comments, pin images on pinterest, respond to tweets and Facebook comments. I also take a majority to my project photos with my iPhone 6* because the camera is amazing! It kicks my little Fujifilm point and shoot’s butt!

I am saving for a Canon T5i* so that my images are more professional!  There are some great bundles out there to acquire all the equipment I will need like a tripod, memory card, and additional lenses. This is a larger investment, but I know it will pay off and help me take my blog to the next level. I am also trying to start a youtube channel for Arts and Classy in 2015 so I can record my tutorials and share them with the world. Exciting stuff!


Staying Organized 101:

Let’s not forget homework. Yes I said it…. homework. You may be long out of school, but to master the art of anything you are trying to learn, research, and yes… do homework.  It’s like being in school but more fun and you can make some serious money doing it! Wouldn’t you like to quit your full time job to stay at home and blog all day every day? I know I would.

Here are a few programs, workbooks, and books that I have tried and read. I wanted to share how they have helped me get to where I am today.


What To Read 101:

How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul* by Ruth Soukup is by far my favorite blogging book I have read. Ruth blogs over at Livingwellspendingless.com and knows her stuff. I didn’t really know what I was going to get from this book when I began reading it but it totally exceeded my expectations. I couldn’t put the book down! It is available in paperback for $13.99 and digitally via Amazon for $9.99. I read it on my iPad!

Building a Framework* by Abby Lawson from Justagirlandherblog.com – Abby knows her stuff, I was a bit skeptical when I purchased it but the amount of knowledge and insight to the blogging world was super helpful for me and my blog.

How To Make Money Blogging : How I Replaced My Day Job with My Blog* by Bob Lotich was a great an short book with so much useful info and at $3.99 a total deal! It really helped me optimized my Google Adsense account to make more money!

Platform Get Noticed In a Noisy World* by Michael Hyatt – This book is great at helping you define your objective and to successfully stand out from other blogs/businesses. It covers marketing, business plans, and aesthetic. This book will help you build a solid foundation.

Everybody Writes {Your Go To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content}* by Ann Handley – I am in the middle of reading this book…more information to come soon but I am loving what I am reading thus far.

Blogging On The Side – Where Passion and Profit Meet* by Becky Mansfield and Paula Rollo – I just began reading this book and I am loving it already. I started following Becky and Paula at Bloggingontheside.com in 2014 and to see where they have taken their blog is really impressive. Something I aspire to do!

Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing* by Mignon Fogarty had really helped me with my writing overall. It began as a #1 ranked podcast and has become a useful tool in my daily blogging life.

3 Day Create Workbook by Regina Anaejionu is a helpful workbook when you are trying to develop a program, ebook, or even printable worksheets. Anything you would want to create to offer on your blog for free or profit.

The Small Business Manual and Workbook* by Regina Anaejionu is a helpful workbook to create a business plan, build, and market your business from scratch. Regina is amazing and her knowledge and personality radiate through the information she provides. She really gets you thinking about the bigger picture and has taught me so much. I am pretty much a byregina.com evangelist now. I love her content and products!

Grow Your Blog With Social Media Workbook by Regina Anaejionu (see I told you…I’m obsessed) is a wonderful workbook to help you manage your social media platforms and to assist you in marketing your blog’s content and products if you decide to create any. Regina also made an amazing Google+ Community for you to join once you purchase the digital workbook. I chose to print mine out because I like writing on each page! It has been extremely helpful for me to wrangle my Pinterest, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.

Whew…That was a lot of information! If you made it here I applaud you for being so thorough. You obviously want to do great things when you start you blog, or if you already have one… you an take it to the next level! I wish you all the success in the world!

If you have any questions or comments about the information showcased on this article, please comment below. I hope it was helpful to you!

[Tweet “Want to start a blog or take it to the next level? “]

If you like this post, you will also love my business tips resource page!

Keep it Classy, Meredith

36 Comments

  • Wow! I got more info from here than all the other places I’ve been doing my research on. I really appreciate you bringing so much clarity to so many questions and doubts us beginner bloggers have. You sound so excited and I wish you the best of luck with you full time blogging dreams. Xoxo

    • Meredith says:

      Monica! This thrills me that you got more clarity and info from this post because I put a lot of heart and soul into it. Blogging has become a HUGE passion of mine and I makes me so happy to be able to help people like you! Let me know if you ever have any blogging questions, I would be happy to help! I wish you the best of luck too! xo

  • Laura Lohr says:

    This is a very comprehensive guide! Great job! I am going to use some of your tips, for sure! Especially about monetization.

    • Meredith says:

      Laura I am so happy this resonated with you! I hope it helps! Thanks for letting me know that you benefited from this post, I would love to write more articles like this, since blogging has become such a passion of mine. 🙂 You rock!

  • Rob Newman says:

    Thanks for the list of books! I’m fairly comfortable with the technical side of blogging, but building an audience is a challenge for me. Any tips for building an audience?

    • Meredith says:

      Hi Rob! I have to manually approve comments before they post. As for building an audience… I defer to byregina.com and Olyvia.co Both wonderful resources for that. Also, I recommend writing down what your target audience is like. Then try to figure out what your target audience does online and try to interact with them on those other sites. It seems a little challenging at first to define your target audience. This post really helped me get more specific on my readership and how to build it. http://byregina.com/blog-business-plan/ Hope it helps for you too!

    • Meredith says:

      I also recommend checking out genre specific groups on Facebook and Google+ that are interested in your niche. That has helped me a lot and i have connect with other bloggers and businesses to help market one another. Community is where it is at. 🙂

  • Hi Meredith, you have provided an abundance of information! I thank you much..!

  • Jenny says:

    Wow, that is a huge and also awesome tutorial dedicated to new bloggers, but also for some that are already experienced.
    I have a blog since 2011, but some of your advices are very useful for me, thanks.

  • Very helpful, thank you for the info! I have been looking for quite some time for such detailed help. Wonderful!

    • Meredith says:

      I am so pleaseed to hear that you found the detailed info you were looking for here. I am really trying to show people how I have done things so that they too can take it to the next level. 🙂

  • Amy Kelsch says:

    Hi! Love the What To Read 101 resources! Thanks so much!

  • lg83 says:

    Your insight/knowledge is very helpful. I’m in the early stages of starting my blog & your info is very informative for a beginner.

  • itsmsbella says:

    Thanks for the information. Just started my blog and this post really helped guide me on the right path. <3

    • Meredith says:

      I am so happy you found this information helpful!! That was totally my hope… to guide newbie bloggers in the right direction to making money sooner. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting!

  • Dae says:

    Hi Meredith! Thanks for the info! Great tips!

    • Meredith says:

      Hi Dae!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! So happy you found some of tips helpful! Love helping others.

      Best,
      Meredith

  • Jennifer says:

    Hi Meredith!

    I began reading this thinking, “Great, another article promising to deliver a wealth of information that will end of falling short of my expectations.” Boy was I wrong! I appreciate your insanely thorough and generous sharing of what you have learned in your blogging journey thus far. I am even more excited now to brainstorm ideas and develop goals to get my blog up and going, and to have it make money for me! Keep up the great work, lady!

    • Meredith says:

      Jennifer! Wow! I really loved reading your comment. It made my day actually! I am so happy you got the information you were looking for. I remember when I was first starting in the blog world and wishing someone would be real and honest about how they were doing it. I appreciate your honest support and feedback. Keep up the great work girl. Feel free to email me anytime with questions that I can better explain or answer. artsandclassy@gmail.com ROCK ON!!

  • Evelyn Ann says:

    Thank you Thank YOU!! I found this information extremely useful! I have been overwhelmed trying to figure out blogging. In the midst of reading this post I started taking your suggestions and putting them to good use! I am desperately trying my hand at blogging and would love your input!

  • Carey says:

    Thank you for this great information! So many of the help articles I read try to push you toward a paid hosting site and tell you how awful of a decision it is to use a free site. I realize that it would be better in the long run. However, I only plan to start a blog for enjoyment and to make connections within the community. Not to mention that I just can’t rationalize finding the money in our budget to pay for a service now. Maybe some day down the road I will move toward a blog that makes me money. But for now I only want to discuss what interests me and make friends.

    I will be pinning your post for future reference.

  • Naturally Crystal says:

    This is so amazing! Thank you so much for sharing all of your insight. I’m just starting out and have been hesitating as I really want to get a good foundation going. I so appreciate this and will be using all of your links to get these resources! You’ve got a raving fan here 🙂

  • Rachelle says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! This is one of the most thorough lists out there! I hope you have had a great 2015 and reached your goals. Definitely pinning this for future reference.

  • annagiulia says:

    this is really interesting!! i love how thorough you were and all the information you gave in this article. x
    anna messystreet.com

  • Crystal says:

    Thank you thank you thank you!
    This is soo helpful! I’ve already order 4 books and the epic Blog planner. I’m so excited!
    The only thing that I wish you covered is RSS feeds. I’ve been researching it for months, literally, and still cannot figure it out 🙁

  • TamiMc says:

    Best article I have read on this subject! Thank you, Thank You, Thank YOU!!

  • Carrie-Anne says:

    Thank you this has been the best advice yet!!! I’m looking forward to starting my blog soon! All the BEST to you as your doing a wonderful thing helping others! Thank you!

  • Kate says:

    Hello Meredith!
    Thank you so much for sharing your insight. I have a few questions: when you say your different ad companies have a “threshold” does that mean that’s all they will pay? Is that per month? Once you meet that threshold, does their ad go away?

    I’m hoping to become a SAHM someday, and this will really come in handy!

    • Meredith says:

      Hello Kate! Thank you for your question! When I say threshold it means they will not pay you until your balance reaches let’s say $50 or $100.

      Example…. If I made $99 dollars from Google Adsense in one month, they would not pay me until the following month ended when my balance exceeded their $100 threshold minimum for payment. I hope that makes sense. Girl you and I are both on the same path. 🙂 Good luck!

      Best,

      Meredith

  • Alex says:

    This is a FANTASTIC list of resources! Will definitely be pinning this one for future reference! Thanks very much! 😀
    xo Alex

  • Tawnini says:

    OMGeeeee! Amazing advice and to the point guidance ??????

  • I need so much help in the promotion department. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  • Cheyenne Odenthal says:

    I have read so many posts about blogging (how to start, promote etc.) and this is the best so far!!